music box

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What a Waste

My Suzuki ERV 1.3 litre (2002) has clocked 83,000km, which mean it's time to have the timing belt changed. I was informed by Suzuki that when I change the timing belt, I should also change the water pump as well because if the water pump need to be replaced (after I changed the timing belt), I will have to replace the timing belt again. But, replacing the water pump, which is still in good working condition, sounds wasteful. Also, is it true that cars which use timing chains instead of timing belt, do not need to have their timing chain replaced.

The mechanic may be correct in a way he may have found out in the practice that the water pump usually fails not long after the timing belt is replaced and therefore suggests you replace it at the same time. However, you do not have to replace it as the labour to replace the pump at a later date is not that high and if it is not making any noise and operating perfectly well, I see no reason why you should throw away something that is still good.

Timing chain, being made of steel, tend to last for a very long time and are seldom replaced, at least during the car is with the first owner.

Light Just Doesn't Go Off

My Kancil's door ajar light (the indicator on the dashboard) is on all the time. It happened after I washed the car. Does anybody know where the fuse for that light is? It's quite dim but when I open the door, it brightens up. When I close the door, it is dim again but it won't go off.

The door ajar light is wired to the door switches and works by earthing the bulb to the body when the door is opened. What probably happened is the water goes into the contact of the switch of the switch, allowing the indicator bulb to earth to he body and so causing the bulb to glow. You can try spraying WD40 into each of the door switches to displace any water. The reason why the interior light is not coming on is that light requires a higher current through the same switch but probably due to the poor contact, is not sufficiebt to light it. That may be the explanation but the problem is still the water ingress into the contact.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Changing Rear Axle

I drive Mercedes 190E 2L 1991.
1. I have changed the rear axle assmbly (wih a used unit) from the original ratio of 3.23 to 3.27. Is performance affected? Does this affect the car when going uphill? What about fuel consumption?

2. The motor box does not illuminate brightly after I changed to new bulbs and maximised the dinner control knob. Any other way to brigthen it?

3. If I changed from 2.0L to 2.6L, does it really save petrol?

1. Theoritically, your hill climbing wil improve with a slightly loss of top end speed. You may find a slight increase in fuel consumption but that would depend a lot on how you drive. As difference in the ratios is not much, you may not even notice any improvement or loss in performance.

2. If by motor box, you mean instrument cluster, you may want to check the earthing of the instrument panel. Sometimes when there is insuffucient earthing, the lights will be dim.

3. Normally a larger capacity engine will give you better consumption if the gear ratio match the engine. In your case I think that if driven correctly and not revving the engine excessively, you should have better consumption. This is only guess and you will need to find out in actual case.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Accelerating Noise

I drive a nine-month 0ld Myvi Automatic. Recently an intermittent noise has developed, and this sound only occurs when I accelerate. It sounds like a fainy metallic whirring noise. I am unable to diagnose the problem, as it does not occur frequently or long enough for the mechanic to listen to it. Otherwise, the car perform normally. Have you ever come across this problem or noise?

Based on you information, it is difficult to give you any pointers because it is not clear when this noise occurs and under what circumstances. For example, does the noise occur when you are at low speeds and in top gear or in low gear at high speeds? My feeling is that the problem is in the engine compartment and frankly even technician at the service centre may not be able to pin it down unless he can drive the car under the same conditions to replicate the sound.

Fuel Pump Changed

I changed the fuel pump of my Honda Civic 1.6 (1993) model recently. After changing the fuse, spark plug, and checking the wiring, I still cannot start my car engine.

1. Your fuel pump is mechanically operated, if I am not mistaken. And if you could remove the hose connecting it to the carburettor and crank the engine, fuel should flow out. If no fuel flow out, then check the pump or replace it with one that you are sure is working. Also, have you connected back the hoses correctly and not reversed the connections?

2. If there is fuel coming to the carburettor and the engine is cranking but not firing. Check if you have any spark to the spark plugs. An easy way is to pull off one of the spark plug leads and connect it to a spark plug and lay it anywhere on the engine for an earth connection. Crank the engine and see if there is any spark at the plug. If there is not , then you need to check the ignition system, from the ignition switch to the coil and the distributor.

When an engine does not start, you have to sort it out by a process of elimination and do not assume anything. Often when one does some work, one may accidentally disconnect some wire or forget to fit one back and so a systamatic check is necessary to get it started again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Changing Battery With Engine Running

1. I own a Toyota Vios 1.5E auto (2004 model). I have just replaced the wet battery with a dry battery. But I saw the mechanic change the battery with the engine running at a idle speed. He said if he changed the battery after the engine is switched off, the car would have engine tuning problem and other minor side effects. He added that even on changing a wet battery, he would also have the engine running at idling speed. It seems the latest cars, which have many of their system running on computer circuits and electronic sensors, must be treated this way.

2. I used to disconnect one of the battery car terminals (wet battery) when I did not use it for more than two days (to avoid depolarisation and damage to the battery). Which terminal should be disconnected in term of safety? I always disconnect the (-ve) side.

3. Now that I am using a dry cell battery, and will not be using my car for 10 days next month. Do I need disconnect one of the battery terminals? If i do it, will the problem as in question no.1, surface again after I reconnect the battery?

4. What type of battery (in term of quality and maintenance) is more suitable for cars - wet or dry?

1. The standard rule is to turn off the engine and switch off all accessories whenever removing or replacing batteries. One should not have the engine running because if the positive terminal is to touch any part of the battery being replaced, it would short out the alternator and cause severe damage to the coils and diodes, let alone the possibilty of fire.

2. Two days are a short period to disconnect the battery. While I do not disagree with the practice, it is mainly to prevent discharge through the clock and some equipment that may have small current draw and if if left uncharged, the battery could become sulphated. By the way, it makes no difference whether it is a 'wet' or 'dry' battery because there is still sulphuric acid in the battery that would cause sulphation. I think by 'dry' battery, you mean a 'no maintenance' battery. Generally 'no maintenance' battery are sealed so that you do not need to top up with distilled water but if you notice that the electrolyte level is very low, the cells can be opened and topped up.

3. You can remove the battery connection while you are away or even leave it connected because I do not think it would be so weak when you get back as to be unable to start the engine. What is important when you get back is to run the vehicle for some time to charge back the battery.

Stiff Suspension

I own a 1987 Mercedes 190E. A month ago, I changed all the bushes plus the four shock absorbers and its mountings which cost me a little more than RM4,000. The shock absorbers a bBilstein 36 1389. I am unhappy as the ride is bumpy and get a thud noise when going over depressions or potholes. My feeling is that the shock absorbers may be of the hard type or the coil spring are "dead". The mechanic said that he has used the standard shock absorber for the car and it might be that the coils also need changing. What is your opinion?

You did not mention what shock absorbers were fitted to the front but I will assume that they are also Bilstein. The number that you have given, 36-1389 is for the rear shock absorbers and is actually a heavy duty unit and that maybe the reason why you feel that the ride is bumpy. I think you should be using the "comfort" specification which is:
Front: F4-V36-0199-HO
Back: F4-b36-1405-HO

I do not think the standard shock are heavy duty units and there is no need to replace the springs. I think the real problem is that the shock are too hard.

Right Tyre Formula

Appreciate if you could provide the formula for the 3% rule on changing tyre size. I remembered that you had published this formula sometime back but unortunately I did noyt keep it.

I wanted to change my tyre from 175/65 R14 to 185/60 R14 or 195/60 R14 but i can't remember the formula to check whether this is within the 3% rule.

To calculate the overall diameter of the tyre:
The formula is: (D x 25.4) + 2(S x A)
D= Rim diameter in inches
S= Tyre width in mm
A= Aspect ratio in decimals

If the tyre is 165/65 R14:
The overall diameter would be (14 x 25.4) + 2(165 x 0.65) = 570mm

For the 195/60 R14
The overall diameter would then be (14 x 25.4) + 2(195 x 0.60) = 589mm

The difference is 19mm which is 3.33%, a bit over the recommended 3%.

Mystery Jerk

My Sunny 5-speed manual jerks a lot. Here's a history of the repair and modification done.

1. Originl E13 engine upgraded to E15 complete with gearbox in 1999.
2. Changed to a new clutch kit including clutch bearing, clutch plate and cover in 2002.
3. Changed to electronic ignition system including ignition coil.
4. Changed to a new carburettor with auto choke in 2005.
5. Did a top overhaul in 2006 (due to blown head gasket and water sipping into the engine). Did a pressure test too.
6. Changed all four shock absorbers and springs, and front right and rear right lower arm bushes.
7. Changed three of five engine mountings (right gearbox and firewall mountings).
8. Changed to new spark plug cables (five cables)
9. Changed to a new fuel filter.
10. Tried Bosch and NGK spark plugs. Now using Bosch.

When I let off the accelerator during slow driver (especially in 1st or 2nd gear) the car jerks two to three times. The problem occurs even when in 3rd, 4th or 5th gears, but the jerks isn't as bad. I tested my friend's Sunny (1.3) and to my surprise there was no jerk at all. The mechanics have no idea what is causing it.

There is another problem. Sometimes when I open the air-filter pod cover, there will be some engine oil inside the pod. I presume this is deposited from the hose connecting the air-filter pod to the engine valce cover. Why does this happen?

If I read you right, the jerking is not caused by carburetion but rather there is a 'clunk' or juddering whenever you depress the accelerator. If that is so, I would look at all engine mountings again and the front and rear 'buffers' or stabilisers for the engine/transmission assembly. There should not be any noticeable movement of the engine/transmissiona ssembly if one rocks the engine back and forth and left and right. If there is movement , tha could be reason for your 'clunking' and you need to check all the mountings especially the ones that were replaced. The reason is that these mountings are supposed to be fitted in a certain position to take the weight of the engine and torsional movement of the engine on acceleration and deceleration. If not fitted correctly, it can collapse, resulting in plenty of engine movement. Check the front and rear buffers for any cracks or signs of collapsing. You may have to replace the mountings if they show signs of wear or collapse. You should use original parts and not replacement units as some of the replacement parts do not use the correct rubber and are too soft and collapse after some time or are affected by oil, etc.

2. The hose connected to the valve cover is to recirculate the oil fumes from the engine so that they get burnt up in the combustion process. If there is a lot of oil in the air cleaner housing, it could mean that the pistons and rings are worn, and combustion pressure is blowing past the pistons and coming through from the crankcase.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

High Coolant Usage

Some problem is causing me to replenish the coolant of my Naza Ria every fortnight, which I find is very irregular. The authorised service centre did not give me any satisfactory answer.. irregular diagnosistic, faulty gasket, and so on. After I lodged a report, the engine is now due for a complete check-up, pending confirmation from Naza.

Secondly, I can hear some noise occasionally fom the engine while driving. My wife is driving the car to Malacca for outstation work. I will send the car for a complete engine check-up whether or not I get an approval from Naza.

High coolant consumption does not necessarily mean there is an engine problem but it needs to be investigated. If the basic checks like leaks and radiator cap replacement do not solve the problem, then a proper diagnostic check is needed to determine if there is cylinder head leakage, i.e coolant leaking into the combustion chambers. You can also check with a dipstick to see if there is any indiaction of water droplets on the stick or the oil becoming milky.

Regarding the engine noise, it is difficult to give you an idea, as you need to actually drive the vehicle. Your suggestion to get the engine checked is correct, but make sure it is done by someone who knows what he is doing, preferably the franchise holders themselves.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How To Calculate?

I have Satria Neo 1.6 and Myvi 1.3. The tyre and wheel/rim sizes for both cars are standard 195/50R/16 and 175/65R/14 respectively. I like to change to wider and bigger rims (to improve stability and aestheticism) for both cars, and I have read about the 3% rule. How can I calculate myself in order not to exceed the 3% rule? Is there any reputable website that offers such calculation? What are the tyre and rim choices for my cars if I want to change to wider and bigger rims?

You will see among this week's replies the formula calculating the overall diameter of a wheel assembly and from there, you should be able to work out the best combination for your vehicles.
Please remember that the 3% rule is only as far as overall diameter, and you must consider you have sufficient space under the wheel arches, and the wheel offsets will remain the same because once the wheel offsets change, your handling will also change. Lastly, bigger wheel means more unsprung weight, which may affect your suspension set-up. Also, big fat tyres may give you very good grip in dry weather but could be difficult to drive in the wet, as they would hydroplane much easier.

'On-Wheel' Tyre Balancing

Some tyre shops offer "on-wheel" tyre balancing services in addition to the usual wheel balancing. They do this on the wheel (while it is still attached to the car) by jacking up one side of the car, resulting in only one wheel spinning while the other is stationary. Would this cause any damage to the drive shaft, and other parts?

Your fear are rightly founded. On car-balancing is normally done only on non-driven wheels, and should not be done on the drive wheels of a front-drive car. The reason is that when you spin only one wheel with the other still on the ground, the differential side gears are spinning at speeds they are never intended to under normal circumstances. This results in severe wearing of the side bearings.

In some cases, where it was really necessary, we lifted both wheels off the ground and spun them using engine power. But this is a procedure that can be quite dangerous because if the rear wheels are not chocked properly, the handbrake fails or the car fails off the stands, it can lunge forward and cause a lot of damage.

I would never recommend this procedure, because if the wheel balance cannot soed out with all the sophisticated electronic balancing equipment available today, there is really something wrong either with the wheel, tyre or even the hub assembly.

Noisy Engine From E240

I bought E240 Mercedes (year 2000) when new. It's mileage now is 55,000km. It is always serviced and the engine oil used is fully synthetic 5W-40. After four years, the engine became noisy (similar to noisy teppettes). The problem started after an engine oil change at workshop (fully sythetic oil 5W-40 was used).

I was later advised to drain the engine oil after only 1000km, and this time I used Revenol 5W-40 as replacement. But the noisy engine still persists. The mechanic used an approved additive to lubricate the teppettes, but it did not help. After just 3000km using the changed oil, I was reminded to check the oil levels. I had to add two litres of Revenol 5W-40 to bring the oil level to normal.

Now, my mechanic want to open the engine to check the problem. I am skeptical, as the car has only done 50,000km. I am also worried about the sudden increase in engine oil consumption after just 3,000km.

I hate to say this. As you did not mention the brand of synthetic oil used, can I assumed it is something that the workshop recommended and is not one of the major brands? If that the case, one really does not know the quality of the oil, even if it was suitable for your car. There is this allusion that synthetic oils must be used for modern engines, and asa result there are all kinds of oils being sold that claim to be synthetic or semi synthetic.

I fear there is damage to your valve train and even the pistons and rings because at 55k, your car should not be consuming oil. You mentioned using Revenol 5W-40, but I couldn't find such a brand anywhere. You may need to open the engine as it appears that the oils you have been using have caused quite a lot of wear.

In future you should use well-known brand. Petronas, for instance, has a comprehensive range of synthetic lubricants under the Synthium brand.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stromber Device

How efficient will the engine be after installing the Stromberg device? Will it affect the original engine electronic systems?

I am jot going to dwell on any specific product but rather about products that increase spark intensity, and improve power and fuel consumption.

Most are basically spark intensifier, i.e increase the output voltage to the spark plugs. If the spark of the spark plug is more intense, and if the engine is less fuel efficient, there could be an increase in performance. This improvement is not across the board and would be vary from car to car depending on the state of engine and tuning.

Before electronic ignition was the norm, even fitting an electronic ignition system brought out imporvement due to better and consistent spark at all speeds. Having said that, the problem with many such products is that they are inconsistent quality and sometimes break down, leaving the driver totally at a loss.

Another problem with working with such high voltages is that the spark plug cables may cross fire if the insulation is not good enough or during rain, and plug failures or misfiring can be more often.

On an average, one needs only about 15kV for a spark to jump across the spark plug electrodes and usually these spark intensifiers go as high as 40kV or more, thus the problems with the cable, etc.

You can use such a product if you know what it is doing. As it is not OEM, you should not fit it during the warranty period as it may invalidate you warranty. And make sure it is backed by a warranty that in case of failure, you have someone to go back to.

Erratic RPM

I have a problem with the throttle response of my Wira Aeroback automatic. When idling, with aircond on, usually after the car has run sometime, the rpm meter goes up and down, between 500 to 3000rpm. At running speed the responsive is OK.

Before this happened, I adjusted the tuning near the throttle body with a screw driver until the tuning was higher. I did this because the engine suddenly switch off during low speed ( during standstill), which I thought was due to low timing.

Prior to this, I did a top overhaul, changing piston ring, valve seal, skimming and other things normally done during the exercise. Does this self reviving (up and down) of the engine mean something is wrong?

A mechanic suggested a cleaning of the injection part. Another guy assumed that the place where I have done the top overhaul has stolen the throttle body and replace it with a bad one.

The adjustment that you did was the idle bleed that adjusts the amount of air bypassing the throttle butterfly to vary the idle speed. However, looking at your problem I dont think it was caused by the adjustment unless you have unscrewed it too far but rather I think you may be having an air leak in any the hoses in the intake system. One thing to remember about EFI system is that the air-mass sensor must measure all the engine air requiremets in order that the fuel is properly metered through the injector. So, if there is any leak, i.e if there is any air getting into the engine that has not passed through the air-mass sensor, this would cause the air-fuel mixture to get too lean and the engine will start to 'hunt", i.e go up and down.
You need to check all the hose clips connecting the air-mass sensor to the throttle valve and the intake manifold for crankcase emissions, vacum, etc and make sure that they are tight, and the lamps are tight also. I think when the engine was put back together, some work was not done properly, and this is the result.

Bigger Sport Rims

I bought a new Toyota Vios 1.5G last year. I am thinking of replacing the original 15-inch sport rims with 16-inch sport rims. I prefer to have imported and lighter 16-inch rims. My car's original tyre are Eagle NCT 5 185/55R15.

1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of bigger rims?
2. Any adjustments I need to do with the suspension and brakes if I change to bigger sport rims?
3. What kind or brand of tyres and 16-inch sport rims that I should go for?
4. What is the most suitable tyre size for 16-inch sport rims? I prefer something balanced in terms of comfort and performance.
5. Are there such categories of tyres, eg comfort, comfort-performance. and performance?

1. I would say that if the engine performance of the vehicle has not changed, I dont see any advantage in changing. Usually the larger diameter wheels are fitted when there is a subtantial improvement in the engine performance and there is need for traction. Therefore the larger diameter with ultra low-profile wide tyres give the traction without having to change any the gearings.
Larger wheel also mean larger tyre and so there will be an increase in unsprung weight which may mean some adjustment to suspension settings if the weight difference is subtantial. As mentioned, usually larger diameter wheels will go with wider tyres and you will need to check clearance of the tyres in you wheel arches and ensure that you new wheels are with the same offset as the originals. I say this because some tyres shops would recommend offsets in order to clear the wheel arches but this would be result in some odd handling behaviour on uneven roads and in wett conditions.

2. I have no suggestion on tyres or wheel brands, but you should look for wheels that are not too heavy.

3. The equivalent 16" tyres for your car would be 195/45R16. This will keep you within the 3% rule with no need to make any changes to your speedometer gearing.

4. Remember that when one goes for low profile tyres, the tyres pressure needs to be increased and there will be some harshness in the ride which may not be acceptable to some people. There is not much the tyres can do except that the degree of harshness will vary sometimes with the brand of tyre.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Additives Bad For Engine?

Do fuel additives have adverse affects on engines performance? They are marketed as fuel savers. It does save on petrol cost, but I am worried it may damage the car. How do these additives wok in lowering fuel consumption?

Most fuel additives are either octane improvers or upper cylinder lubricants. The upper cylinder lubricants do help to lubricate the valve guides and to an extent the valve seats, as well as the upper part of the cylinder walls that are subjected to the heat of combustion.

The octane improvers sometimes contain small quantities of alcohol that may give a small improvement in performance. How much of performance improvement measured against the cost of the additive should tell you whether it is worth of cost. I do not think these additives would really cause any damage to the engine, although i would think that the emmission readings would be affected if the engine were put on analyser.

What Is The Acrylic For

1. What is acrylic and why do some people have a coat of it under their cars? Why they need for it? Should I use it, or is it just an accessory?

2. Do I really need to protect the bush with alumunium foil before it hardens? Why don't they do it before it comes out the factory?

3. How do I know if my kancil is having a battery earthing problem?

4. What could be the cause when it is hard to start my Kancil, no matter what time of the day? What makes the car jerk sometimes? Why does the cabin light blink when it is on?

5. Do I need to treat the battery by adding acid or something promoted by the petrol station?

1. Almost all paints used for vehicle are acrylic based and the clear coat is used firstly as a protection for the base, or color coat and secondly to give a good shine to the paintwork. This reduces the need for regular polishing as the clear coat holds a shine much longer. Polishing is still needed occasionally as the clear coat becomes contaminated with dirt etc.

2. Covering the bushes with alumunium foil is not going to help much because deterioration of the bushes is caused by constant load, and if it is rubber based, by zone in the atmosphere.

3. If the earthing problem is serious, you will have difficulty cranking the car but normally there are so many earthing points that you would not notice any deterioration in contact. What is important is the earthing strap between the body and the engine as this strap will carry a large current when the engine is cranked and if the contact is bad, it can heat up. Also never remove this strap as the current may try to find its way through throttle cable and start a fire. This may explain your problems in question no.4, and maybe you need to look at the earthing connections, mainly the battery to body and the body to engine.

5. These additives have been around or a long time. And frankly their effectiveness is unreliable. I would not use any of them in a good battery but if the battery is dead, I may try it as a last resort to get it going again, but frankly the battery will not rejuvenate itself.

Uneasy Over Engine Heat

2 months ago, I bought a 1996 Proton Wira 1.6 XLi (auto). Whenever I drive long distance, I can feel heat from the A/C vents. The temperature gauge needle always point at the middle section its reading. I pop open the hood and I can feel the tremendous heat from the engine. What is the problem?

The odometer is giving me problem too. Before I started from Kuala Terengganu to Kelantan, the meter showed 11,824km. When I reached Kelantan, it indicated only 11,846 a difference of 22km. Has my odometer cable gone bonkers or is some glass particles causing this? I found some glass bits twice under the floor mats and under the seat. I have feeling that the car was involved in an accident before. A mechanic showed me an old cross member and some sign of serious damage on the bodywork.

I do not think you are having an overheating problem because if so, your engine would have 'cooked' by now. When you mention hot air coming out of the A/C vents, is it all hot air, or is the air cold a bit, but you can feel occasional heat? If you feel only hot air, then your A/C thermostat maybe faulty or the expansion valve is freezing up and that can be sorted out by any god A/C technician.

On the other hand, if you sometimes feel hot air coming out of the vents, then you need to check if there is heat from the engine compartment coming into the air conditioning system. For that you would need to go under the dashboard to look for open vents or loose hoses. By the way, it is normal to feel the heat on opening the hood after a long run and does not necessarily mean that there is any problem with the engine.

Regarding the odometer, it could be the cable or the instrument itself. Try unscrewing the cable at the instrument and gearbox ends and replace it, making sure that the cable seats correctly. When the cable disconnected, try running the inner cable and check if it is sticking. If so, replace it. If after replacing the cable, the problem still occurs, swap another speedometer. I do not think the problem is with the cable because if the cable is faulty the speedometer needle would be moving erractically and you would have mentioned that

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turning Ignition Key Too Fast

1. When i turned ignition key of my Avanza Auto, my car did not start. I turned the key again and this time it started. There was a loud noise caused by the starter. I think I turned the key too fast. Will my action spoil the car?

2. I always drive during traffic jams. If I adjust the two nuts that fasten the acceleration cable so that the idling speed becomes lower, can I save petrol?

1. I am not too sure of what you have described, but it appears that the starter is not properly engaging the ring gear, causing what is known as "gear crash". If this continues to happen, you should take the car to the franchise holders and get it checked, as there will definitely be excessive wear on the gears if it continues.

2. Adjusting the throttle cable will only give more free play on the throttle and not have anything to do with fuel consumption. If the fuel consumption seems to be too high, get the engine checked and give it a tune-up as the tuning may be out or there may be some other problem causing the high consumption.

Strong Petrol Smell

1. My 1967 VW Beetle has been running well. But recently, every time after refuelling, there is a strong petrol smell in the cabin. I tried putting in different amount of petrol. The smell only appeared every time I filled up more than RM25 petrol. My mechanic said the fuel line and the tank have to be checked.

2. The dashboard indicator of my 2001 Proton Waja 1.6X goes on intermittenly. That also happens to the parking brake engaged indicator. Its occurence is not linked to certain brake applications or while driving at certain speed. A Proton mechanic said it could be due to a computer problem.

1. Your fuel tank may be leaking. As fuel tanks used to be made of steel and there is always condensation in the tank, it is likely with that age, corrosion had got to a point that it has perforated the tank. Take out the tank and fill it with water, firstly to get rid of all petrol and fumes, before checking for leaks. The tank can be welded to close off any holes but make sure that this is done by an expert or the tank may blow up in his face.

2. I am not sure of the mechanic diagnostics, but it may be just a connector problem and you may want to get person familiar with vehicle electronic systems, to check out the harness connectors because a poor connection can give the same indications. Regarding the handbrake, there is a switch attached to it indicator whether it is up or down. Check it out to see whether it is adjusted correctly and not triggering when it should not.

Engine Switches Off

When I stop at traffic lights, brake my 2001 Proton Waja 1.6 (A) and engage to 'N', the steering wheel vibrates violently. Secondly the engine switches off for 2 seconds and switches on again when I decelerate.

One thing we are sure of is that your engine is sick and it needs to go through a diagnostic check to find out its problems. Take it to the Proton service centre and get them to run it through their tester and they would probably find a few things wrong with it. You may be having problems with the throttle sensor or adjustments but it would be best to run it through a proper check.

Irregular Engine

When I start my 1997 Proton Wira Automatics 1.5 (fuel injection), the engine idles run irregularly at alternating high and low rpm. When I switch off and restart the engine, the condition would go back to normal. This occurs occasionally regardless whether the engine is cold or hot. I have used nozzle cleaning additives, changed the air filter and checked the acceleration cable. The normal idling speed of the engine is 750rpm but goes to 1500 during the trouble.

What should the standard ignition timing of my model be? Different woorkshop have given different readings ranging from 5 to 10 degrees BTDC. Will the catalytic converter be damaged through regulsr use? What is its influence on fuel consumption and power output?

Modern EFI engines are no longer like the days gone by where any mechanic armed with a screw driver and timing light can sort it out. If one does not have an EFI/Harness checker, any problem solving is really hit or miss. I suggest you take the car to a Proton service centre with all the necessary test equipment. Your problem could be any number of things and I would be guessing what could be your problem and that would be wasting time. Put the ngine through a test cycle and you will find out all that is wrong.

Catalytic converters wear out with use and there will come a time when it will need to be replaced. If you have been running leaded fuel, then the possibilty of it being in ineffective is greater. You can remove it and run a straight pipe in its place but technically you are running illegal engine and you are also adding to the pollution of the atmosphere.

Park Under The Sun

Many places in Malaysia do not have covered car parks. Many cars are parked under the sun and the rain most of the time. How does this affect our cars? How can we protect the paintwork? Is there anything we can do without spending much?

Anything parked in the open is subject to the effects of the elements. Sunshine, apart from heating up the interior of the car, also causes fading of the paintwork and fabrics through UV action. This is where vehicle tinted helps because good vehicle tints cut out most of the UV sunlight and reduce its effects. It is not necessarily the darkest tint that does the best job but the right material, so read the specs on the material before spending money on tinting.
The problem with rain is that it carries along with it all the pollutans in the air and particularly if the car is parked close to factories with chimneys emitting smoke. You can be sure that there would be by-products spewed out that would dissolve in the rain. A dizzle is the most corrosive and if the car is not washed for long period of time, this acidic rain will find itself into the gaps in the paintwork and start corrosion. The solution is to wash the car regularly, and even if you do not have the time togive it a good wash with shampoo, the minimum should be a hosing down every few days during bad weather. The paintwork can also be protected with a good waxing that would protected the paint from samll nicks and scratches and the effects of acid rain.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Transmission Fluid

According to the Owner's Manual of my Honda Accord 2.0 Vtec 1999 (automatic), the recommended transmission fluid is the Honda ATF Premium or its equivalent, the Dextron II or III ATF.
Instead of the above, can I use the Honda Continously Variable Transmission fluid (which is meant for CVT engine)? Will using this fluid affect the car's performance, or worse still, damage the transmission mechanism or torque converter?

CVT Transmission Fluid is designed specifically for that application, as the stresses in the CVT drive are quite different from that in a normal automatic transmission. Therefore if you use that fluid in your automatic, it may not have the qualities required and you may get transmission failure. stick to what is recommended and you will not go wrong

Dramatic Rise In Fuel Usage

I drive a 1990 Civic EF9 with a B16A DOHC VTEC engine. I face these problems:

1. The radiator cover cracked last month and I changed to a new one and flushed the radiator system. But after a few weeks, my reserve tank keeps decreasing dramatically. Normally, it takes me at least two weeks to refill the tank, but now I have to do it once a week. I found no leakage on the hoses or water-pump failure in the cooling system..

2. I bought a second-hand sports extractor which still has its two O2 sensors. I installed the extractor together with the O2 sensors but fuel consumption becomes higher than normal. I used to get 200km plus with RM30 of fuel but now I get only around 140-160km. Is there any failure on the O2 sensors although it is not indicated by the "check engine" light? Should I re-install my original sensors (from the OEM extractor)?

1. If you are sure the coolant is not venting out somewhere, then the other possibility is the radiator cap. The radiator cap is supposed to vent off excess coolant ito the expansion tank and allow coolant to flow back into the engine when there is needed, such as when the engine cools and a partial vacum is formed in the engine. If the cap is venting to the atmosphere then you are loosing the coolant through evaporation and the coolant levels will come down. The radiator cap has two seals and if the upper seal is leaking or not contacting the lip of the radiator filler neck, coolant will vent off. You may also want to check if the cap is of the correct pressure for you car. If the pressure setting is too low, it will venting off too early and you will lose coolant also.

2. Yes, the obvious thing to do is to replace the original O2 sensors because the ones that came with the extractor may be of a different specification or even faulty and that may be causing the heavy fuel consumption. Also you should remember that the extractor may be improving your gas flow and giving better performance and you may also driving the car harder, resulting in heavier consumption.

Squealing Brakes

Two months ago, I changed the front wheels brake pads of my Honda Civic automatic 1993. But since then, it produces a squealing sound whenever I use the brakes for the first km of driving but thereafter, there is no sound. The squeal is louder during cold weather.
The mechanic said it normal as the contents of the brake pads contain metal which causes the sound. Is this true?

There are several causes of brake squeal, mostly due to the brake pads vibrating because of rust on the pad backing plates or rust on the brake dust on the pads themselves.
In your case, it may be rust on the brake discs as a very thin layer of rust develops on the discs when the car is parked overnight, and on initial application of the brakes, this is causing the pad to vibrate. After a couple of applications, the layer is removed and the disc is smooth again and the squealing stops.
One solution is to remove the brake pads, clean the back and apply a thin layer of graphite-based grease on the back. The will reduce the chances of the pads vibrating and possibly eliminate the squealing altogether. Very hard brake linings can also cause squealing but that would happen almost every time you brake and not just in the morning.

Steering Wheel Vibrates

When my 1984 Proton Saga is idling, the steering wheel vibrates. When I step lightly on the accelerator, the vibrations case then return when I lift my foot off the pedal.
A mechanic fiddled with the carburettor and the vibrations went away, all this when the engine had been running for a few hours. when I started the car next morning, the vibrations returned.
What happened to those electronic tuning machines? I don't see them anymore. Most mechanics tune by ears now.

All four-cylinder engines have vibrations at low speeds, especially at idling. When the car is new and all the engine mountings are relatively soft, one does not feel the vibrations as they are absorbed by the mountings. As the mountings get older, they tend to get harder and the vibrations are easily felt. Also, the load of the air conditioning compressor tends to make engine vibrate more at idling and if the idle speed is increased slightly, the vibrations will go away. If the idling speed is not excessive like 1000 rpm, a slight increase of idle speed can eliminate the vibrations.
Otherwise, you may need a tune-up including valve tappet adjusment to get the engine to run more smoothly.