Causes of Overheating

November 28, 2007

auto mechanic|radiators

One of the frustrating and even infuriating situations a driver may encounter is overheating. When the engine overheats, the vehicle can not go any longer; delaying to arrive in the destination. Worse is leaving the driver or passengers stranded at the side of the road.

When this happens, it is better to inspect some parts to easily identify that the cause of the vehicle problem is overheating.

1. When the radiator leaks, it must be repaired. Though stopping the leak may help, it will fall short overtime.

2. If there are water leaks, several factors can cause this problem like loose-fitting radiator petcock, cheap or faulty hoses, leaky heater hoses, bad water pump and a leaky radiator.

3. After a while, a radiator cap will not work as well as the gasket. The part may be cracked and therefore needs replacement.

4. The radiator hoses with coiled wire inside may collapse when the components are old.

5. Though the coolant seems to work properly, there could be a problem with its operation especially when it circulates through the car engine. When this happens, you must fill the auto radiator while the engine is running. But remember to do this before the engine reached to a very hot temperature.


Cleaning up the Radiator

November 23, 2007

The formation of damaging particles in the car’s cooling system cannot be absolutely avoided. After some time, deposits or rust can accumulate which can affect the operation of the radiator and the entire cooling system. Therefore, it is necessary to occasionally drain out the coolant so as to remove the unwanted particles blocking up the system.

The ideal appearance of the coolant is somewhat thick with a yellowish green color. For vehicles using a long-lasting coolant, it appears as orange. When the color of the coolant in the radiator becomes brown along with floating fragments of rust, then the coolant must be removed.

To do this job, several steps should be considered:

1. You must first ensure that the ignition is turned off. It is very risky to do the task when the engine is still hot, thus, let the part cool for a while.

2. After the engine has been cooled enough, you can now remove the cap of the radiator.

3. Put a large container, like 2 gallon bucket, underneath the auto radiator. Then, remove the plug. The container will be used to catch the build up fluid.

4. If the fluid has already finished draining, place the plug back in its position.

5. The process can be repeated if you want to drain more coolant in the car engine.

Aside from draining, flushing can also be done if you want to thoroughly clean the cooling system. This would likewise remove rust particles or sediments. You need to have a radiator cleaning product to work on this task. Next is to secure the drain plugs. Together with water, pour the cleaning product into the auto radiator. There are instructions included in the package which involves allowing the heater high for a particular time. As the vehicle engine cools, the fluid in the radiator can now be drained. Then, refill with water. By this process, the cooling system is totally flushed out.

Checking the Condition of the Radiator

November 21, 2007

Since the engine plays a big part in running the vehicle, it has a tendency to overheat. This requires the function of the radiator, maintaining the proper temperature by removing the excess heat produced from the engine. In fact, what makes it possible for the vehicle to go in very long destination is through the auto radiator. Thus, it is vital check its condition as well as the cooling system.

To personally ensure the condition of the radiator, the following tasks can be of great help to make the part in well working order:

ü It is important to keep the engine coolant topped up at all times. When the level of the coolant is constantly low, it may affect the operation of the radiator, causing it to be damaged including the cooling system. Topping up more than twice a year most likely indicates a leak. This calls for the radiator to be professionally inspected by an auto mechanic.

ü Observe the temperature of the engine. If there is a frequent rise in temperature unlike before, it could mean that something is wrong with the radiator and it is not working at an ideal operation.

ü Look over the cooling system. Check if there is any sign of corrosion in clamps, damaged hoses or cracks at the core of the radiator. Also, inspect the gasket on the cap of radiator as well as any drip marks underneath the vehicle. But remember, even if you already turned off the engine, the water contained in the radiator may still be hot for a moment. Thus, let it cool for a while before removing the radiator cap.

Having the vehicle undergo a radiator and cooling system test is necessary, normally once every two years.

These tests include:

  1. Pressure test on the radiator cap – ensures that only the appropriate pressure is released.
  2. Thermostat test – guarantees to have proper flow of the coolant.
  3. Fan test – this obviously checks if the engine fan including other fans are operating in good condition.
  4. Pressure test on the system – the process inspects if there is any leak formed especially under pressure.

Spark Plug Maintenance

November 15, 2007

Checking the Spark Plug

1. The use of compressed air is necessary when trying to remove the spark plug. This would blow out the foreign matters all over the base.

2. It is proper to remove the wire from its terminal boot rather than pulling onto the spark plug wire itself.

3. To avoid confusion and easy identification of wires, an organized system can be implemented such as the use of numbered clothespin. This can be clipped on the wire which makes the task uncomplicated.

4. A deep socket that contains a magnetic or rubber retainer is preferable to use.

5. Make sure to classify the spark plug with its appropriate cylinder.

6. Check the spark plug for potential cylinder failures.

7. Make the plug clean through a solvent and let it dry with the aid of compressed air. Likewise, ensure that the insulator is free from carbon, paint as well as oxide. These stuffs are formed from the fuel additives.

8. When there is a rounded-off electrode, it is required to make it filed flat.

9. Using a steel brush, remove particles formed in the threads such as carbon and rust.

10. Ensure the width of the gap using a round spark plug wire type gauge. Apply the necessary gap adjustments between the electrode and ground to their correct arrangement and specifications, normally, in the range of .022 to .040 inch.


Setting up Spark Plugs

1. Make sure that both the plug threads and cylinder threads are dirt-free.

2. Even if you have new plugs, it is still necessary to check the gap setting.

3. For plugs that require head gaskets, be sure that you install new ones at all times.

4. With the use of hands, make the plugs tighter. After that, using a torque wrench, re-torque the plugs according to the recommendation of the manufacturer. It may vary whether in cast iron heads or aluminum head from the range of 10 ft. lbs. to 35 ft. lbs.

5. Check the spark plug cable. Ensure that it is securely fitted in the plug terminal.

6. Regular inspection must be done on plugs. A lot of manufacturers suggest checking these components every 16,090km or 10,000 miles.

Spark Plug Functions and Conditions

November 13, 2007

Based from the term itself, the spark plug is responsible for providing an electrode gap to produce an ignition to the vapor packed in fuel-air mixture. It also provides the gas-tight path starting from the high-tension lead wire to the supplied electrode gap. At great engine velocity, about 20,000 volts must be produced in roughly 40 times every second without any dripping to the ground.

There are three main parts consisting the spark plug; the electrode, insulator and the threaded meta shell. To combine all of these and form a complete leak-resistant component, dry powder or cement is being used. Both the insulator tip and electrode are prone to intense change in temperature, from the normal fresh air to about an extreme 4,000oF as well as under great pressure reaching to 800 lb for every square inch. The tip of the insulator determines the range of heat of the spark plug, whether cold or hot. Due to potential replacement or great force during removal, the insulator tip can be broken, cracked or even damaged.

Generally, the best possible heat range of the spark plug can be determined based from the engine design and working conditions. When the vehicle engine is cold and there are many start and stop driving, a hotter spark plug is employed. On the other hand, when the engine is hot and used in continuous driving especially in hot weather conditions, a colder plug option can be used. Because of these conditions, getting the proper temperature range of the plug is important. Fouling of the spark plug, in Jaguar spark plug is caused by the combustion products that accumulate on the insulator. Additionally, extremely hot plug can damage the insulator. It can also be a source of premature burning of the fuel-air mixture which then fritters away fuel, decreases power and even damages the engine. However, fouling can be prevented when the spark plug is hot enough while pre-ignition and fast wearing down of electrodes can be avoided when the plug is adequately cold.

In addition to the abovementioned functions of the spark plug, the component can also be a helpful indicator regarding the condition of the car engine. This is because the spark plug is extended into the vehicle’s combustion chamber. Accordingly, it is necessary to check the plugs.

The following are the spark plug conditions helpful in determining the possible cause of failures.

1. When the plug is operating in good condition, a gray or light tan color can be observed. There is a small gap clearance and minimal amount of deposits on the tip of insulator.

2. A worn-out ground and electrode is a big sign that a new one must be at hand. Moreover, if all of the plugs in the car engine are experiencing the same situation together with sticking valves, weak condenser or coil, faulty breaker points and defective ignition leads, then a new hotter plug must be utilized.

3. An oily, muddy and black deposit accumulated on the spark plug causes oil fouling. Though a hotter plug can be of assistance, repair must still be implemented.

4. When plugs contain splotchy particles on the insulator, splashed fouling may occur. The deposits have been built up from misfiring or poor operation. To restore better and accurate performance, a new plug is a good choice.

5. Materials found between the ground and electrode and are produced from combustion can initiate gap or core bridging. This may likewise cause plugs to become defective. When there is a poor oil control or continuous start and stop driving, too much deposit accumulation is most likely to happen.

6. Three conditions can indicate overheating of the spark plug. These are poorly eroded electrodes, yellow or white glaze and burned insulator nose. A defective thermostat, improper heat range or too rich carburetor can be a cause of this plug problem.

Car Battery Maintenance

November 10, 2007

Behind the well performance of the car, there is an essential component making every drive possible and that is the car battery. Made of plastic, lead and electrolyte, batteries start to activate the engine of the vehicle through a short blast of high power.

However, due to external conditions and extent of time, auto batteries may fall short. Normally, they can only last for about four or five years under the finest conditions. The verve and length of service of the battery can even be shortened to two or three years when exposed in very hot temperature and environment. Other factors likewise make them “sulfated” ahead of time and affect their performance. These include continuous charging problems and constant short-period driving. Very hot climate and overcharging can dry off the battery, making the water inside lower than the top of the cell plates and not in the ideal level.

Just like other auto parts, batteries need proper maintenance. For unsealed type of battery, adding distilled water must be done once in a while so as to maintain the proper water levels. This is especially required during summer period since water evaporates more rapidly. It is important to not let batteries run out of water in order to avoid battery cell problem and further damages. Unsealed batteries can be maintained and recognized without difficulty because of the small vent caps above the battery that can simply be twisted open. On the other hand, the sealed battery does not require adding water to its cells unlike in the unsealed type of battery.

Whether your car uses a sealed or unsealed battery, certain measures must be done in order to lengthen its service and keep it functioning properly. The following are the significant ways on maintaining the battery of your vehicle.

1. Make the cables clean.

Before the cleaning process, make sure that the cables are disconnected from the auto battery. After that, the cables can be cleaned using a wire brush which has been soaked in a home-made mixture. Same solution is employed when cleaning the top portion of the battery. The mixture is a combination of one cup of water and one tablespoon of baking soda.

2. Apply lubricants on the posts.

Aside from keeping the cables clean, applying petroleum jelly on every post can aid in preventing rapid corrosion just like in auto radiators. The lubricant likewise makes an easy sliding of the cables when attaching them back on the battery.

3. Ensure connections.

There are cars that does not use or require a battery hold down bar. However, if the vehicle has one, it is important to keep it in a secure position.

Maintaining the auto battery is a very simple task and must be done once a year. A properly working battery not just makes any travel hassle-free but easy as well.

Car Problems Top 10 List

November 8, 2007


In true David Letterman fashion, Auto Mechanic gives you a Top 10 list of the most common types of car problems. I’m quite sure almost all car owners had an encounter with these. Check them out.

Ensuring the overall performance of the car is an important responsibility of every car owner. No one is invulnerable when it comes to hazardous surprises. Thus, knowing the basics of auto maintenance and fundamentals of handling car emergencies are essential. The following are ten car faults commonly encountered by patrols and even car owners. Recognizing how to deal with these common problems can minimize or prevent further troubles.

1. Defective battery

Batteries made of lead or acid may last and work properly for about five years. Eventually, because of regular use especially during short travels, failures may arise to terminals as well as to clamp connections. To tune-up, the clamps and terminals must be checked. Using lubricants like grease or petroleum jelly can protect the terminals against corrosion.

There are maintenance-free batteries nowadays that do not call for replenishment. However, during short travels, the function of batteries can be extended through overnight charging. When the battery is not working, one common solution is to the jump the vehicle’s battery with the aid of another car. But, this is a serious and dangerous task since batteries generate highly combustible gas. With a simple spark, the gas can be ignited and can lead to explosion. Worse is the corrosive acid being showered to the person doing the job. Therefore, it is better to wait for other’s assistance.

2. Damaged or Flat Tires and Wheels

Driving whether in short or long distances would be faster and easier using effective tires and wheels. Impacts and harsh elements can produce damages in wheel rims or sidewalls. Wearing of irregular tires can also be experienced due to wheel misalignment. To be ready during unexpected circumstances, always consider an extra tire. Additional repair tools are a lot of help in handling emergencies. Consulting a tire specialist would also be beneficial so as to restore the good performance of the tires and wheels.

3. Being locked-out or Lost of Keys

Misplacing or leaving the keys inside the car can be a problem, putting off the driver from getting in. Having an extra set of keys at all times will be helpful. Noting down the keys identity number can also make a quick replacement.

4. Defective Alarms

One of the sophisticated features of current vehicles is the security system like alarms. These are of great help for the owner but can likewise be a source of problem. Aside from the loud alarm disturbing the neighborhood, immobilizing systems sometimes find it hard to distinguish the real owner of the car.

5. Alternator/generator fault

Errors in the alternator or generator are the main causes of constant battery problems. When the temperature level of the engine increases rapidly, belt might be busted.

6. Malfunctioning starter motor

The starter motor is quite sensitive in its own way. The springs may decline functioning properly because of corrosion. Gears could also stick on the sliding shaft. Other parts accordingly fall short like the terminals and solenoid operating switch.

7. Fuel problems

It is important to not let tanks run of fuel as drained fuel tanks can be a recipe for car problem. In some cases, leaking pipes, faulty injectors, busted pumps or thwarted carburettor jets can also be encountered. Though pipes can be temporarily made during urgent situations, replacement is still a very good decision.

8. Damages Caused by Impacts or Collisions

Today’s demanding way of life adds to the major and minor cause of road accidents. Whatever mishaps, the situation is aggravated by having the damaged car stranded on the road. Road patrols can contribute assistance in getting the car into workshops for potential repairs.

It is true that absolute protection is not possible but finding ways to make the travel safer is achievable. Taking necessary precautions greatly help in reducing the chances of being engaged in fender-benders.

9. Faulty wires in clutch cables

Due to tearing up of wires, the clutch cable can be totally broken. This could be resolved through repairs but to avoid further expense, getting a new cable must be at hand.

10. Spark plugs

As part of the ignition system, spark plugs are among the busiest components in a vehicle but are often ignored. To keep from problems and maintain their proper function, plugs must be replaced every after 16,090km or 10,000 miles.

After checking the parts or making some repairs in the vehicle, it is a must to double-check every task you made.