Hot Weather: The True Culprit Behind Car-Battery Trouble
main-te-nance: 1. continuing repair work: work that is done regularly to keep a machine, building, or piece of equipment in good condition and working order (often used before a noun ) For example: “We take the car in for maintenance every six months.”
Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, damaging the internal structure of the battery. It can also cause the voltage regulator in the charging system to malfunction, which allows too high a charging rate. That’s slow death for a battery.
Colder temperatures can also cause battery-related starting issue. In cold weather, a battery’s output is diminished because of sluggish electro-chemical action which normally gives the battery its power. Also, colder temperatures increase the thickness of the engine oil, making the engine harder to turn over. These factors lead to harder starting.
“An average of one out of four vehicles gets a new battery every year,” says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Sooner or later all batteries have to be replaced, but having to do so prematurely can involve more than the cost of a road service call and a new battery, it can be inconvenient as well.”
To get the most out of your car battery, Rich White suggests the following:
● Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.
● If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.
● Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
● Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power.
● Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.
Cold Facts About A/C Refrigerant
How did we ever get along without air conditioning in our cars? It’s a feature we take for granted until, suddenly, it’s blowing hot air. In the past few years, many owners have discovered that fixing an inoperative air conditioner can cost a few hundred dollars or more, depending upon the make and model of vehicle.
The reason is that the old standby R-12 refrigerant, trade named DuPont Freon, has been replaced by R-134a. Touted as being environmentally safer than its predecessor, R-134a has been standard since ’94.
If your older vehicle needs major repairs to the air conditioning system, you can expect to replace refrigerant and the oil in the compressor in addition to the old components. You also may need to install a retrofit conversion. It’s best to do this before the Georgia summer starts, which is why you should stop by Savannah Car Care ASAP to get the job done.
Do not allow anyone to mix refrigerants; they’re not interchangeable. Furthermore, you cannot add R-134a to your older air conditioner without first flushing the system. According to the Car Care Council, some substitutes are volatile mixtures of propane, butane, and flammable hydrocarbons. Keep in mind the fact that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, you’re damaging the ozone layer.
Spring Showers Bring Driving Safety Hazards
Worn out tires and windshield wiper blades are symptoms of neglected vehicle maintenance that put drivers and passengers at serious risk during the typically rainy months of spring.
Thin tire treads create hazardous driving conditions when water builds up on the roadway, according to the Car Care Council. Deep tread accommodates accumulated water; thin tread does not. Thin tread causes the tire to hydroplane, which is when you ride up on a film of water, losing contact with the pavement, and drift — similar to driving on ice.
The simplest way to check tire tread depth is with a penny. Insert the penny into the grooves of the tread. If you are able to see all of Lincoln’s head, the tire needs replacement.
Rainy weather also affects driver visibility. Because 90 percent of driving decisions depend on good vision, a clean windshield is imperative. Streaking and smearing impair vision and are caused by worn windshield blades. One out of every five vehicles that went through the Car Care Council’s check lanes had worn wiper blades.
“Replacing worn wiper blades is easy and inexpensive,” says Rich White of the Car Care Council. “Why put it off until there’s a downpour and your blades are chattering and smearing the windshield?
He couldn’t be more correct. You don’t want to endure a rainy spring in Georgia with barely functional windshield wipers. This not only makes your situation dangerous, but it also endangers everyone else on the road. Stop by our auto repair shop to make sure your vehicle is ready for the wet season.
Are Dirty Cabin Air Filters Preventing You From Breathing Easily in Your Car?
During the hot summer months, contaminants, such as pollen, dust, mold spores, and smog can easily enter a vehicle’s passenger compartment through the ventilation systems, making the air in the car six times dirtier than the air outside.
Motorists can protect themselves and their passengers from these containments by replacing the vehicle’s cabin air filter annually, or even more often in areas with heavy containments. You should also do this whenever heating or cooling efficiency is reduced for any reason.
Cabin air filters clean the incoming air and remove allergens, which is especially beneficial to people who suffer from allergies. If your vehicle model is from 2000 or beyond, there’s a good chance it is equipped with a cabin air filter.
“There are about 30 million vehicles in North America that currently have cabin air filters,” says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “However, most people have never heard of a cabin air filter or don’t know if their vehicle is equipped with one. Vehicle owners should refer to their owners’ manuals for this information.”
If the cabin air filter is not replaced, it can cause musty odors in the vehicle, and over time, the heater and air conditioner may become damaged by corrosion. A dirty or clogged cabin air filter can also cause contaminants to become so concentrated in the cabin that passengers actually breathe in more fumes and particles when riding in the car compared to walking down the street.
Make sure you have healthy air quality in your car. You’ve only got one life, and we can’t afford to reduce the quality of it by ignoring easy car maintenance. Stop by our auto repair shop to ensure that your cabin filter isn’t reducing your car’s air quality.
Proper Washing And Waxing Add Value To a Vehicle
More than one-third of car owners use damaging non-automotive products when washing their cars — products that could contain harmful detergents, abrasives, and additives. And almost half of motorists don’t ever wax their vehicles.
Jeffrey Webb, director of retail marketing at Turtle Wax, Inc., says this of waxing — “Waxing at least twice a year is recommended for maximum protection, yet surveys show that 48 percent of motorists don’t wax their vehicles at all. That’s leaving money on the table at trade-in time, as a clean, well-maintained car can be worth up to 50 percent more than one in ‘fair’ condition, according to the Kelley Blue Book.”
Motorists should avoid dish detergent, which contains harsh chemicals that, will strip away the wax finish on your car, being originally designed to cut through grease. Some are hard to rinse off and leave streaks. For best results, a formulated automotive wash is recommended, one that gently lifts the dirt and grime while protecting the finish.
Washing an automobile on a regular basis protects it from the natural elements that harm the finish. The Car Care Council recommends the following dos and don’ts when it comes to a do-it-yourself car wash:
- DON’T wash cars in direct sunlight. DO wash cars in shade or in cooler temperatures in the early morning or late afternoon.
- DON’T use dish detergent. DO use a formulated car wash.
- DO fill your bucket with warm water.
- DO use a soft terrycloth towel or washing mitt.
- DO spray the car often with water.
- DON’T scrub the car all at once. DO complete one section at a time, rinsing repeatedly to prevent the soap from drying on the paint.
- DO use soft terrycloth towels or scratch-free fabric to dry the vehicle.
- DON’T neglect waxing the vehicle. DO prep the car for waxing using cleaner/polish to remove contaminants.
“The myth of not having to wax your car because you have a clear-coat finish is just that, a myth,” says Webb. “Clear-coat finish is only as thick as a piece of paper and can become damaged from the effects of sunlight, UV radiation, acid rain, salt, dirt, and air pollution.”
An average of 13,000 Americans are killed between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, some a result of unperformed vehicle maintenance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Each year, neglected maintenance leads to more than 2,600 deaths and nearly 100,000 disabling injuries. Additionally, it also leads to more than $2 billion in lost wages, medical expenses, and property damage.
Most mechanical failures can be traced to neglected maintenance. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports the leading cause of mechanical breakdown on our nation’s highways is overheating, a condition that is easily avoidable.
Other deficiencies that are simple to detect include low antifreeze/coolant, worn or loose drive belts, and defective cooling system hoses. Checking tire pressure and inflating a tire costs nothing, yet an average of 21 percent of cars inspected in check lanes during National Car Care Month have underinflated tires. This can lead to a blowout and a serious accident.
There are many tragic accidents that, tragically, could have been entirely preventable. While many are afraid of the monetary cost which accompanies auto checkups, there is a much greater price to pay if unexpected auto failure leads to disaster. You could be looking at thousands in repair costs, or it could cost you something far more valuable — your life.
Fuel Saving Tips:
MPG Penalty up to
|Under inflated tires||Increase rolling resistance||1-2 mpg|
|Dirty air filter||Causes excessively rich fuel/air mixture||2.0 mpg|
|Worn spark plugs||Cause inefficient combustion, wasted fuel||2.0 mpg|
|Worn O2 sensor||Unable to detect and adjust air/fuel mixture||3.0 mpg|
|Dirty or substandard engine oil||Increases internal engine friction||.4 mpg|
|Loose gas cap||Allows fuel to evaporate||2.0 pg|
|Potential loss in fuel economy||11.4 mpg|
The Car Care Council offers these fuel-saving tips:
- Vehicle Gas Caps: About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose, or missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
- Underinflated Tires: When tires aren’t inflated properly it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
- Worn Spark Plugs: A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat as well as electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Dirty Air Filters: An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust, and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture — too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 20 cents a gallon.
Fuel-saving driving tips include:
- Don’t be an Aggressive Driver: Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 10 to 66 cents per gallon.
- Avoid Excessive Idling: Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
- Observe the Speed Limit: Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.
- Maintain Your Wipers: In the 2001 National Car Care Month vehicle check lanes, 21 percent of participants had wipers that smeared, streaked or chattered across their windshields. Although climates vary, wipers generally need replacing every six months. An easy reminder is to change wiper blades in the spring and fall when you change your clock.
- Lighting: Another important pre-trip check should be exterior and interior lighting. Vehicle check lanes revealed an overall failure rate of over 25 percent in the lighting category. The Car Care Council reminds motorists to check their lights monthly. Other suggestions from the Council include turning on headlights both day and night. This helps define your car’s position on the road and its distance from other drivers. When your vehicle’s lighting is defective, other motorists may not get the message that you intend to stop or turn. The end result could be disastrous.
A 10 Minute Pre-Trip Checkup Can Pay Off!
The Car Care Council offers three suggestions for a traveler’s 10-minute pre-trip checklist:
Check All Fluids: There are several fluids (in addition to antifreeze) that require attention, such as engine oil, power steering, transmission fluids, windshield washer solvent, and antifreeze/coolant.
Check Hoses and Belts: A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning, and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps in marginal condition might need to be replaced.
Check the Tires: Check tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, indicating the need for wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.
Remember these words from Rich White: “While a last minute checkup is better than no checkup, motorists should plan ahead to allow time to perform necessary maintenance themselves or at the local service facility. A properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable and will even save a few dollars at the gas pumps.”
Not only can a pre-trip inspection help reduce the chances of costly and possibly dangerous road trouble, but it also provides an opportunity to have repairs made at home, with one’s own mechanic who knows the vehicle. Especially important, it provides peace of mind. While no inspection can guarantee a car’s performance, it’s comforting to know proper precautions were taken.
Want to take your car in for a more comprehensive, professional checkup? Improve the longevity of your car by bringing it into Savannah Car Care today. We offer just about every auto service under the sun, and we make sure that every single one of our Georgia clients drives out with a reliable, problem-free vehicle. Contact us for a free quote!