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Every vehicle has many moving metal parts, which must be lubricated in order to ensure impeccable performance. And this is one of the most common problems that every car owner in Australia faces – the fluid leak. A tiny little spot under your car may be trying to tell you something. If you notice a recurring drip or a leak spot under the car on your parking area, it is recommended to find out what’s leaking from your car as soon as possible. Any car leaking fluid can lead to expensive car repairs and dangerous situations or accidents if the problem not sanitized in time.
But simply looking under the hood or under the car doesn’t always provide answers. There are many different types of fluids which find use in your car. Fortunately, the car fluids differ in colour, texture and smell. With little knowledge and understanding about the car fluids, finding the source and the cause for the fluid leak will be much easier. Here are some of the most common fluid leaks and how to identify them.
Oil is definitely the most common fluid that you will find under your car. Unused oil usually has a gold colour, but this depends on the brand. Some oil brands feature a dark amber colour like a light beer. The texture of the oil is quite slippery, and it is quiet difficult to remove it from your hands with water only. Soap or other cleaning solution is necessary. The motor oil gets very dark when it is in the engine for a quite long time, because it collects all the debris and unburned gases from the engine. Motor oil smells like cooking spray or burnt butter. It gets extremely hot which is why it gets that burnt smell with a little hint of fuel. The most common areas for oil leaks are the timing covers, the valve cover gaskets, the oil drain bolts and the oil filters. If you notice oil leaks under your car, place a cardboard under the car in order to identify the leaking area. It is always recommended to visit your local mechanic workshop to fix the oil leak on time.
The automatic transmission generally uses red or pink fluid. If it is very old, the automatic transmission fluid turns into brown and dark gray colour. The texture of the transmission fluid is similar to the motor oil, and it smells like cooking oil. A sign that you might have transmission fluid leaks is when the transmission starts to slip and eventually the car stops moving. Again, you can place a cardboard under your car to identify the leaking areas. The most common areas for transmission fluid leaks are the axle seals and the output shaft seals. This depends whether the car is using front wheel drive system or a rear wheel drive system. If you notice a red or pink fluid under your car, remove the transmission dipstick and check the level of the transmission fluid, or go to your local mechanic to identify the cause for the transmission fluid leak.
The brake fluid is clear and usually has a light yellow colour with dull mechanical smell. The brake fluid is described as highly corrosive to paint. If you ever pour a brake fluid on your car paint you need to quickly wash it with a window cleaner. This way, you will neutralize the corrosive elements in the brake fluid. When the brake fluid is not changed for a long period, it gets green because it collects the moisture from the brake fluid reservoir. The areas for brake fluid leaks are the master cylinders and the flex lines. If the master cylinders are leaking brake fluid, it will usually appear near the brake pedal. If the flex line leaks it will appear near the wheels. Brake fluid leak isn’t something you want to ignore. If you notice signs of brake fluid leak, act quickly! Visit your local mechanic and resolve this problem immediately.
Some cars use transmission fluid as power steering fluid, but you can also buy special power steering fluid for your car. This fluid has light yellow colour and medium thickness. It has a unique smell which cannot be compared with other fluids. Most closely it has some kind of burnt smell. The most common areas for power steering fluid leaks if you have rack and pinon steering are the ends of the steering rack, and the rack end seals. If your car has steering gear box, the power steering fluid leaks would appear at the bottom of the seal of the steering gear box. If you notice power steering leaks, check the steering rack boots and see if they are wet. If they are, this may be a sign that you need to replace the entire steering rack.
The differential fluid is very thick lubricant used in cars. It has strong and stinky smell, and if your hands get dirty with differential fluid, they will smell for days. The differential fluid has a colour of honey, but it tends to get gray because it absorbs metal dust when the gears are meshing. The most common areas for differential fluid leaks would be the pinon seal and the axle seals. If the axle seals are leaking, you will most likely see spots at the hub area close to the wheel area. If the pinon seal is leaking, you will see spots at the u-joint near the differential.
Coolant fluid leaks are most likely the second most common right after the motor oil leaks. This fluid can either be green or pink, but most commonly it comes in green colour. It has sweet smell and it is highly viscous. Usually, coolant leaks appear beneath the radiator or near the front end of the engine. Coolant leeks can be very dangerous because they can cause engine overheating. Ensure you sanitize the problem in time to prevent future costly repairs.
The automotive industry is constantly developing new technologies for entertainment, comfort and safety. One particular segment that is always in mind of the auto makers is increased safety on the roads. Many innovative car technologies that have been introduced recently or have been tested are specifically designed to offer increased safety. All these new safety features are exciting and promising and will introduce revolutionary changes in the automotive industry and transportation in general. So what’s available for your car today? Here’s a short list of some of the technologies that are either implemented or will come as a standard safety feature for cars in the years to come.
The Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) is a safety device that is specially designed and programmed to alert drivers every time they go over the speed limit. The ISA uses the information provided by the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine the type of road the car is on. It compares the information from the GPS with a digital map that contains information about the speed limits for that particular road. If the car is driving fast and above the speed limit, the ISA device will notify the driver by audio or visual warning message. The Intelligent Speed Assist can significantly reduce speed-related safety risks, thus minimize the number of car crashes.
Blind spot warning systems come with electronic devices like sensors and cameras, installed on the sides of the car. These electronic devices provide information for the driver about the objects which are outside of his vision range. If the car is getting too close to certain objects or other vehicles on a parking lot, the blind spot system notifies the driver either by warning sounds or by flashing lights, or with a combination of both. Some Blind Spot Warning Systems come with innovative technologies and can tell the difference between small and big objects. They can even digitally show the distance between the car and other objects.
The safety regulations and traffic laws strongly forbid the usage of cell phones when driving. For example, in Victoria, the fines for using cell phones while driving range from $430 to $500. recent reports show that majority of car accidents on the roads occur due to cell phone usage while driving. A major contribution towards increased safety on the roads is the introduction of the Bluetooth Smartphone Hands Free Connection. Many car models today are now being designed with Bluetooth-enabled devices that can establish connection with Bluetooth-enabled smart phones. These devices provide drivers a useful and excellent hands-free way of cell phone communications while driving. Drivers can use or talk on their cell phones without even touching the phone. It’s a matter of time when these hands-free automatic connection devices will become a standard feature in every car model and make.
One new technology that is being widely adopted today in new car models is the Automatic Breaking System. This system provides additional breaking support for the drivers in emergency situations. There are many types of Automatic Breaking Systems, all designed to prevent the car from hitting another car or something else on the road by reducing the speed of the vehicle automatically. These systems come with special sensors which are programmed to monitor the situation in front of the car, and to activate the breaking system automatically if something unexpected happens on the road. Since high speed car crashes are likely to be more fatal than low speed car crashes, the Automatic Breaking System can reduce the number of accidents on the roads and save many lives.
Parallel parking is a difficult operation for many drivers, especially for learners. And with limited parking spaces in bigger cities, the ability of parking a vehicle into a tiny space quickly and without any damages is a vital skill not all drivers have. Fortunately, the technology has an answer to this problem as well – the Automatic Parking or Self-Parking System. This system transforms the car into a self-parking vehicle with little or no assistance from the driver. Many car makers like Ford, Toyota and Lexus are implementing the Automatic Parking Systems into their car models since it allows drivers to park their cars with a single press on a button without using the steering wheel, clutch or brakes.
One of the most common car problems drivers experience on the road is that their vehicle is pulling to one side while driving or braking. In some cases this can easily be resolved by regulating the tire pressure. However, uneven tire pressure is not the only reason for this problem. Tire wear and tear, brakes malfunction and improper wheel alignment can all contribute to the problem of your car drifting to one side. This kind of defect needs to be addressed as soon as possible before it leads to a bigger problem and reduce your potential car service costs.
Uneven pressure on the tires is the usual problem when it comes to the car pulling on the right or left side while driving. The tires are supporting the vehicle’s weight, engine and brakes and reduce the effects of road friction. Therefore, proper maintenance will ensure better vehicle manoeuvring and greater fuel economy. If your car is pulling to one side, inspect your tires for pressure, wear and tear and possible tire mismatch.
Tire Pressure – Tires need to be inflated according to the manufacturer’s specifications at all times. If, for example, the right front tire’s pressure is not at the proper inflation level, your car will drift towards that side. Also, improper tire inflation leads to extensive tire wear, increased friction and rolling resistance which results in higher fuel usage. Refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended air pressure levels and using any petrol station’s tire pressure gauge check all four tires and add or remove air to ensure equal tire inflation. This will improve the vehicle handling, the fuel usage and can put your car driving in a straight line again.
Tire Mismatch – This is alright only for a short period of time, if, for example, the vehicle’s regular tire is getting fixed, or you are using a spare one. Otherwise, make sure all tires are of the same size, tread pattern and aspect ratio. Mismatched tires increase rolling resistance which can cause for the vehicle to pull to one side.
Wear and Tear – Inspect your tires for uneven wear, separating tear, cracks, cuts and blisters as these can all cause for a vehicle to pull to one side. Pay special attention to the depth of the tire tread which will show you the true condition of your tires. A tip-off that your tires need to be replaced is thread wear bars that are even with tire tread. Have them replaced but have your wheel alignment checked as well since uneven tire wear is the main indicator that wheels are most likely out of alignment.
If your car seems to be pulling to one side; the steering wheel either vibrates or it might not be centred; and if your tires are fairly new but you have noticed wear on the outside then your wheels will need to be re-aligned. Wheel alignment refers to a specific angle in which wheels are parallel to each other and perpendicular with the ground. Properly aligned wheels do not only ensure a safe drive, but easy car manoeuvrability and economic gas usage as well. Therefore, take your car to an auto shop and have a licensed mechanic perform wheel alignment.
Brakes are, without a doubt, the most important safety feature of a vehicle and need to be maintained and checked regularly. If your car pulls to one side when you tap on your breaks, it is most likely due to a stuck calliper, master cylinder malfunction or a clogged brake hose. If you’re familiar with car repairs and want to find out what seems to be the problem yourself, lift up the front of your vehicle so both front wheels are off the ground. Then spin each wheel to see if the brakes are dragging. If they are, then the calliper is probably stuck and you should replace it.
If, however, it’s not a case of dragging brakes, check to see if they are working properly. While you have your vehicle put up in the air, get a friend to step on the brakes really hard and keep it pressed down while you rotate the wheels. If one of the wheels spins freely, it means that the calliper isn’t squeezing the rotor properly. You should pull the wheel off and first check the brake hose to see if fluid is coming to it from the master cylinder.
When you step on the brakes, if the fluid is coming out, then the problem might be clogged hose which means it’s time for a new brake hose.
When it comes to brakes problems, we highly recommend you to visit your local car mechanic, to get the best diagnosis of the problem and get the work done by a professional mechanic workshop.
The brakes are very important part of your car’s safety and to make sure that the braking system is well maintained and as safe as possible you must pay attention to any warning signs indicating the need for car brakes servicing.
Most cars have brake pads that clamp on a brake disc that in turn acts to stop the car. When the brake pads have reached their manufacturers minimum thickness, they will need to be replaced by an experienced car mechanic.
If you had experienced your car pulling on one side, e.g. turning left or right by itself when stopping, you will most likely have a problem with the braking system.
So when your car starts to pull on one side, the best thing you can do is to visit a car service centre as soon as possible.
One of the warning signs that your car may need brake repairs done, is the specifically designed sound indicator issuing high screaming sounds when the pads need replacing.
Besides that, you should listen for rough grating sounds.
If you hear this, it means that you have probably worn out the brake pads.
Soft brake pedal, i.e. one that goes almost to the floor before the brakes are triggered, could mean that there is a problem with the hydraulic system, such as air in the braking system or leaking brake fluid. You can firstly try to do a brake fluid level check by yourself but in most cases it will be low because there is a problem. If you simply top the brake fluid levels, it will be unlikely to fix the problem. So you should take it to a car mechanic to check the braking system. This is one of the most serious brake problems you can have and it would be safer to get the car towed to a car service centre.
Vibrations of the brake pedal can mean that the brake discs have been scored or warped. Their uneven surfaces will cause vibrations coming up through the brake pedal. In most cases, if the brake discs are the problem they can be machined. If they are already too thin, they will need to be replaced. In both cases, a reasonable solution is to visit a car service to diagnose the problem.
If you have any suspicions that your braking system is unsafe, the car should be carefully driven or towed to a car service centre as soon as possible. In some cases, it may not be wise to drive the car at all and it would be safer to get the car towed to the car service centre.
When testing the performance of the braking system on a car, the first thing that needs to be done is a thorough road test to check the various components of the braking system and make sure they are all working correctly and there’s no shutter or vibration coming through the brakes.
A device called brake tester is used to check the braking efficiency of a car. The break tester gets connected to the brake pedal of the car and when certain speed is reached, the brakes are hit fairly hard, and the brake tester will print out the performance on the brakes under hard braking.
In the video below, we’ll show you few of the components of the braking system, replacing brake pads and machining the brake disc.
You need to be very careful who fits your brakes and how they go about doing them, as if the brake pads are put in incorrectly, they might crack like in the video and cause a serious road accident.
Every disc has a minimum thickness it is allowed to be. Before replacing the brake pads, a mechanic must determine the thickness of the brake disc, and if it can be machined or not. Without a proper calliper measuring tool and knowing the thickness of the brake disc, the brake pads shouldn’t be changed.
It is illegal and quite dangerous to put brake pads on a disc that is too thin.
If the thickness is acceptable according to the manual, the brake disc needs to be machined using brake disc machining device, that has an electric motor, connects to the hub of the car, and it spins the hub around. When it spins the hub around, there are two jaws that clamp around the disc, and machine a certain amount of that disc.
After the disc is machined, the calliper pistons have to be pushed in with a special tool and they have to be checked to make sure that they are not seizing inside the bores or leaking. There are also two slides at the calliper slides that must be checked and lubricated, because they can bind up and cause many problems with your brakes.
Once the brake pads are in place and the wheel is back on, the brake pedal will now have to be applied several times before the car is moved because the brake pedal will be very low as the calliper pistons have been pushed right back in.
At the very end, the car needs to be driven again, just to make sure everything is performing the way it should be.