13 Nov

Should I Have My Brakes Bled?

Question: The owner’s manual for my car recommends too bleed my brakes every two years. Should I bleed my brakes as suggested in the manual?

Answer: Changing the brake fluid in your car will preserve the braking system. If your car has an ABS system or anti lock brake system it is highly recommended to have your brake fluid flushed as indicated in your cars operating manual.

The brake fluid in your car will take on moisture over a period of time. In a one year period your brake fluid can retain as much as 2 percent water.

There are several studies that have shown the damaging effects of what moisture can do to your brake system. One major problem that occurs is the brake fluid’s boiling point is reduced. New brake fluid has a boiling point of 400 degrees, with moisture in the fluid it can be reduced down to 225 degrees. This is referred to as brake fade, where heated brake fluid boils in the calipers causing steam resulting in a fading brake pedal. Your stopping distance is greatly affected and if you need to stop immediately, you won’t. Once your brakes have a chance to cool down they will operate normally again. If poor braking continues it is time to have the fluid changed out.

Dirty brake fluid can also damage the ABS components creating malfunctions to your ABS system. Another important thing to keep is mind is the moisture or water in your braking system is corrosive and over time will rust out the brake system.

07 Oct

Improving The Suspension For Your Motorhome

The suspension system in today’s motorhomes are very complex and lead to a variety of factors and qualities that go into the level of motorhome you purchase. Most factory motorhomes will have lower quality components on them in order to keep the overall cost of the motorhome down. One of these components are the shock absorbers. Many manufacturers will leave off components on there lower and mid level RV’s that they will include on there higher level motorhomes such as air bag suspension and high quality shocks.

If your motorhome has a harsh bumpy ride to it, wanders down the road or tracks poorly through the curves, you may want to consider an aftermarket ride enhancement kit. These kits will be custom designed for your coach and improve the ride dramatically. The enhancement kits normally include specially valved shock absorbers, new air bags, sway bars and ping tanks. Once the ride enhancement kit is installed you will think you have a new motorhome and will probably handle better than most new coaches.

If you spend a lot of time in your motorhome and want to improve the handling of your coach then you definitely want to consider a ride enhancement kit for both safety and comfort. Most kits can be found in any RV store that sells aftermarket parts.

27 Sep

What Are The Differences In Trailer Hitch Classes?

When you see a tow hitch and it comes with a classified rating, do you know what the difference is? If you answered no then keep reading and it will explain what a Class I, II, III, IV and V differences are. Also included is the information on a 5th wheel hitch.

A) Class I hitch – The class I tow hitch can have a maximum tongue weight of 200 pounds and a GTW or gross trailer weight of 2000 pounds. This is a light duty tow hitch most commonly found on small pickups and cars.

B) Class II hitch – The class II tow hitch can have a maximum tongue weight of 300 pounds and a GTW or gross trailer weight of 3500 pounds. This class hitch would be found on SUV’s, full size trucks or a small motor home and is perfect for towing a motorcycle trailer, small boat or off road vehicle.

C) Class III hitch – The class III hitch can have a maximum tongue weight of 500 pounds and a gross vehicle weight of 5000 pounds. This is your most common tow hitch found on trucks, motor homes, vans and 4WD vehicles.

D) Class IV hitch - The class IV trailer hitch can have a maximum tongue weight of 2000 pounds and a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds. This type of hitch would be found on most diesel pusher motor homes and heavy duty trucks.

E) Class V hitch – The class V tow hitch can have a maximum tongue weight of 1200 pounds and a gross vehicle weight over 10,000 pounds. This type of trailer hitch would be found on large trucks or diesel pusher motor homes. It is for towing extremely heavy loads like a big boat, horse trailer or enclosed trailer.

Gooseneck hitches or 5th wheel hitches – If you own a medium to heavy duty truck then this type of hitch may be your best option. The hitch mounts in the back of your truck bed and will only work with a trailer set up as a 5th wheel trailer.

It is important to remember to always buy a tow hitch that will be strong enough to tow the maximum anticipated weight of the trailer and not to exceed the towing capacity of your tow vehicle.

11 Jul

What Size Air Conditioner Should I Put In My Home?

AC

Today’s air conditioners come in several different sizes, whether they are a central air conditioner, a stand alone air conditioner or a window air conditioner. To have your air conditioning in your home run at peak efficiency you should size it to the area you are trying to cool. In order to figure out the correct cooling area you will need to measure all areas you are trying to cool. This will give you a close estimate on what size air conditioner you will need to keep you cool.

In order to calculate this you will need to multiply the length times the width of the rooms you will be cooling. Once you have that number you can multiply that total time 25 BTU. This will give you excellent cooling whether it’s a sunny hot day, humid day or a moist day. Here is an example of figuring out what BTU is appropriate for your cooling demands. If the room you are trying to cool is 14 feet wide by 16 feet long that would mean you have 224 square feet. So we will take the 224 and times it by 25 BTU per square foot. So 224×25 = 5600 BTU’s. This is the minimum you would want to use to efficiently cool your room.

So what would happen if you were to use an air conditioner that is to small or to large. An air conditioning unit that is rated for less BTU’s will want to continually run so it can keep up trying to meet the cooling needs required. This will make your electric bill go up and will not effectively cool the room. A larger air conditioning unit can be overkill. In the air conditioning business bigger is not better. An air conditioner that is too large for the area will cool more quickly, but that is not always best when trying to properly cool a room. Here is why. When your air conditioner is on and cooling the room, it is also extracting moisture from the air. Moisture in the air is humidity which makes us feel hot and sticky. Even though the air will be cooler in a short amount of time, it does not give the air conditioning unit time to extract the moisture out of the air.

So to properly calculate the size of the air conditioner you will require, measure the area to be cooled and take this information to an air conditioning company or an appliance store where they can make the proper recommendations on what size air conditioner will best suit you.

20 May

How To Do A Radiator Flush On Your Car

Repairing A Radiator

You will first need to drain the old coolant from your cars radiator. If you have an owner’s manual it will tell you where the drain plug is located. If not look underneath the radiator for a petcock, screw, plug or bolt. Make sure when you are draining the coolant that it goes into a container and not the ground. With the container in place unscrew the drain plug and let the coolant empty out completely. If your radiator is set up with a petcock, make sure and open it all the way. If you have a drain plug that is a screw or bolt remove it completely from the radiator. After the coolant has drained from the radiator, put the drain plug back in and take off the radiator cap. Put the radiator flush solution into the radiator, then add water to the top of the filler neck on the radiator.

Put the radiator cap back on and make sure it is tight. Next start your car and let it run until it gets to operating temperature. You will also want to turn your car heater on to the highest temperature setting so the cleaning solution will circulate through it. Let the car run for an additional 12 minutes. Next turn the car off and let the engine cool down. Do not take off the radiator cap until you can touch the cap safely. If the cap is to hot to touch, the engine has not cooled down enough. After the engine has cooled down remove the drain plug and drain the radiator empty into a container. Do not let the cleaner get on the ground. Make sure and have a second container available if the first one fills up. Your radiator flush is complete. Replace the correct coolant back into your radiator and tighten the cap. Run the engine one more time, let cool and recheck your coolant level.

17 Apr

What Is A Fuel Injection System?

Fuel Injection System

The fuel injection system is a huge development in automotive engineering since it has to be able to deliver the benefits of making your vehicle less polluting and more fuel efficient. The fuel injectors in your car have a very important role because they are responsible for delivering gasoline to your cars motor.

So exactly what are fuel injectors. Your cars engine uses an internal combustion process to make the power in your motor and the two key ingredients for this is fuel and oxygen. The motor will take the oxygen from the air and fuel from your gas tank. There is an air intake that delivers the air to the motor and a fuel injection system that will deliver the gasoline. Since your car has a limited amount of gas, your engine is going to use it efficiently and must apply the right amount of gas to mix with the oxygen. Since the oxygen is constantly changing, the fuel injection system must be always changing the amount of gas it delivers to the motor in order not to waste any of it.

What is the role of the fuel injectors? Your fuel injectors in your car play a very important part in the motors fuel delivery system. It must deliver the exact amount of gasoline that is required by the motor, even when the car requires quick and constant shifts from one situation to the next. A fuel injector is a valve with electronic controls that will receive signals from the engine computer system. The pump in your gas tank will deliver the pressurized gasoline to a nozzle in the fuel injector. Once the fuel reaches the fuel injector it will spray a fine mist of gasoline into the motors intake manifold. It will pass through the manifold and is delivered to the engine where it is mixed with the oxygen creating a combustion. By having the gasoline go into the engine in a mist format makes for a more efficient way of burning the gas versus having it go in by a droplet form. The more gasoline the motor requires, the longer the valves in the fuel injector will stay open. Not only does the fuel injection system make your car run more efficiently, it also adds more power to the motor and eliminates vapor lock.

03 Apr

Should I Be Concerned About My Check Engine Light?

Check Engine

The check engine light will appear on your dash as a graphic of an engine or the words check engine. There can be two types of display for the check engine light, a yellow light means you should have your car looked at soon, where a red light means your car should be looked at immediately. What ever the situation may be you should know where your check engine light symbol is and look at it once in a while to make sure it has not come on. The check engine light is used to alert you of a problem with your vehicles emissions system.

If your check engine light is flashing this is a sign it is more serious than a solid light and will need to be checked right away by a qualified mechanic. Usually when the light flashes it is warning you that there is a misfiring problem in your engine which will lead to catalytic converter damage if the problem is not take care of.

If the check engine light is solid this indicates that there is a problem with your emission control system. Your emissions system contains several sensors that reduce the amount of pollutants released into the air from your vehicle. It can be as simple as a loose gas cap to an oxygen sensor. An easy test is to remove and put back on your gas cap to make sure it is tight. If after a few days the check engine light stays on you will need to have a mechanic run a diagnostic test on it. He will be able to see if there is a code that the computer has set off and what the problem is. The mechanic will be able to reset the check engine light to off and it should stay off if it was only a loose gas cap.  Another way the check engine light can come on is if your spark plug wires become brittle and cause an electrical misfire. Inspect the wires and if they looked cracked you will need to replace them.

When your check engine light comes on it is always best to have it looked at right away to avoid costly repairs.

08 Feb

Who Should Perform Service On My Fleet Vehicles?

Fleet of Vans

Your fleet vehicles can be serviced by an in house automotive technician or use an automotive service repair center in your area that specializes in fleet repair servicing.

If you choose to use an in house technician it is very important to make sure he knows the importance of performing thorough inspections and repairs for your fleet vehicles. The repairs and inspections are only good as the technician performing it ruling out any shortcuts that might be taken. Having a quality in house automotive technician will help reduce the amount of repairs and breakdowns keeping your vehicles on the road.

If you decide you want to outsource your fleet vehicle repairs it is recommended to use a local automotive repair shop that specializes in fleet vehicle repairs. Once you have decided on a repair facility it is a good idea to meet the service manager and discuss your service requirements such as scheduled intervals, expectations and turn around time. It is also a good idea to supply your service manager with a preventative maintenance check list that they should follow for each vehicle. Many fleet service repair shops focus on breakdown maintenance and not preventative maintenance. Make sure you let the service manager know what the exact expectations you are looking for to keep your fleet vehicles up and running. Since you are bringing them several vehicles to be serviced it is important to ask for a fleet vehicle discount on both maintenance and parts.

Most of your maintenance jobs should be preventive maintenance. This is a reassurance that the vehicles are being checked periodically to minimize the amount of repairs that can occur and reduce your overall cost.

Since repair and maintenance cost are an operating expense, your fleet manger should track fuel, labor, parts, and collisions to determine which vehicles are costing you the most money. This allows the fleet manager to make the necessary decisions regarding each vehicle for replacement and efficiency. Having a fleet vehicle that is maintained properly will provide the lowest operating cost versus a vehicle that is prone to costly breakdowns.