Posts Tagged ‘car maintenance’
Summer is over, unfortunately, and with the departure of warm nights and bright sunny days comes dark evenings and the freezing cold. Even though we are in October, it is rarely much better than the weather found over the December and January periods. It is important that your vehicle is up to scratch in the winter months as breaking down could have much more serious consequences than you think; in this article we will be looking at some useful and helpful tips to make sure your car is in tip top condition for whatever mother nature throws at us.
Your antifreeze and engine coolant are vitally important during the winter. Antifreeze will help to protect and shield your engine against those bitterly cold winter mornings and will prevent any freezing up of your engine; it is important that this is checked and topped up regularly. Be sure to top it up with antifreeze and not distilled water as some mechanics may recommend during the summer months.
Make sure that your battery is up to standard. A weak battery is the most common reason a vehicle does not start or has trouble starting on a cold winter morning so check it first to make sure all connections are secure and that there is no obvious corrosion or damage. If you are in an area that is regularly experiences temperatures below -25C you should consider installing a battery warmer to keep your battery from freezing over.
Check both your tire pressure and oil level. An under inflated tire will not have a firm grip with the road surface and could potentially be lethal in icy conditions, so make sure you check frequently for any damage. The oil helps to keep the engine lubricated and removes any dirt that can interfere with the running of your vehicle. Ensure you are running the proper oil weight by consulting your owners manual as running oil that is too thick for your vehicle will result in trouble starting in colder temperatures and may result in damage to your engine.
While these tips make seem commonsensical, it is surprising how many road users do not regularly maintain and check their vehicles, especially in winter; in some cases it can make all the difference.
The sign says “Trucks, Stop Here, Check Brakes, Steep Hill Ahead.” Ask almost anyone and they would likely tell you that this sign only applies to heavy commercial trucks equipped with air brakes. This is not the case however, the sign applies to all trucks with a licensed Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of more than 5,500 kg. regardless of brake system type. It could include everything from a truck tractor to a pickup pulling an RV.
Advisory signs posted at the brake check site tell drivers of vehicles equipped with hydraulic brake systems that they must check pedal pressure, brake assist, that there are no fluid leaks and that the brake drums are not overheated. Pedal pressure is tested by applying the brakes and holding them applied. The pedal must not be spongy or slowly depress. Turn the engine off, pump the brake pedal to deplete the assist, hold the pedal down and start the engine again. If assist is working properly you will feel the pedal rise slightly.
Are you towing a trailer equipped with brakes? Disconnect the vacuum lines, pull the pin on the electric switch or the lever on the surge brake to activate the breakaway brake. Try to drive ahead and the trailer wheels should lock.
In addition to checking for hydraulic fluid leaks, it would be wise to check fluid levels in the master cylinder as well. Some master cylinder leaks are hidden when the brake fluid leaks into the vacuum assist chamber and is pulled into the engine and burned rather than appearing as a visible leak.
I’m not sure if this is a case of poor car maintenance, or if it was some sort of failure but I saw this while driving home today. Excuse the poor quality picture, its from my Nokia N95 camera phone. I talked to the driver afterwards and he was pretty upset and wondering how a wheel could just fall off. I asked him if the lugnuts were still there and he didn’t know.
As I glanced up the road where he came from, there they were, four lugnuts glittering in the road. So, what exactly happened? I’ve lost a lugnut before but never did all of them come off causing my wheel to fall off.
Photo by Matthew Haase - Edmonton Journal
A recent survey by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada reveals that drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 have no idea how to properly maintain their vehicles. The survey revealed some startling information:
- Young drivers are the least likely of all motorists to change their oil every 5,000 kilometres.
- 22 per cent don’t know when to change their oil, or simply wait for the oil light to come on.
- Only 45 per cent take their vehicle in for maintenance at least once a year, compared to 76 per cent of people aged 50 and older.
- 22 per cent of young drivers never get their car serviced, or do it only when it breaks down. Thirty-four per cent wait for a warning light or strange noise before visiting a mechanic.
- 10 per cent of young drivers never put air in their tires, and nine per cent admit they don’t know how to determine the correct tire pressure.
I am surprised that 22% don’t know when to change oil or wait for the oil light to come on. Most of my non automotive enthusiast friends know when to take their cars in to change oil, so that stat seems a bit high to me. Don’t people just look at the sticker on their windshield from their previous oil change? The last statistic seems really low to me. Only 10% don’t put air in their tires? If anything I thought this would be up in the 50 - 60% range.
Bill Gardiner, the celebrity mechanic from TSN’s Motoring 2008 who shared the results of the survey in Edmonton was surprised too at the 10% figure:
“I quite frequently see cars with dramatically underinflated tires,” Gardiner said, adding that low tire pressure can contribute to handling problems, premature wear and poor fuel economy. In extreme conditions — operated at high speed or under heavy load — underinflated tires can literally disintegrate.
When you see a car on the side of the road with a tire that’s come apart,” Gardiner said, “nine times out of 10 that’s an underinflated tire that was driven at high speed.”
I bet the statistics for beyond.ca members would be quite different since we’re all here for the love of all things cars. I change my oil religiously, and check my tire pressure a few times per year. What about you? When is the last time you did maintenance on your vehicle? Do you or do you know anyone that waits for the oil light to come on?
Beyond Media, Inc.