Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How To Inflate or Change A Flat Tire

Changing or semi-fixing a flat tire is not too hard if you have the right tools.

As long as your tire did not suffer from a blow-out, you may be able to perform a quick fix before taking it to the tire repair shop.

There are several ways to easily inflate the tire, one is to use one of those portable air compressors that plug into your car's cigarette lighter. You just plug it in, attach it's tube to the tire's valve stem and turn it on. They are not very expensive and available at any car care store or most department stores with automotive sections. Another method is to use a can or two of tire inflator/sealant, follow instructions on the can and you are on your way.

Using one of the above methods, you can probably make it to a tire shop, if your leak is a slow one.

If the tire had a blow-out, or the hole in it is too large to be sealed by a can of sealant, you will need to change tires and put on your spare. It is a good idea to check the spare a couple of times a month to make sure it is full of air.

The first thing to do is to park the car in a safe place, away from dangerous traffic. Engage the parking brake. Chock the wheels (place rocks or blocks in front and behind the vehicle's good tires to keep the vehicle from moving while you are working on it).

Remove the spare tire from it's storage area (some cars have special tools just for doing this and the car's manual should have instructions on how to accomplish this task). Also, retrieve the jack and lug wrench.

Place the jack in a stable area under the vehicle; using a 2x6 or equivalent piece of wood under the jack will help steady it in soft or sandy soil. Before jacking the vehicle up, remove the hub cap, use the lug wrench and loosen the lugs on the tire, not too much, just enough to break them free.

Next, using the jack, start raising the vehicle. Once it is high enough off the ground to accommodate the fully inflated spare, remove the lugs and the damaged tire. Place spare on vehicle and tighten lugs. Lower vehicle and remove the jack. Tighten the lugs again, alternating between each one to make sure the tire goes on evenly; do one at the top and then one at the bottom, until all are tight.

Put everything away and you're done, just get to a tire shop as soon as possible.

Personally, I carry two or three tire inflator/sealant cans with me at all times and also a portable battery jump-starter, which has the capability of inflating my tires with a built in air compressor, jumping my battery and providing some light to the project at the same time. I prefer this stand alone piece of equipment, as it does not need power from my vehicle to be usable and therefore no cigarette lighter fuzes blown out!

This is general, basic, how-to information and your vehicle may have special needs that are not addressed here, so it is suggested you always refer to your owner's manual prior to starting any repairs or maintenance on your vehicle.

Visit my website for vehicle maintenance images.  www.martymoore.com

Monday, July 19, 2010

Basic Tools To Have In Your Vehicle

Everyone should carry a basic set of tools in their vehicle. Even if you have no idea of how to use them, it is still a good idea to carry a few. The person who stops to help you may not have any tools with with him, but he can still help you if you have your own set.

Let's say you went to the mall and forgot to turn off your lights and when you returned to your car it would not start. If you had a set of jumper cables, you could ask almost anyone with a vehicle for a jump. Most people don't carry a set with them, so if you happen to have your own set, your chances of getting a jump from someone are greatly improved. Check out my blog on "Jump Starting A Dead Car Battery"

There are a wide variety of very good pre-made tool sets available on the market, but if you would like to build your own set, I have constructed the following list of basic tools:

  • Tool box - large enough to hold all your tools, but small enough to fit in a space in your car
  • Set of screwdrivers - both Phillips and standard, small and large
  • Set of pliers and cutters - general purpose, wire cutter, adjustable and needle-nose pliers
  • Locking pliers
  • Small socket set - either metric or standard, depending on the make of your car ( foreign or domestic)
  • Adjustable wench
  • Box cutter knife
  • Small hammer
  • Gloves
  • Flashlight with well charged batteries

Other items that need to be stored somewhere in your car:

  • Set of jumper cables - at least 12 gauge and 20 feet long
  • Jack - a small hydraulic jack is what I would recommend. Also, a piece or two of 2x6 board is handy to place under the jack.
  • Lug wrench - to remove the lug bolts on your wheel
  • Two cans of tire inflator and sealant
  • Tow strap
  • Roll of duct tape - always handy to have around, tons of uses

Visit my website for vehicle maintenance images.  www.martymoore.com

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jump Starting A Dead Car Battery

Jump starting a dead car battery is easy and you will need these simple tools:

Two adjustable wrenches
Wire brush
Mixture of one cup water and two tablespoons baking soda
Set of Jumper Cables
Safety goggles

If your car will not start, the first thing to look at is the battery. Check to see if your battery connections are corroded, looks like white or greenish growth on one or both terminals. If they are, you will need to remove both terminals, using the adjustable wrenches; if you have them, use the correct size open-end wrenches, generally 1/2 inch.

After removing both wires, and wearing your safety goggles, pour some of the baking soda and water mixture over the battery posts. Making sure the battery vent caps remain in place, as you do not want any of the mixture inside the battery itself. Use the wire brush and scrub the posts and the brass or lead ends on the positive and negative terminals to remove any corrosion.

After cleaning the top of the battery, remove the vent caps, liquid (sulfuric acid) should be visible in all cells. If any cells are dry, do not attempt to jump the battery. Carefully, add DISTILLED water to the dry cells, do NOT over-fill. Replace the vent caps. Also, if the fluid is frozen, do not jump the battery, it could explode.

Reconnect the wires to the posts and try starting the vehicle. If it still will not start, find someone who will allow you to get a jump from their vehicle's battery. Park both vehicles next to each other, but do not let them touch.

First attach the red jumper cable clamp to your dead battery's positive (+) post, then clamp the other end of that same cable to the positive (+) post on the vehicle with the good battery. Make sure the other jumper cable ends do not touch one another.

Then connect the black cable to the negative (-) post on the good battery, but do not connect the other end to the dead battery's negative post, instead, connect it to a grounding point on the vehicle, some non-moving, unpainted, metal portion of the vehicle, usually the alternator bracket.

Have the other person start their vehicle. Let their engine run a few minutes to charge your battery a little, then try to start your vehicle. Crank the engine for just a few seconds, then try it again if it did not start the first time. Have them rev their engine a little, it will help.

After your car starts, remove the cables in the reverse order from how you hooked them up. (Warning - remove cables carefully, taking care not cause any sparks, as batteries can explode)

If your battery is pretty old, you may need a new one, or if that is not the case, your vehicle may not be charging the battery. Many people do not know this, but if you can get your vehicle over to one of the large auto parts stores, they may check to see if it is a charging problem or just an old battery and they do it for free!

Another good idea is to carry one of those portable jump start devices with you at all times. Keep it charged up on a weekly basis. You can use it to start your own vehicle or easily help someone else, without the need of jumper cables or your vehicle. Very convenient piece of equipment.

Visit my website for vehicle maintenance images.  www.martymoore.com