Wednesday, February 8, 2012 12:43
Wash them all you want, but cars are dirty. Don’t think so? Work on yours and you’ll see. Grease and oil might keep your car running smoothly, but they’re a pain to clean up. Degreasers can make any job easier by letting you sluice the grime off the parts before you work on them, and helping you clean up afterward.
Multi-purpose degreasers come in handy spray cans and can be used to clean engines, parts, and painted concrete floors. Along with a stiff bristle brush they can clean up oil spots on concrete driveways, too.
Engine cleaning is the most common use for degreasers. Start by parking your car where the run-off won’t flow into sewers or onto areas where animals might drink it. Get a pair of heavy rubber gloves and some safety glasses to protect your eyes against splashback.
Warm up the engine for a few minutes, then shut it off, disconnect the battery, and cover all open air intakes and exposed electronics with plastic bags held in place with tape or rubber bands.
Spray degreaser on the engine, working from top to bottom. Avoid getting any on painted surfaces. Let the degreaser sit for a while to do its work, then rinse it off with a steady stream of water––a spray nozzle might splash degreaser on painted parts.
Uncover the intakes and electrics, hook the battery up, and you’re ready to roll.
Thursday, January 26, 2012 13:11
Ask any number of car fans about which engine oil is best and you might get the same number of different answers––but everyone will agree that the most important thing about engine oil is to have enough of it in your engine all the time. The same goes for coolant, and other engine fluids and lubricants too.
In the old days, gas-station attendants (remember them?) would check your engine oil for free. These days it’s up to you. While your gas is pumping is a good time to do it. Checking engine oil levels frequently––especially if your car or truck is older with higher mileage––will give you a better idea of whether your engine is using oil, and how fast. No one wants to get the stink-eye from the check-engine light late some night when you’re miles from home or help, but tracking and diagnosing engine oil loss can help identify a more serious problem under the hood. More...
Thursday, January 12, 2012 03:50
Belts and hoses don’t cost much individually, but if one of them fails you could be in for a huge bill to replace an overheated engine, or at the very least for an expensive ride on a tow truck to a repair shop. But unlike some systems on your car, which require electronic diagnostic tools to check and adjust, belts and hoses can be checked visually, in some instances in less time than it takes to read this article.
Start with the belts. Older cars might have as many as three belts driving the alternator, the air-conditioning compressor, and power steering pump. Later-model cars use a single belt, called a serpentine belt, which drives all of the auxiliary systems.
Both kinds of belts should be checked for cracks, uneven wear, and stripping—all are indications of impending failure—and checked for the right tension. A screeching sound coming from under the hood is a sure sign a belt is loose and slipping. During an engine oil change is a great time to inspect and replace accessory belts or, if necessary, adjust their tension to the specs in the shop manual.
The hoses everyone thinks of first are those that route coolant to and from the engine and radiator. But there are also hoses that send hot coolant to the heater core. Leaky hoses usually give themselves away by leaving a puddle of coolant on the ground, but by then it’s almost too late. Failure is right around the corner, if not closer. Check the hoses by hand, when they’re cool, to see if you feel any fluid on them, and check the clamps at either end of the hoses. Hoses that bulge when the engine is hot are likewise ticking time bombs.
Friday, November 25, 2011 07:00
It’s easy to ignore what those first few frosty mornings mean, but now, with cold, wet weather pummeling the nation, it’s time to accept it––winter has arrived. Along with it come driving conditions your car never encountered during the summer, so now’s the time to get ready for slippery roads, poor visibility, and extreme temperatures. Real Car Guys don't walk through malls on days like today. Work off Thanksgiving with some "Black Friday thru Cyber Monday" weekend car care for drama-free winter driving:
First off, take a look at your tires. Tread depth is vital to good traction on wet or icy roads, so make sure you have enough to make it through the winter. If your tires are worn, replace them now. You might need to adjust your tires pressure for colder temperatures, too. And don’t forget to check the pressure in your spare tire.
Next, get an oil and filter change. Cold starts are hard on engines, and fresh oil goes a long way toward minimizing the wear that can result. If the local conditions require it, change the viscosity to one recommended for colder temperatures. More...