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.

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.

How to Replace Brake Pads, Brake Disc Machining & Braking System Efficiency Testing

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.

How a Radiator Pressure Test Could’ve discover Bad Cooling Hose and saved the owner $3000

In the video below, Chris is demonstrating how a proper car service without neglecting any of the engine components could’ve saved $3000 to the owner of the car.

As you can see, a simple $12 cooling hose did all this damage to the cylinder head walls and ultimately to the engine itself.

If a simple radiator pressure test was run on the vehicle, the bad radiator hose (split cooling hose) would’ve been detected, and it would’ve been replaced for just $12.

As the bad cooling hose wasn’t detected, it split; causing the car to lose all of its cord water and eventually slow down & stop the engine, due to the cylinder head gasket blowing because of lack of water and overheating.

Sometimes a simple problem such as a cooling hose radiator leak can create major damage in the engine components, the engine piston and the engine itself will need to be replaced.

So, the key to this is preventative maintenance on your vehicle will stop not just radiator leaks, but many possible major defects and your vehicle’s running costs will be kept down.

Don’t neglect preventative car servicing.

We offer a car service special deal for only $99 in all of our three workshops in Melbourne where we make a thorough inspection to all components including a radiator pressure test, and we can easily detect simple cooling hose burst like this very early.