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  1. The engine makes power by compressing and igniting the fuel and air, creates a vacuum by pulling the air and fuel into the engine, and runs the accessories by connecting them to the crankshaft. Problems with any of these functions could be due to an issue with the engine itself or with one of the other systems in the car. Here are the most common engine problems that you could face: Most Common Engine Problems: 1.“CHECK ENGINE” LIGHT COMES ON. The “check engine” light comes on when the car’s computer finds something off with the efficiency of the motor. How the fuel gets in, how well the engine is burning it, how good the spark is, and what the exhaust gases are like can all contribute to the way the engine performs. When the light comes on due to something in the motor, it usually is related to the engine’s ability to close off the cylinder and make compression, or it may be due to the engine overheating. If your “check engine” light comes on, it could be an internal engine problem, you’ll need to take it to a professional and have it checked. 2. LOSS OF COMPRESSION. The engine relies on three things to keep the pressure inside the cylinder: valves, which sit hard against the cylinder head; gaskets, which are located between the head and block; and piston rings, which expand between the cylinder wall and the piston. If one of these fails, your engine will have a loss of power or stop running. If a valve bends, it won’t be able to seat against the head; if a gasket fails, it will release pressure; and if the rings fail, it will force pressure into the bottom of the engine and cause the engine to falter. When one or more cylinders start to lose compression, the effect is loss of power, vibrations, and stalling of the motor. A failure in any of these parts can also cause oil or coolant to enter the cylinder, and that will cause engine problems, too. A professional can run diagnostics on your engine and will have a tool to check engine compression. Checking the compression in the cylinders tells your mechanic a lot about what is happening inside the engine without taking it apart. 3. ENGINE TIMING PROBLEMS. The engine uses a belt, chain, or gears to keep the crankshaft and camshaft working together. Belts and timing chains can stretch or slip over time, causing the valves to stop opening and closing when they should. You may hear your mechanic talk about “interference” motors. Interference motors run much tighter cycles than non-interference motors, and if the rotating parts get out of sync, they can touch each other and break things. A valve touching the pistons is the biggest problem, and it is expensive to fix. Non-interference motors really have to slip a lot before damage occurs. Changing a timing belt or chain is best handled by an experienced mechanic because accessing the belt requires disassembling the engine. 4. OVERHEATING (the most common engine problem). When the motor overheats, metal expands more than it should. This means the computer has to adjust the air intake to compensate, which can cause premature wear and damage to the engine. The primary culprit is the cooling system. Engine oil also helps cool the engine and its parts, and if there is a problem with the oil, it can cause an overheating issue. If the engine starts to get hot, the first sign is the temperature gauge on the dash moving out of the normal range. You may also see a release of coolant (steam under the hood) and seizing of the motor can occur. 5. FLUID LEAKS. Fluid leaks can occur when a gasket, which is designed to keep the oil, coolant, and fuel contained, fails. The first indication of a leak is usually a puddle in your driveway or your fluid levels being lower than they should be. Internal leaks, like compression problems, can cause the engine to start running poorly. Oil or water in the cylinder will cause poor combustion, which you will see in the form of smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. Your ability to fix a gasket really depends on identifying your car’s fluid, where it is and how accessible it is. Just remember—that small drip can turn into a big leak very quickly. 6. WORN OR BROKEN BELTS. Like the timing belt, the accessory belts will stretch and wear out over time. On some cars, it is easy to change the belt or belts. Your ability to do so depends on how accessible the belts are. Covers, fans, and other accessories may prevent you from changing it yourself without special tools. More and more manufacturers are putting covers and protective shields on cars, making it difficult to inspect the belts. If it is difficult to properly inspect the belts on your car, have a professional check them at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. 7. VACUUM LEAKS. The engine creates a vacuum by drawing in air when the piston moves down the cylinder. When a vacuum leak occurs, it can change the amount of air that is mixed with the fuel, and this will cause the engine to run poorly. It may idle too high or run rough. There are lots of vacuum tubes on a modern motor, and when one breaks, you may hear a hissing or whistling sound coming from the break. Fixing a vacuum leak may be as simple as reconnecting a line, but if the line is broken, it will need to be replaced. A repair shop can use a computer to help find a leak. Sometimes they are located in very hard-to-reach places, and you need to remove a lot of equipment to get to the leak. It’s best to leave this repair to a professional. Read more on VIRMODA.COM
  2. At some point, most drivers will encounter a situation where they need to know how to jump start a car. This can be done with a booster battery from another vehicle or with a portable power pack. Whichever method you use, it’s important to jump the car battery correctly. In this article, you will learn how to jump start your car properly following easy steps illustrated with reel photos to help you get the most from what you are reading. what do I need to jump start a car? Jumper cables or a power pack A spare battery or running vehicle Battery terminal brush (optional) The first way: JUMP-STARTING WITH A BOOSTER BATTERY: The most common way of jump-starting a battery is by connecting it to the battery of another vehicle using jumper cables. The charging power of the running vehicle gives the dead battery enough of a boost to turn over the engine. Follow these 11 steps to jumpstart your car correctly: 1. LOCATE THE BATTERIES. Locate the batteries on both vehicles. They are usually mounted under the hood. If it isn’t under the hood, check the owner’s manual for the location. The location of the batteries will determine how to orient the vehicles (FIGURE A). 2. PARK THE BOOSTER VEHICLE. Park the booster vehicle next to the disabled vehicle so that the batteries are as close as possible. Often this means parking the cars nose-to-nose. Make sure the jumper cables are long enough to reach from one battery to the other. 3. TURN OFF ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN BOTH CARS. Power surges can occur during jump-starting, ruining electronic components. Unplug all personal devices and turn off the radios and other devices in both vehicles. 4. TURN ON THE HEATER FANS. The heater fan uses a lot of power, and if you do have a surge, it will be able to absorb the power spike. Turn the fan on in both cars. 5. CLEAN THE TERMINALS ON BOTH BATTERIES. Excess corrosion will prevent the jumper cables from making good contact with the terminals. If you have a battery brush or stiff wire brush, clean the battery terminals to allow for a good connection (FIGURE B). 6. HOOK UP THE POSITIVE (RED) CABLE. Pull the terminal covers out of the way and hook one red clamp to the positive post of the disabled battery, then hook the other red clamp to the positive post on the booster battery. Make sure the clamps are secure and do not touch the metal chassis of the car (FIGURE C). 7. HOOK UP THE GROUND (BLACK) CABLE TO THE BOOSTER BATTERY. Pull any terminal caps back and place a black clamp on the negative post of the booster battery. Be sure the cables and clamps are not near moving parts (FIGURE D). 8. ATTACH THE GROUND (BLACK) CLAMP TO THE DISABLED VEHICLE. The opposite end of the black cable needs to be grounded. Do not connect it to the battery negative terminal. Instead, find a good, solid spot on the chassis to make the clamp connection. Here we used the bolt from the front suspension for our ground (FIGURE E). 9. START THE BOOSTER VEHICLE. Start the booster vehicle and run it at a moderate idle speed. Allow the booster car to charge the disabled battery for a couple of minutes before trying to start the disabled vehicle. 10. START THE DISABLED VEHICLE. With the booster vehicle still running, try to start the disabled vehicle. You may have to try several times before it starts. Once it starts, keep both vehicles running for a few minutes. 11. REMOVE THE BOOSTER CABLES. Take the booster cables off in the reverse order of putting them on. Start with the disabled vehicle’s negative clamp. Once you disconnect the cable, wait a couple of seconds to see if the car stops running. If it does, you may have a charging problem. Remove the negative clamp from the booster battery and then remove the positive clamps, starting with the disabled battery. The second way to jump start a car: CHARGING WITH A PORTABLE CHARGER: Charging with a portable charging device is very similar to using a booster battery. Connect the positive clamp to the battery post and the negative clamp to a good metallic ground point on the car. Follow the instructions on your portable charger and remove after the vehicle is running. Make sure you recharge your portable unit so it is ready for use the next time. Read more: Virmoda.com
  3. Checking your engine oil should be a regular routine. Most manufacturers recommend checking engine oil every couple of hundred miles of driving, or each time you get fuel. For most vehicles, you check engine oil with a dipstick that reaches down into the oil pan and dips into the oil reservoir. What you need to check engine oil and add or change it: Clean rag or paper towel Engine oil (if needed) Funnel (optional) How to check engine oil ? 1. TURN OFF THE ENGINE. You can check the engine oil at any time, but the best is at least five minutes after it has been running and is warm but not hot. Be careful not to burn yourself while checking a hot engine. 2. LOCATE THE OIL DIPSTICK. Most manufacturers are very good at marking the engine oil dipstick for identification. On this car, it is bright yellow and right up front, but it may look different in your car. 3. PULL AND INSPECT THE DIPSTICK. Remove the dipstick from the engine and inspect it for anything that doesn’t look like oil. 4. WIPE AND RE-INSERT THE DIPSTICK. Since the engine slings oil onto the dipstick when running, use a clean rag or paper towel to wipe the dipstick and re-insert it all the way back into the engine. 5. INSPECT THE ENGINE OIL LEVEL. Pull the dipstick back out to get a fresh reading. Check that the level falls within the minimum and maximum levels marked on the dipstick. Ideally, the level should be at but not over the maximum level. Difference between synthetic and regular oil? So your mechanic has recommended that you use synthetic oil. They say it’s better for your car, but it costs a lot more. What is the difference between synthetic oil and regular oil ? REGULAR OIL: Is a petroleum product, which has to be refined. Aftermarket engine parts manufacturers may recommend conventional oil when installing their parts. Regular oil is less expensive than synthetic oil, but must be changed more frequently, usually every 3,000 to 6,000 miles. SYNTHETIC OIL: It is made in a lab, which results in a more stable and, at times, better-performing product. Because synthetics can stand higher heat, some high-performance manufacturers recommend them. Synthetics can go 10,000 to 12,000 miles before they need to be changed, but since they cost three to four times more than conventional oils, the cost savings may be negligible. If your engine is healthy and you get regular oil changes, your oil level shouldn’t get low enough between changes that you need to add oil. If it is consistently low, it usually means it is leaking or burning oil. A very small leak is nothing to be concerned with, but all the more reason to keep an eye on the oil level. If you need to add oil yourself, here’s how to do it. Oil makers may also make “blended oil” which uses both regular and synthetic types to get the advantages of both, but fall between each in performance and ability. Both regular and synthetic oils have to meet a government standard, even the inexpensive generic brands. Car manufacturers also set standards for engine oil based on how the engine is made. Engine oil is rated by its weight (a “W” number, like 30W). Thinner oils have lower numbers than thicker oils. Most new cars are designed to use thinner oils, which take less energy to pump, saving gas. If you’re using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil, your car will operate just fine. A mechanic may recommend synthetic oil if you aren’t getting your oil changed frequently enough or if you do some high- performance driving. If you change your oil on a regular basis, conventional oil is sufficient. Consider a synthetic if you’re forgetful, have a lead foot, or like the added protection. How to add engine oil? If your engine is healthy and you get regular oil changes, your oil level shouldn’t get low enough between changes that you need to add oil. If it is consistently low, it usually means it is leaking or burning oil. A very small leak is nothing to be concerned with, but all the more reason to keep an eye on the oil level. If you need to add oil yourself, here’s how to do it. Be sure to use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer. 1. LOCATE THE OIL FILL LOCATION. The oil fill is usually on top of the engine in one of the valve covers. If you can’t find it, check the owner’s manual for its location. 2. POUR IN THE OIL. Use a funnel to prevent drips and splatters that could be mistaken for a leak. 3. CHECK THE OIL LEVEL. Your owner’s manual or the dipstick may tell you how much oil is between the minimum and maximum levels. Wait a couple of minutes for the new oil to run down into the oil pan and check the engine dipstick again. Repeat the fill process until the level has reached the maximum line. 4. CLEAN AND REPLACE CAP. Make sure you clean any spilled oil from your motor (be careful on a hot engine) and replace the cap. READING YOUR OIL GAUGE: The oil light or gauge measures the oil pressure as oil is pumped through the engine. Too little pressure means the oil may not be reaching the parts to lubricate them, and too much pressure may indicate a blockage. Both are very bad for your engine. Some cars use a light, and some cars use a gauge to tell you about the oil pressure. If you see the light come on, or if you see the gauge go up too high or too low, bring your car to a stop as soon as safely possible and check the level of your engine oil. Do not drive a car with low oil pressure; you will damage the engine. If the engine oil is very low, refill the engine oil and re-check the gauge while the engine is running. If the problem goes away, check for leaks or oil- burning smoke from the exhaust. Have the car checked by a professional as soon as possible. If you find any other problems, do not drive the car, have it towed to a repair garage immediately. How to change engine oil? Changing your own engine oil is a good way to save money, but before you begin, check local regulations to make sure it’s legal for you to do it yourself. Recycling oil is a must, and items like the used filter may require proper disposal. Your local auto parts dealer will have information about regulations in your area and may be able to recycle used oil, too. Finally, keep in mind that changing oil is a messy job and your filter may be difficult to access. Be prepared to get dirty. What you need to change engine oil? Oil recommended by your manufacturer Oil filter appropriate for your car Paper towels Oil pan Tool to remove the oil drain plug (usually a wrench) Jack and jack stands (if needed) Funnel (optional) Oil filter wrench (if needed) How to change engine oil? 1. LOCATE THE OIL FILTER. With the engine cold, locate the oil filter. Make sure you can access it easily and take note of the style of filter your car uses. There are several filter types; the most common are cartridge and spin-on filters. This spin-on filter is located on the driver’s side of the motor, down by the front steering. Removing it requires adjusting the position of the steering linkage and crawling under the car (capture below). This cartridge filter is located up high and tucked under the engine’s exhaust manifold (capture below). 2. PREP THE CAR. Find a safe, level place to change your oil. Make sure your car is in “park” or in gear and set the emergency parking brake to prevent the car from moving. If your car is low to the ground, you may need to raise the car up to gain access to the drain plug and filter. 3. LOCATE THE DRAIN PLUG. The drain plug is located at the lowest point on the engine. It usually looks like a bolt. 4. REMOVE THE DRAIN PLUG AND DRAIN THE OLD OIL. Place your oil drain pan under the plug and remove the plug with your wrench. Be careful: the oil will drain fast and can splatter easily. Adjust the position of the pan if needed as the flow of oil slows. Allow the oil to drain completely. 5. INSPECT THE DRAIN PLUG. Before you reinstall the plug, inspect it for damage or contaminants. Clean the plug and threads with a paper towel before re-installing. 6. REINSTALL THE DRAIN PLUG. Reinstall the drain plug and tighten. Be careful not to overtighten the plug and strip the threads. 7. REMOVE THE OIL FILTER. Removing the oil filter can be tricky. You may be able to do it by hand, or you may need to use a special oil filter wrench. Place your oil drain pan under the filter in case of leaks. This spin-on filter is awkwardly positioned but can be removed by hand. Taking out this cartridge filter requires maneuvering a wrench under some wiring and removing the top cap of the filter canister. 8. INSPECT THE FILTER. Once you have the filter off and away from the car, look it over. On a spin-on filter, you can’t see the inside, but you can check the opening for metal shavings or debris from the engine. Check that the gasket on the filter is intact and hasn’t stuck to the engine (capture below). On this cartridge filter, you can see the filter element and check it for metal shavings or large contaminants. This cartridge has an O-ring gasket on the bottom and on the threads. Make sure the old gaskets come off with the filter and are not stuck to the engine (capture below). 9. CLEAN THE GASKET SURFACES. The gasket surfaces need to be cleaned before installing the new filter. On a spin-on filter, use paper towels to wipe off the flat surface on the engine where the filter gasket touches the engine. On a cartridge filter, check the bottom of the canister for contaminants and use a paper towel to wipe them out. Be careful not to leave any paper towel or any other foreign object in the canister. Use a paper towel to clean the threads on the top of the canister . 10. LUBRICATE THE NEW GASKET. For a spin-on filter, smear a small amount of new engine oil on the entire mating surface of the new gasket before re-installing it on the engine. This will help seal the filter and make it easier to remove on the next oil change (capture below). For a cartridge filter, snap the new filter into the top cap and use a small amount of oil to coat all the gaskets. Most cartridge-type filters will come with a new O-ring gasket for the cap. Install the new O-ring and coat it with some clean oil to help seal the gasket and make removal easier next time ( capture below ). 11. INSTALL THE NEW FILTER. A spin-on filter is designed to be tightened by hand. To install a spin-on filter properly, screw the filter on the mount until you feel the gasket touches the mounting surface. At this point, turn the fiter approximately three-quarters of a turn. Check the packaging for specific instructions. For a cartridge filter, screw the filter cap on by hand until the gasket fully seats and then snug the cap. Do not overtighten; you can tear or ruin the gasket. 12. POUR IN THE NEW OIL. Once the new filter and plug are back in the engine, remove the oil cap and pour in the recommended amount of motor oil. Using a funnel helps to prevent spills. Use paper towels to wipe up any spilled oil and replace the oil cap. 13. CHECK FOR LEAKS. Before starting the engine, check under the car for any drips from the drain plug or from the oil filter. Turn on the car and let it run for a minute or two and check under the car for leaks. 14. REMOVE THE CAR FROM JACKS, IF NEEDED. Once you are sure you don’t have to get back under the car, you can lower the car off the safety jacks. 15. RESET YOUR COMPUTER IF NECESSARY. Some vehicles come with a vehicle data center that includes a feature that tells you when to change your oil. The step for resetting this feature should be in your owner’s manual. If you don’t have a reminder, note the mileage and date when you performed the oil change and keep that information in your car. SMALL TIP Some people recommend that you put oil in the new filter before installing it so it isn’t dry when you start the motor. It’s fine to do this, but if your filter is mounted at an angle it can make a mess. If your oil pump is functioning properly, the new filter will be filled within a few seconds, so pre-filling it isn’t really necessary. Read more: Most Common Engine Problems
  4. The following is a quick guide you can use to remember Routine Maintenance Checks for your vehicle. Doing these Routine checks may seem like a hassle, but they could save you time and money in the long run. Try to get yourself into some good habits while driving and maintaining your vehicle. 1. ROUTINE MAINTENANCE CHECKS EACH TIME YOU USE YOUR CAR Check the tires for low pressure. If you do see a low tire, look for nails, screws, or other foreign objects that could cause a puncture. Check the outside for new damage. This is especially important if you are parked in a public parking area. If someone has damaged your vehicle, take pictures for your insurance company. Look for leaks. After leaving a parking spot, glance back and check for signs of a fresh puddle. When you walk away from your parked car, look for dripping liquid. Read This Article About Identifying Your Car’s Fluids: 2. ROUTINE MAINTENANCE CHECKS EACH TIME YOU GET FUEL Check your fluids. Check the level and condition of your engine oil every time you fill up. The other fluids that have a see-through reservoir like coolant and brake fluid only require a quick glance to see their levels are correct. Inspect belts and hoses. Take a look at your belts and hoses to look for abnormal wear. Use caution when touching a hot engine—a visual inspection is sufficient. Also, look for leaks around the engine compartment and under the car. Check tire pressure. This is a good time to check your tires for proper inflation. Frequent checking is the best way to maximize the life of your tires. Clean your windows and wiper blades. If a squeegee and towels are available, take advantage of them. Keeping your wipers and windshield clean will extend the life of your wipers. 3. ROUTINE MAINTENANCE CHECKS EACH OIL CHANGE Whether you change your own oil or have it done by someone else, you should perform the fill-up inspections as well as the following: Inspect your tires for abnormal wear and damage. Check your fluids. In addition to checking the levels, look at the fluids while the engine is cold, and check their condition. Inspect and lubricate the chassis. Check for underside problems and issues with the suspension when lubricating the chassis. Inspect the belts and hoses. With the engine cold, do a thorough inspection of the belts and hoses. Look for signs of leaking around the engine. Check the air filter. Check the external lights. Turn on your lights and make sure all your lights are working, including your turn signal and brake lights. Also, check the small bulb over your license plate. Inspect your battery. Inspect and clean the battery contacts if needed. Look for damage to the cables. 4. ROUTINE MAINTENANCE CHECKS EVERY OTHER OIL CHANGE In addition to the previously described checks, add the following to your list: Rotate the tires. Check automatic transmission fluid and power steering fluid. These are both usually checked while the engine is running. Check the fuel cap. Look for cracking and debris around the seal area. Check the seat belts. Check the belts for fraying and damage, and check the retractors to make sure they are working properly. Check weather stripping and seals. Check the door seals and weatherstripping for tears, breaks, or damage. Check computer codes. The computer should illuminate a dashboard icon if there’s a problem, but it doesn’t hurt to check for codes periodically. Read more on Virmoda.com
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