Know When to Call Your Mechanic

Modern vehicles are more reliable than ever, and your car might run for years without giving you any trouble at all. Then suddenly it dies and leaves you stranded. You are left wondering what happened. Life can be full of surprises, but your car will often give you some warning signs.

Unusual Bumps, Shimmies, and Vibrations

Engine vibrations, lack of power, or strange shifting patterns from the transmission mean that something is wrong with your powertrain. A steering wheel vibration indicates a problem with the brakes or suspension. Loud bumps from the engine compartment could mean that something is broken or loose. These problems should be looked at by auto repair expert.

Hard Starts

If everything is working correctly, your engine should fire right up. If your engine takes longer than normal to start, you could be looking at a weak battery or a bad fuel pump. Either problem will eventually leave you stranded. Hard starting conditions can also be caused by faulty sensors and engine electronics. A diagnosis will be necessary to identify the appropriate car repair.

Strange Noises

Certified Car Care says that grinding noises from the engine are never a good sign. Damaged pully bearings are loud and can throw the engine belt. This leads to massive damage to other components. Grinding or clicking noises can also be caused by bad wheel bearings or axle joints. When an axle fails, your vehicle will lose the ability to send power to your wheels.
Following auto maintenance recommendations will limit your likelihood of experiencing these problems, but these obvious signs indicate that you need to get your car into a shop for an immediate car repair.

The Dune Buggy

Have you ever thought about owning a dune buggy and being able to blast over a sand dune or drive up a desert wash? If this sounds like fun then you might want to consider buying a dune buggy or off road vehicle.

For many decades the off road enthusiasts have been taking regular old VW motors and bolting them up to a dune buggy frame making them capable of going over all most any terrain in front of them. But today it goes far beyond the VW dune buggy, now manufactures are offering V8 motors, incredible suspension and the comforts of a luxury vehicle. (Source:

The dune buggy goes back to the late 1950’s when you would take a car or VW bug and strip it down to the frame, weld in a roll cage and bolt on larger tires for additional traction. People now had an offroad vehicle that could take on the elements of the desert and venture out where most people have not been. It did not take to long before companies popped up offering conversion kits for the VW bug and other small cars. As companies progressed in the off road field the dune buggy became more reliable and sophisticated.

Fast forward to today’s technology and the choices and options for building a dune buggy are endless. There are many professional dune buggy manufactures in the business today that have the knowledge and experience to create an offroad vehicle that will give you an unforgettable driving experience.

Thermostat Maintenance

Your thermostat is a very important part of your heating system and is extremely sensitive to the smallest change in reading the temperature. The thermostat control has very little moving parts than the rest of your heating system, but it can create problems to make your heater not run at all. If your cover to the thermostat was installed incorrectly or has been knocked by an object it can cause the heater from being able to start or even worse not work at all. If the thermostat was installed unlevel this can also cause the system not to operate correctly. The most common problem with thermostats is dirt. Dirt can change the calibration of your thermostat and not allow the heating system to work. For example if your thermostat was set for 69 degrees and your system is out of level or has dirt in it, the heating temperature is really running at 72 degrees.

By just having a 3 degree difference can increase your heating bill by as much as 8 percent. You should check your thermostat to make sure it is accurate every year prior to the beginning of the heating season. There are other problems that can create the thermostat not to work. These problems often are related to a bad switch on the base of the thermostat or a wire that has become loose or corroded. Check all your connections on the thermostat and clean any corrosion that may be visible on the wires.

What Causes The A/C System In My Car To Leak?

The simple answer to why your car’s A/C system is leaking is moisture and age. The rubber seals and hoses in the air conditioning system eventually lose there elasticity and the rubber will breakdown. This allows the Freon in the system to leak out and moisture to get into the air conditioning system. Once the moisture enters the system and mixes with the refrigerant it creates a corrosive acid that will ruin the A/C internal components. These components include the drier, receiver and accumulator which are responsible for getting rid of the moisture in the air conditioning system.

How do you test for an A/C system leak?
There are two ways to test your air conditioning system for a leak. The first way is by using a black light. Most refrigerants come premixed with a U.V. dye that will show up under a black light displaying where the leak is coming from. The second way is to use a device called a sniffer. The sniffer will detect the refrigerants chemical components and point to the leak.

What is the odor coming from my A/C vents?
If your air conditioning is blowing air that smells musty, then it is time to have it checked out. There are usually two reasons for the odd smell. Your cabin filter needs to be replaced or a moldy evaporator case.

Adding A Cooling Fan To Your RV Refrigerator

When the outside temperature gets above 90 degrees, your RV refrigerator can have a difficult time trying to keep your food cool enough and your drinks cold. There are many things that can create your refrigerator from running efficient, like a dirty gas burner, the sun hitting the side of the motorhome that your refrigerator is on, dirty flew, or poor air circulation in the outside refrigerator compartment. If you have had your refrigerator serviced and it is still not cooling adequately, then it is time to install a cooling fan to improve the ventilation at the back of the refrigerator. By having the fan pointed up towards the vent it will direct the hot air out of the compartment.

If your refrigerator was installed incorrectly where there is dead space in the compartment it will prevent the convection action from working properly. The dead air space will trap the warm air and reduce the amount of draft to the upper vent. By adding the cooling fan it will help push the air out of the dead space and exit out the top vent. Refrigerators that are built into a slide are notorious for hot air getting trapped in the top part of the refrigerator compartment.

There are many different types of fans that can be used for this modification. It is best to find a fan that has a permanent mount and runs off the motorhome batteries. Computer fans that are 3 to 4 inches in diameter are a perfect match for this modification. They will use little battery power and can move a good amount of air through the compartment. Avoid fans that run off flashlight batteries, they will not last long and do not provide good air flow.

When looking for a fan you might want to consider one that is thermostatically controlled. The thermostat allows the fan to come on when the ambient air temperature reaches a set point. There are different temperature thermostats available but I would look for one that switches on at 90 degrees. You can also add a switch to the fan to override the thermostat. The best place to mount your vent fan is at the bottom of the vent stack near the lower vent.

Most RV parts store will sell after market refrigerator fans or you can check your local electronics or computer store.

Is My Tow Hitch Rated For The Weight Of My Trailer?

There are two very important factors when selecting a trailer hitch, one is going to be your gross trailer weight and second will be your tongue weight. When determining both of these weights you will want to make sure the trailer is fully loaded. Once you have your trailers total weight you will want to check and see how much your vehicle is capable of towing. You can usually find this information in your owner’s manual or call your local dealership.

Gross trailer weight will be determined when the trailer is fully loaded and ready to be towed. If you do not know what the weight of your trailer is fully loaded it would be best to take it to a public scale and have it weighed. This will be your most accurate way of knowing exactly what your trailer weight is fully loaded and not be guessing.

The tongue weight will be the determined by what the downward force of the tongue is on the trailer hitch and trailer ball. The weight on your hitch will be supported by your vehicles suspension. Your tongue weight should be between 10 to 15 percent of the total trailer weight. If your tongue weight is going to be under 300 pounds you can use your bathroom scale to determine the weight by putting the coupler of the trailer on the scale. Make sure that the trailer coupler is at the same height that your tow vehicle would be at. If you tongue weight is going to go over 300 pounds it is best to go to a public scale were they can weigh it more accurately.

After determining the gross trailer weight and gross tongue weight you can then make sure the hitch on your tow vehicle is rated for the weight of the trailer. Trailer hitches come in several different classes from 1 to 5. If your tow vehicle does not have a trailer hitch you can buy one from your dealership or any auto parts store. Make sure and take the trailer weight with you so you can determine the proper hitch to install.

Trailer Plumbing

What Type Of Plumbing Does My Travel Trailer Have?

Your travel trailer uses many different types of plumbing materials such as vinyl, copper, and ABS to bring and drain water to your bath, sinks and toilet. Newer model travel trailers use flexible tubing to prevent water leaks caused by vibrations and movement.

The plumbing in older model travel trailers will usually consist of copper piping to deliver the water to your faucets. If they are in need of replacement now is the time to convert them over to flexible piping which will be far more reliable. The plumbing fixtures in your travel trailer can sometimes be replaced with fixtures like you would use in your home, but many times due to the compact nature of the faucets you will need to replace it with an RV faucet. If your faucets in your trailer are leaking or dripping you can usually use standard rubber washers to replace them.

The toilet in your travel trailer is a specially designed toilet for use in an RV. You can not put a residential toiler in your trailer if it needs to be replaced. If you do not want to go to the expense of buying a new toilet, check to see if they have a rebuild kit for it. This will save you quite a bit of money from buying a new one.

How To Reset Your Check Engine Light

Are you thinking about purchasing a scanner for your car? Owning an automotive scanner will save you time and money by avoiding a trip to the automotive repair center or dealership. These days it is not uncommon to have the check engine light come on since the monitoring system that sets off the warning is very sensitive. If you end up doing the repair yourself the check engine light will remain on until it is reset.

It is not hard to reset your check engine light. There are manufacturers that sell pocket scanners that can be kept in your glove box. The pocket scanner makes resetting your check engine light an easy procedure and is easier than you might think. The pocket scanner comes with detailed instructions and is capable of reading and erasing codes with the push of one or two buttons. Along with the scanner will be a book or a CD that will tell you what each code means. There are a few nuisance codes and some of them could cause damage to your engine or other parts related to that system if not taken care of. This is why it is very important to know what code is making your check engine light come on. You do not want to reset the code without knowing what triggered it in the first place.

The Federal Government wants to notify you that your car could be contaminating the atmosphere. The main reason for the check engine light is to let you know if your emission system is out of whack. When the dash light comes on it is telling you there could be something wrong.

The check engine light can also let you know of a more serious problem with your car. If you have your own scanning device you will be able to answer that question when it comes on. This is a great reason to buy your own scanner. When your check engine light comes on you can take the first steps and diagnose the problem.

Once you have used the scanning tool a few times the check engine light will no longer be such a fear.

Downtime’s Effects On Your Vehicle Fleet

Having your fleet vehicles in downtime is sometimes a misunderstood concept. When your fleet vehicle is not in use for a measurable amount of time and is not ready to be scheduled for a repair or service this would be considered down time. The keyword downtime equals vehicle not in use. When the fleet vehicle is not in use by its assigned driver but it goes in for service is also not considered downtime because the fleet vehicle was not being used at the time it went in for service.

Here is an example for a fleet vehicle to be in down time. The driver of the vehicle has a driving schedule of Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. On Friday the vehicle is scheduled for a preventative maintenance at 6:00pm. Once the service is complete the driver is notified on Monday morning by 7:00am that his fleet vehicle is ready for pickup. Since the service was performed when the vehicle was not in use, this ends up with the fleet vehicle having zero downtime for the driver.

When you understand how downtime works for your fleet vehicles it allows you to schedule repairs or maintenance when your vehicle in not in use by its assigned driver keeping the vehicle on the road when needed. By keeping accurate records of your fleet vehicles and when downtime occurs for each of them will have your fleet operation down only 5 percent of the time when service is required.

What Are The Signs My Brake Pads Are Wearing Down?

Brake PadsIn most cases you can inspect the brake pads on your car without having to remove the wheel. If you can see the brake assembly through the wheel, then you should be able to check the brake pads. Identify the brake pad and check the thickness. If the brake pad is less than 1/4 inch thick then it is time to have your brakes replaced. Most disc brakes come with what is called a wear indicator. The wear indicator is a small piece of metal that is in the brake pad. When the pads wears down far enough the metal will rub on the rotor creating a squealing noise letting you know it is time to have your brakes checked. Continuing to use your brakes for many more miles will result in further costly repairs.

If you cannot see the brake pads through the wheel, then you will have to remove the wheel in order to do your inspection. Once the wheel is removed you should be able to get a good look at the brake pad. Some calibers on wheels will have an inspection window you can see the pad through. If you want to go a little further and you are mechanically inclined you can remove the caliper from the rotor and inspect the brake pad. If this something you have never done, then you should leave it up to a professional mechanic to do the inspection.