The cooling system in your car or light truck includes the radiator, the radiator cap, the water pump and the fan, along with the thermostat and the hoses, which obviously connect the radiator to the engine. In cars with a mechanical water fan, the system is driven by the same drive belt that turns the water pump. In most applications, the water pump moves coolant from the bottom of the radiator into the engine.
From there, the coolant is then circulated through internal water jackets (cast inside the engine block and heads). The coolant removes excess heat from the engine and the now-hot coolant is pumped out through the thermostat and the upper radiator hose to the reservoir at the side or top of the radiator. The hot coolant is pushed slowly through the radiator core, which is nothing more than a series of tiny tubes surrounded by fins.
Heat is radiated from the water to the surrounding air by way of the fins. When the now-cooled coolant reaches the bottom or opposite-side tank of the radiator, it’s transferred back to the engine by way of the water pump and the process starts again (keeping in mind the practice is constant).
# Checking coolant levels
When the time comes to troubleshoot the cooling system in your car or light truck, examine the obvious first: If the vehicle is low on coolant, it will tend to heat up, and it will usually show up as a warning lamp coming on (“Hot” or “Check Coolant”) or the temperature gauge will read high. The bottom line here: Check the coolant level first. But be careful! Use extreme caution when checking the coolant level in the radiator. First, allow the engine and radiator to cool to a safe level. Then, put on rubber gloves and the proper safety eyewear, like goggles. Last, place a towel over the radiator cap while slowly loosening it. If you don’t heed this warning, you’ll run the risk of injury (severe burns) from extremely hot coolant.
If the coolant level is down in the system, inspect the upper and lower radiator hoses for leaks. Look for rust stains near the water pump and radiator. Those stains just might lead you to a slow leak. The various engine freeze plugs are another seldom-considered portion of the cooling system that you should examine for leaks. These are small, soft metal plugs that are press fit to the sides of the engine block and sometimes in the ends of cylinder heads to fill holes left by the casting process. They also serve as cooling system safety valves.
If an engine freezes due to a lack of antifreeze coolant, the idea is that the freeze plugs will pop out first before the block or cylinder heads crack. Over time, these freeze plugs can corrode and rust, which can create leaks. Examine them carefully.
Radiator caps that are incorporated to seal the cooling system maintain the system as closed until pressure reaches the maximum (cap rating). At this point, the radiator cap relief valve opens and the pressure inside the system is released to an overflow tube. Later model cars and light trucks incorporate a coolant recovery system. Here, the car radiator is closed at all times and under pressure. As the pressure builds up in the system (with the engine running), the radiator cap pressure relief valve still opens, but instead of forcing the fluid out the overflow tube and onto the ground, coolant is forced into a holding tank. When the temperature drops in the radiator (with the engine turned off), the drop in cooling system pressure creates a slight vacuum. This allows the coolant in the recovery tank to be drawn back into the radiator.
# Engine fan
The job assigned to the fan is to ensure a sufficient flow of air through the radiator core while the vehicle is stopped (engine idling) or when the vehicle is moving slowly. With no fan (electric or mechanical), the car radiator cannot cope with the heat transfer if the car is stopped or moving slowly. The end result would be a boil-over.
Something that occurs regularly with many vehicles is a buildup of scale and rust inside the cooling system. This creates trouble since it takes away the ability to transfer heat effectively. Typically, it plugs the radiator tubes (think of it as blocked artery disease for the cooling system). The reason it occurs is because the vehicle was likely operated for some time without proper coolant (or straight water) or the coolant wasn’t changed. Believe it or not, coolant can wear out, just like oil. Consult your owner’s manual for information on scheduled car cooling system maintenance.
# Water pump and belts
The final pieces of the cooling system puzzle include the water pump and the belts. Pumps are usually very reliable. They’re rather simple devices, and the only issue you might come across is a seal leak or perhaps a bad bearing. If a seal leaks, you can usually spot it with a simple inspection. Take a close look at the bottom of the pump. Many pumps have a small hole on the base: If the pump has a bad seal, water (coolant) will usually exit at this point. Keep in mind that pumps aren’t easily repaired – they require specialized tools). It’s best to replace a pump with a bad seal or bad bearings, which you can easily hear if they’re noisy.
The job of the thermostat is to maintain a specific temperature level within the cooling system. The thermostat is designed to restrict the flow of coolant through the system until the coolant temperature in the engine reaches the appropriate level. At this point, the thermostat opens, allowing all of the coolant to circulate through the car radiator. Obviously, different engines mandate different thermostats, each with a specific operating range.
In order to test the thermostat, remove it from the engine. Most thermostats are stamped with the temperature rating. Next, simply suspend the thermostat in a pot of hot water on your stovetop. A cooking thermometer can be used to determine the water temperature along with opening point of the thermostat. As the water in the pot reaches the temperature rating of the thermostat, the valve on the thermostat should open. When allowed to cool, the thermostat should close. If it doesn’t, replace it.
Anywhere in the snow zone of North America, extended sub-zero cold can cause hoses and drive belts to become brittle. You should check the belts and hoses carefully. Winter is the wrong time of year to be stuck on the side of the road with cooling issues. There’s more to consider, too: Under certain conditions, the temperature of the coolant in the radiator may drop enough to freeze – this is especially true if plain water or antifreeze diluted with too much water is used in the system.
If your vehicle overheats in very cold weather without any external indication of cooling issues, this may be the reason. Obviously, the solution is to increase the concentration of antifreeze, but in order to get you back on the road, a quick (temporary) fix is to block off a part of the radiator with a piece of cardboard. The cardboard restricts the flow of air through the cooling fins, which in turn sufficiently raises the temperature of the coolant within the radiator and prevents freezing. There’s a catch though: If you block too much of the radiator, the engine will overheat.
# Fan belt
Finally, check the fan belt tension. On a v-belt drive, it’s usually best to keep the belt sufficiently tight so that you can move it downward only about half an inch. Both the fan belt and the pump itself will often give an indication of trouble by making squealing noises. Fans can either be mechanical or electric. They seldom cause trouble. Nonetheless, be sure an electric fan actually functions.
With the vehicle parked and the engine at idling and at operating temperature, watch the fan. As the engine idles and the temperature of the cooling system increases, the fan should eventually start. Be careful: Keep your hands away from the fan! If the fan doesn’t start, look for trouble in the wiring or electrical system. Relays or fuses are good places to check. If the vehicle has a clutch fan – one that disconnects as the engine turns high RPM – the drive can fail. This can cause the vehicle to overheat by preventing the fan from turning at low engine speeds. In this case, the clutch mechanism isn’t repairable. It must be replaced.
Tires, like windshield wipers and oil filters, are parts of your car that wear out as a result of normal use. Fortunately, tires seldom fail without warning, and this warning often comes in the form of abnormal wear. In fact, tires are excellent at telling you whether or not they are wearing normally and, if not, what is to blame. We’ll give you some key symptoms to look for and suggest some easy corrections.
# Against the wall
Upon examining your tires, you’ll find the two primary parts are the tread and the sidewall. The tread is reinforced by multiple steel belts that provide additional protection against puncture. The sidewall is not.
Because of this difference, you will want to begin any tire inspection with a careful examination of the tire sidewall. Look for any cuts, bubbling or cracking. If you find any of these, take your tires to a local tire retailer immediately for a professional inspection. Because of the delicate nature of the tire sidewall, it is advisable to install your spare tire before driving.
# Tread lightly
In addition to the tire sidewall, you’ll want to give the tread a thorough inspection. Start your review by checking the depth of the tire tread. This will give you an idea of how many happy miles you’ve got left before some new rubber is required.
Every tire is equipped with several tire wear indicators that run across the tread in the grooves between the tread ribs. Once these tire wear indicators are flush with the ribs, it is time to replace the tire. Another method for checking tire tread depth is to insert a penny in one of the grooves with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time to replace your tire.
During your examination, you will also want to check for any abnormal wear. If the tire tread depth is uneven, note where the wear is occurring. You should be able to determine its source and, if it’s not too late, correct it before you reduce the rest of your tire’s useful life. There are four common causes of premature tire wear: improper inflation, misalignment, lack of rotation and front-end wear.
— Getting it straight
Wheels that are out of alignment may also cause unusual and excessive tire wear. Tires that are heavily worn on one side or the other are riding at an angle and not flat on the ground. A side effect of this condition is decreased traction due to reduced contact with the road. See your local tire retailer to determine if a wheel alignment will resolve the condition.
— Fighting inflation
Proper inflation is essential for normal wear on your tires. If your tires are underinflated, the sidewall will sag, causing excessive wear on the outside areas of the tread. Underinflation also results in excessive heat, which accelerates wear and may cause a blowout.
Tires that are overinflated will show wear down the middle, with the outside edges remaining in relatively good condition. This, too, is a bad thing, causing accelerated wear that will decrease your tire’s life. Try dropping the pressure down a few pounds to even out the wear.
The key here is checking your tire pressure at least twice a month. Manufacturer-recommended tire pressures are usually printed on a label that is placed in the driver’s-side doorjamb. When filling your tires, note the average outside temperature. Hotter temperatures will expand the air in your tires, raising the pressure by a few pounds, and cooler temperatures will cause a reduction in pressure. This is another good reason to check your tire pressure regularly.
— Balancing act
The final step before you pass your tire inspection test is to make sure the tread is wearing evenly around the circumference of the tire. Poorly balanced wheels or worn front-end components may cause the tire to bounce on the road, causing a condition known as cupping. This condition, also known as scalloping, dipping and feathering, causes areas of the tread to wear more rapidly, which makes the tire out of round. As a result, the normally smooth tread suddenly has peaks and tips every few inches all the way around. And unless you have about $50,000 in highly specialized equipment, the only way to correct this condition is to consult a professional repair facility for a thorough diagnosis.
— Trading places
A third aspect of any good tire inspection should include a comparison between the tread depths on the front and the rear tires. The rubber on the front of your car will diminish much faster than that on the rear due to increased friction when turning. The difference in wear between front and rear is amplified on front-wheel-drive cars. The simple solution for this occurrence is regular tire rotation. Front tires will always wear faster, but by swapping the front and rear tread every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, all tires will wear evenly in the end.
Remember, some vehicle types and tire combinations require particular rotation patterns. Refer to your car owner’s manual for the recommended tire rotation pattern, observing the proper wheel lug tightening sequence and specified torque values.
While it is always wise to conserve natural resources, the recent price of gasoline has made even the most wasteful people think twice. Whatever your motivation, here are some gas saving tips :
# Keep your engine “tuned up.” A well-maintained engine operates at peak efficiency, maximizing gas mileage. Follow the service schedules listed in the owner’s manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended; have engine performance problems (rough idling, poor acceleration, etc.) corrected at a repair facility. Given today’s high-tech engines, it’s wise to have this type of work done by auto technicians who are ASE certified in engine performance.
# Remove excess weight. Remove unnecessary items from the vehicle. Store only essentials in the trunk. Less weight means better mileage.
# Consolidate trips and errands. Some trips may be unnecessary. Also, try to travel when traffic is light so you can avoid stop-and-go conditions.
# Monitor tires. Under inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels waste fuel by forcing the engine to work harder. (Let the tires cool down before checking the air pressure.) Out-of-line wheels, as evidenced by uneven tread wear, should be aligned by a professional.
# Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family.
# Observe speed limits. Speeding decreases your miles per gallon.
# Use windows and air conditioning wisely. Your mileage should improve if you keep the windows closed at highway speeds, since air drag is reduced. This is true even with the air conditioning on-assuming that the system is in good working order. But turn the air conditioning off in stop-and-go traffic to save fuel.
# Drive gently. Sudden accelerations guzzle gas. Anticipate traffic patterns ahead and adjust your speed gradually.
These conservation tips will not only save gasoline, they’ll help extend the life of your vehicle. Win-win, indeed.
# Park the vehicle on a level surface.
# Disconnect the negative battery cable.
# If necessary, raise the vehicle and secure it on jack stands to allow enough room to work. Using two floor jacks provides an extra margin of safety.
# Read the clutch kit’s instructions and refer to a service manual before beginning.
# A come-along or hand winch can be helpful when rolling the transmission/crossmember away from the engine on a floor jack.
# Accumulate socket extensions of varying lengths as well as socket “wobble” joints.
# Just as brake rotors and drums should be “turned” when replacing pads and shoes, always resurface the flywheel as part of a clutch job. Replace a too-worn flywheel if necessary. Clean any grease off the flywheel before installing the new clutch.
# Once it’s removed, inspect the old clutch for signs of other problems. (Oil on the clutch indicates a seal problem on the engine and/or transmission.)
# Indicators of engine/transmission misalignment: uneven wear on the pilot bushing/throwout bearing, clutch surface itself or clutch disc splines, broken clutch retainer plate or springs and uneven wear on a transmission input shaft bearing.
# Common causes of engine/transmission misalignment: broken engine or transmission mounts, warped bellhousing, loose flywheel and damaged bellhousing dowel pins.
Car batteries will usually last as long as they’re supposed to unless neglected. If your car came to you new off the lot, then there is no mystery involved in when and what kind of battery to choose when the time comes for some car maintenance.
The battery under the hood of that mint condition 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Wagon you just picked up off eBay may be of more uncertain origin. Worse is that your car might not even have the right battery for it. New car or used, the best time to choose and buy a car battery replacement is before the one presently under the hood gives up all together.
The car battery will tell you when this about to happen. Unless you left the lights on or there is an electrical short, automotive batteries will not generally suffer from sudden death. The classic warning sign of impending battery expiration is the starter laboring to turn over the engine in the morning. This laboring will slowly sound more difficult until nothing but a few sad clicks come from under the hood instead of the usual joyful cranking.
# Finding the right size battery
The first consideration is choosing the correctly sized battery for your vehicle. Car batteries are divided into what are called group sizes by automobile manufacturers to standardize battery sizes and prevent any square peg, round hole situations underhood. Fitment is an important concern. A perfect fit keeps the battery snug in the battery tray and working with the factory battery hold down system. This prevents battery damage by keeping vibration to a minimum. A car battery that is too small can rattle around in the battery tray and suffer short life. With the next step of the car battery buying process comes the realization that there is more than one battery in the display in the size required – but for some reason they have different prices.
# Checking battery life
A common and expensive do-it-yourselfer battery blunder is to assume the battery has quit altogether and replace it, only to discover a new but dead battery the following morning. If your vehicle seems to be laboring to turn the starter in the morning then first check the charging system. Many auto parts stores now have portable diagnostic equipment they can roll out to help you with this task. If the charging system checks out, then it’s time to run a car battery load test to determine if the battery needs maintenance or outright replacement. Also check for shorts. An electrical short can drain battery power while you sleep. A frayed wire grounding out against the frame or body of the car can create a circuit and drain battery power. A spent starter or starter solenoid can also mimic a dead battery. If battery replacement proves the best option, then making the best choice in batteries depends on several different factors.
# Reserve capacity
This is a very important measurement. The car battery Reserve Capacity (RC) is the measure of battery strength when the going gets tough. RC is the amount of time the battery will deliver maximum amperage before discharging altogether. A good example of RC in practice is trying to start a stubborn engine. A car battery with a high RC rating will have enough power in reserve to get through tough situations such as stubborn engines or accidentally leaving the lights on while at the grocery store. Since the measure of RC is taken at warmer temperatures, it is of great importance to select a battery with a higher than required RC rating if the vehicle is operated in colder climates. The extra battery power waiting in reserve can help when you really need it most.
# Cold cranking amps
Before your inner cheapskate prevails, remember that a car battery must have enough power to turn over the engine. This cranking power is measured in battery Cold Cranking Amps (CCA), and is the standardized measured amount of cranking power that a given battery can deliver at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. CCA is of particular concern for those who live where winter temperatures can dip below zero. Engine and transmission oil become thick as molasses at these temperatures. Turning over the engine will sometimes require more CCA than measured at 0 degrees. Select a battery with a higher than required CCA rating if the vehicle is operated in colder than zero degree climates. Never select a car battery that has less than the CCA required by your engine. A few extra is better than too few.
# Removing and replacing a car battery
Hauling the car battery out of the engine compartment and into the auto parts store for a like-for-like comparison is one way to choose a battery, but it’s not always the most reliable method. Unless you purchased the vehicle new, there is no guarantee the correct battery was there in the first place. Compounding confusion is that time and battery acid are usually not kind to any identifying labels. This is where ideally you talk to a counter person and tell them what kind of car you have. The larger big box stores may have replaced humans with a frayed battery catalog, usually missing the one page that has which battery your vehicle uses. When buying a battery choose one with the highest quality and CCA/RC rating your budget can afford. Selecting more battery power than you need is generally better in the long run than choosing just enough. Knowledge is literally power when it comes to buying the right battery.
# Budget-brand tires are as good as big-name brands because they’re built by the same company.
Here’s the truth: As with most products, you get what you pay for.
It’s easy to see how this misconception developed. Each tire company has a premium brand upon which it focuses its research, development and testing. In addition, almost all of these companies produce other brands. Many build tires for others – such as auto-parts stores – to sell under the store’s brand. As you progress down this list, development and testing quickly drop to no more than legal requirements. The R&D from the premium brand often – but not always – trickles down into the budget brands. So maybe the difference is so small that you can’t tell the difference. Or maybe not.
You can be fairly certain that discount and private brand tires built by big-name companies will resist failures as well as that company’s premium offerings. After all, if the store-brand tire fails, that tire company gets sued just as if the tire boasted a premium brand name. However, things like tread life, traction, ability to resist deep water, noise and comfort will probably – but not always – be inferior.
It’s easy to argue that tires are the most complex, most important, least understood, least appreciated and least maintained component on any vehicle. Serious drivers will tell you they know that already.
# Plenty of tread means plenty of remaining tire life.
Here’s the truth: Many are surprised that tires can reach the end of their lives without having gone far or done much work.
Some auto manufacturers recommend replacing tires every five or six years, regardless of tread depth. A tire that’s been on a car seven or eight years is much like a 65-year-old human: No matter how fit and healthy he looks, he shouldn’t play football against 19-year-olds. If it’s 105 degrees outside, a simple stroll can be deadly to both out-of-shape older people and poorly maintained old tires.
Here’s how you can tell how old your tire is:
- Look on the sidewall to find the letters “DOT.” Following that will be a sequence of numbers, which may be in three or four separate windows. The last four numbers tell when the tire was made: “3112” means the tire was built during the 31st week of 2012.
- Check for hairline cracks in the sidewall. Cracks are a strong indication the tire needs to be replaced.
- Inspect for deteriorating rubber, which can be a big problem for rarely driven vehicles, such as motor homes, collector cars, exotic cars, vehicles owned by senior citizens and vans operated by charitable organizations.
# All-season tires have better wet-road grip than summer tires.
Here’s the truth: An all-season tire trades wet-road traction (among other things) for enhanced mobility in snow and in subfreezing temperatures. Designing a tire is an exercise in compromises: Improving a certain performance factor almost always means diminishing one or more other performance factors. (Some more accurately use the term “three-season” when referring to summer tires.)
To make things even more complex, when you switch categories (or even brands), the results may change. An ultra-high-performance all-season tire may offer better wet-grip than a high-performance summer tire or a grand-touring summer tire.
# The “max press” on the sidewall is the proper inflation pressure for your tires.
Here’s the truth: The proper inflation pressure for a tire is determined by the vehicle manufacturer – not by the tire manufacturer. The government now requires new cars to have that recommended pressure on a placard located on the driver’s doorjamb. On older cars this placard was often on the doorjamb, but it could also be found on the trunk lid, glove box door, console lid or fuel door. If you can’t find the recommended pressure placard, look in your owner’s manual or call your vehicle manufacturer’s customer service department. Inflating the tire above the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation may make it more susceptible to damage from potholes and will reduce ride comfort.
# A tire will burst if the “max press” number on the sidewall is exceeded.
Here’s the truth: A new quality tire will not burst even if the “max press” is exceeded by a very large amount. However, all bets are off if the tire has been damaged or it’s fitted on a cheap or damaged wheel.
The “max press” number, coupled with the “max load” number (also found on the sidewall), provides the maximum load-carrying ability of a tire. Know this: It’s air pressure that allows the tire to carry a load. At 1 pound per square inch (psi) of air pressure a tire can support no weight. To increase its load-carrying capacity, air pressure must be increased. (Imagine a plastic soft-drink bottle: With the top off, it’s easily crushed; but when it’s new and unopened, it can support a grown man.) However, at some pressure, adding more air to the tire will not provide increased weight-carrying capacity. That’s what the “max load/max pressure” means.
Autos are intended to be driven. Leaving a vehicle unattended for a drawn out stretch of time can bring about something much the same as car decay – a moderate weakening of the vehicle that can make issues when you attempt to drive it once more. Rust and erosion can shape on the body or inside basic segments; gum and varnish can stop up the fuel framework; slime and acids can shape in the motor oil; mold can develop in the inside; and steady daylight can gradually blur the paint and break down vinyl, cowhide and elastic parts. That is the reason in the event that you have to store your vehicle – whether it’s for the winter or on the grounds that it can’t be driven for an uncertain timeframe – there are sure insurances you ought to take before you place it into mothballs.
Additional car storage tips
Consider these other preparations before storing a car:
- Seal off engine openings with absorbent cotton to keep moisture out.
- Remove the battery and clean its top with a mixture of baking soda and water. Ideally, a trickle charger should be used to keep the battery fully charged while the vehicle is in storage.
- Top off all fluids, including transmission and rear axle. Also look at the color of the brake fluid. New brake fluid is clear. If the fluid in the car looks brown and dirty, the system needs to be flushed. Old brake fluid has a lot of moisture in it, which could cause rust in the system.
- Change the oil and filter. Used oil contains acids, moisture and other combustion byproducts that, over time, can cause corrosion inside the engine.
- Fill the engine with fresh oil and then drive the vehicle for a few miles to make sure the new oil circulates thoroughly.
- Pull the spark plugs and pour about a teaspoon of oil into each cylinder, then replace the plugs. This will help coat the cylinders to prevent rust.
- If the wheels and tires will be left on the vehicle, add about 10 pounds of pressure to each tire. This will help prevent flat spots.
- Wash and wax the finish. Also, go over vinyl, leather, tires and other rubber components with the proper type of protectant.
- If you wash the carpet and upholstery, let the vehicle air out until the inside is thoroughly dry. Sealing up a wet interior is a sure formula for mildew.
- Remove the wiper blades to keep them from fusing to the windshield. Wrap the wiper arms with a cloth to prevent scratches.
- Drain the cooling system. If the engine’s block and cylinder head(s) are cast iron, refill the cooling system with new coolant. If one or both engine components are made of aluminum, leave the system empty because coolant can react with the aluminum and cause corrosion.
- Loosen drive belts to take the pressure off pulley bearings (unnecessary if the engine has an automatic drive belt tensioner).
- If the car will be in storage for a year or more, support it on jack stands or blocks. This will take the weight off the wheel bearings and suspension components. Also, remove the wheels and tires, lower the tire pressure slightly and store them flat and out of sunlight.
Get it covered
The best place to store a car is out of the weather, preferably inside a building that’s cool, dark and dry. If you don’t have a garage, look into renting one. If this isn’t possible, a reasonable alternative is to store it inside a portable enclosure, such as a car bag or portable garage. If the vehicle will be completely sealed from outside air, place a couple bags of desiccant inside the enclosure with it to absorb trapped moisture. However, if the vehicle needs to be stored outside without an enclosure, at least cover it with a quality car cover made of thick, multilayer fabric.
Prior to putting the vehicle into storage, a few precautions will help keep it in good shape. The fuel system, for instance, can be a prime source of problems. If the car is stored with an empty tank, moisture can condense inside the system and cause rust and corrosion. On the other hand, if the car is stored with fuel in the system, the gas can gradually break down, forming gum and varnish. To help keep gasoline from deteriorating, pour a fuel stabilizer into the tank. Be sure to drive the car for about 10 miles after adding the stabilizer to circulate it throughout the system. Normally, it’s best to leave the tank full; however, if the vehicle will be stored in an enclosed location where gas fumes could be a problem, empty the tank about halfway.
The most likely reason is that the system is low on refrigerant because of a leak, but hot air blowing into the interior can result from mechanical or electrical failure in the air-conditioning system.
Modern automobile air conditioners use a type of refrigerant known as R-134, though many people still refer to it by its predecessor’s brand name, Freon. This refrigerant is not something that needs to be replenished periodically — the air conditioner doesn’t “burn” it like gasoline — so if low refrigerant is the reason for the hot air, the probable cause is a leak somewhere.
A technician should be able to find the source of a leak visually or by refilling the system with refrigerant that contains an ultraviolet dye that makes it easier to locate leaks. They can occur in pipes, hoses, the air-conditioning compressor, condenser or the evaporator. In many cars the evaporator is mounted behind the dashboard, and replacing the evaporator requires removing the dashboard, a time-consuming and labor-expensive repair.
Other possible reasons for air conditioners blowing hot air are that the compressor has failed or that an electrical switch that activates the compressor has stopped working. Another reason could be that the accessory belt that turns a pulley on the compressor has broken or is slipping.
Still, all of the above could be operating normally, but a “blend door” in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system could be stuck and not allowing cool air into the interior.
Refrigerant refill kits are available for do-it-yourselfers, but the complex nature of air-conditioning systems means that merely adding some refrigerant may not magically transform your hot air into cold.
Beside a dead battery or flawed charging framework, the most widely recognized electrical issues proprietors are liable to experience are wore out lights.
After bulb, however, it’s possible potluck: Electrical issues could manifest in numerous spots, from the stereo to an electric engine for a force window or sunroof to an electric fuel pump pressing it in. What’s more, the cause may be terrible wiring, a short, there might be a defective switch or some other beast that is difficult to pinpoint.
Bulb, however, are presumably No. 1 on the substitution list since they’re utilized so much and in light of the fact that there are so huge numbers of them. Most autos, for instance, have no less than three bulb and typically more on every side for brakes, taillights, reinforcement lights, turn flags and side marker lights. In front, there are headlights, perhaps isolate high pillars, every now and again daytime running lights and haze lights, turn signals, “stopping” lights and side markers.
Chances are that over time at least a couple of those will burn out or stop working because of corrosion or excessive jostling from rough roads.
With other electrically powered features, the cause (and the fix) may not be so simple. Because of that, if any electric accessory stops working it’s a good idea to first check whether a fuse that protects the circuit it’s on has blown. The owners manual should show where a fuse for a particular feature is located (usually in a side panel below the dashboard near the driver’s seat or under the hood).
If you’re handy with a multimeter that measures voltage, resistance and other things, you may be able to diagnose some of your own electrical problems. However, because they can be difficult for professionals to find and fix, they might be even harder for amateur technicians to solve.
In spite of the fact that battery issues are frequently connected with frosty climate, Consumer Reports magazine says warmth is a greater foe of auto batteries and will take a greater toll on execution and store limit. The magazine suggests that vehicle proprietors in more sweltering parts of the nation have their auto battery tried following two years of possession and after that consistently after. The individuals who live in colder zones can hold up four years to test execution and limit, and afterward consistently after.
“Heat kills batteries,” according to John Banta, a Consumer Reports project leader and part of the team that tests batteries for the magazine. “Many times in cold climates your battery fails to start your car on a below-freezing day. The reason this happens is that the heat of the past summers has weakened your battery. When you use it in the cold, the starter requires more electrical current to turn over the cold engine with its thickened oil.”
Testing a battery’s performance and reserve (or amp-hour) capacity is not just a matter of seeing whether it will hold a charge (or checking the electric eye found on some batteries to see if it is green), so testing is best done by an auto technician
# Professionally run establishments will have a courteous, helpful staff. The manager, service writer, or technician should be willing to answer your questions thoroughly.
# Labor rates, fees for testing and diagnostic work, guarantees, methods of payment, etc. should be posted in the front office/waiting room.
# Ask for the names of a few customers as references. Call them.
# Start with a small or minor job, such as an oil change or tire rotation. Reward good service with repeat business and more complex work.
# Look for a repair facility before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed.
# Ask friends, co-workers and associates for recommendations.
# Don’t make your selection based solely on location convenience.
# Determine if the shop works on your vehicle make and model or performs the types of repairs you need. Some facilities specialize.
# Look for signs of technician competence. The customer area should display trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced coursework and ASE certifications — a nationally recognized standard of technician competence — for all the employees.
# Does the business have a sense of community? Service awards, plaques for civic involvement, customer service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau and other consumer groups is a good indicator.
# Consult local consumer organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and chambers of commerce, about the reputation of the shop. Inquire about the number, nature and resolution of complaints.
# Search online for business reviews and visit the shop’s Facebook page if one is available. You can learn a lot about a business and its team by reading social media.
# Look for a tidy, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays. You likely won’t find hospital-clean conditions, but consider whether the facility’s image and level of professionalism meet your needs.