Tuesday, July 14, 2009

DIY Auto Care: Preparing your car for summer and winter

Just as you would prepare yourself with the changing seasons, so does your car. You need to do some extra measures in order for it to withstand wear and tear and in order for you to drive safely and smoothly on the road.

Follow these simple steps to maintain your car’s pristine performance as you go through the seasons.

1. Summer

Schools out and time to party! The time for vacation, summer means a lot of traveling, family picnics, days at the beach or spend time at the games. Take note that before going out on your sojourns this hot time of the year, you need to check on a few things to make your car roadworthy.

1. Check for tire pressure and rotate your tires if necessary. See to it that your tires are properly inflated to the recommended pressure level to avoid blow outs. If you see uneven thread on your tires, you need to rotate them to extend thread life.

2. In case you might have skipped your car’s last tune up schedule, you need to visit your mechanic first and have a tune up before going on long trips. Have the mechanic also check your radiator for leaks or cracks which could cause engine temperatures to rise.

3. Check your engine coolant level and place more if needed. Due to high temperatures, your car could overheat so its best to maintain the exact amount of coolant every time. If also needed, have the radiator flushed and add in new coolant.

4. Inspect the air conditioning system of your car and replace worn out or damaged belts.

5. Change your car’s oil.

6. Check your car’s breaking system. With higher temperatures, your brake pads will wear quicker. It is best to have them checked to see worn outs and replace if necessary.

7. Always have the emergency kit on handy. See to it to have the toolbox with you including: flashlight, motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, tire inflator, jack and medical kit with you at all times for sudden road trouble shoots or mishaps.

2. Winter

Remember that the drop of temperature will take its toll on your car. Below are some preventive measures which will keep your car in top notch condition while protecting it from all the ice and tough road conditions.

1. Protect your car’s finish and water proof it by applying wax and constantly buffer polishing cream. This will help protect your car from moisture and corrosion while on the road.

2. Protect against engine freeze. Use anti-freeze coolant instead of the regular coolant for your engine. This will prevent engine freeze and eventual cracking of engine components.

3. Have your car tuned up. Visit your mechanic and have a tune up for the season. Have your belts, spark plugs and wires check for deterioration and change them if deemed necessary to avoid untoward road mishaps caused by a wore out belt etc.

4. Check your brakes. See to it that all brake pads are working at their maximum and replace worn out ones if necessary. This time of the year, maximum braking power is surely needed.

5. Replace your regular tires with winter tires. Depending on the graveness of road conditions, winter tires are a good investment to bank on for optimum safety.

6. Prevent gas line freeze. Use a winter fuel system cleaner for the prevention of gas line freezes in extreme cold weather conditions.

7. Use winter specialized washer fluid. Regular blue washer fluids will freeze up in the reservoir. Winter fluids will stay liquid in the washer reservoir at temperatures as low as 30 *F.

8. Always have your emergency kit on handy as well. Although routine maintenance may make your ride secure, bringing your emergency kit will certainly help in giving you peace of mind.

9. Remove snow and ice build up from your car before driving. To prevent visual obstructions while on the road, it is best that you thoroughly remove snow, fog and ice build up on your windshields before taking a ride.

10. Be updated with weather, road conditions and traffic reports in your area. Be in the know of alternate routes in heavy traffic or do not force yourself to drive if experts advise not to during severe weather conditions.

Look with caution for motorcycles which could suddenly cross your path.

Jovir Amatong

Monday, July 13, 2009

DIY Maintenance- Washing your car’s engine

Be it be for cosmetics, maintenance or to stop deterioration, you need to clean up your engine once in a while so you can detect untoward problems such as belt wear and tear or the build up of grease in the engine compartment, which could pose thousands of dollars in losses just for repair in the future.

To soften things up a little bit, start your engine and let it warm for a few minutes and shut it off. You need to warm up your engine a little bit (just enough to put your hand over it) then as the engine cools to proper temperature, use the time to cover the few openings on the motor that needs to be waterproofed. Among the key areas to watch out for include the air intake / air filter, distributor, the coil and oil stick.

Materials you’ll need:

1. Plastic baggies
2. Rubber bands
3. Absorbent Rags / Towels, Paper towels
4. Commercial Engine Degreaser
5. High pressure hose / sprayer

6. Rubber protectant

7. Lubricant

You can use plastic baggies and rubber bands to cover the air intake / air filter(s) and the distributor / coil. Double the layers of bags on the air intake and place them securely with rubber bands. Use a pair of two gallon sized baggies to cover the distributor and plugged wires around the distributor cap. Though this might be difficult to seal, you need to see to it that the distributor has been thoroughly sealed to prevent shorting of the distributor. Check the tightness of the oil filler cap, power steering cap, windshield washer cap, the oil stick, battery filler caps before cleaning them.

You can then proceed with spraying the entire en
gine / engine compartments with a commercial engine degreaser spray from the bottom going up, this way you will not have the chemical dropping on your face as you clean the underside areas. Allow the degreaser about 3-5 minutes to work and using a soft brush, rub gently to clear out heavily soiled areas. Repeat the process in areas if necessary, depending on the heaviness of the build up.

After the engine compartment has been cleaned, remove all the plastic baggies and rubber bands. Using a rag or towel, dry all the puddles and dry the battery with paper towels. Proceed starting your engine and allow it to warm up, this will help dry the rest of engine parts and evaporate any moisture left in the more sensitive parts.

Provided that everything has completely cooled and dry, apply a coating of rubber protectant to the rubber hoses, rubber, plastic shields and rubber gaskets.

Wax the painted areas of your engine compartment. If the uncoated aluminum areas are dull or have whitish corrosion deposits, metal polish will help restore the finish. See to it that the battery terminals are clean. If they’re not however, disconnect the cables and clean both the cable terminals and battery posts using a wire brush. Reconnect all terminals and tighten.

Spray all hinges, throttle cables, cruise control cables and hood shocks with lubricant and you’re done!

Note: See to it that you have removed all extra debris such as plastic baggies, rubber bands etc. before capping the hood.

Buckle up when you're driving… Heaven can wait.

Jovir Amatong

Thursday, May 14, 2009

DIY: Care and maintenance of your car’s transmission system

One of the hardest to maintain and detect when it comes to problems is your car’s transmission system. Fixing transmission problems could mean time consuming repairs as in most makes and models, it is embedded deep into the engine bay and that parts of the engine needs to be overhauled before you can access the clutch.

It is therefore important that you know how to care, maintain and diagnose problems early to avoid costly and timely repairs.

Provided you know what’s under the hood of your car- if it is on automatic clutch or stick shift, these are some of the parts you need to be introduced. The bell housing is a conical metallic cover housing the gears and axles. The gears are the ones that connect the engine to the wheels. Transmission fluid runs through the entire setup to lubricate and the oil filter ensures no damaging particles enter into the system.

Here are a few indicators that tell you of problems in your transmission system that require immediate attention. When you notice that your car’s engine will start and will run smoothly, but when put into the pedal, won’t budge at all. Or when your car will move all right, but in a slothful manner- When you step on the pedal it feels as if power is not thoroughly transferred to the wheels.

Here are the preliminary diagnostic tips you can follow so you’ll know what your problems will be.

1. Check the fluid level. Check gear oil level for you need to replace the fluid if it falls below the minimum indicator level. Loss of gear fluid could mean friction and damage to your transmission system.

2. Check the filter for clogs. Debris and build up could run through the gears after a period so it’s best you have your transmission fluid filter replaced first if you think there are transmission problems.

3. Check for leaks. If you notice spill marks on your driveway or garage on the spot where you usually park your car, then this could indicate that your transmission is leaking. Check in possible sources for leak such as: between the gearbox and the engine, the drain hole under it, the selector shaft connecting the stick shifter to the gearbox and the fluid filler tube base. If you spot a leak in any of these places, then you need to have the gearbox checked by a mechanic.

4. Check for sticky shifters. If you find it difficult to shift gears (manual transmission), or if the car is jerky whenever the automatic transmission shifts up or down, then it would be best to have your transmission checked as the problem could be because of the transmission oil.

5. Listen for grinding sounds. When you’re running at a normal speed but hear grinding sounds or if your car vibrates too much when starting from a stop, then it’s about time you have your transmission checked or repaired.

It is always better to maintain you car’s transmission system and diagnose it once you experience the problems above. This way you’ll pre-empt time consuming and very costly repairs.

Never drink and drive.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

DIY- Maintenance: Getting better mileage for your car

Naturally if you’re keeping a car these days, chances are you’re doing ounce of saving measures so you can save on gas while keeping in touch with your daily activities.

The compromise of savings against that of comfort (like it or not) is certainly a serious factor, with the skyrocketing cost of fuel, maintenance added with the world market slump where just about everything is folding.

Fuel efficiency should be considered in every household so as to help out with the family budget and following the steps below will increase your car’s efficiency ratio by 20 or even up to 40 percent!

1. Regular maintenance counts. Always see to it to gradually change oil and replace your air filter. Clog and strain in your engine will certainly increase your fuel consumption.

2. Constantly check for uneven tire pressure and always inflate your tires to the standard set by the manufacturer. Under- inflated tires can contribute to your fuel consumption as they will resist rolling and therefore strain your car to pump in more gas.

3. Check and make sure you gas cap is locked up tightly after loading. If it’s not closed properly, gas could be evaporating without you knowing it.

4. Do not let your vehicle idle. Supposing you’ll have to make a stop for only a minute or two, do not turn off car’s engine because it will certainly require burning more gas to turn it back on again; more than the gas used up in the idle time.

5. Don’t be an aggressive driver. Always maintain driving in a steady pace and avoid sudden gear and pedal shifts.

6. Minimize the use of your car’s air condition (A/C). Whenever driving conditions permit it, turn off your A/C and open your windows. Your car’s A/C is another guzzler which you need to control to become fuel efficient. If you deem it unavoidable to use the air conditioning, then set it in a “Recycle” setting so as to lock in the cooled air.

Follow these simple tips and get the load off on savings.

Buckle up.

Jovir Amatong

Thursday, March 12, 2009

DIY- Customize: Painting your car’s brake calipers

Here’s another DIY tip that’s sure to give flare to your car prior to (if you have the budget) maybe having a rim and tire change. Painting your brake calipers will not only add to your car’s overall looks but can also aid in delaying rust and deterioration from seeping in to the brake area.

A nicely painted brake caliper is surprisingly not expensive at all and you can even do it in the comforts of your own garage!

Prepare the following equipment: Car Jack, Wire brush, Cleaning solution, Tire iron, Can(s) of spray paint, Tape and Ratchet.

Follow these and begin your business:

1. Select your preferred spray paint color. Always take into consideration to buy only paints that are suitable for the type of metal used in your calipers. It is best to consult an expert as to the effectiveness of a paint selected and how much of it you will need to use.

2. Undo the lug nuts holding the tire until you can feel a semi-soft turn. You need to remove the tires in order to get access to the brake calipers.

3. Use the jack and slowly raise your car securely off the ground. If you have a jack lift use it to put your vehicle in a much more secure placement. Remember to exercise extreme caution when working under your car.

4. Unscrew the lug nuts all the way, and remove the tire from the axle.

5. Using the wire brush, carefully scour the areas in and around the brake caliper surface. Rub it with a rag and cleaning solution afterwards.

6. Find the bolts holding the caliper to its support. Use the ratchet and remove the bolts.

7. Set the brake caliper on the rotor.

8. Put newspapers and masking tape on the areas around the brake caliper. Make sure that the adhesive on the masking tape will not affect any areas to where it has been put.

9. Start painting the brake caliper. Allow time for the paint to dry (As recommended by the manufacturer) in between coats.

10. Re-attach the brake caliper to the support after the paint has dried, put everything back in place and lower your vehicle to its proper position.

Note: To avoid untoward serious repairs and stress to the brake line, always see to it to be extra careful when removing the brake calipers.

Safe Driving!

Jovir Amatong

All About the Iron Wagon

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Improve gas mileage: Clean or replace your car’s air filter!

Do you know that your car's air filter play a vital role in the improvement of gas mileage and road performance? The air filter acts as the catalyst and makes sure that good clean air without impurities flows to and fro your engine.

Note: You can only clean a REUSABLE aftermarket performance filter. If you’re currently using a STOCK air filter, it is advisable for you to replace it with a new one. Cleaning and re-using it could wear it out of use.

To clean your air filter, follow these:

1. Remove the clamps and lift the air sensor from the air intake (on top of the engine.)

2. Remove the air filter.

3. Spray a specialized filter cleaner on both sides of the air filter.

4. Wait a few minutes and let the cleaning fluid saturate into the air filter.

5. Wash the air filter with cool water. If the air filter is dirty, spray and wash it again until the filter is noticeably clean.

6. Leave the filter to dry completely.

7. Spray filter oil on the front side of the air filter and leave it to soak for 20 minutes. Cover the filter with oil completely, so it will form a seal around the filter filaments.

8. Once the oil has seeped into the filter, place the filter back into it’s position in the air intake and reconnect the air sensor.

Cleaning your car’s air filter is a breeze. Do it frequently and you’ll notice the improvement with your ride!

Drive safely.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

DIY- Auto repair: Jumpstarting your car

Imagine a beautiful day on the road- gliding smoothly down curves and crunching the pedals on the freeway. You thought everything is fine with your car, then suddenly when you least expect it, you get stalled with a dead battery!

As a driver you should always be ready with the right tool (Jumper cables) and the knowledge to fix this very simple problem as this could very well come up when you least expect it.

To jumpstart your car, follow these:

1. Bring a volunteer. You’re going to need a friend or a helpful stranger who would be willing enough bring his car close and lend power.

2. Open both hoods of the cars.

3. Clamp the red end of the Jumper cables to the positive terminal (+) to the dead battery. Clamp the other end of the jumper cables of the red side to the positive terminal with that of the working battery.

4. Put the black end of the jumper cables to the negative terminals (-) of the working battery. Put the other black end of the jumper cables to a metal surface in the engine compartment of the dead battery.

5. Start the car with the dead battery and leave it running for a few minutes to charge the dead battery.

Learning to how to jumpstart your car will help ensure a worry free smooth ride.

Buckle up.

Jovir Amatong

For other DIY car repair tips and more, read:

All About the Iron Wagon

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Auto repair: Learn to get car repair quotes, costs, cheap spare parts and accessories

Admit it, like small kids you only love your car when it feels smoothly to your drive but when everything breaks, you feel like you don’t want to see it anymore for fear of repair costs. The best way to solve your problem with minimal costs is to simply just seek out expert help and get quotes and estimates for repair yourself! This way you’ll know what to do and can therefore budget on costs. Follow these:

1. Ask a friend or your neighbors for a referral. Reputation counts much as going to a place that’s popular will save you from overcharging, scams and unnecessary repairs or charges.

2. Visit a repair center (maybe you can get a free estimate) and ask for a summary of what is wrong with your car. This way you’ll know what is wrong with your car and whenever you’re in doubt you can contact other repair centers and compare costs on estimates.

3. Contacting more repair centers in your area will certainly help you see if the quote you got is fair. Here on, you can compare summarized estimates (repair, parts, labor costs, miscellaneous charges etc.) generally, labor cost is the number of hours spent in the repair multiplied by the hourly charge of the car service.

4. Ask for a written estimate. Though this may come as a variable factor for complications might occur, the moment repair for your car is started. If however your charges end up higher than your quote, never hesitate to ask or complain to the shop manager and together sort out a satisfactory solution.

As a last note to save more on your car repair budget, it will greatly help if you also know where to get quality spare parts at a price that’s just right or get discounts when you buy.

Before setting off on a hunt, take note of the following essential information.

Know your car basics (year, make, model, engine etc.) and transmission (manual, automatic) and air conditioning. Always be sure to scour a lot of dealerships you can handle as possible and have web access ready in case you want to conduct price comparisons online.

Once you’ve had these things considered, then you can follow these:

1. Learn to look the other way. Though it might seem convenient that your car dealer is the source for quality auto parts, be open that you’ll save like say a dollar at a parts department dealership and even if it is true that dealers are the only place around where you can get hard to find spare parts and accessories, you will certainly chance upon a good supply for less at a small auto parts store.

2. Browse and order online! The internet is a very good source of top quality spare parts and accessories and with the fierce competition among dealerships, means greater value for money. All you need to do by the way is to browse and compare prices as to which suits you best.

3. Take a look at Specialty web sites. Specialty websites are another option in your search as they provide fresh- from- factory prices, a large inventory of parts and accessories and they also offer shipping and handling. Most often, specialty sites offer big discounts and promos.

4. There are still usable parts in the junk! Junkyards and recycling facilities can save you hundreds of dollars on some parts where getting a brand new one at a dealer ship would have cost you higher.

5. Ask among friends or other drivers. Remember that nothing beats word of mouth, so it is also good to ask around people for the best place to go to or who among them might have an extra part or accessory that’s ready to sell.

Follow these tips and you’ll be heaving a sigh of relief over normally costly car repairs.

Drive safely.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Green friendly motoring: Gas up your car with Bio-fuels

The alarming effects of pollution in the environment added with the fast depletion and rising costs of fossil fuels, has prompted scientific communities and governments to create measures to alleviate these problems the world over.

One of the solutions that sprang up from laboratories are bio- fuels- plant extracts and compounds which when added to gasoline and petrol will substitute fuel characteristics.

Bio- fuels certainly aids the environment as they are biological in nature and therefore do not add carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Coming from carbon dioxide digesters in nature, they typically remove carbon dioxide and in turn give off the same amount when burnt.

Though still in the introduction stage in the market, bio- fuels has proven to be promising with surprising results- they do not only cost much less to make than gasoline or petrol additives, but elaborate tests has proven that they can also improve vehicle performance and clean emissions! Further tests conducted have also proven that bio-fuels eliminate smog and engine build-up.

A lot of oil companies are slowly picking up the pace in marketing these types of fuel and a lot are reporting sales steadily on the rise due to the affordability and added benefits. There are also new oil market players that cater exclusively to the production and distributing bio-fuels and by-products, now gaining influence off the growing demand for cheaper and cleaner fuel alternatives.

Bio-fuel variants largely used in vehicles today include:

1. Bio- Diesel

For diesel engines. This type of fuel can be used with existing cars with little or no adaptation needed and scores well on the energy ratings. Cars on Bio- Ethanol basically land the same rankings as those running on gasoline. The difference however shows up on the combustion process as Bio-Ethanol only emits the carbon dioxide it has used up in the growth process of its plant source, while burning gasoline or diesel adds more CO2 into the atmosphere due to their underground containment in oil deposits for eons of years.

Large sources of plant extracts usually come from the following:

* Ethanol alcohol from Sugarcane
* Oil extracts from mature Jathropa seeds
* Coconut oil

2. Biogas

Another interesting alternative to fossil fuels, Biogas is the type of gas from animal or plant wastes or a combination of both. A mixture of both has been proven to yield the best results. The animal wastes produce the nitrogen for bacterial growth and vegetable matter supplies the needed carbon.

With the positive market feedback, researchers are still looking and testing other viable plant sources for an even improved fuel additive which will eventually (should the need arise) power vehicles in the future.

As a motorist this is truly a great news- now you’ll get relief over fuel costs and maintenance bills but the most rewarding above all is that in using bio-fuels, you’re contributing to the welfare of your environment.

Drive safely.

Jovir Amatong