Monthly Archives: August 2016

Is Synthetic Oil Important

If your car’s owner’s manual says it does, you do.

For many consumers, whether to spend extra money for synthetic oil for an oil change is a difficult question to answer.

Manufacturers of synthetic oil promise more miles and better performance when compared with conventional motor oil, but it comes at a higher cost — sometimes twice as much per oil change. Is it worth the extra money?

Typically, high-performance vehicles will be more likely to require synthetic oil, as will vehicles that have a turbocharged or supercharged engine. However, if your vehicle does not require synthetic oil, the choice is trickier – and there is no clear answer.

Synthetic oil generally resists breaking down for longer than conventional motor oil (typically 7,500 miles to 10,000 miles, sometimes up to 15,000 miles, as opposed to 3,000 miles to 7,500 miles for conventional oil). That makes the extra cost a wash, if you have half the number of oil changes, but each one costs you twice as much. Other touted benefits include cleaner engines, better flow in cold temperatures, better protection when it’s hot outside and better performance with turbocharged engines.

There are also synthetic blends. As the name implies, these are blends of synthetic and conventional oils. They straddle a middle ground — they cost more than conventional oils but less than full synthetics, and are said to last longer than conventional oils but not quite as long as synthetics — but again, that’s a hard number to pin down since manufacturers are vague with their claims. An independent testing lab we spoke with said that synthetics often didn’t perform much better than conventional oils do.

Still, older engines may benefit from synthetics because it is less likely to form sludge.

If your car doesn’t require synthetic oil you should perform a cost/benefit analysis, but that can be difficult to do due to vague claims made by manufacturers. There may be no reason to spend more on synthetic oil, except for peace of mind.

Car Beat At The Summer

Temperatures this June hit higher than average on all but three days in parts of the U.S., according to the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel, and this pattern is expected to continue throughout the summer. How can you help your car beat the heat? Here are some tips to keep your car — and your passengers — cool and protected.

Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to helping your car survive a hot summer. Start under the hood. Look for battery corrosion, as the heat raises the internal temperature of the battery and speeds up corrosion on the terminals. According to research by Interstate Batteries, more than 30 percent of vehicles with batteries 3 years or older experience battery failure, so get older batteries tested by a technician.

Check your vehicle’s fluid levels, particularly the engine oil and coolant. You’ll also want to inspect coolant hoses for wear and tear and look for leaks, which typically develop near hose clamps, the radiator and the water pump. Other levels to check include brake, transmission and power-steering fluids. Taking care of routine maintenance before a trip is a good way to avoid becoming one of the travelers this summer who will need to have their broken-down car towed for repairs, as AAA estimated 3.5 million needed in 2013.

Tires

Driving with properly inflated tires will help reduce the risk of tire blowouts and lengthen their life. An under-inflated tire generates more heat, which adds to already-hot summer temperatures and causes them to wear out quicker.

Consumer Reports and heat transfer experts C, G, & J Inc. recommend checking your vehicle’s tire pressure in the morning or when the tires have been sitting for more than three hours, as tire pressure recommendations are based on the tires being “cold.” Tire pressure can change 1 pound per square inch for every 10-degree change in air temperature. So if the temperature rises 30 degrees during the day, the tire pressure will increase 3 psi.

Keep tires inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level, which is located on the tire information sticker on the driver’s doorjamb or in the owner’s manual. Make sure to check the tire pressure at least monthly, if not more often, as tires tend to lose 1 psi per month.

Air Flow

It’s hard for most of us to imagine driving around in the heat without air conditioning. To keep that cold air pumping through a heatwave, make sure there is enough refrigerant in your car’s air-conditioning system. A technician will be able to tell if there’s a leak in the system.

Leaving windows cracked or vents opened will also allow hot air to escape, according to sustainable chemistry corporation BASF, and if time isn’t a factor, opening all the doors to let more heat out is recommended before entering your car.

Keep the Cabin Cool

Leather and vinyl seats can get really hot — even when parked in the shade. I recently got into my SUV dressed in shorts and quickly remembered how hot seats can get. Parking in the shade will help keep the cabin cooler, but to keep the parts of the car you come in contact with from getting too hot, BASF suggests draping towels on the seats and steering wheel.

 

It may seem obvious to park in the shade on a hot day, but this does more for your vehicle than just keep it cooler for your return. Parking in the shade helps preserve the color of the upholstery and the appearance of trim pieces, and a cooler cabin also means less work for the air-conditioning system when you’re ready to drive again.

If parking fully in the shade isn’t an option, try to position the front of the car away from the sun to keep the front seats and steering wheel cooler. Some cars have rear sunshades that can be pulled up when needed, but an accessory windshield shade can also help keep the cabin cooler when parked. A more expensive option is window tinting, but some states have laws limiting how dark tinting can be.

Replace a Damaged Wheel

unduhan-18If it’s cosmetic or superficial damage, such as from scraping a curb, the wheel is probably still round and has no bent sections or chunks of metal missing. On the other hand, if the wheel is bent, cracked or structurally weakened from hitting a massive pothole, running over a steep curb or some other mishap, it may need to be replaced, though it could possibly be repaired.

A dented wheel may not be able to maintain a seal with the tire bead, resulting in consistent slow leaks or blowouts, and will be difficult if not impossible to balance so that it doesn’t vibrate at speed. A wheel with structural damage could eventually break apart. When in doubt about the severity of damage, a mechanic experienced in assessing wheel damage should inspect the entire wheel with the tire removed.

Whether to repair or replace a damaged wheel is often a judgment call, but because it involves safety issues as well as cosmetic concerns, the best course is to err on the side of safety.

Repair services that promise to restore badly damaged wheels to like-new condition might be able to remove dents and bends and make a rim look great again. However, there are no federal safety standards that apply to refurbished wheels, so you’ll be taking your chances as to whether they’ll still have their original strength and integrity.

Repairing more than superficial damage will not be an easy do-it-yourself project. Heat and specialized machines are used to straighten bends, and a complete refurbishment involves removing all paint and protective coatings, repairing corrosion and physical damage, then applying new coatings.

The cost of repairing a car wheel will vary by size, type and amount of damage, and it might approach the price of a new or used replacement. Many original-equipment alloy wheels can cost hundreds of dollars (even thousands in the case of luxury and sports cars) to replace, so buying a used one can save money. However, it might be hard to determine if a used wheel had prior damage and is refurbished.

Brakes Squealing

If you’re lucky, the squealing (or squeaking) noise that your brakes make when you first drive your car in the morning, particularly after rain or snow, is just surface rust being scraped off the rotors by the pads the first few times you apply the brake pedal, or the result of moisture and dirt that collects on the rotors, including from condensation caused by high humidity. If it goes away after a few brake applications, no worries.

If the noise persists most times or every time you apply the brakes or stays on continuously while you’re driving, the cause is more serious — and the fix will be more expensive.

A continuous high-pitched squeal while you’re driving is usually the sound of a built-in wear indicator telling you that it’s time for new pads. As the pads wear down and get thinner, a small metal tab contacts the rotor like a needle on a vinyl record to warn you it’s time for new pads. (Some wear indicators may work differently and engage only when you apply the brakes.)

Other squeals and squeaks will require a brake inspection to diagnose, and may require cleaning, lubrication or adjustment, and possibly new parts. Most brake noise is caused by worn or loose parts.

For example, an unevenly worn rotor (often referred to as “warped”) won’t let the brake pads press flat against the rotor when you apply the brakes, and that can create vibrations that generate noise. Likewise, an unevenly worn pad won’t press tightly against the rotor and may chirp. Another possibility is that the pads are loosely mounted, or the shims that hold them in place have corroded or become loose.

And then there are the pads themselves. Some mechanics warn that bargain-bin pads are more likely to be noisier than higher-quality, more-expensive pads. In addition, loose or sticking calipers can contribute noise.

Because there are several possibilities, and because brakes are a crucial safety feature, it is best to have a pro diagnose noise.

A grinding sound usually means that the pads have worn away, and now the backing plates on which they were mounted are being squeezed against the rotor. This metal-to-metal contact means that you will need to replace the rotor as well — and that you probably ignored some earlier warning signs of brake wear.