Monday, November 19, 2012

Your Car 101 (Series) - My Car Died, What Happened??

My Car Won't Start!
There's a few things that could cause your car to die.  I'd say 85% of the time it's your battery.  My sister was caught stranded once, and her car wouldn't start again.  Turns out, while waiting on help, she kept her headlights and radio on...for an hour.  When she went to start, it just made clicking noises.

Click, click, click

So...a sure way to tell if the cause is your battery is when you begin to start the car, it tries but just makes a lot of click click click noises (this applies to most modern vehicles since the starters are now electronically controlled).  Sometimes the dash and radio lights will dim.  The car may even make a slight slow engine whine. (Gets slower the more you try to start the car.)  That's because the starter is trying to turn but there's not enough power to rotate it fast enough to start the car.

Clanking Noise

Now...if there is a loud clanking noise, that's not a good sign.  Some in the motor has come loose or broke.  I'd have to taken to a mechanic you trust at that point.

Battery is good!

There's no clicking.  The whine is pretty quick, so the engine is trying to turn.  It's just not firing up! 

1. The car may not have enough fuel in the motor.  This could be a result of the fuel pump, fuel filter, fuel regulator...basically anything related to getting the fuel to the motor.  If you're a novice at replacing or checking these components, I'd recommend taking it to a trusted mechanic.

2.  The other end of the equation is that the car needs fire to light the fuel.  This gets the motor turning.  The ignition or coils, spark plugs, and spark plug wires are all part of this system.  The quickest check is usually the spark plugs and plug wires.  If you're a novice at replacing or checking these components, I'd recommend taking it to a trusted mechanic.

Car starts, but quickly dies

If the car starts, and then dies...there are various other issues that may be going on here.

Vacuum lines.  Most motors have a handful of silicone hoses.  Heat will deteriorate these over time.  A leak in this system will allow the motor to start, but then somewhat quickly dies.  Sounds like there's a slight hesitation before shutting off.  These can be difficult to find.  If you're a novice at replacing or checking these components, I'd recommend taking it to a trusted mechanic.


There are other reasons that a car would die, but they will most likely require a trusted mechanic to track down.  Hopefully, this provides you a quick overview of a small things that might could be happening.  This however, is NOT the end all be all.  The advice given above is just to help educate you on the possibilities that most shops would check first. 

- Bryan Lin | CEO, The Motorsports Authority, Inc. |

Friday, November 16, 2012

Your Car 101 (Series) - BEWARE of the Impact Gun...when having others put wheels on.

More and more these days, people are beginning to do it correctly.  However, there are still some shops that continue to use an impact gun without reservations.  Let me explain.

Be Cautious.  Ask Questions.

Impact guns have a lot of power behind them.  Enough power to break wheel studs.

All too often have I observed tire shops who put the wheel on the car and just start synching the lug nuts down on the wheels.  Although, most still do follow the "star" pattern, there are still the possibilities of cross threading or tightening the lug nuts waaay too tight.  (Each wheel, whether a 4 lug, 5 lug, 6 lug, etc... has a specific pattern that optimizes the changes of centering a wheel correctly.  Cross threading is where a nut is put onto a bolt slightly sideways thus flattening out the threads...rendering the wheel stud useless.) 

Another problem is just plain over tightening.  Have you ever or seen someone struggle with taking lug nuts off with their spare tire kit?  Over-tightening can make it almost impossible to remove a tire without using an impact gun again. 

Today's Tech

These days, a lot more dealerships and tire shops are becoming more conscious of the torque (the amount of force applied to tighten) being applied.  The simple fact is that in the past, you did risk the change of breaking the wheel studs.  But today, manufacturers are cutting costs and making products right at the limits.  So over tightening has a higher chance of breaking than before. 

There are two different types of tools they can use.  First is a torque wrench.  Basically, lug nuts should be put on by hand initially (prevents cross threading), then with an impact on LOW torque, and in the correct pattern.  Once on the ground, a torque wrench can be set to the factory setting so that lug nuts do not get over tighten.  A torque wrench clicks and stops, telling the technician that this is as tight as the lug nuts need to go on.  A torque wrench should always be used when the vehicle is on the ground.

Second is to use what's called a torque stick.  Torque sticks are basically extensions that are manufactured to twist at a predetermined torque.  The technicians has to pay attention to the stick and the lug nut to make sure it's not accidentally overtightened.

They both work.  A tire shop should already have a reference guide to the torque settings of each vehicle and should always torque vehicles rather than just "throwing" wheels on with an impact gun.  Good luck!

- Bryan Lin | CEO, The Motorsports Authority, Inc. |