More Information About Common Radiator and Cooling System Problems

images-21If steam is pouring from under your hood, a temperature warning light is glowing bright red on your dashboard or the needle in the temperature gauge is cozying up to the High mark, it’s time to pull off the road and shut down the engine before it fries from overheating.

Any indication of overheating is a serious matter, so the best course of action is to shut down the engine to prevent further damage. Driving a car with an overheated engine can warp cylinder heads and damage internal engine parts such as valves, camshafts and pistons.

Even letting the engine cool for an hour and topping off the radiator with a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water may not fix what’s wrong. Here are some reasons an engine will overheat:

  • The coolant level could be extremely low, because of long-term neglect or because a leak has developed in the radiator or radiator hoses. Coolant circulates inside the engine block to cool it, and the leak might be in the block, or from the water pump or heater hoses. Old coolant loses its corrosion-inhibiting properties, allowing rust to form and ultimately causing damage.
  • The thermostat that allows coolant to circulate may be stuck in the closed position or a clog may have developed, perhaps from debris in the cooling system.
  • The engine cooling fan has stopped working or the radiator’s cooling fins are clogged with debris so that the air flow that reduces the coolant temperature is restricted.
  • The radiator cap has gone bad and no longer maintains enough pressure in the cooling system, allowing coolant to boil over (engines normally operate at about 210 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • The head gasket that seals the gap between the cylinder head and engine block may have failed, allowing coolant to leak inside the combustion chambers. The steam should be visible coming out of the exhaust system.
  • The water pump has stopped working or the belt that drives it broke or is slipping and not pumping enough coolant.
  • You’ve been towing a 5,000-pound trailer with a vehicle equipped to tow only 2,000 pounds, exceeding the vehicle’s cooling capacity. (You probably also strained the transmission.)

Checking your engine coolant level in the overflow tank on a regular basis can help avoid disasters. If you have to keep topping off the coolant, that’s an indication of a small leak that should be taken care of before it becomes a major one. Having your coolant tested and the entire system inspected by a mechanic every couple of years is an even better way to prevent cooling system disasters.

Steps to Store Your Car for Winter

unduhan-58From washing and waxing to detailing the interior, people baby their cars in all sorts of ways. But it’s equally important to take care of your car before you put it into storage. Here are a few tips to make sure your car is ready to go when you are.

The Final Detail

Thoroughly clean your car, inside and out, before storage. The last thing you want to do is put a car cover on a dirty car. Give your ride a good hand wash, polish up that chrome and apply a coat of wax to the paint. Make sure to get rid of any tree-sap drops, too.

If there are unpainted metal places under your car that are prone to rust, buy a can of rubberized undercoating and spray on a protective coat, keeping in mind that it needs to be reapplied yearly. Be careful not to spray this coating near any exhaust components that can get hot because products like this can be very flammable. For collectors, if you’re worried about keeping your car in original condition, a coat of WD-40 will also work. You can also stuff a sock in the exhaust pipe so that small animals won’t find a new place to set up camp, but be sure to remove it before you start the car again.

Throw out food wrappers, soda cans and any other trash that may have accumulated in the cabin. If you plan on steam-cleaning the carpet, do that far enough in advance (or after) storing the car to avoid moisture buildup and mold. For added interior protection, you can buy a set of seat covers. To soak up cabin moisture, purchase a few packs of desiccant from your local dollar store or convenience store to place on the floor.

Mice and other small animals can create trouble if they get inside your car. Even though there isn’t a surefire way to protect your car from mice, there are steps you can take to make your car less appealing to them. “I usually go to the dollar store and buy the cheapest drier sheets I can find, and put those inside my vehicles,” said Davin Reckow, claims parts specialist for Hagerty Collector Car Insurance. You can also place mothballs in socks and set them both inside and around the car, but you’ll probably need to air out the cabin to get rid of that distinctive smell. Mousetraps work well outside the car, but never put them in your car. The last thing you want to find is a dead mouse on your passenger seat, especially months later. If you are storing your car in your own garage at home, remember that pest poison traps can be hazardous to your pets.

Tires

It’s worthwhile to inflate your tires to a higher air pressure before storing your car because tires can slowly lose pressure over time and with temperature changes. However, don’t exceed the tire’s maximum air pressure, which is listed on the side of the tire, and be sure to fill all four tires to the correct air pressure when you take your car out of storage. If you already know one of your tires has a leak, replace it because it will deflate completely over time, and your car could end up kneeling on its rim.

Don’t engage the parking brake for storage as it can become “frozen” and difficult to disengage. If you’re worried about your car rolling, get some wheel chocks or blocks of wood to wedge against the tires.

For the more mechanically inclined and for owners of collectible cars, you can put your car on jack stands to take the weight off the tires and suspension. By doing this, you can avoid getting flat areas on your older tires and wheels. Procedures for doing this vary greatly from car to car, so if you’re unfamiliar with the proper and safe way to raise your car, consult with someone who knows. In all instances, be sure the floor of your storage site is completely flat and made of concrete before undertaking this.

Fluids and Power

It’s a good idea to use fuel stabilizer. Why? Reckow said most ethanol-blended fuels have a shelf life of only about three months. If you’re storing a car for six months, fuel stabilizer should help prevent corrosion in the fuel lines and engine. Add fuel stabilizer to a nearly full gas tank.

It’s also a good idea to change your car’s oil and oil filter and check and top-up all other fluid levels before storing your car. If you live in a colder climate, make sure your car has enough antifreeze. Once you’ve topped off the fluids and added fuel stabilizer, take your car out for one last ride to circulate the new fluids.

Your car battery should be either removed and stored, or connected to a trickle charger or battery tender. You can get one for less than $50. Make sure your battery tender or charger has a float mode or automatic shutoff feature so the battery doesn’t get overcharged. You can run the battery tender’s cables up through the underside of the engine bay so that you can keep the hood closed and your car cover in place.

If you want to remove the battery but still have it on a battery tender, set it on a piece of wood in your garage and attach it to the tender. Make sure not to lose track of the two battery bolts. Keeping your car’s battery charged prolongs the life of the battery, and you don’t have to wonder whether your car will start.

You can also remove the battery and store it in a warm room in your home. Keep in mind that cold batteries can freeze and may crack.

Car Cover

Invest in a quality car cover. If you store your car outside, make sure that cover is waterproof and is securely attached to your car so that high winds don’t blow it off. Universal and custom-fit car covers are available at online retailers and at auto parts stores. There is a big difference between a $25 universal-fit car cover and a $300 high-quality model-specific cover. Your best bet is to get one that’s breathable and keeps out moisture. Never cover your car with a plastic tarp as it will severely scratch the paint.

A basic car cover is worthwhile if you store your car inside because it can protect your car’s freshly waxed exterior from accumulating dust and dirt. In addition, Reckow said, a thicker car cover provides a layer of protective padding for your car’s exterior in case you bump it while you move items around in your garage.

It’s easier to have another set of hands available when putting a cover on your car; it also eliminates the risk of having the cover touch the ground, picking up grit. However, before you put the cover on, make sure all the windows and doors are fully closed and that valuables and necessities are out of the passenger compartment. You don’t want to open a covered, storage-ready car just to get your cell phone’s car charger. If you have a fixed antenna, you’ll also want to remove it before covering up. You can put the antenna in your trunk or on the floor by the passenger seat so it’s readily available for reinstallation.

In addition to a car cover, consider a car jacket. Just drive your car onto the jacket, put a soft car cover on it (this is a must) and zip up the outer plastic jacket. This solution provides protection from moisture, rust, rodents and dust. “I once stored a ’66 Chevelle convertible, stripped of paint, right on a lakefront in Michigan,” Reckow said. “After one winter, there was not a lick of surface rust.” Make sure your car is completely dry and cool before putting any kind of cover on it.

Starting It Up

A common discussion among people who store cars is whether or not to start it every so often. “If you do a proper job storing a car, you don’t need to start it,” Reckow said. “But if you want to start it up, just remember what you have to remove and put back on.” In other words, don’t start your car with those socks still stuffed in the exhaust or the battery tender’s cables in the engine bay. Completely remove the car cover, too; don’t just peel it back enough to get in the driver’s door. Never let a car run with its car cover on — or with the garage door closed.

Once your car is started, let it warm up to its operating temperature to remove any condensation and cycle the fresh oil through the engine to lubricate the parts a bit. Then, don’t forget to redo the steps needed to return your car to its storage state.

Why Your Car Need Synthetic Oil

images-20If your car’s owner’s manual says it does, you do.

For many consumers, whether to spend extra money for synthetic oil for an oil change is a difficult question to answer.

Manufacturers of synthetic oil promise more miles and better performance when compared with conventional motor oil, but it comes at a higher cost — sometimes twice as much per oil change. Is it worth the extra money?

Typically, high-performance vehicles will be more likely to require synthetic oil, as will vehicles that have a turbocharged or supercharged engine. However, if your vehicle does not require synthetic oil, the choice is trickier – and there is no clear answer.

Synthetic oil generally resists breaking down for longer than conventional motor oil (typically 7,500 miles to 10,000 miles, sometimes up to 15,000 miles, as opposed to 3,000 miles to 7,500 miles for conventional oil). That makes the extra cost a wash, if you have half the number of oil changes, but each one costs you twice as much. Other touted benefits include cleaner engines, better flow in cold temperatures, better protection when it’s hot outside and better performance with turbocharged engines.

There are also synthetic blends. As the name implies, these are blends of synthetic and conventional oils. They straddle a middle ground — they cost more than conventional oils but less than full synthetics, and are said to last longer than conventional oils but not quite as long as synthetics — but again, that’s a hard number to pin down since manufacturers are vague with their claims. An independent testing lab we spoke with said that synthetics often didn’t perform much better than conventional oils do.

Still, older engines may benefit from synthetics because it is less likely to form sludge.

If your car doesn’t require synthetic oil you should perform a cost/benefit analysis, but that can be difficult to do due to vague claims made by manufacturers. There may be no reason to spend more on synthetic oil, except for peace of mind.

Need You Know About Water Pumps

The water pump, often referred to as the coolant pump, circulates liquid coolant through the radiator and engine cooling system, and is powered by the engine itself. It ensures that the engine temperature is maintained at a safe level while operating. If it fails, the engine may overheat, causing serious damage if left unchecked.

How do I know it’s time to replace my water pump?
A pump that leaks even a little is on its last legs, and one that makes rumbling or screeching noises is getting close to failing. Another sign that it’s about time to replace the pump is when the engine temperature warning light is illuminated on the dash. Contaminated coolant and corrosion can cause seals and internal pump parts to fail.

Why do I need to change my water pump?
Water pumps generally don’t need to be replaced unless leaks develop or the pump completely fails. An important exception to this is that some water pumps are driven by the timing belt, and not the accessory drive belt, and most mechanics recommend the pump be replaced at the same time as that belt (and vice versa). That’s because both are hard to reach and require considerable time and labor cost to replace.

How often should I replace my water pump?
With any luck, you shouldn’t have to replace a water pump even if you keep a vehicle for 10 years or more; they often last that long. Unless you see the warning signs listed above, there’s generally no need to replace it unless you are replacing the belt that drives it.

How much should I pay?
The cost of repairs can depend on where you are as much as it does on what you need fixed. To get an estimate for your repair, go to our estimator, plug in your car’s year, make and model information, add your ZIP code, and choose the repair you need. We’ll give you a range for what your repairs should cost in your area.

All About Fuel Pump

The fuel pump sends fuel from your car’s gas tank to its engine. Fuel pumps are usually electrically powered and located directly in or on the fuel tank. The ease and cost of replacement depends on the car’s design, and the decision to replace it should be undertaken only after determining that the problems aren’t electrical or related to the fuel lines.

How do I know if my fuel pump is bad?
The most obvious sign is that your car won’t start because fuel isn’t getting to the engine, though there are many possibilities for a no-start situation. One way to tell if the fuel pump is at fault is that when you turn the ignition on you can’t hear the pump motor activate inside the gas tank. Another is intermittent loss of driving power, particularly during acceleration or while driving at highway speeds. If the pump appears to be OK, the problem might be that the fuel pickup in the tank is clogged and can’t deliver enough gas.

How often should I replace my fuel pump?
With luck, the fuel pump will last the life of your vehicle. Fuel pumps are not a regular maintenance item, so they generally are replaced only on an as-needed basis. Some owners replace them before they fail as preventive maintenance, but unless the pump is showing signs of failing, there is little reason to do so. Many vehicles have fuel filters that can clog, so the filter should be checked (and replaced if needed) when diagnosing issues with a fuel pump.

Why do I have to replace my Fuel pump?
If the pump is showing signs that it may fail it should be replaced – the vehicle won’t start or intermittently loses power — or you may find yourself stranded.

How much should I pay?
The cost of repairs can depend on where you are as much as it does on what you need fixed. To get an estimate for your repair, go to our estimator, plug in your car’s year, make and model information, add your ZIP code, and choose the repair you need. We’ll give you a range for what your repairs should cost in your area.

More Information About Drive Belt

The drive belt is a reinforced rubber belt that allows the engine’s rotating crankshaft to drive components such as water pumps, alternators, air-conditioning compressors, power-steering pumps or superchargers. Your car may use separate belts for one or more components or hit multiple pulleys with a snaking serpentine belt. Belts are relatively inexpensive items that are best replaced when worn, damaged or simply old rather than after they fail. Serpentine belts in particular, because they power so many components, disable the car completely when they break.

How do I know if my drive belt is bad?
The accessory drive belt (also called a V, or serpentine, belt) drives the air-conditioning compressor, alternator and, on many vehicles, the power steering pump and water pump. If this belt breaks, none of those systems will work. If the belt is cracked, frayed or badly worn, it can slip on the pulleys it rides on, and the accessories it drives won’t receive all the power they need, which may trigger a warning light. A qualified mechanic can usually tell by looking if a belt needs to be replaced.

How often should I replace my drive belt?
It should be inspected at least every year on vehicles that are more than a few years old to check for wear, and it should be replaced as necessary. Most automakers call for periodic inspection of the belt, but few list a specific replacement interval. Though these belts often last several years, they can become cracked, frayed or worn on the side that is hidden from view.

Why do I have to replace my drive belt?
If this belt breaks, the battery won’t get recharged, the air conditioner won’t blow cold air and the power steering will go out. In addition, if the belt drives the water pump, the engine could overheat.

How much should I pay?
The cost of repairs can depend on where you are as much as it does on what you need fixed. To get an estimate for your repair, go to our estimator, plug in your car’s year, make and model information, add your ZIP code, and choose the repair you need. We’ll give you a range for what your repairs should cost in your area.

Should You Know About Headlights Are Aimed Properly

Among obvious signs that your headlights aren’t properly aimed are oncoming drivers flashing their lights at you because your lights are blinding them, or the road ahead is brightly illuminated for only 20 feet or so, meaning the headlights are aimed too low.

Suspension problems or a heavy cargo load can change your vehicle’s ride height and shift one or both headlights subtly. A collision or hitting a road hazard also can move a light assembly and misalign your lights.

One way to tell if headlights are correctly aimed is to park the vehicle on a level surface and shine the headlights on a garage door or wall 25 feet ahead (some vehicles may require a different distance). The top of the low beam shining on the wall should be at or slightly below the height of the center of the headlight lens for most vehicles. You should expect the light pattern to be higher on the right side (passenger side) to illuminate road signs and lower on the driver’s side to prevent blinding oncoming drivers. This should give you a good idea of whether the lights on both sides are aimed correctly.

Another method is to pull the vehicle within 5 feet of the wall and then use masking tape to mark the vertical and horizontal centers of the light beams on the wall. Move the vehicle back 25 feet. The light beams should be roughly the same height.

Vehicles have an adjustment screw or bolt on the headlight assembly for adjusting headlight height, and some also have one for horizontal aim. Some vehicles also have a bubble level to help with adjustments.

On some vehicles you might have little or no space to reach the adjusters without removing parts, such as the battery. Additionally, to get an accurate reading the vehicle should be on truly level ground, the ride height shouldn’t be affected by damaged suspension parts or cargo, and the vehicle needs to be perpendicular to the surface on which you’re shining the headlights.

Many vehicle owner’s manuals give little or no guidance on headlight aiming. When in doubt, ask a repair shop to check. If a vehicle is still covered by the basic warranty, a dealership may check the headlight aim at no cost.

Let’s Learn When Should You Change Engine Coolant

For some vehicles, you’re advised to change the coolant every 30,000 miles. For others, changing the coolant isn’t even on the maintenance schedule.

For example, Hyundai says the coolant (what many refer to as “antifreeze”) in most of its models should be replaced after the first 60,000 miles, then every 30,000 miles after that. The interval is every 30,000 miles on some Mercedes-Benz models, but on others it’s 120,000 miles or 12 years. On still other Mercedes, it’s 150,000 miles or 15 years.

Some manufacturers recommend changing the coolant more often on vehicles subjected to “severe service,” such as frequent towing. The schedule for many Chevrolets, though, is to change it at 150,000 miles regardless of how the vehicle is driven.

Many service shops, though — including some at dealerships that sell cars with “lifetime” coolant — say you should do it more often than the maintenance schedule recommends, such as every 30,000 or 50,000 miles.

Here’s why: Most vehicles use long-life engine coolant (usually a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water) that for several years will provide protection against boiling in hot weather and freezing in cold weather, with little or no maintenance[EM1]. Modern vehicles also have longer intervals between fluid changes of all types partly because environmental regulators have pressured automakers to reduce the amount of waste fluids that have to be disposed of or recycled.

Coolant can deteriorate over time and should be tested to see if it’s still good, as it can be hard to tell just by appearances. Even if testing shows the cooling and antifreeze protection are still adequate, antifreeze can become more acidic over time and lose its rust-inhibiting properties, causing corrosion.

Corrosion can damage the radiator, water pump, thermostat and other parts of the cooling system, so the coolant in a vehicle with more than about 50,000 miles should be tested periodically. That’s to look for signs of rust and to make sure it has sufficient cooling and boiling protection, even if the cooling system seems to be working properly. It can be checked with test strips that measure acidity, and with a hydrometer that measures freezing and boiling protection.

If the corrosion inhibitors have deteriorated, the coolant should be changed. The cooling system might also need to be flushed to remove contaminants no matter what the maintenance schedule calls for or how many miles are on the odometer. On the other hand, if testing shows the coolant is still doing its job and not allowing corrosion, changing it more often than what the manufacturer recommends could be a waste of money.

How To Know Your Radiator is Leaking

When the temperature gauge on your dashboard reads high or a temperature warning light comes on, you have a cooling system problem that may be caused by a leak — be it in the radiator itself or some other component.

First, make sure it’s coolant that’s leaking, not another fluid. (Coolant is often referred to as antifreeze, but technically coolant is a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.) You can easily check the coolant level in your see-through overflow tank. If it’s empty or low, the next step should be to check the coolant level in the radiator, but that should be done only when the engine is cool.

Once you know you’re losing coolant, the radiator is a good place to start. Some radiator leaks will be easy to spot — such as a puddle underneath the radiator — but others not so much. It’s best to check the radiator from every angle, not just from above, and pay particular attention to seams and the bottom. Corrosion inside the radiator or holes from road debris also can cause leaks.

Antifreeze comes in different colors — green, yellow and pinkish-red, for example — feels like slimy water and usually has a sweet smell. If you can’t see coolant dripping or seeping, look for rust, tracks or stains on the radiator. Those are telltale signs of where it has leaked.

If the radiator appears to be OK, the cooling system offers several possibilities for leaks, including the hoses from the radiator to the engine, the radiator cap, water pump, engine block, thermostat, overflow tank, heat exchanger (a small radiator that circulates hot coolant into the dashboard for cabin heating) and others. A blown gasket between the cylinder head and engine block is another possibility, allowing coolant inside the combustion chambers — a problem that must be addressed immediately by a mechanic.

If you can’t find a leak, have it checked by a professional. Coolant has a way of escaping only under pressure when the car is running — possibly in the form of steam, which may not leave a trace.

Reason That Make Automatic Transmission Act Funny

This is a great question, but we must examine what “acting funny” means when referring to one’s drivetrain before recommending a course of action. Do any of the following seem familiar to you?

Slipping

When an automatic transmission seems to slip in and out of gear, or the engine revs up but the vehicle goes much slower than the engine seems to be running, it’s known as slipping. Sometimes the gears reengage harshly.

Shuddering

This is where the whole vehicle shudders and shakes while driving, as if it’s having a convulsion. It feels like you’re driving over rumble strips even if you’re on a smooth highway.

Neutral Drop-Out

A condition that feels similar to slipping, neutral drop-out is where the transmission drops into Neutral when the vehicle comes to a stop or while driving, typically at slower speeds. Sometimes when driving, the trans drops out of gear resulting in the engine racing up, and then either sliding — or banging — back into gear, or you step on the gas and the engine revs but the vehicle goes nowhere as if it’s in Neutral.

Heavy Drivetrain Vibration

This heavy vibration is felt throughout the vehicle under acceleration, especially when the drivetrain is under load, such as driving up a hill or pulling a trailer. Though many things can make a car vibrate, this type of drivetrain vibration will subside when coasting or idling.

What’s Causing This?

The potential causes behind these behaviors are many. The most common include leaking internal or external transmission seals; mechanical damage to the transmission and/or transfer case’s vital internal hard parts such as gears, drums, etc.; old, worn-out transmission fluid; improper fluid; electrical software and hardware glitches; worn drivetrain components; bad transmission and engine mounts.

What Can You Do?

Most of the causes listed above require a mechanic, certainly, but you can start by inspecting the color, consistency and smell of the vehicle’s transmission fluid. Low fluid level can cause the slipping described above.

Even if the vehicle is not doing any of the stuff above, if the fluid is brown or lightly dark, then it’s probably time for transmission service, essentially a transmission oil change. Like the engine, the transmission has a filter and oil (called fluid because it does more than lubricate) that needs to be changed at regular intervals outlined in your owner’s manual. If there’s no reference in your manual, then check with your mechanic.

If one or more of the symptoms described earlier are present and the fluid smells burned and feels rough or gritty between your fingers, then have a professional look at it, because more than simple service is required.

For the conditions above, we recommend transmission repair specialists who have access to diagnostic repair info that could lead directly to the cause of the problem, rather than muddling around in hit-and-miss fashion. They can run pressure tests, dye-leak tests and an electronic diagnostic scan of the drivetrain control module.

Diagnostic costs vary with the eventual verdict, but you can determine the likely cost of transmission fluid maintenance for your specific vehicle in your area using our fair-price estimator. After inputting your make, model and year, select the maintenance category and then the service called automatic transmission fluid/filter change.

Know More About The Minimum Time Should Driver Car

We recommend driving every two to three weeks to make it less likely that you wind up with a dead battery, flat-spotted tires or other issues that can be caused by letting a car sit for weeks.

We’ve heard many people say they let their cars sit for months with no problems, but you’re better off driving it a couple of times each month and for at least 10 miles, with some speeds over 50 mph if possible. You not only want your engine to get fully warmed up but for the entire car to get some exercise as well.

Letting a car idle for 10 minutes will get the engine up to normal operating temperature but accomplish little else. Driving the car for several miles wakes up the transmission, brakes, suspension, power steering, climate system (including the air conditioner) and all the fluids, seals and gaskets for those components that have been on a long snooze.

Batteries slowly lose their charge when they sit idle, and starting the car will drain it even more. That is one reason you want to drive several miles afterward, so the battery has a chance to recharge. If a car sits for a month or more, the battery may lose so much power that it will need a jump-start — or a  charge before the engine will start. To be sure your car will always start, consider a battery tender as described in our guide, “How to Store Your Car for Winter.” Unlike the rechargeable batteries in electronics, conventional car starter batteries don’t like to cycle deeply, so keeping them topped off could improve their longevity.

Here are more reasons not to let your car sit for several weeks or longer:

  • Tires slowly lose air under all conditions but especially during cold weather. As they do, the weight of the car keeps pressing down on the tires, which causes flat spots to develop on the segments sitting on the ground. Driving the car and adding air if necessary will usually make the tires round again, but letting the vehicle sit for extended periods on underinflated tires can cause permanent flat spots that you will be able to feel and hear when you drive.
  • Rodents might take up residence under the hood or even in exhaust outlets. If they get hungry, some may munch on the wiring harnesses and other parts made of soy and other organic materials that are used on modern vehicles.
  • Moisture can collect in the gas tank (especially if it isn’t full) and in the oil over time, and that can lead to corrosion.