Category Archives for Maintenance

Doing Your Own Car Maintenance? 15 Most Important Car Service Tools For Every DIY Auto Mechanic

For many, tinkering with the car’s engine is a satisfying and pleasurable experience. A car is one of the most expensive things you will ever buy. Placing its care and maintenance under your capable hands will keep your more connected to its needs. After all, unlike other auto mechanics, you are financially invested in your car. As a DIY auto mechanic, you can save time, money and feel more assured of protecting your own interest. What’s more, if your car breaks down, you will have the confidence of fixing it yourself.

15 Tools Of The DIY Trade: Basic Automotive Tools List

We have come up with a basic automotive tools list to get you started. The items we have included in the list below will help you perform repairs on the most common problems cars go through.

1. Socket Set

Sockets are attached to tools like ratchets and wrenches and are used to tighten or loosen up fasteners such as nuts and bolts. When doing your own car maintenance, you will come across nuts and bolts of different sizes.

Thus, a socket set is one of the most important car service tools in your cool tool workshop. In fact, it should be the first thing you buy from this list. A good socket set should have sockets of different sizes such as 3/8-inch, ¼-inch, and ½-inch.

2. Pliers and Wire Cutters

Pliers and wire cutters are very important tools to have in your kit because cars have different wiring systems in place. You may also want to introduce improvements.

For example, you may want to install a brand new stereo head unit or new headlights.

These small hand tools come in different shapes and sizes. The new designs for pliers and wire cutters will make it easy for you to perform repairs. A good example of modern but functional design is the Out of Sight pliers.

This type of pliers allows you to see what you are doing by placing your hand away from your line- of- sight.

Another one is the Spark Plug plier which enables you to grab the boot of the spark plug without damaging it.

3. Torque Wrench

One of the most common mistakes made by DIY auto mechanics is over-torquing a nut. When this happens, the bolt can shear off. It will also make it more difficult to remove the nut should the need arise.

A clicker-type Torque Wrench will guarantee that the bolt is tightened according to proper specifications. You know you’ve tightened it correctly when you hear two clicks.

For lug nuts, use an impact wrench or perhaps a breaker bar. Otherwise, you might affect the settings on your Torque Wrench.

4. Wrenches

An auto mechanic can never have enough wrenches. Having a complete set will make car repairs and maintenance procedures easier and go faster. As a DIY auto mechanic, you should invest in a complete set of wrenches. These should come in different sizes.

Like we discussed in the previous section, there are different types of wrenches to consider as well. You may want to include a few specialized designs of wrenches among your car service tools.

5. Screwdrivers

A Screwdriver is an indispensable repair tool. Whether it is for your garage or for the home, you must have a few in your workshop. A Screwdriver comes in different types. The head will feature various shapes; each one with a specific function.

Buy a Screwdriver set for your car repair toolbox. The important ones are the Philips, the flat head, and smaller screwdrivers that can be used to handle delicate electronic work.

6. Dead Blow Mallet

There may be instances whereby even with the use of wrenches and ratchets, some bolts just won’t give. They’re stuck tight. Make your job easier by using a Dead Blow Mallet.

Apply a little heat to the stuck bolt. Then, whack on it with the Dead Bolt Hammer. You may be surprised at how fast the stuck bolt loosens up.

When choosing a Dead Blow Mallet, make sure it is covered in moulded poly so that it will not scratch or damage metal surfaces.

7. Work Light

As a DIY auto mechanic, you must be prepared for all kinds of situations. After all, you do not know when your car will stall. It could happen at night or perhaps in snowy conditions. In these types of situations, it will be difficult to effect troubleshooting procedures on your car.

This is where having a Work Light comes in very handy. A Work Light will illuminate the work area so that you can see what you are doing and not lose a spare part.

8. Latex Gloves

Grease is part of the job. However, it doesn’t mean you should always have it on you. Too much grease on your hands will make it difficult to hold work tools securely.

Compared to regular gloves, latex gloves are disposable. Once they are full of dirt, grease, and grime, you can just throw them away.

9. Zip Ties

Zip ties help organize the work area. You can use them to tie together cables and wires. If not secured properly, these wires and cables can get in the way of your work.

It is a good idea to buy different types of zip ties. You can choose from different lengths, sizes, and colours. This will make it easier for you to remember the functions and locations of each cable or wire.

10. Multimeter

A multimeter is a device that measures voltage, the level of electric current, and resistance. This is important to have in your car service toolbox if you want to check why a component is not functioning properly.

For example, if the car does not want to start, you can use the multimeter to find out if the battery has run out of power.

11. Lubricant and Cleaners

Your car has many moving mechanical parts. For these parts to function properly and to last longer, they have to be lubricated as well as cleaned regularly.

Here are 4 types of lubricants and cleaners that you should have in your auto care toolbox:

· Rust Penetrant – Used to unstick stubborn bolts and to prevent the accumulation of rust.

· Brake Cleaner – Used to clean brakes and metal parts.

· Silicone Lubricant – Removes squeaking sounds and reduces the amount of friction without bringing in the additional dirt.

· Citrus Degreaser – Removes oil-based products from the car’s steering components, skid plates, and axles.

12. Drip Pan

All that grease and oil dripping from your car can make your garage a hazardous place to work in. Worse, if your work shoes get soaked in grease and you end up tracking it inside your home.

A simple drip plan will be enough to collect the grease, oil, and other fluids from your car. It will keep your garage clean and risk-free.

13. Kitty Litter

And just to make sure the drip pan did not miss any of the spilling fluids, have a bag of kitty litter handy.

What will kitty litter do?

Simply spread some kitty litter on oil that has spilled on the floor. The kitty litter will quickly absorb it for immediate disposal.

14. Duct Tape

Duct tape and electrical tape should be staples in every toolbox. Duct tape will help you connect or put cables and wires together. Meanwhile, if there are exposed wires, you can just cover it up with electric tape.

15. Floor Jack

A flat tire can happen anywhere. A Floor Jack will make it easy and convenient for you to replace a flat tire.

There are different types of Floor Jacks. For your garage, you may want to consider getting a heavy-duty Floor Jack that can lift a car in two places. This will keep the car stable if you want to work underneath its body.

When traveling, you should have a portable hydraulic jack which can lift the car off the ground without having to ratchet it up too hard. There are portable ones which have a small motor that can do the job safely and securely.

Conclusion

Becoming a DIY auto mechanic is a great way to stay attuned with the general condition of your car. However, in order to get the job done correctly, you need to make sure you have the right car service tools.

A general contractor’s toolbox or the basic woodworking tool set from your garage cannot implement many of the repairs or troubleshooting procedures your car may require. You need to have the proper auto repair shop tools.

The 15 tools we have identified in this article will be enough to help you perform quick repairs on your vehicle. Once you have these car service tools, you will no longer say, “I need a mechanic”.

How To Maintain And Extend The Life Of Your Car Battery: Best Tips To Keep It Charged Longer

Today’s cars utilize computer technology to run efficiently. However, without a well-maintained battery, all of that technology will be useless. A battery provides all the power a car needs to function properly. If you do not take the necessary steps to extend its life, your battery can die at the most inconvenient time.

What Factors Affect The Life Span Of A Car Battery?

Nothing lasts forever. Not even the most expensive battery. On average, a battery will last for 4 to 6 years. Proper maintenance will help extend its life to the maximum cycle. However, there are other factors that can affect the lifespan of your battery:

1. Temperature – Car batteries in warmer countries do not last as long as those in colder countries. Why? When a battery runs, it produces high heat temperatures under the hood. This level of temperature rises much higher in warmer countries, creates a greater demand for energy, and further drains its power.

2. Increased Dirt – Over time, your battery accumulates plenty of dirt. Unattended to, accumulated dirt leads to corrosion which makes your battery work harder than normal and thereby, drain it of more power. Too much dirt will give you a weak car battery.

3. Lack of Usage – When it comes to batteries, the saying, “If you don’t use it, you will lose it” applies. In Japan, batteries tend to have shorter lifespans because the Japanese rarely drive. Infrequent driving leads to a condition known as sulfurization whereby sulfur build-up causes contamination of the battery.

4. High-Battery Usage – If you like to plug in your MP3 player and charge your mobile phone to the battery while the car is running with the air-conditioner turned on and the wipers moving, you will drain it of power much sooner than you think. Other culprits to battery consumption include devices such as radar detectors, a GPS tracker, dash cam, and a DVD player.

In this article, we will show you how to make your battery last longer. We will do this in 2 stages. First, we will teach you how to improve car battery health through proper battery maintenance. Second, we will give you valuable tips on how to extend car battery life.

How To Properly Maintain Your Car Battery

Buying your first car is one of life’s greatest achievements. It is definitely a milestone. You don’t have to ask permission from your dad to use his car. You can go wherever you want. However, unlike your first house, a car is a depreciating asset. It loses value over time. This is because it is subject to constant wear and tear.

The reality is, buying a car is one thing. Owning it is another. If you thought it was expensive to get it, ownership is a huge financial responsibility. You have to be ready to spend good money to make sure it runs well all the time and lasts longer.

In addition to its tires, air-conditioner, brakes, and engine, you also have to take the necessary steps for battery maintenance. Unlike your tires and fluid levels, you do not have to undertake these maintenance procedures on a daily basis.

1. Check the Water Level of Your Battery – Is your car battery an AGM or Absorbed Glass Matt battery or a wet-cell battery? Checking its water level will have a different approach depending on the type of battery you own.

If it’s an AGM car battery, ask an experienced car technician to do it for you. If it’s a wet-cell battery, check the water level every 3 months.

2. Clean the Battery Terminals – Corrosion is one of the worst enemies of your car battery. Every 6 to 8 months, get a wire brush and clean out the battery terminals. Here is a simple 3-step process you can use to brush out possible corrosion:

  • Remove the battery connectors. First, move them from side-to-side then lightly pull them up until the connectors come off.
  • Make an anti-corrosion paste by mixing baking soda with distilled water.
  • Apply a bit of paste on the wire brush. Use light pressure when scrubbing the battery terminals. Make sure all signs of acid build- up have been cleaned out.

3. Grease Up Your Battery – Coat the battery with grease that is made especially for high temperatures. This will help prevent moisture build-up which can lead to rust and corrosion.

4. Check Your Battery’s Cell Voltage – If your car is scheduled for its usual maintenance procedure or tune- up, ask the technician to check the battery’s cell voltage. The technician can charge it for you if the cell voltage level is low.

If you live in a warmer climate, make sure your battery has proper insulation. Most cars have an insulator fitted with the battery. An insulator will protect the battery from very high temperatures which will severely drain its power.

How To Extend Car Battery Life

The road to proper car maintenance starts with finding ways to extend car battery life. You might be surprised to learn that it is not difficult to maintain car battery health. For the most part, it comes down to smart planning and plain common sense.

1. Take Your Car Out for Extended Drives – Gasoline can be very expensive. We understand your concern that you don’t want to waste gas by taking long trips. However, as we pointed out earlier in this article, infrequent use can be as damaging.

If you are using your car for only short drives, you may save up on gas but you are inadvertently cutting short your battery’s lifespan. Short drives will not be enough to fully charge its batteries.

It will not hurt your wallet to take your car out for long, extended drives once a week or twice-a-month. As an added bonus, your family will thank you for it!

2. Make a Routine Check before You Leave the Premises – It has happened to all of us at least once in our lives. We wake up in the morning all freshened up and ready to go to work.

When we get to our car, we realize that we left the car lights open. Don’t be surprised if the car won’t start. Leaving the lights open can and will drain the battery. Make a conscious effort to run a routine check before you leave the vicinity of your car.

3. Don’t Abuse Your Car’s Features – No one likes waiting especially on a hot and humid day. If you are waiting inside your car, don’t open the air-conditioner when the engine is not running. The same goes for the radio. These features can make waiting more tolerable but they will drain your car battery’s power.

Instead, inform the person you are waiting on your whereabouts. Go to the mall, have a cup of coffee, or head off to the park to relax. Let your battery rest as well!

4. Disconnect Your Battery When Not In Use – Have you ever come home after a 3-week vacation and find out your car battery is dead? At best, you will have a weak car start. This is because even when it is not in use, your battery continues to discharge power. If you are planning to go on an extended holiday, disconnect your battery.

Conclusion

People buy cars for different reasons. It could be out of necessity especially if your state does not have efficient public transportation. Perhaps you just want greater independence and control over your travels and trips. Having your own car will certainly fit your needs. Of course, there are those who want to buy a car just for the idea of owning one.

Regardless of your reason for buying a car, you should take proper care of it because maintenance and repairs can be quite expensive. Even though it is a depreciating asset, you would want to maximise its value by making sure it will give you thousands of miles of driving pleasure.

Having your car fitted with the latest technology will not suffice if you have a weak car battery. Follow our simple battery maintenance procedures and tips on how to extend its life. The time you take to ensure your battery’s health will be time well spent.

Change Your Car’s Tires

When Should You Change Your Car’s Tires?

Change Your Car’s Tires

Your car’s tires are designed to carry out a number of important functions. First, it supports and properly distributes load throughout your vehicle. Second, it absorbs road shock forces to give you a more comfortable ride. Third, your car’s tires have treading that clear out water to improve grip and traction on the road. Lastly, tires function to maintain and change the direction of travel.

Collectively, these four functions keep you safe while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016 tire malfunction was a factor in 733 road fatalities. The NHTSA also reported that tire malfunction resulted in 11,000 car accidents each year.

How Long Do Car Tires Last?

Historians say the invention of the wheel was one of the turning points of innovation. However, creating a wheel is not as simple as carving a round object and rolling it down the road. Today’s tires are made of about 200 different components. These components are grouped into five categories:

  1. Natural rubber which is used for the car’s treading layers.
  2. Synthetic rubber added as a supportive component to treading.
  3. Carbon black and silica which improves durability and stability of the tires.
  4. Metallic and textile cables which used to add rigidity and give your tires its shape.
  5. Various chemical agents are added to provide key features such as grip and resistance.

However, the materials and amount of work that goes into manufacturing tires, they will not last forever. Tires are subject to wear and tear. Over time, they will have to be replaced.

Factors That Contribute To The Wear And Tear Of Your Car’s Tires

If you use your car everyday and travel long distances, expect its tires to be worn out within 10 years from its date of manufacture. In addition to the frequency of use, there are other factors that contribute to the wear and tear of your tires:

  • Road Conditions – Driving over potholes, sharp objects, tree branches, and rocks.
  • Mother Nature – Snow, rain and flooding conditions, prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • Driving Style – Frequent speeding followed by immediate braking.
  • Poor Tire Maintenance Practices – Lack of proper air pressure, failure to have tires aligned and rotated and failure to have new tires balanced.

A good number of these factors cannot be controlled. That’s why even with the best intentions, you have to be prepared to replace your tires when the time comes.

When Should You Change Your Car’s Tires?

The average lifespan of tires is five years. If your car has not acquired much mileage within five years, you could delay buying a new set of tires a few years more. However, if your “wheels” are 10 years old, you should buy new ones even if they still look like good tires.

You can tell if the car’s tires are starting to show the effects of wear and tear while driving. Experienced drivers might notice the following:

  • There is slight difficulty in steering the car; it feels “heavy” on one side.
  • ​The ride is not as smooth as before.
  • ​You feel a bit of wobble on the steering wheel.
  • You experience more vibrations as you are driving regardless of surface.

When you notice these instances while driving, bring the car to the side of the road and inspect the tires. Here are some tips on how to look for tire wear:

  • Check for uneven treading.
  • Assess if the car tread looks thin and shallow.
  • ​Look for objects embedded in the tire such as rocks or nails.
  • Inspect the valve caps and see if they look worse for wear.

You can run tests to know for sure if these are damaged and when to change tires:

  • Check the air pressure.
  • If it’s below the required psi, have it re-inflated at the nearest gas station. However if the pressure gauge still shows psi remains below the required level, it means there is serious damage to your car’s tires.
  • Use a tread depth gauge and refer to the following conditions:
    • If your tire’s tread depth is 2/32”, you should already replace it. At this level, your tire can no longer displace water. It will also be highly susceptible to punctures.
    • If you are driving in an area where rain and flooding is a concern, replace the tires when the tread depth is at 4/32”.
    • If your area is frequented by snow and you often experience slippery roads, you should replace the tires if the tread depth is measured at 5/32”.

One of the most popular ways to find out when to change tires is the “Abe Lincoln Penny Test”. You hold the penny between your thumb and forefinger and insert it between the grooves where the level of the tread is lowest. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, this means the tread is worn out.

The best way to know for sure that your car’s tires need to be replaced is to bring it to an auto repair shop. In addition to having trained professionals inspect your tires, they also use high tech equipment that can give you a precise diagnosis.

How To Choose The Right Tires For Your Car

The vehicle owner’s manual should have all the details and information you need to buy the right tires for your car. If there is no information in the manual, check the door on the driver’s side. The car manufacturer might have placed it there as a sticker.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about replacing your car’s tires:

1. “Is it okay to choose a tire size that is different from the one designated for my vehicle?”

No. It is highly recommended to buy only tires that match the dimensions stated in the tire information sheet. The size of the tires was selected by the manufacturer to give you maximum riding comfort and of course, driving safety.

2. “Will it be safe for me to buy different types of tires?”

Unless it is otherwise specified by the car manufacturer in the vehicle owner’s manual, always buy the same type of tires. Having the same tires will ensure maximum safety and all- around performance for your vehicle.

3. “How about if I buy tires of different speed ratings?”

Yes, you can buy tires that have different speed ratings. However, there are trade- offs you should be aware of.

Tires with higher speed rating have optimum grip, traction and top level braking power. The trade- off is its car tread life will be shorter. On the other hand, using tires with lower speed rating will not only reduce its maximum speed limit but it will also affect overall performance and handling.

If you must buy tires of different speed ratings, make sure the pair with the lowest speed ratings is installed in front. This will prevent over-steering and help you maintain better control over your car during sharp turns.

4. “Can you just replace one tire or two tires?”

Yes, you can replace just one or two tires. However, we recommend replacing all four tires. Even if the older ones are still good tires, they have already undergone wear and tear. Also, some dealers may give you attractive discounts if you buy an entirely new set of tires.

If you can only budget for one or two tires, make sure these are installed on the rear axle of your car to ensure better traction especially on wet roads.

5. “Can I buy second hand or used tires?”

No, regardless of what the owner says or how the tires look never buy second hand or used tires. The tires may have internal damage that is difficult to detect. You can never go wrong in buying brand new tires for your car.

Conclusion

If you start to notice difficulty in handling your car, don’t take any chances. Bring your car to an auto shop and ask them to inspect your tires. If the tire specialist says it is time to get a new set of tires, spare no expense and get the right ones for your car. The tire specialist is the best person to advise you when to change tires.

When your tires are in poor condition, driving on the road becomes a riskier proposition. You might suffer a blowout or lose control of your vehicle. Either way, these types of accidents have life-threatening consequences.

Keep in mind your tires are the only parts of the car that maintain direct contact with the road. If they are worn out, do not hesitate to buy a new set of tires.

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Why You Need Car Air Conditioning Service

Whether its rainy season or summer, you should always sure your car air-conditioning system is properly working. Keeping your car air-condition well maintained will not just ensure comfort during long drives. It will also keep you healthy by filtering noxious and dangerous fumes from your interior. Regular car air con maintenance will prevent minor issues from turning into major repairs which can be very expensive.

How Does Auto Air Conditioning Work?

Contrary to what some people may think, your car air-conditioning system does not simply blow cool air inside your car. It goes through a more complicated process which is why it is referred to as a car air condition system. There is a process that involves different parts with their own specific functions.

A car air condition system has 3 component parts: the evaporator, condenser and compressor.

Evaporator This is a small radiator located inside the dashboard. What an evaporator does is to provide cool air inside the car. The evaporator is where the liquid refrigerant takes on any warm air and evaporates it before transferring it to the condenser.

Condenser If the evaporator absorbs heat, the condenser releases it. When the refrigerant enters the condenser as a high-pressure vapour, it gets cooled and returns as a cooler, high pressure liquid.

Compressor The compressor is responsible for pumping high pressure vapour into the condenser.

Thus, your car air con does more than just keep you cool inside the vehicle. It removes warm air that could be circulating inside the vehicle’s cabin and dispels it outside.

When your car air con is down, you will notice that the cabin gets uncomfortably warm. It could be a mechanical problem involving one of the three component parts or your air con may just need a re-gas or recharge by adding refrigerant fluid. Either way, it would be advisable to have your air conditioning checked by a car air con specialist.

Can you imagine driving around in near 100 degree temperatures while your air conditioning system is down? If you get stuck in traffic, it will make the experience 10 times worse.

Or what about if there is a torrential downpour? The difference between the cold air outside and the warm air inside your vehicle will cause moisture to form on your windshield. Unless you get car air conditioning service, you will spend the drive wiping your windshield from time to time so you can see the road in front of you.

Neglecting car air con repair services whenever it is needed, will potentially lead to bigger problems which would entail more work and greater expenses.

If you notice that your car air conditioning is not working properly, have it checked out right away.

What Is Included In A Car Air Conditioning Service?

Even car owners who love tinkering with their vehicles would prefer to entrust the care and maintenance of their auto air conditioning system to a certified professional car air con technician.

When your car air con system breaks down, the technician will assume the following conditions as the possible causes:

  • Issue with the drive belt tension;
  • Blocked air flow from the condenser and radiator;
  • Possible refrigerant oil strain at the compressor, hoses, pipes or fittings;
  • Faulty compressor mounting brackets;
  • Service port caps could be missing.

Once they have gone through the checklist and the problem persists, the technician will recommend that your vehicle undergo complete car air conditioning service.

These are the usual scope of works included in a standard car air conditioning service:

  • Temperature checks on the air vents.
  • Recycling, reclaiming or replacement of operating gas.
  • ​Replacement or check of receiver drier/ filter.
  • Adjust the drive belts and pulleys.
  • Evaluate operation of valves and thermostats.​
  • ​Test system line and components for possible leaks.
  • ​Inspect working condition of hoses and components.
  • ​Clean the condenser fins.
  • Deodorize and sanitize system.

If re-gas is needed, the following procedures will take place:

  • 1. Replace air conditioning Schrader valves.
  • 2. Replace receiver drier/ filter.
  • ​3. Add correct amount of refrigerant compressor oil.
  • ​4. Use UV dye to detect leaks.
  • ​5. Evacuate system for at least 20 minutes so moisture can be removed.
  • 6. Charge system with correct refrigerant type and amount.
  • 7. Check for leaks using UV lamp and electronic refrigerant sniffer.
  • ​8. Test performance of car air conditioning system.
  • 9. Record and evaluate pressure and temperature readings.

It should be noted that refrigerant gas types such as R-12 and R-13, popularly known as Freon, have been studied to be hazardous to the environment. It is can lead to the depletion of the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.

The use of these types of gasses is illegal. If caught, the penalty could run up to thousands of dollars.

When choosing your car air conditioning system services provider, make sure the company has a Trading Authorization and Refrigerant Handling License.

Value Added Car Air Conditioning Services

In addition to the usual car air con system diagnostics and repair services, the professional air con technician will also make sure your vehicle is safe to ride in by eliminating dust, bacteria and air borne viruses.

If not properly cleaned and regularly maintained, your car air conditioning system becomes an ideal breeding ground for moulds, fungus and bacteria. This is not good for passengers who are highly allergic to dust and other forms of allergens.

Air con repair service providers will use environmentally safe equipment to clean and sanitize your car air conditioning system’s component parts, air filter and the entire interior of your vehicle to make your car smell fresh and brand new.

3 Tips On How To Maintain Your Car Air Conditioning System

It is strongly advised that you have full service car air con maintenance checks once a year. Regular maintenance will reduce the risk of car air con break downs and better system performance.

Technicians recommend having a car air conditioning maintenance schedule of once every 1-2 years.

In the meantime, do your share in making sure your car air conditioning system stays in good shape year – round by following our tips:

  1. Run your car air conditioner for at least 10 minutes once a week to maintain the correct gas pressure.
  2. Turn your car air con to its coolest setting for 5 minutes then switch to its “defrost” setting for another 5-10 minutes to release moisture and prevent the build-up of moulds.
  3. Have the gas station attendant or its resident mechanic check your refrigerant level every few months. Although, a re-gas is not required until after 1-2 years, regular checks will let you know if there are potential leaks.

Include a car air conditioning maintenance schedule in your calendar. A car air conditioning system that is working fine will help make your trips easier, more comfortable and keep you and your passengers healthy and safe.

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