Getting to Know Your Car’s Battery

Hey there and welcome back to our series on automotive repair how to guides and tips for the new automotive mechanic in your family. Now if that happens to be you, I want you to understand that these articles aren’t being written for the professional but are instead being written for the average guy such as yourself that’s maybe looking to get his hands a little dirty on his own car one day. In today’s article I’m going to discuss some basic points about your car’s battery. The battery is extremely important to your car’s function, but once started, most cars that use alternators and not generators can actually be run without the battery connected and that’s a t estimate to just how far the modern electrical system in your car has come.
A car battery is little more than a big box filled with battery acid, which serves simply as an electrolyte, distilled water, and plates. It does help stabilize voltages, and can provide current when your car’s charging system is running below peak efficiency. You will typically find two large terminals on your battery, either on the side or on the top. You will have a positive and a negative terminal, just like most other major batteries out there. You can tell the difference because the positive will have a “+” sign by it while the negative terminal will have a “-” sign by it. There is often a red cap over the positive terminal, but that is not always the case. Typically most batteries are sealed units and don’t require service. However all batteries can be prone to developing corrosion on the terminals.
The battery is a very simple part in the overall complexity of your car. Now that you understand it’s purpose you can begin to effectively diagnose it for problems if you are dealing with a starting or charging situation that you are have trouble figuring out.

The Pros and Cons of Engine Replacements

There are times in your life when you just cannot afford another mishap. For example, the dryer quit and you had to buy a new one, someone broke their arm and you have medical bills to pay and then you got a reduction in your hours at work. All mishaps that just pile up financially. And then the car starts to run with a funky noise – if it runs at all. Now what do you do?
You can take the vehicle in for a check and see exactly what the problem is. Sometimes the exact problem is not located until parts of the engine are taken apart and looked at. So, you have to decide before you even know what the problem is if you are willing to invest more money in to it. How can you weigh the pros and cons of a vehicle repair, if you don’t even know if the engine can be replaced or not.
You need to sit down and evaluate the car. How many miles are on the odometer? Have there been few other problems with it? Is the body still in great shape? When the engine is the only thing that has a problem and the car is young in its mileage, you might want to consider engine replacement as a way to keep the repair expenses down. And the expense won’t be low initially, because it is replacing the biggest part in the car, but it can keep expenses down over the next few years.
Engine replacements are a lot cheaper than buying a new car, too. Cars are very expensive to buy new these days, so people are opting to spend less by investing in the vehicles they already have. Not having a monthly car payment is very nice for some people, so they would prefer to keep an older car running with the new engine versus a new car.
Is your car aging and very high on the odometer miles? Is the body starting to fall apart? Are there lots of other little problems that could stand to be fixed? That might mean getting a new or a newer used car is in order. Once you replace the engine, you don’t want to keep having to spend money on fixes, month after month. Getting a new car might be the only option to keep from paying a lot of money in repairs.

Car Repairs – 5 Steps on How to Avoid Unnecessary Repairs

Step 1 – Take your car to multiple repair shops for inspection.
Let’s say that your car is making a loud, metallic grinding sound every time you push on the brakes, so you take your car to the local repair shop you’ve passed day in and day out on your way to work. The first thing you should do is let the service writer know you are here for an inspection and to not perform any services until you have had the chance to authorize them. Ask them to inspect your vehicle and quote you a price. If the service writer comes back to you after the mechanic has performed the inspection and says your car needs additional repairs, this might be a red flag. Keep in mind that when a service writer comes back to you with additional repairs he is not necessarily padding the bill. What you need to pay attention to is how he or she explains the additional repairs. If the service writer goes into great detail about the necessity of the additional repairs only leaving you to forget why you brought your car in for inspection in the first place, be weary. Take your car to another auto repair shop or mechanic for inspection. See if they come back with the same result. I would do this until you feel comfortable with the repair shop and/or mechanic.
Step 2 – Do not let the repair shop or mechanic put your car on the rack and start taking it apart until you give them authorization.
If you fail to do this you might be forced to authorize unnecessary and costly repairs just to get your car off the rack. You might be forced to pay a large fee to have your vehicle reassembled. This is not a good situation and one you desperately want to avoid.
Step 3 – See how the service writer explains additional repairs.
When you bring your car in for an oil change/inspection and the service writer hits you with a list of additional repairs. If he or she talks about the additional pairs and the importance of them only leaving you to forget why you brought your car in for work in the first place, this might be a red flag. Not all mechanics are evil and try to take advantage of you, but keep in mind of this situation.
Step 4 – Ask the repair shop and or mechanic to itemize your repairs.
Tell the service writer to include parts pricing and expected labors hours. If they fail to give you the itemized information something could be up. If they do give you an itemized bill you now have the opportunity to do some research. Go home and try to find out as much as you can on the expected work, or better yet, take your itemized bill to another repair shop and ask them to look it over.
Step 5 – If you are taking your service that includes tire rotation try marking your tires (discreetly of course).
For example, mark the front tire on the driver’s side with the number 1, and then mark the back tire on the driver’s side with the number 2 and so on and so forth. Snap a picture with your camera phone (assuming you have one) or digital camera for documentation. When you pick up your car from the repair shop, prior to paying the bill see if the tires where rotated. If they were not rotated you have proof that something is wrong and you can be assured the repair shop is not going to try and mess with you from that point on.

Car Repair – Identifying the General Location of Abnormal Vibration

When it comes to car repair, it’s important to identify a problem early on, and determine it’s general location or origins. Many failures are precipitated by vibration, and this can provide useful clues. Have you ever felt your car shaking or vibrating? Sure you have. We’ve all felt something like it at one time or another. The two things we need to identify is where the vibration is coming from and the cause. We may need to leave the identification of cause to a mechanic, but we can certainly help locate its origin with a little detective work.
Here’s a simple way of determining the general location of vibration. If you feel it in the:

steering wheel, then it’s coming from the front end of the vehicle;

seat of your pants, then it’s coming from the rear end of the vehicle.

Your mechanic will be better able to find the exact cause of the vibration, but here are likely culprits:

thrown wheel weight

tread separation

snow or mud adhering to the inside of the wheels

loose steering linkage

worn or loose bearings

loose or missing lug nuts

No matter the cause, common sense would dictate that you try to identify the cause soon after recognizing the symptoms of vibration that indicate an abnormality. And, if you’re not experienced at car repair, then get some help to identify where the symptoms are coming from before they exhibit themselves in the form of a failure that leaves you alongside of the road.

Do You Have a Car Repair Insurance Plan?

Whenever they purchase a car, some people choose to have an insurance plan for repair while other may not because they would say that there is no need for them to have an auto repair as long as they take good care of their vehicles. They maybe right to a certain extent nevertheless, playing safe is more preferable since we can not prevent any situations and we can not fully control it either.
This is mainly the common scenario that a car owner is dealing with whenever a vehicle needs repair. Because there are plenty of manufacturers and models today, it is sometimes difficult to locate a repair shop that specializes in every auto repair. Plus, to a certain degree, ads may be confusing and sound too sweet.
An automobile manufacturer would usually advice a car buyer to have an insurance policy with them so it won’t be really hard to have maintenance and a possible car repair whenever you need it. However, these may sound like an ad for us because we believed that they’re just attempting to sell their insurance plan. Well, this situation is simply a give and take relationship.
They take our money by paying extra for the repair plan as well as coverage but we also have the benefit of having our car repair in good hands and we can point out that the repair is specialized since they are your manufacturer. In this instance, we do not have to look around for the best mechanic shop thus saving our effort, time, as well as less aggravation during a damage.
On the flip side, a repair shop would certainly encourage us to bring their car to them for maintenance and repair for a less expensive price. Before you choose to have it like that, make sure that the actual repair shop isn’t recycling any parts from their customers. You ensure it by requesting a receipt each time they say that certain parts have to be replaced. Or an additional option is for you to have the components purchased yourself from any car spare store to ensure quality of the spare as well as to be sure it is new. However make sure you know what type of spare you have to purchase. It may differ from model to model and may not always be compatible to all manufacturers.
Simply be smart to pick a good alternative continuously. If you believe you have no idea regarding vehicle repair, maintenance, as well as other automotive things, you better have it covered under the manufacturer’s policy to avoid big hassle on your part. However, if you feel like you can handle the actual repair and you can find a trustworthy repair shop, you’ll be able to do the trick. Just do not think of the money for this case.
Think about all of the options later on, it is not just about money, this is also related to work, time, aggravation, and even savings from now on as long as we choose the right decision.

Car Repair: How To Communicate With A Mechanic

When our vehicles are in need of attention from a professional, unless we are well versed in auto repair and maintenance, most of us are not always sure on how to deal with a mechanic. We may have suspicions of getting ripped off and can be unsure of how to address the individual who will be working on our automobile. It is best to have a notion of how to get the most out of a trip to a car repair business prior to going to one. Here is some advice on how to economically deal with an auto technician.
When you go to the car shop, see if you can meet with the individual who will be working on your automobile specifically. This is important, as you will want to discuss any specific details and problems to allow the worker to serve you best. This will make the repair run along smoother and perhaps even take less time, which in effect may save you money.
Being vague when discussing the problems of an automobile doe not help either the customer or technician, so be as detailed as possible when discussing what you think is wrong with your vehicle. Be sure to describe any unusual sounds, the persistence of a problem, any noticeable performance issues, and how the long the issue has been going on that you may be dealing with while driving.
Specificity is a must when telling workers what you want worked on. If you merely asked for your vehicle to be “fixed”, then you could end up having to pay for labor you do not need and cannot afford.
Always ask questions of if you are unsure of what is being discussed about your car. As a customer to have the right the know how your money is being spent, so be sure to clarify just what types of car repairs will be carried out.
If possible, make an appointment ahead of time with the repair shop. This will insure that the most qualified worker will be assigned to your automobile
Ask for a written estimate before leaving the auto shop regarding the cost of repairs. It is also a good idea to make sure that you will be contacted if any additional problems are discovered by mechanics. This way, you will not be agreeing to repairs that you may not be aware of. In addition, do not hesitate to validate when the labor will be complete and when your car will be ready to be picked up.
After car repairs are finished and you have picked your vehicle up, take it for a short test drive. If anything seems out-of-order, take it back right away and communicate that you are not satisfied with the work done on.
Our automobiles are essential to our daily lives and their proper maintenance ensures our safety while using them. Repairs and work on them can be costly and confusing to people unacquainted with auto care, so just take the time to know how to deal with the workers who will be tuning up your vehicle. This will help them to do a better job and most likely end up costing you less money.

How To Know When To Replace Your Car’s Tires

In most states, you’re legally required to replace your tires when the depth of their treads reaches 2/32″. At that point, the grooves have become so worn that your tires provide very little traction. They become a safety concern to you, your passengers, and other drivers.
On dry road surfaces, shallow grooves rarely pose a problem. There’s sufficient traction between the road and rubber to give drivers plenty of control over their vehicles. This is the reason race cars use slicks. On wet roads, however, shallow grooves are dangerous. The moisture has less room within the treads; with nowhere to go, it causes your vehicle to hydroplane.
In this article, we’ll take a contrarian look at your car’s tires. You’ll first learn how to use a penny to determine whether your treads are legal (i.e. deeper than 2/32″). We’ll then explain why letting them reach that point may be unsafe.
Using A Penny To Measure Tread Depth
You can purchase a tread depth gauge at nearly any auto supply store for under $10. It is worth the expense (you’ll understand the reason in a moment). Most people forgo the gauge, however, and instead use a penny to test their treads.
The process is simple. Insert a penny into the grooves of your tire with Lincoln’s head positioned upside-down. If the coin submerges to the point that any part of Lincoln’s head is covered, it means the tread depth is at least 2/32″. The tire is legal. But it may still be unsafe, which means the penny test can be unreliable.
The Problem With The “Lincoln’s Head” Test
Your tires are equipped with wear indicators. These are bars molded into the rubber by the manufacturer in order to let you know when your treads have reached 2/32″. Nearly all tires have them. The problem is, that tread depth may be unsafe, depending on where you live.
As mentioned earlier, when the roads are dry, there’s plenty of traction. Even tires that are bald are relatively safe. So, if you live in a region that receives very little rain or snow, allowing your treads to reach 2/32″ should be fine. On the other hand, if you live in an area that receives a lot of rainfall and snow, you should replace your tires earlier. On wet roads, you’ll lose traction long before the grooves reach 2/32″.
If you frequently drive on wet roads, consider replacing your set when the tread depth reaches 4/32″. If you drive in snow on a regular basis, replace them at 6/32″.
As a side note, you can perform the penny test with a quarter to identify when the grooves of your tires reach 4/32″. The top of Washington’s head is the marker.
A Closer Look At Your Treads
To understand the reason moisture causes a loss in traction, it important to recognize what occurs between moisture and the treads. The pattern of the grooves is designed to direct water, and bite into snow. Unlike air, water cannot be compressed. When your tires make contact, the moisture enters the grooves, and is moved through them. As long as there is plenty of room, you’ll retain traction.
At any given time, only a small area of your tires will make contact with the road’s surface. The shallower your treads, the less water required to fill them. This causes the area of your tires that touches the road to shrink. As it becomes smaller, you’ll begin to hydroplane. This problem is even more pronounced with slush (from snow) since it quickly fills in the treads, and often remains there. It robs your tires of traction.
To recap, determining the right time to replace your vehicle’s tires depends largely on whether you drive on wet or slushy roads. While 2/32″ may be the legal tread depth in most states, replacing your set when they reach 4/32″ or 6/32″ may be more appropriate.

What Are Side Curtain Air Bags?

If you were alive and driving a vehicle just a couple of decades ago, the introduction of the air bag seemed like a silly thing. Really? A bag could save you from serious injury and not prevent more injury from its deployment? Actually, yes. And when the first airbags proved to be so successful, manufacturers and safety experts continued to investigate ways to expand airbags and make vehicles even safer in crashes. The result they came up with is side curtain air bags.
Side curtain airbags are exactly what they sound like. When the vehicle is in a crash, an air bag is deployed from each side of the vehicle to protect the driver and the passengers. The side air bag is deployed when the front and passenger side airbags are deployed.
Side air bags have shown significant decreases in injuries in people driving cars and mini-vans. So why aren’t they included in all vehicles? Mostly because they aren’t required to be yet. Adding them in also makes for more expense and some owners don’t care about having side protection as long as they have it in the front. But they should because it could make a huge difference in the injuries received for everyone..
Side air curtain air bags protect the side and back of a driver and the passengers. The crash could be a head on collision, it could be a side impact crash or it could even be a rear-end job. The sudden deployment of the side airbag can prevent whiplash injuries, serious injuries to the side and even protect from glass and pieces coming in to the vehicle from the impact.
Side curtain airbags are becoming very important for smaller cars and convertibles that haven’t traditionally had good safety records. But with stronger steel frames, front and side airbags, smaller cars are becoming just as safe as larger vehicles and mini-vans. Side curtain airbags are getting installed on more and more models of cars and may soon become a requirement for all cars if they continue to show such drastic decreases in injuries during accidents.
The side curtain airbags are deployed out of the side column where the seat belt is attached. The airbag is deployed when there is a side, rear or front end collision and the other airbags are deployed. The deployment is so sudden that even if it is a split second behind the initial airbags in the front, it is still enough to save a life in a violent crash. Most people would prefer to have the safety feature over saving a couple of hundred dollars on a new car that they have to pay for in the first place anyway.

The Essential Car Repair Tool Kit – Everything You Need To Do Your Own Repairs

You may not be an ace mechanic, but there are some simple car repair jobs that just about anybody can do. In fact, the more you can do yourself, the more you’ll save for when you really need help. Doing your own car repair is a fulfilling way to get closer to your beloved vehicle. It all starts with having the right tools.
Just like collecting anything else, getting your kit together becomes a sort of addiction. Watching it grow tool by tool, and seeing how each part can be used, is lots of fun and it makes driving your car more interesting. Keep in mind that this list is only the absolute basics; as you learn more about car repair, you’ll add to it.
– Jack And Lug Wrench. You’ll need a jack for lifting up your car and a lug wrench to remove lugs. These simple tools come in handy for almost everything. Your vehicle comes with a jack already, but it’s best to ditch it and buy a better one. Hydraulic jacks are generally considered to be the best.
– Socket Set And Box Wrench Set. You can buy a basic socket set from any hardware store. You don’t need anything fancy to get started doing your own car repair. The box wrench is useful for getting to hard-to-reach areas, and there are plenty of those on any vehicle. Start with basic sets and buy more as you need them.
– Combination Wrench Set. Same as above, you’ll need to do some serious twisting to get at the trouble spots of your car. A combo set will have various sizes and types, and this should cover all the stuff you’ll need to do with your vehicle.
– Auto Repair Manual. It’s always surprising how much a good, old-fashioned repair manual will come in handy. Get the instruction manual for your car’s model and make if you anticipate doing some serious repairs from time to time. If you’re not going to spend so much time fixing stuff, you can always check it out of your local library.
– Work Lights. Good lighting enables you to do your work in the evening, and even in daytime they can help a lot to really see what you’re doing. The best work lights to get are fluorescent shop lights. They’re bright and tough, and they’ll stay cool. They’re great for lighting up what you’re doing. Be sure to have some good extension cords as well.
The above list is very basic, but it will at least get you started. When you’re first buying stuff for your car repair kit, remember that you don’t need anything fancy. Salespeople will turn your head around with the latest gadgets and tools, but what you really need are some simple things that you can use when you’ve got something to do a car repair. Start simple and cheap, and expand into bigger and better things as your collection grows.

6 Basic Car Maintenance Tips You Should Know

Each one of us dreams of having our own car – may it be a simple one or a cool sports car. Owning a car sound great because it gives us convenience, comfort and joy but then owning one means additional responsibilities. Each car owner must know how to take good care of their unit from basic maintenance to simple troubleshooting. Car owners should treat their vehicles like their own child or partner. They should know how to maintain their car so it is always in good running condition and would last for a long time. Here are some basic car maintenance tips that car owners should follow and practice.
1.) Check engine oil – Checking the level of your engine oil is the most important thing you should consider before riding your car or traveling to far places. The car’s engine consists of many moving parts which definitely need a good level of lubrication to protect them from untimely wear. There are two kinds of engine oil: a monograde which is the ordinary one and a multigrade which is a special formulated one with additives that protect your engine providing you more mileage before undergoing change oil.
2.) Check engine level coolant – Before leaving your place, it would be best to check your coolant level to prevent any high temperature problem that might lead to engine overheating. When your car starts, the process of engine combustion takes place and it reaches a thousand degrees, especially in the combustion chamber and that’s when the engine coolant works. From the radiator, it passes through the coolant chamber inside the engine taking some of the heat off. As it passes through the different coolant or water chamber, it returns from the radiator completing the automotive cooling process. Some units use ordinary tap water but it would be best to use coolant to protect your engine. It’s a mixture of ordinary tap water with a special formulated coolant that protect your radiator from what they usually call “scale” that may damages or clog your radiator.
3.) Make sure electrical system and tires are in great condition – Make it a habit to check your electrical system and see to it that all important lights like head light, signal light, and park light are functioning well. This should be done to avoid car accidents and to avoid additional damage to your car. Checking your tires is also important before you go on a trip. Check for any flat tire and make sure to bring along a spare tire especially when going for a long trip.
4.) Check car gauges – Start your engine and check if the voltage gauge, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge, air pressure and temperature gauge is in normal condition. For voltage gauge, after turning on your key you will notice that it reaches 24V but once you start your engine, it would increase from 24 to 28 Voltage, if not, there might be something wrong with your battery or your alternator. The fuel gauge gives you an idea whether you already need to refuel or if the fuel is still enough for the whole trip. It’s hard to get stuck in the middle of the road just because you haven’t noticed that your fuel gauge is almost empty. As you start your engine your oil pressure automatically moves out but as soon as the engine heats, it would automatically would go down to its normal level and thus indicate that your car is in good condition. The temperature gauge shows the temperature of your engine. The normal temperature of an engine is one half of the gauge in flat lying area, but once you reach an inclined plane, your normal temperature reaches 3/4 of your gauge.
5.) Check battery and brake system – A car battery’s life usually depends on how often the owner uses the vehicle and on the road he usually travels. Make sure to change your battery as soon as it’s necessary to avoid further damage to the engine. You should also check your brake system and make sure that your brake fluid is still enough and that your brakes are really functioning so as to avoid accidents.
6.) Go to a car repair shop – Once you noticed that there’s something wrong in your car and that even when you thoroughly checked your unit you can’t seem to find the trouble, you should send your unit to a repair shop immediately. This should be done to avoid further damage to your car and to make sure that every part of your car is functioning well. Not only that, you should visit a repair shop once in a while for tire alignment, change oil and other basic maintenance services that are necessary for your unit.
These simple tips should be done to ensure that your car will last a long time and that road accidents can be avoided. Follow these tips and for sure you’ll enjoy the benefits you get for having a well-maintained car.