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Posts Tagged ‘Car Care Aware’

BELTS AND HOSES: What affects them and resulting symptoms

What are they?
You car’s belts and hoses are essential to the cooling, air conditioning and charging systems, and the engine. Don’t take these routine replacement intervals for granted because they can break down and leave you stranded.

What do they do?

The timing belt keeps the crankshaft and camshaft mechanically synchronized to maintain engine timing. Whether serpentine, V-belt or fan belt (the belts on the outside of the engine), they all transmit power from the front of the engine to accessories that need to be driven, such as the air conditioning, the charging system and fans. Radiator and heater hoses carry coolant to and from the engine, radiator and heater core.

Typical Wear and Tear
Key items that affect the replacement interval for belts and hoses:

  • Vehicle age
  • Electrolytic corrosion
  • Mileage
  • Oil contamination
  • Belt tension
  • Failed hose clamps

Symptoms

  • Squeaking noise from under the hood during start-up or operation
  • Coolant leaks
  • Dashboard light will illuminate
  • A/C System may fail
  • Engine overheating
  • Smell of burnt rubber

FUEL SYSTEM: What affects it and the resulting issues

You car’s fuel system works with the rest of the engine control system to deliver the best performance with the lowest emissions. Check your car’s fuel system regularly or immediately if you smell gas or suspect a problem.

The fuel system transfers fuel from the fuel tank and passes it through a fuel filter for straining before it arrives at the injectors. A pressure regulator controls fuel pressure to ensure good engine performance under a variety of speed and load conditions. Fuel injectors, when activated, spray a metered amount of fuel into the engine. Some vehicles use a return line system to return unused fuel back to the tank.

Typical Wear and Tear
Intervals for fuel system maintenance may be influenced by:

  • Fuel quality
  • Vehicle age
  • Mileage/time
  • Operating conditions
  • Maintenance history

Symptoms

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Vehicle won’t start
  • “Check Engine” light is illuminated

TRANSMISSION: What affects it and the resulting issues

The transmission works with the engine to provide power to you car’s wheels. Whether automatic or manual, the transmission plays a major role in the overall performance of your car. Make sure to check it at the first sign of problems.

A transmission/transaxle keeps the engine’s output optimally matched to the speed and load conditions. The torque converter, connected to the automatic transmission/transaxle input shaft, connects, multiplies and interrupts the flow of engine torque into the transmission. Universal and/or Constant Velocity (CV) joints connect to the driveshaft to transmit output power from the transmission to the rear axle on rear-wheel-drive cars and the front axle on front-wheel-drive cars. These joints also allow the driveshaft and/or CV shaft to work at an angle. The several different types of automatic transmission fluid serve multiple purposes: cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish buildup and continually protects the transmission.

Typical Wear and Tear
Wear and tear on the transmission can be influenced by:

  • Driving habits
  • Towing or excessive loads
  • Operating conditions
  • Condition of the transmission fluid
  • Frequency of regular maintenance

Symptoms

  • Slipping
  • Hesitation
  • Bucking
  • Grinding gears
  • Difficulty shifting

FILTERS: What affects them and the resulting symptoms

Your car’s filters are important to the longevity of your car and interior comfort. Maximize your car investment by replacing filters regularly.

The oil filter traps contaminants, allowing the oil to flow through the engine unrestricted. The fuel filter separates harmful contaminants that may cause problems with carburetors or intricate fuel injectors. The air filter traps dirt particles, which can cause damage to engine cylinders, walls, pistons and piston rings. The air filter also plays a role in keeping contaminants off the airflow sensor (in fuel-injected cars). The cabin filter helps trap pollen, bacteria and dust that may find their way into a car’s ventilation system. Many people don’t realize they have this filter.

Typical Wear and Tear
Filters are normal wear items that require regular checks and replacement. Factors that affect replacement intervals include:

  • Mileage
  • Driving habits
  • Driving and road conditions
  • Type of filter
  • Vehicle type

Symptoms

  • Poor gas mileage
  • Hesitation while accelerating
  • Musty odor in the cabin

ENGINE COOLING SYSTEM: What affects it and the resulting symptoms

What is it?
The engine cooling system affects your car’s overall dependability and engine longevity. Cooling systems have declined over the years with new coolant formulations and new radiator designs and materials. If you suspect a problem with your cooling system, you should check it immediately.

What does it do?
The key parts of the cooling system remove heat from the engine and automatic transmission and dissipate heat to the air outside. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat and returns it to the radiator where heat is dissipated. The thermostat regulates the coolant temperature to keep it consistent for efficient engine operation.

Typical Wear and Tear
Factors that affect the replacement of cooling system parts include:

  • Driving habits
  • Operating conditions
  • Type of vehicle
  • Type of coolant
  • Frequency of regular maintenance such as coolant changes

Symptoms:

  • Overheating
  • Sweet smell
  • Leaks
  • Repeatedly need to add fluid

EMISSION SYSTEM: What affects it and resulting symptoms

What is it?
Your car’s emission system keeps the engine running cleanly and efficiently in all sorts of operating conditions. A steady or flashing warning light on your vehicle dashboard indicates a problem that is currently happening and may require immediate attention. Failure to do so can reduce your gas mileage or cause your vehicle to pollute.

Your car’s emission system controls the emissions, exhaust and pollutants (including gasoline vapors escaping from the fuel tank), using an array of sensors, computerized engine controls and the exhaust components. The emission system substantially reduces harmful gases such as carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and, by law, must be maintained in operating condition.

Typical Wear and Tear
Some factors affecting the emission system include:

  • Driving and atmospheric conditions
  • Mileage
  • Vehicle age
  • Type of spark plug electrode material
  • Poor vehicle maintenance
  • Poor quality fuel
  • Damaged or worn sensors
  • Dry-rotted or cracked vacuum hoses

BRAKE SYSTEM: What affects it and resulting symptoms

What is it?
Your car’s brake system is its most critical safety system and you should check it immediately if you suspect any problems. A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle control and operation under a wide variety of conditions.

What does it do?
When you push the brake pedal, the force generates hydraulic pressure in the master cylinder. This pressure flows through the hydraulic lines and hoses to the wheel cylinders and calipers, forcing the shoes against the drums (drum brakes) and the pads against the rotors (disc brakes). The resulting friction slows the vehicle and is relative to the amount of force applied at the brake pedal.

Typical Wear and Tear
Brakes are a normal wear item for any car and eventually they’re going to need replacement. Avoid letting your brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point, which usually means rotor or drum replacement. Factors that affect wear include driving habits and quality of brake pads and shoes.

Symptoms

  • Car pulls to one side during braking
  • Pulsating brake pedal or steering wheel shake
  • Brake pedal feels “mushy”
  • Unusual noise when you step on the brake pedal
  • Repeatedly need to add brake fluid to the master cylinder
  • Brake fluid sprayed onto outside of wheel
  • Unusual odor or noise