How To Cope With Car Judders And Jolts

A car which judders and jolts is not marketable, but then again nor is one which moves in absolute silence. This explains a law in February 2018 which made it illegal for electric and hybrid cars to be silent when traveling at low speed.

Silent Cars

The legislation was needed because there is hardly any engine noise, generally the only sound you hear is the sound of tires against the road. There is still debate on whether to use a pretend engine noise or some beeping sound. Porsche went for a Sports car sound.

Ford at the time wondered if police cars could be excused from the law if they needed to creep up on suspects. Although this may help the police or security services a bit, police cars tend to have a look about them, one which not making a noise wouldn’t disguise. It is not clear who the person at Ford made this suggestion.

Noises

If you hear any noise when driving its advisable to see a mechanic as quickly as possible, but here’s a short guide.

Squeaking, especially high-pitched, when breaking, means that you should inspect the brakes as they may need to be changed.

If there is clunking, or crunching noise, then there is a problem with the suspension. Your car may also feel unstable and tires may wear quicker than usual if not fixed.

If there’s a groaning noise which gets louder and maybe higher pitched it is due to your bearings. It is best to see a mechanic as quickly as possible.

The sound of ticking is not that unusual in cold weather. However, if it continues it may be something in the engine and is worth investigating.

A hissing sound around the engine suggests a leak somewhere; this must be checked as soon as. A shrieking sound meanwhile in the engine may be serpent belt, which could be age?

A click clack in the wheels suggests that the constant velocity joints in the front wheels need replacing.

Hearing rattling is a common complaint, so you need more information in order to diagnose a problem. It may possibly be a combustion problem, if so, it should be heard when accelerating. If it gets worse, it becomes a hammering noise. Look too at the ignition. Try switching to the gasoline to higher octane.

A howling sound is the differential which leads to work gears.

A slapping sound is a flat tire which should be changed.

If your gear stick makes a grinding noise it suggests that it’s worn out and needs to be fixed.

A banging from an exhaust pipe is known as backfiring. It is due to unspent fuel being ejected from the valves only to ignite in the tailpipe. If you hear a similar noise in the engine it may be something burnt there, or it may be due to spark plugs.

Beware especially of any noise that occurs when you turn a corner. There’s certainly axle trouble.

No wonder every driver hates it when a sound occurs, but if you can fix it quickly then all to the good.

Tesla Cars – Their Success Continues

Tesla seems to have a different way of selling than its rivals. They speak of being mission-focused, consumer-focused and giving a consistent experience, but how does it stack up?

There is certainly expansion occuring, not only in the US but also they are building factories in China and Germany. But why have they reached such lofty heights?

Despite various models, such as the Roadster, Model S and Model X they seem more than a car company. With (according to CNN) revenue valued at 24.6 billion, they are also a hardware and software company.

There are other authorities which speak well of Tesla – the Owner Satisfaction Survey in 2017, run by Consumer Reports, placed them highest. The survey looked into such variables as the driving experience, comfort and value amongst other items.

These cars are in majority sold online, selling cars directly to the customers instead of using dealerships. Their showrooms are in malls and places with high footfall instead of the regular out of town places. There is remote diagnosis and even remote repair so no need to visit the customer. Relying on mobile technology they don’t make a profit on service.

The prototypes of the Tesla were revealed in July 2006 in Santa Monica to 350 invited guests. It was certainly about quality, not quantity.

A loan from the US Department of Energy in January 2010 of a massive 465 million dollars was certainly good for business. It was repaid in 2013 in full. Tesla has been developing its technology in an environmentally friendly way ever since.

Surprisingly, the patents aren’t heavily protected but can be used by other companies. As a sidenote, the number of patents registered is certainly a sign that it’s a technology company with a emphasis on the internet; most car companies have only the odd patent. While they are flexible with their patents, there are several trade secrets of Tesla which do remain private.

If you wish to let Tesla self-drive, there is an autopilot program available. If you wish to drive it yourself reviews of the cars talk about a “feeling of acceleration” in addition to “ride quality.”

There is some controversy as to whether it is actually “self-driving,” the car still needs to be supervised. The Tesla can handle various automatic tasks such as lane centering, lane changes, self-parking and summoning cars from a parking space or a garage. It all sounds pretty cool.

20% of all electric cars were produced by Tesla, which given the strong Japanese and German electric car market this is quite an achievement. So in the grand scheme of all cars made in the world, Tesla has a tiny piece, however in an apples to apple comparison to similar cars produced they are a big fish in their tiny pond.

So, are you self-driving or are you supervising the driving? In September 2020 someone was charged with driving over 90mph, it appears both “passengers” where asleep. According to the authorities these support systems are meant to be complementary, the human behind the wheel is ultimately responsible.

Despite this differentiation from how other car makers sell their cars, there is a huge amount of choice with a Tesla. The sky is the limit—did you know they were developing a space program as well?

What Bad Steering May Mean

If your car pulls to one side that means that the alignment of the wheels is off-you should get your wheels aligned as soon as you get new tires. This is known as a torque steer. It is rather dangerous so it is important to fix.

A “memory steer” is when the car seems to continue in the same direction when you release the wheel instead of coming back to true. You might be a lack of air in the tires or worn out parts like suspension or steer.

Should the car move forward in reverse on a hill, this is a sign that gravity is more powerful than your car’s idle. The idle is set according to the vehicle’s specs, but as the car ages it can lose power. Having the idle set too high burns extra gas at stop lights so just make sure your mechanic is setting it to factory specs and hold the brake and apply some gas when on a hill. Don’t shift to reverse and then let the car be pulled forward because you might damage the engine.

Side Note: It may seem ridiculous but it’s worth mentioning–You can still drive with the handbrake pulled if you have enough throttle. DON’T! Driving with the brakes on damages your brakes as well as your transmission so it is not recommended.

Steering Rack Issues

A steering rack is another name for the rack and pinion steering system and consists of universal joints, main and intermediate shafts; the central unit is the part that receives information. The steering rack when it wears out can cause a considerable hazard. If you have an older car that seems to always have an alignment issue, have your mechanic check the steering rack.

When the tilt function of the wheel doesn’t work the wheel cannot be positioned correctly. Again, it is because of the steering rack.

Does the wheel seem to wobble to and fro of its own volition? If so, it is impossible to drive as well as highly dangerous—call your mechanic immediately. It takes a few days to replace a steering rack.

When it’s not the Steering Rack:

Another condition to watch out for is needing to make a large turn in order to make the car move forward, it is not safe at all. The power steering or an associated mechanism could be breaking down.

If the steering wheel feels quite tight and is harder to turn than usual it could just be that it needs more power steering fluid. (These are cars without electrical power steering). Other signs to watch out for are groaning sounds, especially while turning and a smell of burning oil, or maybe a squeaking sound. If the fluid is changed constantly this will prevent the problem somewhat.

A clunking or grinding noise may indicate that the steering rack is constantly rubbing against metal. It’s due to the steering rack wearing out, where seeing a mechanic comes in.

It could however be due to “struts” which are connected to the steering rods. Because replacing the steering rack is so expensive it is vital to get it right.

When Steering Problems Occur

After discovering a problem, you should attempt to get off the road as quickly as possible but make sure also it is safe to do so.

Another symptom to keep an eye out for is that the steering wheel feels lose and doesn’t seem to return to the center. The vehicle might seem unstable and you may not be able to keep it in the right lane. With a bad steering system every obstacle such as a pothole becomes twice as hard to negotiate. So take any sound or maneuverability issue as serious and get it to a mechanic ASAP.

Is Your Car Ready For Fall Driving?

Cooler weather is finally here. You’ve brought out your sweaters and jackets and stored your summer attire. Your wardrobe is all set to enjoy the crisp, cool days but what about your vehicle? Is your car ready for cooler-weather driving?

If you’re not sure if your vehicle’s ready or aren’t sure what needs to be done, here are a few things you’ll want to take care of before you hit the open roads this fall.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Fall Driving

1. Give Your Car a Bath

Chances are your summer driving routes took you to a beach, at least once. Whether it’s sand from a freshwater lake or salt from the ocean air, you’ll want to rinse it off before you start any fall road trips. The salt, sand, and other grime from summer drives can collect on the vehicle’s undercarriage. If left on too long, it can cause corrosion.

To prevent this from happening, rinse all of the salt and other grime off your car. A garden hose can be just as effective as a car wash.

2. Check Tire Pressure

Did you know that every time the temperature fluctuates 10 degrees your tire pressure changes as much as one pound per square inch? This means that when the temperature changes you want to check tire pressure.

If you’re not sure what is recommended for your vehicle, optimal tire pressure will be listed in the owner’s manual. You can also look your vehicle up online or ask a mechanic if the manual is lost.

3. Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

You might not have to replace the windshield wiper blades if they weren’t used during heavy spring and summer downpours. However, if you spent a lot of time parked at the beach the salt air can corrode the rubber blades.

It is recommended that you change the blades every six months. Drivers in colder climates may want to plan on replacing them every fall. The last thing you want is to find out your windshield wipers aren’t effective in the middle of a rain or snowstorm.

4. Check the Oil and Filter

Checking your oil levels should be a part of your regular car maintenance. Depending on the type of oil used, mileage, and driving conditions, it might not need to be changed. If it’s measuring low and still looks clear, it’s okay to just add to the existing oil.

If it’s time to change the oil, often to a lighter-weight one, you also want to replace the filter. Lighter oils are often recommended for fall driving since it can help the engine perform more efficiently in cooler temperatures. A new filter can do what a dirty one can’t; keep the oil clean and debris out of the engine.

5. Change the Air Filter

The air filter is an important component and it’s often overlooked. It prevents dust and other small impurities from entering the cylinders’ combustion chambers. This can lower fuel efficiency and reduce engine performance. Like your oil filter, it should be changed every six months.

6. Flush the Cooling System

Your vehicle’s cooling system should be flushed and refilled every 2-years or 24,000 miles. It’s part of good car maintenance and an easy item to add to your spring car maintenance checklist.

You will need a radiator cleaning product to flush away oil, grease, and collected sediment. After flushing the radiator, refill with a mixture of water and coolant. The percentage of water and coolant will depend on the climate. Severe climates require a higher mixture of coolant than water.

7. Check the Spark Plugs and Battery

This is something you should already be doing regularly. Checking the battery and connections helps ensure that you won’t be stranded. Make sure that the connections are tight and that there aren’t any signs of corrosion. You also want to make sure that the battery housing is solid.

The final thing you want to do before heading off on your first fall drive of the season is to clean out the car’s interior.

Building Up A Car Toolkit and Other Car Equipment.

You know the old adage, there’s two kinds of people in the world…well it seems to be the case when it comes to keeping gear in your car so you’re prepared for a breakdown. Either they keep nothing at all except the number to roadside assistance, or they keep enough to survive a zombie apocalypse.

So, we’re dedicating this post to the middle ground. Honestly what should you keep in your car in case of emergency.

Starting with a car toolkit.

No need to have a second kit for your motorcycle if you only drive one or the other—just adjust the size to fit motorcycle and move it back and forth. Then again you may need different tools and it’s a lot easier to just store this in your vehicle and not have to remember to move it.

A mobile car toolkit should include such items as screwdrivers, hex keys, a socket set, two sets of pliers-both adjustable and locking, wire cutters, ratchet straps, tire gauge, zip ties and duct tape.

  • Hex keys, AKA Allen wrenches, come in a range of sizes, it is vital to find the right hex key for your job. We recommend getting a folding hex key set like the one pictured here because hex keys tend to wander off or fall in tiny cracks.
  • Socket sets are used for the tightening and loosening of fasteners. It should be noted that they come in a range of sizes, but not all sizes are needed.
  • Rachet straps are tie-down straps used to tie down equipment or cargo so as to keep construction materials in place. They need to be both tough and flexible to do their jobs.

Don’t overspend on a mobile tool kit for a couple reasons. First you may want to hand off the kit in a pinch or it could get stollen. Second some expensive kits come with items like a pull handle or swivel castors, which are useful but an expensive kit will include nonessential items which actually makes in harder to find the right item on a dark and rainy night—which when you tend to break down.

You’ll also need miscellaneous items like a first aid kits, work gloves and so on.

A garage automotive toolkit is another story:

One of the best ways to keep your mobile car kit small is to outfit your garage with a larger kit for home repairs. Don’t overspend on this tool kit either. Even modest kits sometimes have two hundred pieces (bit handles, wrenches, hammers, hacksaws and so on). Ask yourself if you really need that much stuff.

To do any serious work you’ll need a floorjack to keep a car in the air. It’s vital that you obtain a jack designed for the specific capacity to the car. If you have a light car you may be able to lift the car with an aluminum jack. It’s advisable to seek help if you are unsure on the weight of your car.

When you do get under a car you will need some jack stands which have a pyramid like shape. To work on the underside of a car you will also need a creeper-an item to rest your back on. Wheel chocks are also needed to keep the automobile in place.

The list seems to go on and on – jump starters, pressure gauges, possibly an oil drain pan to change your oil. It is important to take into account the proper regulations for disposing of chemicals if you’re going to perform many maintenance tasks.

If you want to check the electric current in a car you will also need an item called a multimeter.

Without some kind of budget the amount you will spend could go through the roof. Consider which items you cannot live without, either on safety grounds or to do the work properly.

You can try to stick to one type of tool, but honestly it never seems to go that way. Someone will give you a duplicate for Christmas, or the wrong brand, etc. So if you just let go of the idea of matching tools you’re free to take advantage of our favorite pro tip.

Pro Tip: Go around to all your friends who like to wrench and ask their advice about tools. They’ll often have extra tools they can donate to your cause when they find out you’re just starting out.

In this as with everything else, research is everything.

High Mileage Doesn’t have to Mean Low Value

So you have a car and you want to drive it, but that’s the rub – the more you drive the sooner it wears out. Well, the reality may not be so dire. Below are a few words on how to maintain your car to make it go further.

A car with a number of miles on the clock can cause problems, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a car needs to be replaced after say, 100,000 miles. In truth, it’s all about maintenance; you might be able to get your run-around to reach 200,000 miles or more.

The idea that your car cannot go above 100,000 miles is so engrained in the car industry that odometers in the 1960s and the 1970s only went up to 99,999. If you went any further, the count would reset. Irreputable dealers used to get a coat hanger up under the dash roll the odometer forward until it reset and then act as though it’s a low mileage car.

Nowadays we see it different.

People don’t like buying high mileage cars, but it doesn’t mean that this type of car cannot hold its value if looked after correctly. You just need to watch over things like the automatic transmission, battery and tread, especially after a long journey.

Recommendations for making a car last include fixing any problem which comes up immediately. Most drivers do ignore problems and they can come back to bite you. So if you see a warning light or hear a strange noise remember to check it out or get a mechanic to check it out.

Although many people don’t like being tied to the maintenance manual it’s a good idea to follow recommendation on when to check the tire pressure or looking at fluids such as oil and water.

It’s essential to keep the car clean, as foreign bodies such as road salt can damage your car. Most people don’t drive their car respectfully and this can also cause difficulty to a high mileage cars. This includes doing things like not using the brake or clutch too violently, after all you want it to last.

As with any car it is essential to have the right insurance and breakdown cover, especially if you are travelling long distances. No car is safe from breakdown, so it’s best to be careful with a well-used vehicle.

Ways of Jumping Your Car

In the winter it’s important to that everything is working as normal. If it is not, you might walk out to your car one morning and find it doesn’t start. It’s especially likely on a very cold morning. There could be another reason for the drained battery, such as the lights being left on it, but whatever the reason, car batteries do get run down.

Warning! Not all Cars are Alike!

A word of warning though, it is vital that you check the procedure in your manual carefully before attempting it. What follows is merely a guideline, because auto makers sometimes crowd the battery into a space that won’t allow you to access both posts. So, you may need to verify the exact procedure for your model of car.

Also worth noting, you would not jump start an electric car, but if you are attempting to jump a car with an electric car, you’ll need to follow the specific directions for that vehicle.

Before attempting to jump a car make sure the battery isn’t completely dry, frozen, corroded, leaking, or damaged.

Never let the metal leads touch each other, and never hold the leads by the metal parts.

Procedure

Boosting a car battery (also known as a safety jump) is done by attaching red and black cables correctly. You may think that both sides of the dead battery should be attached to the live battery in the other car but if you do that it will cause an explosion.

  • First, clamp the plus (red) wire to the dead car battery by clipping it onto the metallic + post (aka terminal) at least 30cm up the post from the battery top.
  • Second, connect the plus (red) wire to the donor car (the live battery) by clipping it onto the metallic + post (aka terminal) at least 30cm up the post from the battery top.
  • Third, clamp the black, negative wire to the dead car battery in similar fashion.
  • Forth, clamp the black, negative wire to the live (donor car) battery.

You then start the engine of the car, obviously the donor car, and let it idle and feed electricity to the dead car’s battery for a few minutes. The car with the dead battery will not start straight away after a boost; it is more like a car starting in cold weather. If it still doesn’t start you may need to start pushing it, or revving the engine on the giving car.

There is a possibility for complications for the car which is being boosted, such as having their battery drained. It could even cause some kind of electrical issue with your battery. It is vital that you check the procedure carefully before attempting it.

The Electrical Charge Gauge

In some cars the dashboard may have a gauge for the alternator. This gauge will indicate what you might think of as electrical pressure (not a technical term), when a boost is taking place. These could be found in various places such as near the radio slot or on the “side pillar” near the driver. It is similar in looks to the speedometer. Functionally, most of the time you’ll easily start the car and not engage with this gauge, but if you aren’t able to start your car this gauge may help in diagnosis.

Turbo Chargers

Then there is the turbocharger. It consists of two small fans, one called the turbine and one called the compressor. To make things simple, a turbocharger steels the energy found in a crankshaft. Not all cars and trucks have turbochargers as they are rough on your fuel economy. They also make the engine much more complex than it would be otherwise.

Turbochargers are more typically found in sports cars, and race cars, but if you have one it makes it harder to get a jump.

Here’s The official Recommendation from The Kicker—carry a portable jumper with you, to avoid needing to jump a stranger’s vehicle engine to engine.

Why Aluminum Alloy Wheels Crack

 

Alloy Wheels

There are a number of reasons your aluminum alloy wheels may crack. One of the most common is “hot cracking,” which is the result of high-temperatures during the welding process. Also called hot fissuring, solidification cracking, hot shortness and liquation cracking, it’s ugly and annoying, but it can be avoided. When arc welding is employed, cracking can be eliminated. Aluminum welding gets you started on the wrong foot from the beginning—even if you avoid hot cracking, hydrogen cracking (aka cold cracking) might show up.

Cold cracking can happen when welding low alloy steels and carbon steels. Depending on the type of aluminum you’re using, you might become the victim of cold or hot cracking and, either way, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of this conundrum. When dealing with hot cracking, you need to consider three major issues: The alloy chemistry, appropriateness of the filler alloy, and choosing the best joint decision.

Picking the Right Alloy Additions

To sidestep hot cracking, consider four potential alloy additions: Silicon, copper, magnesium and magnesium silicide. By including trace amounts of one of these elements, which is common, cracking is more likely to occur. The “chemistry” of the alloy, which is dependent upon which additions are used and how much, can be a major factor in cracking. Silicon is the most crack-resistant, followed by a magnesium/silicone hybrid, but all fillers can be crack-resistant if used in the right amount.

To get the best results and resist cracking, it’s best to completely avoid very crack-sensitive materials that are also considered non-weldable. Picking the right filler or addition, while considered the crack sensitivity ranges, is step two. You should pinpoint a filler with a solidification point that’s similar to (or below) that of the base material. Edge preparation choice, root gap to allow for the filler addition, and the creation of a “weld metal chemistry” that’s suitable is also paramount.

Preparing for a Crack-Free Future

Choosing the right filler is just part of the process; you also need to choose one that has additions of grain refiners (i.e. zirconium or titanium). This will best prevent cracks, and complements the makeup of the materials. The actual welding process itself can also be a literal breaking point—utilize the highest welding speed because the faster it’s done, the faster the cooling rate. Basically, the least amount of time you spend in the “hot cracking temperature spectrum,” the better.

When welding, tap into your skill set and use assembling techniques that cut down on restraint, minimize stress and product the cleanest welds possible. A pressure application on the joint during welding can also help to prevent cracks from forming. Generally speaking, sometimes aluminum base alloys are difficult to weld at best—especially for those who aren’t exceptionally well-versed in the properties of the materials. Sometimes arc welding just isn’t possible, and that’s when mechanically joining parts via bolting or riveting is the best approach. No matter which avenue is taken, remember that cracking isn’t “just something you have to live with.” It can be addressed, but it takes knowing the materials and some serious skills to avoid it.

Auto Care Too Scary to Skip

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(Note: Thanks for enjoying our post, but don’t forget to set your clocks back this Sunday 11/4 or something really spooky could happen–like losing your job when you’re late for work!) 

Do you really need to fix that tiny crack in the windshield if it’s not spreading and doesn’t impact your vision? Is it really necessary to fix that dent in the bumper if you have no hopes of selling your old faithful for a decent profit? The answer “it depends” applies for many repairs and maintenance, but there are some auto TLC steps that should never be skipped. You might be able to skate by with a scratched fender or dent from losing a shopping cart battle in the parking lot, but other fixes, repairs and maintenance are crucial.

A reputable collision repair shop won’t push you to do anything that isn’t necessary. However, don’t assume that just because an issue looks superficial and unimportant that it is. A good “trust test” is to see if a shop offers free walk-in estimates, and whether or not you get a “sales-y” vibe while there. You should be able to get a preview and estimate of what’s in store without committing yourself (and your cash) to a shop.

Like Whitney Said, Crack is Wack

It might not seem like that crack in the windshield is getting worse, and you may not think it impairs your vision, but both things are probably happening. Just like the crack happened suddenly, it can spread suddenly. It’s much easier and cost-effective to fix a smaller crack than replace an entire pane of glass. Plus, you owe it to yourself, passengers and other drivers to have a clear vision of the road in front of you.semi-trailers-2035151_1920.png

As an added bonus, glass replacement and repair is often much more affordable than you imagine. A lot of the time it will be even less than your deductible, which means you’ll avoid changes in your auto insurance because of it. It’s possible you’ll wake up one morning to find a tiny crack has spider-webbed across the entire pane, so get it taken care of now.

Wheels vs. Tires

These words are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. Tires are the black rubber that actually touches the roads, and wheels are the metal or plastic pieces that hold tires in place. You know it’s paramount to have good tire traction and pressure, but aren’t wheels just for looks? Not at all, and a broken wheel might be causing you to lose tire pressure or even impact steering capability.

Wheels are the frames of your tires and need to be in great working condition at all times. Wheel repairs can help improve safety, ease driving and help keep your vehicle aligned. It’s important that both your tires and wheels are in great shape because when they are flawed they can certainly lead to a sudden accident. If your wheel is dented and pushing into the tire, it can suddenly puncture it while you’re going 70 mph on the freeway with disastrous consequences.

When to See a Pro

For wheels, windshields, frame straightening, alignments, suspensions and headlight repairs, it’s crucial that you get these problems taken care of right away. Even better, if you locate a shop that offers a lifetime guarantee, you’ll rest easy while rocking out on your commute knowing that you’re covered.