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23 Improving your fuel economy ……………………………………... 25 The suspension ……………………………………………………… 31 The wheel and tyre ………………………………………………….. 33 The brakes…………………………………………………………… 39 The fuel & engine notes …………………………………………….. 53 The car transmission ………………………………………………... 58
Chapter I: DIY car check-up
Regular car maintenance is vital for a healthy car and saves time and money. It’s also easier than you think. Leigh Robshaw shows you the basics. Checked your tyres lately? What about the oil? NRMA Motoring & Services’ patrolman Ross Walker says the majority of breakdowns he attends may have been avoided if Members carried out regular car maintenance. Even if you don’t know the difference between a dipstick and a gear stick, our simple guide can help save you from the hassle of a breakdown and thousands of dollars in repairs. Engine oil: On level ground with the engine off, clean the dipstick with a lint-free cloth while the engine is still warm. Reinsert the dipstick fully, remove it and check oil level. If the reading is low, top up using the grade of oil recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Ross’ tip: “You only need one litre to bring the level from the low mark to the full mark.” Radiator coolant level: Don’t just check the level in the plastic reservoir, as the bottle could be full while the engine is empty if there is a fault in the system. While the engine is cold, remove the radiator cap, check inside the radiator and fill it up if required. A temperature gauge won’t read correctly when there is no coolant in the system, so don’t rely on it if you haven’t topped it up for a while. While the engine is cold, feel the hoses and if they are hard and you can hear a ‘cracking’ noise (listen carefully), or if they feel very soft or swollen in places, get them changed. Have a mechanic change the coolant every two years. Ross’ tip: “When filling up coolant, check your owners’ manual for the recommended coolant and don’t mix different brands.” Automatic transmission and power steering fluids: Procedures vary from car to car, so check your owners’ manual. Battery: If your battery has removable caps, check that the fluid inside is about 5mm above the plates or between the levels indicated on the case. (Be careful as battery acid can cause serious injury.)
• • •
If low, top up with distilled water and avoid overfilling. Don’t expose a battery to a naked flame and remember battery fluid is corrosive and can damage paint and wiring. Pull back the terminal covers and check that the wiring around the negative and positive terminals is in good condition. If you see any corrosion build-up, dissolve with hot water or bicarbonate of soda.
Ross’ tip: “If the car won’t start and you suspect the battery, turn the ignition on, then turn the headlights on and check how bright they are when you attempt to start the engine. If they go dull or are not on at all when cranking the engine, then it’s likely that it is the battery. In this case, wait 30 seconds with the lights on (engine off) and then put a finger on each terminal (negative and positive). If you find one is getting hot, it means that terminal has a
bad connection. The battery terminal has to be removed and cleaned inside and out. You can possibly wiggle it and get enough contact to get the car started and then take it to a repairer. “If the battery continually needs topping up, have the alternator charge rate checked.” Brakes: Check the fluid level in the master cylinder (usually located near the right-hand corner in front of the driver’s seat). If the level is low, the disc pads could be worn. If the level keeps dropping get it checked immediately for leaks. Have a mechanic flush the fluid every two years, as it absorbs moisture. Watch out for noises while braking and pulsations in the brake pedal. Ross’ tip: “Don’t play with brakes – get a professional to do it.” Tyres: Check and adjust tyre pressure when the tyres are cold. (You’ll find a tyre pressure placard on the inside of your glovebox, fuel cap filler or the driver’s door.) Check for a minimum tread depth of 1.5mm on any part of the tyre surface that comes in contact with the road and look for abnormal wear or damage. Adjusting the pressure to the top of the recommended range reduces fuel consumption and wear. Ross’ tip: “If you need to turn the wheel constantly to the left or right to make the car go straight ahead, or if it pulls to one side when you let go of the steering wheel, you may need a wheel alignment.” Headlights: Check all lights are working, including stop and reverse lights. Drive up to a reflective surface if you cannot get someone to help you check this. Ross’ tip: “If your car won’t start and your headlights are dull or don’t work, it could indicate a bad terminal connection in the battery, which will need repairing.” Windscreen wipers and washer fluid: Fill washer bottle with clean water and the right amount of washer additive, not household detergent. Check the condition of the wiper blades and replace if split, perished or not wiping properly. Run your thumb and finger along the wiper blade to remove any gunk. Inside controls: With the engine switched off, check all controls for tightness and function. Put the steering wheel in position so the tyres point straight ahead. Lightly swing the steering wheel from side to side – free play should not exceed 50mm. Cosmetics: To keep your car’s age as long as possible, wash it regularly, polish it at least twice a year and vacuum when necessary. Some polishes can adversely affect modern paint finishes, so always check your owners’ manual. Avoid parking it under trees and in industrial areas, and wash any bird droppings and other stains off immediately. Servicing: New cars should be serviced according to outlines in your owners’ manual – it’s imperative not to miss the oil changes. Older cars should have an oil and filter change every six months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. Warning lights: According to Ross, the most important thing to do if a warning light remains on is stop. “Don’t try to get home as those last few kilometres could do the most damage. Remember, a red light on the dash means ‘stop’ and an orange light means ‘caution’.” Ross says motorists are often confused about what their warning lights mean, especially the following three:
so pull over and call NRMA. but it actually means the alternator is not charging the battery. One guy had a sponge under his accelerator pedal because he thought it would save fuel. but not necessarily immediately. MYTH 4: Hindering the movement of the accelerator pedal can save fuel. ‘Check Engine’ light: This light means the computer has recorded an error or a fault and it requires attention. Your DIY checklist Run through this list regularly and keep your car in peak condition. see it has no water and fill it up with water and expect it to be okay. But if your car has been sitting in the garage for six months. And he wondered why he was losing power! 4 . MYTH 2: Batteries that aren’t used last longer. the first thing to do is examine the transponder key. If a battery sat around unused it could ‘sulphate up’ but if you put it on a long slow charge it could become serviceable. indicating the immobiliser was activated. FALSE. FALSE. people think they need a new battery. Attending to a lady whose car wouldn’t start. Sometimes people get a flat battery.• • • ‘Oil’ light: Pull over immediately if you see this light on – it doesn’t mean you’re out of oil. The mother held the baby up against the steering column as close to the ignition lock as possible. • • • • • • • • • • • • Engine oil Radiator coolant level Automatic transmission and power steering fluids Battery Brakes Tyres Headlights Windscreen wipers and washer fluid Inside controls Cosmetics Service (every six months or so) Warning lights Ross’ top 5 myth busters MYTH 1: Adding water to the battery will recharge it. MYTH 3: If your car won’t start. FALSE. He examined the key and noticed the transponder chip was missing. ‘Alternator’ light: As this light has a picture of a battery on it. It ages as soon as it’s created. the patrolman then turned the key to start the engine and the motor started straight away. which could indicate a serious problem. TRUE. This is not the case. The lady had given the key to her baby to chew on and they concluded the baby had swallowed the chip. but that there’s no oil pressure. don’t expect the battery to have a longer shelf life as a consequence. a patrolman from the RAC in London noticed the security light was flashing.
5 . paper or metal) used to prevent leaks between two compressed surfaces. it still ran until the battery failed. replaced the back seat and forgot about it. What it all means • • • • • • • • • • • • • Alternator: generator that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. may refer to the pedal that operates this device. He extended the rear seatbelt around the battery to hold it in place. radiator coolant. pushing the springs onto the battery. If the levels aren’t checked often. Being an older car. To fix it. Crankshaft: converts linear motion of the pistons into rotational motion used to drive the vehicle. 5. it short-circuited and the back seat caught on fire. Ross’ top 5 weirdest attempts at car maintenance 1. FALSE.. Exhaust: system of pipes used to expel engine gases. each contributes to keep the car working smoothly. Used to charge the car’s batteries and electric systems. which rusted its way through the floor and fell out. When someone sat in the rear seat a week later. Three different people whose cars had overheated and thinking the oil filler cap was the radiator cap.. Clutch: device that connects and disconnects the engine from the transmission. so unless you can find two-metre-long pantihose. It wouldn’t come off so his solution was to drive round and round in circles until it came off. Also. It worked in days past but modern cars have one belt that runs all the auxiliaries and can be up to two metres long.MYTH 5: Pantihose can replace a broken fan belt. Fanbelt: rubber belt that drives the vehicle’s cooling fan. he got some wire used in household power points and wired up the alternator. The lady who tried to do an oil change by draining the oil and when she couldn’t find where to put the new oil used a thimble to pour it down the dipstick tube. Fuel filter: screens out dirt and rust particles from the fuel. even though the polarity was reversed. 4. It also damaged the alternator. He undid the wheel nuts and tried to remove the wheel without jacking the car up. The guy who put in a battery back to front and burnt the fuseable link. automatic transmission. Carburettor: device in an internal-combustion engine that vaporises fuel and mixes it with air so it combusts and helps the car to go. 2. A mechanical engineering student with a flat tyre who had a spare but no jack. Dipstick: metal stick or rod used to measure your oil level. Gasket: mechanical seal (rubber. major problems can result. The guy who drove an old Volkswagen with the battery under the rear seat. forget it. 3. Fluids and oils: engine oil. removed it and filled up the engine with water. Chassis number: the chassis supports the body of the vehicle and the number on it helps to identify the vehicle body. Emission control: system used to control polluting gases produced by the engine. power steering and brake fluids . Car jack: device used to lift up the car – or part of the car. DIY dictionary. cork.
VIN: Vehicle Identification Number found on the body of the car to identify the specific vehicle. Socket wrench: wrench that completely covers the head of a bolt – used to loosen wheel nuts among other things. Tyre gauge: measures tyre pressure. Tyre: the band of rubber that fits around the rim of a wheel. Torque: the turning force produced by the engine to move the car.• • • • • • • • • • • • Hoses: used to move fluids around to cool and lubricate the car. Muffler: device in the exhaust that reduces noise from the engine. Timing belt: drives the camshaft(s) that open(s) and close(s) the engine’s valves at the correct time. We recommend you buy your own good quality gauge as service station gauges are often not accurate. 6 . Transmission: device that transmits the power from the engine (in varying amounts) to the wheels. Wheel: the circular frame that accommodates the tyre. Spark plugs: device that creates an electrical spark to ignite the fuel mixture that produces the power that drives the engine. Radiator: device that cools the liquid in the cooling system.
you end up with tyres worn for the rear being placed on the front and vice versa. I used to believe that this wasn't a good idea.000 miles or 8. front. Generally speaking you ought to rotate your tyres every 5. With unidirectional tyres. you can swap the front and rear per-side. but if you can't be bothered to buy a new pair of tyres when the old pair wear too much. but not swap them side-to-side.Chapter II: Car Maintenance Rotate your tyres! Every 5. If you now change them all around. having had this done a few times both on front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles during manufacturer services. even if they're showing no signs of wear. rotate your tyres.or rearwheel drive. Rotating your tyres This is the practice of swapping the front and back tyres to even out the wear. The following table shows the correct way to rotate your tyres 7 . not the practice of literally spinning your tyres around (you'd be surprised how often people seem to get confused by this). those with tread designed only to spin in one direction). This is a valid point.000km. If you do. By this. I mean wear in the tread depth. It results in even overall tyre wear. Think about it: the tyres begin to wear in a pattern. 4-.000 miles (8. they'll all end up spinning the wrong way for the tread. then you shouldn't be on the road. I' a bit of a convert. So how should you rotate your tyres? It depends on whether you have 2-. however good or bad. let alone kidding yourself that putting worn front tyres on the back and partly worn back tyres on the front will cure your problem.000km) or so. However. and whether or not you have unidirectional tyres (meaning. that matches their position on the car. I now reckon it actually is A Good Thing.
Check your tyre pressures Check your tyre pressures regularly . handling and comfort. It's easy to do and there is no excuse not to. the combination of road grime. Brake dust normally clings to wheels with static electricity so a damp sponge and clean cold water is the best way to get it off.Read more: http://www. Bad tyre pressures can affect fuel economy. Checking your tyres It's amazing that so many people pay such scant attention to their tyres. four little 20-square-centimetre pads of rubber are all that sits 8 . If you leave it too long. If you're travelling at 70mph on the motorway.once a week is ideal.html#20070703#ixzz108dV9Zbq Clean brake dust off regularly Brake dust contains all sorts of nasty stuff. moisture and heat from your brakes will bake it on to your wheels.carbibles.com/tyre_bible_pg3.
5psi. then I'll pop your bubble right now and tell you it's worth nothing. you really ought to check the pressures once every couple of weeks too. I've yet to find one that matches my little calibrated gauge. maybe once a week. don't pull it out. For a car. but they can be up to 20% out either way. or chunks of missing rubber gouged out from when you failed to negotiate that kerb last week. That's improved now and current-generation digital gauges are a lot more reliable. do it every night before you lock the bike up. Only recently . Although if you do find something like this. The key of course.have I been able to trust digital gauges. Don't trust them. That's pretty bad. then confirming it reads (consistently) more for higher pressure and less for lower pressure. Lies. Realistically even a cheap pressure gauge is OK provided it is consistent. branded pressure gauge that you can buy for a small outlay .I had one which told me that the air in my garage was at 18psi with nothing attached to the valve. If you're happy with riding around on worn tyres. but don't expect them to be of any help if you get into a sticky situation. Hold it on the valve cap for a few seconds and watch the display (if you can). One reader pointed something else out to me. and tyre pressure gauges Whilst on the subject of checking your tyres. As long as it's in there. This means that if you rely on their gauge.between you and a potential accident. When you pull it out. is to check your tyres regularly. the more they'll look after you. If you've got one of those free pencil-type gauges that car dealerships give away free. If you're a motorcyclist. You're looking for splits in the tyre sidewall. One thing to remember with digital gauges is to give them enough time to sample the pressure.. One last note : if you're a motorcyclist.and keep it in your glove box. your tyres are all 1.. it's sealing the hole. The more you look after your tyres. Before that they were just junk . that's fine. That doesn't mean I'm recommending you drive around with a nail in your tyre. My local garage forecourt has an in-line pressure gauge which over-reads by about 1. accurate tyre pressure gauge. Sure they'll fill the tyre with air.$30 maybe .since about 2003 . but it does mean you can at least get the car to a tyre place to get it pulled out and have the resulting hole plugged. Doing this does rather rely on you having. Generally speaking you should only trust a decent. This is easy to check by taking three to five readings of the same tyre and confirming they are all the same. 9 . the reading will be low. don't carry your pressure gauge in your pocket . I keep one in the car all the time and it's interesting to see how badly out the other cheaper or free ones are. My local garage in England used to have one that under-read by nearly 6 psi. You're looking for signs of adverse tyres wear (see the section above). meaning everyone's tyres were rock-hard because they were 6psi over-inflated. The best types are the ones housed in a brass casing with a radial display on the front and a pressure relief valve.. then you'll get the puncture. it will tear great chunks of flesh out of you as you careen down the road. damn lies. More obvious things to look for are nails sticking out of the tread.if you come off. those contact patches will not be doing their job properly. or having access to a working. Same goes for the ones you find on a garage forecourt. If you don't take care of your tyres.5psi short of their recommended inflation pressure. If you pop it on and off.
the required comfort vs. On my really old VW Golf.not only is it dangerous. Each time. Eventually. I'm a bit of a skeptic so I researched this on the Internet in some of the Impreza forums and chat rooms and it turns out to be true. It depends on how they drive. seeing odd tyre wear and getting fed up of doing this. what size wheels they have. So I pumped up the tyres to 40psi front and rear. to 37psi all round. and let the air out to get to those values. I got much better gas mileage and no difference in tyre wear by increasing my pressures to 40psi. On my Audi Coupe I cured some squirrelly braking problems by increasing the pressure at the front from 32psi to 36psi. The result. I can get an extra 50 miles between fill-ups now. I've basically achieved their quoted figures. So what can you. handling levels and so on and so forth. The Max. It's pub-science. as outlined above. Lets just say a good starting point is the pressure indicated in the owner's manual. I've ended up deviating from those figures for one reason or another. Ask ten Subaru Impreza owners what they run their tyres at and you'll get ten different answers. of course. I'd take our Subaru for its service. and my gas-mileage has changed from a meagre 15. and it would come back with the tyres pumped up to 40psi. I cured bad fuel economy and vague steering by increasing the pressures all-round to 33psi. That's with mostly stop-start in-town driving.S) to a slightly more respectable 20. or the sticker inside the driver's side door pillar. Pressure -10% theory. On my Honda Element. What's the "correct" tyre pressure? How long is a piece of string? Seriously though. It seems that the numbers they put in their manuals and door stickers are a little out of date. Imagine if you're underfilling your tyres because of a dodgy pressure gauge . and as my research indicated. what type of tyres they have. you'll be more likely to get a sensible answer to the length of a piece of string than you will to the question of tyres pressures. That's why I said the sticker in the door pillar is a good starting point. On my Subaru Impreza.Tyre pressure and gas-mileage For the first two years of our new life in America. So what does this prove? Well for one it proves that tyre pressure is absolutely linked to your car's economy. It does also add weight to the above motto about not trusting forecourt pressure gauges. It's really up to you to search the internet and ask around for information specific to your car. learn from my anecdotes? Not much really.32 mpg (U. as the garage had been doing. I say 'starting point' because on every car I've owned. but it's costing you at the pump too.S).7mpg (U. 10 . is a much stiffer ride. It also proves that it's worth researching things if you think something is a little odd. I'd check the door pillar sticker which informed me that they should be 32psi front and 28psi rear. I asked one of the mechanics "why do you always over-inflate the tyres?" I got a very long and technical response which basically indicated that Subaru are one of the manufacturers who've never really adjusted their recommended tyre pressures in line with new technology. dear reader. I cured the vague handling and outer-tyre-edge wear by increasing the pressures from the manufacturer-recommended 32/34psi front and rear respectively. Compare that to the official quoted Subaru figures of 21mpg (city) and 27mpg (freeway) and you'll see that by changing the tyre pressures to not match the manual and door sticker. But the odd tyre wear has gone.
But from my experience it does seem to provide a better starting point for adjusting tyre pressures. If you've dicked around with your tyre pressures and still don't think it's right. Having said this. It is not the pressure you should inflate them to. go back to the door pillar sticker and try that again . On my Element. Also. Going up to 38psi and it definitely went off the boil. 10% of that is 4. So should we take all vehicle manufacturers recommendations as being absolutely correct? Remember that thousands of hours go into the development and testing of a car. Four new tyres might seem expensive but they're cheaper than a fine or an accident. According to the wags on many internet forums you can get the best performance by inflating them to 10% less than their recommended maximum pressure (the tyres. the tyre is stiffer and therefore heats up less so lasts longer and less friction with the road gives greater MPG.4=39. The other alternative . examine it and if your tread is too low. It's a vague rule of thumb. slick tyres might be good for motor racing but they're no good on the road. so 44-4. Tread depth and tread wear indicators 11 .pressure-10% theory. so for my vehicle and my driving style. not the wags . So to go back to my Subaru Impreza example. This is the maximum pressure the tyre can safely achieve under load.don't mess with your pressures at all So . it's a bit of a sledgehammer approach. Raising or lowering tyre pressures too much either side of manufacturers recommendations could be at the expense of a less safe. 37psi on the Element was the sweet spot. I've given up using the door pillar sticker as my starting point and instead use the max. the maximum pressure is 40psi so the 10% rule started me out at 36psi. and given that every car is different in weight and handling.6psi which is about where I ended up.4. Check your tread depth Bald.Every tyre has a maximum inflation pressure stamped on the side somewhere.find one. Most tyres come with tread wear bars built into them now .you could be surprised.raising the pressure can extend a tyre's life because there is now less rubber contact with the road. the maximum pressure on my Yokohama tyres was 44psi. more uncomfortable vehicle. less sidewall flex will give a more positive feeling of steering accuracy but it can result in less ultimate grip and sudden unexpected loss of grip at the limit of adhesion.they already haves inflated egos). I added one more to see what happened and it got better. replace your tyres.
under the same conditions with the same driver.6mm up to 3mm. the tyre tread will become flush with the wear indicator (which is normally recessed into the tread). he slammed into the lead vehicle still doing 35mph. The only thing that changed was the tyres. as by this point. It's really basic. the tread wears down.6mm. 12 . but representative of the real-world. If you look around the tread carefully. Actually it's wise to change your tyres before you get to the wear indicator.For the most part. The lead car had 3mm of tread left. Their reasons are backed up by testing : at 1. This varies from country to country but is normally around 1. the effectiveness of the tyre in the wet is pretty limited. the trailing driver reacted nearly instantly. The cars were driven at 50mph at a distance of 3 car lengths apart . despite still being perfectly legal.in other words it is time to change tyres. at some point you'll see a bar of rubber which goes across the tread and isn't part of the regular pattern (see the picture here for an example). but despite years of training and an ABS-equipped car. When the lead driver performed an emergency stop.6mm. At this point you have about 2mm of tread left . but it's also pretty foolproof.6mm. the stopping distance is increased by 40% in the wet over tyres that have 3mm of tread left. most tyres have tread wear indicators built into them. Minimum legal tread depth does not mean "safe". As the rubber in your tyres wears away due to everyday use. the trailing car had 1. The tread wear indicator is moulded into the rubber at a depth of about 2mm normally. At some point. This is the wear indicator. To assist you in figuring out when you're getting close to that value.not safe. The Fifth Gear TV program performed a graphic demonstration of the problem by equipping two cars with different tyres. They are campaigning to have the legal minimum in England increased from 1. They performed the test using the same car. and its grip in the dry won't be as sharp as it was when new. Auto Express magazine in the UK did some pretty rigorous testing on "legal" tyres. motoring law in most countries determines that your tyres need a minimum tread depth to be legal. In 2006.
In an interference engine. circled in red is where the open valve interferes with the position of the piston at the top of its travel. they take up some space at the top of the chamber.000 miles. the position of the piston at the top of its stroke will occupy the same physical space that the open valves do whilst the piston is at the bottom of its stroke. into the combustion chamber. not a luxury: Interference vs. more so in extreme conditions like those found in an operating engine bay.once a week is ideal. It's important to know if your engine is an interference engine because if the timing belt breaks. See the Fuel and Engine bible for information on interference engines and why checking your timing belts is a necessity. Because the valves always open inwards. On the left. It's easy to do and there is no excuse not to 13 . In a non-interference engine. in 99% of cases you won't suffer any valve damage because the piston cannot physically touch the open valves. driving everything from the alternator to the a/c compressor. non-interference engines It's worth mentioning the two sub-types of 4 stroke engine at this point. at least one set of valves will stop in the open position and the momentum of the engine will ram the piston in that cylinder up into the valves requiring a very expensive engine repair or replacement. On the right. Bad tyre pressures can affect fuel economy very noticeably. Fuel Economy Check your tyre pressures regularly . The picture here shows the difference between the two types. Rubber perishes. Get your timing belt and accessory drive belt checked every 25. That is the technical explanation of why its important to get your timing belt changed at the manufacturer-specified mileage. preferably replacing it every 50.000 miles. so if your timing belt snaps on one of these engines.Check your belts At the front of your engine there will be a series of rubber drive belts that loop around various pulleys. the valves do not occupy any space that the piston could move into. a non-interference engine shows there is still a gap at the same point (exaggerated for my picture).
The photos below show a Honda dipstick which has the two dots. When checking the level of oil in the engine. More information on why you should check your oil level is here Checking the oil in your engine. Pull it out and wipe it clean. (If it's too low. add a little. Why not just read the level first time around? The first time you pull the dipstick out.it's quick and easy and it'll tell you if your engine needs oil. dry sumps below. it can cause trouble for your engine. and should be relatively cold. For more info on sump types. Check the level of the oil.Checking your oil level This is something everyone can do . park on level ground and wait until the engine has cooled down after driving. see Wet sumps vs. it will have oil all over it and it will be difficult to tell where the level is. But you'd be surprised by the number of people that don't know how to do even this basic task. To check the oil. Note that this section only applies to wet sump engines . then dip it back into the oil to get a good reading. an "H" and "L" or a shaded area on the dipstick. the car should be on a level plane. If the oil is too high or too low. you're fine. this little section could be categorised by the rearranging the words "granny eggs teaching suck your to".the type found in most consumer vehicles. then push it all the way back in until the top of it is seated properly in the dip tube again. That's why you need to wipe it on a rag to get a clean dipstick. and topping up . To a lot of people. and they invariably check 14 . then locate the dipstick. Wait a moment then pull it out again. I've run into several people lately who insist in keeping the crankcase topped off completely. If it's between the high and low marks.) The high and low marks can be denoted by two dots.
the oil now coming from the front leak will be neatly distributed about the engine bay as it hits the front pulley . the excess oil gets thrown up into the piston bores where the piston rings have a hard time coping with the excess oil and pressure. Overfilling will mean the crank dips into the oil and churns it into a froth. things aren't working out any better on the inside. As well as smothering the clutch with oil from the rear. place a great strain on the seal on the rear main bearing. The oil will have had time to settle back into the sump. As you can see from the diagram. the rear main bearing seal ruptures. this means one thing: this oil goes right onto the flywheel and the face of the clutch disc.often propelling it out as far as the brake discs. like I the '92 Porcshe Carrera. especially if you are driving on a motorway. On seeing what appears to be an abnormally low level on the dipstick. the correct oil level is really close to the rotating crank. you did ask. So what's the best way to check the oil level? If your engine is cold (for example it has been parked overnight) you can check the oil level right away. (On the image. 15 . and takes some time to drain back into the crankcase. or you put too much oil in when you changed it yourself. often much sooner than the ordinary man in the street might expect. Typically this means that bearing damage will follow quite rapidly. Reading the oil in this way results in an erroneous reading because a quantity of oil (usually about half a litre) is still confined in the oilways and passages (galleries) of the engine. and the engine then becomes a 'gusher' (or to be more colourful. The engine smells like a garage mechanic cooking over an open flame and the noise coming from the engine is the sort of thing you'd normally hear in vaudeville plays when a piano is pushed down a flight of stairs.some cars.the dipstick just after shutting down the engine. Eventually. going way above the 'MAX' mark on the dipstick. and suddenly the engine becomes over-filled with oil. If you've got a manual gearbox. This renders it utterly useless for good. Froth is good on certain types of coffee but not good in an engine. If the engine is warm or hot (after you've been driving) then you should wait for 30 minutes or so to let as much oil as possible drain back into the sump. these people then add more oil to the oil filler at the top of the engine. it starts pissing oil all over the place). The oilways and passages all empty. As if that all wasn't bad enough. and the engine becomes a 'leaker'. the windage in the crankcase and other pressures generated by the oil pump. It gets into the combustion chamber and some of it will get out into the exhaust system unburned resulting in a nice patina of oil all over the platinum surfaces of your catalytic converter. air is not a lubricant. Well. A lubricated clutch is A Bad Thing. etc. the blue areas are where oil is likely to still be running back down to the sump). The mixture of aerated oil will be forced into the bearings and in case you didn't know. You'll know bearing damage when you get it. It's worth pointing out that you should double-check your owner's manual too . At the same time as this Hollywood disaster movie is unfolding outside the engine. the front seal is the next to go. Checking it first thing the next morning is ideal. What happens when an engine is overfilled with oil? So you topped up the engine when it was warm after getting a faulty dipstick reading. What's the worst that could happen? Well the problem with this is that the next time the engine is run. Just make sure the car is level before you do. require that the oil is checked while the engine is running and the oil is at temperature. If this still goes unnoticed.
use regular. There are plenty of decent quality waxes and polishes on the market today and if the last time you waxed or polished your car was over a decade ago. the look of the finish. Bodywork / paint Keeping your paint finish in good condition Only choose superior car detailing supplies to keep your car's interior and exterior like new. The wax and polish compounds are far more sophisticated both in terms of protection from fading. but if you park under a tree where birds help repaint your car with recycled blueberries. If your handbook says "regular". It will normally be bolted to one side of the engine bay or the other.the outside should have 'low' and 'high' markings on it and the level of coolant inside should be between the two. That's where the myth of "premium = more power" came from. Fuel / gas Will higher octane or premium fuel give me better gas mileage and/or more power? o. The coolant is the other thing your engine cannot go without. Tip: If you find a bird has pooped on your car. If the coolant system is still hot then it is still under pressure and the pressure release will burn you. Wait until your engine is cool and take a look at it . something everyone can do. that guck will come off a lot easier if it falls on a waxed paint job. Every engine is different but if you check your handbook you should find where the coolant reservoir is. things have changed considerably since then.Checking your coolant level Again. Do not take the radiator cap off to check coolant levels. wash it off as quick as you can. 16 . There are compounds in bird waste that can damage most car paint jobs. yes. you could end up with a dull spot in the paint. and be a white semi-transparent bottle. Sportier cars have higher compression engines which generate more power and require higher octane fuel to prevent detonation. Is a clean car a vanity thing? Partly. and the ease of application. See octane and power for more information. If you leave it in the sun and the poop bakes on. For example Turtle Wax Ice gets rid of that old problem of white wax residue.
Don't be afraid of this . When you slip the negative connector on. If you need to take the battery out.it's nothing to worry about. then reattach them as described above. By disconnecting the negative first. Use a wire-tie or similar to tie the cable back out of the way. the negative side is still connected to the entire car. there will be a spark as it gets close and makes contact with the negative battery terminal. If you drop a tool and it lands on the positive battery terminal and touches anything else on the car. To do this. disconnect the battery first. If your battery terminals or contacts aren't clean. you can now take off the positive connector. Make sure the terminal caps are done up nice and tight. and wiggle the terminal cap off. and for the same reasons. 17 . loosen the connector for the negative/ground terminal first. Check your battery terminals Most modern cars run on a 12 volt negative ground electrical system. you're making it more difficult for the current to pass around the electrical system. Remove the terminal caps as described above and clean each contact post with a wire brush to get a nice clean metal contact surface. Connect the positive terminal first. and the negative second the reverse of removal. Reconnecting your battery. it doesn't matter if it touches part of the chassis or not . Why negative then positive? If you disconnect the positive side of the battery first.Electrical Disconnecting and reconnecting your battery If you're going to do any work on your car involving the electrical system. Do the same to the terminal caps. Now.there's no continuous path for the electrical current. if a tool drops on to either of the battery terminals. you're cutting off the return path for the current. you'll have an electrical short.
On Board Diagnostics 2.Lights One indicator or blinker is flashing faster than the other When you indicate one way and the blinker flashes quicker than when you indicate the other way. When changing headlight bulbs. engine. Every new car now comes with OBD-II . An auto parts store will be able to tell you what sort of bulb you need to replace it with and your manual should show you how to get at the indicator bulbs . If you pick the bulb up by the glass with your fingers.they're different on every car. or make sure you're wearing rubber surgical / mechanic's gloves (clean ones) if you're touching the glass. 18 . Don't touch the glass when changing headlight bulbs Most headlight bulbs now are filled with halogen and have special coatings on the outside of the glass. fuel and emissions system. Dash / instrument warning lights The check engine light. you will leave trace amounts of oil and grease on the glass. This is a fault-registering system connected to sensors all over the car. it means one of the bulbs has blown. that area of the glass will get hotter than the rest and it will eventually cause the bulb to crack. When the bulb is used. only hold the metal bulb holder at the base.
Murray's. and being independent. for example.if you know. Note : even if the light does go off. The historical codes are lists of things that have been detected in the past but are no longer an issue. If they do. it can mean many things. drop me a line. If tightening the gas cap didn't do it. Most new cars have a pressurised fuel system and vapour recovery loop. P0440 is the code for Evaporative Emission Control System Malfunction which covers a multitude of sins. Some garages will charge you just for plugging the device in and reading the code. P0440 OBD-II code. If you've filled up with petrol and not twisted the gas cap until it clicks. There are something like 4. check the gas cap first and see if the light goes off. then a lot of places that will give you the diagnostic code for free. you'll need to find someone with an OBD2 diagnostics tool or reader. If you just turn up. Advance) as well as AutoZone. the dash scrolls "CHECK GAS CAP" across the odometer display. Kragen. In fact. In the UK I'm not sure who does . The alternative. C-codes (chassis) and the biggest list of all .When the check engine light comes on. Drop in . and active. In America specifically. if a P0440 code is logged. In the Honda Element. It won't pressurise and the OBD2 system will log a P0440 code. A lot of times if you phone up they'll tell you it's $40. the diagnosis won't be predicated on you buying some expensive parts from a corporate chain. So if you get a check engine light. on a lot of cars. They're ripping you off. if you're into maintaining your own vehicles. that code is so common they'll actually have some way of telling you to check the gas cap. more often than not they'll do it for nothing. walk away.don't phone up and ask. Codes are subdivided into B-codes (body).historical/inactive. the code will likely still be stored in the OBD system and will show up next time it is checked. is to buy a reader and do it 19 . This is the most common code you'll find and it's the first thing you should check. Better to find a garage or mechanic that will read the code and actually give you a diagnosis rather than just making you pay to find out a number. It wasn't the gas cap. The one thing it covers that you can check is your gas cap (petrol cap). Handheld OBD2 diagnostic tools can be plugged in to the OBD2 port which is normally under the dash on the driver's side.000 unique OBD2 codes that can be stored. you've not sealed the fuel system. Smaller garages and local mechanics will normally do this for you for a small fee. These tools can read out the fault code and/or reset the system to contain no codes. If you're a do-it-yourself type used to working from shop manuals.P-codes (powertrain). Codes are split into two categories . whilst the active codes are things that are a problem right now. the Schuck's chain do free diagnostics checks (Checker.
Brake warning light 1 Most cars nowadays have a brake warning light on the dash. you can use it indefinitely.and a 12v battery used to supply power to the electrical system. If the alternator becomes faulty or the drive belt to it snaps.yourself. The brake warning light doesn't have a standard meaning. Every car has an alternator . but if this light comes on and stays on. In most cars this can be overridden or reset by you. check your owner's manual to find out its meaning. It's an indicator that you're getting close to a scheduled maintenance interval. it normally means you're within 500 miles of needing a service. If the cellphone is plugged into the charger. whilst on others it maps engine temperatures. the owner. Typically this light will come on when you start your car. This might indicate "Service". You'll see it come on and go off when you start your engine as part of the car's self-test. The electrical fault light. Its purpose is to alert you that something is wrong in the braking system somewhere. and then turn off again as part of the self-check. Your handbook will tell you if this is the case. it normally means you've exceeded a recommended service interval. The longer you drive. If it comes on. air temperatures and other indicators of probable stress to tell you when it might be time for new oil or a service. This almost always requires a new or refurbished alternator. It's exactly the same in your car. only bigger. The service engine light / Maint Reqd light. but when you disconnect it from the charger. then it will not be able to do its job. there's a limited amount of time before your battery runs out. Think of it like a cellphone battery. it means the electrical charging system is no longer working properly. it could be used for multiple purposes. For example. "Service Engine" or "Maint Reqd". On some cars it's as simple as counting miles before it comes on. the garage should reset it for you. If it stays on for 10 seconds then turns off.the charger . the more your car will use up the remaining juice in the battery and eventually the engine will die. If you take your car for a service. similar to the picture on the left here. This warning light is different in every car but normally it looks like a picture of a battery. oil temperatures. the same light may be used 20 . If it flashes for 10 seconds.
Top up the system with either a pre-mixed coolant bought from a shop. If that's the case and you're driving. Which is nice. flashes or in any other way draws your attention to itself. Low oil pressure can be caused by a failed oil pump. then you. It's not doing that just to please itself. It's important to note that this light normally comes on when you start the car and then switches off a few seconds later. It means the ABS computer has diagnosed that something is amiss in the system. Oil warning light Typically this light will come on if your oil pressure is too low. you also have a second light . Brake warning light 2 If you've got an ABS-equipped car. If it blinks." Coolant warning light This is normally the coolant level warning light. or to mix your own rather than using neat water.the mineral deposits in it boil out in the cooling system and calcium gets depositted around the inside of the radiator making it less efficient (which will eventually cause it to fail). It's always best to use pre-mixed coolant. a blocked oil 21 . get it seen to as soon as possible. you ought to have noticed the smell of burning brake dust by now. or something as costly as an entire ABS unit replacement.the ABS light. then take note. Do it when the engine is cold. It could be something as simple as dirt in one of the sensors. my friend. or with distilled water. eventually your engine will die. Compared to a steady light. The coolant mixture behaves as an antifreeze in winter as well as a corrosion-inhibitor to stop your engine rusting from the inside out.to show that the hand brake (parking brake for the Americans amongst you) is on. Either way. DO NOT OPEN THE RADIATOR CAP WHEN THE ENGINE IS HOT! The coolant system is pressurised and it could easily release pressure and spray you with boiling coolant. Low oil pressure is serious and if you continue to drive with this light on. have got 1970's brakes. If this comes on it means that the level of coolant in your radiator is low and needs topping up. throbs. If it comes on. The light can also indicate that the fluid in the master cylinder is low. Each manufacturer has a different use and standard for this light. Because it would be such a drag if the same indicator meant the same thing in every vehicle. if that light is on. Don't use tap water . a blinking ABS light normally indicates something more serious. In some cases it could be as bad as "you have no brakes at all.
for example if your engine is burning oil. 22 .filter or strainer in the sump. you need to get it fixed. Either way. and fast. or by low oil levels . Low oil pressure is A Bad Thing and your engine won't thank you for leaving this problem untreated.
Doing it yourself: Changing your oil
Here is a generic, idiots-guide to changing the oil in your engine. It's not specific to any particular car but ought to cover most engines. Before you start, you'll need the following :
• • • • • • • • •
new oil (duh!) a drain pan an oil funnel rags a socket wrench set and / or hex wrench set (allen wrenches) an oil filter remover a new crush washer nitrile gloves (not latex - mineral oil eats latex gloves) engineer / shop manual, if one is available
1. Start your engine and run it for a couple of minutes to get some heat into the oil 2. Leave the engine to stand for 5 or 10 minutes. When you started it, it heated the oil but it also filled the oilways. You want the oil to drain back to the sump. 3. Take the dipstick out or loosen it off and break the seal where it plugs into the engine dipstick tube. This prevents a vacuum building up behind the oil when you start to drain it. 4. Get your drain pan / oil container and stuff it under the sump. Make sure it's sitting under the sump drain plug. I Really like the combined drainer / container types. They look like regular oil containers but if you lay them on their side, there's a pop-out plug. When you drain the oil, it runs into the side of the container, then you can put the plug back in and use the same container to take the oil away.
5. Put your rubber gloves on. Try to use the disposable type. Your mum / wife will never forgive you if you use the washing-up gloves. Remember - used oil is toxic and carcinogenic. If you get it on your skin, it could cause problems. Use your socket wrench or allen wrench to loosen the sump plug just slightly. Once it's loose, remove it by hand.
6. Be amazed as the black syrup runs out of the engine and into your container. Be more amazed how, if it's windy, those last dregs just won't hit the container no matter where you put it. They will however go all over the road/garage floor/cat. 7. Remove the old crush washer from the sump plug and throw it away. Replace it with a new one. Use some of the oil from the drain container on the end of a rag to wipe around the drain hole in the sump. This will help clean any mess away and leave you with a smooth surface. Screw the sump plug back in by hand until it's finger tight and then use your wrench to crush the washer. This can vary from a quarter turn to a half turn. Don't overdo it or you'll strip the threads. Similarly, don't leave it too loose or it will fall out. If in doubt, use a torque wrench set to the value indicated in your shop manual.
8. Now get your oil filter remover out. Push the oil drain container under the oil filter when you spin it off, there will be a lot of oil comes out. Use the filter remover to grip the oil filter and spin it off anticlockwise. 99.9% of oil filters take some muscle to get going. This is why a filter remover is a must-have. Stabbing the filter with a screwdriver and using brute force may work, but you'll be finding oil all over yourself for weeks to come if you use that method. Apart from that, some cars have aluminium inserts that protrude out of the engine block into the body of the filter, so firing a screw driver into the filter near its base (the strongest part) may shear that aluminium bit off the engine block. That Would Be Bad. If you really can't lay hands on a filter wrench, try sandpaper - wrap it around the filter, sand-side-in and grip the paper backing - you might be able to spin the filter off like that. Once the filter is finger-loose, spin it off by hand. (these things below are filter removers)
9. Clean off the face of the oil filter mount on the side of the engine block using a rag. Use a little oil on a rag to wipe around the seal of the new filter and spin it on by
hand. Once it's locked against the side of the engine block, another quarter-turn by hand is normally enough to secure it in place. 10. Pull the drain container out from under the car and use a rag to wipe down any excess oil that has spilled down the side of the engine block. Pay attention around the sump plug and the filter. These are places you'll be checking later for leaks so the cleaner they are now, the better. 11. Use a little WD40 on the oil container and an old rag to clean the remaining oil down into the container. Put the plug back in and make sure it fits snug. That's your waste oil. Don't drink it. 12. Up to the top of the again engine now. Put the dipstick back in. Find the oil filler cap and take it off. It might say "OIL" or it might say "710". It is not a "710 cap" as one person once asked for. "710" is "OIL" upside-down. Some people need to be told.... 13. Look in your shop manual for the system capacity with filter change. This will be more than the capacity without a filter change. A lot of oil containers now come with capacity marks on the side of them. Put your oil funnel into the oil filler hole and pour in the right amount of oil. Do it slowly. If you do it quick, you'll get airlocks and the funnel will burp oil in your face. 14. Once you're happy you've got enough oil in there (check it with the dipstick if you're not sure), remove the funnel, replace the oil cap and replace the dipstick. 15. Pull the main high tension wire from the distributor cap or in some way disable the engine so that you can crank it over but it WILL NOT start. (Note : you might want to pull out the fuel pump fuse too - if you crank the engine without it starting, it will still be pumping fuel - that could cause a backfire or damage the catalyst). Crank it over until the low pressure light goes off, and another 15-20 seconds for good measure. You are pumping new oil into the empty filter and then expelling all the air from the oil lines and cavities. 16. Replace the high tension lead (and fuel pump fuse) and start the engine and let it idle for a minute or so. Stop the engine. I don't want you crawling under a car to look for leaks when the engine is running. There's so many things that can go wrong with spinning fan blades, belts, human hair, clothes, fingers and the odd dodgy autogearbox that will slip into "D" and run you over. 17. With the engine off have a look at the side of the engine block around the oil filter. Check the area around the sump drain too. Both should be as clean as you left them with no sign of leaks. If there's a leak, a little tightening of the drain plug or filter should cure it. One reader suggested and additional step before (9) above. When he changes his filter, he fills the new one up with clean oil and waits for it to soak into the filter itself. Once he's satisfied that the filter is soaked, he pours the excess oil out of the filter and then screws it on to the engine. Job well done. Now you should have hands that smell of talcum powder and rubber (from the gloves), a couple of greasy, slippery tools and a container full of old oil. Oh, and a crush washer and filter. If you've got more than this, you took something off that I didn't tell you to. If you turned the engine off before checking for leaks, you should also have a full complement of fingers, hair (if you had it to start with) and you should still be fully clothed. Congratulations. You've changed your engine oil.
com ten tips for better gas mileage: 26 . I've found over the past 6 to 8 years that on-board mpg displays tend to over-read by about 7%. going this route will normally result in a net loss you'll end up losing money unless you keep the new car for 5 years or more. but if you let the pump cut off on its own each time. they do tend to be a bit optimistic. fill it to the pump cutoff. Fuel economy is a total mystery to them. but it's the best chance you have.getting better mpg out of your existing car. I say full because each car has a different amount of dead space at the top of the tank and in the fuel filler neck. But be careful . Whilst these are useful. Fill your car to the point where the pump cuts off and zero your trip counter.I realise to a lot of you this is the age-old adage of teaching you to suck eggs. the carbibles. you can start to figure out your running average using some simple maths ew car or something else? One of the first things that people think of once they think they're getting bad gas mileage.the initial outlay to swap cars will likely be huge. it will generally fill to around the same level each time. Zero the trip counter again and keep a note of the mpg calculation. Now you know you're starting from a 'full' tank. So how do you measure your average mpg? It's easy. make a note of the number of litres or gallons you put in. Better fuel economy will mean that the day-to-day running expenses will be less once you've got the new car.not necessarily brand new . Once you have four or five calculations. In order of ease-of-attainability then.perhaps a more fuel-efficient used car one or even a hybrid. So . Each time you fill up. So then you're left with the other option .you have to do your homework here. It's important because generally speaking. is buying a new car . So first . again fill the tank to the pump cutoff and importantly. It's painful to your wallet. But think about it . calculating your mpg or litres per km each time. Take into account how much you could sell your existing car for and how much you're going to pay for the new one.Chapter IV: Improving your fuel economy First things first : measuring your gas mileage It seems obvious but a lot of people just don't know how to measure their average gas mileage.a lot of cars nowadays have an mpg readout that you can select from their onboard computer. and make a note of the amount that went in and the trip counter reading. So bear with me . Divide one by the other and you get either miles per gallon (mpg) or km per litre.fill up. Next time you fill up. and the trip counter reading. especially at today's prices. You need to start with a full tank and always fill your tank to the point where the pump cuts off. Not much but enough to give you a skewed view of reality.
do you want better fuel economy or to get there marginally quicker? I sound like a total wet blanket telling you this of course. What about when you're not on the motorway? Well consider a little less braking if you can. Here's the thing . If you're caning it away from the traffic lights. Now I love speed as much as the next person but you have to be realistic here . If you can get there as they turn green and the traffic in front begins to move. It's not improving your mpg. but a money saving at least. Vote with your money. no matter where you live. you're wasting petrol and your mpg will be down. Not an improvement in fuel economy per se. which means consuming more petrol to do it. there will be one or more internet sites that can provide you with petrol prices in your area. Use the internet Again . In highperformance cars with high-compression engines. If you're endurance racing at 80mph on the motorway. and in the long term. That's because it takes more energy to get you going from a complete stop than it does from a slow roll. Change octane if you can Too many people drive around with medium or premium gas in their tank when they just don't need to. Try to moderate your speed a little if you can do it safely. Putting mid-grade or premium in is just wasting money. that means allowing the engine management system to work at peak efficiency but for probably 75% of you. but driving slower absolutely will improve your mpg. If your owner's manual says "regular".not so much about improving your mpg as saving money. you're doing OK. that's what counts 27 . 2. it will improve your mpg. The only thing that higher octane gives you is less probability of detonation. Your right foot So simple anyone can do it. and shun the expensive ones. you're using more engine power to overcome drag. 3. your car will quite happily run on the cheapest petrol you can put in it.your gas mileage can drop off as much as 15% between driving at or below 65mph and driving above 65mph. don't race up to them and come to a complete stop. you have absolutely no need for high-octane petrol.1. you're wasting petrol. So if you can do this. but it is saving you money. Buy from the cheap ones. it means it. Why? Because once you get over about 65mph. If you can see the next set of lights ahead of you are red. Why? Unless you have a high-compression engine which could be prone to detonation (pinking / pinging).
To compensate for the reduced airflow. It's all to do with money. If your tyre pressures are low. Great. For others. Your air filter is what protects your engine from ingesting all the dust. So make sure they're up to manufacturer recommended values (at the very least) and watch your mpg get a little better. Yes they look aerodynamic but the fact of the matter is they do induce drag. mpg. When you're commuting to work. you will be increasing the rolling resistance of the tyre on the road and that will be robbing your fuel efficiency . Check your tyre pressures regularly . When I went for aftermarket alloy wheels and tyres on my Honda Element. much like the bag of a vacuum cleaner. US petrol prices.here. More drag means more power to overcome it. Less load means better mpg. If it's doing its job well.your gas mileage will be down. UK petrol prices. Be lazy? Or save money? 6. out of mind.I know it means getting up and doing something rather than just routinely getting in your car and driving off but we're talking about gas mileage here. dirt and crap in the air. Apathy in this area is what the petrol companies rely on. Same goes for those 'aerodynamic' roof boxes . Once it clogs up. This means that there's less effort required to roll the tyre along the road surface. 4b. which means worse mpg. 4a.if you're not using it. Take it off when you're not using it. To get you going. All motoring sites and magazines tell you the same thing and that's for a reason. Get rid of the roof rack You go biking or skiing at the weekends. the engine management system will richen 28 . Get low rolling-resistance tyres You might never have considered this. your engine has a harder time sucking air through it. they look silly. but manufacturers do make tyres designed for low rolling resistance. get rid of it. Check your tyre pressures This is a total no-brainer. here's a couple of examples. Hey . use your favourite search engine. it will clog up. Fuel economy. 5. my gas mileage dropped by about 1mpg due simply to the change in tread pattern of the tyres. And to be honest. that empty roof rack is adding aerodynamic drag to your car. I'm guilty of this.make it part of your Sunday routine or something. Less effort means less load on your engine. Change your air filter Out of sight.
you're ensuring that your engine is keeping its 'fresh blood'. Ultrasonic cleaning for your fuel injectors The only surefire way to clean your fuel injectors is to have them removed and given an ultrasonic bath. 10. chipping or remapping your engine management computer would normally be done to improve performance.000 miles on them. Replace your air filter once a year and you'll guarantee better gas mileage. It will normally be a simple matter of some plastic or metal clips to get the airbox apart and then you can replace the old duffer with the new hotness. Duh! This is one of the easiest ones to do yourself too. It won't be cheap but it's cheaper than a new car (by a huge margin) and it will help your mpg. Go out to your local parts store and look through their catalog to find the right filter (or use any of a myriad of online retailer who normally have better prices on aftermarket and performance stuff like K&N air filters).5 overnight. If you've got more than 30. 9.up the mixture. Remapping your ECU . It is possible however to go the other way . So why am I guilty of this? At the time of writing I change the three-year-old filter in my car and my mpg jumped by 2. I wouldn't be surprised to see this happen. This is like those jewellery cleaners you might have seen. but it might be worth investigating. Change your oil and oil filter Whilst you won't see any massive improvement by changing your oil and filter. For the most part. Basically it's a small tub filled with detergent solution that is hit with ultra high frequency vibrations or sound waves. 7. a few tuning houses in America have seen some interesting results from flashing European engine maps into US vehicles. For example.000 miles on yours. using more petrol to keep the engine running smoothly. which will contribute to improved gas mileage. It's a bit dodgy because it means those vehicles won't pass the 29 . Fresh plugs that aren't covered in carbon desposits will certainly help you in your quest to become a fuel miser. or you've got more than 60. Clean injectors give a more even fuel-air mix which results in a more predictable burn in the cylinder.chipping and tuning Expensive one this. Get new spark plugs Spark plugs work in an incredibly hostile environment. consider getting the professionally cleaned. 8. The net effect is that any carbon deposits are shaken off the fuel injectors.trade off some performance in exchange for better gas mileage. On my car that equated to a 13% improvement for an outlay of $14. change them. Not a lot of places are advertising this yet but as the price of petrol continues to spiral. If your injectors have never been done.
And so on and so on. I had some good ones come back straight away so on page 2 you'll find the expanding list of reader-submitted tips. use the European map. Of course you didn't get that idea from here :-) What does all this add up to? Realistically. So you can keep wasting money if you like.and if you're interested. How useful is that? It's a round trip to Vegas (no hotel). you could get a dual-map system. For everyday driving. Oh . Last year I spent around $2600 on petrol throughout the year. send me your ideas. Happy motoring. After my initial blog post. if you religiously stick to the above points (from a regime of previously doing nothing special). and I hope you see some improvements in your fuel economy. 5 weeks grocery shopping. Doesn't sound like a lot? Let me put a number on it.emissions tests. A 15% improvement in gas mileage correlates to a 15% decrease in outlay to fill my car. In my case about $400 a year. For the inspection and emissions. 30 . but if you're serious about getting better gas mileage. leave it in "US" mode. you should expect to see an mpg improvement of about 15%. 6 months car insurance. but if you're serious. these simple steps really will help.
The layers are called leaves. So we rely upon suspension. It also prevents your car from shaking itself to pieces. Or at least it would be a travelling deathtrap until the incessant vibration caused it to fall apart. and are actually coiled torsion bars.they keep your wheels planted on the road. and it's passengers. You want more technical terms? Technically they are velocity-sensitive hydraulic damping devices . So as the rails deviate side-to-side slightly. and thus control the rate of damping. the axle is attached to one end of a steel shaft. The torsion bar on its own is a bizarre little contraption which gives coiledspring-like performance based on the twisting properties of a steel bar.in other words. it's coiled up. that's what is happening. If your car only had springs. As the suspension moves. they keep the suspension at as full a travel as possible for the given road conditions . Now image that same shaft but instead of being straight. all the way down the coil.Chapter V: The Suspension Apart from your car's tyres and seats. There's a whole section further down the page specifically on torsion bars and progressive springs. In it's most basic form. Instead of having a coiled spring. and the rear suspension of Peugeot 205s amongst other cars. Actually it's harsh because underground trains have no lateral suspension to speak of.dampers. No matter how smooth you think the road is. Shock absorbers These dampen the vertical motion induced by driving your car along a rough surface and so should technically be referred to by their 'proper' name . the more resistance there is to that movement. Leaf springs are what you would find on most American cars up to about 1985 and almost all heavy duty vehicles. The damper does this by forcing gas or oil through a constriction valve (a small hole). Shock absorbers (dampers) perform two functions. It's used in the suspension of VW Beetles and Karmann Ghias. which in turn resist. The other end is slotted into a tube and held there by splines. it's a bad. it would boat and wallow along the road until you got physically sick and had to get out. In a car. the faster they move. The spring allows movement of the wheel to allow the energy in the road shock to be transformed into kinetic energy of the unsprung mass. the rubber in your tyre helps with this little problem. hence leaf-spring. Coil springs are what most people are familiar with. you're actually inducing a twisting in the shaft. torsion bars and leaf springs. so does the entire train. the suspension is the prime mechanism that separates your bum (arse for the American) from the road. But secondly. They work in conjunction with the springs. whereupon it is dissipated by the damper. they absorb any larger-than-average bumps in the road so that the upward velocity of the wheel over the bump isn't transmitted to the car chassis. It would be a travelling deathtrap. As you press on the top of the coil. They are coil springs. The smaller the 31 . it twists the shaft along it's length. bad place to propel over a ton of metal at high speed. People who travel on underground trains wish that those vehicles relied on suspension too. I know it's hard to visualise. As mentioned above. air-cooled Porsches (356 and 911 until 1989 when they went to springs). They look like layers of metal connected to the axle. suspension consists of two basic components: Springs These come in three types. Adjustable shock absorbers allow you to change the size of this constriction. but believe me. but they don't and that's why the ride is so harsh.
. The type illustrated here is more likely to be an aftermarket item ...it's unlikely you'd get this level of adjustment on your regular passenger car.constriction. whilst the adjustable damping valve can be used to adjust the rebound damping of the shocks. Whilst you don't typically get this level of engineering on car suspension. Phew!.and you thought they just leaked oil didn't you? A modern coil-over-oil unit The image here shows a typical modern coil-over-oil unit. This is an all-in-one system that carries both the spring and the shock absorber. rebound and spring tension adjustment. the stiffer the suspension. 32 . most motorbikes do have preload. The adjustable spring plate can be used to make the springs stiffer and looser. More sophisticated units have adjustable compression damping as well as a remote reservoir.
Chapter VI: The Wheel & tyre How to read your tyre sidewall markings This is probably the number one question I get asked . construction and speed rating designations. Reinforced marking only where D applicable. C Denotes type of car tyre construction. These go from a load index of 50 (190kg) up to an index of 169 (5800kg). most of that information in a tyre marking is surplus to what you need to know. So here's the important stuff: Key Tyre Marking Description A Manufacturers or brand name. It's confusing isn't it? All numbers. letters."how do I read my tyre?". Tyre size. E Pressure marking requirement. and commercial name or identity. Actually. F ECE (not EEC) type approval mark and number. DIN-type tyre marking B also has the load index encoded in it. you might also find the following embossed in the rubber tyre marking: 33 . symbols. As well as all that. G North American Dept of Transport compliance symbols and identification numbers. See tyre sizes and speed ratings below. H Country of manufacture. mysterious codes. M&S denotes a car tyre designed for mud and snow. Tubeless designates a tyre which requires no inner tube.
Code (*) or * Manufacturer Code LOTUS M Manufacturer Lotus Maserati (-) or . This two-letter identifier is worth knowing in case you see a tyre recall on the evening news where they tell you a certain factory is recalling tyres. the additional markings section. Go (f)igure. See garage equipment. The following table shows all the letters assigned to OE tyres for various manufacturers.000 mile tyre. In other words. the OE manufacturer letters section. proper wheel alignment and other variable factors. correct tyre inflation. "AA" is the highest rating. The tread-wear rating . A tyre with a tread-wear rating of 200. "C" is the lowest. type of driving. don't think that a tread-wear rating of 100 means a 30. It's a nauseatingly long list.a comparative rating for the useful life of the tyre's tread.an indicator of how well the tyre is capable of stopping on wet pavement. could be expected to last twice as long as one with a rating of 100. here is a comprehensive list of other markings you can find on your sidewall. Tread-wear grades typically range between 60 and 600 in 20-point increments.an indicator of how well the tyre withstands heat buildup. OE Manufacturer Letters In the same way that Porsche specifies N-rated tyres (see later). the tyres that are stamped with 'DZ' have a lower rolling resistance tread pattern than those that aren't. The traction rating . It is important to consider that this is a relative indicator. "C" is the lowest. Armed with the two-letter identifier list. for example. you can figure out if you are affected. For example on some Honda SUVs. what city it was manufactured in. In other words.Peugeot / Volvo BMW / Fiat 34 . "A" is the highest rating. and I've not put it on this page. Additional markings In addition to all of the above. This section is hidden by default because it takes up a lot of space on the page. the 'preferred' OE tyres are slightly different than the samenamed tyres without the OE specification. It's the first two letters after the 'DOT' . and the actual life of a tyre's tread will be affected by quality of road surfaces. In some cases. there's even more markings on the sidewall of a tyre that can denote tyres fitted as original equipment (OE) to various makes of vehicle. Encoded in the US DOT information (G in the tyre marking above) is a two-letter code that identifies where the tyre was manufactured in detail. This section is hidden by default because it takes up a lot of space on the page. But if you click here it will popup a separate window with just those codes in it. you'll notice that (F) is not the same as (f). what factory and in some cases.• • • The temperature rating .in this case "FA" denoting Yokohama. In true "Keeping the customer confused" fashion.
(1) or 1 1Z 5Z (a) or a Bentley / Maserati Toyota Ford Audi / Seat / Volvo / VW M0 / MO Mercedes M3 MB MZ N0 N1 N2 N3 N4 BMW M3 Mercedes Mitsubishi / Toyota Porsche Porsche Porsche Porsche Porsche Porsche Peugeot / Porsche Ford / Mazda / Mercedes / VW Renault Renault BMW / Ferrari / Lexus / Mercedes Smart Mazda MPV Mazda 6 VW BMW 3 / Skoda Volvo VW (A) or Alfa Romeo A AU AZ B BM BZ C1 CZ DC DZ EZ Audi Alfa Romeo / Fiat / Subaru / Toyota BMW BMW Audi / Honda / Mazda / Mercedes N5 / Opel / Skoda / VW Chrysler / Daimler / Viper Subaru Chrysler / Daimler Honda / Mazda / Toyota Audi / Mazda 6 (P) of P PZ R RE RU SMART SZ TZ UV UZ Volvo VW (f) or f Fiat (F) of F FE FO G1 GZ Ferrari / Ford Ferrari Ford Mercedes Subaru (J) or J Jaguar JZ L LZ K1 KZ Seat / Subaru Lexus Lancia Ferrari Nissan / Toyota 35 VW Golf VW Golf 3 3 VW Golf VW Golf 4 4 XZ YZ Z Nissan Hyundai / Kia / Mazda / Mercedes Mazda / Toyota .
This code denotes when the tyre was manufactured. irrespective of whether the tyre is being used or not. Check your spare I had a reader email me about the age code and he pointed out that it's wise to check your spare tyre too. So for this example. there is a tyre manufacture date stamped on the sidewall.if you're driving an older car. check the date code of your spare. a tyre manufactured in the 17th week of 1996 would have the code 176 After 2000. The rubber in tyres degrades over time. the code was switched to a 4-digit code. The tyre might look brand new. it won't do you much good at all. The code is pretty simple.DOT Codes and the 6-year shelf life As part of the DOT code (G in the tyre marking above). Same rules apply. see if the tyre place will allow you to inspect the new tyres first. if you can. It was his spare that was the problem . So for example 1 7 6 means it was manufactured in the 17th week of 6th year of the decade. It's not uncommon for these shops to have stuff in stock which is more than 6 years old. Take a look at yours .there will be a three. he had an older vehicle but his running tyres were all nice and fresh. 36 . and as a rule-of-thumb. In this case it means 1986. change your tyres. For tyres manufactured in the 90's. so for example 3 0 0 3 means the tyre was manufactured in the 30th week of 2003. DOT AGE CODE: 3804 Interesting note : in June 2005. So you've been warned . the same code holds true but there is a little triangle after the DOT code.or four-digit code. but it will delaminate or have some other failure within weeks of being put on a vehicle. started printing warnings to this effect in their drivers handbooks for all their vehicles. When you get a tyre change. you should never use tyres more than 6 years old. The three-digit code was used for tyres manufactured before 2000. DOT Age Code Calculator The calculation built in to this page is up-to-date based on today's date. that was a 16 year old tyre. Reading the code. In his case. Oddly this code is sometimes only one one sidewall so you might need to get under your car and look at the inward-facing side of the tyre. At the time of writing.it had a date code on it of 081 meaning it was manufactured in the 8th week of 1991. Ford and GM admitted that tyres older than 6 years posed a hazard and from their 2006 model year onwards. If the DOT age code on your tyres is older than this code. If you get a flat and your spare is gently corroding in the boot (or trunk).
65% of 185mm is you want to know 120. An "E" (upper case) indicates that the tyre is certified to comply with the dimensional. The mark itself is either an upper or lower case "E" followed by a number in a circle or rectangle. 11 is the UK. Tyre size notations Okay. this case. An "e" (lower case) indicates that the tyre is certified to comply with the dimensional. They just do. This is known as the section width. All tyres sold in Europe after July 1997 must carry an E-mark. so you look at your car and discover that it is shod with a nice.Deutsches Institut fuer Normung. This is the German Institute for standardisation . often truncated to Deutsche Industrie Normal. It is construction. Don't ask me why tyre sizes mix imperial and metric measurements. and he will. (section This tells you that the height). The number in the circle or rectangle denotes the country code of the government that granted the type approval. The last number outside the circle or rectangle is the number of the type approval certificate issued for that particular tyre size and type. but worn set of 18565HR13's (from the tyre marking). Check speed rating known as the aspect ratio. Okay? More recently.25mm .The E-Mark Item F in the tyre marking diagram above is the E-mark. This is the diameter in inches of the rim of the wheel that the tyre has been designed to fit on. Any tyre mechanic will tell you that he can replace them. DIN sizing means a slight change in the way the information is presented to the following: 37 . So what does it all mean? This is the width in mm of the tyre from sidewall to sidewall when it's unstressed and you're looking at it head on (or top-down). performance and marking requirements of Directive 92/33/EEC. In out tyre construction if of the tyre. This is the ratio of the height of the tyre sidewall. there has been a move (especially in Europe) to adjust tyre designations to conform to DIN. followed by a further number.the section what that means. expressed as a tyre is a radial This is the percentage of the width. performance and marking requirements of ECE regulation 30. You'll cough up and drive away safe in the knowledge that he's just put some more rubber on each corner of the car that has the same shamanic symbols on it as those he took off. height.
your car. This is good because it matches the performance capability of the car. replacing 'S' and 'T' ratings. Percentage-wise. Speed Symbol L M N P Q R Max Speed Capability Max Speed Capability Speed Symbol Km/h MPH Km/h MPH 120 75 S 180 113 130 81 T 190 118 140 87 U 200 125 150 95 H 210 130 160 100 V 240 150 170 105 W 270 168 Y 300 186 Z 240+ 150+ 'H' rated tyres are becoming the most commonplace and widely used tyres. the current split is something like this: S/T=67%. H=23%.Section width Aspect ratio Radial Rim diameter Load index Speed rating. but bad because you need to remortgage your house to buy a new set of tyres. 38 . This indicates the maximum speed that the tyre can sustain for a ten minute endurance without coming to pieces and destroying itself. V=8%. the car next to you and anyone else within a suitable radius at the time. All tyres are rated with a speed letter. Certain performance cars come with 'V' or 'Z' rated tyres as standard.
which is 1. mechanical advantage is the ratio of force-in to force-out in a mechanical system.737 footpounds. and the pressure of the squeezing action is what slows you down.poundforce-feet. the system is balanced.5m from the pivot on the other side.Chapter VII: The Brakes Brakes . The load torque is 200Nm. This in fact is only part of the equation. Hence torque is measured in Newton-metres. When you apply the brakes. A Newton is the amount of force required to accelerate a mass of one kilogram by one metre per second². where acceleration due to gravity is 9. If you did any sort of physics classes when you were back in school. and the effort torque is also 200Nm. This states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. which in this case is 200 / 200.8N (usually rounded up to 10N). it can only be converted from one form to another.why you can stop a 2-ton car with one foot. The diagram below shows a simple lever system on a pivot. Mechanical advantage . 1 Newton-metre is equivalent to 0. 39 . In its most basic form. commonly referred to as foot-pounds. Because of the configuration of the brake pads and rotor in a disc brake. This is all to do with The First Law of Thermodynamics. the force exerted upon a mass of 1kg is 9. The common misconception is that brakes squeeze against a drum or disc. For example a 20kg weight 1 metre from a pivot can lift a 40kg weight 0. In the case of brakes. Angular force. Mechanical advantage = effort / load.ft . ie. When you're travelling at speed. or Nm. Brakes are essentially a mechanism to change energy types.what do they do? The simple answer: they slow you down. it is converted from kinetic energy to thermal energy. sometimes known as the law of conservation of energy. The effort torque and load torque calculations are to do with force in Newtons and distance from pivot point. Mechanical Advantage = Effort Torque/Load Torque. the location of the point of contact where the friction is generated also provides a mechanical moment to resist the turning motion of the rotor. you might remember something called mechanical advantage. Another popular notation is lbf. The cooling of the brakes dissipates the heat and the vehicle slows down. The complex answer: brakes are designed to slow down your vehicle but probably not by the means that you think. the pads or shoes that press against the brake drum or rotor convert that energy into thermal energy via friction.8m/s². On Earth. your vehicle has kinetic energy.
which is 300 / 200. Any mechanical advantage value larger than 1. is able to lift it off the ground. a 30kg weight which is lighter than the 40kg load. but the effort torque is now 300Nm.0 means that the effort has the advantage. The load torque is still 200Nm. Look at this diagram of the lever-operated cam brake. you'll realise how it's possible to generate enough force using your foot to stop a car or motorbike. which is 1.5.Now imagine increasing the weight on the effort side to 30kg instead of 20kg. Mechanical advantage = effort / load. In this case. but leaving everything else the same. 40 . If you now take your new-found / remembered knowledge about physics and look at the simple lever brake system.
this time by the use of pressure equations. The values I've put in are arbitrary but they serve the purpose. but the other end of the lever is only 5cm from the pivot. it becomes clear how mechanical advantage works for you. This is a slight change in the equation but the concept of mechanical advantage still exists. and through the lever and cam its amplified a further 5 times from 240pounds to 1200pounds.you can eliminate the internal pressure from the equation.it has to be.input and output . your foot is pushing on the brake pedal with about 60pounds of force .about 544Kg. At the other end. If you apply 20 Newtons of pressure to 1m². The units of force used are irrelevant they're multiplied just the same. we have a total mechanical advantage of 20 .the brake pedal and the brake caliper 41 . (10cm / 2cm). Through the brake pedal. The input lever is 10cm long but the cam is only 4cm across . Most braking systems now use hydraulics. Apply force to this little system and be amazed. So at the brake cam we have a mechanical advantage of 5.27Kg. but the cam inside the drum brake is being forced out against the brake drum with 1200pounds of force . Split the system into two parts . the lever attached to the cam is still a lever system . However.4 from the brake pedal and 5 from the lever and cam. You pushed the pedal with 60pounds of force. Sweet. On the pedal we have some amount of force 20cm from the pivot. Mechanical advantage as applied to hydraulics. Similarly. let's imagine that when you're braking. that is amplified 4 times to 240pounds. If you now think of that in terms of a hydraulic braking system. Why? Because 20 Newtons of force divided by 1m² of area generates 20 Pascals of pressure.it's just bent.or 2cm to the tip from the pivot. This is good because it makes calculation for hydraulic brake systems quite easy . This gives us a mechanical advantage of 4 on the brake lever (20cm / 5cm). look at the pedal. To use easier-to-comprehend values. So across this entire system. it's the same as applying 200 Newtons to 10m². 200N / 10m² is also 20Pa. The middle two have no mechanical advantage as the levers are connected the same distance from the pivot in each case.This system has 4 levers in it. Brake fluid is incompressible . Pressure = force / area.
Today they use all manner of combinations of materials. we apply 60pounds (27Kg) of input force to the brake pedal. the output force from the caliper piston is 60 x (0. is why you can stop a speeding vehicle with a single foot. The material combinations typically fall into the following broad categories now.001257m² / 0. Of course the drawback is that they don't work so well when they get hot. They're favoured for your average family saloon because they work well when they're cold.001257m². Just a quick word on brake pad compounds. so some basic algebra gives a simple formula: Using our previous example. The pads themselves are made up of a friction material bonded to the backing plate.000491m² (remember your maths? area = PI x r²). Brake pad compounds. which for example is 2cm across . For each part. At the other end of the system is the caliper piston.8Kg) . Pressure = Force / Area. The ratio of output area to input area is sometimes referred to as the area differential. This is attached to a master piston which (for example) is 1.000491m²) Get your calculator out and that comes out to 154pounds (69. are easy on the ears. Using our sparkly new formula.25cm across . The brake caliper piston pushes against the backing plate and the friction material is pushed against the brake rotor.more than double the force at the brake pedal. don't chew up the rotors and don't spew dust everywhere. Organic These pads are well-suited for street driving because they wear well. my friend. 42 . The Pressure is the same at all points in the system.ie. Most pads used to use asbestos but we all know what that stuff is like. So that.piston. it has a surface area of 0.ie. it has a surface area of 0.
as the sound they genereate is outside of the human range of hearing. (The picture here shows a cutaway of a 43 . which is harder to attain. From the factory. simply changing brake pad manufacturer can often cure the problem as the different pads will have a slightly different harmonic frequency. Squealing brakes are a sign of one of two things : the friction material is all gone and you're jamming the backing plate against the brake rotor. Some vehicles have problems with squealy brakes right from the factory. Let me preface this by saying that if you're not a confident home mechanic. Either way. That's very important so I'll say it again in CAPS : THE BACK. Solving brake squeal. Metallic These pads are typically reserved for racing or the extremely rich. They don't fade as easily as other pads. That's infrequent though. Brake squeal. and BMW redesigned the brake calipers and rotors a couple of times until they finally just switched to a different brand of pads and the problem vanished. If you are confident however. and are effectively silent. A classic example was one of the BMW R1100 touring bikes. you'll need new pads and rotors or discs. Occasionally the weak link in semi-metallic pads is the bonding material that holds the friction pad to the backing plate. The dust created by ceramic pads is also very light in color so your wheels look cleaner. or the fit of the brake pad against the caliper piston isn't as snug as it could be. There have been occasions where the friction material has come away completely. last longer. take your car to a decent auto repair shop instead of messing with the brakes yourself. Dogs will go crazy though. they'd squeal like crazy. cool faster. In those cases. These seem to be the pad of choice for sportier vehicles such as the Subaru Impreza WRX. Conversely they do work well when hot. so you need to be a bit wary of the first couple of stops. the caliper piston and the brake rotor. the squealing is the result of an extremely high-frequency vibration between the pad. They squeal and dust like crazy.Semi-metallic / sintered This is a good compromise between street and track. Ceramic Ceramic pads still have metal fibres (about 15% vs. about 40% for semi-metallic) but they are copper instead of steel and therefore cause less wear and transfer heat better. They won't work as well as organic pads when they are cold. then a good way to solve brake squeal is to put some copper-based grease on the back of your brake pads. Copper grease is extremely resistant to pressure and heat and if you get any on the front of your pads. are hard on rotors and don't work well when cold.
This can lead to the seal deteriorating or failing completely. All three are available in America. Normally. the other biggie is related to suspension alignment. The other solution to brake squeal Whilst the ultra high frequency vibration is one cause of brake squeal. mountaineering through pot-holes or kerbing your wheels all make the suspension move around in ways it was never really designed to cope with. re-aligning the wheels on a vehicle is corrected by mechanical adjustment only.) The idea is that it creates a small pocket of sticky lubrication between the front side of the brake pistons and the back side of the brake pads. If you're reading this and you bought this page anywhere other than from my website at www. Generally. If that happens. Copper grease and rubber Whilst copper grease such as Copaslip works well in the short term to solve brake squeal. Noisefree is one of them CRC Disc Brake Quiet is another and then there's Copaslip.carbibles. The eBay problem This paragraph may seem a little out of place but I have had a lot of problems with a couple of eBay members (megamanuals and lowhondaprelude) stealing my work. Just so you know. it has an adverse affect on the rubber dust seals of the caliper pistons. long-term. If you're not happy doing this yourself (working on a safety-critical part of your car like the brakes isn't something just everybody should be doing) then ask your friendly greasemonkey to do it for you. There's a few products on the market that I've heard of and/or used in the past. I've had positive reviews of the CRC product from people using it motorbikes and cars. drop me a line. and this in turn leads to the suspension bushes becoming stressed. If the mounting rubbers are not de-stressed first. The red caliper housing on the right is missing to show the two silver brake pistons. Please send me an email as I am building a case file against the people doing this. Driving on badly-maintained roads. This is usually enough to prevent the high-frequency squeal. copyright-infringing copy.com. look into a proper suspension realignment and possibly new suspension bushes. turning it into PDF files and selling it on eBay. If you have squealing brakes that copper grease doesn't solve. Sort of like a giant record player with the suspension as the pickup needle and the entire car as the speaker. then you have a pirated. it leaves the piston and it's surface exposed to the very elements from which it should be protected. but I think if you're in Europe you're limited to Copaslip. Or the internet of course.disc brake assembly. Go 44 . I've used Copaslip on my vehicles before with no problems. idiots like this do a copy/paste job so they won't notice this paragraph here. Noisefree is a new player so if you've used their product and have any comments. then it leads to the transfer of the sound generated during braking into the chassis and body which then amplifies it to where we can hear it.
and it pulls the lever at the other end. The method by which the force from your hand or foot reaches the brake itself is all to do with the brake actuator system.to www. 45 . If they're not present. and found on the rear brake of older motorbikes. going over a bump could put the brakes on as the suspension moves relative to the lever. In the case of a bicycle brake. the solid bar connection.carbibles. Typically these systems are used on drum brakes with the elliptical actuator described above. the brake-end of the cable just pulls the two calipers together.. This allows the use of mechanical advantage (see below) to amplify your force on the pedal or lever before it gets to the brakes themselves. back to the meat of the subject. Brakes are all well and good. The disadvantage of this system is that it needs hinge and pivot points that match the position of the suspension components. And now. You press on one lever with your foot or squeeze it with your hand. As the long axis of the ellipse rotates. Solid bar connection One step up. On the back of the brake-end lever there's an elliptical cam which rotates inside a circular cup in the brake shoe.. Brake actuators. it forces the brake shoes to move apart. but you need some method of applying them in order for them to work.com to see the full site and find my contact details. A cable is connected to a lever at each end. Cable-operated This is about as basic as you get..
Single-circuit hydraulic systems have three basic components . pushing it out. These have two separate circuits.Single-circuit hydraulic Another step up and we get to the type of brake system used on most cars and motorbikes today. reservoirs and hydraulic fluid. in particular BMW bikes. When you press your foot on the brake.the master cylinder. One is the command circuit . or more commonly. that pressure is instantaneously transferred through the hydraulic brake line to the slave cylinder where it acts on another piston assembly. replaced instead with a system of plungers. The second is a separate circuit controlled by an onboard computer. That slave assembly is either connected to a lever to activate the brakes. and that's the one which is actually connected to the 46 . with the slave cylinder being the piston that acts directly on the brake pads. Because the brake fluid does not compress. heat from the brakes can be transferred back into the brake fluid. Because of the arrangement of the slave cylinder. or squeeze the brake lever. Dual-circuit hydraulic Dual-circuit hydraulic systems are available on high-end luxury vehicles and newer motorbikes.that's the one you act on with your hand or foot. They're joined together with hydraulic hose and filled with a non-compressible hydraulic fluid (see brake fluid below). the slave cylinder and the reservoir. you compress a small piston assembly in the master cylinder. Gone are the cables and bars. is the brake caliper itself.
it's replaced with electronics. The more you push it. The advantage to this system is that the brake pedal or lever can be placed just about anywhere you like as it no longer is encumbered by the plumbing that goes with a hydraulic circuit. The advantage of a dual-circuit system is that the command circuit never gets heat transferred into it because it is totally separated from the brakes themselves. but instead of the command circuit being hydraulic. 47 . To combat driver complaints of "lack of feel" in the brakes. The brake pedal or lever is connected to a hypersensitive rheostat (measures electrical resistance). From there on. This is needed because there is no physical connection to any part of the brake system at all. instead deciding to use it's speed and ABS sensors to determine the optimal brake pressure to maintain control of the vehicle. you're sending a pressure signal via the command circuit to the brake computer. and using a servo / pump system. If you do something stupid like trying to slam on the brakes at 100mph. These are a direct copy of some styles of racing brakes and are very similar to the dual-circuit hydraulic system described above. it performs just like the secondary circuit described above. applies the same force to the secondary circuit to activate the brakes. It measures the amount of force you're applying. The disadvantage of course is that you now have two hydraulic circuits to maintain. Brake-by-wire The most advanced system of brakes to date are brake-by-wire. As you apply the brakes. the greater the electrical signal sent to the brake computer. This measures the pressure being applied to the brakes on the secondary circuit.brakes. the computer will realise that this would result in a skid or spin. and will not send the full pressure down the secondary circuit. and actuates an electrical resistor in the pedal or lever assembly to provide resistance. most brake-by-wire systems have a reverse feedback loop built in.
By the First Law of Thermodynamics.com If you ride a motorbike or drive a race car. slowing you down. The next time you try to brake. brake fade and drilled rotors. Once 48 . the brakes on your vehicle heat up. A good example is coming down a mountain pass using your brakes rather than your engine to slow you down. But if you keep using the brakes. Picture credit: Formula1. the drums or discs and brake pads will stay hot and get no chance to cool off. because the brake components are already so hot. they cannot absorb much more heat. you're probably familiar with the term brake fade which is used to describe what happens to brakes when they get too hot.Thermodynamics. as you start to come down the pass.
so it forms a thin layer between the two whilst trying to escape. the resin holding the pad material together starts to vapourise. disperse more heat more quickly. their ability to absorb heat returns. With newer brake pad compounds. Because of this. That gas has to have somewhere to go. because it can't stay between the pad and the rotor.they get to this stage. This is to duct air to the brake rotors to help them cool off because in F1 racing. brake fluid isn't. Rotor technology. so you can put your foot on the brake pedal and get full travel but have no braking effect at the other end. brake rotors are typically modified with all manner of extra design features to help them cool down as quickly as possible as well as dissapate any gas from between the pads and rotors. If you've ever watched Formula 1 racing. you find some way to cool the rotors off more effectively. the grooves give the gas somewhere to go. Voila. you'll see the front wheels have huge scoops inside the wheel pointing to the front (see the picture above). For newer vehicles. While grooving the surface may reduce the specific heat capacity of the rotor. thus reducing the amount of friction. allowing you to stop. So how do the engineers design brakes to reduce or eliminate brake fade? For older vehicles. bubbles form in the brake fluid. the pads cool off which means they have more chance to heat up again before the resin vapourises. From left to right. the pads transfer heat into the calipers once the rotors are too hot. 49 . you have to look at the brake pads themselves. the brakes are used viciously every few seconds and spend a lot of their time trying to stay hot. As this happens. Air is compressible. and ventilate gas. So why? It's still to do with the pads getting too hot. its effect is negligible in the grand scheme of things. If a brake rotor was a single cast chunk of steel. they seem to work just fine. This is because you're now compressing the gas bubbles and not actually forcing the pads against the rotors. The whole understanding of the conversion of energy is critical in understanding how and why brakes do what they do. Brake fade again. under heavy braking once everything is hot and the resin is vapourising. the pads lose contact with the rotor. The typical remedy for this would be to get the vehicle to a stop and wait for a few minutes. Brake fade. The result is very similar to hydroplaning. Without some form of cooling assistance. Once this lot starts to get too hot. and why they are designed the way they are. the brakes would be fine for the first few corners but then would fade and become near useless by half way around the track. However. Voila. Either way you end up with cross-drilled or grooved brake rotors. The rotors will heat up and cool down no faster or slower. In every brake pad there is the friction material which is held together with some sort of resin. Newer vehicles tend to have less outgassing from the brake pad compounds but they still suffer brake fade. As the brake components cool down. and the brake fluid starts to boil as a result. so the pad can continue to contact the rotor. you give that vapourised gas somewhere to go. This type of brake fade was more common in older vehicles. The following diagram shows some examples of rotor types with the various modification that can be done to them to help them create more friction. hence the next time you use the brakes. forming a gas. it would have terrible heat dissipation properties and leave nowhere for the vapourised gas to go.
This provides a larger mechanical advantage to resist the turning of the rotor itself. A bigger rotor has more material in it so it can absorb more heat. imagine a spinning steel disc on an axle in front of you. in a nutshell explains the whole principle behind why bigger rotors = better stopping power. If you clamped your thumbs either side of the disc close to the middle. 4: Dual ventilated rotors . Big rotors. You know I've been drumming into you the whole mechanism that causes you to stop? How does it apply to bigger brake rotors. and most F1 race cars. On top of that. the larger rotors mean that the brake pads make contact further away from the axle of rotation. which as well as meaning more area for the pads to generate friction with. a common sports car upgrade? Well sports cars and race bikes typically have much bigger discs or rotors than your average family saloon car. On race cars this isn't a problem . 2: Grooved rotor . To best illustrate how this works. Now imagine doing the same thing but clamping your thumbs together close to the outer rim of the disc.the grooves give more bite and thus more friction as they pass between the brake pads They also allow gas to vent from between the pads and the rotor. More material also means a larger surface area. Taking it one step further. this can eventually lead to brake rotor failure . His original design had two discs which pressed against each other to generate friction and slow his car down. Disc brakes were invented in 1902 and patented by Birmingham car maker Frederick William Lanchester.same as before but now with two rotors instead of one. It wasn't until 1949 that disc brakes appeared on a production car though. and with vanes in between them to generate a vortex which will cool the rotors even further whilst trying to actually 'suck' any gas away from the pads. Disc brakes Some background. The drilling weakens the rotors and typically results in microfractures to the rotor. An important note about drilled rotors: Drilled rotors are typically only found (and to be used on) race cars. your thumbs would heat up very quickly and you'd need to push pretty hard to generate the friction required to slow the disc down. also translates to better heat dissipation. I only mention this because of a lot of performance suppliers will supply you with drilled rotors for street cars without mentioning this little fact.the drilled holes again give more bite.1: Basic brake rotor. as found on high-end Ferraris. That. The disc will stop spinning much more quickly and your thumbs won't get as hot. 3: Grooved. But on a road car. composite brake rotors. are even better again at heat transfer.the brakes are changed after each race or weekend. the McLaren F1. The obscure American car builder Crosley made a 50 .not what you want. but also allow air currents (eddies) to blow through the brake disc to assist cooling and ventilating gas. The reason again is to do with heat and friction. drilled rotor .
With a change of design. their main site and contacts seem to have vanished. There is a quiet but major revolution happening in the world of brakes. and instead of the brake shoes. I say 'was' because whilst there is still reference to them spotted about the internet. the new system is a radical redesign from the ground up.rather than the piecemeal improvements we've seen over the last few years. The disadvantage of disc brakes is that they are extremely intolerant of faulty workmanship or bad machining. Disc brakes are an order of magnitude better at stopping vehicles than drum brakes. with slight design changes.vehicle called the Hotshot which used the more familiar brake rotor and calipers that we all know and love today. which means more heat. which is particularly critical on motorbikes. To combat this problem. Instead of the drum. The harder they clamp together.also know as one or two-pot calipers. Full-contact Disc brakes. They looked at traditional pad and rotor design and figured that the pads only contact about 15% of the rotor surface at any one time. so you'll likely see disc brakes on the rear of those too. clamping them together around the spinning rotor. If you have a regular car disc rotor which is off by so much as 0. you now have brake caliper assemblies. or more cylinders can be used. and it was being brought about by a Canadian company called NewTech. which is why you'll find disc brakes on the front of almost every car and motorbike built today. which slows you down.or 6-pot calipers arranged in pairs.07mm (3/1000 inch) it will be Hell when you step on the brakes. (all things which were re-introduced as "new" by car makers in the 90's). That ever-so-slight warp or misalignment is going to spin through the clamped calipers at some ungodly speed and the resulting vibration will make you wonder if you're driving down stairs. The caliper assemblies contain one or more hydraulic pistons which push against the back of the brake pads. Where more force is required. semi-automatic gearbox. Sportier vehicles with higher speeds need better brakes to slow them down. Sports bikes have 4. NewTech designed a disc brake system called "full contact disc brakes". floating rotors were invented. you have a disc or rotor. NewTech 51 . which means more kinetic energy transfer. His original design was a bit crap though . Standard disc brakes have one or two cylinders in them . You get the idea by now.the brakes lasted less than a year each. Disc brakes are again a two-part system. the more friction is generated. active headlights and composite body panels. three. Anyway . Finally in 1954 Citroën launched the way-ahead-of-its-time DS which had the first modern incarnation of disc brakes along with other nifty stuff like self-levelling suspension. and materials improvements.
the French aerospace company. Newtech's first OEM customer was to be Saleen who were going to put the system on their S7 supercar. NewTech believed that the system had considerable advantages over conventional brakes with better cooling. With traditional pads and rotors. Bugatti dropped the idea because the brakes would have cost more than the rest of the EB110. Bugatti experimented with a system like this in the late 80's for inclusion on their 1991 EB110 supercar. the brake rotor is clamped between the pad. Special inserts made of a variety of frictional materials are distributed evenly on the entire surface of the pad. the brake rotor itself becomes a floating rotor.were been able to add 5 more pads to the system so that 75% of the brake rotor is in contact with the pads at any one time. People who had experienced the brakes said they were just otherworldy. but in the end went with conventional six-piston monoblock calipers instead. the system is covered in cooling fins connected to the outer pads to dissipate heat. higher strength and reduced noise and vibration. mounted in the black structure in the renderings. who also designed the chassis for the EB110 (this type of brake was being used in aircraft at the time). The range of materials is used to ensure performance under diverse conditions. 52 . which at $350. The hydraulic system acts on fully circular elastomer composite diaphragm behind the brake disc. but now Renault is considering introducing this system on its cars in conjunction with a new brake-by-wire system. They came from Aerospatiale. it was going to be available as an option for the car. similar to those found on motorbikes. It is covered with a 'spider' (the red structure in my renderings) that has 6 brake pads on the inside of it. With the NewTech design. It's worth nothing that this isn't actually the first time this has been tried in cars. NewTech sold truck and bus versions of these brakes into the haulage and public transport industry.000 was by no means a cheap car. The inner pads are fitted with a moulded thermal barrier made of a composite material. This also has 6 pads on it which push the entire disc out against the 6 pads inside the spider. To ensure the brakes remain cool. NewTech's website went offline in 2009 and has yet to be resurrected. This provides an even force across the entire disc helping it to make even contact with all 12 pads. that the braking power was way beyond the capabilities of the average driver.
The vertical movement of the piston is converted into rotary motion in the crank via connecting rods. The crank then goes out to the gearbox via a flywheel and clutch. The diagram is for reference for the technical jargon that will pop out on the rest of this page. but rather the common description for how an internal combustion engine works. compress it. and the gearbox sends the rotary motion to the wheels. ignite it either with a spark plug or by self-igntion (in the case of a diesel engine). bang. allow the explosion of combusting gasses to force the piston back down and then expel the exhaust gas. Engine layouts 53 .Chapter VIII: The fuel & engine notes Suck. The basic way all internal combustion engines work is to take a mixture of fuel and air. It shows an inline-4 engine with dual overhead cams. blow Not a sexual maneuver. driving the vehicle forwards. squeeze.
The V5 is something you'll find in some VWs. as well as being found in some motorbikes too such as the BMW K1200S.the most common types of internal combustion engine and how they work. But there are still a lot of 2 stroke engines about in smaller motorbikes. Boxer engines are found in BMW motorbikes (twins) and Porsches and Subarus (fours and sixes). Almost every car sold today has a 4 stroke engine. It's worth reading this bit first otherwise the whole section on octane later in the page will seem a bit odd. or the 675. Inline fives used to be used a lot in Audis but have found a new home in current Volvos. The triple is almost unique to Triumph motorbikes where they call it the Speed Triple. chainsaws etc. Well one basic concept really . did you? The difference between 4 stroke and 2 stroke engines First. igniting it and expelling the exhaust. The V6 has the benefits of being smoother than an inline-four but without the fuel economy issues of a V8.Here are some illustrations of the most common types of cylinder layout you'll find in engines today. The difference between the two engine types is the number of times the piston moves up and down in the cylinder for a single combustion cycle. Singles are typically used in motorbikes. You had no idea. smaller lawnmowers. snowblowers and other mechanical equipment. lawnmowers. leaf-blowers. 54 . snowblowers and such. V-twins are also found in motorbikes. So do a lot of motorbikes. snowblowers. some basic concepts. Inline-fours are the mainstay of car engines. A combustion cycle is the entire process of sucking fuel and air into the piston.
In other cases. In some cases. That's one of the advantages of V-6 and V-8 engines. The reed or flapper valve is sucked open and a fresh charge of fuel-air-oil mix is sucked into the crank case. As it does. you are expected to pre-mix the oil and petrol yourself in a container. such as lawnmowers.How 2 stroke engines work A 2 stroke engine is different from a 4 stroke engine in two basic ways. and is nowhere near as thumpy. They do exist in some off-road motorbikes but they have such a thump-thumpthump motion to them that they require some large balancing shafts or counterweights on the crank to try to make the ride smoother. Because of the nature of 4 stroke engines. you won't often find a single-cylinder 4 stroke engine. such as small motorbikes. room for a straight-5. it generates a vacuum in the crank case. The following animation shows a 2 stroke combustion cycle. The picture on the right shows a 4 stroke piston (left) and a 2 stroke piston (right). the 100 in Europe) in 1976. The 2 stroke piston is generally taller than the 4 stroke version. This engine acquired a lot of status among the high line car owners. starts better. As the piston (red) reaches the top of its stroke. First. are what make a 2 stroke engine work the way it does. the combustion cycle is completed within a single piston stroke as oppose to two piston strokes. forcing the exhaust gas to expel through the green exhaust port on the left. the bike has a secondary oil tank that you fill with 2 stroke oil and then the engine has a small pump which mixes the oil and petrol together for you. The piston begins to retreat. The receding piston pressurises the crank case which forces the reed or flapper valve (purple in this animation) to close. they offered a 5cylinder petrol engine too. Apart from the increased capacity. As professionals with big V-8 luxury cars were trading them in for 2. however. That took it up to 2. Geek trivia: Mercedes-Benz needed to increase the performance of their diesel passenger cars back in the 70's as their market share in the US was increasing. Once the piston begins to advance again. the spark plug ignites the fuel-air-oil mixture. the demand for performance had to be addressed. the slots cut into the piston on the right begin to align with the bypass port in the cylinder wall (the green oblong on the right). Benz engineers just hung another cylinder on the back of the 4 cyl block and presto! The five cylinder engine was born. This effectively routes the mixture up the side of the cylinder and squirts it into the combustion chamber above the piston. combined with the reed valve. and it has two slots cut into one side of it. Any more than one piston and the engine gets a lot smoother. and second. The simplicity of a 2 stroke engine lies in the reed valve and the design of the piston itself. then pour it into the fuel tank. the spark plug ignites the mixture and the cycle begins again. When Audi introduced the C2 series cars (the 5000 in America. They also take a little longer to start from cold because you need to crank the single piston at least twice before a combustion cycle can start. These slots. There was. and at the same time forces the fuel-air-oil mixture already in the crankcase out through the piston slots and into the bypass port. When the piston reaches the top of its travel.8 litre 4-cylinder engine with an extra cylinder. the lubricating oil for the engine is mixed in with the petrol or fuel.4l diesels. Mercedes did not want to retool their 114/115 series chassis and there wasn't enough room in the engine bay for a six cylinder diesel. more cylinders typically means a smoother engine because it will be more in balance. It was basically a 1.0 litres but the fifth piston made such an enormous difference to the smoothness of the engine that it was often mistaken for a V6 or V8. Why only 5 cylinders instead of going for a V6? Partly for the same rationale as 55 .
Same smoothness. A straight-5 was also more fuel-efficient than a V6. So if the engine is ticking over at 1100rpm. the timing will change so the mark will move closer or further away from the TDC mark depending on how fast the engine is spinning. In this case. so for example if the white dot always aligns with the 10° mark. the white blob on the pulley should be at the same position in its rotation the strobe fires once for each ignition spark at which point the mark should be in the same place. timing mark and all. the two marks are simply painted or stamped. the inductive loop detects the current in the wire and flashes the strobe in the timing light once. 56 . it means your engine is firing at 10 degrees before TDC. Shooting a strobe at someone walking in a dark room will result in you seeing them walk as if they were a flipbook animation on a reel of film.Mercedes (and it was a really tight fit) but primarily because Benz had made the straight-5 configuration fashionable. both Audi and VW have V5 engines with three cylinders in one bank and two in the other. and there are no degree markings. It's also worth pointing out that nowadays. When you rev the engine. better gas-mileage Checking ignition timing Despite the speed that an engine turns. recess or white-painted blob. are now standing still in the strobe light. On the pulley itself there will be a bump. You must have seen strobe lights working somewhere . ote that in some engines. Fantastic. Somewhere on the front of the engine there will be a notch near one of the timing belt pulleys and stamped into the metal next to it will be timing marks in degrees.they're used to effectively freeze the position of something in time and space by illuminating it only at a certain point and for a fraction of a second. The mark on the pulley will line up with one of the degree marks stamped on the engine.normally the first or last cylinder in the engine depending on the manufacturer. remember it fires once for each firing of the cylinders? Each time it fires. the marks align when the first piston is exactly at TDC. When you point the timing light down towards the timing belt pulley. So you're now holding a portable rave lighting rig but how does this help you see the timing of an engine? Well it's simple. it is possible for mere mortals like you and me to be able to check the ignition timing or an engine using (and you'd have never guessed this) an ignition timing light. remember?). Timing lights are typically strobe lights. a stage show . When the engine fires the spark plug for that cylinder. the strobe will flash 550 times a minute (4 stroke engine. They work by being connected to the battery directly and then having an induction coil clamped around one of the spark plug leads . and the effect to you is that the whole pulley.a rave. This effect is what's used to visualise the timing of your engine.
the cams will spin permanently out-of-synch with the engine crank and the engine will run badly. It's not as bad now as it used to be. Essentially these marks are used to line up the cam to the correct position when you're changing the timing belt. some cash and someone who knows what they're doing. Rover V8's were particularly bad for this. Timing marks on cam belt pulleys The same timing marks exist stamped into the metal near. You have to make sure the engine is rotated to TDC and that the cams are properly aligned too. a good set of feeler gauges. with some being as much as 12° off! So how you do confirm your TDC really is TDC? Small cameras. If you don't. if at all. but in the bad old days. it's worth pointing out that crank timing marks can be way off so it's worth confirming that your TDC marker is actually TDC before pratting about with the timing.Check the timing marks first After all that. 57 . and on the pulley on the end the cam.
because parking on an incline with the transmission in park without the parking brake engaged will cause undue stress on the parking pin. although the vehicle's non-driven roadwheels may still rotate freely. restricting the vehicle from moving in any direction. the most complicated mechanical component in today's automobile. This article will help you understand the concepts behind what goes on inside these technological marvels and what goes into repairing them when they fail. Only a (properly adjusted) parking brake can be relied upon to positively lock both of the parking-braked wheels. electrical systems and computer controls. Some of the common modes include Park (P) This selection mechanically locks the output shaft of transmission. This also increases the life of the transmission and the park pin mechanism. it is recommended to use the hand brake (or parking brake) because this actually locks (in most cases) the rear wheels and prevents them from moving." the other will roll freely as the slipping wheel rotates in the opposite direction. Automatic transmissions contain mechanical systems.Chapter IX: The Car Transmission Automatic Transmissions The modern automatic transmission is by far. If one driving wheel slips while the transmission is in "park. A parking pawl prevents the transmission from rotating. and therefore the vehicle from moving. (This is not the case with certain 58 . An efficiently-adjusted hand brake should also prevent the car from moving if a worn selector accidentally drops into reverse gear during early morning fast-idle engine warm-ups. For this reason. hydraulic systems. all working together in perfect harmony which goes virtually unnoticed until there is a problem. Automatic transmission modes Automatic transmissions have various modes depending on the model and make of the transmission. It should be noted that locking the transmission output shaft does not positively lock the driving wheels.
they must come to a complete stop[dubious – discuss]. which does to some extent prevent (but does not completely avoid) inadvertently putting the car in reverse when the vehicle is moving forwards. This is typically achieved via a normally open 'inhibitor' switch. which must be placed in neutral with the parking brakes set. greatly reducing the security provided by the parking brake as compared to either rear-wheel-drive vehicles with parking brake on the rear wheels (which generally have near half of the total vehicle weight on the rear wheels. the driver cannot put back the shifter to R without depressing the shift button to prevent accidental shifting. effectively disconnecting the transmission from the driven roadwheels. Many modern automatic transmissions have a safety mechanism in place. Most automobiles require P or to be set on the selector lever before the internal combustion engine can be started. Some shifters with a shift button allow the driver to freely move the shifter from R to N or D. the other being Neutral (N). Usually. a defect compounded by the provision of a bumper jack). Park (P) is one of only two selections in which the car's engine can be started. A car should be allowed to come to a complete stop before setting the transmission into park to prevent damage. It is typical of front-wheeldrive vehicles for the parking brake to be on the rear (non-driving) wheels. Advice is given in some owner's manuals [example: 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme owner's manual] that if the vehicle is parked on a steep slope using the park lock only. which is wired in series with the starter motor engagement circuit. Some electronic transmissions prevent or delay engagement of reverse gear altogether while the car is moving. the rear of most front-wheeldrive vehicles has only about half the weight on the rear wheel as is on the front wheels. the driver must have the foot brake applied before the transmission can be taken out of park. especially at high speeds. so the vehicle is able to move freely under 59 . push the shift lock button in (or pull the shift lever forward in the case of a column shifter) and select reverse. the brake pedal needs to be depressed in order to allow the selection of reverse. Another vehicle may be required to push the stuck vehicle uphill slightly to remove the loading on the park lock pawl. thus completing the circuit (when the key is turned to the start position) Reverse (R) This engages reverse gear within the transmission. it may not be possible to release the park lock (move the selector lever out of "P"). except for empty pickup and open-bed trucks) or to front-wheel-drive vehicles with the parking brake on the front wheels. However. which generally have about two-thirds of the vehicle's weight (unloaded) on the front wheels. so use of both the parking brake and the transmission park lock provides the greatest security against unintended movement on slopes.1950's Chrysler products that carried their parking brake on the transmission tailshaft. which could damage the transmission. Not coming to a complete stop can cause severe damage to the transmission. This mechanism usually consists of a solenoid-controlled physical barrier on either side of the Reverse position. Therefore. In order for the driver to select reverse in modern transmissions. Neutral/No gear (N) This disengages all gear trains within the transmission. In many modern cars and trucks. which is electronically engaged by a switch on the brake pedal. or simply moving the shifter to N or D without actually depressing the button. giving the ability for the vehicle to drive backwards. The Park position is omitted on buses/coaches with automatic transmission (on which a parking pawl is not practical). and is only closed when P or N is selected. Unfortunately.
This can be used to drive in adverse conditions such as snow and ice. this mode is used commonly for highway use (as stated in the manual). or locks the transmission in second gear on Ford. to four and five speeds (losing popularity to six-speed autos. but is identical otherwise. Although traditionally considered second gear. OD. though still favored by Chrysler and Honda/Acura). Six-speed automatic transmissions are now probably the most common offering Toyota Camry V6 models. Corvette. dependent on the manufacturer and model. can be used during the winter season. Pontiac G8. and most newer model Ford/Lincoln/Mercury vehicles). It will not change to any other gear range. seven-speed autos are becoming available (found in Mercedes 7G gearbox). In these transmissions. Third(3) This mode limits the transmission to the first three gear ratios. Under hard acceleration or below 35–45 mph (56–72 km/h). the transmission will automatically downshift. GM trucks. This is the only other selection in which the vehicle's engine can be started. This. However. OD (Overdrive) in these cars is engaged under steady speeds or low acceleration at approximately 35–45 mph (56–72 km/h). Second (2 or S) This mode limits the transmission to the first two gear ratios. as well as climbing or going down hills in the winter time. As well as the above modes there are also other modes.its own weight and gain momentum without the motive force from the engine (engine braking). D4 60 . or for towing. OverDrive (D. Drive (D) This position allows the transmission to engage the full range of available forward gear trains. Drive (D) locks the Automatic Overdrive off. Some vehicles will automatically shift up out of third gear in this mode if a certain RPM range is reached in order to prevent engine damage. and uses all five forward gears. and therefore allows the vehicle to move forward and accelerate through its range of gears. Kia. The number of gear 'ratios' a transmission has depends on the model. like second. Vehicles with this option should be driven in this mode unless circumstances require a lower gear. or sometimes locks the transmission in third gear. This gear is also recommended while towing a caravan. there are other names used. Some vehicles will automatically shift up out of second gear in this mode if a certain RPM range is reached in order to prevent engine damage. but they initially ranged from three (predominant before the 1990s). First (1 or L [Low]) This mode locks the transmission in first gear only. or a boxed [D]) This mode is used in some transmissions to allow early computer-controlled transmissions to engage the Automatic Overdrive. the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ. Ford Falcon BF 2005-2007 and Falcon FG 2008 current in Australia with 6 speed ZF. This can be used to climb or going down hill. as are eight-speed autos in the newer models of Lexus and BMW cars. and Honda models. Some examples include D5 In Hondas and Acuras equipped with five-speed automatic transmissions. Chrysler models with a three-speed automatic since the late 1980s have called this gear 3 while using the traditional names for Drive and Low.
a transmission also has a neutral position which disconnects the engine from the drive wheels. particularly during acceleration. A drive shaft connects the rear of the transmission to the final drive which is located in the rear axle and is used to send power 61 . It does this through various gear combinations. In this position. such as city driving. except that the upshifts change much higher up the engine's rev range. thereby preventing the vehicle from rolling. there is the Park position. On a rear wheel drive car. An automobile engine runs at its best at a certain RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) range and it is the transmission's job to make sure that the power is delivered to the wheels while keeping the engine within that range.]. maximising the effects of engine braking. This mode will also downchange much higher up the rev range compared to 'D' mode. In first gear. What is a transmission? The transmission is a device that is connected to the back of the engine and sends the power from the engine to the drive wheels. Finally. Hyundai has a Norm/Power switch next to the gearshift for this purpose on the Tiburon.or five-speed automatics. the transmission is usually mounted to the back of the engine and is located under the hump in the center of the floorboard alongside the gas pedal position. According to the manual. This has the effect on maximising all the available engine output. and therefore enhances the performance of the vehicle. a latch mechanism (not unlike a deadbolt lock on a door) is inserted into a slot in the output shaft to lock the drive wheels and keep them from turning. while in high gear the engine is loafing even though the car may be going in excess of 70 MPH. S or Sport This is commonly described as 'Sport mode'. it is used for "stop and go traffic". D3 or 3 This mode is found in Honda.This mode is also found in Honda and Acura four. Acura. such as city driving. and reverse. This mode will have a detrimental effect on fuel economy. and only uses the first four gear ratios. There are two basic types of automatic transmissions based on whether the vehicle is rear wheel drive or front wheel drive. It operates in an identical manner as 'D' mode. Volkswagen and Pontiac four-speed automatics and only uses the first three gear ratios. In addition to the various forward gears. According to the manual. which causes the drive wheels to turn in the opposite direction allowing you to back up. it is used for "stop & go traffic". the engine turns much faster in relation to the drive wheels.
This rear engine arrangement is popular on the Porsche. 62 . We try to use simple. 180 degree turn to the transmission that is along side the engine. due to the complexity of some of these com components. hydraulic and electrical technology that has evolved over the years into what many mechanically inclined cal individuals consider to be an art form. you may have to use some mental gymnastics to visualize their operation. Transmission Components The modern automatic transmission consists of many components and systems that are designed to work together in a symphony of clever mechanical. The Hydraulic System which uses a special transmission fluid sent under pressure pre by an Oil Pump through the Valve Body to control the Clutches and the Bands in order to control the planetary gear sets. then through the transmission and drive s shaft until it reaches the final drive where it is split and sent to the two rear wheels. Front axles are connected directly to the transaxle and provide power to the front wheels. generic explanations where possible to describe these systems but. through the torque converter to a large chain that sends the power through a ine. There are a number of other arrangements including front drive vehicles where the engine is mounted front to back instead of sideways and there are other systems that drive all four wheels but the two systems described here are by far the most popular. From there. Another rear drive system mounts everything. power flows from the engine. The engine on a front wheel drive car is usually us mounted sideways in the car with the transaxle tucked under it on the side of the engine facing the rear of the car. transmission and final drive in the r rear. In this example.to the rear wheels. the engine. A much less popular rear drive arrangement has the transmission mounted directly to the final drive at the rear and is connected by a drive shaft to the torque converter which is still mounted on the engine. This system is found on the new Corvette and is used in order to balance the weight evenly s between the front and rear wheels for improved performance and handling. Power flow on this system is simple and straight forward going from the engine. On a front wheel drive car. through the torque converter. the transmission is usually combined with the final drive to form what is called a transaxle. the power is routed through the transmission to the final drive where it is split and sent to the two front wheels through the drive axles. The main components that make up an automatic transmission include: • • Planetary Gear Sets which are the mechanical systems that provide the various forward gear ratios as well as reverse.
If we unlock the sun gear and lock any two elements together. This is like a car that is in third or high gear. In an automatic transmission. The sun gear is connected to a drum (yellow) which is also connected to the other half of the clutch pack. then applying power to the ring gear which will cause the sun gear to turn in the opposite direction giving us reverse gear.• • • • Seals and Gaskets are used to keep the oil where it is supposed to be and prevent it from leaking out. The Torque Converter which acts like a clutch to allow the vehicle to come to a stop in gear while the engine is still running. a ring gear and two or more planet gears. The Output shaft is connected to the planet carrier (Green) which is also connected to a "Multidisk" clutch pack. the planets will "walk" along the sun gear (which is held stationary) causing the planet carrier to turn the output shaft in the same direction as the input shaft but at a slower speed causing gear reduction (similar to a car in first gear). The illustration on the right shows how the simple system described above would look in an actual transmission. Another way that we can use a Planetary gear set is by locking the planet carrier from moving. The planet gears are connected to each other through a common carrier which allows the gears to spin on shafts called "pinions" which are attached to the carrier . In a manual transmission. gears slide along shafts as you move the shift lever from one position to another. The input shaft is connected to the ring gear (Blue). Surrounding the outside of the drum is a band (red) that 63 . In this scenario. engaging various sized gears as required in order to provide the correct gear ratio. One example of a way that this system can be used is by connecting the ring gear to the input shaft coming from the engine. Planetary Gear Sets Automatic transmissions contain many gears in various combinations. the gears are never physically moved and are always engaged to the same gears. The basic planetary gear set consists of a sun gear. shift points are controlled by Computer which directs electrical solenoids to shift oil flow to the appropriate component at the right instant. this will cause all three elements to turn at the same speed so that the output shaft will turn at the same rate of speed as the input shaft. when we turn the ring gear. connecting the planet carrier to the output shaft. This is accomplished through the use of planetary gear sets. however. On newer vehicles. and locking the sun gear so that it can't move. all remaining in constant mesh. The Governor and the Modulator or Throttle Cable that monitor speed and throttle position in order to determine when to shift.
To place the unit in first gear. The clutch pack is used. The other half have a friction material bonded to their surface and have splines on the inside edge that fit groves on the outer surface of the adjoining hub.can be tightened around the drum when required to prevent the drum with the attached sun gear from turning. in this instance. the system would be in neutral. Some of the clever gear arrangements found in four and now. the vehicle's computer monitors and controls these shifts so that they are almost imperceptible. One-Way Clutch 64 . Many more combinations are possible using two or more planetary sets connected in various ways to provide the different forward speeds and reverse that are found in modern automatic transmissions. but since nothing is holding the sun gear. to lock the planet carrier with the sun gear forcing both to turn at the same speed. On modern vehicles (mid '80s to the present). Turning the input shaft would turn the planet gears against the sun gear. To shift from first to high gear. Clutch Packs A clutch pack consists of alternating disks that fit inside a clutch drum. five. six and even seven and eight-speed automatics are complex enough to make a technically astute lay person's head spin trying to understand the flow of power through the transmission as it shifts from first gear through top gear while the vehicle accelerates to highway speed. Half of the disks are steel and have splines that fit into groves on the inside of the drum. There is a piston inside the drum that is activated by oil pressure at the appropriate time to squeeze the clutch pack together so that the two components become locked and turn as one. the band is released and the clutch is applied causing the output shaft to turn at the same speed as the input shaft. the band is applied to hold the sun gear from moving. If both the clutch pack and the band were released. it will just spin free and have no effect on the output shaft.
At the appropriate time hydraulic oil is sent to the servo under pressure to tighten the band around the drum to stop the drum from turning. the transmission starts out in first gear. a clutch pack or a band is used. the torque converter takes the place of the clutch found on standard shift vehicles. you will feel the engine slow you down just like a standard shift car. But have you ever noticed what happens if you release the gas while it is still in first gear? The vehicle continues to coast as if you were in neutral.A one-way clutch (also known as a "sprag" clutch) is a device that will allow a component such as ring gear to turn freely in one direction but not in the other. A common place where a one-way clutch is used is in first gear when the shifter is in the drive position. The reason for this is that in Drive. This effect is just like that of a bicycle. where the pedals will turn the wheel when pedaling forward. The principle behind a torque converter is like taking a fan that is plugged into the wall and blowing air into another fan which is unplugged. it will begin to speed up until it comes close to the speed of the powered fan. it uses oil or transmission fluid. One end of the band is anchored against the transmission case while the other end is connected to a servo. you are able to hold it from turning but as soon as you let go. When you begin to accelerate from a stop. Now. If you grab the blade on the unplugged fan. When you let go of the gas in this case. It is there to allow the engine to continue running when the vehicle comes to a stop. but will spin free when pedaling backward. Torque Converter On automatic transmissions. Bands A band is a steel strap with friction material bonded to the inside surface. a one-way clutch is used whereas in Low. 65 . shift into Low gear instead of Drive. The difference with a torque converter is that instead of using air. to be more precise.
As the speed increases. The newer systems are much more complex and are combined with computerized electrical components. Unlike 66 . the Turbine. The stator is mounted to a one-way clutch so that it can spin freely in one direction but not in the other. As the speed of the turbine catches up with the pump. torque converters have been equipped with a lockup clutch (not shown) which locks the turbine to the pump as the vehicle speed reaches approximately 45 . Hydraulic System The Hydraulic system is a complex maze of passages and tubes that sends transmission fluid under pressure to all parts of the transmission and torque converter. the fluid will make contact with the front of the stator fins which push the stator into the one way clutch and prevent it from turning. The pump is mounted directly to the converter housing which in turn is bolted directly to the engine's crankshaft and turns at engine speed. The three elements of the torque converter are the Pump. all three elements begin to turn at approximately the same speed. This lockup is controlled by computer and usually won't engage unless the transmission is in 3rd or 4th gear. and the Stator. It consists of three internal elements that work together to transmit power to the transmission. general lubrication and transmission cooling. With the stator stopped. Each of the three elements have fins mounted in them to precisely direct the flow of oil through the converter With the engine running.A torque converter is a large doughnut shaped device (10" to 15" in diameter) that is mounted between the engine and the transmission. in order to improve fuel economy. the fluid is directed by the stator fins to re-enter the pump at a "helping" angle providing a torque increase. The turbine is inside the housing and is connected directly to the input shaft of the transmission providing power to move the vehicle. Transmission fluid serves a number of purposes including: shift control. Since the '80s. The fluid continues in a circular motion back towards the center of the turbine where it enters the stator. transmission fluid is pulled into the pump section and is pushed outward by centrifugal force until it reaches the turbine section which starts it turning. The diagram at left is a simple one from a 3-speed automatic from the '60s. If the turbine is moving considerably slower than the pump.50 MPH. the fluid starts hitting the stator blades on the back-side causing the stator to turn in the same direction as the pump and turbine.
for instance. the pump will produce pressure whenever the engine is running as long as there is a sufficient amount of transmission fluid available. the manual valve directs fluid to the clutch pack(s) that 67 . Since the torque converter housing is directly connected to the engine crankshaft. the valve body and the rest of the components. Each of the many valves in the valve body has a specific purpose and is named for that function. as required. A typical transmission has an average of ten quarts of fluid between the transmission. The manual valve is directly connected to the gear shift handle and covers and uncovers various passages depending on what position the gear shift is placed in. It contains a maze of channels and passages that direct hydraulic fluid to the numerous valves which then activate the appropriate clutch pack or band servo to smoothly shift to the appropriate gear for each driving situation. and cooler tank. Fluid passing through this chamber is cooled and then returned to the transmission through the other steel tube. The most important valve. The oil pump is mounted to the front of the transmission case and is directly connected to a flange on the torque converter housing. Valve Body The valve body is the control center of the automatic transmission. Oil Pump The transmission oil pump (not to be confused with the pump element inside the torque converter) is responsible for producing all the oil pressure that is required in the transmission. When you place the gear shift in Drive. every aspect of a transmission's functions are dependant on a constant supply of fluid under pressure. In order to keep the transmission at normal operating temperature. and the one that you have direct control over is the manual valve.the engine. torque converter. which uses oil primarily for lubrication. For example the 2-3 shift valve activates the 2nd gear to 3rd gear up-shift or the 3-2 shift timing valve which determines when a downshift should occur. In fact. The friction surfaces on these parts are designed to operate properly only when they are submerged in oil. The oil enters the pump through a filter that is located at the bottom of the transmission oil pan and travels up a pickup tube directly to the oil pump. under pressure to the pressure regulator. The oil is then sent. most of the components of a transmission are constantly submerged in fluid including the clutch packs and bands. a portion of the fluid is sent through one of two steel tubes to a special chamber that is submerged in anti-freeze in the radiator. This is not unlike the human circulatory system (the fluid is even red) where even a few minutes of operation when there is a lack of pressure can be harmful or even fatal to the life of the transmission.
vehicle speed. you will also have electrical solenoids that are mounted in the valve body to direct fluid to the appropriate clutch packs or bands under computer control to more precisely control shift points. As the weights pull further out against the springs. A technician can then plug test equipment in and retrieve a list of trouble codes that will help pinpoint where the problem is. to control exact shift points as well as how soft or firm the shift should be. The computer monitors this activity to make sure that the driver does not select a gear that could over speed the engine and damage it. allowing the driver to select gears manually. it also sets up to monitor vehicle speed and throttle position so that it can determine the optimal time and the force for the 1 . The Governor is connected to the output shaft and regulates hydraulic pressure based on vehicle speed. Once the computer receives this information. They provide the inputs that tell the transmission when to shift. more oil pressure is allowed past the governor to act on the shift valves that are in the valve body which then signal the appropriate shifts. etc. This is accomplished on some cars by passing the shift lever through a special gate. sports models are coming out with the ability to take manual control of the transmission as though it were a stick shift. then tapping it in one direction or the other in order to up-shift or down-shift at will. Because of computer controls. Computer Controls The computer uses sensors on the engine and transmission to detect such things as throttle position. The solenoid pack contains several electrically controlled solenoids that redirect the fluid to the appropriate clutch pack or servo in order to control shifting.2 shift. Another advantage to these "smart" transmissions is that they have a self diagnostic mode which can detect a problem early on and warn you with an indicator light on the dash. It accomplishes this using centrifugal force to spin a pair of hinged weights against pull-back springs. brake pedal position. it then sends signals to a solenoid pack inside the transmission.activates 1st gear. 68 . Throttle Cable These three components are important in the non-computerized transmissions. Governor. engine speed. Vacuum Modulator. On computer controlled transmissions. engine load. Computerized transmissions even learn your driving style and constantly adapt to it so that every shift is timed precisely when you would need it.
The modulator is attached to the outside of the transmission case and has a shaft which passes through the case and attaches to the throttle valve in the valve body. there are also a number of other seals and gaskets that vary from transmission to transmission. This is the shaft that you move when you manipulate the gear shifter.Of course. Aside from the main seals. In fact. Another example that is common to most transmissions is the oil pan gasket. the longer the transmission will hold a gear before shifting to the next one.) If all you see is a few drops on the ground. Some common gasket materials are: paper. There are two main external seals: the front seal and the rear seal. In some cases. Spotting problems before they get worse • Watch for leaks or stains under the car If there is a persistent red oil leak that you are sure is coming from your car. you may be able to postpone 69 . A seal is usually made of rubber (similar to the rubber in a windshield wiper blade) and is used to keep oil from leaking past a moving part such as a spinning shaft. The more load you place on the engine. The Vacuum Modulator monitors engine vacuum by a rubber vacuum hose which is connected to the engine. cork. Each works in a different way to monitor engine load. When an engine is under a light load or no load. This seal allows fluid to freely move from the converter to the transmission but keeps the fluid from leaking out. As the engine load increases. The Throttle Cable simply monitors the position of the gas pedal through a cable that runs from the gas pedal to the throttle valve in the valve body. A transmission will use one or the other but generally not both of these devices. There are two types of devices that serve the purpose of monitoring the engine load: the Throttle Cable and the Vacuum Modulator. vacuum is diminished which moves the valve in the other direction causing the transmission to shift later and more firmly. A common example is the rubber O-ring that seals the shaft for the shift control lever. rubber. the rubber is assisted by a spring that holds the rubber in close contact with the spinning shaft. The front seal seals the point where the torque converter mounts to the transmission case. you should have your shop check to see if it is coming from your transmission or possibly from your power steering system (most power steering systems also use transmission fluid and leaks can appear on the ground in roughly the same areas as transmission leaks. seals are required anywhere that a device needs to pass through the transmission case with each one being a potential source for leaks. The rear seal keeps fluid from leaking past the output shaft. the load that the engine is under is also important. Seals and Gaskets An automatic transmission has many seals and gaskets to control the flow of hydraulic fluid and to keep it from leaking out. high vacuum acts on the modulator which moves the throttle valve in one direction to allow the transmission to shift early and soft. vehicle speed is not the only thing that controls when a transmission should shift. silicone and soft metal. A gasket is a type of seal used to seal two stationary parts that are fastened together. Engine vacuum reacts very accurately to engine load with high vacuum produced when the engine is under light load and diminishing down to zero vacuum when the engine is under a heavy load.
In most cases during these transmission services. the only way to also change the transmission filter is to remove the pan. Each transmission manufacturer has their own recommendation for the proper fluid to use and the internal components are designed for that specific formula. Transmission fluid is a transparent red oil that looks something like cherry cough syrup. Most transmission experts recommend changing the fluid and filter every 25. Pull the transmission dipstick out and check the fluid for color and odor. Naturally. you should have it checked out immediately. If the fluid is cloudy or muddy. When the pan is down.) If transmission fluid levels go down below minimum levels serious transmission damage can occur (the same advice goes for power steering leaks as well. the technician can check for metal shavings and other debris which are indicators of impending transmission problems. be sensitive to new noises.000 miles. vibrations and shift behavior A modern transmission should shift smoothly and quietly under light acceleration. only about half the oil is able to be removed from the unit. Even if you feel that you can't afford repairs at this time. Few transmissions have drain plugs to drain the old fluid. GM usually uses Dexron. A transmission will not work properly or may even slip or shudder with the incorrect fluid. When the transmission is serviced. make sure that the correct fluid is used to re-fill it. Maintenance Transmission fluid should be changed periodically. Whining noises coming from the floorboard are also a cause for concern. Your owner's manual will tell you which fluid is required. the 70 . If shift points are erratic or you hear noises when shifting. See the Maintenance section below for details on this service.• • repairs as long as you check your fluid level often (but check with your technician to be sure. In order to get the fluid out. you should have it checked by your technician who will most likely advise you to have a transmission drain and refill or transmission tune-up. the technician removes the transmission oil pan. Heavier acceleration should produce firmer shifts at higher speeds.) Toyota sometimes uses Type T which is only available through Toyota and Lexus Parts departments. The fluid change intervals are based on the fact that some old fluid remains in the system. so make sure that you double check. you should at least have it checked. This is because much of the oil is in the torque converter and cooler lines and cannot be drained without major disassembly.) Check fluid for color and odor Most manufacturers require that you check transmission fluid levels when the vehicle is running and on level ground.000 miles. or it has a burned odor. many problems can be resolved without costly transmission overhauls. This is quite a messy job and generally not recommended for the casual do-it-yourselfer. If caught early. Even if the transmission has a drain plug.000 miles to 100. Honda also specs out their own formula which is available from Honda or Acura parts departments. Your owner's manual should give you the recommended intervals which could be anywhere from 15. The technician may be able to give you some hints on what to do and not do to prolong the transmission life until you can afford the repair. Fords prior to 1983 use Type F while later models use Mercon. Late model Chrysler products use ATF +3 +4 (Not using the correct fluid for Chrysler transmissions is the most common reason for their transmission problems.
it is generally ok to use that product.) or minor repair. it is often the result of a computer sending incorrect signals due to a faulty sensor. however. or the transmission is not reacting to the computer command because of a bad connection or defective solenoid pack. Reseal job A transmission is resealed in order to repair external transmission fluid leaks. In fact. but they will also provide you with the specs for the oil. many technicians use a vacuum gauge to diagnose performance problems and state-of-tune. If a leak is spotted at any of the external seals or gaskets and the transmission otherwise performs well. however. • Adjustments and In-Car Repairs There are several problems that can be resolved with an adjustment (A simple adjustment is one that can be made without removing the transmission from the vehicle. there is an adjustment that can be made using an adjustment screw in some modulator designs. In vehicles with modulators. many of the control parts including most of the electrical parts are serviceable by simply removing the oil pan. If a non computer-controlled transmission is shifting too early or too late.owner's manual will try to convince you to only use the manufacturer's branded fluid. Replace accessible parts There are a number of parts that are accessible without requiring the removal of the complete transmission. Since throttle cables rarely go out of adjustment on their own or due to wear and tear. If the vehicle has a vacuum modulator instead of a throttle cable. it is very important that there are no vacuum leaks and the engine is running at peak efficiency. If you see spots of red oil on the ground under the car. In some older transmissions. vary from transmission to transmission and most transmission repair facilities would hesitate to provide meaningful warrantees on external repairs for the 71 • • . There are no adjustments for clutch packs however. These problems can be corrected while the transmission is in the car for considerably less money then a complete overhaul. Many problems that seem to be transmission problems disappear after a tune-up or engine performance related repair was completed. Engine vacuum is very sensitive to how well the engine is running. these mis-adjustments are usually due to other repair work or damage from an accident. If a late model transmission (computer-controlled transmissions started becoming popular in the early '90s) is not shifting properly. your transmission may be a candidate for a reseal job. In order to check a transmission for leaks. Slipping is when an engine races briefly when the transmission shifts from one gear to the next. The parts that are accessible. the transmission must first be removed from the vehicle in order to gain access to it. if the front seal must be replaced. Most of the external seals can be replaced while the transmission is still in the car but. If the aftermarket product indicates on its container that they meet or exceed the specs for a particular type of transmission fluid. making it a much costlier job. it may require an adjustment to the throttle cable. Transmission repairs. bands can be adjusted to resolve "slipping" conditions. the technician will most likely recommend that the transmission be resealed. a technician will put the car on a lift and examine the unit for signs of oil leaks.
The torque converter is also replaced. This is not the case with all transmission models so voice your concerns with your technician. then put the same. usually with a remanufactured one. overhaul existing unit When a transmission requires an overhaul. The second option is to replace your existing unit with another unit that has already been rebuilt or remanufactured. The second option will get you out of the shop and on your way much faster but may cause you problems down the road. or replaced with another part depending on its condition. Automobile manufacturers often make upgrade kits available to transmission shops to resolve these design defects. Replacement unit vs. there are generally two options that you may have. 72 . even which tire size. the transmission is removed from the vehicle and completely disassembled with the parts laid out on a workbench. a particular transmission model can have dozens of variations depending on which model car. newly rebuilt unit back in your car.• • simple reason that they cannot see if there are any additional internal problems in the components that are only accessible by transmission removal. Of course this is only important if you are sure that the transmission you have is the original one and has never previously been replaced. Complete Overhaul In a complete overhaul (also known as rebuilding a transmission). which engine. Parts that have friction surfaces. Technical service bulletins are checked to see if the auto manufacturer recommends any modifications to correct design defects that were discovered after the transmission was built. in some but not all cases. The reason for this is that.) You may also experience incorrect shift points or even complete transmission failure because your engine may be more powerful then the one the replacement unit was originally designed for. The first is to remove your existing transmission and overhaul it. such as bands and clutches are replaced as are all seals and gaskets. Each part is inspected for wear and damage and then either cleaned in a special cleaning solution. which axle ratio. Most shops will rebuild your existing unit if you request it as long as they can afford to have a lift tied up with your car while the transmission is being rebuilt. The problems you could experience could be as simple as a speedometer that reads too high or too low (the speedometer is usually connected by cable to a gear in the transmission output shaft.