Archive for the ‘Basic Car Maintenance Hints and Tutorials’ Category.

Used Car warranty ! !!! Is it worth it

After being in the automotive trade most of my life, there are always tricks and traps to be aware of when it comes to buying a second hand vehicle.

After researching the used car warranty policies I can now tell you that there is one very important point to remember.

The most important aspect to used car warranty is the service intervals. To put it in the most simple terms is you must ensure the vehicle is serviced in accordance to the warranty policy.

If you do not get your vehicle serviced on time then don’t expect your warranty policy to provide any support


Darren Gow-Brown

Buying A Second Hand Car its about risk management

Recently a friend decided that she wanted to buy a second hand vehicle for the very first time
most of her life the car management was left to her husband but now she was in a position where she needed to understand
the basic fundamental of buying a car in 2013.

I thought about this for a moment and realised how daunting it would be to buy a car without a background of the automotive industry
My first question was
What is your budget
What type of car are you looking for
Who do you want to manage the risk of the asset

Manage the risk what do you mean by that she asked. Well if you buy a vehicle out of new car warranty you may need to consider a second budget for ongoing maintenance and repairs
I began to understand how big it is to buy a car, stop right there you maybe thinking buying a car is easy what the deal deal
My question is how many people actually sit down and research for what purpose is the car required
What will it cost to maintain the car each year
What will it cost to insure the car
How many kms will the car be travelling
Is it possible to title search the car for status of repair history, or status of finance owning to the car
What will the car be worth if I need to sell it in 12 months ?
What are the risks of buying a car of an auction ?

To help you get started the following Ibook titled Virtual Car Care will place you in the driving seat as well as an Iphone App titled  Auto Sound ID

These are the questions we need to ask ourselves before we go out and just buy any car instead of the car we need

Written by Darren Gow-Brown
Iphone Apps Writer


Car Insurance Quote RACV was the “HIGHEST QUOTE”

Recently I decided to get some quotes on car insurance and was quite surprised
I rang the following Insurance companies
The quotes were based on a 45-year-old male driver with no license cancellations
No insurance cancellation.
I made the point this car would be garaged during the week.
The vehicle that was quoted is the following
Holden Commodore sedan 2005 acclaim with no modifications accept a tow bar.
I must say that the call centers seem to have changed with excellent customer service.
The insurance companies were the following

AAMI  $644.00 with $550 Eccess add another $50 for Windscreen
Note AAMI other a discount if you apply online

YOUI  $660.00 with $600 Eccess add another $50 for windscreen
Note this was based with car parked at home during the week, and garaged
Special note I applied online about 3 months ago but no reply, so I called this time..

Budget Direct $381.00 with the condition no one under 40 will drive the vehicle
With an Eccess of $500.00

RACV  $787.00 agreed value of $15500 or $685 if the market value is $14100
With an Eccess of $550.00 I didn’t bother asking about the windscreen as you can see the “RACV WAS THE HIGHEST QUOTE”.

Well someone has to pay for the TV commercials, and the buildings not to mention executives fees, directives fees, must I go on……………..
Let me add, have you ever had to deal with making a claim, I have an its not so amicable. I was forced to elevate my claim to court, is was only at this level the RACV decided to resolve the issue, out of court. I encourage you to do the same.

“Who ever the company”

.SUNCORP $570.00 with $500 Eccess  as with most you may choose your own repairer but AAMI need to check who you choose just to make sure they have had no negative dealings in the past.

When it comes to insurance it really pays to shop around but the most preferred option is to avoid an accident as much as possible with the winter  coming up, and those rainy days, so do your self a favour check your tyres to prevent an accident.
Also check that both rear stop and tail lights are operating.

Written by Darren Gow-Brown,, in the interests of motor vehicle safety.

Does your car make you feel safe ?

Are you a safe driver is your car safe or does your car make you feel safe.
As a sign of getting older I see more on the road, and the part that’s concerns me is the speedy drivers darting down the freeway from lane to lane tailgating everywhere

I can remember my first love, sorry I mean my first car at 18 years old, but I started a lot earlier at 13 years old but lets go to my first 12 months of driving.

At 18 years old I purchased a VW beetle, a red beetle running on 3 out of 4 cylinders this car had a nice smell to it, I was an apprentice motor mechanic at the time and I saw this little beauty just got traded in at the dealership where I was working.

I ask the owner of the ford dealership Mr Perter Durkin if I could buy this car and he was always a kind person and must of saw the excitement in my eye, I remember him saying in front of the service manager why would you be interested in this old bucket its runs on 3 cylinders, I said I can fix that, then Tom Geralt my boss said well its not that simple it’s a VW and what makes you so sure you can fix this problem, I remember it was a gamble, as the VW beetle did suffer from an over heating problem that can result in engine damage, but cocky little apprentice only saw the positive in this bug and took the risk. I purchased the car for $500 I remember it was a good buy at the time and Mr Durkin gave me some degree of favor, with the price.
So I got the little beauty into our workshop and adjust all the valves and then started up the engine, it run as smooth as a fine tuned engine should run. Of course Tom my service manager had to make a comment well young feller this time you were lucky.

This VW had McPherson strut front suspension this made the vehicle poor braking in the wet so anyone that drove a VW with McPherson strut suspension knew to be very careful in the wet or an accident was almost a given.

Getting back to original question about your vehicle and if it makes you feel safe because I would say many accidents occur when the car becomes unpredictable in the wet, because some drivers may not understand the concept of hydroplaning or cohesion, this bring me to my next point before you start to fall asleep.

Have you ever taken your vehicle to a defensive driving schools and therefore understood the limitations of driving in the wet or darting in and out of lanes at dangerous high speeds, don’t misunderstand me here I’m saying take a defensive course to learn how to speed quite the opposite the driving course will give you and understanding of limitations, and I haven’t even started on the tyres and the roadworthiness of the vehicle.

When you are driving your vehicle whether brand new or second hand there is a law of physics in play and as well as road surface conditions are playing a big part when or if you may find the need to brake suddenly.

So how can you understand the behavior of your motor vehicle in the wet
It’s a very quick test; we need to find a street without houses perhaps a new estate.

Travel at 20 Kms per hour in the wet and hit the brakes to understand the behavior of your car, the vehicle pulls up in a straight line this is good if it pulls to one side then we have a problem and will need to see our service centre to ascertain the cause of pulling to one side. If the vehicle will pull up straight then you may try at 40 if you feel comfortable.

At least this will give you some idea of what may occur when braking in the wet.
This has been written in the interests of driver safety
Written by Darren Gow-Brown, the

Why Do I need a Motor Mechanic…

Attention if you read this first addition I have corrected the structure

This by far is the most  interesting because many people are not involved with the automotive trade and therefore lack understanding and even lack trust to some level due to the fact that not all work on motor vehicles is necessary “that’s right” not all repairs are required but this is limited to the automotive trade.
Let’s explore a small snapshot of our world, here in Australia we have three levels of government managing a total population of 22 million people, but we have approx 1 million people inter related to our Australian government system.
If I want to build a fence I need no less than 3 certificates at a cost of around $1000 now this to me is not right but that’s the system so we develop a lack of trust as we try to hold on to our money as much as possible. We buy a car but we need it serviced and maintained but we a reluctant to pay for this service its something we can’t see the real benefits, its not a nice suit, or a trip to the hair dresses, its something that prevents us from breaking down on the side of the road or even worse its something that prevents an accident due to mechanical failure.

May I add most mechanics in dealerships and service centres 
take enormous pride in there work they come to work ready for a 
challenge, what most people may not be aware of, is the constant change 
of technology and therefore to keep up to date there is a constant 
effort required for night school.
When you take your car to the workshop you are giving your trust and 
faith into the service centre but I pause here because some time ago I 
took my company vehicle into a ford dealership, and it’s wait on some 
line on the floor until the person behind the computer is ready to 
serve you.

Let me say this type of service does nothing to win my confidence 
even if the technician is great at his or her job
Let’s go further most repairs are under a warranty but try getting a 
filling from a dentist and asking for warranty.
I will add more into this subject to encourage motorist when you drop 
your car off have a little faith that mechanics love the challenge to 
keeping your car on the road.
Now if you think your getting ripped off consider another service centre there are some great workshops and sorry to say there are some poor service centres.

I remember a mechanic started his business several doors from my workshop and was very busy, every day more busy than myself but he was “charging his customers about 50 % more and getting away with it” or so he thought, however there is a thing known by all as Karma and so What ever you give out what ever you will receive.

Getting back the dentist is this workmanship covered under warranty, “No”
I need a repair on knee repair so I see an orthopaedic surgeon do you think I get any warranty “No”
The local Government demanding $1000.00 in certificates is this fare “No” but we must pay it
May I conclude And express that if you have found a good mechanic that you feel is servicing your vehicle at a fare cost then let them know your appreciation at the time opportunity perhaps Christmas with a nice bottle of wine and say thankyou for helping me with my car to which I know nothing about but I trust you and its so nice to fine a company in this day and age that keeps me on the road and that prevents me from breaking down on the side of the road.

A Motor Mechanic is an essential item we may not factor in as so important, as we cannot see what is taking place but let me ensure you there are some very fine technicians’ devoted to the automotive trade inspired to do there very best working on hot engines working under pressure working outside of normal operating hours and when they go home they sit back and think well I did my best and repaired an issue that will benefit the customer even tho the maker was not so helpful with all the required information.

This is what makes a motor mechanic come to work every day.

Written by Darren Gow-Brown,

The Engine Thermostat

The engine thermostat is an important component to the engines cooling system
But for some reason its removed due to over heating issues.
Engineers have proved that the humble thermostat is necessary to regulate a constant and control temperature range to protect the engine from over heating.

In this short video it demonstrates an easy way to test an engine Thermostat
Produced by Darren Gow-Brown

In a perfect environment your  vehicles engine works very hard to maintain a desired operating temperature.

When I was 18 years old still an apprentice I will never forget the time I was looking at my sisters car, it was over heating so I thought I would investigate this problem.

I was about to remove the radiator cap with full knowledge that most radiators caps have a release notch when removing the cap to prevent the pressure of the cooling system spraying hot water every where.

Well I was rotating the cap to release the pressure with the understanding that there was no pressure under the cap, next thing I was overcome by extreme hot water onto my face, this was embarrassing the next thing I remember I was on my way to the Dandenong Hospital, with burns to the face and eyes, this is why its very important to understand the dangers of opening a radiator cap when the engine is hot especially when or if the cooling system is over heating.

The only time to remove a radiator cap is when the engine is cold.

An engine thermostat should never be removed accept when replacing a faulty thermostat, for some reason many people think if they are having a problem with high engine temperature a solution is to remove the thermostat.

The misconception is by removing the thermostat the gauge may decrease from high to normal.

Allow me to explain what happens if a thermostat is removed form an engines cooling system; the water is not transferring hot water from the engine to the radiator as its designed.

The purpose of the thermostat is to hold water in the engine long enough for the molecules to expand then the thermostat will open and allow the hot water into the radiator to cool down and contract, this is in normal operating conditions.

Let me add if the cooling system requires constant topping up this means there is a leak in the cooling system and the potential of rapid cooling and rapid heating, this is where the cylinder head will be exposed to a higher heat range and thus offering the potential warping and or cracks.

The cooling system is designed to maintain a constant desired engine temperature to aid in the ultimate fuel economy as the air to fuel ratio only operates effectively when the engine is operating within this parameter.
Written by Darren Gow-Brown

Sirius 4G63 SOHC Engine free rotating design


Free motoring tips, by, Melbourne, Australia.

Mitsu Engine 4G63 SOHC timing belt and the benefits.

When  the Sirius 4G63 SOHC engine 1992 a free rotating design it was an engine suitable for many applications. The timing belt with a free rotating component is the perfect solution to increase economy and performance.
Free rotating engine simply means if the timing belt should break it any time no internal mechanical damage is evident to the engine.

Not all engines designed with cam belts are free, in my opinion all engines designed with timing belts should be…

 To utilize a sustainable engine design,  it may help minimize servicing costs to the average motorist worldwide looking at ways to save money anyway possible.

Be careful not to confuse the 4G63 with the 4G64
The 4G64 is an interference motor however the early 8-valve is a non intereference engine.

As part of my research I made contact with Mitsu
This is the type of help I got

Dear Mr Gow-Brown,
Customer Reference: 131675
We acknowledge receipt of your recent correspondence regarding Saturn motors.
Firstly, please accept our apologies for the delay in our response to you.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) do not use Saturn motors in any of our vehicles.
Thank you for your enquiry.

Kind Regards,
Mitsubishi Customer Assistance Centre

Well thankyou for not much help…..

Written by Darren Gow-Brown, author of  
Darren Gow-Brown
Motoring Writer

Ford EA Idle problems too high too low NQR

Ford EA idle problems are common.

The reason for high idle is the base idle needs to be reset, why I’m glad you asked.
The reason why Ford EA start to develop idle problems most of the time it starts with a flat battery, or a battery replacement
Why should this effect the engine idle speed, another great question?
The ECU has a RAM this is fantastic so long as you keep 12 volts supply the vehicles ECU is happy but over time things change
but the RAM holds onto vital information and operates as if nothing has changed

Now when the ECU looses its 12-volt supply so does the RAM then as soon as you start the engine the ECU starts to check all vital information but this time some input values have changed so the result is poor idle speed.

Its known that if the values are within spec the engine ECU will over 250KM correct erratic idle speed, or too high or to low.
This happen to my fathers Car once, so I reset the BASE IDLE and every body lived happily afterwards

How to prevent Your vehicle form poor idle or loosing radio codes

Never operate a vehicle with a potential faulty battery; if you need a battery replacement, this is what you do.
Go to and auto outlet and purchase a 12-volt supply for the cigarette lighter to keep a 12-volt supply whilst changing over the battery
Or if you think this is difficult call a battery man like Marshall’s and ask them you want to keep your radio codes, they should know what your talking about, or just say Darren Said.

Hope this helps


LP GAS The tank

The tank is designed to store liquid gas, and depending on the country, may come in many different shapes and sizes, providing different capacities.  An LP gas tank is checked before it is sold and is best checked every ten years for leaks or wear.  Gas tanks are designed to hold eighty percent of their capacity to allow for expansion.

An LP gas tank may be checked with warm, soapy water for leaks as well as dents.  It is important that the tank is positioned correctly to allow the gauge to maintain an accurate measure of the liquid gas inside the tank.  Tanks must be secure and the gas tap must be easy to turn on and off. 

If a gas tank requires replacement it’s best to purchase a new tank or a reconditioned tank as this will show a certified ticket to ensure it is a safe tank to use.

If the gas tank appears to be leaking, turn the gas tap off and take it to a qualified gas installer for a check up.


The petrol solenoid is designed to allow petrol through it when energised, may be applied when starting  up the vehicle on gas.  Some vehicles fitted with electronic fuel injection may automatically start up on petrol, then when the rpm reaches 2000 the engine will switch over to gas.  Therefore it is important to keep at least a 1/4 tank of petrol for this reason.

Petrol solenoids are only as good as their connections.  Petrol solenoids are usually mounted to a heater hose or are just freely connected to the fuel line making it very important for the earth and the positive to have enough slack to move with the solenoids.  So when you rev it, the engine moves and so will the solenoid.  A common problem is the connections become loose or the terminals are just crimped and not soldered then it is just time before the petrol solenoid will not operate.

If you know how to solder terminals, this is the cheapest way.  Otherwise visit your local mechanic or auto electrician.  The cost is around $30.00 to solder a few joints.

If it seems to be impossible to get the power to energise the petrol solenoid and you just want to drive to your local repairer then carefully connect a fuse wire from the battery to the petrol solenoid to drive it on gas.

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