Category: Repairs

How Much Should Inflate Tires

Short and simple, it is the amount of air, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) that fills a vehicle’s tires. The right amount of pressure in car tires is important for safety. Tires are a key safety factor in all vehicles, second in importance only to car’s brakes.

Correct tire pressure manages stability, braking and the capacity to take corners safely – all critical aspects of driving safety. On top of this, correct air pressure affects comfort while driving, the lifespan of the tire, as well as fuel economy.

When the pressure is too high, less surface area on the tire touches the ground and the car may bounce on the road. This impacts traction and the ability to stop quickly. All that bouncing also makes the ride more uncomfortable.

On the other side of the spectrum, when tire pressure is too low, more of the tire’s surface area touches the ground than necessary. This generates friction and can cause tire to wear much earlier than normal. They may also overheat.

The worst case scenario with over and under-inflated tires is tread separation. That is when the tire tread separates from the tire’s casing or body. Though this is most common with large cargo trucks, it can happen with standard vehicles as well and often leads to accidents.

Filling vehicle’s tires to the recommended pressure and checking them monthly is important. The recommended pressure is set by the car’s manufacturer and takes into consideration safety, comfort, and wear and tear on the tires.

“Experts agree that keeping the correct air pressure in your tires is as important as giving your engine a tune-up. In fact, the economic benefits may be even greater. With the right amount of air pressure, your tires wear longer, save fuel, enhance handling, and prevent accidents.” – Discount Tire

Find and seek

Finding the recommended pressure for your vehicle can feel like a game of hide and seek. When looking to check and fill their tires, most people locate the number listed on the sidewall of their vehicle’s tire quite quickly. However, that figure is the maximum PSI, not the recommended inflation amount.

The maximum PSI is the very maximum amount of air a car’s tire can hold. That is not necessarily what is best for your car’s tires, or your car.

Recommended PSI

Car manufacturers establish the recommended PSI for vehicle’s tires. The recommended inflation amount is determined by the load the vehicle is meant to carry and the tire size.

Unfortunately, no international organization oversees the standardization of vehicle tires. With no mandated or regulatory requirements in this area, it has fallen on the shoulders of the world’s largest tire organizations to set standards voluntarily. All vehicle and tire manufacturers use these numbers. The recommended tire inflation pressure for most vehicles is 32 psi to 35 psi when cold, which means the car hasn’t been driven in a few hours.

Filling your tires

When filling your tires, remember that the recommended PSI for your vehicle is very likely lower than the maximum pressure listed on your tire. The owner’s manual of your car is the best place to look for the recommended PSI for your car’s tires. If it isn’t in the owner’s manual, check for the tire placard in the glove compartment door, inside of the gas door, or on the inside of the driver’s door.


Preparing Car for Winter

Take your auto in for a tune up before the first snow fall. Having the peace of mind of a well maintained vehicle all year is an excellent idea, but it’s particularly essential during the winter when driving conditions are impaired.

Ensure you have the right oil for your vehicle. In general, thinner oil like 5W30 works better in cold winter conditions than 10W30 or 10W40, which are thicker. Thinner oils circulate easier, which makes lubrication of your engine easier in cold temperatures. To find the right oil for your specific vehicle, check your owner’s manual.

Keep your gas tank full. A full gas tank lowers the chances of running out of gas and being stranded. In addition, it brings down the possibility that your gas lines will freeze up because of condensation or water vapor buildup in extremely icy climates.

Ensure your battery is in great condition. Being stuck in remote areas and being unable to start your car is dangerous. Check that your battery’s connections are corrosion free and for batteries older than 3 years, consider testing its capacity to hold a charge.

Ensure you keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. A well thought out kit can be a lifeline in the event that you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, or on a highway. A high-quality winter kit for your car should include:
No less than one warm blanket.
A flashlight.
A shovel, in case you need to dig out of deep snow.
Additional warm garments, including boots, gloves and caps.
A well stocked first aid kit.
A bag of salt or sand to give you extra traction if you get stuck.
Food and drinking water. Foods with high sugar content are excellent choices.
Jumper cables.
A flare.
Spare windshield wipers.
Extra windshield washer fluid.

Test your tire pressure. Because of the colder air, your tire pressure tends to drop a small amount in the winter. Keeping your tires at the maker’s prescribed pressure makes your vehicle simpler to handle, making you more secure on the road and will even improve fuel economy which will save you money!

Check that your anti-freeze mixture is correct. Your coolant should have a 50-50 mix of anti-freeze and water. If you’re uncertain, you can purchase a reasonably priced anti-freeze analyzer at most automotive part stores. Keep your anti-freeze levels above 50% to prevent leaving your engine susceptible to freezing up.

Think about snow tires. If you tend to get heavy snowfall in your area, it might be worth getting snow tires for your vehicle throughout the winter months. The deeper grooves on snow tires provide substantially more traction on snow covered surfaces, which makes them able to stop your vehicle up to 40% more rapidly than all season tires. As well, snow tires are constructed with a specific type of rubber which lets them to preserve their flexibility even in coldest winter conditions.

Consider replacing your windshield wipers if they are not in good condition. Defective windshield wipers can essentially debilitate your capacity to see in wet and icy climate conditions. If your windshield wipers are not making good contact with the windshield and are not clearing it properly, they should be replaced.

Check your brakes. On the off chance that it’s been over six months since your last brake check, have them checked again before the winter driving season. With the dangerous conditions that winter brings, having the capacity to stop quickly is much more critical than in warmer climates.


Car Noises

Because vehicles are composed of many different complex systems, they have the potential to make a wide range of sounds… “clicks”, “ticks”, “pings”, “bangs” and “pops”… to describe a few. Some are more serious than others. There are a few questions to ask oneself in this situation; where do I hear the noise? What sound is it making? Does it continue when you stop driving? Does it occur during braking or acceleration? Does it happen then the vehicle is motionless? These are good starting points which can point to certain issues – or at least help you to identify which system is in need of a repair.

Exhaust sounds. In most vehicles, the engine is located in the front of the car but the engine’s exhaust travels the length of the vehicle so anywhere along that system, noises can be created through defect or vibration. The further back you hear the noise, the less serious the problem is said to be. So with today’s front-wheel drive vehicles, any noise from the driver’s door to the back of the car (while the car is motionless) would not hinder you from driving to a service station, or home for that matter. Second, if it were an exhaust issue, you would expect to hear low-pitched or high-pitched sounds if the exhaust has a hole or crack leaking exhaust somewhere throughout the system. There may also be a bit of a thump at the same time in a repetitive pulse (due to the opening and closing of the exhaust valves in the engine). If you looked under the car where the leak was emanating from it would be more pronounced. You can drive home, but get it fixed. Leaky exhausts only get worse and believe it or not, can diminish your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and performance, depending on the location of the leak.

Engine sounds. Maybe you’re hearing sounds related to engine issues? A popping sound coming from your car’s tailpipe is a signal that something isn’t exactly right with the engine. It could mean a dirty air filter, dirty or worn spark plugs, bad spark wires, an ignition problem, a clogged fuel filter, water in your gasoline, a bad accelerator pump or power circuit in your carburetor or a clogged catalytic converter. Similarly, if you hear a rattling noise when sitting at a stop sign or stop light that sounds a lot like a box of rocks shaking, then that is another good sign that your catalytic convertor is bad. Also, a popping sound coming from under the hood or the engine could also mean your vehicle could benefit from a tune-up or a sensor might not be working properly. Get to a service station and do not ignore this. Allowing your engine to burn fuel improperly over a long period can cause damage to your engine’s components which can lead to significant repair costs.

Braking noises. Brakes are the most important safety feature on your vehicle, so ignoring any sounds that occur when you’re braking could put everyone in danger. When you have brake issues, you’ll usually hear screeching, squealing or squeaking noises. Do you hear a “clunking” noise? This could signal problems with worn steering system components, the disc brake caliper is not mounted properly or brake hardware is damaged or missing. A squealing noise when braking could mean several things; dirt on the brake rotors, drums, pads, and/or shoes, brake pads and/or shoes are worn, brake pads were overheated and are now glazed, disc brake calipers were mounted incorrectly or have come loose or wear indicator on the pads are contacting the rotor. You may have to install new brake pads, and resurfacing or replacing the brake rotors if necessary, will help ensure you’ll be able to stop safely and quietly without causing further damage to your vehicle.

Squealing noises can also signal other issues, not just brakes. For example, engine belts are considered a “wear item”. This is because they are attached to moving components such as pulleys and suffer a fair amount of friction over time. They also dry out and crack under heavy use or being left to the elements, particularly in dry states like Arizona. The serpentine belt, a drive belt that transfers power produced by the engine’s revolutions to multiple accessories like the air conditioning, power steering and alternator could also be signaling for help. After you drive over time, this serpentine belt can simply wear down and start to slip which causes this obvious squealing sound.

You may also hear noises like pinging or knocking. Although rare, they are not impossible and this usually means an issue with your ignition or fuel system. It could be as simple as the quality of fuel you pumped in the tank which could contain water or an engine in need of a tune-up which is sometimes referred to as “pre-ignition”. To deal with this issue, experts recommend that you not only start filling your tank somewhere else with better quality gasoline, but if the problem persists to get a tune-up (new spark plugs, air filters, etc.) and run a fuel injection cleaner fuel additive through your engine.

Hear more of a gurgling noise? It is one of the stranger sounds, we agree! The majority of the time, your cooling system isn’t doing it’s job. Boiling coolant can be heard from the coolant reservoir and even through the hoses so let your engine cool and check your reservoirs level indicator which will indicate if you need coolant.

When you’re hearing noises is important too. If you only hear the noises while the vehicle is in motion, then you could be dealing with suspension or steering abnormalities (clunks, banks and pops) or possibly drive train issues such as bearings (grinding and vibration). Again, as mentioned above, brakes will make lots of noises when they’re going bad or failing.


Safely Drive Through a Tire Blowout

Prevention

A tire blowout is a special kind of flat tire. The side wall has ruptured, leaving a huge tear in your tire that cannot be repaired. While many believe that a blown-out tire is caused in part by over inflation, the true culprit is actually the opposite: tires that are underinflated. It’s not the rubber and steel that makes a tire able to carry the weight of a car and its passengers. It is the air. Without enough air, the components inside the tires flex and heat until it all snaps and a blowout occurs. If the car is carrying a heavy load, then the likelihood of a blowout is compounded. This is why it’s important to regularly check tire pressure. The proper pressure for a car’s tires is listed in the driver’s side door jamb.

Another common way to get a flat tire is by driving on very worn, very old tires. After a while the rubber starts to thin, and a blowout becomes more likely. To see if your tires are too worn, use the penny test. Stick the edge of a penny into your tire’s tread so that Abe Lincoln’s head is hidden by the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then your tires are too worn to drive on. However, if you cannot afford to replace the tire, then try rubbing it with vegetable oil. The oil will moisturize the rubber, allowing it to be more flexible and decrease the chances of a blowout.

What to Do During a Blowout

When your tire blows out, what you absolutely must not do is apply the brake. Because one of your tires is now effectively useless, the brake will be applied unevenly, causing your vehicle to veer. If you’re driving a van or SUV, then it’s quite possible to flip your car by braking during a blowout.

Instead, you need to press on the accelerator after a blowout. This may seem counterintuitive, but when a tire blows out, your car’s speed may suddenly drop due to the drag caused by the flat tire. You must step on the gas for only a moment, so that any cars behind you won’t be surprised by your sudden drop in speed and ram into you.

After you have quickly pressed on the gas, you’ll notice that your car will want to veer in the direction of the blowout. Keep your car steady, let it lose speed gradually, and only when you are going slower than 30 miles per hour should you steer the vehicle to the side of the road.

What to Do After a Blowout

Once you have successfully steered your car to the side of the road, you can start thinking about what steps you need to take next. You should always have a spare tire on hand. Now is the time to change out the flat and continue to the nearest service station. However, you need to make sure there is enough room around your car to freely work in.

Don’t try changing the tire if doing so will put you on the road, and in a dangerous situation from oncoming traffic. If you don’t have enough room to change the tire, or if you don’t have a spare, you need to call a tow truck. Depending on where you are, you may decide to have the truck drop off your car at home or at the nearest mechanic.

A blowout is likely to happen at least once in a person’s life. The important thing to do, above all else, is to remain calm. A blowout is usually accompanied by a loud bang. Don’t let this unnerve you. Follow the correct safety procedures and you’ll be on the road again in no time.


Gear Issues on an Automatic Car

Sometimes your car will leak fluid from the transmission. This might be one of the serious problems because if it doesn’t get sorted out you could have a problem shifting gears. Irregular shifting could destroy the gearbox because the incorrect gear could be engaged during the wrong speed. For example, if you are driving fast on a highway and your car changes to the first gear, you could break the teeth because it cannot handle that speed. The first gear is always bigger in diameter because of the force required to do the initial movement.

The transmission can also experience oil leakage. This fluid looks red. It comes from the filler tube base that is located between the engine and transmission, the drain hole, the selector shaft, or the radiator. No oil leakage is good as it means that there is a hole somewhere allowing air to move into the car. Oil is also the source of lubrication inside the engine and keeps the mechanisms cool.

The filter could get clogged at any time. The filter inside the car keeps the oil clean keeping any dust or particles out of the engine. Oil supplies the car with lubrication so that there is no friction. Friction is what causes overheating and worn out parts. If you are experiencing delayed shifting and oil leaking it is likely that the filter has been clogged. This filter also keeps the dust away from the gearbox whilst it shifts. If you experience delayed shifting it could mean that there is something blocking the system from making smooth motions.

Shifting gears incorrectly can be easily felt. It often sounds like the engine is groaning if it has gone up one gear too many. This will lead to a slow pulling motion which will not allow the car to move faster until it regains its speed again.


Minimizing Auto Repairs

  • Read the manual. Your vehicle manual will tell you things like how often to change the oil, what to watch for in how your engine is running and many other useful facts. Knowing and following them will save you a great deal of aggravation.
  • As soon as your engine light comes on, take it in for a diagnostic check. Taking care of small problems will prevent larger more costly ones.
  • Change the oil, add water, maintain the anti-freeze and keep up with any other liquids that need to be added to the car. This will keep its performance better and minimize risk of damage to other parts of the vehicle.
  • Keep your tires at the correct weight and amount of air. This information will be listed in your owner’s manual. Also, be sure to get them rotated as recommended. Failing to do any of this can result in a blowout.
  • Pay attention when you drive. Watch out for items on the road that can damage the wheels, or kick up into the workings of your vehicle.
  • Get your transmission serviced. Talk to the people who change the oil to find out how often this is recommended for your particular vehicle.
  • If you notice unusual sounds being made by your vehicle while you are driving, or if it seems to be shaking unnecessarily, take it in for a checkup. It’s always best to be told it is nothing to stress over than to ignore the sounds/shaking and find out there was serious problem or repair that could have been prevented.

When you take the time to maintain your vehicles, then you can minimize the time and money spent on auto repair services. To learn additional ways to get more out of your particular vehicle(s) talk to a local auto repair service team today.


UTE Maintenance

Checking your Engine Oil, Transmission Fluid, Power Steering Fluid and Brake Fluid levels

The first thing is to locate your dipstick, in a manual vehicle there is only one, but an auto will also have one for the transmission fluid so be sure the verify which one it is engine oil before filling. (It should say on the top). It is usually colored plastic knob that is formed into a loop or has a rounded top that your finger can fit through to make it easier to pull out.

Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe the end clean so you can inspect it and tell where the fill and empty lines.

Insert the dipstick back into the engine, then pull it out again. The dipstick will go down into the engine sump and tells you how much oil is there.

You can then read how much oil is there. The ideal oil level is at the full mark. If the oil is above the halfway mark it is safe to leave it as there will be enough oil, but take note of this and check the level again after a few 100km.

If it is below the halfway mark, then add the recommended oil for your engine. (Diesel engine oil has special cleaners added to deal with any carbon build up. Petrol engines have different additives) It is best to add only 200ml at a time and then recheck and add a bit more if needed to ensure you do not overfill the engine (A very slight overfill is generally OK)

If you have your vehicle serviced at the manufactures recommended times and check the oil regularly and suddenly it has fallen it may be because you have gone past the service life of the oil and it is advisable to have it serviced and checked at a mechanic shop

Check the transmission oil in the same way and use the recommended transmission fluid.

The brake reservoir is on top of, or very near, the brake master cylinder, a clear white plastic screw top container with a viewing area so you can check the fluid level and top up if needed.

Cooling System

Check the coolant in the radiator (do not use plain water as an adequate anticorrosive is needed to stop electrolysis.

Check the visual condition of the rubber hoses around the cooling system and squeeze them to ensure the hoses are firm and have not gone soft.

Electrical System

With the assistance of another person who is outside the Ute to monitor the lights check their operation.

Check the indicators, park and brake lights as well as reversing and number plate light. It is also important to ensure your Headlights are working, both full beam and dipped as well as spotlights.

Check that all the instrument lights are working on the dashboard usually these will all light up when you turn on the ignition to the 2nd stage just before it activated the starter motor.

Check the horn and that all power windows operate correctly, it is important they work without the motor running in emergency conditions.

Engine Belts

Check the condition of the drive belts between the engine and Alternator, some vehicles have several belts, driving the air-con, pump the power brake pump, water pump. If your Ute is fitted with a back tray, not a molded body, it may have a hydraulic lift pump connected to the engine or a separate electric hydraulic pump, the fluids and any belts of these need to be checked as well.

Filters; Fuel, Oil and Air

It is important to have a clean air cleaner, especially if you travel in dusty areas. Remove the cleaner and blow compressed air through it to remove any dust. If it is really soiled there are companies that clean them or you can purchase a new one. Many vehicles are now fitted with pollen and dust filters on the air-conditioning system so these also need to be checked and cleaned where necessary

The fuel filter needs to be changed regularly as it can become clogged from contaminants in the fuel and any moisture in your tank, see the manufacturer’s instructions.

The oil filter is best left up to your service center unless you have adequate facilities to collect and deal with the waste oil (this can be very messy).

Windscreen Washer and Wipers

Check the liquid level in the windscreen washer reservoir and top it up if necessary with a good quality windscreen washer solution. Over long dry periods the hot sun, the wiper blades can become brittle, so need to be checked and replaced as needed as well.

Tyres

Your vehicle tyres are very important and maintaining the correct tyre pressure will increase your fuel economy and your Ute will handle and brake better.

Checking the wear of your tyres is a good way to gauge the condition of your Utes suspension. It the tyres are wearing unevenly if probably means you need to have this checked.

Tyre rotation is where you change the tyres by placing the left front tyre on the right rear and the left rear on the right front about every 10,000k will help to extend the life of your tyres.


Different Types of Car Oils

  • Premium Oil
    This is the conventional oil that is available in different levels of viscosity. This type of oil is largely used in light-duty vehicles, and needs to be changed/replaced once in every 4 months, or at least twice a year. It is highly recommended that the oil is changed as soon as the oil-change indicator in the car lights up.
  • Synthetic Oil
    This type of oil is specially formulated for sophisticated engines, such as those found in Mercedes-Benz. They promise a high degree of performance in aspects such as protection against deposits and viscosity index. They are considerably expensive than the conventional oils but are completely worth the money spent on them as they perform well across a wide range of temperatures.
  • Synthetic Blend Oil
    As the name suggests, synthetic blend oil consists of a dash of synthetic mixed with the conventional oil. This type of oil is formulated with the aim to offer protection to vehicles enduring heavy loads and/or working in high temperatures, especially SUVs. Given that the synthetic blend oil doesn’t evaporate as easily, they reduce the loss of oil and increase fuel efficiency. Yet another benefit of this is that it costs much less than fully synthetic.

Now that you have a clear picture regarding the various types of car oils available, you must also understand that changing your car oil will require an oil-filter. Like everything else, even the oil-filter you chose must be based on the recommendation of your car maker. That being said, you must ensure that the filter you pick for your car isn’t oversized, or else make sure that you fill sufficient oil for it to function flawlessly.


Change a Flat Tire by Yourself

Steps to Change a Flat Tire

  • Put your vehicle on a flat surface- Make sure your vehicle is on a flat surface, or lifting the car may result in damage. Turn on the hazard lights.
  • Remove the hubcap and loosen the lug nuts- First remove the hubcaps, if any, and loosen all the lug nuts on the tire, but do not remove them. It is best to use an anti-slip lug wrench, as it will give a firm grip to loosen the nuts.
  • Place the jack underneath your car- Using the owner’s manual, place the jack in the proper location so that it won’t end up in damaging you or the vehicle.
  • Jack up- Lift the vehicle by cranking the handle of the jack. Lift the vehicle until you can easily remove the tire.
  • Remove the nuts- Now remove the loosened nuts and store them safely. Do not lose them, as you need them to attach the spare tire.
  • Remove the flat tire- Hold the tire and pull it towards you by lifting it slightly. Tires may weigh from 20 to 30 pounds or more depending on the vehicle, so be careful while lifting it.
  • Move your spare- Mount the spare on the hub, place the nuts, and tighten them just with your hands – not using wrench.
  • Lower the jack- Lower the car until it is in contact with the ground, and remove the jack.
  • Tighten the lug nuts- Now tighten the lug nuts that you previously tightened with your hands. First tighten one nut, then the nut most opposite it. Repeat this pattern, always moving to tighten the next most opposite nut. Once all the nuts are tightened to some extent, tighten them more securely one-by-one.
  • Repair the flat (or replace it) as soon as possible- You may not know when you will need a spare tire again.

Things to Take Care of When Changing the Flat Tire

  • Wait until you have a flat before you check your spare- Check to make sure you have the proper tools (jack, lug wrench and the spare tire) before traveling.
  • Changing a flat in an unsafe location- Try to move the vehicle off the road, away from the dangers of traffic, before attempting to change a tire.
  • Ignoring safety visible measures- Do not forget to turn on your hazard lights. Also try to keep the doors open, to provide a buffer to keep other vehicles away.
  • Forgetting to block the tire- Jacked up vehicles may move if the other tires are not blocked. Block the other tires using a brick or stone, and apply emergency brakes before jacking up the vehicle.
  • Lifting up without loosening nuts- Attempting to loosen the nuts when the car is raised ends up spinning the wheel, as you have to apply a lot of brute force. Loosening them before lifting is better, as the ground prevents the wheel from spinning.
  • Raising the car without removing the spare- Remove the spare tire from the vehicle before lifting it on the jack. Interacting with a vehicle that is on a jack can be dangerous, and you may lean or pull on the vehicle while trying to remove a spare tire from the trunk.
  • Take a jack for granted- Be careful while handling a car jack. They can result in serious injuries or death, as the weight of a car can be very dangerous.


Taking Care of Car and Brakes

Overall, you should take care of your car as whole, from the outside to the inside. Keep the body of the car clean and dent free. Wash the car as often as you can, vacuum the inside and polish the dashboard and tyres. Be careful where you drive and park to avoid bumps and dents from occurring on your car’s body.

Look after the engine too. Avoid opening the bonnet unnecessarily so that it doesn’t get exposed to too much dust. Check the oil and water to ensure that it remains topped up for the efficient functioning of the vehicle. If you suspect that there is something wrong with the engine don’t be tempted to repair it yourself. Rather let a qualified mechanic check it and repair it for you.

Take care of the wheels and tyres. Make sure that you have the tyres inflated regularly to prevent it from running flat. This also optimises your driving if the tyres are sufficiently inflated. If you notice that he tread is low, then change the tyres. Don’t drive with them for long as this could lead to the car not being able to come to a stop as quickly as it would with new tyres.

Check the brakes often especially when you notice something unusual. If you hear the brakes squeak or whistle, or feel that the brake pedal is spongy, then get it checked. There could be a problem with the brake elements such as the brake discs. Rather be safe than sorry when it comes to this car part.

In general, you should take your car for a service every year or when the set mileage is reached for your particular vehicle. During a service all the parts of your car will be checked to ensure that it is roadworthy and safe to drive. Keep a record of the car’s service so that you build up a good history. This will serve you well when you want to sell the car. It will increase the value of your car, especially if you take good care of it.