Common Car Issues
The top five most neglected auto maintenance procedures includes the following items:
Purpose: Car owners should always ensure that their tires are positioned correctly. Properly aligned tires permit a straight riding experience. If your vehicle lags to the left or right, then you should have a mechanic perform an alignment check.
Why You Shouldn’t Neglect It: While the basic purpose of wheel alignment is simple, the negative effects of disregarding its upkeep are extensive. Uneven tire placement results in additional road surface resistance, requiring the car to use more gas. This obviously increases both your carbon footprint and the amount you spend at the pump. Furthermore, unaligned tires wear faster, and new tires can be expensive
Air Conditioning Unit
Purpose: Probably the most essential feature for passenger comfort, your air conditioner shouldn’t need much of an introduction – especially now that the winter is over.
Why You Shouldn’t Neglect It: Failing to properly maintain your air conditioning unit can result in damage to internal components and potentially a complete breakdown. Don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Without access to in-car air conditioning you might find yourself sweating bullets and causing serious damage to your car.
Purpose: Power steering typically consists of an engine-powered hydraulic pump that lubricates the steering mechanism with power-steering fluid. This liquid compound facilitates smooth steering movements. You don’t want to find yourself forcing the wheel.
Why You Shouldn’t Neglect It: If the power steering fluid begins to change color, bubble or leak these are signals that identify maintenance needs. Also, if you’re hearing strange noises or experiencing difficulty steering, these should are other obvious signs of maintenance needs. The steering wheel might stutter or resist, which could complicate matters when navigating a busy city street or congested freeway. Steering complications may threaten your safety, as well as other drivers.
Purpose: Responsible for switching gears while the vehicle moves, the transmission is an integral part of your car and driving experience. As the name implies, automatic transmissions change gears automatically, while manual transmissions require the driver to initiate gearshifts.
Why You Shouldn’t Neglect It: Firstly, your typical transmission comprises of roughly 1,000 parts, so it’s a very complex piece of machinery. The most blatant reason you shouldn’t neglect transmission maintenance is because it can potentially make gear shifting harder or impede the process. Poor upkeep leads to delayed shifting, erratic shifting, or simply no shifting at all. Not only does this complicate the driving experience, but it can be dangerous for both you and those around you.
Purpose: This particular fluid’s purpose is to help transfer force into pressure to give your brakes strength. It’s an essential part of the brake system, as they won’t work without hydraulic fluid.
Why You Shouldn’t Neglect It: You don’t have to be a professional car technician to guess the consequences of not maintaining brake fluid. Your brakes lose power without brake fluid, forcing you to apply them longer, wearing them down even more. In some situations they can cause your brakes to fail altogether, which can endanger lives.
Quality car maintenance is a necessary expense that will save you big moving forward. Call J&F Motors Ltd. and tell us about that last time you check these five key items.
Why Your Engine Overheats
The last place any motorist wants to find themselves is standing by the side of the road with steam pouring from under the hood of their vehicle. Making yourself aware of the reasons for a vehicle overheating and the necessary preventive maintenance routines can help you avoid major engine damage that can result.
Engine Overheating Causes
Your vehicle’s cooling system is designed to keep your engine running within normal temperature ranges (typically 195 to 220? F depending on make and model). Coolant will boil at 225 degrees Farenheit, but pressure created by the radiator cap and coolant blend ratios also help to increase the temperature that can be withstood.
Fan, Pump, Hose and Thermostat Failures
A faulty radiator or radiator fan can cause engine overheating if proper cooling is not occurring. Additionally, when a water pump, one of the most important parts of the cooling system, malfunctions it can lead to leaks or bearing problems that can cause overheating. Hose damage and hose collapses can also play a part in inadequate cooling, as well was a stuck or faulty thermometer.
Coolant System Causes
The most common cause of overheating is also the most simple, coolant. If your coolant level is too low, your vehicle’s cooling system cannot work properly. Coolant levels can drop through normal use, but if you notice significant drops in the fluid level check for coolant leaks or the possibility of a clogged radiator. Make sure to use the coolant ratio recommended for your vehicle. Consult your owners manual for the correct levels.
The Consequences of Overheating
The damaged caused by an overheated engine can be serious. Overheating can cause damage to pistons, cylinders, bearings and valves, as well as a number of other vital engine components. As a result, warning signs of overheating should never be ignored; shut down your vehicle at the first indication that your engine may be operating above normal temperatures!
Engine Overheating Prevention
Avoid overheating by keeping an eye on your vehicle’s temperature gauge and coolant levels and regularly inspecting belts and hoses. Since a working radiator cap provides the pressure needed to allow for higher coolant temperatures, make sure your cap is working properly and replace it if needed. Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot!
Proper Disposal of Car Parts and Waste
Improperly disposed motor oil is the single largest source of oil pollution. When you dump used motor oil in your backyard, down storm drains, or in your garage, contaminants will enter ground/surface water and soil. Oil picks up heavy metals from the engine which are toxic to people, wildlife and plants. One pint of motor oil can produce a one-acre slick on surface water.
The best method to removing motor oil is to recycle it. Oil never wears out; it just gets dirty so recycling it is easy. First drain the oil and transfer it to a tight-fitting lid, such as a plastic jug or metal can. Make sure these containers are not being used to hold other products to afford cross contamination. You can bring your old oil to many service stations or “quick lube” shops. Some community curbside recycling programs will also pick up used motor oil.
Car batteries contain harmful corrosive materials and heavy metals that can contaminate soil and surface water. Luckily 99 percent of typical lead-acid batteries can be recycled and properly disposed. Upon purchasing a new battery many auto body shops will accept your old battery for recycling and waive the core charge associated with properly disposing the product. To avoid spills or release of dangerous contaminants before recycling, store your battery upright in a sturdy acid-resistant, leak proof container.
Antifreeze is highly poisonous and toxic, ingesting may lead to death. It must be handled with extreme care; children and animals might be attracted to its sweet smell and taste. If you are replacing your antifreeze yourself you should first drain all the coolant and then run for a few minutes filled with distilled water. Drain the distilled water and refill again with new coolant. Store your old antifreeze in the original plastic container and bring it to a recycling center where it will be purified and used again.
Gasoline is highly flammable and toxic, even when making skin contact. It can also contaminate soil and water if not disposed correctly. Store your used gasoline in an approved container away from living areas, ignition sources and direct sunlight. Never use old gasoline as a solvent, paint thinner or weed killer. If you believe your gasoline might be contaminated, bring the container to your local area’s hazardous waste collection center.
Signs Your Car Needs a Transmission Flush
In most cases, getting a transmission flush every 30,000 miles, or every two years or so is sufficient. However, there may be times when you need to get a transmission flush sooner, in order to help protect your car’s transmission. There are some common signs that you need to perform a transmission flush on your car or truck. You should be aware that if the vehicle is displaying these symptoms, your dirty transmission may have already caused bigger problems.
Problems Shifting Gears
Regardless if you drive an automatic or manual, your car requires clean transmission fluid that flows easily throughout your car’s transmission. A transmission that contains too much dirt or sludge will cause sluggish response in the transmission which will result in your vehicle changing gears too quickly or too late while driving. In manual transmission vehicles, you may find it very hard to change gears at all.
Transmission Grinding or Strange Noises
A vehicle transmission that is contaminated with dirt, grease and sludge can display symptoms very similar to inadequate levels of transmission fluid. When driving your vehicle, if you notice your transmission grinding or making strange sounds, you should stop the vehicle and check the transmission fluid level while the engine is still running. Insure that the transmission fluid color is bright red and not brown or black because of grime or sludge. If the fluid level of the transmission is acceptable, your vehicle probably needs a transmission flush.
A dirty transmission may cause a lack of hydraulic power, much the same as not having enough transmission fluid will cause. In order to stay in the appropriate gear, the transmission must develop enough pressure. When a transmission is too dirty, contaminants may interfere with the flow of transmission fluid that helps with this. If you’re transmission has no other problems, and the fluid level of the transmission is full (or close to it), the problem is probably restricted fluid flow due to a buildup of dirt and contaminants that need to be flushed out.
Surging of the Vehicle
When your vehicle’s transmission is polluted with a lot of dirt and contaminants, and needs a transmission flush, you may notice unexplainable surging of your vehicle. Because your car’s dirty transmission does not allow for adequate transmission fluid flow, your vehicle may tend to jump or surge forward and fall backwards for no good reason. This is caused by inconsistent flow of clean transmission fluid that is needed to ensure smooth operation of the gears and other moving parts inside the transmission bell housing.
Delay in Vehicle Movement
Another sign that your vehicle may have contaminated transmission fluid is when the vehicle stalls for one or two seconds before moving after having been put in gear. If there are no other problems with the transmission, a transmission flush may help.
The Basics of Motor Oil
The basic types of motor oil may seem confusing, and some shops or lube-stands might try to upsell you on a more expensive version you don’t need. Here at J&F Motors Ltd. we want you to have the facts to know what oil is right for your car.
Here are the three standard oil types and what types of cars they are suited for:
Conventional oil is formulated with additive packages to ensure that it has the proper heat tolerance, breakdown resistance, and viscosity (thickness and fluidity) that engines require. For many vehicles, conventional oil is sufficient to get the proverbial job done. Depending on your application, stepping up to a more robust motor oil may be the right solution.
High Mileage oil is meant for vehicles that have over 75,000 miles on the odometer. High-mileage oil features unique additives that help to protect seals, which in turn prevents oil evaporation, also known as burn-off, a problem that can occur more easily in older engines. High-mileage, high-performance vehicles, however, would benefit from using a synthetic oil as opposed to high-mileage.
Synthetic or “full synthetic” oil is engineered specifically to provide the highest level of lubrication in high and low temperatures, which results in better overall engine protection. Synthetic oil has superior cleansing properties which help to keep your engine cleaner. While it is the most expensive type of motor oil, it is considered by many to be the best type of oil that you can put in your car.
However, not every car requires synthetic oil. If your driving conditions are not ideal, synthetic oil might be the best option for you. In cases of stop and go traffic, short trips, or very cold or hot temperatures, stepping up to synthetic might be the best case scenario.
Check your owner’s manual to determine whether your vehicle requires synthetic oil. Most newer cars require synthetic oil but older cars should run just fine with a conventional oil unless your car has over 75,000 miles on it, in which case a high-mileage oil is recommended.
When in doubt about your common car problems, ask one of J&F Motors Ltd. trained technicians. They will always provide you with a clear and reliable answer.
What happens when your car runs out of oil?
Engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. It’s essential for the function of your engine. Any lack of engine oil in the system, or even dirty oil, will lead to extreme engine wear, and driving a car low on oil can lead to some pretty bad situations. In the end, keeping the engine full of clean oil is one of the most important aspects of owning a car. It’s critical to merit a log or checklist to be sure that your car or truck will function well and long into the future.
Running Out of Oil
If you run out of engine oil, your engine will fail. Inside of the engine, there are fast moving parts, with a lot of potential friction. The engine oil is the lubricant that keeps parts sliding against each other smoothly, instead of grinding each other down. If the engine runs out of oil, it will start to grind, and then seize up, stalling the vehicle. Your engine will be damaged and possibly ruined. Many drivers will not get a warning about the lack of engine oil until it is too late. Newer vehicles do have more diagnostic tools like an engine oil pressure sensor unit and dashboard tools that may help to identify low oil situations. In older vehicles, drivers often need to manually check the oil themselves, as the “check oil” dash light will not be sufficient to warn them of a low oil situation.
Engine Maintenance: The Role it Plays
As mentioned, even dirty oil can have a negative impact on your engine. Over time, particulate matter may build up in the oil. These particles can contribute to scoring of engine parts. That’s why manufacturers recommend routine oil and filter changes to make sure the oil in your engine is clean. Lots of drivers also do a manual test by pulling out the dipstick and rubbing the used oil between their fingers to see if they can feel any grit or hard particles. Changing the oil filter is important because most of them are only rated for 3000 miles, the recommended mileage for an oil change.
Oil Maintenance on Older Vehicles
Running out of oil is a much more common concern when a vehicle is getting older. Vehicles older than 10-15 years may develop one of two problems: the oil will leak out of some part of the engine block, or it may actually burn off during combustion. Either of these will lead to a depleted oil tank, and that can spiral down the path to the problems mentioned above. Drivers of vehicles that leak or burn oil need to be vigilant about checking and replacing oil, even between the 3000 mile changes. It’s easy to forget about checking the oil, but it’s critical, especially before and after longer trips, to make sure you don’t unknowingly contribute to destroying the engine.
Spark Plugs: Signs of Failure
Spark plugs are an integral part of your vehicles motor as they provide the much-needed spark that ignites the air and fuel mixture within the engine cylinders. This continuous ignition is what keeps your car moving on the road. If spark plugs are not checked with regular services, cleaned or changed when necessary, they can cause problems to occur with the vehicles engine.
Below are five signs for when to change your spark plugs:
Engine Has a Rough Idle
Your engine idles when it is stationary and in this position the engine normally produces around 1000rpm. The sound the engine gives off should be constant and smooth but if your spark plugs aren’t performing well, your engine will produce a rough and jittery sound while producing larger vibrations through the car.
Trouble Starting Your Car
Many people blame the car battery for difficulty starting their car. One possibility you may overlook is having bad or worn spark plugs. If your spark plugs don’t produce the spark needed to get the vehicle moving, then it doesn’t matter what shape your battery is in, you’re not going to go anywhere. It is also possible for faulty spark plugs to cause your battery to drain.
Your Engine Misfires
When your engine misfires it causes the vehicle to halt for a fraction of a second and then continues it’s usual movement. This means the vehicle isn’t functioning as smoothly as it should because one or more cylinders aren’t firing properly, which can also lead to higher amounts of emissions.
When a vehicle sucks in more air than usual in the combustion process it can cause the vehicle to jerk and then slow down or continually start and stop, which means the vehicles engine is working inefficiently. This is also known as engine hesitation and dangerous situation can arise if this occurs in traffic.
Lack of Acceleration
If your vehicle is accelerating poorly it is fairly easy to tell. It feels as if the vehicle doesn’t want to respond when you put your foot down, or it does but not instantly as you’ve become accustomed to. It can also feel as if your vehicle is trying really hard to pull itself along. This ‘sluggishness’ can be caused by faulty or deteriorating spark plugs.
While these warning signs are certainly indicative of issues caused by spark plug failure, there are a number of other factors which could contribute to these problems. If you are experiencing any of these common car issues, bring your car to J&F Motors Ltd. and one of our trained and qualified mechanics will diagnose and resolve all your car care needs.