Do-It-Yourself Car Battery Service And Maintenance Tips


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Owning a car is something that has evolved from being a luxury to a necessity. In Singapore, this is true for some people more than others. All the same, the joy that comes with purchasing the vehicle of your dreams barely compares to anything else.

Jumpstarting your car

Unfortunately, due to wear and tear of the movable parts, your car will not be the same powerful machine you purchased two years down the line. If you are keen on maintaining the same looks as well as performance several years after purchase, this is the time to start learning about car service and maintenance.

This 3-minute article will introduce you to simple tips that will keep your ride in perfect condition.

When it comes to vehicle servicing, most car owners resort to the easiest option, which is drive the car to the garage every few months. While this is an indispensable routine if you need your car to remain in good shape, there is a lot you can do on your own.

The best part about learning some do-it-yourself car service and maintenance tips is that you will save significantly on service station charges. In any case, what will you do in case your battery fails away from the garage? Have a look at how you can troubleshoot common car power problems.

Replacing the car battery

At times, the battery could malfunction due to the buildup of white sulphate on the terminals, which can be removed with a stiff brush. Another car service and maintenance tip to try is tightening up lose terminal connections.

When the battery has to be replaced: Shut off your engine, open the hood and disconnect the battery. Always start with the negative (black) cable then the positive (red).Remove the clamps holding the battery in position and haul from the bottom using both hands.

Replace it with the new battery and clamp the positive terminal then the negative. Before tightening the terminals, remove any sulphate buildup with a brush.

Jumpstarting your car

Before you attempt to jumpstart the car, you need to know that trying to do so with a damaged car battery can lead to serious damages in the unfortunate event of an explosion. If the battery is broken or cracked at any part, seek car service and maintenance from your mechanic.

Nevertheless, here are the steps you need to follow if you really have to jumpstart your car using power from another: Turn off the engines of both cars and position them front-to-front. Open both hoods and prop them up. Locate the negative and positive terminals of the batteries.

Connect a red clamp from the jumper cables onto the positive of the flat battery as well as a black one to the negative of the live battery. Connect the remaining black clamp to a ground around the engine block, ensuring it is away from all movable parts. Then attempt to start the car with the dead battery.

If it does not, start the live car’s engine for the dead battery to charge for several minutes.Try starting the car once again. If it does, disconnect the cables in reverse order.

Do not be in a rush since the dead battery has to charge for a while longer before it has enough energy to crank up your engine.

How To Make Brake Pads Last Longer


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Brake pads are one of the most crucial components inside your vehicle. They help you stop your car in time. In other words, without a reliable braking system, you are at risk of an impending collision. If your brake pad is not road-worthy, getting it replaced may be the best thing you can do.

Needless to day, there are many different ways you can stall for time before burning more money on a brand new set of brake pads. These tips also help you save petrol, which lowers your car ownership cost.

Biggest Killer: Speed

Brake Pads on CarSpeed kills…your brake pads. The faster you go, the more your brake pads wear off. This is obvious. Your brakes have to work harder to bring a faster vehicle to a stop. What’s not so obvious is if you drive a little faster (say from 100 to 110 kmph), your brake pads have to work more than 10% harder. This phenomenon can be attributed to the physics governing kinetic energy within a squared relationship to speed.

By driving within the speed limit, you are not only keeping yourself safe, you are saving a lot of money in petrol costs and car maintenance.

Brake Only With Your Right Foot

While this will not be an issue for many Singaporeans, there are some folks who are addicted to race driving. By braking only with your right foot, you can easily make sure you are not stepping on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time.

Build Familiarity

If you are familiar with the area you are driving in, you will save yourself a whole lot of braking (which saves your brake pads from premature wear and tear). On top of this, your drive will be much smoother and safer. If you drive into a new area, go slow to find your way around and make an effort to study the way before starting your journey.

Look Ahead

Simply by knowing what’s ahead of you, you will be able to anticipate any obstacles and traffic lights in the next 10 seconds. This is invaluable. You will be able to avoid hard braking and even possible accidents each time you are behind the wheel.

Driving also involves a great deal of peripheral vision. So train yourself to use this innate ability you already have to improve your driving skills.

Break Away From The Crowd

There are too many drivers on the road who like to step on their brakes unnecessarily. Needless to say their brake pads will suffer additional wear and they will also have to step on more gas to play catch up. You have to learn to read the speed of those vehicles in front of you and respond accordingly. Keeping a good safety distance can also help you to coast along without grinding your brake pads more often than you wish.

Throw Those Junk Overboard

Get rid of all the dead weight in your car. If you have installed some aftermarket parts, you have already loaded your car with some weight. So do not weigh itdown with more fluids, metals and tools you do not need. Heavy vehicles are no good for your brake pads, your wheels and your petrol budget.

Open up all the compartments in your car and do a strict audit. You will realize many things on your car are there simply because you forget to take them down.

Flush your brakes

The braking system requires a little maintenance (bleeding and flushing) from time to time. By flushing the brake fluid, you will make the internal components last longer. Your brakes will work better as a result. Many manufacturers recommend changing your brake fluid every couple of years. You can do this yourself if you have the skill, or bring your car to a mechanic to get this done.

Upgrading Your Brakes

Just like every other things you use, there are quality ones and bargain types. Brakes are rather complex systems on their own and you have to know what your car needs. If you fall into the temptation of using cheap brake pads, then who can you blame when they wear out at the blink of an eye? If you use your car extensively, go for a good set of wheels and a suitable braking system. You will have a smoother ride throughout.

If you are shopping for a set of brake pads, check out which types are the most reliable. In addition, find out what materials are used. Many governments are now enlightened to the environmental effects of reducing asbestos and several heavy metals in brake materials. (Ref: Washington State Issues Proposed Brake Pad Regulations) You never know…this trend may reach Singapore real soon.

Car Fuel Efficiency Killers You May Not Know About


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Your car’s fuel efficiency is dependent on several factors such as your driving style. It is common knowledge that abrupt accelerations and unnecessary braking can lead to high wastage. But there are a few other hidden vampires that can quietly suck up the petrol in your car.

So if you are interested in slaying these baddies, read on.

Fuel inefficiency is rarely the result of any single issue. Almost always, the problem stays on even after you have fixed one of those problems. Thus you have to get your car properly diagnosed by a qualified mechanic.

Under Inflated Tires & Other Tire Issues

Tires & Fuel EfficiencyOne of the most common drags your engine has to fight against is under-inflated tires. Fortunately this is very easy to fix. Nevertheless this is also most overlooked.

Under-inflated tires lower your mileage by 0.3 percent for each psi drop in pressure (in all four tires).  This may not seem significant. Yet if you ignore this, the cost will not be limited to just a drop in fuel efficiency. You will end up with a set of prematurely bald tires too.

Each week, you should (actually you must) check your tire pressure and inflate it to the recommended pressure. This is usually found on a sticker at the driver’s door pillar.

Other than under-inflated tires, improper wheel alignment can also contribute to fuel inefficiency. So get your mechanic to check these each time you are at his workshop.

Engine Oil Issues

The engine oil lubricates the moving parts inside the engine. Over time, the oil thickens. As a result, drag increases and so does fuel efficiency. And if the oil filter gets clogged up, oil flow gets restricted and the engine has to push harder.

Using the correct quality and type of engine oil can save you lots of repair costs in the future. For example, using 10W-30 engine oil on an engine that suits 5W-30 oil can increase the oil consumption by up to 2%.

Broken Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is part of the emissions control system and feeds data to the engine management computer. This component is responsible for determining how much fuel is injected into the engine. Many cars have an air-fuel ratio sensor installed instead of an oxygen sensor. Although it works differently, its functionality is the same as an oxygen sensor.

Your car burns fuel most efficiently only when a particular ratio of air and gasoline is present. The magic number is 14.7:1. Different fuels have different ratios though. And if this magic number is not present, your engine will not be able to maximise the energy from the fuel. Thus fuel efficiency drops.

Using an oxygen sensor scan tool, your mechanic can quickly determine if this component is still in good working condition. If it is not, it doesn’t take much to switch it out either.

Fuel Injectors – Leaking, Clogged, Worn?

Fuel injectors transport the air-fuel mixture into the engine so combustion can occur. This is a component that wears out over time. Once this happens, spray pattern changes. This results in decreased fuel efficiency too. Even leaky fuel injectors can result in high fuel consumption. Thus you have to clean your fuel injectors regularly or get them changed. Fortunately fuel injectors rarely break and even if they do, it wouldn’t take long to change into new ones.

Spark Plugs

Spark Plugs & Fuel EfficiencyHave you ever noticed your car becomes a little more powerful whenever you change your spark plugs? This component is responsible for igniting the air/fuel mixture in the engine combustion chambers. Carbon deposits on spark plugs increase resistance. The result is incomplete combustion – and fuel efficiency nosedives. In Singapore, many car owners do not clean spark plugs because it is just too troublesome. But if you are interested, read up on how to do this. After all, spark plugs are relatively inexpensive and you can throw the old ones away if you make a blunder.

Clogged Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are seldom clogged. But if they do, your mileage will spiral rapidly. If your car does not respond adequately as you step on the gas pedal, you may have issues with the catalytic converter. However many other issues can cause this symptom too. Therefore you have to perform a proper diagnostic, which includes measuring the exhaust back-pressure.

Hopefully when catalytic converter issues occur, it is still covered by warranty. Otherwise this can be an expensive component to replace.

Worn Timing Belts

A timing belt (or chain) orchestrates the movement of the camshafts and valves. If the timing belt gets stretched or worn, improper ignition can occur (read: bad fuel efficiency). A trained mechanic can help rectify a problematic timing belt or chain easily. Nevertheless if you change it every 90,000 to 170,000 km, you should not face any issues.

Faulty Thermostat

A thermostat is an important feedback mechanism that enables your engine to run at its optimum temperature. It is a part of the engine cooling system too. With a thermostat, your car can warm up faster and maintain normal operating temperature throughout.

A faulty thermostat upsets this balance. In the end, your vehicle needs more fuel than necessary. Although thermostats are not incredibly expensive, they will usually be difficult to find. Fortunately this is a problem that few car owners will face.

If you get the above points covered, you will almost always attain good fuel efficiency for your car.

Are there any other tips you swear by to get the most mileage out of your vehicle? Share them here with us…