Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Simply Cleaning Fuel Injectors Might Fix Those Engine Problems

One of the most common mechanical problems that will happen with cars today is that they have fuel injectors that have become dirty and clogged.

When cars have fuel injector faults they will exhibit problems starting or they will run in a very ragged and rough fashion. Some of them will misfire and idle roughly before smoothing out. This is very common as cars age and start racking up high miles, but can also occur if you have a car that is left to sit for long periods of time.

While the modern fuel injection system has transformed the way engines start up in cars this system does have some built in design points that have to be watched and maintained to prevent problems. Today almost every automobile engine will start up when the ignition key is turned to the on position.

When this occurs, the fuel injectors spray a fine mist of fuel into the runners of the intake manifold, which creates an immediate vaporization of the fuel spray. This must occur because liquids cannot be used to power your engine, only the vapor that is produced will burn. The spray pattern from the injectors must be an extremely fine mist. The lighter and finer the particles that are contained in this mist, the easier it is to be turned into burnable vapors. When your engine has dirty fuel injectors they cannot spray a fine, evenly distributed pattern of mist.

Sometimes the injectors will spray more fuel in only one direction, or the spray may be more of a drip or a thick stream instead of the fine mist that is needed. The spray of fuel from the injectors may also come out continuously if they are not able to close off completely.

If you have an automobile that refuses to start, it may be due to fuel injectors that are stuck and unable to open at all. With cars that are running roughly and have cylinders that are misfiring, the problem may be traced to an uneven air-fuel mixture to for the cylinders. This means that some may get too much or too little of the necessary fuel and this creates problems in the overall firing cycle.

Misfiring with cylinders means that the available oxygen they contain is not being used for combustion purposes. Instead, the oxygen is being pushed out of the exhaust pipe on the next exhaust stroke.

On cars today, there are computerized oxygen sensors that measure and track this unused oxygen and this will cause the computer to react as if the engine is running extremely lean. What happens then is that the computer that controls the fuel injectors will attempt to compensate by adding more fuel to all of the cylinders by keeping the injectors on for longer periods of time.

This situation then causes even the cylinders that receiving the right amount of fuel to get too much fuel, which will make them, begin to seem too rich. Now the system that was supposed to correct the problem has mistakenly overcorrected and has made the operation of your engine worse than before. This will continue to deteriorate until you fix the original culprits, which are the dirty fuel injectors.

Since fuel is supposed to be clean and there are additional filters that are in place throughout the vehicle’s fuel system to trap impurities like dust and dirt particles it seems hard to understand how the injectors can get so filthy. Usual fuel filters are made to trap particles that are between 10 - 30 microns in size.

To show you what this size means, you should know that a single micron is only a millionth of an inch in size. So you can see that these filters are busy trapping lots of particles. They can even get overloaded themselves, but ordinarily they can keep most dirt out of the injection system. Still liquids can carry very small impurities through a filter.

At slower engine speeds, you will not have a great deal of fuel that is coming through the fuel injectors and sometimes there are very small particles and impurities that might become lodged in the small valves contained in the tiny nozzle tips that release the spray. Drivers may find that a few revs of the engine with the foot feed can flush these deposits out.

There is also a problem with the injectors sticking or becoming dirty from the residue deposits that normally build up in the spray nozzles. After an engine is shut off, the fuel evaporates on the tip of injector nozzles. The tops of the nozzles will be the first to experience the evaporation process, which will leave a sticky residue behind. You may be able to rev and run the engine for a few minutes and flush some of these deposits away, but usually a little chemical cleaning help is your best bet.

Drivers often notice that gas companies advertise the fuel-cleaning additives included in their products. There are some fuels that contain more additives that can run more cleanly than regular fuels. This will also help keep the injectors clean, but almost all gasoline products have at least some of these clean fuel additives.

You can purchase a variety of additives that will clean your fuel and clean your fuel injectors if you follow the directions carefully. Usually you will use a container of one of these products to a tank of gas, do not add more than is called for and do not use it any more frequently than is advised. If you do so, you can actually break down many of the rubber components in your car’s fuel system. Mechanics can also clean the fuel injection system for you.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Properly Breaking in a New Vehicle

Breaking in the new vehicle is important – there is a process. The idea that breaking in the new car is just beginning the wearing process is far from true. Most manufacturers provide a manual with the specifics of the particular make and model including the ideal way of breaking it in. If there is not one included in the purchase, it is highly recommended to download a version of it from their website. As each vehicle is different, including the parts, it is imperative to pay attention to the manufacturer’s suggestions.

The main reason that stands behind breaking in the new engine is to allow parts to seal properly – namely the piston rings. The idea is to prevent future oil burning. During the process of breaking in the vehicle it is not uncommon, however, to have the aroma of burning oil. This is caused by the parts not being sealed as of yet – this should not be an issue in the future. If it does continue longer than expected refer to the manual first, and then contact the manufacturer if the issue remains unresolved.

Typically the cars that are made these days do not take longer than just a few hundred kilometers (approximately two hundred miles) to be broken in - to play it safe drive carefully for the first three hundred miles. Once this has been passed it is safe to drive normally again

There are a few things to pay attention to while breaking in the new engine:

- During this process avoid letting the car sit in an idle position. When the car is idling very little oil is filtering through the engine to the various parts. Some parts require a little more oil while they are still new.

- Avoid punching on the gas. Drive as if you are attempting to save gas. Once in motion, slow acceleration is acceptable. Typically for the break in duration you should begin the car at thirty miles per hour and then slowly accelerate to fifty.

- Other parts of the engine are also settling during this process, so being gentle to the vehicle in the beginning will play a large role in assisting.

(Note: Ideally a driver should be gentle to his or her car always – not just during the break in process. The life of the parts and engine as a whole will extend if proper care is in act at all times. The break in process does not guarantee life of the vehicle. It only helps in the proper settling of the parts.)

- Most parts of the vehicle being manufactured are in such shape that the break in process does not take near the length of time it did in previous years. During the early years of vehicles the break in process could be expected to take thousands of miles for proper settling.

- Also consider the time we are in. We are far more advanced than they were years ago. Many times the manufacturers will break the parts while the car is still in their hands. This should be stated in the manual. If it is not contact the manufacturer, they should be able to answer any questions you may have regarding this process.

- Today engines are made with higher tolerances. During past years cylinder clearances were typically in the thousands of an inch…today they are in the ten thousands. Babying an engine today could actually cause some harm. Be sure to read the manual if there is ever a question. Understand that in order for the bores to be shaved properly for perfect fitting a little cylinder pressure is necessary to drive the rings out. If there is too much babying during the beginning stages, the rings will not be pushed out. This will cause them to rub and burnish the surface. The proper settling will not occur.

- Avoid towing anything of any size during the process. The break in period is short lived. Once completed everyday wear and tear may proceed.

This day and age cars are made a lot more durable than they were in previous times, so the break in process does not take near the length of time that it used to. If an indication is not given whether the new vehicle needs to be broken in or not, and no one can answer yes or no, assume that it needs to be. It is better to be safe.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brake noises

One of the most important aspects of driving for anyone is being able to stop their car correctly; if you encounter a problem with this procedure then it has to be dealt with properly before an accident occurs. If a noise sounds when putting pressure on your brakes when slowing down or stopping this could indicate a problem with your brakes and needs attention for safety reasons.

There may be those of you who have heard a passing car squeak/squeal as it goes past, this is the type of noise that happens when their brakes may be faulty or worn and need attention. Considering the length of time cars are driven on the road until the fault is found, a lot of time and money may be used trying to correct the problem.

Most garages may do a complete break overhaul hoping to correct the problem which can be successful. The way they do this is to replace the brake pads on disc brakes then the brake shoes on the drum type brakes. It is the surfaces between the brake drums and rotors that causes friction example the part that is clamped by the brake pads, these more often have been machined providing a smooth flat surface allowing the brake friction material to push against.

This may mean even though the brakes seem to work well the squeaking or squealing may come back shortly after. The disc brake where the noise comes from is due to brake pads vibrating at a high frequency in their mounts whilst the brake rotor slides past. The noise that comes from this can be spine chilling similar to someone’s fingernails scratching a blackboard.

The noise will normally appear when driving away from the stop position or when braking on the pedal lightly, if breaking quickly the noise will normally stop. If the noise persists when driving around then it is probably best to get the vehicle checked. This can be something as simple as a stone trapped in your brake mechanism, a worn or seized brake caliper.

There are though, some manufacturers who have a metal wear indicator which touches the rotor and screeches if the brake pads are worn out. It is far better for the safety of both the driver and passengers if there is a constant noise to have the breaks tested by a professional brake specialist.

The break pad materials can cause intermittent squeaking noises. Years ago the material used for these was asbestos, the car was quiet and stopped but all the dust it generated was bad for the lungs. Material that is used today could well be classed as organic or metallic the two materials both act differently and one quieter than the other.

The pads made with organic materials can be a lot quieter but will wear a lot faster; these are not beneficial if the brakes are to be used severely. While the metallic ones can be used for severe breaking conditions of which a high break heat will be generated. Metallic material gives a better brake performance when severe and repeated braking is needed and will last longer, but these will make a lot more noise of squeaking and squealing.

It will all depend on what cars are intended or suggested for as to what materials a manufacturer will use but still use both types of brake fiction material. If for example brake pads made of organic material were replaced with metallic this can cause the vehicles brakes to squeak. Manufacturers like to use original brake pad materials to help reduce noise and better still increase durability.

It is virtually impossible to emit brakes from screeching and most manufacturers will state in owner’s manuals that the odd squeak from a brake is normal; even so there are still some ways that the noise can be reduced. It is known for instance that there are some foreign manufacturers who use stainless steel shims behind pads to reduce vibration; these are not normally added to un-shimmed vehicles.

The other causes for brake noises can be brake pads loose in their mounts; these can be tightened sometimes if they have metal tabs which are then bent to tighten the pads. The problem can also arise if the pad has become loose due to wear on the break caliper positioning surface. If this is the problem then the brake caliper will have to be replaced to correct the problem as there is no alternative.

It is possible sometimes to be able to reduce or eliminate the squeak or squeal through coating the back side of the pad using an anti-squeak material. Manufacturers have brake parts made of several types of material; one is like a silicone rubber which cushions the brake pad to the caliper stopping the pad from vibrating. Other types of material are similar to lubricants allowing the pads to vibrate without screeching. If you feel you have a problem with your brakes it is safer to ask your local garage to investigate the problem.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Brake vibration

On a number of newer vehicles these days there is a concern regarding brake pulsation, there may be those of you who have experienced this problem, when new the vehicle may stop smoothly. It is later perhaps when you have driven a several thousand kilometers the brake pedal begins to pulsate during braking.

The brakes, for instance, may seem as though they are grabbing and releasing and to stop smoothly is impossible. The problem may have arisen following the removal of the wheels. This was virtually unheard of in the late 70’s and 80’s and you may ask why it happens now.

It is all to do with the weight. The idea is that by increasing the fuel efficiency in new cars, this will help to decrease manufacturing costs, so the accounts department or “bean counters” as they are sometimes referred to, tries to ensure that each part of a vehicle is reduced in weight as much as possible.

This may sound fine and for the majority of parts, it works well. But a brake system engineer may say that for brake rotors, heavier is better. The heavier the brake rotors the more heat they absorb fading less giving a better braking performance, are more stable and rarely warp as this is a cause of pulsating brakes.

Brake engineers may sometimes get their own way. Unfortunately, it is the accountants that win and brake rotors are built to weigh less. Then the problems may start. It is possible to make brake rotors that are light, stable and powerful.

On racing cars carbon fiber/ceramic rotors can be obtained and used, but for the average passenger vehicle the cost would be too high. The Porsche 911 Turbo model offers a higher performance brake option, and stops in an amazingly short distance with its stock brake system.

Many are stuck using standard cast brake rotors. But if these aren’t handled properly, they will warp and then it’s the start of pulsating brakes. When the rotor becomes warped, it wears from side to side unevenly, causing it to rub against the brake pads. Eventually, the sides of the rotor cannot remain parallel to each other any longer.

Tolerances for parallelism quite often are less than 0005 inch maximum or for example ¼ of a hair's thickness. If rotor sides aren't parallel, this will cause the pistons in the brake calipers to make the brake pads push in and out at a rapid pace. It is this fast motion being transmitted via the break system into the pedal that you feel as a pulsation.

Something as simple as changing a tire can cause rotor warpage. For instance, when changing the tire, if there is rust, dirt or corrosion in-between the wheel and the brake rotor when putting it back, it will be clamped unevenly and this can cause the rotor to warp.

When tightening wheel nuts, care has to be taken. If tightened incorrectly, this can also warp the rotor. It is far better when fitting a wheel to tighten the wheel nuts in two stages by doing an alternating in a criss-cross pattern. On modern vehicles a torque wrench is critical; there are some wheel shops that tighten the nuts using air impacts.

Torque sticks are used by many as these are designed to limit the torque on nuts. Neither one is sufficiently accurate for today’s modern cars. Try to make sure that a torque wrench is used. Any brake pulsations after the wheel has been changed may mean having to loosen the wheel nuts and re-torque. This is best done sooner rather than later and the rotor will normally correct itself, leaving it longer may result in it staying warped.

Brake rotor run-out can also be a cause of pulsing brakes. There are many manufacturers that allow a rotor and hub to wobble up to 003 inch due to machine tolerances and it will wobble too much, acting as though it has warped. There are cars that are sensitive to rotor run-out if more than 001 inch, which will cause brake pulsations will occur.

Probably it is better to correct a run-out to less than 001 inch. An answer to this is to machine rotors in their place whilse on the car rather than using the off-car brake lathes that most workshops use, this way run-out for both rotor and hub will be corrected. It is due to the cost of these machines that many repair shops unfortunately don’t have one.

It is better to take certain steps in trying to prevent or correct brake pulsations, mounting surfaces should be kept clean, if machining rotors make sure sides are parallel, rotor run-out should be kept to a minimum, to torque wheel nuts always maintain to use the proper procedure, hopefully brake pulsations will be in the past for your vehicle.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Putting a STOP to Common Brake Problems

Are you interested in putting a STOP to common brake problems? The brake unit of an automobile is essential when it comes to proper vehicular use and reliability. This system allows you to control when the forward and/or reverse motion of the vehicle is slowed, or completely halted. There are many different components that work in conjunction with one another when it comes to the brake system of the standard automobile. If you own and operate a motor vehicle, it is in your best interest to ensure that you become familiar with these components, as well as some of the common brake problems that may occur during use. Here, you will be introduced to just that!

Components of the Brake System

The average brake system consists of many different components that work closely together in order to provide a sound means of slowing and stopping when necessary. The following indicates the various components that you are likely to find when maintaining and/or repairing your vehicle’s brake system:

1. There is a set of brakes on the front that are referred to as “disk”. You may also find that these types of brakes are on the rear of the vehicle. In some instances, the back brakes may have “drum” type brakes.

2. On each wheel of the vehicle, there are a number of hoses that connect the brakes on the wheels to the unit that is typically located in front of the driver’s side of the vehicle on top of the motor, called the “master cylinder”.

3. On top or to the side of the master cylinder is a plastic casing that holds and distributes brake fluid through the hoses that connect to the wheels of the vehicle.

When addressing common brake problems, it is important that you are comfortable with the various components of the system. If so, troubleshooting and resolving complications can be done with ease.

Common Brake Problems

One of the most common issues that many people experience when it comes to their brakes is that they make a loud, squealing sound when pressed with the foot. Ultimately, this is not a serious issue and can be resolved relatively quickly and easily. The following represents some common culprits:

1. The first thing you may want to consider is that the brake pads may be worn down to the point where the “metal is hitting metal”. The noise that is heard is basically a warning to drivers that it is time to throw on some new brake pads.

2. If you take a look at the brake pads and they have a lot of “meat” on them, and they seem to be “healthy”, the issue may be that you are missing what is called a “gasket”. You will need to look to the side of the brake pad, and right before the piston. If you do not see a small, metal gasket, then it may be time to replace this component.

Lack of brake pressure is another issue that may occur when it comes to the brake system of your vehicle. You can tell when this occurs because when you press on the pedal that controls the brakes in the car, you find that the pedal easily goes straight to the floor. There are typically three issues that may be occurring, ranging from a mild issue to a severe complication that may result in hundreds of dollars in repairs:

1. The first thing that you will want to do is check the brake fluid in the automobile. There is a reservoir that sits atop the master cylinder, or maybe to the side. Ensure that brake fluid goes all the way to the fill line. If it doesn’t simply add more fluid.

2. Now, there may come a situation in which air actually enters into the brake fluid in the reservoir and works its way into the brake lines and moves throughout the system. This can be a challenging situation. The best solution for this problem is to take the brake system and “bleed” them.

3. The most complicated and expensive of all possible scenarios is that the actual master cylinder component of the brake system may be faulty. There is no quick fix or easy repair kits for this situation. You will need to actually replace the master cylinder, and this is not cheap – especially if it is professionally done.

In Conclusion

The brake system of the motor vehicle is an essential and intricate system that works to assist you in slowing and completely stopping the vehicle when it becomes necessary to do so. There are many common brake problems that may occur. The two mentioned here are among the most experienced situations by drivers. By learning what you can about the issues that occur within this system, you can save yourself hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars. In addition to this, you can rest assured that you and others on the road are safe.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The importance of brake fluid checks

The one feature your vehicle has that is very important is the brakes, without these functioning properly a serious collision or accident could occur. There are so many vehicle owners who may admit that they don’t keep a check on their vehicles brake fluid as much as they should.

Manufacturers themselves never seem to give out the necessary information regarding when to change brake fluid. As long as you check the fluid level and it is up then this is okay, changing the fluid when necessary can protect the braking system from corrosion.

There is some country’s for instance like Canada where the specifications of brake fluid come under regulation by transport Canada. They don’t actually define brake fluid but they set the necessary criteria it has to meet. For example, it has to be able to flow in cold weather, compatible with different components in the braking system, and boil at high temperatures. In the U.S.A, they too have similar specifications from the Department of Transport, (DOT), and the brake fluids are labeled as to how they meet different classes.

Many vehicle makers use DOT 3 type fluid although there may be some who prefer to use DOT 4 type fluid because this fluid has a boiling point that is higher. These two fluids are both glycol-based and are hygroscopic, this term simply put means they will both absorb water. If a container is left open, it absorbs moisture from the air, whilst the brake system, over years, will slowly absorb water through rubber hoses and other parts.

There is another brake fluid that is silicone based. This is classed as DOT 5.0 or 5.1 types. These fluids have a blue dye put in that makes it visibly different to other brake fluids. The advantage of silicone-based brake fluid is that it isn't hygroscopic and therefore won't cause damage to any painted parts; however, it will pass through smaller pores and won’t provide as good a seal.

The majority of vehicle manufacturers prefer to use DOT 3 fluid in their factories. Mixing two different types of fluids should never be done. Those who wish to use a silicone based brake fluid will have to clean the entire system of glycol-based fluid.

There are many who ask the question when should brake fluid be changed or flushed, there may be no definite answer as there are different opinions to this question. In the U.S.A, for example, research has been done by Maintenance Services Task Force of the Automotive Maintenance Services and Repair Association (AMRA) and the same opinion applies.

As mentioned before, water in brake fluid can cause corrosion, leaving deposits of sludge in the brake system. Many also believe that dark colored brake fluid should be changed to a light amber color. AMRA may surprise a lot of people with their surprise findings and for many sorts out the difference of opinion.

The myth regarding the color of brake fluid can quickly be solved in that this is not an indicator of the brake fluids quality. The color of several brake fluids can change naturally when the fluid is in contact with the brake systems rubber components. Tests that have been carried out shown that dark is still good and light amber fluid was poor.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic and having water in the brake fluid will lower the boiling point and therefore may not work as well. Water causes problems with corrosion but there are no tests available to check the water content of brake fluids. Through research, it has been found only a small amount of water is absorbed into the brake system. The rubber materials have improved greatly, therefore helping the seal to keep moisture out a lot better. The plastic see- through reservoirs limits the brake system being open to the air.

It is corrosion inhibitors in brake fluid that help to reduce breaking down of materials in the brake system. These inhibitors eventually wear out with age, water content, heat from the high braking system, and the copper in the brake lining will start to corrode. As the amount of copper ions build up in brake fluid, these act as oxidizers and other parts will begin to corrode. These can be the ABS valves and the master cylinders.

It is possible to check for copper content using paper strips that will change color if there is a high content of copper. Most service shops may use these but there may be some who don’t. If not, then they won’t actually know whether the brake fluid is good or should be changed. To be on the side caution in a situation like this, it may be better to have the brake system flushed and clean brake fluid put in. This can save you a lot of money as corrosion related repairs are very expensive and more important, you want to be sure your brake system stops works as you want it to.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Safe and Successful Vehicle Boosting

You know the scene. You walk to your car, open the door, climb in, and insert your keys into the ignition. Click, click, click, click. Nothing. You whisper a prayer, "Please, God, make it start this time." Click, click, click, click. Nothing. You glance at the fuel gage. Half a tank left. You glance at the headlights. Grrrrr! You left them on. Your battery is dead. You need a boost, a.k.a. a jump-start, to get you moving.

Fortunately for you, this is not a major car repair. But it is a repair of sorts that should never be taken lightly. The smart driver will know that this day is bound to come at some time or another and will be already prepared with a set of high quality booster cables that are at least fifteen feet long, so they will easily be able to reach from the boosting car’s battery to the dead battery.

Before starting the boosting procedure, turn off all accessories on both vehicles such as the headlights, radio, air conditioner, windshield wipers, et cetera. This will help prevent any power surges that could affect these items, but more importantly, it will keep these accessories from consuming more available power than the alternator is producing while the engine is idling. You should leave the boosting vehicle at an idle.

When you look under the hood of each car, you will locate the battery by looking for a plastic bright red cap or post labeled with a "+" sign. Close by, you will also see a black post or cap labeled with a "-" sign. Lift up any post-covering caps, and inspect all battery posts to make sure they do not have loose, dirty, or corroded connections. If they are loose, tighten them the best that you can and then get them completely tightened as soon as you are able to prevent future discharging of the battery. If they are dirty, you can wipe them with a rag. If there is corrosion, then you can pour an acidic drink such as soda water or a carbonated beverage over the post.

Now it is time to start connecting the cables to the posts. In order to ensure maximum safety, you should be careful to always put the cables on and take them off in a very specific order. IMPORTANT! Once you start making the connections, never let the ends of the cables touch each other or any other unintended metal. Many batteries have full plastic handles used for lifting them. You can opt to carefully attach the cable ends to the plastic handle to prevent accidentally touching any unintended metal.


Attach the red, positive + cable to the post of the DEAD BATTERY! A good way to remember which goes first is by remembering this rhyme: Red to dead.


Attach the other end’s red, positive + cable to the post of the BOOSTING BATTERY.


Attach the black, negative " - " cable to the post of the BOOSTING BATTERY. If the boosting vehicle’s battery does not have an exposed negative " - " battery post, then connect the cable clamp to an unpainted piece of metal eighteen inches away from the battery. (The engine block is usually a safe alternative.)

Be very careful not to allow the cable or the clamp to come in close contact with any moving parts such as the radiator fan or any of the belts.


Attach the black, negative " - " cable to an unpainted piece of metal eighteen inches away from the DEAD BATTERY. (Again, the engine block is usually a safe alternative.) If all cables are properly connected, this final negative cable should produce a slight spark. If it doesn’t, go back and check the connections of each clamp.

It is important to ensure that neither the cable nor the clamp come in close contact with any moving parts such as the radiator fan or any of the belts.


Rev the engine of the boosting battery to 2000 RPM and hold it for two minutes. (This step may not be necessary, but it is helpful for speeding up the charging of an especially discharged battery.)


Attempt to crank the engine of the vehicle with the dead battery. If it does not start, wait an additional two to four minutes before trying again.


Once the car is started, remove the cables in the reverse order of how you put them on. First, you will remove the black, negative clamp from the previously dead vehicle. Second, you will remove the black, negative clamp from the boosting vehicle. Third, you will remove the red, positive clamp from the boosting vehicle. Fourth, you will remove the red, positive clamp from the previously dead vehicle.


Run the newly boosted vehicle for a minimum of fifteen minutes to adequately recharge the battery before turning it off.

Now that you are an expert vehicle booster, keep your eyes out for other stranded motorists. They will be so grateful!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Bolt Tightening Technique

Time and technology has changed the way many cars are put together these days, there have been many new introductions for example like plastic clips, adhesive and Velcro, replacing trim nails and screws that normally held panels together in the past. There is still the use of bolts when assembling mechanical components, but even some of these has changed. Today, on major assemblies, torque to yield bolts are used in engines.

These bolts stretch to the yield point when tightened; the bolts are often used when exact clamping loads are needed on parts, they can be used on connecting rods, crankshaft main bearing caps, cylinder heads, front engine dampers and even flywheels. Torque to yield bolts will no doubt be used if the shop manual indicates a bolt needs to be discarded and replaced with a new one.

This can become expensive and a total waste of time if you have to buy new bolts all the time. Too many these old bolts may still look usable but beware looks can deceive, if using old bolts it may cause engine failure an expense nobody wants. Through the process of tightening bolts it pulls them to their elastic limit due to stretching, that’s why new ones are needed to give maximum force on today’s engines.

It is easy to understand if you tighten a bolt to much then the harder it is for it to become accurate on a clamping load. Friction occurs when tightening bolts these are like a ramp, when turning this has to slide against another thread or ramp in the bolthole. The tighter it goes the harder it becomes to move or push up the threads ramp.

When stationary the term used is stiction as against friction, as the bolt becomes tighter it is the station that will affect a torque reading. People may use lubrication to help threads slide easier but the quality between one lubricant and another can vary. It is far easier to follow manufacturer’s guidelines for the best type of lubricant that is needed for the bolt when tightening. This is important because if you use the wrong lubricant it may become too tight or not tight enough.

There are several stages to follow when tightening torque to yield bolts this is done using both a torque and turning angle. The first step is to tighten the bolt to a low torque specification, this is done to ensure even clamping load is in place when parts are assembled. The second stage is to tighten again slightly to the higher torque stage. This will still allow enough friction and stiction on the bolt threads as the torque is tightened very little. The normal procedure after this is too turn each bolt a specified number of degrees normally two to three steps. As an example, the bolt might be turned 90 degrees, and then another 90 degrees until a further 70 degrees has tightened the bolt sufficiently. This will ensure the clamping force that has been exerted by the bolts is both accurate and even.

Special tools are used that can measure the degrees a wrench or bolt has been turned, these are low cost protractors that has a movable pointer, whilst some tools use electronics when measuring a turning angle these can cost several hundred dollars. These two types both work well and though the electronic one is more expensive it actually can make the job go faster.

Some may ask the question why are the torque to yield bolts needed now? When perhaps they weren’t needed in the 1960’s or 70’s. The answer to that question is quite simple in that engine materials are different now. For example, the aluminum cylinder heads expand differently to cast iron blocks. When an engine warms up, all the parts bolted together have to be able to slide on their gaskets or move against each other. Because of the elasticity in the torque to yield bolts allows movement between the parts but still maintains even sealing and clamping loads.

Engine parts today are a lot lighter than decades ago, the heavy cast iron parts was able to take variations in torque without failing. Aluminum alloys and thin wall castings that are used today need accurate torque if this is incorrect then leaks or warping can occur.

Today the design of engines is changing due to the need of even clamping forces, the car manufacturer Ford have prototype engines where bolts which hold the cylinder head on can go all through the engine block threading into the bottom casting which holds the crankshaft. It’s hard to imagine that only a few bolts can hold a complete engine together. This would definitely change the way engines where assembled and disassembled in the future.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Choosing the right body shop

It may be one of many people’s nightmares to have to go and seek out the correct body shop, having to find a good body shop or fender bender as some may call them is not always easy. The possibility of having to go and see one at some point of your driving career is more than likely, maybe through no fault of yours it may be that someone has by accident scratched the paint on your car.

If you happen to have the paint scratched on your car then the first point of call is your local body shop. Or there are always those who want their vehicle customized, or adding extra parts to the vehicle that will have to be sprayed at the body shop. When customizing your vehicle, for example, and wanting a complete paint job, it is best to shop around before parting with any money to choose the right body shop.

Dark dank body shops are a thing of the past, although you may come across one down some back alley somewhere. Today though, the majority of body shops are clean, airy, quality tools on show with clean working environments. Having said this, you still have to ensure that even though everything looks smart and clean, at the end of the day, it is the work that matters.

Most of today’s body shops are very clean, neat and very well lit. These are usually the ones at the top end of the scale. It is normal for a well run body shop to have different areas of work designated. For example, there may be an estimating area; this is the area you will bring your vehicle to get an estimate on repairs and where your finished vehicle will be presented. This will normally be well lit so damage on the vehicle can easily be spotted.

If there is major damage on the vehicle then it will be removed to the area set up for disassembly and onto a frame machine. There are fewer cars now that have a true frame, the machine now is really used in straightening the uni-body construction this is typical on most of the modern cars. The term uni-body basically means that sheet metal is stamped, formed, and welded together, forming the structural part of the car's body.

It is critical to measure the vehicle's body for correct uni-body alignment. If, for example, there is one millimeter error then that is all manufacturers will allow. Many body shops use a laser measuring system alongside a frame machine these are used to make certain everything is properly straightened.

Once the uni-body is straight and correct the next stage is moving the vehicle to the area for metal work. Here, new sheet metal will be mounted and any panels with damage are straightened. This is accomplished by skillful technicians using dollies and hammers. Even today though, work done by technicians has changed by technology. If you look above, there will be vacuum lines connected to sanders and grinders; these are to pull any dirt and dust away from this area of the shop. It is amazing how clean these areas are kept.

Once the metal work has been completed, the next stage is the paint prep area, normally in this area dust extraction systems are used to remove any dust that occurs during sanding and paint primer spraying. Body shops use infrared light systems in this area to cure paint primer quickly. These lights usually speed up the drying time, allowing the primer to cure in 20 minutes rather than 24 hours; therefore, your car is ready to go a lot quicker.

The next step will be for the vehicle to move to the paint booth where all the final colors and clear coats will be applied. Many body shops will have different booths the best ones being “downdraft” units these have filtered fresh air entering the top of the booth, any over-spray is drained out through grates in the floor. This produces the best paint finishes, however, as with everything, it’s the operators that make the difference.

The most important thing at this later stage is that the vehicle gets finished in a paint booth that is clean and dust free. This outweighs a dirty booth of a fantastic design. This is when maybe you should ask to see any finished vehicles in the body shop to check the painters work before leaving your vehicle and any money is spent. The things to look for are, smooth finishes that have very few dust specs and ensure the colors match from one panel to another. These are evidence of a quality paint spray done by a professional.

The final stage for the vehicle is the area for final assembly where the trim is re-attached, after which the car will be thoroughly cleaned and readied for you to collect or be delivered. If you have a body shop in mind or have had one recommended then ask for a tour around their facilities. Most good body shops will be more than happy to oblige. If not, then beware.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


With today's highly accessorized automobiles, there is a constant drain on our batteries even when the car is not in use. That, combined with cold weather and regular wear and tear on your battery, you may find many mornings that you go out to the car, crank it, and then hear that dreaded sound of your battery struggling to provide enough power to get your engine going. The longer it takes to get your engine started, the more drain there will be on the battery. Without the benefit of the alternator, it will not take long before your battery loses all power and starting your car will be impossible without a boost.


While cold weather is certainly a strong contributor to power loss in batteries, there are many other factors that exist in all kinds of weather and all kinds of situations that could cause you to be suddenly stranded. An inside light may have been left on for an extended period of time. There may be electronic accessories left plugged into charging ports (a.k.a. cigarette lighters). Many cars have electronics and accessories that constantly use power while the car in a parked position. Sometimes, you may even be sitting in the car long after it has stopped listening to the radio, talking on the phone, or waiting for an appointed time to arrive and inadvertently leave your foot rested on the brake pedal, causing a drain on the battery as the brake lights are illuminated.

Something to take into consideration is that, even if your battery is able to start your vehicle every time, a battery that sits without a full charge will tend to reduce the battery's life span. This is especially true of a vehicle that is not used on a daily basis.


There are devices that are widely available called battery maintainers that specifically address these kinds of situations. There are various types of battery maintainers. Trickle chargers (a.k.a. Taper chargers), full electronic chargers, and solar panel chargers are the main options you would consider.


A trickle charger is a device that, when plugged in, will put one to two amps of current into your 12V battery. As the battery becomes fully charged, the charge rate reduces or tapers off. A potential problem with this form of battery maintainer is that current continues to flow into the battery even after the battery is fully charged. This can cause the battery to overheat, reducing the life of the battery. Some companies have started to acknowledge this flaw and have engineered measures into the device to prevent overcharging.


Solar panel maintainers actually harness the energy of the sun and keep your battery charged at optimal level. The obvious requirement for this type of maintainer is that you have access to the sun. This type of device will not work for a car that is parked in a garage, under a carport, or in any other area where access to direct sunlight will be restricted. That also means that nighttime maintenance will be limited to stored energy. If those constraints are not a problem, then this is a great option for battery maintenance, as the energy available from the sun is a sure thing!

These devices include a small solar panel that sits on your dashboard or any other place in your car with sunlight access. Look for models that have both a cigarette lighter charging option and alligator slips that connect directly to your battery. This will prevent problems if you use it in a vehicle whose cigarette lighter adapter only works when the vehicle is turned on.


This form of battery maintainer uses electronics that are in the actual unit to monitor the battery's voltage. As the voltage reduces, the maintainer will usually apply a charge of 14 volts to bring the battery to a full charge. It will then reduce the charging voltage to a charge maintenance level of approximately 12.8 tp 13.2 volts. The additional voltage maintained in the charged battery will help the maintainer device to overcome any resistance between the device ant the battery and keep the battery in a fully charged and active state without overheating and the resultant loss of battery life.


Any battery will discharge while not in use. A lead in a battery that is fully discharged for twelve hours will begin to sulphate. Eventually the sulfates will crystallize, preventing recharge. A battery that discharges completely WILL LOSE LONGEVITY. If you have a boat, motorcycle, classic collector car, an infrequently used car, a recreational vehicle, or a battery powered lawn mower, the use of a maintainer will help your battery to last the seven years or so that it was intended to last. Remember that it takes at least fifteen minutes for the typical alternator to fully charge a battery, so a quick crank every now and then is not going to be sufficient.

These inexpensive devices are easy to use and will pay for themselves over and over in reduced frustration, peace of mind, and the prevention of replacement costs. Everyone in your family should have one for every vehicle they own. I think I just heard someone say, "I just finished my Christmas shopping!" Happy motoring!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All about automotive detailing

Automotive detailing can be one of the most important jobs at vehicle dealerships or detailing shops. Whether a detailer is preparing the vehicle for a sales display or getting it ready for its new owner, it’s sometimes that first impression of the vehicle that makes automotive detailing so significant.

Good automotive detailers will know the areas on vehicles that a bad detailer can miss. Areas such as door jams, window seals, and engine cleaning are signs that you got a good detail job. Trade-in vehicles that need to be detailed are perhaps the most important as a good detail can affect its retail value. No one wants to buy a used vehicle, no matter what the performance quality, if it hasn’t been detailed properly.

Soiled upholstery and carpet stains can also prevent resale value but using the right products can show a drastic improvement if done correctly. Tobacco or smoking in a vehicle are no longer challenges for the good automotive detailer. Various manufacturers are now producing machines such as Ionizers that when placed in a vehicle for a small period of time can take out the effects of smoking smells.

Automotive detailing products are important. Products or mitts that can scratch, wear out the paint, or dull chrome should not be used and a good automotive detailer will know which products to avoid.

Automotive detailing product salespeople who promote their products and claim they are the best visit many dealerships. Beyond what products auto detailers are using, a customer should look at the detail shop or detail area. Is it clean? Are the products organized, or are the detailers running back and forth, sharing products, or worse, leaving the detail area looking for their equipment? Check them out for cleanliness and accessibility of the automotive detailing items they use—are they nearby?

A good automotive detailer will use tools such as small brushes with soft bristles for vent cleaning. Detailing tools that have small rubber tips are good for cleaning dirt out of seams and trim. Wheel and tire brushes are also a must. Some products such as mitts and brushes are now being offered by the manufacturers with color-coding. This color-coding helps the detailer identify which is the best tool for the process in a quick and easy manner. Bottles of cleaners should also be color-coded for automotive detailing use. Grabbing the wrong solution can be detrimental to the detailer if he is in a hurry. The color-coding process has eliminated the mistakes sometimes made in the automotive detailing business.

Some automotive detailing shops even offer services that will check your wiper blades and other viewable parts that can easily be replaced by a detailer at a lower cost than a mechanic or technician.

A big job for the automotive detailer is new vehicle preparation. If a dealer sells new vehicles, as they are shipped in, they are inevitably full of dust, debris and, road wear from the shipping process. Not only is the automotive detailer responsible for cleaning the new vehicle, most car dealerships will provide them with a checklist of other items to check for operation. The checklist can include items such as setting the clock and radio, testing the key fobs to see if they are working correctly, removing the new vehicle plastic and stickers, and, taking the vehicle on a small test drive to check wipers, air-conditioning and, other essential elements.

Probably the last thing a good automotive detailer can offer is the trip to the gas pump to fill your vehicle up with a full tank. If your detailing company or dealership offers this, it may save you dollars. Many dealerships receive gasoline discounts and are happy to pass them along to the customer to keep them coming back, so check that out when you visit your automotive detailer or dealership.

Automotive detailing takes a lot if care. People who work in this area should be the kind of people who love the detailing process and the outcomes they achieve. They are people who have high levels of energy and communication skills to ensure the customer is getting what they want. If chosen right, the good automotive detailer can make all the difference in that new, used, or customer vehicle. Good automotive detailers will keep customers coming back to any shop and are sometimes overlooked for the talents they possess.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How long is the Car Batteries Life?

Batteries are made with a series of grids or plates and these are coated with a lead paste, the materials may differ when used on the positive and negative plates. It is when these are immersed in electrolyte, which is diluted sulphuric acid, that the electrons build up a charge on these plates.

When you turn the key in your car, it is the electrons that flow freely through the cables to the starter and all of the electrical system in the car. How many of you have tried to start a car at some time or another with a flat battery, or even worse one that is not as charged up as it should be.

It is the winter months especially when you have to make sure that your battery is in tiptop condition and good working order. It’s these months that batteries have to provide you with maximum power to start your car. Sometimes this can be restricted because of the low temperatures that can occur, and depending of course, as to what area or region you live.

It is worth remembering that the batteries power can become restricted because of any change in the weather for example your battery will only have 40% of its power when you turn your ignition key if the temperature drops below 40c when it actually needs two to three times as much in order for your car to start.

It is always essential for everybody to ensure that your battery is fully charged irrespective of the weather. Having a fully charged battery that will deliver all the power to your car is necessary in the prevention of any mishaps or embarrassing breakdowns.

The difference in a new fully charged battery is that the plate material has no problem in generating all the electrons that are necessary. It is as the battery ages that a lot of the plate material will slowly sulphate or harden. When this starts to happen, it becomes less capable of either producing or holding a charge.

There can often be a difference of opinion as to the actual life of the battery, there are those that say a battery should last approximately five years, this is normally the time when you might experience starting problems when turning your ignition on.

Then it has been known for batteries to last as long as seven years and in some cases longer, normally it is five years or a little over before you may start experiencing any problems. If it goes for a lot longer over this time then you can call that a bonus.

There are a number of things that can happen that will reduce battery life, and some of these things you may be able to avoid by following a simple checklist once a week. One occurrence that can happen is if your battery is sitting loosely, this will cause it vibrate and rattle around eventually cracking material on the plates. This will eventually loosen falling into the bottom of your batteries case.

This in time will cause a problem because the batteries surface area will not produce the electricity needed to function properly, and any loose material could fall in between a positive and negative plate that will cause them to short out and to cease working. That is why when purchasing a battery always go for the good quality one, these come with special sleeves built in around the plates preventing any damage from loose material bridging the two plates.

A common mistake made by most people at some time or other is leaving the car lights on, an easy thing to do in the winter months especially when all you want to do is park the car and go indoors. If the lights are left on until the battery goes dead, this will no doubt cause damage.

Once the battery is discharged, the plate material will start to harden, and it is because of this that the portion of plate affected won’t accept when trying to charge it again. The best solution if possible is if your battery has discharged, you must try to charge it back up as soon as possible. It has been known that if a battery completely discharges more than four times, reducing its capacity, then the only answer is to recycle it and purchase a new battery.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

How Automatic transmission oil has evolved

Once life and automobiles were both so simple and uncomplicated and times were good. The engine in your car was big and blocky and you saw instantly where the plugs were located. You could check hoses and fluids without disconnecting half the motor first. When you had to get gas, you had one or two choices and there was always someone there, smiling and filling the tank for you….and checking the oil. If you happened to need a little oil to top it off and you only had two types of oil that were available for all vehicles.

During this wonderful .and not too modern, days in the past when you had to select one type of oil you would choose either Type A or Type F, depending on what you were driving. Automakers believed in simplicity then too. If you had a Ford and you knew how to spell the name, then you knew that you needed Type F oil. The Type oil pretty much covered any other machine requiring oil during those years.

Today there are shelves that display dozens of oils, a customer can walk into an auto store and find specific oil that has been created for almost every car company. If your car has an automatic transmission then it is critical that you know which of these oils your car requires.

If the wrong type of oil is added to an automatic transmission, it can create some shifting problems. Any problem involving shifting only heightens the stress of the gears. Far worse than a shifting problem, is the fact that you could end up damaging your transmission. There have been cars that had to have the entire transmission removed and a new one installed due to incorrect oil products.

The old Type A -transmission oil has undergone a complete transformation over the years and is now known as ATF or Dexron Automatic Transmission Fluid. ATF oil has gone through steady changes and improvements, but it remains a very dependable and quality car additive.

Type A Transmission Fluid was first marketed as Dexron and this product soon gave way to Dexron II .This changed once again to became Dexron IIE in the 90s.This version had extra performance enhancers which were used to improve the viscosity of the oil.

It was seen that the additions of enhancers were very useful for achieving better performance with the shifter and transmission solenoids. The shifter solenoids were computer controlled and the ones in the transmission were controlled by pressure. Later in the 90s, Dexron IIE was reformulated and introduced as Dexron III, which is the one that is presently used.

At least there is an easy answer to the query about which type of oil to use in many of today's automatic t transmissions. Regardless of the designation (II, IIE or III), Dexron III is available today for any vehicle that requires a Dexron formula. Dexron III can be substituted for any of its earlier relatives.

Dexron has become an industry standard for almost all of the automakers. The entire production line of General Motors cars and trucks require this type of oil. Even automobiles that are produced by foreign manufacturers use Dexron. This oil is also put into Fords and the Chrysler Vehicles that were made through 96. This multipurpose workhorse oil has even been used in power steering units and hydraulic machinery.

Ford autos and trucks up until 1996 were using the Type F oil but so were some other manufacturers. The addition of some special ingredients made Type F oil the perfect match to balance the friction created in the automatic transmission’s clutch plates.

One of the cautions that came about the Type F oil was an alert for users so that they would become aware of the strength and concentration of this one oil. The added boosters to the Type F oil made it so strong that 1L of Type F could be added to 5 L of Dixon oil and all of the oil would have the characteristic qualities of Type F oil.

In some cars, the Type F oil would noticeably slow down and create a drag in the transmission’s smoothly functioning gears. The gears would have to work harder to get the job done. Consumers need to be aware that the MERCON ATF and the Type F oil are not compatible at all.

Although Chrysler has always had their own ATF specifications, they have also listed Dexron oil as an acceptable replacement. That changed The Honda vehicles use engine oil for automatic transmissions in a number of their cars. There is an automatic transmission that is found in cars in Europe and Asia that only uses ESSO LT71141 or T-IV ATF. There are a number of synthetic oils that are being marketed today and you should always check for compatibility before using.

By 1997, Chrysler began to use ATF+3 oil. This oil can be substituted for ATF+2, ATF PLUS Type 7176 ATF. This is a type of oil that is used by many of the Mitsubishi and Hyundai models.

Most drivers no longer change their own vehicle’s oil and the garages and mechanics are familiar with the specs and requirements of cars and trucks. If someone should have to add oil for some reason, they can look in the owner’s manual and it will list what kinds of oil and how much is required for your particular auto. Dealerships and most auto shops will be helpful and you can check online if all else has failed to produce the information that you need.

Car hobbyists may remember that today’s automatic transmission was originally brought to the market by the Oldsmobile Company. It was quite unusual and more of a curiosity when it was first debuted in public. That cumbersome 3 speed metal hulk bears no resemblance to its compact, high tech descendant, but the Oldsmobile Company was responsible for the prototype and the first working models that were being driven in public before WWII.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Quick Ways to perform your own Air-Conditioning Trouble-Shooting Checks for Cars

Automobile air conditioners are not given much thought during those cooler months of the year, but as soon as the weather begins to warm the air conditioning questions start up. There is no one category of problems or concerns when it comes to air conditioners.

Owners want to know how to control odors or eliminate them altogether, how to make the air conditioners blow faster and harder or they have questions about unusual sounds or noises that they are hearing when they turn their systems on. Other owners are most annoyed over what they describe as too little coolness being produced by their once well functioning AC systems. Troubleshooting AC units is one of the most common tasks that is requested by automobile owners today.

The coolant that is used in automotive systems today is R134a. This substance is formulated from microscopically tiny particles. Its tiny size means that it can escape, or leak, from any type of opening that occurs within the entire cooling system. If there are leaks this means that there is less available coolant and this is one of the reasons that owners suddenly notice the drastic decrease in the ability of their air conditioning unit to produce the type of coolness that they are used to.

This was a much more common problem in the past, but with the introduction of the new coolant, the seals and hoses being used were also upgraded to help ward off this type of situation. There is no fool proof way of keeping the system completely tight and leak free and over the course of time there will often be enough of a loss of coolant to produce problems. Once the coolant level has dropped far enough the lack of cool air conditioning will be readily apparent. It usually requires 3 or more years for slow depletion of the coolant to reach this level.

With the newer types of air conditioning systems there have been changes in the design which means that they will not blow out the amount of air that owners may have seen with older model cars. These air conditioning systems are designed to be lightweight and efficient.

The aim is to cool the vehicle to a particular level and provide no additional cooling. This different cooling system is often problematic for some consumers to understand. They want the temperature level to drop fast and at a furious rate when they engage the air conditioners. This is not quite the way today's AC units are designed to work for us.

Instead of carrying a couple of kilograms of cooling material, most of these units only have a scant half kilogram contained in their system. This means that while cooling is possible, it will not be instant frosty cold breezes that chill everyone in both the front and the back seats. Today the air conditioners are much more efficient and environmentally friendly.

The air conditioning systems used in autos today are designed to get good amounts of cooling out of smaller units but this makes any loss of coolant readily noticeable. With a leak in today’s systems, there is no way the air conditioner is going to be able to properly cool the car.

A quick recharge of the coolant is usually all that it will take to have the AC working once again. Mechanics will also need to do a system test to see if there are any other pinhole leaks or loose seals before he will recharge the system. This will prevent damage to the environment and will save the auto owner money in the long run.

When it comes to the strange noises that may be encountered when you turn the air conditioning on, there could be several reasons that this is happening. Sometimes tiny bits of gravel or road debris can become trapped in the ridging of belts and this could be what you are hearing. This can prove easy enough to check and remedy. An AC unit that is overcharged with coolant can create a hydraulic lock in the compressor machinery. This will create a loud thump, or hammer sound.

Too little coolant can create bearing failure and this will create a knocking sound whenever the compressor is engaged. The compressor can easily be damaged if there is a major leak in the system and the owner is still trying to use the AC. This will create a loud knocking sound that is unmistakable to a mechanic.

Air conditioning problems can also be due to faulty switches or fuses. The vent doors inside the AC housing can also become stuck, and even pens, papers, clips or other bits can find their way into the defroster vents and manually block the doors and prevent cool air from entering. Sometimes the housing unit will have to be removed for cleaning and repair. Always keep vents in your car free and clear of anything that could slip through the openings and create problems.

For bad odors from air conditioners, be aware that mold is usually the responsible culprit. There are sprays you can purchase to use to help with this problem. You can also take the car to an auto shop where mechanics are trained to deal with problems of this type. One suggestion that may help is for you to always try to run the air conditioner for a few minutes before you park the car for the night. This may help dry the vents which can decrease the damp environment that is necessary for mold to thrive.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

The Possible Causes of Automotive Air Conditioning Problems

Although many people usually take the air conditioning in their cars for granted, until it stops working correctly, of course, the truth of the matter is that this is a rather important part of your vehicle with many vital components that must be maintained on a regular basis. If you've ever sat down in a car that's been sitting in the sun, you are already well aware of just how necessary a functioning air conditioning system really is.

While the push of a button is all it takes to turn the air conditioner on in your car, there are many different components working in tandem behind the scenes to produce the cool air we've come to rely upon, and any one of these may cause the system to not work properly. Fortunately, the air conditioning in cars made today are usually highly reliable systems with very little problems occurring, however, the most common difficulties are either no cool air or simply not enough cool air flowing from the vents.

No Cold Air

No cold or cool air at all coming from the air conditioner's vents may mean any one of the following problems:

- A blown fuse

- A broken drive belt

- A clog in the expansion valve

- A clogged refrigerant line

- A clogged receiver-drier line

- An existing defect in the expansion valve

- A slow leak in the hoses or seals

- A loose drive belt

Not Enough Cold Air

An insufficient flow of cool air coming from the A/C may signal another set of problems, including:

- A clogged condenser or evaporator

- A loose drive belt

- A low refrigerant charge

- A partially clogged expansion valve

- A partially clogged filter

- A problem with the compressor clutch slipping

- A slow leak somewhere in the system, such as in the hoses or seals

While it is completely normal for some refrigerant to leak from a car's air conditioning system, larger leaks may indicate a bigger problem with the compressor's seal or damage to one of the components.

Caring for Your Car's Air Conditioner

Although most repairs for air conditioning systems in cars will require special tools and equipment that many of us do not own, there are still several things you can do to keep your car's A/C running at its full capacity. Regular maintenance checks, according to the recommendations in your car's owner's manual, are important as the system contains many moving parts and components that must be checked for damage or disrepair.

Many newer makes and models of cars come equipped with filters within the duct portion of the air conditioner that are in place to trap dust and pollen before it reaches the air in the car. Although these may be rather beneficial for those people who suffer from allergies, depending on where you live and the air quality and pollution levels, the filters may fill up quickly and cause a reduction in airflow.

While there may still be enough refrigerant in place to cool the air, the clogged filter will impede the flow, making it too weak to cool down the inside of the vehicle. Directions for changing this filter and where to purchase new ones should also be in the owner's manual.

Even air conditioning systems without this special filter in place can experience reduced airflow because of trapped dirt, pollen, and moisture that may eventually turn to mold, further aggravating allergies.

If there is a musty odor coming from the A/C vents just after turning the system on, this may indicate the presence of mold which could be blocking the system's evaporator. The air might feel cool, but the flow won't be strong enough to cool off the entire car. A mechanic will be able to remove the parts necessary to clean, such as those leading to the evaporator, with certain chemicals needed to dissolve the build-up.

Even if you live in a cold climate and don't need to use your car's air conditioner very often, many mechanics recommend running the system for at least ten minutes per month to keep the moving parts within the compressor properly lubricated. The compressor is also used in many types of cars when the defroster is used, so you may not have to actually run the air conditioner at all.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Air Conditioning Retrofits

It is becoming increasingly expensive to repair air conditioning in a car. The increase in price is mainly due to the fact that they have stopped producing the R-12 because it was thought to be damaging the ozone layer. About five years ago, the R-12 part would have cost about two dollars per kilogram. It now costs about fifty-five dollars per kilogram. They have also introduced a tax amount on to the price as well, so the R-12 part has become very expensive. It is thought that there are enough R-12 parts available to last about the next three years, and then that will be them all used up.

It is highly recommended that you check the air conditioning for leaks on a regular basis, and repair the leaks as they appear instead of waiting till it is completely broken. This will help to save on the amount of money you have to pay to get it repaired, and also it will help to reduce the number of R-12 parts that are being used.

There have been a lot of other parts tested to see if they will be able to replace the R-12. However, only one part came anywhere close to the R-12. The part that could be the alternative is the R-134a. However, this part is not very reliable as it does not work well with the R-12 oil. It can be very costly to change the car to be able to accommodate the R-134a. The R-134a part will cost between fifty dollars and a few hundred dollars. Most of the conversions are very costly, because it means stripping out the whole of the dashboard to be able to change it over. This is a very time consuming job for the mechanics. The cheapest conversions involve removing the R-12 part and changing all the service ports and pressure switches. The more expensive conversions involve changing the compressor, condenser, all the hoses, and all the switches and fittings. All the different makes and models have different requirements, so the exact requirements have to be obtained from the manufacturers. They mainly recommend to only doing the change if you have had a major problem with the air conditioning system. The R-134a has come down in price so much so over the years that they are now in most cases cheaper to change the system, rather than to repair the old R-12.

There are two different types of cars when you are talking about doing an air conditioning conversion. The first type of car is the Japanese models. These are cars such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, and the Rover. The cars are slightly easier to change the air conditioning in, as the evaporator is located under the dashboard in front of the passenger seat. The second type is the European car such as Ford, BMW and Peugeot. The second type of cars are a lot harder to change the air conditioning in as the evaporator is located underneath the main engine, so it means you have to remove the whole dashboard and steering column. It can sometimes take days to change the air conditioning in the second type of car, so therefore the cost will be a lot higher. It is also a lot harder to change it in small cars such as a Honda Civic, because the engine is fitted closer together.

There are four different methods that you can choose from. These are a manufacturing kit, approved alternative kits, an installation by an air conditioning technician, or a second hand system. The method that you choose to go for will probably depend on what size of budget you have, as the prices vary a lot between the different methods. The manufactured kits can cost anywhere between one thousand one hundred and eight dollars to two thousand four hundred dollars. The fitting of this system would cost between six hundred dollars and one thousand five hundred dollars. The approved alternative kits can cost anything from two thousand dollars. To get the air conditioning technician to change the system would probably cost anything from one thousand seven hundred dollars. The other option which you could go for is it get a second hand system which still works, and that would probably cost you about one thousand nine hundred and seventy dollars. Then you would have to get a mechanic to fit it for you, so you would also have labour time on top of the initial cost of buying it.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Common Air Conditioning Repairs for Cars

Most all new cars that are sold now are equipped with an air conditioning (A/C) system, with most of us relying on it every single day, depending on where we live and the surrounding climate. Thankfully, there are very few problems with the sophisticated, modern systems of today, however, every A/C will need some type of maintenance at some point, and after a few years of service, most will need new refrigerant added as well.

The two most common complaints about air conditioning in cars is that the system is either producing not enough cold air, or no cold air at all. Neither case means that the entire system is damaged or must be replaced, but rather a series of diagnostic checks should be made to determine the exact root of the problem and if any parts do need replacing or repaired.

Understanding Automotive Air Conditioning

A car's air conditioner is comprised of six main components, the compressor and condenser, an evaporator, the receiver-drier, a thermostatic expansion valve, and the liquid refrigerant. Having a basic understanding as to how each of these work will help when it comes time to locate the source of a problem or when having it repaired.

The compressor is what actually powers the system and is driven by belt that is connected to a part of the car's engine. The compressor then emits vapors from the liquid refrigerant using high pressure and heat sent to the unit's condenser. The A/C condenser then changes the vapors to liquid before it moves on to the area known as the receiver-drier, which not only serves as a type of storage tank for the refrigerant in its liquid state, but removes excess the moisture from the refrigerant as well.

The liquid refrigerant is then sent to the unit's thermostatic expansion valve that works to remove all of the pressure, allowing it to expand and turn into a vapor as it flows through the evaporator, which is rather similar to the condenser. After the low pressure refrigerant is sent to the evaporator it is vaporized and works to absorb all of the existing heat from the air inside the car's passenger compartment. Once all of the heat is absorbed, the air remains cool and is circulated throughout the inside with the help of a blower fan.

System Performance Tests and Checking for Leaks

Although a system performance test is not an actual repair itself, it is still vitally necessary along with an initial evaluation in order to determine the actual cause for the air conditioning system's poor performance. The final repairs made will ultimately depend on the diagnostic tests used, which may be as simple as a visual inspection of the system.

An air conditioning system performance test will involve first checking the temperature of the air coming from the vents to ensure that it is below the normal levels. If so, the mechanic or technician will then perform what is known as a head pressure check in which gauges are used to determine the level of refrigerant in the system.

Low pressure readings, or the absence of pressure at all, will indicate that there is usually a leak somewhere that must be located and repaired before adding more refrigerant, which thanks to the Clean Air Act enacted by the U.S. federal government, no longer contains chlorofluorocarbons that we now know to be extremely harmful to the atmosphere's delicate ozone layer.

While it is completely normal, and even necessary, for a car's air conditioner to lose some of its refrigerant, larger leaks will cause a noticeable loss of performance. If diagnostic tests do reveal either low or no pressure coming from the system, a technician must scan it to locate the problem area and ascertain if the leak is liquid or gas refrigerant and which components must be replaced.

Pressure readings during the system performance test that are too high may indicate a blockage or restriction somewhere that is preventing the refrigerant from flowing properly. In most cases, small pieces of dirt have found their way into the small tube that's in place to filter out debris and must be flushed out in order to restore the flow of air through the vents.

All automotive air conditioning systems now must use what is known as R-134A, which is an environmentally friendly refrigerant. Those vehicles made before the year 1996 may still be using the old chemical called R-12 and by law, their A/C systems must be converted or refitted in order to be able to receive the newer refrigerant. All new valves must be installed as well as a complete flushing and cleaning to remove all remnants of the old refrigerant as mixing the two substances will irreparably damage the system and its components.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Attack those Awful Air Conditioning Odors

Automobiles do not usually have stale, unpleasant odors but many drivers are often bothered and annoyed when they turn on the car's cooling system and those musty, stale air conditioning odors rush out of the vents. It is actually quite common for people to turn on air conditioning units and notice stale odors for the first 3-5 minutes

Usually after several moments of air conditioning odors, the unpleasant smell will simply fade away. Sometimes this peculiar odor will remain as long as the air conditioner is on and the fan is blowing. Even fairly new cars are not immune from the stale and annoying odors that very often accompany the cool breeze from your car’s air conditioner. While not a health hazard, these odors can be very unpleasant. Most people want a safe and easy way to rid their vehicles of the scent.

A basic review of the air conditioner system in a car is necessary in order to develop a better understanding of how and why unpleasant air conditioning odors occur. You can also find out how to get rid of the odors with a little elbow grease and disinfectant. This tip might help you prevent future occurrences of this same problem.

When an auto's air conditioner is started, the compressor pump has to push the coolant through the hoses and coils to the condenser. The condenser is easy to find and is located in front of the radiators.

This is the place where the coolant product is actually cooled and is changed into liquid form. The liquid in the condenser is then pulled through tubes and hoses to the auto's evaporator unit. The evaporator unit is found in the ac heater housing unit. At this junction, the fluid will be changed into a gas and the heat from the evaporator unit is absorbed by this gas.

The air has almost constant water vapors that are present and this creates condensation on the newly cooled vents of the evaporator unit. This is the same thing that occurs when you take a cool jar from your refrigerator and place it on the table. The difference in temperature creates a layer of water, or condensation on the outside of the jar.

The condensed water is what traps the dirt and dust from the air as it is moving through the vents of the evaporator unit and blowing into the car to cool the passengers. Ordinarily you would expect this dirty water to drip into the bottom pan of the air conditioning and heater-housing unit. You always see this fluid dripping and puddling beneath cars in parking lots, especially during those hot, summer months.

Whenever a car is being driven it will encounter a dirty environment. You can count on some of the dirt, dust and other pollutants to end up caught in the bottom pan of this housing unit. This is not a totally air tight piece of machinery. This dirt and dust will also coat the evaporator unit, particularly on the tiny vents. These vents lead into the interior of your vehicle and as the air begins to blow through the system, and over these vents, you smell and inhale all of the air conditioning odors from the dirty water and whatever is in the water.

With a mixture of a dark warm environment, water, and dirt, you have a perfect place for fungi, bacteria, mold, and mildew. It is the dirty water and these microbes that are responsible for those air conditioning odors that you dislike. Your air conditioning unit is almost an innocent party; its only fault is trying to keep you cool.

There are some ways for you to clean and disinfect the units and thereby get rid of the air conditioning odors:

You can remove the entire housing unit and clean it yourself with disinfectant solutions.

You can opt to take the car to a professional mechanic and hire him to do this for you.

You can also just use a spray disinfectant solution and try to spray this into the complete interior of the housing unit. This auto AC disinfectant is available at almost all auto shops and all of the dealerships now carry it. If you will also clean the evaporating unit, you will help decrease or remove the odor and this one little project may help your air conditioner perform better. When you clean those vents on the evaporating unit this often allows better airflow and more efficient cooling.

Spray the disinfectant into the housing unit by aiming through the visible opening where the blower motor is mounted upon the resistor block. Your car's resistor block must be unbolted from the mount to get to the opening, but leave the block and the wiring connected. You must make sure to keep the blower motor running while you are doing the disinfecting. This is important to allow the spray to disinfect the system. Make sure to get the disinfectant into the housing and on the evaporator unit. Do not spray any of the solution onto any hot motor parts.

Use your vent fans or household portable fans to keep the interior of your car well ventilated during the time that you are actively applying the disinfectant. You want to get all of the disinfectant and the residue out and blown away. Let the car sit for about 5-10 minutes and then thoroughly wash and rinse all around the housing with at least 3-4 L of clean water. You will need to spray this water through that same opening. At this point, you can turn off your fans and put your resistor block back in its proper place.