Monthly Archives: July 2019

Coolant Change for New Vehicle Owners

Coolant Change for New Vehicle Owners

If you’ve got the desire and the patience to begin to learn to maintain your own vehicle, then not only will you save time but also cash. Changing coolant isn’t a difficult or particularly skilled task and it’s a good place to begin on the learning curve.

There are a few things you will need to do the job:

Safety equipment

  • Safety goggles
  • Protective gloves
  • Appropriate old clothing including knee pads

Equipment

  • Large bucket
  • Funnel
  • Garden Hose
  • Clean dry rag or cloth
  • Replacement coolant
  • System flush liquid (preferred option to water alone)
  • Receptacle for used coolant
  • Coolant and 50/50 Coolant

Safety Guidelines

It’s important to remember that car maintenance can sometime be a dangerous activity; cars and motors are by their very nature risky things and so you should always follow the correct safety procedures to avoid injury.

Never check or change the coolant whilst the vehicle is hot. Your vehicle must be stationary and the engine should have been turned off for at least 45 minutes before you attempt to change coolant.

Always wear your safety goggles and your protective gloves. Before you begin, check the vehicle maintenance manual for any special cooling system information and instructions. Remember that every vehicle is different.

For the correct disposal of coolant check with your local authority for their guidelines; never pour coolant down the drains, in septic tanks or on the ground as it can cause significant threat or damage to people and to wildlife.

Changing your coolant

This procedure should take between 60 to 90 minutes depending on your vehicle size and type.

Firstly you’ll need to locate your coolant reservoir and radiator and remove both caps, ensuring the vehicle is cool to cold before you begin. Next, locate the radiator drain plug which is beneath the radiator; place your bucket underneath it. If your vehicle does not have a radiator drain valve or it is difficult to remove you’ll need to check your vehicle maintenance manual for further information.

Open the radiator drain plug and drain the system into your bucket to release the old coolant and any rust from the system. Be extremely careful not to get the coolant on your skin or in your eyes. If you do, rinse immediately with water and seek medical attention.

Once the system is completely drained, replace the drain plug and pour the old coolant into and appropriate receptacle for correct disposal. Your local reclamation centre will be able to help you with disposal.

What condition are the radiator hoses in?

Next Check your radiator system’s hoses; what kind of condition are they in? If they have perished or are brittle or cracked you will need to replace them. Now it’s time to pour your flushing liquid into the radiator and top with water to the cold line on your overflow reservoir; put both caps back on and start your engine. Turn your heater on high and run the vehicle until it reaches its normal running temperature, then turn the vehicle off and allow it to cool down completely. Follow the draining procedure until completely empty.

Now fill with water only, start the engine and run the vehicle as above; turn off and again allow it to cool down completely; then drain the system as above. It’s important to remember to check your maintenance manual for the cooling system capacity so you can work out 50/50 ratio water to coolant.

Fill your radiator system with the correct amount of coolant and then top it with water, making sure to check the overflow tank level is at the cold/low level. Start your vehicle and run as above. Turn it off and allow it to cool down completely before continuing; then check the overflow tank and top if necessary with 50/50 coolant/water.

You may need to check the maintenance manual for information on a radiator bleed valve to remove trapped air from your system after the flush although not all vehicles require this. After you’ve run your vehicle for a day or so make sure you check your coolant levels and top up if required.

Easy job to do

Although changing coolant in your vehicle might seem complex, it’s actually quite simple; as long as you stick to the safety procedures and be sure to take care with dangerous or toxic liquids, you have every reason to attempt this and when you’ve done it successfully once – you’ll never look back!

Top tip: How to change brake fluid

Changing Brake Fluid

Learning the basics of motor mechanics need not be a difficult prospect; many of us are keen to save money, not to mention time…and paying out for basic repairs or maintenance to be done on vehicles which already cost a lot to keep on the road, doesn’t always appeal! Some jobs are simple enough that even those with little or no experience in motor maintenance can undertake them with no problems; changing brake fluid is one of them.

Considering just how important brakes are to our safety and also that of others, it is vitally important to learn how maintain them. Various things can go wrong with brakes… your brake fluid can easily become contaminated with extra moisture which can cause the brakes to fail…or in some circumstances the brake fluid can boil which also causes failure and damage to important components.

Here’s how to start on that vital task…changing brake fluid…always remember to wear protective eyewear and gloves before starting any maintenance on your vehicle.

Equipment

  • Correct brake fluid
  • wrench for bleeder valve
  • Brake fluid bleeding kit
  • Drip pan
  • Rags
  • Hoist or appropriate car jack with wheel blocks.
  • Disposal receptacle for old brake fluid

How to change your brake fluid

It is important to check your owner’s maintenance manual for any special information or requirements for your vehicle before you begin to approach this procedure and it is useful to have another person around to assist you.

Your brake fluid bleeding kit consists of a pump and reservoir. You’ll need to locate your brake fluid master cylinder which resides conveniently under the bonnet of your car somewhere at the top on one of the two sides of your engine.

Take the cap off your brake fluid master cylinder and put the hose from your pump with attached retrieval reservoir to the lowest point in that cylinder to get the maximum of the old fluid out. Next, pump all the fluid into your retrieval reservoir, be careful to use a rag when removing the pump hose from your master cylinder so as not to spill brake fluid on you paint work and engine; also, clean the cylinder opening of any grime with a clean rag.

Pour in the brake fluid according to your maintenance manual until it reaches the full line which will be clearly marked on the brake fluid master cylinder, put the cap back on. Now you will need to bleed the brakes by putting the car up on a hoist and removing all the wheels, or jacking up each side one wheel at a time.

Once you have removed your wheel, starting at the back of the vehicle working your way towards the front last wheel, begin with the wheel closest to the brake fluid master cylinder (unless the engine is at the back of the vehicle in which case you reverse the order).

Locate the bleeder valve

Locate the bleeder valve with the help of you maintenance manual, get yourself a spanner which fits it and attach your pump to the bleeder valve; have another person pump the brake pedal and hold it down for you. Loosen the bleeder valve with wrench and begin to pump the line clear of the old brake fluid and air until you can see the clean brake fluid coming through with no air bubbles. Next, tighten the bleeder valve and top up the brake fluid master cylinder to full.

Replace the wheel and continue the same procedure for all four brakes. Now it’s time to check your brake pads and discs for wear and tear…it’s worth it while you have the wheel off!

As you can see, whilst this task isn’t a one-person job, it certainly isn’t too technical for a beginner to try…the best way to gain confidence and experience with car maintenance is to try your hand at the simpler jobs.

Remember to dispose of brake fluid safely; if you are uncertain of the procedure in your area, contact your local council who can inform you of safe disposal sites and also of how to go about it.

How to Replace a Faulty Alternator or Auxiliary Drive Belt

Replacing a Squeaky Alternator or Auxiliary Drive Belt

For inexperienced car owners, hearing talk of worn, snapped, cracked or squeaking alternator or auxiliary drive belts can sound very technical and more than a little intimidating. However, the repairs needed are not actually that complex and with some care, they can certainly be tackled by a newcomer to motor maintenance. One of the most important tools in the maintenance of your car is your eyes; look at your motor and get to know how it is put together; learn the names for the parts and much of what once seemed complex will become simple and familiar.

Firstly, many people want to know what the difference is between an alternator and an auxiliary drive belt; the fact is that they are exactly the same thing. In the past the belt was called a “fan belt” but that was in the days before electronics became a part of motor technology. So what this belt does is to support the auxiliary systems in your car; such as power steering, your alternator and your air conditioning for example. If this wears and eventually breaks then the systems reliant upon it will break down too.

Replacing the belt

Firstly you’ll need to ascertain that it is in fact worn; if it needs replacing then the belt will appear frayed or “chewed” looking; the other issue which becomes apparent on a worn belt is that it will appear looser than it should do. Check the tension of the belt by giving it a little push; if it moves more than half an inch, then it needs replacing.

Remove the belt by releasing the tension; this is done via the tensioner pulley. Bear in mind that depending upon the make and model of your car, the belt will be wound round a number of pulleys. You can find the tensioner pulley by looking for a rotating bracket which will be attached to the engine block. Remove the belt with a ratchet.

Before you begin to remove the belt ensure that you memorise exactly the way in which it is wound and attached to your car. You can photograph it in the various main points of contact, and this will be a useful tool to refer back to when you want to fit the new belt.

Replace the old belt with the new one

As you replace the old belt with the new one, wind it around all of the necessary points carefully; all of the time making sure that your work corresponds to the pictures you took. Leave the alternator till last and adjust the tensioner in order that you may fit the new belt, taking care to re-tension it once your new belt is in place.

Finally, double check the placement of the new belt via the photographs and ensure that it looks exactly the same with no deviation. Once again, give the belt a gentle push as you did when checking its condition; it should remain firm with no give at all.

As with all motor repairs, be very careful as you work and take care to dispose of any potentially dangerous parts with care.