Home' City West News : March 24th 2010 Contents CityWest [ 41 ]
What is your car saying?
A strange noise within your engine
could mean that a component is
lacking oil, while sudden vibrations and
clunks could indicate a bigger problem.
A knock in the engine nearly always
means a serious problem.
If the knocking sound is accompanied
by a loss in oil pressure on the gauge, or
the oil pressure warning light comes on,
then engine-bearing failure is generally
Knocking noises without the loss of oil
pressure could mean a loose flywheel
or a broken tooth in the transmission.
Faulty suspension gives a knocking
noise when going over bumps.
A squeal coming from the engine
during acceleration usually indicates a
loose fanbelt, power steering pump or
air-conditioner drive belt.
Tapping sounds from the engine
could simply mean a loose spark plug
lead or it could mean loose tappets or
piston slap.Grinding sounds usually
mean either worn wheel bearings, worn
brake pads or linings, worn universal
joints, worn CV joints, a worn water
pump shaft bearing, clutch release
bearing or alternator bearings are on
their last legs.
The braking system is one of the most
important parts of a motor vehicle and
accordingly deserves constant regular
attention and service.
A grinding sound produced when
the brakes are applied indicates that
the brake pads or linings have worn
out and the metal backing plates are
grinding on the drum or disc.
This problem requires immediate
attention as it can cause a brake failure
in the event of an emergency stopping
situation or very costly replacement of
disc or drum.
If a vehicle’s brakes are pulling to one
side it means there is possibly oil or
brake fluid on the brake linings, which
could cause a brake failure or steering
Pumping the brakes to obtain
pressure is a sign that the brakes are
worn or need adjusting. If the brake
pedal sinks slowly to the floor when
foot pressure is applied then brake
fluid is leaking past the master cylinder
primary pressure cup back to the
reservoir. The cup could fail at any time
causing brake failure- have it attended
to immediately. Check brake warning
lights, fluid levels and pedal pressure
A vehicle’s electrical system should be
regularly inspected and serviced to
ensure proper working order.
Battery terminals and leads should be
clean and tight while the fanbelt should
be checked and adjusted if necessary.
If extra driving or fog lights or
other electrical accessories are being
fitted, then it is wise to make sure the
alternator’s rated output is sufficient to
carry the increased load otherwise you
will have regular flat battery problems.
If you are not sure how to calculate
the amount of electricity being used,
then ask a licensed auto electrician.
Wiring should be checked for
abrasions, which could cause a short
circuit or fire.
All lights should be checked regularly
- headlights should be cleaned as often
as the windscreen as dirt and dust can
diminish the light from the vehicle.
Finally, your car’s battery needs to be
fully charged, topped up to the correct
levels with distilled water, and the
terminals made secure.
Exhaust leaks can prove to be fatal
since the exhaust fumes contain deadly
carbon monoxide, a colourless, tasteless
and odourless gas.
Visually check the exhaust system and
listen for exhaust noise to make sure
there are no leaks from your vehicle’s
exhaust as death inducing carbon
monoxide fumes can seep through rust
or drainage holes in the floor or even
through the windows.
Black exhaust smoke means the car is
using too much petrol i.e . the mixture
is too rich.
This can be solved by something as
simple as adjusting a sticking choke.
It may require a carburettor or fuel
injection system overhaul.
Blue smoke indicates burning oil,
which could mean the valves or valve
stem seals, or piston rings are worn out.
Oil levels and leaks
Sustained highway speeds, especially in
hilly country with a full load on board,
can cause expensive engine damage if
your oil level is low.
Fresh oil, topped up to the high level
mark on the dipstick (but no further)
and checked each day, should eliminate
any worries in this area.
Oil leaks are costly and it is also
illegal for a vehicle to leak excessive oil.
Generally, it is only a simple matter of
replacing an oil seal or gasket.
Warnings of oil leaks are heavier
than usual oil consumption; a wet oily
engine or oil stains on the driveway
or garage floor where the vehicle is
Fluid coming from near your car’s
radiator could mean one of the hoses
has perished or the radiator itself needs
Control of a vehicle requires the wheels
to remain in contact with the road
surface at all times because as soon as
the tyres lose contact with the road,
there is loss of control.
Worn shock absorbers allow the
suspension to bounce whenever it hits
a bump with the wheels consequently
losing road contact.
To check a vehicle’s shock absorbers,
bounce each corner of the car up
and down two or three times and
it if continues to bounce more than
one and a half times after you stop,
the shock absorbers are worn. Check
also for loose or worn shock absorber
Motorists with manual cars should
ensure the clutch is working properly,
as the clutch pedal’s free clearance
actually decreases with wear.
If the clutch starts to slip while driving,
change to a lower gear. This reduces the
load on the clutch and should enable
you to reach the nearest repairer.
Automatic transmissions should be
checked and serviced regularly by a
licensed transmission specialist.
The fluid level should be checked
regularly. Follow the instruction in the
driver’s handbook or ask your licensed
repairer to show you how.
If the fluid is discoloured or smells
burnt, there could be a real problem.
Immediate attention by a licensed
repairer may be able to avert a major
A properly tuned car saves money on
fuel bills and reduces engine wear.
Erratic engine running, lack of power
or excessive fuel consumption indicates
an engine is probably out of tune.
Generally, a minor tune-up covers the
ignition system, spark plugs, points,
etc while a major tune-up includes
tappets and carburettor check and
adjustment, charging rate and a battery
and distributor operation test and is
obviously going to be more expensive.
HOLIDAY To help ensure that your motoring holiday will
be safe and happy, here is a simple guide to
detecting and preventing common vehicle
problems before they cost you money, time off
the road...and a spoilt holiday.
more over page >>>
22/03/10 9:11 AM
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