What the 10 weekly safety checks, for the winter
1, Tyre pressure,
Check the tyres on a weekly basis. Checking the pressure and the tyre condition will prolong the life of the tyre. You need to check and see if the tyre is wearing unevenly. Or if you rub your hand all around the perimeter of the tyre checking that the tyre has no bulges or fractures, be very careful as any glass or sharp objects which have lodged in the tread can cause some damage to your hand.
2, Tyre condition,
To check the condition of the tyres for wear or fractures you need to carefully rub your hands around the perimeter of the tyre while at the same time checking the opposite direction for misalignment. If you notice that there appears to be a fracture or a misalignment, the tyre needs to be replaced or you need to have a front end alignment done on the vehicle. If a problem is detected early on, you will prolong the life of the tyre.
3, Wiper Blades,
So with the Xmas holidays here, perhaps it’s time to check your wipers, they are the long rubbers that sit on your screen waiting for a rainy day.
The problem is that we forget about these very important components until we need them.
Wipers can go through many seasons before we realise they need renewal.
Not so long ago windscreen wipers would last at least a good 12 months.
Now you’re lucky if you get a season, but how do know if your wipers are perished or just unserviceable.
Step one, make sure your washer bottle is full.
Step two operate the wipers with the washers.
4, Brake Lights,
Lighting – Stop Lights
Checking the stop lights is an easy task. All you need to do is to reverse up to a brick wall or a glass building, late in the afternoon, depress the brake pedal, and just have a look in the rear vision mirror to make sure you can see a reflection and that both stop lights are operating effectively. Or alternatively, have a friend depress the brake pedal as you walk around to the rear of the vehicle checking that one stop light is not brighter than the other. Both lights should be equal in brightness.
5, Tail lights,
Checking the tail lights is an easy task. You can do this on your own. Turn the headlights on with the vehicle in park with the engine off, walk right around the vehicle and also put the parker lights on to make sure that the front parkers are working effectively. Also, while you’re there, it wouldn’t hurt to check the number plate light. It’s always a little item that everybody misses except you know who!
Headlights are a vital component in every motor vehicle. A very easy check is to drive up to a wall and apply the high and low beam operation and its easy to see if one globe is out.
Changing a globe may prove challenging on some models but the good news is there are automotive parts outlets that may even provide a service to install that faulty globe free of charge. Also, note that if your vehicle is getting over the 10-year mark you may notice the headlamp lens may be slightly faded this degrading the light intensity.
Headlamp lenses are polycarbonate and therefore able to be polished to restore a clear lens back to a clear appearance, your locate workshop may provide this restoration service.
7, Battery Security,
Yes, that’s correct, your battery maybe is suffering under the bonnet without you even knowing.
The battery is something that you never want to upset.
When a battery gets cross, it gets angry and they may explode into a rage of fire.
How can a battery get cross, angry and explode you ask ?.
Well, not many people may know how to care for the battery in their car, they just think that its a black thing that sits under the bonnet and that’s it.
May I explain the Orgs chart or the hierarchy of controls.
At the top of the list is, of course, the battery (also known as Barry), without the battery, the engine won’t start.
For some reason, we like to upset the battery, without considering its feelings.
How do we upset a battery you ask !!.
We sometimes leave the lights on and discharge the battery.
Leaving the battery loose in the cradle is another form of abuse to our battery.
The battery is like a favorite pet, it will look after you if you look after it.
Here is how you can be a responsible battery owner. Check the water level of your battery at least every month, if the battery is serviceable.
Try to move the battery, if you can move the battery it is not secure, re-tension the brackets to prevent the battery from moving in the cradle.
Check the battery positive and negative terminals, if you can move them, this means the terminals are loose.
Retention the terminals, tight enough that you cannot rotate the terminals.
If you leave your lights on, by mistake don’t just think that a jump start will solve your problems.
Any battery that has been discharged to below 20% will require a full charge to bring it back to 80-100% charge capacity.
The alternator in your car is only designed to maintain a charge rate, of 13.6 to 14.2 volts.
This part is even misunderstood by some automotive technicians.
When you operate the wipers, lights, and heater fan all at once, this is where the alternator is tested and is required to maintain the battery charge rate.
If the battery 12-volt system falls below an operating system of 12 volts, the onboard computer may decide to shut down the engine in order to protect the electrical system.
So if you are driving your car with a battery that is not at 50% charge capacity then you may stand the chance of a vehicle breakdown.
Play it safe make sure if you discharge your battery, then get it fully charged to prevent breaking down on the side of the road.
8, Oil Leaks,
Engine – Oil Leaks – Rear Main Seal
The rear main seal is at the rear of the crankshaft, sealing the oil inside the engine and preventing it from leaking outside the rear of the crankshaft. The rear main seal is designed to last at least 100,000kms. Unfortunately, with a longitudinal motor, rear main seals may only last 60,000-80,000kms.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR
When checking for oil leaks it’s always good to check underneath the vehicle around the rear of the engine, making sure it is around the rear main seal and not around the top of the head. Sometimes a leaking rocker cover gasket may be the cause if after replacing the rear main seal, there is still oil leaking. The best way to check any seal is to give the engine complete steam clean but be very careful not to spray the steam around any ignition componentry or carburetor as this will affect the ignition system and also may cause a non start.
IS IT EXPENSIVE TO REPAIR?
The rear main seal itself costs around $15.00 but the labour can cost around $650.00 as it can be a full day’s job with some vehicles because either the engine or the transmission has to come out, to replace the seal. Some rear main seals may cost $2000.00 depending on the type of seal fitted. It may be a sealed unit or a wick seal. A wick seal is the worst seal because it is very difficult to fit and to ensure that there is no leaking.
Why do I need to check the spare wheel
The best way to explain the need to check your spare tyre is take you back to my days working for the RACV in roadside service, I never minded changing wheels for anyone at any time. Most females were apologetic about the fact that they called someone to change a flat tyre.
The fact is changing a wheel can be dangerous especially if performing this task on a freeway so when checking your tyres on a regular basis go the extra tyre and check the spare as it will deflate over time and there is only one time when you need it how life is so great if the spare is roadworthy and with the correct tyre pressure.
Getting back to my roadside service days, I remember I was in the city where there was absolutely parking, I found the member break-in down parking in the centre of the road with a flat tyre so he would have been waiting for about 45 minutes for me to arrive knowing that I was going to change his tyre only to find in his boot, a boot full of books, so after taking all the books out of the boot here we find a flat tyre and I thought well some people need protection from them selves, I felt a bit under pressure at the time due to the fact I was getting paid a total of $6 per job yes that’s right a whole $6 dollars this was because I was contracting to the RACV.
Getting back to the spare wheel, it would not even hurt if you were to utilize the spare with other wheels to prevent to spare from rusting.
Now for those of you to whom are not so fortunate to find a real spare wheel, will be looking at an Orange or red skinny, I call it a funny wheel because it looks funny.
The most critical thing to understand about the funny wheel is that you have a speed limit of around 60 to 80 km limit so your homework this week is open up the boot locate the spare wheel check the type of wheel and CHECK THE PRESSURE
May I add if you are broken down on the freeway if possible get a friend to come over and to park behind you about five to ten metres with the hazard lights on with the engine running in park, basically do whatever it takes to be safe.
10, Brake Fluid,
Brake System – Brake Fluid
Brake fluid is designed to operate under high temperatures, therefore, it contains additives that make it hydroscopic, this means its properties will become affected if it’s exposed to water. Brake fluid is not designed to last forever as moisture may affect the boiling point. For this reason, brake fluid must be kept in a dry place and the rubber lid on the master cylinder must be sealed to prevent moisture and dirt from entering into this reservoir. Brake fluid is best kept for 12 months, and after that, throw it away as it may contain moisture
Things to look for
Brake fluid, depending on its demand, may become discoloured. When this happens renew the brake fluid.. It is important to observe the brake fluid reservoir on a weekly basis as it may descend as the front disc calipers self adjust. It should only descend slightly, measured in millimetres at a time. If the reservoir descends completely in a month then it’s leaking. At this stage, don’t even drive the car to the garage. Brake fade is also a sign to change the brake fluid. Brake fade is when the pedal is still hard but there is no braking reaction
Is it expensive to repair?
Brake fluid is not expensive and if you decide to replace the brake fluid make sure your mechanic bleeds all the nipples and cleans the reservoir. If this is completely flushed, it may cost around $45.00 including time.
Temporary repair and long term replacement
Brake fluid may descend slightly in the reservoir as the disc calipers self adjust. At this stage it’s okay to top it up with new brake fluid to prevent the buoyant level indicator from switching the brake warning light on.
By Darren Gow-Brown