Saturday, 9 May 2015

Old Car Tricks That Still Apply

With all the flashing LED lights and automated vehicle controls, one may be tempted to think cars have completely changed and hence should be handled differently. However, that isn’t completely true. Even when it comes to advanced troubleshooting, the most sophisticated OBDII scanners in the hands of inexperienced mechanics are nothing but expensive toys because technicians must still avail themselves of the fundamentals of vehicle system mastery. We have emerged from times where RWDs (rear wheel drives) and ladder chassis configuration (car body mounted on an independent chassis) were the other of the day, to excessive weight-curbing designs involving modern single shell monocoque chassis and FWDs like the recently released 2014 Mercedes Benz CLA or the Toyota Camry we have grown accustomed to.

But in all these massive changes and developments, a few old-school rules still apply and yes-whatever Dads may have taught back then are still very useful. Below are a few of these useful age-old tips on car maintenance and driving that are simply ‘golden’.

Diagonal wheel tightening: whether you are going retro by using your upper muscles and manual jacks or modern torque wrenches, the diagonal wheel tightening sequence very much applies. You can read more about this here

Exhaust flue checks: even with all the modern sensors and actuators or control modules; an easy way to access the true state of an engine is to observe the state of gases leaving the tail pipe. If it’s dishing out water with clear fumes, you can have a little peace of mind; but if it’s smoking in rainbow colours, you have something to worry about. White fumes often indicate the last days of an engine’s useful life, you can read more here.

Rough steering alignment: an old experienced driver doesn’t need to drive a vehicle to discover if it needs a wheel alignment job done. A simple way these oldies figure this out is by observing the steering wheel when locked, if it doesn’t form a straight line (180o) or its poorly centred it definitely means your wheel geometry isn’t completely okay. Find out more about steering geometry here.

Allowing adequate oil circulation before high revs: according to automobile experts, the peak wearing period of engine components is during cold engine starts owing to insufficient engine oil circulation. So it’s very simple; if you plan on minimizing engine wear, just chill a little before hitting your accelerator pedal just after cranking your engine to life.

The finger viscosity check: you can still tell how used up an engine or transmission oil is when you withdraw a few drops using your dipstick. If the oil doesn’t create a thin film in between your two fingers when you slightly separate them, chances are that the oil is used up. In both cases involving the automatic gearbox and engine this simple test can help you discover burning inner gear components and fuel dilution respectively when you smell the oil withdrawn from the oil compartment.

Tyre wear indicators and groove wear pattern checks: modern day tyres are still produced with wear indicators and poor aligned tyres or un-rotated set of tyres will definitely wear abnormally. Hence these checks still remain a priority. Read more about tyre rotation here

High revving to the next filling station: it’s very logical to assume stepping on the pedal harder will always lead to higher fuel consumption. That’s stays true if you stick with lower gears as shifting to higher gears maximizes engine power and reduces fuel consumption relatively. Another added advantage of high revving is enhanced lubrication and reduced engine wear; this isn’t an excuse to over-speed, but a little gas pedal thrust is good for your engine.


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