If you own a car, you need to look after its maintenance so that it keeps performing in a god condition all the time. While people pay attention to most other things inside the engine to get the best performance from their cars, they forget or ignore the spark plugs and spark plug wires that play a crucial role in the performance of the engine of the car. Spark plugs may be cheap but they perform very important role in the ignition system of your car. It is these spark plugs that ensure your car is able to start with a single and short movement of the car keys inside the ignition. This is because the spark plug ignites the air and fuel mixture inside the ignition chamber every time you turn on the ignition.
Mind the gap in the spark plugs
Normally you feel nothing as long as spark plugs keep on performing to their best. It is only when there is some trouble with these plugs or they have come near to the end of their life that you need to replace the spark plugs. Another important component of the ignition system is the wires that carry electric current produced by the ignition coil to the spark plug. Using proper spark plugs and its wires ensures you are never stranded on road with your car not starting on account of lack of spark needed for the combustion of fuel. There is a standard gap across your spark plug that is necessary to generate the spark needed for turn on the ignition. The ability of the plug to create this spark every time on time is known as its electrical performance. Another aspect of the performance of the spark plugs is their thermal performance that should be such that there is no pre ignition but the firing end temperature is such that there is no fouling either.
Often, spark plug wires are the culprits
Spark plug wires are rarely checked by mechanics when troubleshooting during a repair. They are always going after condenser, point, distributor cap, and even spark plugs but they never think that even spark plug wires need a replacement. There are basically two types of wires around spark plugs, the copper wires and the silicone wires. Copper wires are great when it comes to carrying current from the distributor cap to the spark plugs. These wires are very durable and do not require replacement frequently. However, with heat and use over time, these wires cause leakage of voltage so they produce the current but at a lower voltage. Many car manufacturers are today using silicone wires that are good but not so durable. This is the reason spark plug wires need frequent inspection.
When carrying out inspection of spark plug wires, the first thing to check is whether they are clean or not. Wires accumulate a lot of dirt and this dirt can cause drop of voltage. Dirt on the wires can also cause current leakage with weakening of insulation. You can wipe clean the dirt with a moist piece of cloth or even use a mild detergent to get rid of all the dirt. Take out one wire at a time and clean and replace it before moving on to the next wire. After cleaning, ensure that the ends of all the wires are firmly connected with the spark plugs. These wires need replacement if you find them surrounded by blue sparks when turning on the ignition of the car.
Proper inspection and maintenance of spark plugs and spark plug wires ensures you never have a stranded car on account of problem in these critical components.
If you have got an imported car for yourself and your family, it is better to have a basic understanding of its electrical system to not go to your car dealer every now and then to solve small problems that keep arising with usage. This is also prudent from the point of view of saving your hard earned money as you can be charged heavily for a minor problem that you can rectify on your own at home. If you have some basic knowledge of physics, it is easy to deal with the electrical snags arising in your car. The electrical system in your imported car comprises its battery, alternator, and the starter of the car.
No matter what car you are using, its battery is the backbone of its electrical system. It is mostly a lead acid battery contained in a plastic box where there are separate plates made of lead to indicate positive and negative charge. There are terminals to which these plates are connected and it is through these terminals that power is supplied to your car. Without this 12V battery, it is impossible to start the engine of your imported car. The plates of the battery are separated by insulators and immersed in a liquid called electrolyte (a mixture of water and H2SO4). There is always reaction between the lead plates and this electrolyte that produces gases. These gases are allowed to escape through holes in the cover of the battery.
If the car is not taking self, it is most probably the result of a low battery. You require a volt ohm meter to check the condition of the battery. If the meter shows low voltage, you require a battery charger to charge the battery to start the car. However, if the battery is quite old, you may be required to replace the battery altogether with a new one. For proper maintenance, check the level of electrolyte frequently and replenish it regularly. Also, see that the battery is properly secured as vibrations tend to lower the life of a battery.
It is the alternator fitted in your imported car that allows the car to make use of the stored energy in your car battery. It also keeps on charging the car battery. All electrical accessories and the ignition of the car make use of the power produced by this alternator that is AC but converted into DC later. The workload on the alternator decides its life. If you listen to stereo a lot and even watch movies in your car, you are putting too much of load on your alternator to cause its death in 3-4 years. Shortened life of alternator also leads to prematurely dead battery. Alternator is required for drawing current for various electrical activities such as using rear window defogger, blower, wipers on the windshield, ignition, brake lights, headlights, and so on.
Check the belt tension of the alternator drive belt frequently to prevent it from going dead prematurely. Before spring every season, do not forget to get the charging system of your car checked by your mechanic.
Starter of the car is used only a few times in a day but is very important part of the electrical system of your imported car. If connections are properly made and do not get overheated with deposition of dirt and grime, starter should keep on working for a long time. Do not try to turn on the car with other components like AC, blower, and stereo etc on to reduce the load on the starter.
Keep the load on the electrical system checked frequently to prevent any major breakdown.
What do you do to prepare for the impending winter season? Do you not take out all your woolens and pack all your summer cotton T-shirts and shorts into wardrobes? But have you ever spared a thought for your poor car that ahs to weather the elements in chilly winds and biting cold conditions during winters? As temperatures start to drop, the performance of the engine of your also starts to drop. You also experience many driving problems because of inclement weather such as slippery roads and the blizzards and snowfalls. It is therefore prudent to prepare your car so that it is able to face the elements and still provide a safe and comfortable ride to you and the family.
Check the tire pressure
It may sound awkward but tire pressure can jeopardize your safety during winters when the tires have lower air pressure than recommended. With the roads slippery because of rain and snowfall, keeping tire pressure right is a good idea to prevent mishap.
Check the grooves on the tires
Is your car more than a year old and you drive a lot? Then inspect the grooves of your car tires and see that they are in the right condition and not worn out. If necessary, get a retreading of the tires done at a small price to ensure stability of the vehicle under slippery road conditions.
Clean the windscreen and the wipers
The windshield of your car is your gateway to the outside world when driving. If it is not clean and clear, snow and rain during winters can make it more unclear and unsafe. If your wipers are not working properly, they will not be able to clear all the snow while driving jeopardizing with your safety.
Check on the lights and their glasses
Weather can suddenly get murky and dark during winters while driving making it necessary to turn on the lights. Lights become dirty with use and you need to wipe them clean regularly to make sure that they are visible from a distance even if visibility is low.
Get the car serviced before the winters
It goes without saying that winters are more demanding on the engine and the exteriors of your car than summers. It is not a bad idea then to get your car serviced and all fluids topped up and replaced to allow it to perform at an optimum condition. Low temperatures often make it difficult to start the car during mornings. Get the gapping between the spark plugs checked and even replace plugs that are close to expiry.
Check the battery connections
Get the health of the battery of your car checked to make sure it does not cause problems in starting the engine and takes the load easily when the heater of the car is continuously working. If the battery is down, get it charged to be prepared for cold and biting conditions.
Pay attention to the coolant
Coolant that works great during summers might pose problems during winters because of a sudden drop in temperatures. Though there is antifreeze chemical in the coolant, do check its condition and get the right type placed inside your car to give nice performance during winters.
Keep some woolens inside the car
Never make the folly of going out without proper winter attire even if you do not have to get outside the car. Who knows you might get caught in a notorious road jam and spend the night inside your car in cold and biting conditions.
If you follow these tips, you will never be in any trouble on account of your car during winters.
What is a thermostat
A Thermostat Is a device which senses the temperature of a control system and maintains the temperature within a fixed limit by using cooling and heating systems. It also controls the drift of heating fluid to limit the level of temperature near a definite point. The Thermostat makes use of multiple sensors to sense heat and thereby uses other systems to maintain it.
How does it work
The thermostat constitutes of a cylindrical body located near the engine of the car. This body has fax filled in it which begins to melt at around 180 degrees Fahrenheit (melting point of wax). A shaft which is banded together with a valve starts pushing into the melting wax. When the wax melts completely it expands and forces the shaft out of the cylinder, thereby unsealing the valve.
What does thermostat do
All car engines comprising of liquid cooling system consist of a thermostat located between the radiator and the engine. When you start the engine of your car, the position of the thermostat is a state of blocking the refrigerant from flowing towards the radiator. This means that the coolant does not flow till the engine is cold. As soon as the engine warms up and starts operating at its standard temperature, which is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermostat loosens its valve and opens. By doing this it helps the engine to get to the standard working temperature soon. Warming up of the engine quickly every time it is started results in less deposits and emissions. Along with this, it also increases the life of the engine.
Why does it fail
The thermostat is a device which controls the flow of coolant in the engine. When a thermostat fails to perform the above said function, it is said to have been failed. This happens when it is stuck blocked and is unable to open the valve. This prevents the coolant to flow to the engine because of which there is an overheating of the engine.
There are three types of thermostat failures.
The first one is Thermostat stuck closed. During this failure, the piston and the wax combination stops functioning as a result of which the wax is not able to keep the valve closed when it needs to be. Thermostat stuck closed is a condition in which the element of the wax is either damaged or broken due to overheating.
The second one is Thermostat stuck open. During this failure, the thermostat is not able to close the valve when coolant flow has to be stopped because of which the engine requires much more time as compared to normal to reach the optimum temperature. It is also possible that the engine doesn’t achieve the normal working temperature in case the atmospheric temperature is too low. Thermostat stuck open is a condition in which the coolant flows to the engine when it is still cold. The main reason of this type of thermostat failure can be the binding back of the sensor, broken recoil spring or some junk sticks in between and restrict the closure of the valve.
The third one is the thermostat stuck half way. This is the most common failure any engine may face during its operation. This type of failure happens either when the shaft of the piston is jammed halfway or the wax may not fully expand and thus fails to accomplish the task of opening the valve.
However if any of the above condition rises, you should not panic. You can always get the problem fixed or replace the thermostat before it can damage any of the machines.
Your car is a machine and it can breakdown at any point of time. No matter which profession you belong to, you will always try to repair your car firstly to save time and secondly to save some bucks. When you try to work on your car, you need to keep in mind some important things so that you do not injure yourself or damage the car even more.
The most important thing to be kept in mind is to know your capability. Please do not try to repair something if you are not sure of it. It is better to get some help rather to create a worse situation. Proper expertise and use of advanced tools is sometimes the call of the breakdown.
Secondly, identify and accept your physical limitations. Please do not attempt to perform a task for which you are not strong enough. Replacing and fixing some machinery involves great physical strength. You can always hire someone to accomplish tasks such as changing tires, dragging a cylinder head or crawling under the vehicle. Also avoid starting any repair work if you are feeling tired or ill. Right judgement of the cause and solution is necessary to get the problem fixed efficiently without any risk but if you are ill or tired, your perception and sense of judgement is not totally under your control and hence repairing your car in this condition may invite some troubles.
Along with these general precautions there are some safety tips that you should keep in mind while working on your car.
Please take good care of yourself and your vehicle while handling a breakdown. If you are unable to fix the problem, call a mechanic and get your car repaired from the professional.
Do you know that most of your driving decisions are based upon what you see through your windshield? Yes, this is both natural and obvious as our eyes send signals to our brain and we take action accordingly whether to shift gears or press the brake pedal. This means that a clean and clear windshield is a must for us, to take correct and timely decisions while driving. A clear vision is very essential while driving and if anyone takes this issue not so seriously, they are bound to fall in deep trouble.
Blades suffer from wear and tear
Wiper blades are made of rubber but with constant use, they get worn out with the result that you get to hear a squeaky sound, when you use them during rainy season. This is a warning signal for you to get wiper blades replaced, as they start to scratch the windshield making noises and leaving scratch marks that are permanent and make the windshield unclear and hazy. As the wiper blades are made of rubber, they are susceptible to wear and tear because of the weather and many other elements. There is also ozone and sunlight to degrade your wiper blade and make it unfit to clean the windshield properly and efficiently.
Weather in the place you live plays an important role in deteriorating the condition of your wiper blades. If you live in biting cold weather conditions, snow and chilly winds can harden your wiper rubber to make it brittle. This results in blades getting cracked or torn apart at places to injure the windshield when used. If you continue to use such deteriorated wiper blades over the windshield of your car, you can be rest assured to get a windscreen that is hazy and unclear in addition to having lots of scratch marks. The following is a list of different aspects that can make your wiper blades to deteriorate quickly and as a result harm your windshield.
Replace when they start making squeaky noises
You have to bear in mind that wiper blades have a life during which they work efficiently. You must replace these blades or at least the squeeze fitted in the blades every year (twice a year if you live in adverse weather conditions). Replacing the squeeze is a very inexpensive option that can save you a lot of your money, where worn out blades force you to change the windscreen. If you fail to pay heed to this advice, you could end up with a windshield that is a safety hazard to you. Keep on cleaning the wiper blades occasionally with a moist cloth if you feel the edges have become rough. A windshield seems to be a very insignificant part of a vehicle, but if not taken proper care of, can lead to accidents, so in short shouldn’t be ignored.
If you live in a place that experiences heavy snowfall, clear off the snow on your windscreen yourself before turning on the wiper blades. If the blades appear to be too dirty after heavy use, clean them using vinegar that wipes away dirt and opil that may have got deposited over them.
A stitch in time saves nine. This is an old saying that is as good today as it must have been hundreds of years ago, in particular with reference to the maintenance of your car. A lot many people buy new cars by getting them financed without bothering about the cost of maintenance of these cars. It is obvious and natural that moving parts in cars will be subject to wear and tear and need regular checkups and repair or replacements. But if you delay repairs for long as you have not included tem in your financial plans while buying the car, you will pay dearly in the long run.
Skipping monthly car maintenance will cost you in the long run
If you are on a tight budget, it is really tempting to skip on recommended monthly maintenance of your car. This is because there is seemingly no problem with the car and you feel like wasting your money on a routine checkup. However, lapse in maintenance causes big problems in cars that can cause a hole in the pocket of their owners. If you happen to be lucky and avoid a major breakdown, you still pay dearly in terms of reduced lifespan of your car. Regular maintenance not only keeps your car in top running condition but also helps in indentifying future problems to nip them n the bud, to talk in proverbial terms.
Check on the fluid levels
There is no need to remains scared with the word maintenance. It is like going to your doctor for a routine health checkup. You are not going to be billed if there is no problem with your organs, isn’t it? First and foremost in monthly car maintenance is checking on the levels of fluids in your car. There are many different types of fluids used inside your car, and all you need to do during your monthly maintenance is to check on the levels of these fluids. These fluids include, engine oil, brake oil, coolant, power steering fluid, fluid to wash windshield, differential fluid etc. Lower than recommended levels of these fluids can be cause trouble with transmission, engine, cooling system, differential etc. However, if you carry out this monthly check up, you can save yourself a lot of money incurred on repairs later on. Regular changing of oils keeps the engine clean and well lubricated. This means less friction and thus lesser wear and tear of moving parts.
Air pressure is important too
Something as innocuous as low air pressure can cost dearly in terms of poor performance of your car. Keep your tires inflated with the correct air pressure and carry out this routine check up as frequently as you can. You may not know this, but running your car on low air pressure leads to poor mileage of the car costing you more money spent on gas. It is not just air pressure but also the rotations of the tires and their alignment that is very important to keep an eye upon. Of course you cannot do tire alignment on your own but getting tires aligned means your steering and suspension are well aligned thereby not leading to any future problem.
Changing the sparkplugs and filters regularly
If you live in a state where your car has to pass a certain emission test to be declared fit, it pays to keep on changing sparkplugs and filters to not fail such an emission test. Check on the condition of the spark plugs, air filters, hoses, fuel filter, PCV valve etc to reduce emission levels. Clogging of PCV valve can lead to poor mileage, poor acceleration, and even poor power generation. If you find the PCV valve clogged, change it to enhance the performance of your car.
When do we jack up our car
When it comes to jacking up a car, the first obvious thing that comes to your mind is a flat tire. However there are many other things like examining the brake system or inspecting the lower machinery for which it is necessary to get under your car.
Follow the given steps to learn how to safely jack up your car.
Park your car on an even ground and pull up the emergency brake. This is a small lever located just next to the driving seat behind the gear panel. This is done to make sure that the vehicle doesn’t move unnecessarily and remains stable during the operation. Leaving the vehicle in the first gear can serve as an alternative. Now place a block or a brick behind the wheel diagonally opposite to the target wheel in position.
The jack should now be placed under the car adjacent to the target wheel. You must now search for a thin lining that outlines the edge of the car and position the jack on it. The jack stand should be placed near to the jack.
Now insert the rod into the jack according to the manual’s instructions and start rotating it so that the upper panel of the jack hikes up. In case it comes down, turn the handle in the opposite direction. Some jacks have a switch with two modes; R for Raise and L for Lower.
When your car is at a sufficient altitude, bring the jack stand in position to hold the weight of the car. This brings the car in a position with enough space under it. You can safely change the tire or reach out to other systems at the lower side. While changing a flat tire, don’t forget to leave some room for the new tire as it would be inflated.
The jack is a very simple and useful tool but to use it properly is an art that you need to master because if you are unable to properly jack up your car, there is a risk of getting the car damaged or injuring yourself.
So, you must take the following precautions while jacking up your car.
Keeping a car for one’s use today is a necessity and not a luxury. If you pay attention and carry out regular checkups and inspections, maintaining a car can become easy both on your wallet as well as your mind. Regular maintenance prevents your car from major breakdowns and you get to enjoy the best performance from your car. Like most car owners, you are likely to miss or ignore the maintenance and repair of its steering and suspension system even though these happen to play a crucial part in the safety of your car.
What does suspension system do?
If you do not know, it is the steering and suspension that decide your control over your car and how smooth the ride is going to be. Imagine going at a great speed and experiencing a bump on road. This causes the forward energy of the car to be converted into vertical energy. This vertical energy travels from bottom to the top of the car and without the leaf springs and the coil in the suspension system of your car, this vertical energy would cause the car to go much higher in air than it does as the suspension absorbs the vertical energy. This little example is enough to convey the importance of suspension system in providing a safe and comfortable ride to you and your family. This obviously calls for a frequent inspection and regular checkup to prevent any major breakdown in your car’s suspension system.
It is not just the bumps on road but also sudden stops that are well absorbed by the suspension of your car to make it a comfortable and safe ride for you. This calls for proper maintenance and regular checkup of the steering and suspension system of your car to ensure you and your family keep enjoying safe rides time after time.
Steering and suspension systems are interconnected
The steering system of the car is made up of many different components such as the steering wheel, steering arm, tire and track rods etc. Similarly, the suspension system of your car is made up of many different parts such as frame, axle, shock absorbers, arms, struts, torsion bars, and so on. It goes without saying that all these parts take a lot of beating because of all the impacts and movements of the car. Therefore, they wear out quicker than other parts of the car and also need a proper care and maintenance. Inspect the condition of these two important systems at least every few months. Also, make sure that you get wheels aligned and balanced every year to prevent any major mishap on account of poor wheel alignment.
Keep steering and suspension in excellent condition to ensure safety
The suspension system of your car is connected with the steering system as it connects the wheels with the frame of the car. In fact, the steering system works in collaboration with this suspension system to provide safety and comfort to the rider. The stability and control of the vehicle is looked after by the suspension after the wheels and the steering provide the input to the suspension system.
Signs to look out for
If you find tires wearing out, steering vibrating during driving, increased bouncing when riding on a bumpy road, noises while turning the car, vehicle pulling to the side of the road on its own when stopping, etc, you must understand that it is time to go for steering and suspension system repair and maintenance. Regular wheel alignment and balancing alone will prevent major breakdowns in the suspension system of your car.
Car owners have always been desirous of better mileage form their cars. However, better fuel efficiency has never been more important than it is today considering the manner in which fuel prices have shot up in the last few years. Making your car run a few extra miles on a liter of gas is not only good for you in terms of saving of money but also good for country’s economy with less spending on oil imports. There are many ways you can save on precious fuel by improving your car’s mileage.
This is the golden rule for all those who have a desire to increase the fuel efficiency of their car. Speeding your car in a bid to save on time costs you dearly as high speeds cause a drop in the mileage of your car by up to 33%. If you can control your urge to compete with others ort to zip away on highways, you can increase the mileage of your car drastically. Interested in knowing why this happens? High speeds create a high wind resistance that your car has to overcome thereby reducing its mileage.
Do not forget to change gears
Many people have this habit of increasing the speed of their car without shifting into higher gears. You would be surprised to know that when you run your car at high speeds without shifting into high gears, you have to spend nearly 50% more fuel than you would if you changed gears. So drive in the right gear according to the speed of the car.
Do not idle for too long
Many people keep their cars idling for far too long without any reason. You should speed away once you have started the car. Also, turn off the ignition of your car at the signals to avoid wasting gas.
Resist the temptation to keep windows open
On highways, keeping the windows closed will help you to get a better fuel efficiency as wind creates a drag when the windows are open that has to be overcome by the car.
Anticipate the movement of other vehicles
Pressing accelerator and brake pedals frequently makes your car to work harder and it utilizes more fuel. Instead of speeding up for a moment and applying brakes at the signal, it is better to anticipate the speed that will keep you moving to save on fuel.
Get rid of excess weight
If you have some heavy articles at the back of the car, your car will consume more gas than when it is empty. Excess weight puts a drag on the car and its engine has to work harder than when it is light and zippy.
Keep tire pressure just right
Keep checking the air pressure in the tires of your car and maintain it as less air pressure causes poor mileage of the car. The engine has to work that much harder with low air pressure.
Avoid congested roads
This is one tip that can save you a lot of fuel as you may have to cover a few extra miles but you still save fuel as driving in traffic jams makes your car give very poor mileage.
Check the fluid levels of your car
If you are a smart car owner, you would do well to regularly check engine oil, brake oil, coolant level, and so on. Driving at reduced engine oil levels can not only drop the level of performance, it also means getting poor mileage.
If you follow these useful tips, you can expect a better mileage from your car. Regular servicing also helps in better car mileage.