Car Will Not Start
Every engine requires four basic ingredients to start: sufficient cranking speed, good compression, adequate ignition voltage (with correct timing) and fuel (a relatively rich air/fuel mixture initially). So if your car fails to start, you can assume it lacks one of these four essential ingredients. But which one?
To find out, you need to analyze the situation. If the engine won't crank, you are probably dealing with a starter or battery problem. Has the starter been acting up? (unusual noises, slow cranking, etc.). Is this the first time the engine has failed to crank or start, or has it happened before? Have the starter, battery or battery cables been replaced recently? Might be a defective part. Has the battery been running down? Might be a charging problem. Have there been any other electrical problems? The answers to these questions should shed some light on what might be causing the problem.
If an engine cranks but refuses to start, it lacks ignition, fuel or compression. Was it running fine but quit suddenly? The most likely causes here would be a failed fuel pump, ignition module or broken overhead cam timing belt. Has the engine been getting progressively harder to start? If yes, consider the engine's maintenance and repair history.
There is a big difference between “won't start”, and “won't crank or turn over”. No crank is when you turn the key or hit the start button and no sound is heard but maybe a click. Won't start means the starter is turning the engine over, but the engine won't catch or fire. The service personnel need to know which problem you have so the technician isn't wasting time, (and your money) looking for the wrong problem. No crank issues are generally related to the battery, electrical connections, security issues, starter relays, starter, ect. No start issues are generally related to lack of fuel to the engine, power train control problems such as ignition or injector problems, stuck open EGR valves, plugged exhaust etc.
Check Engine Light is On
The Check Engine Light (which is actually the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or MIL) alerts you when an emissions-related problem occurs with the engine control system or emission controls on your vehicle. Depending on the nature of the problem, the Check Engine Light may come on and remain on continuously or flash. Some intermittent problems will make the Check Engine Light come on only while the fault is occurring (such as engine misfire). The Check Engine light usually remains on once a fault has been detected, and will remain on to remind you that a problem has occurred that needs to be investigated.
An illuminated Check Engine Light can be annoying because you don't know what's wrong, and whether or not the problem might be a serious one or just a minor fault. There is no way to know what the problem is until you plug a scan tool into the vehicle's diagnostic connector and read out the code(s) that turned the light on.
If no other warning lights are on, and the engine seems to be running normally (no unusual noises, smells, vibrations, etc.), you can assume the fault that is causing the Check Engine Light to come on is probably minor and won't hinder your ability to continue driving. But if other warning lights are on, you should probably stop and investigate the problem.
When the Check Engine Light comes on, a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is recorded in the powertrain control module (PCM) memory that corresponds to the fault. Some problems can generate more than one trouble code, and some vehicles may have multiple problems that set multiple trouble codes.
The check engine or mil light is triggered by the power train control module (compute) that operates the engine and of late the transmission also. This happens when the monitoring system in the PCM detects a fault or noncompliance with parts and/of systems that control or effect emissions. Sadly there is only one light and hundred of issues that will turn it on. The operating system;s complexity makes it difficult for most care owners to understand, suffice it to say, have the system scanned to find out what is wrong. Ignoring the light not only means it is out of compliance emission wise, but the engine or some of the emission components may be damaged by continual use.
Coolant is an essential part of an engine cooling system. It is typically a fifty-fifty mixture of clean water and antifreeze. You may have heard antifreeze referred to as coolant, and this is somewhat true. Antifreeze not only helps keep the car engine from freezing up in the winter, it also helps keep the car cool in the summer. This product is mixed with water and is placed in the coolant reservoir and the radiator of the car when first adding coolant to a vehicle. Later on, vehicle owners can add more coolant between visits to the mechanic by pouring extra antifreeze into the coolant reservoir. Every two to five years, depending on the type of coolant used, the car owner will need to take the vehicle to the mechanic to have it flushed and filled with fresh coolant. Antifreeze is composed of acids that wear down the metal parts inside an engine over time. Antifreeze manufacturers add extra ingredients to help protect these metal parts from corrosion and rust. Over time, these ingredients break down, and the coolant becomes harmful to a car engine. At the end of the service life of a particular type of antifreeze, it is best to flush the entire system.
Choosing Coolant for Your Car
There are three different types of car antifreeze on the market; each one is formulated in a different manner and provides slightly different benefits. A car can essentially run on any type of antifreeze. However, there are a few things you should consider before purchasing any one type. When choosing a coolant for your car, you should consider how often you feel comfortable flushing out your coolant system and what kind of additives you want in the formula to help preserve the metal and prevent corrosion. Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT) IAT coolant is commonly used in United States-manufactured cars from the 1920s to the late 1990s. This coolant is naturally clear, but is dyed a bright green to help people identify it. IAT coolant contains silicates and phosphate corrosion inhibitors to help protect the metal parts of the car that the coolant runs through, such as the engine and the radiator. It is recommended that IAT coolants are flushed out of the car's system once every two years, or 30,000 miles. Organic Acid Technology (OAT) OAT coolants are available in several different dyed colors, from orange to dark green. This coolant is different from IAT coolant in that it does not contain silicates or phosphates to protect the car. This helps the coolant last much longer, but it can wear down the metal parts over time. Different manufacturers add special additives to this coolant to help prevent rust and corrosion. OAT coolant should be flushed from a car system once every five years, or every 150,000 miles. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) HOAT coolants are also available in a few different colors, such as yellow and orange. HOAT coolant contains some silicates to inhibit corrosion, and also has some additives to help prevent rusting and corrosion. HOAT coolant should also be flushed from the car system once every five years, or every 150,000 miles.
Knowing Which Coolant to Use
Car manufacturers often choose one particular type of coolant to use for all of their lines. This makes choosing the correct coolant to add to your vehicle much easier. You can look up coolant types according to vehicle manufacturer, and also by the color of the coolant. Coolant Type Colors Vehicles IAT Bright Green Most domestic vehicles from ‘20s to '90s; GM, Ford, Chrysler OAT In order; Orange, Pink, Green, Red In order; GM, VW, Honda, Toyota HOAT Yellow, Orange Major Asian, German, European car makers; Chrysler Another way to determine which type of coolant to add to your vehicle is to refer to the owner's manual. If the owner's manual is not available, you may look it up on the manufacturer's website.
Besides the three different chemical types, there are different addictive packages designed to control corrosion and enhance the life of cooling system components. The additive packages are tailored to the design of the engine parts that come in contract with the antifreeze. Different metals like aluminum. Cast iron and brass require different anti corrosion chemicals, as do different head and intake gaskets water pump seals ect.
If you want to get the most trouble free life out of your cooling system, use the factory recommended coolant and distilled water when the system is serviced.
Choosing the Right Engine Oil
Many owner's manuals explain which conditions are best for different motor oil viscosities. If you want to own and properly maintain a vehicle, at some point you'll have to figure out what kind of oil your car takes. Whether you're at a service center being asked what kind of oil you want or at a parts store shopping for oil to top off the engine, you'll want to know what's recommended.
The owner's manual gives all the information necessary to put the right viscosity oil — 10W-30, 5W-30, etc. — into your car. Most will have a temperature chart showing which conditions are best for different viscosities. It's also common to see the recommended oil printed on the oil cap under the hood. It's also important to use oil that meets the automaker's standards, which commonly includes oil with an American Petroleum Institute certification. API-certified oil will have the organization's "starburst" logo printed on the oil container, signifying the oil meets the most up-to-date oil-performance standards.
What Do All Those Numbers Mean?
Make sure the new oil meets the manufacturer's recommendations. The seemingly cryptic 5W-30 and 10W-30 designations represent the viscosity, or thickness, of engine oil. Which thickness of oil works best in your engine is determined by the automaker. Some common viscosities used in modern cars are 5W-30, 10W-30, 5W-20, 0W-30 and 5W-40.
The numbers represent oil thickness as measured by the Society of Automotive Engineers during hot and cold testing. For 10W-30, the first number (10) is the oil's viscosity when cold; 10 weight is thinner than 30 weight and beneficial when cold, because thinner engine oil allows easy start-up and less strain on the engine. The second number (30) is the oil's viscosity when warm and is typically a heavier oil, to provide better protection at higher temperatures.
The "W" paired with the first viscosity (10W) designates an oil that is certified by SAE for low-temperature use in winter.
Should I Use Synthetic Oil?
Synthetic oils are man-made oils that handle extreme hot and cold temperatures better than conventional, natural oils. Natural oils break down faster during high-heat operation like towing, racing or any heavy-load operation, partly because of impurities that can't be removed in the refining process.
As you would expect, synthetic oil is more expensive than conventional oil. Some synthetic oils claim you can change your oil less frequently when using their oil, but many automakers recommend sticking to their original oil-change timelines even when using synthetic.
Some new cars come with synthetic oil straight from the factory, and some automakers have vehicles that recommend synthetic oil.
Will Using the Wrong Oil Void My Warranty?
If you don't use the recommended oil viscosity or approved oil as required by the automaker, you risk voiding your warranty if damage occurs because of using the wrong oil. Other ways to void a warranty include using a heavy oil weight, like 20W-50, in a car that recommends 5W-30, or using non-API-approved oil in a car requiring API certification. One more way to void a warranty is to use synthetic oil that's not approved by the automaker.
Overheating can be caused by anything that decreases the cooling system's ability to absorb, transport and dissipate heat: A low coolant level, a coolant leak (through internal or external leaks), poor heat conductivity inside the engine because of accumulated deposits in the water jackets, a defective thermostat that doesn't open, poor airflow through the radiator, a slipping fan clutch, an inoperative electric cooling fan, a collapsed lower radiator hose, an eroded or loose water pump impeller, or even a defective radiator cap.
One of nature's basic laws says that heat always flows from an area of higher temperature to an area of lesser temperature, never the other way around. The only way to cool hot metal, therefore, is to keep it in constant contact with a cooler liquid. And the only way to do that is to keep the coolant in constant circulation. As soon as the circulation stops, either because of a problem with the water pump, thermostat or loss of coolant, engine temperatures begin to rise and the engine starts to overheat.
The coolant also has to get rid of the heat it soaks up inside the engine. If the radiator is clogged with bugs and debris, or if its internal passages are blocked with sediment, rust or gunk, the cooling efficiency will be reduced and the engine will run hot. The same thing will happen if the cooling fan is not engaging or spinning fast enough to pull air through the radiator.
The thermostat must be doing its job to keep the engine's average temperature within the normal range so the engine does not overheat. If the thermostat fails to open, it will effectively block the flow of coolant and the engine will overheat.
Exhaust restrictions can also cause the engine to overheat. The exhaust carries a lot of heat away from the engine, so if the catalytic converter is restricted, or a pipe has been crimped or crushed, exhasut flow can be restrricted causing heat to build up inside the engine.
It's also possible that your engine really isn't overheating at all. Your temperature gauge or warning lamp might be coming on because of a faulty coolant sensor. Sometimes this can be caused by a low coolant level or air trapped under the sensor.
Trailer Towing Safety
Whether you are moving or going on a road trip, or even just require a trailer for your work, it is important to be aware of trailer towing safety. There is a right and a wrong way to attach and operate a trailer, and many different pieces of the puzzle to consider when doing this for the first time, or if you need a refreshed and haven’t done so in a while.
One of the more common mistakes truck owners make is not checking the weight of the trailer to see if their vehicle is capable of towing the correct amount. If you attempt to tow a trailer that’s weight is greater than the maximum recommended for your vehicle, it is a disaster waiting to happen. You are risking extreme damage to the engine of your vehicle as it attempts to bare a load to great for it’s capabilities.
Another common mistake is trying to connect the trailer at the right level. Most people think the right place to attach a trailer to a truck for towing is slightly nosed down, but keeping it at the same level is the best choice. Settling for a connection slightly nose down is only acceptable if you can’t achieve a connection at the same level, as this does not encourage maximum towing capacity.
To find out how to effectively connect a trailer to a truck using a tow hitch, pay attention below:
First, ensure you have carefully read the manual of the tow hitch you want to use. Tow hitches come in different specifications; some might fit in perfectly well with the receiving hitch while others try to fit in, but will have a minimal towing capacity. Whichever way, having firsthand knowledge of the tow hitch you have goes a long way to guide you on how to use it.
Next step is to align your vehicle with the trailer. In case you don’t have a rear-view camera, please make sure you have someone to assist you here.
After this, you will have to check the tires and tire pressure. Be sure your tires are all filled appropriately as this is very important for safety on the road!
Then proceed to connect all lug nuts so you can finally connect your trailer wiring to the truck. As you do this, check the lights. This is by far one of the most important things to check. When the lights on the trailer come on, this means the trailer will obey all signals and turns initiated by the truck; so let there be light! You want to check this first in daylight, as discovering your lights aren’t on or don’t work once if it already dark is a nightmare waiting to happen!
Once you’re done with all of this, your safety as you tow the vehicle becomes a priority. Start by ensuring you connect safety chains from the trailer to the tow vehicle.
Most trailers come with devices attached to their electric brakes which automatically applies the brakes if the trailer disconnects from the tow vehicle. This is an essential safety procedure, so be sure to check if the trailer has this device.
It is critical to have a good view of vehicles behind and beside you, so always check your exterior rearview mirror while driving. You should also pay close attention to the yellow lines as you drive to ensure the trailer does not move outside of them.
Lastly, remember to watch several cars ahead, as you allow for a safe distance between you and the car in front of you for stopping distance.