Most Common Car Fluid Leaks And How To Identify Them

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 Leaks

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.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Leaks

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.

Brake Fluid Leaks

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.

Power Steering Fluid Leaks

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.

Differential Fluid Leaks

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 Leaks

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.

 

 

Can you use any Mechanic for a New Car Warranty (Log Book Servicing)

Because cars are the most used type of transportation, servicing them regularly and repairing them in timely matter is vital to fulfilling your usual everyday tasks. Hence, it is even more important where these repairs are performed. So, whether you’ll take your car to some local mechanic shop or to a certified dealership depends on many factors such as the car model, costs, etc. Also, a large part (if not the largest) in making this decision has whether you have bought a new or a used car. Every new car comes with a warranty which binds you to have any servicing and repairs done at a certified mechanic shop if you want to preserve the warranty, of course. This is even true for used cars. Thus having valid warranty is not something you should overlook when deciding on where to take your car for repair or regular service.

Before we start discussing which mechanics are able to perform services on cars with valid warranties, we’ll first describe types of warranty that car owners can obtain. These are the basic three types of warranty:

  • Statutory warranty for new cars: This type of warranty covers a period of 12 months or 20 000 km, whichever occurs first. This means that your car is no longer under the warranty as soon as you have over 20 000 km driven even if that happens before the end of the 12th month. Statutory warranties usually cover most malfunctioning parts in your car.
  • Manufacturer warranty for new cars: Warranties issued by manufacturers on average cover a 2-3 year time period or 40,000-60,000 km driven. Depending on the manufacturer, this type of warranty can cover different car parts and car issues.
  • Statutory warranty for used cars: Used car warranty is valid only if car was bought from a certified dealer and is not more than 10 years old. Also, a car must have passed less than 160 000 km in order to be eligible for this type of warranty. Usually these warranties cover a three month period or 5 000 km from the time of purchase. It is good to know that these warranties differ in terms of parts and services they cover, compared to new car warranties. Sometimes dealerships use these warranties to lure people into becoming their long-term customers, with hidden clauses which oblige car owners to perform car service only at the dealership’s auto shop.

 

Beside the strict nature of official warranty parameters, all of the above mentioned types can be extended for a certain amount of money. It is advisable that drivers carefully read all terms and conditions of warranty extensions to check whether it can really benefit their car. Because even these can sometimes be used to manipulate and exploit drivers that don’t know much about cars and their proper service.

Because we are interested in servicing a new car under the warranty, we’ll give you an overview of the rules associated with the choice of mechanics that can perform car service. The Australian competition and consumer commission (ACCC) states that any legal auto mechanic can perform maintenance service on your car without voiding your warranty.

We can also perform all your log book servicing and any other minor or major mechanical repairs which you may require on your new car without losing your new car warranty. Your new car’s statutory warranty will not be voided if we do the servicing. This fact is confirmed by the A.C.C.C. (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission).

This way you will not have to worry about your warranty getting voided and you’ll receive all the benefits cost wise along with professional service.

Choosing dealership auto shops over local car mechanic provides some benefits as well, even though it can be a bit more costly. Log book service or service based on a book that holds all necessary information and service history of your car, thus making things easier for the mechanic. Log book servicing is an organized way of getting your car checked and taken for repairs, according to manufacturer specifications. All car owners are obliged to check when their cars are due for a log book service and should entrust an official dealer or a certified local mechanic with any needed repair. Nevertheless, you as the owner, have the right to decide on how you will maintain your car.

The Role of the Carburettor in Your Car

Every car model that runs on gasoline today has similar construction scheme which includes various parts with different functions. In this scheme, the internal combustion engine is considered to be the heart of a vehicle because all other internal parts rely on its good condition. However, the combustion engine itself consists of parts that more or less contribute to its full operational state. One of those is the carburettor, a part without which a car will not be able to ignite and run.

Types of carburettors

Since its initial design, the carburettor has endured certain modifications and is now available in three basic types: one barrel, two barrel and four barrel version. Which type of carburettor will a particular car model use depends on the performance characteristics of its engine as high performance engines need larger amounts of fuel sucked into them?

What is a carburettor?

A carburettor is part of the car’s engine which blends air and fuel creating a spark that starts the internal combustion engine. Roughly explained, its basic structure includes a vacuum and two or several ports where air and fuel enter, creating a mixture that continues to the intake valves. Following this further, the carburettor operates on Bernoulli’s principle – when faster air moves inside the vacuum, the static pressure decreases and the dynamic pressure raises allowing faster flow of liquid fuel inside the vacuum. So, the carburettor does not affect the flow of fuel directly, but uses the flow of air to determine how much fuel will mix in the vacuum, consequently setting the acceleration speed. Sometimes, when the gas pedal is pressed and a car moves with idle or rapid acceleration, it’s a sign that there is a deficit of air flow needed to draw fuel. This is common problem associated with carburettor engines which is usually fixed by using other systems and parts of a vehicle, which shows that the carburettor relies on other parts of the car.

A well-functioning carburettor should be able to exactly measure the air flow in the engine and deliver the right amount of fuel to keep an optimal air/fuel mixture that results in better fuel economy of a car. That is why, if a car starts using more fuel than usual, car mechanics advice to check the carburettor’s condition. Not that the carburettor is the only source of the unexpected higher fuel economy, but in most cases, it turns out to be the main culprit.

However, few car owners have the knowledge and experience needed to detect carburettor malfunctioning or when it requires regular maintenance. In addition, we will describe some of the most common symptoms that indicate when something is wrong with the engine’s carburettor.

Darker smoke

Whether you’ve experienced it with your car or have seen it on the road, we are all familiar with a case where pure black smoke is coming out of the exhaust pipe. This defect can indicate number of things, but most often it refers to the malfunctioning of the carburettor and its inability to control the air/fuel ratio in the engine. Black smoke, along with poor engine performance, is a sure sign that you should check your carburettor for irregularities or indicate this on your next scheduled car service.

 

 

Problems starting your car

As we mentioned earlier, a carburettor in good condition is vital for proper igniting and starting a car. When you turn the key to start the car, the carburettor creates an optimal air/fuel flow inside the car engine which uses a spark from the engine spark plugs to ignite the car. So, if you have problems with the carburettor, it may not create a good air/fuel flow, or create no flow at all, thus restrain your car from igniting. On the other hand, most cars today have a carburettor which uses a choke mechanism that enhances the mixture to help start the car in these situations. Hence, worst case scenario would be a broken carburettor and a non-functioning choke mechanism.

Improper idle and acceleration speed

Another example of a defected carburettor is when you press the gas pedal and the engine reacts seconds later with high acceleration speed. This is a very familiar case with recent car models. What really happens is that the carburettor at some point skips air and consequently fuel flows in, creating an unexpected idle speed situation even when you hit the gas pedal hard. And a second later you instantly feel the awaited acceleration.

Therefore, in conclusion, the carburettor has two main roles in the performance of the engine, delivering gasoline and controlling speed. If any of these functions are not carried out perfectly, you should check the carburettor for possible faults. As we mentioned above, it can be difficult to trace this problem yourself,  so if you notice any of the above indicators, please let your local car mechanic know about the symptoms you’ve noticed. I till help get a better diagnosis on the problem and save you some money if caught earlier.

Reasons why your vehicle might be pulling to one side

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.

Tires

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.

Wheel 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

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.

Replacing Ignition Coil On Your Vehicle – When is it the Right Time?

What is an Ignition Coil?

Automotive ignition tune up parts over white

An ignition coil is an induction coil in a vehicle’s ignition system which transforms the battery’s low voltage, 12volts, to the thousands of volts needed to create an electric spark in the spark plugs to ignite the fuel.

Originally, every ignition coil system required mechanical contact breaker points, and a capacitor (condenser). More recent electronic ignition systems use a power transistor to provide pulses to the ignition coil. Later model cars may use one ignition coil for each cylinder, eliminating fault-prone spark plug cables and a distributor to route the high voltage pulses.

As an aside ignition systems are not required for diesel engines which rely on compression to ignite the fuel/air mixture.

In modern vehicle ignition systems smaller coils are used with one coil for each spark plug or one coil serving two spark plugs (for example two coils in a four-cylinder engine, or three coils in a six-cylinder engine). A large ignition coil puts out about 20 kV, and a small one such as from a lawn mower puts out about 15 kV. These coils may be remotely mounted or they may be placed on top of the spark plug, known as coil over plug.

Where coils are individually applied per cylinder, they may all be contained in a single moulded block with multiple high-tension terminals. This is commonly called a coil-pack.

Ignition Coil Failure Symptoms

Fuel Economy

One of the first symptoms that a coil is no longer working as it should is a decline in your normal economy. This is because it takes more fuel for the car to run when less power is reaching the spark plugs. So, when your ignition coil begins to fail and becomes less able to transfer power, your car requires more fuel to run, and your fuel economy suffers.

Exhaust

Also the result of increased, and less efficient, fuel use is a noticeable change in your exhaust. It may become black and smell of gasoline, rather than smelling like normal exhaust fumes.

Backfire

If you do not catch the earliest symptoms of a failing ignition coil, your car may begin to experience serious backfires. This happens when unused fuel is emitted through the car’s exhaust, creating a small explosion. Backfires can occur either in the car’s manifold or in the exhaust pipe. Typically, backfires caused by ignition coil issues take place in the latter. If the problem is not corrected, these backfires can cause serious damage to your exhaust system, which will require costly repairs, which would otherwise be unnecessary.

Hard to Start

Because ignition coil failure means that a spark plug is no longer receiving an appropriate amount of charge, cars that are suffering from this issue are typically harder to start. This may be especially noticeable when the car is cold, or when the humidity level is high.

Misfire

A series of misfires will often occur when ignition coils fail, resulting in your car running rough. When travelling at highway speeds, this may feel like a jerking sensation or a random, but repeated loss of power. At a stop light, or when idling for any reason, this feels like a vibration.

Stalling

It is essential that your car continue receiving sparks to stay running. Cars that have ignition coil issues may stall, especially when idling, like at a stoplight or when left running while parked. This may become especially noticeable after the engine has been running a while and has “warmed up.”

Failure to Start

A car whose ignition coil(s) completely fail will not start at all. In this case, jump starting will prove ineffective.

If you have started experiencing any of the above symptoms, the best thing is to take your car to a car servicing workshop & let the car mechanic know about these symptoms, as this will lead to a faster and more cost efficient resolution of your car’s ignition coil problem.

Car Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your car to keep it reliable, safe and to maintain its value, will save you money in the long term and is not as daunting as you may think. Without proper care, your car’s condition will slowly deteriorate. The key is: preventative car maintenance.

Here are some tips for maintaining your car:

Check the brakes

The brakes are the most important safety feature of your car. The brake pads must be replaced when the Brake pad material has reached its minimum thickness as specified by the manufacturer. The brake discs should be machined with every brake pad replacement and in some instances may also have to be replaced if they have reached their minimum thickness as specified by the manufacturer. The car’s entire braking system should be thoroughly inspected at every car service.

Here are several signs indicating that your car brakes should be checked:

  • The brake pedal is very soft.
  • The brake pedal is pulsating.
  • The brake pedal is too low.
  • Brake warning lights are flashing on the dashboard.
  • The brakes make a noise when applied.

The cost of major brake repairs can be significantly reduced if minor problems are rectified before the braking components are completely worn out.

The video below shows you a professional way for changing brake pads, brake disc machining and proper testing of the braking system.

Change the oil and the oil filter

Motor oil is the blood of your car. It lubricates the many moving parts of the engine and by being pumped through the entire engine system via an oil pump just like your heart.
The oil and oil filter also cleans the insides of your engine and eventually gets dirty and needs to be changed.

Most cars need their oil and oil filter changed every 5000-10000 kilometres depending on the type of driving that you do. It’s important to regularly check your engine oil level especially before you go on long trips.

To check the oil yourself, leave the car running for few minutes, then park it on a level surface and turn off the engine. Open the bonnet and find the oil dipstick. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag. You need to look for the high and low marks on the dipstick. Then push dipstick back into the engine as far as it will go. Then pull it out again and look at where the oil rises to on the dipstick. The correct level of oil will rise to somewhere between the high and low marks on the dipstick. If your oil level is lower than the low mark on your dipstick, you will need to top up the engine oil via the oil filler cap. After topping up the oil, allow at least 3 minutes for the oil to get to the bottom of the engine before re-checking. Never put in more than half a litre at a time because you can overfill the engine which can create other problems. You need to fill it to the full mark on the dipstick.

The oil should look brownish yellow and clean. If the oil looks very dark and dirty, then you may need to change the oil and the oil filter.

Check the belts and hoses

An important component of your car’s cooling system are the cooling system hoses. The hoses help to pump the coolant to and from the engine block via the radiator which is cooled by a fan. If the hoses are cracked or old, they can easily blow under pressure which will cause the engine will overheat quickly. Not only will this leave you stranded, but it could result in severe engine damage which could run into thousands of dollars to repair, when replacing a simple $20 hose could avoided the damage.

An experienced car mechanic will have a cooling system pressure tester tool which will check the whole system for any leaks.

The cooling system can also be adversely affected by a worn fan belt. This needs to be checked for wear and tear. Look for any cracks or shredding on the belt.

Watch a video of how much damage a Bad Cooling Hose can cause to the car.

Check the tires

Car tyres are probably the most ignored parts of the car. According to the industry experts, only one of ten drivers check the tyre pressure regularly, compared to the fact that nearly seven out of ten drivers, clean their cars regularly.

Less inflated, over inflated or worn tyres can be extremely dangerous, especially in wet weather or at high speeds.

The tyre pressure changes with temperature increase – every 5° C changes about 1 PSI pressure differential. Consult with your car manual or see the outer wall of your tyres to see what your recommended tyre pressure is. If you need to increase the tyre pressure, go to a petrol station with a tyre pressure pump and inflate to recommended specifications.

Tyres inflated at incorrect pressures can be very dangerous to drive as well as increase tyre wear.

Do not forget the spare tire!

Replace the air filter

IThe car air filter prevents dust and other particles from entering your air intake system of the engine which could cause engine damage. In addition to this, a clogged air filter can really increase the fuel usage of your vehicle.

How do you know when it is time to change your car’s air filter?

It is recommended that the air filter gets inspected every service and either gets cleaned or replaced. It also depends on the specific road and air conditions in which you drive. If you drive a lot on gravel and dirt roads, then the air filter will clog much faster than if you were driving mostly on highway roads.

Car battery

Most car batteries start to deteriorate after 3 years and they need to be checked for current output every service.

The only thing you can do to keep your car battery in good condition is to keep the battery terminals clean and not leave electrical items on when the engine is not running.

Regularly remove the car battery cables and clean the terminals. Make sure the car battery is firmly placed and all the connections are secure.

If you need to change the car battery, make sure it is the right type for your brand and model of car.

Check the coolant and the radiator

Car engines are designed to achieve high temperatures, but there is limit to how much they can get hot. Internal combustion engines are most efficient at around 90° C. But if an engine raises a higher temperature, the moving metal parts can start melting, causing additional problems.

It is very important to check your coolant level regularly when the engine is cold. This is done by looking at the coolant bottle and making sure the coolant level is between the low and full mark on the bottle. You can top up the coolant with plain water. When driving your car regularly, check the position of the temperature gauge to make sure it does not go above halfway. If the gauge ever goes to two thirds of the way up or more, quickly pull over to a safe place and turn the engine off. In most cases you should call the RACV or a towing company to tow your car to your local mechanical workshop. Driving your car when it has overheated will cause further damage.

Always be careful when opening the bonnet because there could be steam or hot water which may burn you. Under no circumstances should you remove the radiator cap. If you have opened the bonnet, do not touch anything on the car as you will get burnt. Wait for 60 minutes or more before touching anything.

Maintain the air conditioner

If your car air conditioning system is not getting cold on a hot day, it may need a specific air conditioning service. With regular car inspections, faults in air conditioning system will be identified and rectified before a failing system could leave you all hot and bothered. This is especially important to check before a long trip to ensure your comfort levels are maintained. Air conditioning systems have filters which periodically need to be replaced. The system should be checked for leaks and the levels of air conditioning gas should be checked in the system.

Because most air conditioning systems these days can be very complex, if you experience car air conditioner problems it is best to visit a professional car inspections centre to see what the problem might be.