Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Maintaining the peak performance of your car’s battery

For those of you who are first time DIYs, the battery is one of the integral components of your car; it is rechargeable and is the power source of the ignition system and other electrical devices in your car.

Initially there’s the maintenance free and low-maintenance types to choose from. A maintenance free battery is sealed and will not require replenishing the battery fluids over a long period of time while the low-maintenance type requires constant check up and replenishing once a drop in battery fluid levels can be seen. Battery fluid (Alkaline) can easily be bought at local gas stations and car yards or you can use distilled water as a substitute.

In layman’s terms the battery is the heart of your car but is often times the most neglected simply because nowadays it’s bought “maintenance free.”

Recent trends and technological advancements have made maintenance free batteries a standard on every vehicle out in the market today.

Don’t get the impression that since you’ve read on the label that it’s maintenance free, you will just simply put it in its place and forget about it. Your car’s battery is not entirely that. Just like any other sensitive equipment of your car, it also requires your constant care and attention for it to function well.

Here are the basic maintenance tips that will certainly save you a lot of trouble and will not leave you clueless by the roadside while on a very important trip.

As a rule before doing maintenance checks, always see to it to disconnect the clamps off the terminals to avoid untoward injuries from shock.

1. Check the cell casing and cover

Run an ocular inspection on the battery cell casing, box and cover for signs of moisture and pungent acidic smell. These are indicators that your battery is leaking and it needs to be fixed or replaced right away.
Maintain caution when handling leaking batteries for hazardous chemicals are present.

2. Clean terminals, clamps and cables

When you happened to see white powdery specks or see colorful substances around the terminals, they are signs of corrosion and needs to be cleaned right away. Make a baking soda solution (1 tablespoon baking soda immersed in 1 cup of water) and with an old toothbrush, clean the terminals, clamps and cables. Also clean the battery cover for accumulated grime and dust.

3. Make sure everything is dry

Make it a point to have everything dry before going further with your check up. With a dry rag, wipe off the remaining dew and moisture from the battery and terminals.

4. Check the wiring and connection

Run a check on the wires and clamps for strips or corrosion. If you have stripped cables, patch the affected part with a good electrical tape or have them replaced by a mechanic. Make sure that the battery is placed securely in its place. If your battery is equipped with a hold down bar, be sure to replace it.

5. Lubricate the terminals

With a lubricant (Petroleum jelly) place a small dab on the terminals. This will keep your cables clean and free of corrosion longer, while making it easier for you to put the cables back on the battery terminal.

6. Change your battery

Change your battery at the maximum of 3 to 3.5 years or after reaching the warranty period. For accidental battery drain (Such as leaving the lights on or stereo on) a lot of auto technicians would just recommend re-charging.

Car battery maintenance is that easy! Do it frequently to extend the life of your battery.

Safe driving.

Jovir Amatong

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Money saving car care and maintenance tips

There are loads of stuff that you can employ to assure that your vehicle is always in tip top shape, while easing on the budget and saving precious time. Instead of always going to the car shop whenever conks are heard under the hood, why not fix minor car problems on your own?

You’re not only giving yourself a favor by not going thru the hassle of the long wait to have your car fixed at the local car shop, but you’re also protecting yourself from unscrupulous mechanics who might take advantage of your predicament.

Here are a few tips to get you worry free on the road.

1. Read your car repair manual and other Do it yourself (DIY) books

It wouldn’t hurt for you to take some time off to read and study the ins and outs of your car. You’ll be familiar with the specifications and the proper maintenance of your vehicle. DIY books also abound, providing you the basic and advanced techniques which could save you hundreds perhaps thousands of dollars on repairs.

By reading, you’ll have the ample knowledge to get the job done yourself whenever unpleasant situations arise. Like a bible is to a clergyman, always see to it to have a book or two beside you for quick reference in emergencies.

2. Keep the right tools in your toolbox

It is very important that you use the right tool for the right job because if you use the wrong one, you might end up with broken nuts and bolts or worse, have them worn out.

Here’s a rundown of the basic tool must-haves for your toolbox.

A. Jack and Jack Stands – Conventional for changing tires and fixes under the chassis. Remember to never rely on the jack whenever lifting your car. Always have jack stands on hand for support and safety.

B. Philips and Flat tip screwdrivers- Always have a pair handy for turning loose screws and replacing worn out ones. You can also use these to poke and reach things fallen among tiny and hard to reach corners.

C. Standard and Long nose Pliers- It never pays to have a pair of these handy for gripping and the easy removal of bolts and nuts. These can also be used to hold or clip wires when you’re working on wiring connections.

D. Wrench or Spanner set - Always keep a set to turn bolts, nuts and other hard to turn items. Select the appropriate wrench size and number to that of the bolt and nut you will turn.

E. Wire strippers and cutters- Must-haves for fixing and replacing old worn out wires or stripping them.

F. Standard Tire Wrench/ Iron- A must-have for tire replacement.

G. Towing Cable- Very helpful when you need to be securely towed away in an emergency.

H. A roll of Electrical tape (Preferably fire retardant) – Handy in times of replacing and insulating stripped or worn out wires. Select the fire retardant type as it provides maximum protection and adheres better than the regular type.

I. Spare bulbs- It surely pays to have a spare bulb on hand for sudden shutdowns in important beacons such as signal, safety, break and head lights while driving down dark roads at night.

J. Work light / Flashlight – Very useful to lighten dark nooks and crannies that you’re working on. A work light can either just be a regular flashlight or the kind with nodes that you can tap to the positive and negative terminals of your car’s battery.

K. Tire Inflator – Though this tool may not fit your toolbox, but having one beside it in your baggage is very helpful for mending flat tires while travelling in areas where car shops and gas stations are scarce.

3. Driving routine check ups

Before hitting the ignition keys, a short round up check is helpful to ensure hassle-free and safe driving. A routine check up may be time consuming, but it can save your life and of those you’re travelling with.

A. Check for Water, Break, Steering and Transmission fluid levels. This is to avoid overheating, steering problems or worse, break loss while travelling. Fill up to recommended levels only.

B. Check the Tire pressure. Remember that unequal pressure among your tires will greatly dampen speed and stamina, thereby increasing your car’s fuel consumption.

C. Check the lights. For those who frequently travel at night, a check on all signals and lights is a must. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what dangers await you, driving down that dark road with busted lights!

Relax and safe driving.

When the going gets tough, the tough drive compact

As the global problem with the scarcity of fossil fuels runs deeper with each passing day, prices of oil and its by-products soar to levels that burn holes right through consumers’ pockets.

Everywhere these days, driving huge Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV)- for leisure and lifestyle enthusiasts, Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPV) for work and business – even luxury cars (For those who consider maximum comfort) for travelling in and around cities has now become a wasteful indulgence! Purpose and design has become irrelevant because of one thing – rising fuel cost.

Driving around in gas-guzzlers just doesn’t make sense anymore. Good thing car manufacturers are boosting the production of their compact, subcompact and even mini lines to meet this growing need.

Come to think of it, why would you choose to drive a compact in the first place? If you had asked that question a couple years back, the answer would’ve been laughable. Compacts were never taken seriously back then – as affordable as they are, they held true to their name where the values of safety, space and comfort is seen as compromised. While compacts may not come as comfortable as large vehicles for the car aficionado, owning one offers some big advantages: convenient parking, the much needed fuel economy and, of course, the cheeky look!

With recent trends however, engineers and designers have come up with design changes to accommodate the hip and younger market segments and even the older markets through added safety and security features. Engines have been redesigned for improved fuel economy. Car prices are made more competitive and a host of payment options are now offered to attract budget conscious buyers.

Major brands and car manufacturers worldwide now offer compact and subcompact model lines suited to individual or family needs and varied lifestyles. Stiff competition among the brands open even more opportunities up the highway for consumers.

For choices, one can always go for the brand new models, the advantages of which are: assurance of quality, getting the latest models and technologies, and excellent payment and financing schemes. The thrifty on the other hand, can always go for used models readily available online or through local dealerships which sometimes offer great financing schemes as well! A lot of compact models from the past still remain popular on the road to this day. Some are even available with improved features, proving they pack the kick and stamina like their bigger competitors. A few market favorites from the past decade include:

A. European

1. Volkswagen- Golf, Touran
2. Renault- Scenic
3. Opel- Zafira
4. Fiat- Multipla

B. United Kingdom

1. Renault- Megane
2. Vauxhall- Astra
3. Citroen- C4

C. American Tops

1. Ford- Focus
2. Chevrolet- Cobalt

D. Japanese

1. Nissan- Sentra, Micra / March
2. Honda- City, Civic, Fitz/ Jazz
3. Toyota- Corolla, Yaris, Vitz/ Echo
4. Mitsubishi- Lancer

E. Korean

1. Hyundai- Elantra, Accent
2. Kia- Avella, Rio
3. Daewoo- Racer, Matiz

The disadvantages are common to just about every used car, meaning: outdated models, greater mileage and decreased vehicle road worthiness. Fortunately, parts centers that cater to the used car market are largely flourishing these days and in the case of hard to find parts and accessories, (allowing for the patience needed to wait for shipment deliveries) one can always browse and order thru hundreds of parts dealers online.

Dubbed as “econocars,” compact and subcompact lines are now benchmarks for customer taste.