Category Archives: Tips

Tire Pressures

How many times a day do you walk past your tires, do you ever really look at them, with a few exceptions they are the least appealing part of your car. They are also one of the leading causes of accidents. Low tire pressure can be a killer if left unattended. There are many reasons why we don’t pay attention to the tires. Most do not have a compressor so it would require a trip to put air in; it is also to hot, cold, windy and many other excuses. It is one of those chores that is easy to put off, the garbage is noticeable so it has to be done but who knows if you check the tires or not. On the other hand nothing can ruin your day quicker than a flat tire, also today’s tires are really quite forgiving they can be low on air and still do their job. They of course will not have traction on rain, ice or snow as they would if they had the correct pressure, or if you are on an interstate ramp and the tire rolls off the rim you are in big trouble. Low profile tires are a different ball game, the quantity of air is considerably less and they need attention on a frequent basis more so in cold climates. Tire pressure increases with temperature so in the spring you may have to let some air out and increase pressure in the fall. Tire pressures can also increase up to 4# on the highway during warm weather. Tires seem to leak easier in cold weather worse with aluminum rims so again they need extra attention. Do not use a can of tire sealant except in an extreme emergency many of the gases in them are explosive and be sure to tell the tire repair shop you have used a inflator. Tire gauges come in many different types and prices. Almost any gauge will do the job but the cheaper ones will not last as long and may lose their accuracy after a short period. I use a digital (about $10.00) except in extreme cold then I use regular metal one. Checking the two on the same tire will assure their accuracy. The recommended tire pressure can be found on the door post of most vehicles or if you have had your tires replaced discuss recommended pressure with the shop that installed them. When you have new tires installed check the pressure many shops will run on the low side for a better ride. I run my tires about 6# less than the maximum for my highway car and right at the recommended pressure on the rest of my vehicle except for my pickup which I run on the low side. Hint: Next time you use your car walk around the passenger side and check the tires, we are always looking at the driver’s side.

Throttle Body Cleaning

Cleaning the throttle body is not rocket science, but there are a few pitfalls. Technically you’re not supposed to clean them, and several manufactures will place a sticker by the body stating this. Several use a special coating on the bore that can be easily damaged, Ford is perhaps the most critical. If this coating is damaged on a very rare occasion the idle may increase slightly. Normally the PCM would handle this, if not remove the IAC connector and adjust the base idle with the AC off you may also have to remove the neg battery terminal and clear the computer so it can re-learn its strategies, but as I said this is a rare problemIf you use sea foam or GM cleaner which is expensive, there should be no concern; some of the stronger carb cleaners may cause some damage. Do not use a cheap cleaner it will cause more problems than it cures.Remove the intake tube to the throttle body; if the body is easy to remove go ahead it is easier and neater but you will have to replace the gasket. Watch out for cooling lines as this is not worth messing with often you can loosen the body and not totally remove, leave the cables and hoses connected disconnect the easy connectors, do this only if the rear is difficult to get to but normally it is not that dirty on the rear of the throttle blade. Your main area to clean is where the blade meets the bore at idle and the small bypass passages on the bottom. A few rags under the body will contain the mess. In some fashion hold open the throttle .a broom stick works. Spray the area down, use care that the red straw does not shoot into the engine. Leave it sit for 10-15 minutes then with a soft bristle brush, tooth brush is best, scrub the area down flush out with cleaner. Do not use any more cleaner then is necessary as it may cause cat problems. May have to be repeated if extremely dirty, it should be as shiny as a new nickel.I would also remove and clean the IAC at this time, be sure the pintel is dry before reinstalling, and do not lose the oring this is easy to do. Reassemble and go for a drive to clean out all the junk you sprayed into the engine. Ignore the white smoke it will go away quickly. One other trick to clean out the engine is to disconnect a vacuum hose and place it in a can of gum out and run the engine if you do a lot of stop and go or idling use the full can if not use only ½. If your cat is on the way out this may cause a problem you may also damage the O2, I recommend doing this only in extreme cases as there is a good chance of doing damage. Be sure your problem is carbon as many times we are too quick to place the blame when it is another problem. This will not clean the throttle body only the intake and upper valve area.

Nitrogen Yes Or No

Is nitrogen a good choice or is it worth the money and hassle. Nitrogen has many benefits it maintains tire pressure because the molecules are larger and do not leak as easy. Also heat is not a problem. The biggest advantage I think is that it does not hold moisture so with aluminum rims there would not be a corrosion problem, causing a leak at the bead seal. I believe the front tires are a larger problem with a bead leak because of the stress of front wheel drive and steering. Before FWD there were very little bead leak problems now we see it all the time. Do not use a can of sealant it will not cure the problem and is dangerous and a mess to clean up it will also affect the tire balance.I just stressed checking your tire pressure and since very few of us have nitrogen in our garage it will be a problem to check the pressure of course it would not have to be checked as often. The price runs from $5 to $20 depending on the size it is usually free if you do it with new tires.I just don’t see that it is worth the hassle and cost. I have talked to no one that is impressed that has put it in their tires, so I am going to have to say no to nitrogen.FYI I didn’t mention in my last topic that when you have new tires installed to check the pressure. I know they were just installed but many shops run the tires on the low side so they ride better, similar to moving the seat a ½ notch when you do a tune up they drive different and as we just spent money on it is an improvement.

Most Common Problems

A car is an important investment, and next to owning a home, it is probably one of the most important investments you will ever have. With this being the case, it is vital to understand your vehicle and its servicing needs so you can protect your investment.Many vehicles, no matter the type, manufacturer, or even year, will have common servicing needs that will pop up over the lifetime of the car. By knowing these common ailments, you will be able to identify and fix any problems that may arise.Check Engine LightThe check engine light is the scourge of the DIY mechanic and, well, for anyone else as well. The reason is that this little light will come on for any number of reasons no matter how minor the problem is. This makes the check engine light really discouraging for those wishing to diagnosis the problem. Many car owners will just ignore the light all together instead of going to a repair garage. As long as the check engine light is not accompanied by other problem lights, strange smells, or odd noises, ignoring it should not cause any further damage. However, you can never be sure of that.The only way to tell what the check engine light is trying to tell you is by scanning the car’s computer for problem codes. These codes; all new cars and many of the older models will have this capability, will tell the mechanic where and what the problem is. A problem with the check engine light is actually one of the more common auto repair issues.Car Won’t StartAn aggravating problem with a number of causes and solutions is when the car just will not start. The most common remedies of this problem is to make sure the key is in the ignition and you actually started the car, but this tactic just may not be enough to solve the issue.A car that won’t start can suffer from a few different ailments which can be discovered by following a few logical steps. The car must first go through a series of steps before starting; a problem with any of these steps can cause the car to fail to start.If the engine fails to crank, then it can not start of course. The cause of this can be anything from a bad battery to a coolant leak. Now, if the engine cranks but does not start the culprit can be a lack of fuel, spark, or compression.Engine StallsAn engine that stalls is a common problem and is certainly frustrating especially if it only stalls occasionally. Overall, an engine needs three things to idle without stalling.These three requirements are: A Good Spark A Good Idle Speed A Good Fuel/Air Ratio Without those the engine will stall. Diagnosing the cause of a stalling engine may require scanning for trouble codes or by observing when the engine stalls and finding a pattern, if any, of the problem.AC Doesn’t WorkA malfunctioning air conditioner can be especially problematic for those drivers living in areas that are exceptionally hot or humid. Not only can this, but a problem with the air conditioning be a sign of some other problem. When troubleshooting AC problems look first is the refrigerant which may have leaked out. By patching the leak and filling the refrigerant the problem is solved.However, if the AC is still having a problem you will need to check the pressure and the wiring.Cars are high performance machines and will encounter problems from time to time. The trick is to identify these problems and repair them quickly to avoid any future malfunctions that will more then likely, be worse. Car owners should not be surprise to learn that Mazda service problems may be similar to their Toyota or other types of cars. This is beneficial as it makes identifing the more common vehicle problems easier for both trained mechanics and for those do it yourselfers. News source: Car Service

Why Moms Crash

Talking on the cell phone. This is a no brainer why would you chat on your cell when you are driving with kids in the car or at any time for that matter. I think the nonuse of turn signals which I have noticed lately is a direct result of one hand being tied up holding a cell phone.Stalling car repairs.So the brakes are making a little noise. They can wait till I get this tank of gas paid for. A car has to stop if it doesn’t start that is a problem if it doesn’t stop that is a major problem.Sleep at home not on the road, even being the slightest bit drowsy can cause a lapse in judgment and can also cause you to be more confident in a situation then you should be if you are tired.Eating on the road.Yes drive throughs are convenient when you have kids in the car but when you leave the drive through do not keep driving pull over and park. Most places have a neat and clean parking lot to snack in. Fighting Kids Either let them fight or have a tantrum pull over to take care of it . Do not turn around or check them in the mirror; do not take your eyes off the road to attend to the children.

Tranny Flush

The only ones who recommend you get a transmission fluid FLUSH are the people who make the transmission flush machines and the shops who buy them. As has been stated many times and in many places no automotive manufacturer recommends a transmission fluid as a regular service. In fact General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and most of the import manufacturers recommend AGAINST it, going as far as voiding the new car warranty if it is done.All that is recommended is a regular automatic transmission service which entails dropping the transmission pan, replacing the transmission filter where applicable, draining the torque converter where applicable and refilling with fresh, new automatic transmission fluid.A simple service like this usually runs from $59.95 to $159.95, depending on the year, make and model of vehicle. On most vehicles it is a very easy Do It Yourself job which can save you over half the cost of having a shop do it.

Roadside Emergency Kit: What to Carry With You

A roadside emergency can happen at any time, whether your car is new or old. A range of problems can cause it, from a tire failure or mechanical breakdown to running out of fuel. At best, it’s an annoyance; at worst, it can compromise your safety. Being prepared with a basic emergency kit can increase your safety, reduce stress, and help you get back on the road faster.Even if you have roadside-assistance coverage or an automobile-club membership with roadside assistance, you usually need access to a phone in order to contact them and you may have to wait on the side of the road for an hour or more before help arrives. That’s why we recommend that drivers carry certain items in their vehicle, even if it only gets used for everyday, around-town driving. This basic kit can be supplemented with additional items if you go on a long-distance trip or have to deal with winter weather conditions.It’s also important to make periodic checks on the equipment to ensure it’s in working order–that the spare tire is properly inflated, batteries are not discharged, first-aid supplies are current, water is fresh, and food is dry. In addition, be familiar with how each tool works, from the cellular phone to the jack, before you need to use it in an emergency.BASIC KITThis kit is intended to aid you in getting help, signaling your car’s presence to other motorists, and tackling simple challenges.Cellular phone. We don’t recommend that you talk on a cell phone while driving, but in an emergency, this can be the single most valuable component of your kit. Keep a car charger handy. This device plugs into the cigarette lighter or other power point in the car and charges the battery of your cell phone. When traveling, it’s best to leave your cell phone on and, if applicable, leave the retractable antenna extended. This may shorten the time it takes you to reach 911, if necessary. Emergency tip: If you have to dial 911, remember that your location and phone number aren’t always available to an emergency operator when calling from a cell phone. So give the operator your number and any information you have about your location. Ignore any “no service” messages on the phone and try the call anyway. If you have trouble connecting to 911 from inside a car, get out if possible and call from the side of the road. That may help you get a better signal.First-aid kit. Choose one that allows you to treat a range of problems, from small cuts or burns to ones that require major bandaging. We also suggest you get familiar with how to use the kit before you need to.Fire extinguisher. A car fire can start from something as simple as a wiring short circuit or leaking oil. You should get away from a vehicle that’s on fire as quickly as possible. Still, for extra security it’s good to keep a fire extinguisher in the car that can be used in any emergency or to quickly douse a small flame that’s just begun. The quicker a fire can be put out, the less damage it will cause. Multipurpose dry-chemical fire extinguishers are available in a variety of sizes. We recommend carrying a compact unit that’s labeled 1A10BC or 2A10BC.Warning light, hazard triangle, or flares. If your vehicle is stuck on the side of the road, it’s vital that you give other motorists as much warning of its presence as possible, especially at night. Look for a battery-powered warning light that can be placed far from the vehicle. Reflective hazard triangles and flares are also effective and don’t need batteries.Tire gauge. This should be used on a monthly basis to check the inflation pressure in all four tires and the spare tire. Because the ambient temperature affects tire pressure, it’s also advisable to check the pressure after a significant change in temperature.Jack and lug wrench. Almost all vehicles come with these items for changing a tire. Refer to your owner’s manual on where they’re located in the vehicle and how to use them. Models that come with run-flat tires do not have a spare tire. Run-flat tires can be driven a limited number of miles with little or no air in them. They have very stiff sidewalls, which provide support when the tire is deflated. Click here to learn more about the warning signs of imminent tire failure.Foam tire sealant or a portable compressor and plug kit. For minor punctures, a foam tire sealant can get your vehicle back on the road quickly. Only use it in an emergency, however, many tire shops will refuse to repair the tire because of the sticky residue these sealants leave inside it. Be sure to choose a sealant that’s labeled as non-flammable, and don’t consider this a permanent fix. A portable DC-powered air compressor can also be used to inflate a tire–and is especially handy for one that suffers from a slow leak. To fix a puncture, however, you need to have it professionally repaired.Spare fuses. If you experience an electrical problem, your first check should be for a burned-out fuse. These are easy to check and replace by referring to your owner’s manual. Keep an assortment on hand of the proper type for your vehicle.Jumper cables or a portable battery booster. Jumper cables are easy to use as long as you have a second car available to provide a jump. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions. A portable battery booster eliminates the need for a second car.Flashlight. This can be critical at night. Choose one that is bright and weatherproof. In addition, a flashlight with a magnet, flexible mounting system, or a stand will free up your hands for other tasks. Also, have extra batteries and a bulb available.Gloves, hand cleaner, and clean rags. Even the simplest jobs can get your hands dirty. Having these on hand will help keep that dirt from getting on your clothes or your vehicle’s interior.Auto-club card or roadside-assistance number. If you belong to an auto club or roadside-assistance program, be sure you have the necessary information in your vehicle.Disposable flash camera. Following an accident, this lets you record the condition of your vehicle and other vehicles for insurance purposes.$20 in small bills and change. Keep this available for miscellaneous use. And resist dipping into it for a spontaneous ice cream cone on a hot day.Pen and pad of paper. This can come in handy for a range of uses, from leaving a note on the windshield should you have to leave your car to jotting down information after an accident. News source: Autos MSN For long trips, especially those through remote areas, add these items to your basic emergency kit.Basic tools. This includes a set of socket and open-end wrenches, a multi-tip screwdriver, and pliers. This should be enough to perform simple jobs such as changing a lightbulb, tightening battery cables, and so on. Even if you don’t know what to do, a Good Samaritan will still need something to work with.Coolant hose repair kit and tape. A leaking coolant hose can sideline your vehicle quickly and possibly cause engine damage from overheating. Often, a leaking hose is a simple fix if you have the right items. They can be bought at any major auto-parts store.Extra clothes and small tarpaulin. Even if all you do is change a tire, these items can help keep your regular clothes clean.Water and nonperishable emergency food. Bring enough food and water to sustain you and any passengers for at least a meal, longer for remote areas or in extreme hot/cold regions.CB radio. If your route will take you into an area where cellular service is spotty, consider a portable or in-car CB radio.GPS navigation system. This is an optional item, but good to have when traveling to new places. See portable GPS system Ratings.ADDITIONAL ITEMS FOR WINTER DRIVINGFor the cold, wet conditions of winter, you may need additional items in your emergency kit, especially if you travel in remote areas or in severe conditions.Windshield scraper. Good visibility is your most important safety item, but persistent snow and ice can build up quickly and make it hard to see. A long-handled, soft-bristled brush can also come in handy.Tire chains and tow strap. Familiarize yourself with how to put the chains on your vehicle’s tires or attach a tow strap before you need to do it in cold and possibly dark conditions.Blanket and winter hat. If you run out of fuel or if your battery dies, the vehicle won’t be able to provide heat. A blanket and hat can help keep you warm if you have to wait for a long time in cold conditions.Chemical hand warmers. These small, inexpensive packets are available at ski shops and sporting-goods stores.Small folding shovel. If you get stuck in snow, this can be a vital tool. A folding camping-style shovel will require more digging effort than a longer-handled shovel, but is more convenient to store in the vehicle.Bag of cat litter.This can help provide some traction on an especially slick road surface.

10 Common Mistakes Shops Make

One:Not confirming the concern. To fix a problem, the first thing one must do is recognize it. Two: Insufficient Road Testing. Many technicians consider driving the vehicle into the shop a road test. Three:Misdiagnosing. Mechanics will spend hours chasing the wrong problem, wasting your time and money. Four:Throwing parts at a problem. To compensate for lack of skills, this goes right back to mistake number one: confirm the problem with diagnostics, then proceed. Five:Not addressing primary concerns first. Technicians often spend an inordinate amount of time looking for easy sells that will fatten their paychecks. Six:Overconfidence. Too often unqualified technicians get in over their heads. The road to hell is paved with good intentions? Seven:Taking shortcuts, technicians create a host of problems. Eight:Poor Repairs. Whether through incompetence or just lazy,worse with computer repairs, incorrect software programming, coding. Nine:Not confirming repairs solved the problem. Ten:Making a mess. If the above nine mistakes weren’t bad enough, there are now greasy fingerprints on the hood and steering wheel, and two big greasy boot marks on the carpet.

Protect Electrical Connections

Your car has hundreds of electrical connections. These days, everything is controlled by some sort of electronic management. Each of these systems performs an important duty. Most of the electrical connections involved are well protected, but there are always a few that for one reason or another seem to be susceptible to corrosion. I can think of more than a couple of models that chronically developed leaks in the lower windshield trim that dripped water right on the fuse box. Not good. If your car has an electical connection that is bad, or a connection that you think could be susceptible to corrosion due to its proximity to the weather (especially plugs that are used to connect trailer lights), there is a simple way to keep them from getting all mucked up.Lucky for us, corrosion has been an enemy of electrical connections for quite some time, and there is an easy, cheap solution to the problem. Dielectric grease acts as both a conductor of electricity and a shield against corrosion. Corrosion is caused by moisture coming into contact with the metal parts of anything electric. Because there is current passing through the metal connections – even if it’s just a little – the connections attract and hold onto all sorts of little compounds. As these stuck compounds build up, they eventually break the connection between two electrical contacts. They do this by actually coming between the electrical lovers. Dielectric grease, when applied correctly, will prevent almost all corrosion from starting. That’s why it’s a good idea to be proactive and protect any connections that you think might become corroded over time.Protecting your car’s electrical connections against corrosion is quick and simple — and cheap, just the way we like it.*It’s a good idea to disconnect the negative battery terminal when doing any type of electrical work on your car.First you’ll need to disconnect the plug or other electric component you will be protecting. If you’re doing more than one connection, I suggest doing one at a time to avoid confusion. Most automotive plugs will only go into the proper socket, but it can still get a little confusing. With the metal connections visible, squeeze a small amount of dielectric grease onto the q-tip. Rub the grease over the entire metal surface of each connection. You don’t need very much to do the job, but be sure to get a good layer all over. Plug your connection back together and you are now protected from the green monster of corrosion. News source: About Auto Repair