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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Changing Spark Plugs

Changing spark plugs on a car has become something most people don't think about anymore. Today's cars don't require new plugs until they reach 100,000 or more miles. However, if you drive an older car or a "base model" car, this is a skill that you might want to consider learning. This technique won't work for all cars but for most simple engines it should.
Begin by choosing the right plug wrench or socket. Most plug sockets have a hex head on one end so you can get a wrench on the socket when the plug is located in a difficult to reach place. Also, the inside of a plug socket has a rubber boot that protects the spark plugs insulator and helps grip the plug, allowing you to pull the plug out with the socket. Using the right tool (a socket made for removing spark plugs) will save you a lot of headache and skinned knuckles.
Once you have decided which socket truly fits your cars spark plugs, remove a plug wire and slide the socket down over the spark plugs insulator. Change you plugs one at a tim. Never remove more than one spark plug wire at any given time. Once the socket is seated over the plug, go ahead an snap in your wrench to break it free (counterclockwise). Once the plug moves, unthread it by hand.
To install a new plug, press the new spark plug into the socket and allow the rubber book inside the socket to grip the plugs insulator. Set the plug gently into its hole and begin threading it down (clockwise rotations). If the threads have any trouble starting, adjust the angle of the plug and try again. You do NOT want to force the plug - you can strip out the threaded hole and then you'll have a real mess on your hands. Once the plug is threaded all the way down, seat the new washer by attaching your wrench and turning it clockwise about 1/4-turn. It should be pretty snug at this point.

Is this a healthy spark plug?
A properly running engines spark plug should have a brown or reddish colored electrode. If the electrode is black, the car is running too rich. If its white, its running too lean. 
 

How To Change Your Engine Oil

Changing your cars engine oil is probably the easiest and most essential thing that you can do to protect your investment in your automobile. Dirty engine oil can tear up the working parts of your engine in a few hundred miles. It pays to change your oil at the intervals recommended by your owner's manual, more often if you drive in a harsh environment or if you do a lot of stop and go driving. It's easy to change your oil and it only costs a few dollars. Here is what you need to know.

The Steps

1. Purchase the type of oil you need for your car, and the amount you will need for the oil change plus one extra quart (oil is most often sold in quarts at your local auto parts store or department store). A small car usually needs 4 to 5 quarts of 5W-30. A large truck might use up to 10 quarts of 10W-30.
2. Also purchase an oil filter for your car. The oil filter is a little can full of filter material that removes dirt from your oil when the engine is running. One end of the can is open and has threads on it where it screws onto the engine. The auto parts store person should be able to tell you which filter you need if you tell them these things:
a) The year your car was made
b) The Make (Toyota, Dodge, Ford ,etc) of your car
c) The Model (Ranger, Camry, Altima, etc) of your car
d) The size of the engine in your car, usually measured in Liters, such as 3.2 Liter V-6. This information should be in your owner's manual, or on a sticker under the hood, or on a plate on the outside of the car. If you can't find it, write down the VIN for your car (located on the drivers side at the base of the windshield) and take it to the auto parts store.
2. The oil will be drained out from underneath of the car. You will need something to catch the oil in such as a drain pan. You can purchase a drain pan at your auto parts store. You might also want a funnel with about a one inch opening in the bottom. It will make filling up the engine with oil less messy.
3. You will need two tools. One is to remove the drain plug under the car. It is called an adjustable wrench. The other is an oil filter wrench. Oil filter wrenches come in basically two sizes and you can get the right size at the auto parts store once you know your filter size.
4. You will need to park the car somewhere nice and flat to change the oil. Bring some paper towels and something to lay on when you crawl underneath the car. You are going to get messy, so be prepared.
5. Shut the car off and let it cool for at least an hour before you change the oil Oil is HOT after the engine has been running. It will burn you if you don't let it cool.
6. Open the hood to expose the engine. The hood release on most cars is under the dashboard on the left side, and has a picture of a hood on it. There is also a safety catch on the hood. So after you pull the release under the dash, you will need to go out to the hood, find the safety release (usually in the center of the hood just underneath the front edge) and release the hood. Lift it up and it should stay up. Some hoods have a little rod like a prop near the front that you have to tilt up and support the hood. Your owner's manual should tell you how yours works.
7. Find a round cap on the engine that is labeled either "oil" or has a picture of a funnel and a teardrop on it. This is where you will put the new oil in after you drain out the old stuff. Take the cap off. If there is any steam coming out of the hole under the cap, let the car cool off some more.
8. Now slide under the car from the front (assuming your engine is in the front of the car). You should see the bottom of the oil pan more or less in the center of the front of the car. The oil pan is a silver or black square bowl shaped cover on the bottom of the engine. It will have a steel plug in it that is threaded. The plug will be tight. The plug comes out by turning it counter-clockwise with the adjustable wrench.
9. Place a drain pan big enough to hold the amount of oil that you bought under the drain plug. Then loosen the drain plug and remove it completely. Try not to drop it into the drain pan. But if you do, no big deal. Just dig around for it. Oil will not hurt you if you wipe it off in a reasonable amount of time.
10. Let the oil drain out until no more comes out of the hole. Then put the drain plug back in the pan and tighten it by turning it clockwise. Tighten it enough so that it won't fall out, but don't go all Chuck Norris on it or it will break the threads and you will be in deep doodoo.
11. Now look around under the engine (by looking up from the bottom of the car) until you locate the oil filter. It should be the exact shape of the one you bought, but the color might be different. Once you find it, put your oil filter wrench on it and loosen it by turning it counter clockwise. Oil will come out around it as you loosen it. No big deal. Just keep your face out from under it. Drop it into your drain pan when it is all the way off.
12. Now get out your new oil filter. The open end of the filter has a little rubber ring around it. Take your finger, dip it into the oil from the drain pan, and spread a thin layer of oil around this rubber ring. The ring seals the oil filter to the engine. The oil you put on it will keep it from tearing as you tighten it.
13. Now place the new filter on the threads where you removed the old filter and spin it slowly clockwise until it starts to screw onto the engine. If it does not spin on easily, you are doing it wrong, take it off again. You don't want to get it threaded on crooked or it will leak. So turn it slowly until it spins on easily, with almost no effort. This may take a couple of trys. Once it threads on, turn it clockwise until it won't turn easily anymore, then turn it one more quarter of a turn. Now look at it where it meets the engine. You should not see any gap between the filter and the engine. If you do, oil is going to leak out of the gap.
14. Almost done. Now go up top and pour the recommended amount of oil into the hole where you removed the engine oil cap. Place the cap back on the hole. Start the car and let it run for five minutes. While it is running, check the ground under the car and make sure oil is not pouring out from the filter or drain plug. Then shut it off and wait five minutes.
15. On the side of the engine, near the oil filler cap, there is usually a yellow ring with a long stick attached to it that goes down into the engine.  It is called the dipstick.  It is used to measure the oil level in the oil pan.  Your owner's manual should tell you where it is on your engine and how to read it.  Pull the engine oil dipstick, wipe it off, and put it back in the dipstick tube all the way. Then pull it again. Read the oil level on the dipstick. It should read near the full mark. If it reads more than one quart low, add the extra quart of oil that you bought.
16.  Done.  Replace the diptick, make sure the filler cap is on the oil filler hole, and close the hood.  Make sure the hood latches securely.  Only a few things left to do now:
- Recycle your oil at your auto parts store, your recycling center, or another designated facility.  Don't pour it on the ground or into your trash.  That is just wrong.
- Record your oil change in a log, so you know when to do it again.  You can use an on-line log like www.myequipmenttracker.com or you can keep a log in a spiral notebook or in an Excel spreadsheet.
Congratulations!  You tackled that oil change and saved yourself $20 or $30 bucks.  Go wash up and have a drink.

Cars-driven-by-compressed-air

What are compressed air driven cars like?

There are some subjects one needs to understand technically to write about, and engines are one of them.
Science is another. The problem with the compressed air driven car is the science it is based on, not the pure mechanical operation of the motor itself.
To convert compressed air to power at the wheels means huge losses in conversion.
The car still has nowhere near the touted performance and in my view will not do much better in the future if they continue trying to get this lemon up.
The first compressed air propulsion car has been around since just after the birth of the motor car itself.
It died a quick death not because they built it wrongly, after all we have not changed chemistry physics or math that much since then.
No, they missed the same things then as now. It is massively impractical to convert to compressed air power and store it for use in a motor vehicle.
The first compressed air car was built in 1860.

The new compressed air car.

claims of 80% fuel saving and 110kph (70mph)have been made for this new compressed air car. Click to enlarge picture.
The compressed air motor

First compressed air cars

Compressed air cars in the past. Here are the two most successful early contenders. Click to enlarge picture.
Here is an amazing picture of two early compressed air driven cars.
There were many reasons why compressed air cars were not successful then, and indeed are not marketable now, despite the many attempts every few years to makes a new compressed air driven vehicle.
Here are some of the problems. Others can be found from links on this page.
  • Infrastructure costs and feasibility of fuel delivery systems.
  • Energy loss due to energy conversion.
  • Energy loss due to extreme temperature.
  • Primary pollution from the supply of the fuel.
  • A lack of horsepower
  • Poor reliability compared to ICEs.
Early compressed air developments that were unsuccessful can be an authoritative guide to today's efforts too.
Despite the apparently unassailable knowledge and expertise of those associated with the new compressed air car efforts, yet again their common sense is in doubt, not their skills as engineers..
The Renault racing team development engineer who designed the motor has fulfilled many promises with the engineering, but not atypically for motor engineers he can't see the elephant in the room.
Having been around engine development for about a hundred years, I have seen many advances in Internal combustion engines which this compressed air engine resembles but over the years I have seen engineers make something beautiful, many times but not see the whole picture .
Bringing new technology in to being can be misguided if it involves the transference of energy from one source to another eg; electricity to compressed air.
This involves huge energy losses all the way through the process and requires new and doubtful infrastructure as well, in the form of air compressors in filling stations that will use masses of electricity to run..
1400 psi is a lot of pressure and normal garage compressors can only produce about 150 psi, and even at this pressure works so hard they create enough heat in the process to wear out pretty quickly with daily use, and of course the heat is lost energy so that I can't see how it would be as cheap as 2 bucks to fill. Makes no sense.
The car, is hyped as "pollution free", but of course there will be enormous amounts of electricity required to fill these huge tanks to this pressure.(currently produced by filthy brown coal in Victoria and for that matter most of the world) so this is a very loose definition of pollution free. What they should have said is that the exhaust emissions are clean, not the fuel.source.

Imagine what this would cost to run?

A large air compressor

Fueling a compressed air driven car..

Fuelling a compressed air car sounds easy and clean.
Electricity is needed to drive the air compressor needed to pump an enormous amount of air in to the tanks against aback pressure of 1400 psi.
Your local service station is not going to have enough electricity in the supply line to feed that mutha!

Claims of 70mph or 110 kph are rubbish.

The car cannot produce enough horsepower to maintain this speed.
The car as it was demonstrated never got up to traffic speed and the air motor sound like a worn out piston motor with far too much mechanical noise and very little power.

Latest compressed air car news.

April 2010. I'm still waiting for that car guys! America will have a full range of these wonders by 2010 according to the latest press. I still believe it is all Bull-dust!
They have made some cars, but they will never make it in to full production because the whole premise is wrong. Now read on to find out why.
the new compressed air car.has been featured on tv and in major press around the world for 3 years now.

Hopeful buyers are lining up

All are happy to part with a measly $8000 for a car that is 80% more fuel efficient and will do 110kph or 70mph.
This is a small very light vehicle which is touted to be able to travel 200 klms on a fill costing about $2.00
India's largest car maker Tata is involved according to several articles.

With Tata's billions in sales we have credibility laid on.

Huge Kevlar tanks hold the compressed air at 1400 psi mounted to form part of the chassis.
The air tanks are designed to split open at a pre-determined point, unloading the air through a large seam crack to reduce pressure and discharge safely in an accident.
The Australian AGE newspaper had an article in December 2007 that excited we soon to be lucky Melbournians.
$1.5 Billion dollars to be invested in Australian manufacturing plants starting with a plant right here in Melbourne.
The problem is despite the many Press write ups, this wonderful fuel saving car has yet to emerge.
I will not pretend that I am as authoritative a source as the AGE or Business Week.(who also ran a big story,) or the TV networks, but this is my hub, and I am going to say what I believe to be true anyway as my friend agvupes on hubpages asked me about the compressed air car and this is my honest answer. I respect him so I will speak without fear or favour.
My opinion is that the compressed air car project will not get off the ground.
As far as I know it has only been tested around the block because that is as far as it will go. I can find no reliable pictures or other evidence to show otherwise..
110 kph or 70 mph? NO WAY.

Baby air car

Not much chance of passing safety legislation!

Compressed air driven car back seat.

This compressed air driven car would not go far with a full load. Weight is crucial with so little power!

Why compressed air cars won't work.

Consider the following:

A standard air compressor used in an automotive workshop to inflate tyres, run a few air tools and a tyre changer at 150 psi Costs $1800 to $3.900 dollars to buy, and uses a 7-10 hp electric motor.
But to push in 1400 psi I'd guess at upward of $100,000 each for a compressor for this application, and a lot of horsepower.
The test drives that have actually been done with this car cover only a very short distance, and I may know why.
According to some mathematical calculations if the compressed air car is driven constantly at 110kph it will only travel about 4-6klms on a full tank!
I have not done the math but it is out there on the net.
I also believe the whole process is deeply flawed in it's conception and is yet another hair-brained idea to replace ICEs.

But wait..... there's more!

A new air car has been announces for the American market that will do a 1000 klms or so with 70hp on tap. I will believe that when I drive it.
You are wise in doubting the compressed air driven vehicle agvupes.

What's the difference in car oils and what's the best oil to put in your car?

What is Oil and Why is it in My Engine?

First of all, oil is the substance that lubricates the internal moving components of your vehicles engine. There are many different types of oils on the market suitable for car engines but there are some basics that you should know when purchasing an oil.
Viscosity
This is simply how readily the oil flows. A higher viscosity oil will withstand more heat than a lower viscosity oil. However, at colder temperatures it can actually become so thick that your starter cannot turn over the engine - and worse yet it won't flow to all the moving parts it should. A viscosity that is too low won't maintain a lubricating film on engine parts - allowing them to make metal-to-metal contact. Either extreme is very bad!
SINGLE GRADE VS MULTI-GRADE
Single-grade engine oils (such as SAE 30) used to be the standard for engines operating at high temperatures (such as air-cooled engines). Since the advent of the American Petroleum Institute (API) rating system, the multi-grade oils that proliferate shelves now-days are suitable for nearly all applications. I did have an older gentleman tell me today that his '30 Ford won't build oil pressure with multi-grade oil - but then again, I'd be surprised if his '30ish Ford builds oil pressure at all....
Coincidentally, SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers.
SELECTING YOUR GRADE
So which oil you should choose will mostly depend on what you're driving. If your car is not an antique or air-cooled, the safest bet is to use a multi-grade oil. The first number on a multi-grade oil indicates the "cold" viscosity of the lubricant - the second number the "hot" viscosity. For example, a SAE 10W-40 motor oil would have a viscosity rating of 10 at 0-degrees Fahrenheit (the W indicates "Winter") and a 40 rating at its maximum recommended temperature (not engine operating temperature - ambient air temperature).
The following chart is a good place to start. Determine the temperatures you'll be driving in and select an oil accordingly.

The Breakdown

 
 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Also consider your driving habits and the condition of your car. If you drive hard - keeping the engine near redline for extended periods of time - or you do a lot of high RPM "freeway" driving - then you may want to select a higher viscosity oil for your car. Also, if your engine is high mileage, a high viscosity oil will keep it a little quieter and may not slip through the rings to be burned (blue smoke).
If your car is newer, you will most likely want a lower viscosity oil. This is true of most newer high-performance cars also - they too have tighter bearing tolerances and recommend a low viscosity oil (it doesn't rob as much power from the engine).
Over-all, If you expect very cold weather ahead, definitely choose an oil with a lower "cold" viscosity. If you live in a warmer region, a higher winter rating (the W rating) will help keep your cam and valves from clattering when you first start your car.
 

How To Stop My Car Windows From Fogging Up Inside

With the weather getting colder and wetter the hinderence of getting in our cars first thing in the morning with frozen fogged up windows is apon us. This isn't great when your late for work. So what can you do to speed up and prevent the foggin up on your car windows. The frost on the outside can be cured with de-icer. Its best to buy de-icer in liquid form than to buy it in aerosol form. You'll get alot more for your money in liquid form. So your windscreen is de-iced but inside is fogged up. Most people if they are up very early in the morning will leave their car running on the drive whilst they get ready. This is a big no no. Theives now prey on people that do this as they have the keys and car already running, all they have to do is open the door and drive off. Your insurance doesn't cover you either if this was to happen. Their are fancy alarm add on's you can buy that will start your car from your alarm fob but still keeping your car locked and secure ( these are not good if your the type of person who leaves their car in gear all the time. ) its called auto start.

If your car steams up no matter what you do then here a few things you should do to prevent excess moisture building up and to maybe eliminate some factors. If you are always in a hurry and wipe the windscreen on the inside with a mit or tissue this could one of your problems. Doing this makes the windscreen extremely dirty and oil making it easier for the moisture to build up, so no sooner have you wiped it it steam up again. Try to avoid wiping your windscreen. Get some good window cleaner like Rain-x who specialise in water repelent and give all your windows a good clean inside and out. Rain-x do a windscreen repelent for the outside which I can not rate enough this stuff is excellent, it dramatically increases visibility on those drives when your windows wiper can't keep up. They also do a window cleaner this stuff is excellent also. By cleaning your windows you should dramatically reduce the moisture build up especially if you Rain-ex which has special additives to reduce moisture build up.

 If your heaters inside your car never get hot then your problem may be that your cars thermostat has gone. The job of the thermostat is to stop water circulating around the engine until it reaches a certain temprature, thus making the engine warm up quicker. This is not just a benefactor for your heaters but is so that your cars oil reaches its operating temprature quickly. So if your heaters just never get hot then yur car needs a new thermostat. These are very cheap to buy and pretty simply to change any mobile mechanic should be to change your thermostat in under and hour easily. Also feel your carpets for water or dampness if you suffer from your cars windows fogging up on rainy days even more than usual cold damp days, Check your footwell carpets. If they are excessivly wet then you may have a problem with your windscreen or crack/poor seal or your heater matrix is leaking. You can tell if your heater matrix is leaking as you will lose water in the header tank. A crack windscreen can be changed on your insurance if you are full comp.
The best thing to do is clean your windscreen with a good quality auto window cleaner like Rain-x and see if this reduces moisture build up. You will always get fogged up windows, older cars will suffer with it more due to them having less of everything. If your having problems with heat then you need to look more on the mechanical side of things and if your have water in the car then you'll never get rid of the fogging until you have cured the culprit. You can also buy 12 volt heater that plug straight in to your cars cigerette lighter socket and give instant heat.

Choosing a Car Battery - Guide

A Do-It-Yourself Guide on How to Choose Your Car’s Battery

A do-it-yourself battery replacement is a real money-saver but you also have to be responsible with the proper disposal of your old battery.
The car battery is the power underneath the hood of your car. It provides electricity needed for door locks, sliding windows, lights, and other car accessories. Your car is dead, the moment your battery dies.
You must discard the old battery properly:
  1. recycling stations (look out for the orange outposts with covered containers); and,
  2. automotive supply stores (some shops pay cash or offer discounts in exchange to old batteries).

    5 important factors in choosing a car battery:

    1. Size
    2. Brand
    3. Reserve capacity
    4. Age
    5. Cold-cranking amps
    Different Group Sizes for Different Car Models:
    1. Size 75 - General Motors cars;
    2. Size 65 - big-bodied Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars;
    3. Size 35 - latest Honda, Nissan, and Toyota cars;
    4. Size 34 - Chrysler cars; and
    5. Size 34/78 - with 2 sets of terminals to fit some Chrysler and some General Motor models.

    Size

    Size or Group Size refers to the height, width and length of the battery. They come in different group sizes to fit most car's battery tray. It is important that the battery should fit snugly and securely. Always refer to your car manufacturer's manual to know your car's specific battery group size. You may also consult the reference guides, which battery retailers provide, find out the appropriate battery size for your car.
    Buying a wrong-sized battery will just be a waste of money and might just set off more damage to your car.
    Original Battery for BMW (Photo from Flickr)
    In the United States, a new car battery might cost up to $200, or more. To save money more efficiently: it is best to do a research for battery prices first before buying. Also learn to remove and to install your own car battery, to save on the installation fee.

    Brand

    Brand refers to the trademark given to a certain product. Sometimes it is the same with the manufacturer's name (i.e. Exide company produces batteries with same name).
    Buying the battery brand specified in your owner's manual is the best way. But if that particular brand is too expensive and you want to do some cost-cutting, follow the specification requirement also found in the owner's manual.
    Do not be tempted to buy the cheapest brand because it could turn as the most expensive battery you've ever bought. Cheap batteries may also be loaded with defects and can also be poor performers. A frequent battery change, which also entails repeated installation, will just definitely sucks up the money you've initially saved when you chose a cheap car battery.
    Battery Service Centers that Install and Sell Reasonably-Priced Car Batteries:
    1. Firestone
    2. Goodyear
    3. Pep Boys
    4. Sears
    3 Battery Manufacturers and their Battery Brands:
    1. Delphi - AC Delco and some EverStart;
    2. Exide - Champion, Exide, Napa, and some EverStart; and
    3. Johnson Controls Industries - Diehard (Sears), Duralast (AutoZone), Interstate, Kirkland (Costco), Motorcraft (Ford), and some EverStart.
    You can also buy car batteries from local service stations and tune-up shops; however, the selection is limited and the stocks may not be fresh.
    Battery Stores that Sell Very Low-Priced Car Batteries but sometimes No-Install:
    1. Kmart
    2. Target
    3. Trak Auto
    4. Wal-Mart
    5. Sam's Club

    Car with Dead Battery Getting Towed (Photo from Flickr)
    RC rating on Battery Label (Photo courtesy of diynetwork)

    Reserve Capacity

    Reserve capacity rating (RC) refers to the battery's ‘standing power'. This is the amount of minutes the battery can continuously supply minimum voltage needed to run a car should the car's alternator or fan belt fail. With an excellent reserve capacity rating, your car can run on the battery alone when the alternator stops working.
    The RC rating of a battery is listed in minutes. You may not find the RC rating on the battery because it is not usually printed on the label. Check the product literature or ask the store assistant to find out the true RC rating of a particular battery.
    The longer the operating time of the battery' reserve capacity, the better; because this is the one quality of the battery that could save you from getting stranded. Consider the RC rating as your car's emergency kit. In times of unexpected trouble, you can still run to safety instead of getting stuck somewhere.
    IMPORTANT: You cannot just pick and buy a battery with the longest reserve capacity you can find. Consult your owner's manual to learn the recommended reserve capacity rating for your particular car model. It is best practice to choose the exact RC rating that your vehicle can handle.
    Fresh Car Battery (Photo from Flickr)
    If you see this date code on a battery ‘L7', which means December 2007, grab this battery because it is really fresh. (It's only 4 months old, if you're buying this April 2008.)

    Age

    The age of the battery gives you an idea on how long it should be able to perform. A battery is considered ‘fresh' if it is less than 6 months old.
    Look for the manufacturing date. Most date codes are stamped on the battery case or label. Important battery information usually starts with 2 characters:
    1. Letter - indicates the month (Example: A is January; B is February; C is March...), and
    2. Digit - indicates the year (Example: 9 for 1999, 0 for 2000, 1 for 2001...)
    A Snow-Covered Car (Photo from Flickr)
    Cables of New Battery (Photo from Flickr)

    Cold-Cranking Amps

    Cold-cranking amps (CCA) measure the battery's ability to start your car even on an extremely cold weather. During freezing condition, your car will be hard to start (or to ignite) because the car's engine oil thickens and chemical reactions, in turn, slow down.
    The cold-cranking amps also refer to the number of amps a battery will be able to support for 30 seconds at 0 degree temperature (until battery voltage reaches below minimum level).
    Choosing a battery with a high number of CCA is better; particularly to those vehicles being driven in a cold climate. A higher cold- cramping amps assure that your car's engine will start obediently even on snowy mornings.
    CCA and CA ratings on Battery Label (Photo Courtesy of diynetwork)
    Car Battery - is a type of battery that can be recharged. Its main purpose is to supply electricity to a vehicle. Car battery is also referred as an SLI battery. Starting-Lighting-Ignition: to give power to the starter motor, the lights, and the ignition system of a car engine.
    A Dirty Battery is Weak (Photo from Flickr)
    Cranking (starting) - also known as shallow cycle type, intended to release rapid surges of energy to start a vehicle's engine.
    Obviously, you won't have to bother with much CCA if you're living in a tropical or warm climate. Since the sole purpose of your car battery is to spurt electricity to crank your car's engine and also to supply power other car's accessories.
    Difference between CCA and CA
    CCA (cold-cranking amps) - indicate how much electrical power the car battery can deliver to the car's starter engine, at zero degree Fahrenheit.
    CA (cranking amps) - This is another measure of electric current in the battery, taken at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or at freezing point. When seen on battery case or label, the CA rating is usually higher than the CCA rating.
    Tips on Choosing the Suitable Cold-Cranking Amps Rating for your Car Battery:
    1. Check your owner's manual and follow the CCA rating specified for your car battery.
    2. Do not choose batteries with CCA rating which is much lower or much higher to the rating recommended by your car's manufacturer, as well as those CCA rating of 200 amps or more.
    3. If both your car's battery brand and exact CCA rating level are not available, you may choose a bit higher (not much and not lower) your car's CCA requirements.
    A Vintage Car Battery (Photo from Flickr)

    More Tips on Car Batteries:

  3. Warranty-covered cars and trucks - If your battery is covered by your vehicle warranty, go to your car dealer to claim some discounts. You must check thoroughly that everything is in order before buying though. Otherwise, the discount you got will be paid for purchase and re-installation fee of replacement battery.
  4. Older models of cars and vehicles which should be beyond their warranties must go to any service centers which could cater to all your battery needs at reasonable prices. If you have no choice but go to your car dealer, prepare a higher budget for your new automotive battery because these services tend to be more expensive.
  5. Do not install used batteries. It will be extremely dangerous.
  6. When your car coughed during start-up, pull over to a garage and ask a mechanic to ‘load' your battery. It should be able to hold a charge properly.
  7. At first sign of battery trouble, start scouting around for a new car battery. You won't get a good buy when you're stranded with a dead car battery.
  8. A new car will normally need a battery change after more than 3 years.
  9. If your battery's the unsealed type, you must add water to avoid drying up. Here's how to put water in the battery: twist open the cap and top up with distilled water. This will give your battery a longer life.
  10. Put back the battery hold properly to secure the car battery on its tray, if your car has one.
  11. Car batteries are NOT ‘maintenance free'. You must check the battery regularly. Keep the terminals, cables, and connectors clean and free from corrosion. Here's how to clean the battery: use a wire brush and baking soda/water mixture to scrub away the growth of whitish, greenish, and bluish stuff on the battery terminals.
  12. Check the battery connections. Make sure that the cables and posts are well connected. To keep off corrosion much longer, rub a bit of petroleum jelly to each battery posts. This will help the cable slip back easily.
  13. Carry a portable battery charger inside your car for emergency use, but be sure to know how to use the gadget.
  14. ‘Jump starting' a dying battery is known to save a car battery-and some money, too; but do not attempt this without complete knowledge on the correct procedure. Wrong wiring connections will cause damage to engine control and other electronic parts of your car.

The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance and Cleaning

Tips Keep Your Motorcycle in Top Condition - Ride Your Bike with Pride

No doubt, today motorcycles create a great fashion statement and at the same time, they speak a lot about the rider’s personality. So, it’s become imperative for a bike rider to learn the tips on motorcycle maintenance and cleaning. A motorcycle which is popularly called as bike is a two wheeler, engine powered, single track vehicle which is commonly used as a means of commuting from one place to another. Motorcycles are considered as the most affordable and most common form of transport.
A good motorcycle rider’s goal should be to maintain the bike in peak operating order all the time and for many years. He should know the fundamental tips on motorcycle maintenance and cleaning. Thus, it is significant to have correct tools and equipments like cleaning cloth, quality oil, gloves, fuel stabilizer, spark plugs, and new oil filter to clean and maintain your motorcycle appropriately. Here are some general tips on motorcycle cleaning and maintenance that can be helpful to any bike owner:

Bike Owners Tips for Motorcycle Maintenance

  • Keeping a pocket gauge all the time would be a great idea to keep your bike tires in extravagant condition. You must check the inflation level every time you fuel up your motorcycle. You can avoid blown out situations by regularly monitoring tire pressure. One must keep in mind that failed tires in motorcycles are much dangerous than in a car and many times lead to serious injuries.
  • Executing an oil change proves to be a preventive maintenance task and is one of the excellent tips on motorcycle cleaning maintenance. Choose an appropriate grade of oil for your motorcycle. Oil is a cooling agent that helps the bike’s engine to stay cool, preventing it from overheating and provides the lubrication so that all the moving parts do their function properly. Check the oil before you go for a ride, also do a check for leaks and repair it immediately.
  • If you have a motorcycle that is chain driven, examine the chain and sprocket before each ride. You must do an in-depth examination once a month. Keep lubricating the chains after every ride. Keep a check on brake fluid levels and brake pads on regular basis. Never let the brake pads to wear down to such an extent that can put your life in danger.
  • The most important tip on motorcycle cleaning and maintenance is to know the parts which should come in contact of water and which parts should not. Protect the parts like speedometer, seat area, gauge cluster area, any switches or exposed electrical part during and before cleaning process. One must cover these sensitive parts with suitable material while cleaning and washing the bike.
  • Wheels, tyres and other lower areas must be pre-sprayed with a diluted cleaner or traffic film remover product, following a rinsing off process. After sufficient pre-cleaning and degreasing, motorcycle can be washed with a normal shampoo product by a soft wash mitt. During this process, do not allow the cleaning solution to dry.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Preventative Car Maintenance is the Best Way to Save Money

With the economy as it is today people are always looking for ways to save money. There are lots of ideas floating around the Internet suggesting ways to cut corners in your everyday spending, teaching you how to save money in the long run. One area that simply cannot be cut however is in the area of car maintenance.
An old TV commercial once quoted a mechanic who was advertising oil filters as saying, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” What he meant by that is, you can spend $50 on car maintenance and replace your dirty oil filter today, or you will be paying me $500 to replace your ruined fuel pump later.
Auto maintenance is required if you drive a car. Spending several hundred dollars to change an engine’s timing belt is far less expensive than spending the thousands it would cost to rebuild the entire car engine. Preventative car maintenance is a much better way for saving money in the long run when it comes to car repair.

10 Money Saving Car Maintenance Ideas

Even though car maintenance is a must, there are some smart ways to save money when you do it. Here are 10 money saving ideas when it comes to auto maintenance.
1) Become familiar with your car owner’s manual- Probably buried somewhere in the glove compartment of your car is a little book called the owner’s manual.  The owner’s manual outlines the appropriate maintenance procedures and intervals to keep your car in top condition.  One of the first and possibly most effective steps to proper car maintenance is to become familiar with the factory recommended maintenance schedules for your particular car.  If you have misplaced your owner’s manual you can buy one from your local car dealer or download it from your automakers website.
2) Keep on Schedule- Most automakers suggest a “normal” or “severe duty” schedule of auto maintenance required to keep your car running in top shape.  The more “severe duty” schedule will require more frequent oil and fluid changes.  It is important to honestly consider how you use your car, and decide what the best car maintenance schedule is for you to follow.  Even if you don’t think you put a lot of miles on your car, continued stop-and –go driving like you might experience in larger cities may put your car in the “severe duty” category for car maintenance.
3) Check your car’s oil level monthly- Even though automakers usually recommend oil changes do be done at intervals of 5,000-7,000 miles it doesn’t excuse you from checking your car’s oil level more frequently, or between changes.  Approved Auto Repair shops are reporting that they are seeing more cars coming in for oil changes with their oil level being several quarts low on oil.  Low oil is a recipe for disaster when it comes to engine failure. Remember it is normal for an older car to use more oil as it gets older, with even up to one quart per every 1,000 miles.
4) Keep your coolant level up- When you check your oil level each month, you should also make sure to check the coolant level at the same time.  You can look at your owner’s manual to find out where the coolant reservoir is located on you automobile.  Look for signs of seepage around the radiator and for cracks, or strange bulges, in the radiator hoses.  These signs may be a clue that your car requires some preventative radiator maintenance.
5) Check your car battery- Typically a car’s battery life is about three to five years before it needs to be replaced.  Some batteries have a charge indicator “eye” which shows you if your battery is fully charged.  Although this indicator is not always accurate, the eye should be green if your battery is in good shape.  Most batteries are sealed, but are not entirely maintenance free like you might think.  One of the most common problems that can occur when it comes to your car battery is the corrosion that can form on the battery terminals.  If it looks like your terminals have grown moss, gently scrub them with an old toothbrush and a 50-50 mix of water and baking soda.  Clean terminals allow for your battery to have a solid connection.  Be sure your battery cables are tight to the terminals, and look for cracks or fraying on any belts that drive the alternator or other engine components.
6) Check under your car- Make sure that you check the ground after your car has been parked.  Your car holds a number of different kinds of fluids and theoretically all of them should remain in your car, not leak on the ground.  An occasional drop of engine oil or a trickle of condensed water from the air conditioner is no cause for alarm, but puddles of fluid is. Make sure the fluid on the ground is not yellow, green, red or pink.  These colors are signs of serious issues with such components as breaks, transmission or cooling systems.
7) Change your filter regularly- It is important to change your air and fuel filters regularly, with the higher emphasis on the fuel filter.  The most common cause for fuel pump failure is because of a dirty fuel filter.  Also, make sure to fill your car with gas often to avoid running too low on fuel.  The ethanol in gasoline allows for sediment to remain at the bottom of the tank causing sediment to form on the fuel filter when used.  This can be prevented by not running on empty, and refilling more frequently.  Air filters on the other hand are not as critical to change as often.  Research has shown that fuel economy may even increase with a slightly dirty air filter.
8) Check your car’s tire pressure- Buy a gauge to check your car’s tire pressure.  Make sure the pressure in the tires is what the automaker suggests in the owner’s manual.  By maintaining proper tire pressure it will prevent premature wear on your tires.  Proper tire pressure also increases your car’s handling ability and braking capabilities.  Don’t rely on the gauge on the hose at the gas station to be accurate; it has been misused far too many times.  You can buy a gauge at an auto parts store for about $5.00. If you car doesn’t have a tire-pressure monitoring system consider replacing the valve stem caps with caps that warn when the pressures are getting low.  This set of valve stem caps is usually under $20.00.

9) Maintain the looks of your car- If you keep your car shining with frequent car washes, and twice a year waxes, it will enhance the resale value of your car by maintaining the interior and exterior of your car. You will also feel better about driving a clean, shiny, car. A little touch up paint, that you can purchase from the car dealer, will do wonders for small chips and nicks in the paint too. Make sure if you get a ding in your windshield from a rock or other flying object that you get that crack filled immediately.  If you see a windshield repair specialist before the crack spreads, you may avoid the costly replacement of the whole windshield later.
10) Get to know your mechanic or service technician- One of the best things you can do is to build a relationship with your mechanic.   The cost of repairs differs considerably from shop to shop so make sure you do your homework when it comes to repair service.  Once you have found a mechanic you can trust, take your car to be repaired there in the future.  It is even a great idea to create a relationship with a car dealership service person.   Ask for your preferred technician by name and only get your car maintenance done with their care. The service technician will come to know you and take better care of you when you develop a relationship with them.   If your budget is limited they can help you prioritize your maintenance and repair tasks.

Your car will thank you for practicing good car maintenance.

If you practice these ten steps of car maintenance you will save money on your car repairs by avoiding costly problems.  Stay informed with current car repair information, and always try to follow the auto manufacturer’s suggestions with maintenance schedules.