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