Repairs to vehicles

Vehicle over heating? Vehicle not heating up fast enough? Vehicle heats up just fine but you get no heat in the cabin? This post is just for you! If you have overheated your vehicle, also read this .
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As you make your way through the automotive repair world, you will most certainly run across left hand thread. Most thread is traditional right hand thread, which means turning the nut or bolt clockwise will tighten the aforementioned object (turning counter clockwise loosens).

There are occasions where left hand thread is required. Left hand thread loosens and tightens opposite to regular right hand thread (turn clockwise to loosen left hand thread). If you have an object that is spinning, it may spin regular right hand items loose, and thus they use left hand thread.
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Often misunderstood, always awesome, the turbo is one of the greatest gifts to the automotive world.

At its core, an engine is an air pump, which creates the byproduct of horsepower and torque. A turbo simply increases the engine’s ability and efficiency in regards to moving air in and out of the engine. Rather than relying on the engine’s vacuum to suck air into the engine, a turbo forces the air into the engine.

A turbo has a few basic parts. Two wheels, which resemble fans, are attached to each other with a rod. The fans sit inside housings. The center section resides between the two housings and holds the bearings, as well as the oil journals and the cooling jackets.

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A customer recently brought his Ford in for service. At the time he was informed he needed new bakes front and rear. The customer declined the repair, citing “I can do that myself”. No problem at all, give us a call if there is a repair we can help you with.

A couple weeks later the customer returned, asking that the brakes be bled. He had replaced the brake pads, and had the rotors turned, but ever since the brake service he had a spongy brake pedal. Not knowing exactly what when wrong, we complied with the request and found that no matter how much the brake system was bled, the pedal was not quite right. The first time the pedal was depressed, it was soft, nearly going to the floor. If the pedal was pumped, the brakes would operate normally after the second or third pump. It seemed to be the classic air bubble, or a bad master cylinder. The question remained, why can’t we bleed the bubble out, and how could a brake service cause a bad master cylinder?
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A relay, in the most technical terms, is an electro magnet that acts as a switch. As the video shows, when power and ground are applied to the relay, the magnet becomes active, and the switch is completed. The infamous “clicking” one hears when a relay is activated, is the switch being magnetically drawn over to complete the circuit (please see video).

Ok, so a relay completes a circuit when power and ground are applied to it. How can we test if a relay is good in order to diagnose an electrical problem?

Most relays have a diagram of the relay right on the side of them, such as this fine relay here ….

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Whatever your relationship with the automobile, it is important to understand who built it. The trouble with auto manufacturers is that they are always building stuff for each other. This post will help sort out who built what, for who, and why it matters.

First thing first, let’s get acquainted with the major automotive families. Automotive families are different makes that are all made by the same manufacture. Many times manufactures will want to produce a regular run of vehicles, and then a more luxurious run of models. They will produce what is essentially the same vehicle, but badge them differently and pack one with all the high end wonders people love.

The major automotive families include …

Toyota, Lexus, and Scion. Honda and Acura. Nissan and Infinity. Hyundai and Kia. BMW and Mini. Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat. Jaguar and Land Rover. Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury. Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Plymouth and Eagle (Here shortly, toss in Fiat). General Motors, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick, Hummer, Saturn, and GMC (As well as Opel, Vauxhall, Holden and Daewoo). You can always tell a terrible product, because they will have numerous names for the same bad product.
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The other day a Nissan came into the shop. The battery and the alternator had been replaced. The car would start if you drove it, and let it sit a few hours, but would need a jump start if left over night. The battery tested good, and the alternator was charging plenty of amps, with no A/C ripple, and 15 volts. Sounds like a classic case of a draw.

I hooked up a test light and found the draw is on the fuse for the alternator charging signal. (For information on how to find a draw please visits here ) Occasionally, you will have an alternator that is charging fine, but back-feeds when the car is off and thus results in a draw. Given the fact that the alternator has already been replaced, it is highly unlikely that the alternator is the cause of the draw. So where do we go from here?

Upon inspection of the alternator, I found the following
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The other day I was installing an axle. When I pulled the new axle out of the box, an instruction sheet was present. I opened it up, flipped through it, and found an interesting noise/ vibration chart for drive line problems. Complaints, or problems, are across the top row, and possible causes are listed down the left hand column.

noise complaint chart
(click to see full size image)
This chart is interesting, accurate and a helpful place to start diagnosing drive line noise or vibration complaints. None of the information is earth shattering, but it is handy to have in a chart. More importantly, the lesson learned here is that regardless of how many times you have made a repair, if there are instructions with your replacement part, take the time to read though them, you never know what you might come across.

Often times, in order to make a repair, you will have to remove the alternator. When it comes time to install the alternator, you may find it is a very tight fit. Many alternators have a part that slides in order to fit snugly when installed. To reverse this process, and to make the installation of the alternator much easier, all you need is two nuts and a bolt.

alternator trick

Put the bolt and nuts in place as shown, and then slowly twist the two nuts away from each other. The device will push the slider out, and make the installation a piece of cake. My only word of caution is to work slowly, and add a bit of lubricant. The alternator’s case is aluminum, and is therefore fairly fragile. If you proceed with too much gusto, you can break the alternator’s case.

good luck, and happy motoring.

Often times customers will have worn two of their tires out, but the other two are in fine shape. The customer will purchase two tires. The question now, where should those two best tires go? Contrary to what seems to be common sense, the two best tires should go to the rear of the vehicle. This logic holds true whether the vehicle is front, rear, or all wheel drive.

The reason being, the best tires will grip more, and if the best tires are in the rear, over-steer will result in wet, snowy or icy conditions. This same logic applies to rotating tires. Experts claim, if there is a 25% difference in tread depth, the best tires must go to the rear. It seems like a scam to make customers buy new tires for the front wheels as well, but I assure you the proof is in the pudding.

The lesson to be learned? Rotate your tires regularly to keep them even.