Oil is an essential part of car maintenance. It needs to be regularly checked and changed after some time or driving a particular number of kilometers. Oil change, although not very difficult to do, does require some basic skills and high level of carefulness. You can do that at home in a DIY style but that is not recommended as one loose bolt can result in some big problems.
There are many things to consider when changing the engine oil. In this article we will guide you through them….
The other day I was driving my Mom’s minivan on the highway and I noticed the vehicle consistently pulling to the right. My mother, not one for keeping a regular maintained schedule (unlike like her mechanic son :), informed me that she had no idea of what a “tire alignment” was, or for that matter when the last time one was performed. Needless to say, her car was in our service garage the next day for a proper wheel alignment.
And guess what? Her Dodge mini-van drove as straight as an arrow on that same highway!
By now you’re probably guessing that I’m a big advocate for properly maintaining your car’s alignment. Proper wheel alignment is crucial for many reasons, and it’s important to have it done as often as you get your vehicle serviced.
But first, what is wheel alignment?
Simply put, it’s the process of ensuring that the car wheels are perpendicular to the road. It ensures that the wheels are also parallel to each other, that the pressure between them is always constant and that no friction will occur. In layman terms, it’s the process of ensuring that your driving experience will be comfortable and smooth.
Well, there are numerous factors that lead to misalignment, including merely driving your car. Potholes are also one of the primary causes. Improper wheel alignment can cost you a lot and significantly affect your driving performance.
So, why is proper wheel alignment necessary? Here are some of the benefits you may want to know:
Reduced Tire Wear: Premature wear of the tires can be quite costly. One of the major signs of wheel misalignment is uneven and excessive tire wear. If your car isn’t aligned properly, the tires will show wear more quickly as they are not rolling straight. You’ll have to replace them more often which can be very costly. At the end of the day, a proper wheel alignment will save you money.
Improved Gas Mileage: In this day and age, we all look to better our gas mileage and save money. Well, having your wheels aligned properly decreases resistance while rolling which improves your gas mileage. It’s ideally important to ensure that the tires are properly inflated as this will increase gas mileage as well.
Improves Safety: Correct wheel alignment also helps you drive more safely as is reduces tracking problems and improves steering. The enhanced control and handling of your car can help you avoid accidents.
Improves Car Handling: Other major signs of wheel misalignment involve handling your car. These signs can be when the steering wheel pulls to the right or left, if it vibrates or it’s not centered when driving straight ahead. While driving, you may also have a feeling of wandering or looseness. All these signs can be eliminated by proper wheel alignment, eventually providing a smoother ride.
Get an alignment on your maintenance schedule…
If you want your car to perform optimally at all times, you may want to have it regularly maintained. It is advisable to follow the car manufacture’s recommendations as stated in the owner’s manual. However, as a general rule, you should schedule for wheel alignment and checkup every 10,000 miles or at least once a year.
More often than not, car repair service providers include suspension system inspection as part of regular maintenance. This kind of inspection can allow your qualified and certified technician to spot potential issues before they become problematic and costly in the future.
Easy step by step guide on how automotive emissions systems work, though appearances may vary, the process is the same for most vehicles.
Your Car’s Emissions Process
Step 1 – The vehicle computer is responsible for the emissions produced by the internal combustion engine it controls. By using many sensors such as an oxygenor mass air flow, which provide feedback data for the computer to analyze and adjust engine emissions, which are controlled to within manufacturer specifications.
Step 2 – The exhaust system oxygen sensor is designed to sense the amount of oxygen in the exhaust system and send feedback data to the computer.
Step 3 – An EVAP (evaporative emission) solenoid is used to purge raw gas vapor from the fuel tank as to not allow these fumes to enter the atmosphere.
Step 4 – An electronic throttle actuator is designed to move the throttle plate only when the engine can utilize the fuel being consumed. This control helps unneeded emissions when a driver over advances the throttle pedal.
Step 5 – A catalytic converter is utilized to expend un-burnt fuel in the exhaust system. The unit is heated by exhaust gases as thermo reaction heats up to achieve the design goal of lowering exhaust emissions. By using primary and secondary oxygen sensors the efficiency of the catalytic converter is monitored. An electric air pump is sometimes used to help heat up the catalytic converters to optimize efficiency.
Step 6 – The mass air flow sensor monitors airflow that enters the engine by measuring resistance across a hot wire that is cooled while various amounts of air pass over it. This feedback data trims the computers adjustments to further help clean emission output.
Step 7 – The gas cap seals the liquid and fumed gases from escaping the fuel tank. This cap is designed with an automatic tightening mechanism to support a minimum tension the cap must be installed at.
Step 8 – An EGR valve (exhaust gas recirculation) is use to allow engine exhaust to enter the intake manifold of the engine which cools combustion temperatures and lowers emissions.
Emission control systems have been incorporated into automobiles to prevent pollution by limiting the amount of partially burned and evaporated gases into the atmosphere. These systems have been efficient in reducing the air pollution caused by automobiles to a large extent. Increased engine efficiency and lighter vehicle construction has also contributed to helping reduce emissions. The different aspects of emissions are tailpipe emissions, life cycle emissions and evaporative fuel emissions.Unspent fuel vapors are known as the main contributors to air pollution. These omitted gases consist of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
Lifecycle emissions are byproducts which are released into the environment during the manufacturing, maintenance and disposal of the vehicle. These products include volatile solvents such as auto paint and lubricants, manufacturing plant waste, petroleum, heavy metals and many more. The name “catalytic converter” was derived from the operation the device performs. A catalyst material converts partially burned gases to completely burned gases.
Automobiles were first manufactured with exhaust emissions control systems in 1966. Since then, technology has undergone several advancements that have increased the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. Older emission control systems inject air into the exhaust manifold which are known as, air injection reactor (AIR.) The catalytic converter was developed in the early 1970’s when severe air pollution was widespread and was made mandatory by the US government in 1976. An EGR valve is used is to lower KNOX (NO2) gases which occur when the combustion chamber when temperature reaches over 3500°.
Tailpipe emission are measured in parts per million or PPM. The first smog emission test was conducted in the mid 1980’s. Restrictions in smog laws came later which ushered in the use of a dynamo-meter so vehicles could be tested as if they were being driven, the number of gases measured also increased.
Many car owners or truck owners don’t have the single idea that some repairs could be done in their back yard, without having to go to a mechanic. The general idea is that if they break something, it might be better done by the mechanic, so that they could have someone to blame.
However, things are not quite like this. An hour at the mechanic can cost you a lot of money, and most of the times, the repairs are very small – the mechanic will still charge you for an hour, even if the actual repair took just 15 minutes.
All the cars have a headlight, so when the bulb burns, it’s time to have it replaced. It’s actually a very easy procedure, and if you go to a mechanic, you will be charged with an hour of work, no matter if it takes just 10 minutes. This is why you can do it at home, without worrying too much about the costs. Here’s what you need to do:
First of all, you need to know what kind of bulb works for your car. If you don’t know the type, you can take out the bulb from the headlight and take it to the shop to buy exactly what you need. Having the bulb in your hand will help you get exactly what your car needs, without worrying that you’ll get it wrong.
If you don’t know how to take the bulb out, there are plenty of video tutorials in the online environment that can help you with this, taking you through all the necessary steps – removing the cover and unscrewing the bulb and so on.
It’s a sure way to save more than enough money, especially if you need to save something extra.
Fixing a Tire
A flat tire can be the result of more situations – you could have taken a nail in the tire, or it has a pore somewhere and it becomes flat when the car is not rolling. For situations like this, it’s better to have an air compressor that is adequate for pumping up the tires – it’s cheap, it’s small and it’s very easy to use, especially if you’re a woman. This type of compressor will help you pump up the tire until you get with the car to a mechanic to change the tire or fixing the damage that it has.
For using it, all you have to do is connecting it to the car lighter and plug it in the valve of the wheel (tire) – you will soon see that the tire will start pumping up and you’ll be ready to go in no time. However, make sure you don’t pump too much air – the compressor has a scale for showing how many atmospheres are pumped, so don’t go over what your type of car can sustain.
What You Can’t Do
If your car has problems with the engine, it’s better to take it directly to the mechanic. This is because the engine is big and complex and even if you might suspect that something in particular is not working, the best course of action would be to let a professional take a look at it. Not only they are qualified for this type of work, but they will also offer you a warranty for the job done.
Something else that you need to remember is that if you have problems with the break system, it’s also good to take the car or the truck to the mechanic. This can be a DIY project only if you are a mechanic, otherwise it’s not something to play around with.
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