Car Words – Part 3

Posted by: AutoFixit  /  Category: General Car Tips

We’re Going to Have to “ SCAN IT “ –   think of it as, us being able to download what happened ,or observe what various electronically controlled systems in your car are doing during operation. It’s a lot better than guessing what’s wrong with it.


“ E.G.R. VALVE “ – stands for exhaust gas recirculation valve , a engine control that takes unburned exhaust gases and runs that gas back thru the engine to reduce pollutants.


“O-2 SENSOR “ – or oxygen sensor meters oxygen levels in the exhaust gases, allowing the computer to adjust fuel delivery to the engine. the downstream O-2 sensor is strictly a monitor sensor to report catalytic converter efficiency or converter failure. This sensor can damage the catalytic converter, which is a expensive part to replace, BE ADVISED !


“ CATALYTIC CONVERTER “ –  slang term is “ Cat”, is a part of exhaust system that greatly reduces pollutants, thru the use of a catalyst to convert nasty exhaust gases into something less nasty. The converter is costly to replace, typically last 10 years or 100,000 miles, and can be easily damaged if your operate your car in poor running condition. Cost to install a good quality unit in a average car starts in the $350.00 range. There are vehicles that use more than one converter to control emissions, so don’t ignore that check engine light, it can be a expensive mistake.


“ THERMOSTAT “ – is a valve in your cooling system that helps your engine warm up as quickly as possible, today’s car needs to get up to temperature as quickly as possible, so that it can get good fuel economy, produce as little pollution as possible, and so you can get heat from the heater. They should be replaced every couple of years, or anytime your car is not coming up to “ normal operating temperature within 10 minutes operation. This little job ( $50.00 to $90.00 ) will save you fuel, reduce pollutants, and make your winter a little bit warmer.


“ COOLANT “ – the liquid that flows thru your radiator, engine, and heater to control temperature. Coolant should be 50% antifreeze and 50% clean water, because of the potential to cause damage if you mix the wrong types of coolants together, we only recommend using a “ Universal, Global Type coolant which mixes safely with any type of coolant that is in the car prior. BE ADVISED, if you are low on coolant the first thing you may notice is poor heat out of heater. Because the heater is located higher than the engine and radiator, you will lose heating before the engine temperature gauge starts to start running high. Also be aware your engine will be ruined very quickly if it has no coolant. Most cars have aluminum engine parts today, and are often badly damaged with only one incidence of overheated operation. Be ADVISED !


“ SERPINTINE BELT “ – The rubber drive belt that transfers engine power to the belt driven accessories.

These include alternator, power steering pump, water pump, and the a/c compressor pump. Because this belt runs everything, you cannot drive a car without this belt more than a few minutes . Its possible to cause damage  if you run the engine without it, for too long. This belt should last 3 years or 35,000 miles.


“ TIMING BELT “ – Is a rubber drive belt that ties the crankshaft,  and camshaft’s together, it also maintains the cam timing so that’s valves open when they are suppose to, typical service intervals are every 90,000 to as much as 125,000, because in most cases there is little extra labor involved to do the water pump, and thermostat at the same time as timing belt, its often recommended to replace those parts at the same time.  BE ADVISED, a timing belt failure will leave you broke down for sure, the engine cannot run without it. But if your car has a “interference engine “ when the timing belt breaks, to cam timing will change and your pistons and valves will start running into each other, the result being a ruined engine and very expensive repair. If the manufacturer says change belt at a certain mileage point, we want you to change it too.


Car Terms – Continued

Posted by: AutoFixit  /  Category: General Car Tips

” Ball Joint “ – is a part of you suspension that allows for free movement of the suspension both up and down, and back in forth. They do wear out, often are grease able and can fail leaving your vehicle un-drivable and broken down. They tie the suspension together, your safety can be jeopardized if the ball joint fails and you are unable to steer of stop the car properly.


“ Tie Rod “ – is part of your steering system that does wear out, maybe grease able, and because it ties your steering  box to the steer wheels on your car a failure will make your car undrivable at least and in the worst case could cause a accident because you could not steer it. Most cars have multiple tie rods, if they have excess play, they can cause vibration, cause excess tire wear and wheel alignment variation. If they fail while driving you will not be able to steer your car.


“ Strut’s or Shocks “ – are hydraulic devices on each corner of your suspension that dampen the up and down motion of your car as it goes over uneven roads. They typically last 50,000 to 100,000 miles unless damaged and will effect tire wear, handling, controllability  and comfort of ride. When the oil leaks out of them, or they lose they’re gas charge, the car will get bouncy and less controllable indicating its time to replace them. When they are replaced most struts have upper mounts that should be replaced at the same time. When a coil spring is involved in the strut, the spring should be inspected for damage or fatigue and replaced if indicated.


“ Sway Bar, and Sway Bar Links “  – are components that are utilized in your suspension to, reduce body roll when cornering. They wear out and do break, but will typically not make your car undrivable, just less controllable in a turn because of body roll.


“ Hub Bearing “, also called wheel bearing, is a sealed , non serviceable bearing that turns every time your wheel goes around. They will wear out and can get damaged with just normal driving. Because they basically attach the wheels to your car, it is important they are in good working order. A rumbling noise that gets louder the faster you go is a pretty good indicator of a hub bearing that is beginning to fail. Hub bearings will make noise for a very long time before they are unsafe, but if you are experiencing vibration that coincides with the “ rumbling “ noise in your wheels its time to have it replaced. When a hub bearing begins to get loose it can also create problems with you’re A.B.S. system and may even shut A.B.S. system down. If that is the case, again you need to have the bearing unit replaced right away.


“ Brake Rotor “ is a disc shaped cast iron part that is what the brake pads are squeezed against, that is also attached to the wheel hub and goes around when each revolution of the wheel. They do wear out, get too thin from wear to be used again, when replacing brake pads, or get damaged from metal to metal contact when the brake pads wear out or get warped if they are overheated from extreme use. A warped rotor will cause pulsation in your brake pedal while braking, it will make your brake pads wear out faster that they should and if severe it can reduce your ability to stop the car. When brake rotors were big, heavy, and thick cast iron components, we could have them resurfaced at a machine shop if they were warped. Today

because of the reduction in weight that is in a rotor, most damaged rotors are replaced.


“ Brake Pads or Brake Shoes “ – are the part of the brake system that has friction material that is pushed against either the rotor or drum. They are made of various materials today and depending on how you use your vehicle one type or another brake pads maybe indicated. My theory of brakes is to replace pads or shoes when they are half worn out. Because the brakes work cooler when there is lots of friction material left, you will almost never have to replace rotors or calipers because if they don’t get overheated or damaged by metal to metal contact they don‘t go bad.


“ Caliper “ – is a device in your brake system that thru the magic of hydraulics squeezes the brake pads against the rotors causing friction and stopping your car. Calipers get damaged by running your brake pads too far down, by corrosion, and by seal failure. When ever there is a brake fluid leak, it will almost always cause the loss of brake stopping power. Because air will compress and fluid will not, anytime the caliper is replaced, the system must be bled of all air that was introduced during repair.


“ Bleed Brake System “-  is a procedure to remove any air in the hydraulic portion of your brake system. This air may have been introduced into system, when system had to be “ opened “ for service, had a leak in the system because of damage or part failure, or if it is likely that brake system was overheated and the brake fluid may have “ boiled “ at some point. When fluid reaches boiling point gases are created which contaminate the brake fluid.


“ Master Cylinder “ – is the hydraulic pump which applies pressure to your brakes stopping your car. They will leak or wear out with age, when this part of the brake system is failing it usually turns on the brake warning lamp on, or you will experience a “ mushey “or low pedal. If you pump the pedal, the braking may improve, but you may want to have it towed to the shop because its not safe to drive it.


“ Wheel Speed Sensor “ – or ABS sensor, is a tiny generator that produces a voltage signal that varies with wheel speed, it tells the computer how fast each wheel is going constantly, so that your anti-lock brakes and the vehicle traction controls operate when called for because of either wheel skid or wheel slippage.

The most common cause of ABS or TCS faulting is the loss of signal from a wheel speed sensor. There is typically a sensor in each wheel hub, though some truck models or rear wheel drive car only have one speed sensor for the 2 rear wheels. In many vehicles to replace the wheel speed sensor means you have to replace the hub bearing assembly to get it. Those manufacturers designed it built into the bearing assembly.


“ Wheel Cylinder “ – is a small hydraulic slave cylinder that applies the pressure to your brake shoes if you have “ drum brakes “ on your vehicle. Drum brake systems are becoming obsolete now, as more models switch to the 4 wheel disc brake systems, drum brakes are heavy compared to disc systems, they had more moving parts to potentially fail, and in a panic stop from high speed drum brakes had a tendency to “ fade away “ as they built up heat. They tend to leak when you run your brake shoes down too far or your drums were worn to a oversized diameter. In drum brakes none of the components were very expensive to replace, and they lasted a long time with normal use.


“ Proportioning Valve “ – is a control valve that determines how much brake power is sent to front wheels vs. the rear wheels to help stop you quickly and with control. This valve also split’s the front and rear brake hydraulic systems, so that if you have a leak in one end the other half of the brake system still has some stopping ability left. This valve can wear out or get damaged, but failure is rare.


“ Emergency Brake “ – Parking Brake, E-brake, is a mechanical system ( cables ) that will apply some brake pressure to the rear wheels. This system is not effective enough to drive the car safely. It will hold the car in position if its parked on a moderate incline and is better than nothing if your car has a brake system failure. To keep the system functioning you have to use it regularly. BE ADVISED in some model vehicles if you don’t use your parking brakes, the rear brakes do not adjust themselves, so they do not work as well and they will eventually cause excessive wear to other components in your brake system because the rear brakes are so far out of adjustment. We recommend picking a place in your travels where you always set your parking brake, like maybe every time you park in you garage at home till you get the habit. This tip will save you money in future brake repairs if you follow it.

“ Brake Warning Lamp “, -will come on if you are driving with the parking brake on. It also comes on if brake fluid is low, it may only flicker while making a turn in a curve at first. If it comes on because of a loss of brake pressure, it can also mean a loss of the brakes altogether!  If this light is on, pull over now !

Car Terms To Know and Tell

Posted by: AutoFixit  /  Category: General Car Tips

L.O.F. – lubricate chassis, Change oil and filter, some vehicles have no chassis parts that are grease able

A.B.S. – antilock brake system, pumps your brakes for you, allowing faster and more controlled stop.

It works by not allowing brake pressure to lock up, any 1 or more wheels on your car during braking.

Check Engine Lamp – when it stays on after the start check cycle is advising you that there is, or has been a malfunction in your drive train that is causing excess emission of pollutants or a reduction of fuel economy. When the lamp is flashing on and off, it typically means the car has recorded a malfunction that will also effect performance and if not corrected the problem can cause permanent damage to emission control system or the  engine itself. ( other names for this lamp are , M.I.L.”malfunction indicated lamp”, or the”Service Engine Soon”lamp )

S.R.S. – Supplemental Restraint System, safety system commonly called air bags, they can be just inflatable, none reusable air bag cushions that pop out of dash and steering wheel to prevent you body crashing into the inside of your car during a collision. Many cars also have these devices in roof sills, or seat covers for protection during a side impact. These systems also incorporate devices to pre tension seat belts, just prior to air bag deployment which assist in restraining passengers during a collision. On a important note BE AWARE that if the air bag lamp stays on after its start check cycle, or comes on while driving its telling you your air bag system IS NOT WORKING, and needs service RIGHT NOW.

“E.C.M.”, Electronic Control Module, is a computer that controls a system or device that helps us with the operation of your car.

“B.C.M.”, Body Control Module, is a computer that helps control body systems thru out the car.

“P.C.M.”, Programable Control module ,  Is a computer that is programmable by the consumer, such as”memory seats”, climate control, memory mirrors, or audio preferences.

“T.C.S.”, Traction Control System,, Is a system or feature that applies minor brake pressure to the spinning drive wheel so that both drive wheels can be engaged to assist you in low traction driving conditions, also known as when its”slippery out”.

“CRANK SENSOR”, is a magnetic sensor that tells engine control computer where the crankshaft is at anytime during its 360 degrees of rotation.

“CAM SENSOR”, a magnetic sensor that tells computer where camshaft is at anytime during its 360 degrees of rotation.

“M.A.S.”, Mass Airflow Sensor, is a sensor that measures density of air coming into engine, which then allows for controlling fuel / air mixtures to improve engine performance.

“T.P.S.”, Throttle Position Sensor, tells the engine control computer where you have your throttle set at, so that it can adjust fuel flow, and timing according to actual throttle position.

“I.A.C.”, Idle Air Control , Is a electrical part that controls bleed air flow into engine when throttle is in closed position, so that engine idles at a specified engine speed.

“M.A.P.”, Mass Air Pressure sensor, tells engine what barometric air pressure is so engine computer can adjust fuel / air mixture properly for peak efficiency.

Oil Changes, Lubrication, and other car stuff to know and yell!

Posted by: AutoFixit  /  Category: General Car Tips

The way I often describe the lubricants and coolant your car requires is to compare it to the blood in our bodies. If we run out of blood we die within seconds. Well, if we run our engine without oil and coolant in it, it dies within seconds too. Because of this, one should never run a car without being sure the lubricants and coolants levels are full. Having your crankcase full of dirty, broken down oil is still better than no oil at all. I also believe oil gets dirty from the amount of time its been in the crankcase, more than how many miles its been run. We recommend changing oil and filter every 3 months, rather than how many miles its been used. If you use full synthetic oil the cycle time can be extended to 6 months driving quite safely. Its should be noted though, that if you own a car that has a 100,000 miles on it, or “ uses some oil “ just having it changed every 3-6 months is not enough. Someone has to actually check the oil level and fill it back up as it is lost, or you will be driving it without enough oil in it long before your next oil change comes due. When you drive a car till the red oil pressure warning light comes on while its idling, or it flickers when you go around a corners, it means you are running it without oil, at least “some of the time“. This will shorten you engines lifespan and may kill it the first time you let it happen, BE ADVISED.

Coolant is another under hood fluid your engine cannot be without. Back when we all drove cars with cast iron engines if you ran your car up to the red on the temperature gauge, it would often take this abuse with out causing damage. Today our engines are made of aluminum castings and composite plastics. Run this type of engine up to the red even once and you maybe looking at a thousand dollar plus “head gasket“ job. Be aware avoiding this starts with keeping cooling system full of the coolant. There are several types of coolant on the market, we recommend “ global or universal coolant “ only, mixing GM’s “ dexicool “ with the old fashion green coolant we all know, will end up turning the coolant into something that resembles brown muddy sludge, that is costly and almost impossible to flush out when it happens. Using only universal coolant will prevent this from ever happening even if the instant oil change shop puts the wrong type of coolant in, it will mix with any type of coolant. Along with oil and coolant your service should include checking and a “top up“ of transmission fluid, power steering oil, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, differential oil ( with 4 wheel drive vehicles there are usually 2 differentials and a transfer case also) and it should include greasing chassis if it has grease fittings to allow for it. Failure to keep on top of these things will cause irritation, like no washer fluid when you need it, or a brake down because your drive axle bearings failed due to low lubricating oil from a slow leak that did not get topped up soon enough.

When the instant oil shop suggest a new air filter, be aware that a air filter should last a couple years with normal driving, so don’t let them sell you one too often. (they are cheaper at a auto parts store, and most anyone can install it, often it requires no tools ). Cabin air filters are getting more common on cars today, they filter the air coming into the passenger space, they should be changed every year or so. Without being changed regularly cabin filters get pretty skunky, and will start restricting the air needed to properly heat or cool your car inside.

No, it’s NOT a conspiracy, to get us to buy more expensive fuel

Posted by: AutoFixit  /  Category: General Car Tips

If you own a vehicle that says premium fuel only,  use premium. Your car will run on regular, mid-grade, and even flex- fuel (e-85 ). It may even run ok, but if you feed it the wrong grade of fuel, it will not perform as well as it could, your fuel mileage will probably go down, and there is potential to do permanent damage to your engine and its emission control systems. If your car is made for regular fuel, run it on regular. Putting higher octane fuel in your regular fuel car will just waste money, and it won’t make your car more powerful. If your car was designed to run E-85 fuel, you can use that type too. Be advised, E-85 fuel has less BTU’s per gallon, your fuel mileage may go down a little and some cars seems to lose a little power on E-85 fuel. In theory E-85 fuel is a little better for the environment, it produces less carbon dioxide, it is at least partially renewable energy, and it’s often a little cheaper  per gallon. You need to do the math to see if E-85 is a better deal in your car, you may even want to run it all the time if your car was made for it and your cost per mile justifies its use.  Because of the potential to damage the fuel system or engine if you burn E-85 in a car that was not built for it, I do not suggest you use unless the car was specifically made for it.

*Fuel cost per mile formula

Divide the number of miles driven by the cost to replace fuel used to drive those miles

Example – You drove 350 miles on fuel now missing from tank then refilled tank for $35.00, divide miles by penny’s required to replace fuel burned and you get the  number of cents per mile for the miles driven.

350.0 miles divided by 3500.0 cents for the fill up, equals 10 cents a mile for the fuel cost only on this tank of fuel.

*Fuel mileage formula

Divide the number of miles driven by the amount of fuel used to drive those miles

Example – You drove 350.0 miles it took 10.0 gallons to replace fuel burned divide the number of miles by gallons and you get miles per gallon

350.0 miles divided by 10.0 gallons equals 35 miles per gallon

Got Gas? ¼ tank is EMPTY from now on, Okay?

Posted by: JonWhalen  /  Category: General Car Tips

Something to keep in mind, every time you get fuel, you get a little water and contamination with it. The older your car, the more water and contamination ( dirt ) you have in the bottom of your fuel tank. If you run your fuel tank low enough you will suck up water and dirt that’s in the bottom of your tank. Dirt clogs your fuel filter, if you are lucky if not it will get thru the filter and plug up your fuel injector nozzles. Water on the other hand if it’s sucked up by your fuel pump will freeze, if its cold enough out. It is very hard to force thru the fuel filter, and won’t burn if it gets thru the filter and to the injectors anyway. If you have a clogged fuel filter, clogged fuel injectors, or your fuel pump dies from having to pump water or dirt thru it, your car may not run at all. Your car may have poor performance, have drivability issues, and you may even suffer with reduced fuel mileage. To lessen the likely hood of these problems I strongly suggest you consider using ¼ tank on the fuel gauge, as your new empty mark and only operate on the fuel a ¼ tank and up. On top of the contamination issues “ lurking “, in the bottom of your fuel tank, there is another potential problem you will be avoiding. A fuel pump gets hot when its running, especially if its struggling to pull fuel from the tank bottom, what cools the fuel pump is the actual fuel the pump is operating in.When you run the tank way down, there is nothing to cool it. the pump overheats and that drastically shortens its life. Fuel pump replacement can run into the $500.00 range, do yourself a favor keep it covered with the fuel in your tank, and you may never need one. If you still find yourself running on empty once and awhile, do yourself a different favor, have your fuel filter replaced every year or so. You can also add “ Dry Gas “,  its main ingredient isopropyl alcohol, which will absorb water in your tank and allow you to get rid of it. A treatment four times a year is usually enough, its sold under many names that all  do the same thing, you can get it at the gas station, a auto parts store, and even a lot of grocery stores carry it in the winter time. A bottle that treats a tank of gas should be less than $3.00, which is cheap insurance.

The darker the color, the harder it gets!

Posted by: JonWhalen  /  Category: Paint Department

When you pick a color for your car, you also set yourself up for how much work it will be to keep it looking nice.  A white care looks nice when you wash it, a jet black one looks like it needs to be waxed & polished after you wash it.  Tri-coat or pearl colors look cool in the right light, and attract lots of attention.  They are also very difficult to match and may require lots of color blending to look right, and can be twice as expensive to repaint as a normal color when it gets damaged.  We suggest staying away from “fad” colors you may like, like orange, yellow, lime green, or purple.  They all look cool when they’re new and that color is “in style”, but not everyone will drive a car that is “different”.  With these colors when the “fad” gets stale, it means you may not be able to sell or trade it in for as much as a normal color car of the same model.  Interior colors and fabrics often have the same effect on how much work will be required to keep it looking nice.  Light color interiors look dirty quickly with even light use, if you allow eating, drinking, kids, pets, or cargo in your car, stains will quickly appear that will require professional cleaning to get out.  Leather feels nice and looks plush, but its cold in the winter, and hot in the summer.  Leather is also easily damaged and very expensive to repair.   If you haul kids or pets, I think having a leather interior is the only thing worse than having that light tan or beige interior.

Jan. 18, 2011 – Insurance Coverage Explained

Posted by: JonWhalen  /  Category: Insurance

They’re using those “insurance words” on me again!

“Full Coverage”,  MEANS , You have insurance to cover up to , the actual market value of your vehicle .This is only true once you have satisfied the portion of risk you have contracted to be responsible for if a covered loss occurs. That risk is commonly called your ” deductible “.

“Deductible”,MEANS , the portion of risk you have contracted with your insurance company to self insure before your insurance coverage kicks in and pays you benefits.

“Collision Coverage”,MEANS , you have coverage for collision damage , up to the actual market value of your vehicle.

“Comprehensive Coverage”, MEANS , you have coverage for damage caused by ” acts of nature “, fire , theft , vandalism, and damage caused by mechanical component failure. this coverage is also limited to the actual market value of your vehicle.

“Broad Form Collision Coverage”, MEANS , that if you have a collision loss that is not your fault , you bought coverage that

includes paying for damage , from the first dollar of covered loss. In other words you have ” no deductible ” to pay with this type of coverage.

“Standard or Basic Collision Coverage”, MEANS , you always have to pay the deductible amount you chose when you bought the insurance,before your collision insurance will pay anything on a collision loss.This is true whether you are at fault or not with this type of coverage.

“Limited Collision Coverage”, MEANS , you only have collision insurance when a

collision loss happens and ” it’s not ” your fault. A collision loss that ” is ” your fault has no coverage at all. When a ” covered loss ” happens, it’s limited to the actual market value of your vehicle and may have a deductible that applies before coverage kicks in. This depends on the coverage you chose when you bought the policy.

“PL / PD Coverage”, MEANS, {Property Loss / Property Damage}, MEANS , You only have insurance to cover damage you cause to others , property or person. It means you have no coverage on your property if a loss occurs , at all.

“Gap Insurance”, MEANS , you have insurance to pay off your vehicle loan if a property loss occurs and the colateral ( your car ) has depreciated more than what you still owe on it. Remember insurance coverage is limited to the actual market value of your car , not what you owe yet. I advise you want this kind of insurance anytime you might owe more on a car than it’s actual market value , because your insurance company in a total loss situation won’t be giving you enough to pay it off.

“Rental car coverage”, MEANS , you purchased a rider on your vehicle insurance policy that provides you with a predetermined dollar amount per day to rent a vehicle while your’s is in the shop for repair of a ” covered loss ” , or if your vehicle is undrivable because of a ” covered loss “.Most of these riders for rental are limited to a maximum benefit of 30 days, and only cover the amount of money per day that you chose when you bought the policy.

“Betterment cost”, MEANS , when the insurance company pays to fix something that got damage on your car from a covered loss. And they fix it to a level thats better than what that item was prior the loss , the insurance company may or may not access a portion of that repair cost to the insured. They justify betterment on the clause in your vehicle policy that says they owe you the money to return your vehicle back to the condition it was in prior the loss . And they ” can ” access the insured for costs required if the indicated repairs take the car to a ” higher ” quality level than it was prior covered loss.

“Depreciation cost”, MEANS , the amount of cost for a ” wear item ” being access to the insured when that item is replaced with a new component because of a covered loss. Example : A tire thats half worn out is ruined when the accident happens, and a new tire is installed, the insurance company will only pay for the portion of tire thats left,so you would be expected to pay for half the tire expense. Betterment is normally accessed on items like tires , batteries , audio systems, shocks , struts , steering parts and driveline components that have a lifespan thats less than the life of the vehicle.