The Dummies’ Guide to Identifying Under-the-Hood Car Parts

Engine Check

When it comes to cars, we usually just appreciate the features immediately visible to our eyes: the shape of the car, the rims, the windshield, etc. What we fail to realize is that a lot of “hidden” parts parts, like alternators and straight fin radiators, also contribute to the success of the vehicle as a whole.

It is also important to recognize these parts so that when something wrong happens to the car, you know exactly which part is in need of a replacement.

That being said, here’s a guide to all the important under-the-hood parts of a car for your added knowledge. Brace yourself; there’re a lot of “hidden” parts for you to learn about.

Oil dipstick – A small, metal bar that shows you how much oil is left in the car. If it is near empty, refill with oil. If close to full, leave it alone. It is best to keep the oil level near full.

Brake fluid reservoir – A translucent tank filled with fluid that is used to power the braking system of your car.

Fuel injection – A valve that injects fuel into your car for it to run properly.

Power Steering ReservoirPower steering reservoir – A tank that provides fluid to the car’s steering system, ensuring smooth turning when on the road.

Air cleaner/air filter A device that filters the air in the engine for it to function correctly.

Radiator – A machine that cools the engine of the car, preventing overheating as a result.

Battery – A device that powers your car electronically.

Alternator – An alternator works in conjunction with the car battery to supply energy to the other electronic parts of the car.

Front & back suspension – This system absorbs shock from the ground when travelling and ensures safe and comfortable travel for the passengers inside the car. Suspension systems also make sure that the tires get a good grip on the ground, providing steering stability and good handling.

Disc brake – A part of the braking system that slows down the revolution of the tires by applying brake pads on it, thereby slowing down the car.

MufflerKnown as silencers, mufflers reduce the amount of noise generated by the engine. It is the device responsible for producing the controlled and pleasing sound of a car’s acceleration.

These are just some of less “popular” car parts that deserves more care and attention than we usually give them credit for. To learn more about them, we advise you to visit your local automotive shop and have an educational dialogue with your trusted mechanic.

And while you’re at it, get a full car diagnostic so to find out if any part needs some fixing. We hope this article opened your mind even more about cars and the parts that make them go “Vroom!”

5 Signs your Engine is Telling you to Go to the Mechanic

System Warning Lights

No, that is not Mr. Roboto

1) System Warning Lights

I woke up one morning and got all readied up for work with perfect confidence that my car was in perfect shape until… until I started up the engine. Whaddya know, my dashboard is having a light festival!

No, these lights are not signs that your car is talking to you and telling tales of how much it loves you. System warning lights are very important indicators of your engine’s current status. Pay attention to them. Now, it’s not uncommon for these indicators to light up for a few seconds after the engine starts up. However, if they remain on for unusually long periods of time, then you better schedule a trip to your mechanic as soon as possible.

What do these lights mean exactly? There are 3 major warning lights that you have to keep your eyes on and these are:

The first two lights are very basic and self-explanatory. This means that you’ll know what they mean even if you aren’t an automobile enthusiast or a “pro.” The Check Engine indicator, on the other hand, is meant to be left up to the “pros” because it could signal anything from invading aliens to faulty computer boxes so you better take it seriously.

Amber Heard

You’re seriously reading this? Bad news, man!

2) Your Car Starts Guzzling Gas

Ever see one of those car advertisements boasting how the newest model is the most fuel efficient yet? I never really could digest the fact that the Audi A6 with its 2.0 liter supercharged engine was more efficient than my Fiat Panda. Yes, that was a joke; I do not own a Panda.

Anyway, whatever your car is, your mileage should pretty much be the same if you travel the same routine every day. If you notice that your car guzzles a lot more gasoline than it did last month and has been doing so for the past few days or weeks, that could be your engine telling you that he needs a trip to the mechanic.

Megan Fox

Seriously, dude… Why?

3) Chirping or squealing noise from under the hood

I was cruising along the highway one morning on my way to work when I heard the faintest of all the strangest sounds I have ever heard while driving. It was a “meow”, and it was coming from the engine compartment. I ignored it at first, a bit fearful of the thought that I might be going nuts, but it kept on until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I pulled over and checked under the seats for monsters. I followed the “meowing” to the engine and there lay the culprit! Snuggled up just under the headlights was, apparently, my mother’s kitten! What ensued was a rather fun day at work!

Engine noise is a pretty blunt indication that there is something wrong under that hood, chirpings and squealing sounds are not excluded! These noises are most probably signs of your drive belt is nearing the end of its wear-and-tear life and needs to be replaced.

Exhaust Smoke

Meet the fire truck’s evil sibling!

4) Exhaust Smoke

We all hate smoke belchers with violent prejudice! Like, we just want to drop by their houses and secretly put thumbtacks inside their shoes! But what happens when we become what we hate the most?

When our autos are belching out more smoke than it should, it can only mean one thing: the engine is sick and needs a doctor quick! There are 3 different yet distinct colors that exhaust smoke comes in and knowing what they are can help you figure out what’s going wrong with your engine:

  • White smoke
  • Black smoke
  • Blue smoke

White smoke is basically coolant and water entering your engine thus emitting steam like smoke. This could mean that you have a blown head gasket or a damaged cylinder head.

Black smoke is an indication that your engine is either receiving too much fuel or insufficient air. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a damaged engine. However, that could also be the case so better make that trip to the mechanic!

Blue smoke is the result of only one thing: engine oil. This means that there is probably a leak or breakage either at the top side of your engine or the bottom side. Either way, better have it checked!

Michelle Rodriguez

Not the best way to cool down… anything!

5) Overheating

This one is a no-brainer. An overheating engine can be caused by several factors. Its symptoms range widely: your coolants have run dry or are leaking, the fan motor has stopped working, a bad water pump or it could be something else entirely. It doesn’t matter. An overheating engine is a bad sign and you need to have it diagnosed and repaired by visiting the mechanic of your local radiator supplier.

5 Signs that your Fuel Tank has Water In It

Fuel

Every single component of your car has an importance to it, and that includes the fuel that gives the vehicle the power to run. Damage to your fuel tank can seriously cripple your car, and it is important for us to be aware of the possible problems.

For starters, one of the most common issues with fuel tanks is to have water poured into it. Now you may be asking, “How can water be end up inside my fuel tank?” Well, there are several circumstances that can actually lead to it: bad gas, a result of condensation, or spoiled kids who take on too many pranks. To have your fuel mixed with water will certainly lead to something regrettable, but luckily, there are some signs for you to look into to know whether or not your car’s fuel tank has water in it. Here are some of those signs:

  • If your car feels a bit sluggish, and if a small tap on your car’s accelerator does not give you immediate response, then chances are you might be dealing with water in your fuel tank. This happens because your car’s engine is not designed to burn water in the same way as it does fuel.
  • A cosmetic evidence of having water in your fuel tank can be found just around the fuel pump. Check for evidences of rust. When too much water enters your car’s fuel system, its internal parts can be exposed to rust, and will often result in fuel pump failures.
  • Be aware of your car’s gas gauge by constantly checking if the readings truly represent the amount of gas that is in your tank. A gauge reading that is unusually high will often cause you instances where suddenly run out of fuel even if the gas gauge is telling you otherwise.
  • Listening to the sound of your car’s engine is also a smart way of finding out if H20 somehow find its way to your fuel tank. If you notice that the engine is making sputtering noises, then it’s probably time to visit a mechanic for a much needed check-up.
  • You can also use a commercial test kit to find out if water is present in the tank. There are simple kits that are available that can test for a number of things in fuel, such as excess ethanol and water. The test kits will often include a rubber cap, bottle and a solution that can identify whether there is water present in your fuel or not.

Spare yourself the cash and trouble of such a vehicular travesty by keeping your ears and brain aware for the mentioned signes above. To maximize security, have your car’s fuel tested every 3-4 months. Happy Driving!

3 Car Maintenance Tips to Overcome the Summer’s Heat

It’s exciting when summer comes around. Thoughts of fun, sun, and sand dance in our minds, and with vacation time coming along with the season, it’s the perfect time to plan road trips with friends and family.

However, while basking in the sun is a relaxing idea for humans, it isn’t so for a car. The summer heat can be cruel to an automobile, especially since most cars nowadays contain many electrical components that do not respond well to heightened temperatures. As a result, so many cars can be found overheated on the side of the road. Other problems include car air-conditioners breaking down and flat tires. But with the right maintenance, your car can still go despite scorching weather. Here are three tips that can help you keep your vehicle summer-friendly.

Car Maintenance for Summer

Keep the cooling system cool

Your engine’s cooling system is one of the most important things to take care of in the summertime. The temperature under the hood is always several times hotter than the temperature outside, so beware of cracks in the hoses. These can result in coolant (antifreeze) leaks, which drip under the car as greenish fluid.

Lack of coolant results in overheating as the engine has nothing to counterbalance the heat. Be sure to regularly have the coolant fluid level checked by taking a quick trip to your local radiator shop. The right level is between the highest and lowest points. You should also have your coolant flushed and changed every two years by a trusted mechanic.

If you use fan or serpentine belts in your car, you should also check for damage. Replace broken belts with new ones immediately, as they are relatively inexpensive. Even if there’s no damage, replace them every 36,000-48,000 miles to be sure. You should also replace your air filter annually, as they easily get clogged with dust and residue particularly in the summer. And make sure your cooling fan is still in tip-top shape by running the engine (stay parked). The fan should start up after about five minutes. If it doesn’t, have it repaired as soon as possible.

Keep the air-conditioning conditioned

It’s not just your engine that needs to stay cool on a hot day – the people in the car should be comfortable too. Thus, have your air-conditioning system checked regularly, every year or 30,000 miles at a minimum. The system runs on refrigerant gas, 15% of which is used up annually. When the gas levels start dropping, it’s time to have it re-gassed. Check the other parts of the air-conditioning system, particular the rubberized components, to ensure that there are no rips and that they are functioning efficiently.

Keep the tires rolling along

Hot asphalt is bad for tires as it can wear the rubber down more quickly. This results in a higher chance of tires tearing, and even blowing out. Thus, you should be paying attention to your tire pressure levels at least once a month, or prior to a long trip.

Blowouts often occur with underinflated tires. You should also ensure that the treads have not been worn smooth or been separated – this can be extremely dangerous and lead to accidents from slipping on the road. Your tires should be even and perfectly aligned as well.

Have your tires checked every 3,000 miles and replace if necessary to ensure that they keep your car running perfectly.

You can also keep your car looking pretty without needing to wash it all the time (a difficult job in boiling weather) by keeping it covered with a light, breathable fabric. It also has the additional perk of protecting your car from scratches. Make the most out of your summer on the road!

The Pros and Cons of Paintless Dent Removal Services

Dent Removal Services

With all the cars out there, from highways to parking lots, it can be quite difficult to protect a car from those dents and scratches, which are the common nuisances for drivers that continue to become more common as the days go by. No matter how careful one is, his or her car will eventually suffer that unlucky fate, either by his or her own action or by someone else’s.

To have such damages fixed is neither easy nor cheap, although one fair and effective way to resolve them is through availing paintless dent removal services.  IF you consider yourself to be a car enthusiast and a supporter of certain car manufacturing corporations, then maybe you can do perform the remedy on your own. Otherwise, leave the job to the experts.

Before anything, we ought to define this method and determine its pros and cons. You ready? Good. Let’s begin.

Turning to dent removal services eliminates the need of getting a new paintjob, sparing your car from any kinds of scraping, drilling, filling, and/or retouching.  This method is not the usual “band aid fixes” we have to know about; it is not an uninformed process conjured up by some unprofessional that got passed on from one person to another. In truth, this service was invented by an assembly line personnel of car manufacturers who had to fix a few dings and minor dents before releasing their brand new car to the market.  Eventually, this process was adapted was adapted by auto repair houses and lived happily ever after.

Moving on. What’s the first thing that we should check to help us decide if we should go for dent removal services? The cost. This service is relatively cheaper (and faster) than that of a paint job done by professionals.

The second factor to consider is the warranty, which remains unhampered should you choose to avail of the service. Paint jobs, on the other hand, usually voids the factory paint.  A limitation of this service, however, is that it can only be performed to the metal parts of the car.

To sum it up all up, paintless dent removal services are most applicable against minor dents where the structure of the car is hardly affected. Think about its advantages. Think about the time and money you’ll end up saving. Cool, right? You know what’s even cooler? Not getting your car scratched in the first place.

8 Ways to Take Care of your Auto Car Window

Car Window MaintenanceBeing a responsible driver means being knowledgeable about the vehicle you’re driving. Before driving off your garage, it is important to check your BLOW-BAG: Battery, Light, Oil, Water, Brakes, Air, Gas.

These are all essential elements of an automobile, but what about other car parts that are just as important? What about our precious car windows?

If you are able to list down the number of times your car windows has protected you from pollution, sunshine, and rainfall, then’d you’d reward it with more credit that what most car owners usually give it. Listed below are 8 ways on how you can properly maintain your car windows.

1) Use an ammonia-free glass cleaner

This helps your window, specially tinted ones, retain their form and body. It is recommended to use this type of cleaner for they contain no intoxicating fumes whatsoever.

2) Use a microfiber glass towel

It is mandatory that you have something to channel your glass cleaner agent onto your car windows. Microfiber glass towels with tight weaves should be your first and only option for they will prevent scratches on your windows.

3) Remove water marks

Whilst engaged in the process of cleaning your car windows, you need to ready a polisher that will effectively rid any water marks that may result. To have an easier time eliminating water marks, pursue their removal the moment you notice their presence.

4) Use different Strokes

Only execute vertical/horizontal strokes as you clean the in and out of your window. This way, you can gauge which side needs more cleaning or has cracks.

5) Clean the rubber

It is important to clean the rubber that holds your window. Make sure that there are no tiny objects that can instil scratches to your window. Looking for ann official tool? No need. A toothbrush will do just fine.

6) Clean both sides

It is an undeniable fact that when people clean their car, most of them only perform thorough cleaning on the outside surface of the car. This should not be the case! Clean both sides with an equal amount of care and effort.

7) Close you door lightly

Although car parts are designed for extensive use, too much door banging can cause damage to its window. To avoid cracks and heavy damage, be gentle when closing your car’s door.

8) Fix or replace damaged windows

All damaged items either needs to be fixed or replaced. In case of window malfunction, it is wise to go to your trusted auto shop for immediate repairs to avoid any possible accidents whilst on the road.

Your car windows might not be as important as your BLOW-BAG. However, it is one of the things that keep both you and your passengers comfortable and safe inside the vehicle. Care for your car windows as much as you care for the essential car parts.

5 Benefits of Tire Siping

Tire siping, which is the process of cutting the tread of the car with slits and minute edges, is most favorable if you are fond of traveling to wet and icy roads. In this article, we will discuss five benefits of car siping that every car enthusiast should know about.

1) Improved Traction

People used to get studs for their tires to prevent dirt and tiny rocks from damaging them. But studs can’t be installed on used tires, which is one of several reasons why you shouldn’t buy used tires in the first place. To avoid any of these hassles and dilemmas, have your tires siped at a trusted automotive shop. Siped tires will result in a 200% improvement in traction, protecting the tires against materials that can lead to flat tires.

Tire Siping

2) Smoother Ride

Because siping will leave smooth edges on the tires, the cooling process will be quicker. In the same way, it will be able to expel water easier from the tread, providing better bite for the tires to dissipate heat. This is especially advantageous for trucks that travel long distances for an extended stretch of time. Thanks to the smoother ride it offers, siped tires also provide high-performance grip during wet conditions.

3) Extends Tire Life

Manual tire siping has been the standard service of car dealers before, but the innovations of computers and the improvement of machines has paved the way to automated siping, which has managed to alter the tread pattern and tire design, prolonging its life to up to 30%. Because the cuts from tire siping allow the tread block to flex and conform to the ground easier than a monolithic tread, they provide better grip, less heat, and ultimately, less wear.

4) Voids the Manufacturer’s Warranty

Most car manufacturers consider tire siping as a mere gimmick that they don’t approve for they believe that it’s a form of tampering. Tire siping involves slicing about a thousand horizontal razor-thin slits in each tire, so before deciding to have your tires siped, consult with your car’s manufacturing company regarding its warranty. If they can extend the car’s warranty, then you may proceed with the service. Else, decide if you are okay with a voided warranty and not have them stand behind you whenever you encounter a problem.

5) Better Overall Handling

Especially true during snowy, rainy, and icy conditions, your car will have better overall handling with siped tires as there is more rolling resistance that gives way to improved braking system. Note that the two advantages from acquiring this service is increased noise and reduced gas mileage. But hey, if you are perfectly fine with these things, then you should have a great time will your car.

The “Check Engine” Light: Should it be a cause of worry?

The “Check Engine” Light, also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp, is usually a cause of worry for many car owners. It is designed to activate in instances when the car’s computer system notices something wrong with the electronic control system. But what else does this warning device tells us aside from the fact that there is “something wrong” with our vehicle? Below, I have listed some specific malfunctions that would activate our car’s Check Engine Light (CEL).

Check Engine LightOxygen Sensor: It is the sensor that keeps track of how much oxygen in the exhaust has been burned. A busted oxygen sensor may cause a decrease in gas mileage an increase is harmful fuel emissions. If this incident is the cause of the CEL, replace your oxygen sensor as soon as you can. Damage to such sensors can be caused by oil ashes that cover it over time.

Loose Gas Cap: A faulty gas cap is probably the last thing one can think of when it comes to finding the reason for CEL’s warning. And although it’s as simple as it sounds, this problem should considered seriously as not replacing a loose gas cap could lead to excessive fuel vapors, resulting to a decrease in gas mileage.

Worn-out spark plugs: Like the engine, radiator, and alternator, the spark plug can be identified as an essential car part. Worn-out spark plugs cause major issues with the car’s acceleration power, causing the CEL to activate. When you encounter such cases, simply replace your car’s spark plug with a newer piece and things should be back to normal in no time.  So there. Faulty spark plugs should not be a cause of worry to car owners, but it should be addressed once identified.

Catalytic Converter: The combustion process of this car part converts the gasses within the engine to a less harmful exhaust. Once you realize that the CEL is pointing to the failure of the catalytic converter, make it a priority that you have it repair or replaced; further damage would mean more expense for the owner. That would be a real bummer. So act quickly.

Airflow Sensor: The airflow sensor incorporates proper distribution of air intake and fuel in the engine system. A busted airflow sensor can cause a decrease acceleration power, an increase in emission and an increase in gas consumption as well. An improperly-installed airflow sensor could be the cause of such a malfunction.

The problems listed above shouldn’t be that much cause of a worry as they are usually very easy to fix. As long as you are always conscious with your car’s warning devices, you won’t suffer any serious accidents. So the moment you notice that your Check Engine Light is flickering, take your car to your trusted automotive shop.

Top 10 Emergency Tools for your Car

Just because we are secure inside our car doesn’t mean that we’re safe from the many kinds of dangers outside of it. Sooner or later, we drivers will encounter a tricky and hazardous situation, and the tools that we have with us may be our only ticket home. In this article, let us take a quick countdown of the 10 emergency tools or accessories that are extremely useful for getting out of an untimely ordeal on the road.

10) Back-up Battery

A common downfall in cars is its unexpected shutdown due to an empty battery. Always reserve a back-up battery in your car as this might just save your day. Because an average battery usually lasts 3 to 4 years, take note of the date of when you last replaced your battery.

9) Phone Charger

It’s pretty safe to assume that all people who are wealthy enough to own their own car also has a mobile phone. Like the batteries of our cars, our phones may suddenly run out of juice. And when you run out of both in the middle of nowhere, a phone charger will be your saviour. Always keep a phone charger in your car’s dashboard; this is to make sure that you’d be able to call a friend, a family member, or even a tow truck when the situation demands for one.

Toolbox for Car8) Toolbox

What is the next thing you should do once you are able to identify the issue within your car’s mechanics? Get your tools! Make sure that you have all your handy tools inside a well organized toolbox for convenience. Essential tools such as a wrench, pliers, screw drivers, car jacks, among others, should be ready for action.

7) GPS

“Desperately and hopelessly lost? Perhaps you are in serious need to get back to your original track? Why, I have just the thing for you! A GPS!” In a dire and stranded situation, your fully-charged phone is only the solution as chances are, you’ll need to inform the other person on the line your specific location, and a GPS can give you the exact coordinates of your location, allowing help and rescue to find you in no time!

6) Jumper Cables

What if your back-up battery failed you by turning out to be as useful as your dead battery? I know that this is an unlikely scenario, but you have to consider all possibilities when talking about your well-being. When your car dies out, it is risky to leave your car and you search for help for car thieves can be lurking in the corner, just waiting for an opportune moment. A good option is to have a Good Samaritan help you jump-start your car. But for that to happen, you’re gonna have to own a pair of jumper cables

5) Swiss Knife

Your toolbox may not contain all the necessary items for you to use in a certain scenario. Because of this, try to make it a habit to always bring a small handy Swiss Knife that would provide you with extra tools for extra-difficult situations.

4) Mini Cooler

All vehicles need their necessary juices, but so do you, my friend! Carrying a water bottle will extremely be vital, but to survive longer in a stranded situation, you’re gonna have to bring some food as well. A mini cooler can store all sorts of food that will allow you to maximize the number of days you stay fresh as you act to get out of an unfortunate ordeal. This kind of preparation is most advisable for those who are about to embark on a road trip.

Carrying a Spare Tire3) Spare Tire

A flat tire is probably the most common show-stopper when it comes to unwanted misfortunes while driving. Never go out for a drive if your car isn’t equipped with a spare tire. Also, make sure that you have a reliable car jack around that should enable you to properly replace flat tires.

2) High Wattage Flash light

Emphasis on the “High Wattage” part. If you happen to experience your road mishap in the middle of the night, you’re going to need all the bright light you can get. If your car’s damage is beyond the capability of simple tools, use your light to make Morse Code signals.

1) Satellite Phone

Most useful in remote areas with no network signal, a Satellite Phone will enable you to connect with anyone with a phone, no matter where you are. This deserves the top spot in our countdown as it is of utmost priority to be able to call for help, and a Satellite Phone can do just that.

How to Determine Where that Smell Comes From

Riding in a car with bad odor can be increasingly disturbing if you don’t find the time to get rid of the smell. While you can ignore it all you want, you’ll only end up letting that awful stench grow stronger in time. And if you don’t want to risk being made fun of or talked about, you might want to stop giving people a ride for some time. The only way to suppress this smell is to get rid of its source. Here are a few places that might help you find the culprit.

Smelly CarStart with the easy locations by taking a look at the obvious spots. It isn’t uncommon for cars to smell bad. In fact, unless you have it cleaned once a week or so, an unpleasant odor will soon develop within your automobile. Before you go snooping around for unusual sources, use your instinct first by inspecting common areas and work your way from there. If you have kids, then it’s possible that they may have spilled food and drinks inside the car. Check your carpets and upholstery to see of any signs of spilled perishables.

If food and drinks aren’t the source, you might have to do a little more digging. Take a sniff and see if it smells like mildew musk. This smell comes from leaks in your floorboard that could’ve come from rain accidentally getting into the car’s carpet. Check the lower floorboards to see if there are any damp spots. Apply a solution of chlorine bleach and sundry. But before you put the carpets back, check the source of the wet spots. There might be some openings under the car or loose plugs, allowing rain to enter.

Also make sure to check inside the glove compartment, the trunk, under the seats, and even your ash trays. Check back seat fasteners because it may be the right time to change them.

A cabin air filter can also be the cause of an ugly smell. This filter can dampen due to condensation caused by your car’s air conditioner. As a result, the filter becomes moldy and smelly. If you’ll be replacing the filter, make sure to consult a professional to consider all of your options. On the other hand, you can also select the “return air” option to lessen the moisture that enters the system.

It is also important that you check your engine and exhaust system if it emits any bad smells. A leak in your radiator will result in an increasing engine temperature. It will heat up and quit, causing a sickly-sweet smell. Be wary of an engine exhaust leak because the fumes from the engine can build up inside the car, endangering your health.

Make sure to get your car cleaned at least once a month to avoid these kinds of inconvenient odors. Take time to check your tires and spray water on them to get rid of pieces of road kill that you may have run over. Be careful not to get your engine compartment wet. Never ignore any form of foul stench inside your car. Not only will it continue to bug you, but it might be coming from a source that may harm you in the long run.