Heater Systems- Maintenance

Maintaining your heater so it will be ready
when you need it is a simple yet often forgotten part of vehicle maintenance.  

While it's true that much of the maintenance for the heater is accomplished during routine cooling system maintenance there are a few items to consider in addition to that. 

Flushing the cooling system also flushes the heater core, but only if you turn on the heater while you are doing it. Unless this is done, sludge and corrosion can build up in the heater
core and cause inefficient heat transfer and premature failure of the heater core due to leaks. In addition to flushing the heater core, the mechanical control known as the heater control valve should be inspected and replaced if it is frozen or shows signs of leakage. 

Another often forgotten item is the cabin air filter. This filter is normally located in a panel behind the glove box and should be replaced yearly. The cabin air filter captures
allergens and dust that would otherwise be distributed throughout the passenger compartment. If it becomes clogged, air flow through the vents can be diminished and ineffective. 

Maintaining your heater is a simple yearly task that can go a long way towards minimizing your yearly repair costs. Make Kool Kar Auto Repair your first stop for all of your auto repair and maintenance needs. You'll be glad you did.

Electrical System- Alternators

The starter and other electronic systems needed to run your vehicle use a tremendous amount of
power from the battery to start the engine. After the engine starts the alternator takes over and supplies most of the power needed when the engine is running. 
It also recharges the partially depleted battery to maintain full cranking power for the next engine start. Today's electronic heavy cars and light trucks would quickly exhaust the power in the battery without it.

Some of the common causes of premature alternator failure include:

  1.  Weak/Dead Battery. When the battery begins to wear out, the alternator must work harder to restore power. In many cases, a dead battery can not be fully recharged by the alternator. Weak and Dead batteries cause the alternator to overheat and the eventual result will be premature failure. If your battery runs down, recharge it with a suitable battery charger instead of relying on the alternator.
  2. Oil Soak- Alternators that are mounted low on the engine may be exposed to oil from leaking engine components. The oil works it's way into the alternator internal components and softens protective coatings on wires, brushes, and other electronic components. Repairing oil leaks when they first appear is the key to preventing this type of failure.
  3. Improperly Fitted Drive Belt-  A drive belt that is to lose will cause vibrations through the alternator that, over time, cause damage. A drive belt that is to tight will put undue stress on the bearings in the alternator and lead to failure. Properly fitted drive belt systems prevent this type of damage.
Properly maintaining your vehicle is the key to long life for the charging system in your car. Come to Kool Kar Auto Repair for all your auto repair needs!

Electrical Systems- Starters

We've had it happen... you get in the car or truck... inserted the key... and are greeted by a deafening "click click click"... then silence. 

Many times the battery is the culprit but, just as often, the starter has failed. The starter is a simple electric motor that uses direct battery power to engage the flywheel and turn the engine to start it. This is a simple circuit and there are a limited number of possible causes for a starter failure.

Common Causes of Starter Failure Include:

  • Bad Solenoid- The solenoid is usually mounted to the top of the starter and is an electromagnetic switch that supplies the power to turn on the starter motor. When the internal contacts wear out, or the winding's in the electromagnet short out, the solenoid won't engage the starter motor.
  • Bad Starter Motor- The starter motor is a powerful DC motor and just like any other DC motor, the brushes and bearings in them wear out over time.
  • Loose Connections- The positive battery cable in most vehicles feeds direct battery voltage to the starter. If the connection becomes loose or otherwise compromised, the starter won't have the available power it needs to start the engine. 
  • Oil Leaks- Hot engine, power steering, or transmission oil leaking on the starter can work it's way inside the starter and cause the protective coating on the motor winding's to soften and degrade. When this happens, the stater shorts out and can not do it's job.
Simple repairs like fixing oil leaks and proper battery maintenance can go a long way to preventing premature starter failure. Come to Kool Kar Auto Repair for all of your starting and charging system repairs.

Starting and Charging Systems- Batteries

1.  Battery Case

2.  Battery Plate
3.  Electrolyte
4.  Plate Separator

5.  Battery Posts
The heart of the starting and charging system, in your car or light truck, is your battery. 

Today's electronic laden vehicles require electrical power not only to start your vehicle but then to run all of the critical computer systems and convenience devises. With the introduction of computer systems into nearly every function of the vehicle, the required load is often on the ragged edge of what the battery can provide. That is why it is important to maintain your battery to prevent premature failure and breakdowns.

Common causes of battery failure are:

  • Vibration- Severe vibration or impact can dislodge the lead paste, in the battery cells, drastically lowering the available power output. AGM batteries like the Optima brand are less susceptible to this failure than standard flooded cell lead acid batteries, but even they can be damaged by severe conditions. The easiest way to limit vibrations to you're battery is to make sure they are properly installed and secured.
  • Loss of Electrolyte- Over time heat from the engine, and even hot summer conditions, will cause the water in your battery to evaporate. The constant charging and discharging that your battery sees during normal use also contributes to electrolyte loss. Low electrolyte conditions will cause excessive gassing, excessive battery heat and shorting of the plates inside the battery. The easiest way to prevent premature failure due to electrolyte loss is proper maintenance of the battery twice yearly.
  • Corroded Terminals- When the battery charges and discharges during normal operation, acid is suspended in the gasses that are vented. This acid builds up on the surface of the battery terminals first as a damp residue them over time as acid salts. Corrosion from the build up can get between the terminal and the battery post causing high resistance and ultimately a bad connection. Regularly cleaning the terminals and posts prevents these types of failures.
  • Age- The service life of your battery is in large part effected by heat and lack of maintenance. Here in Texas the average life of a standard battery is around 3 years.
Proper installation and regular maintenance will go a long way towards preventing premature battery failures. So stop by Kool Kar Auto Repair today for all of your starting and charging system maintenance and repair needs.

Cooling Systems- Coolant

Modern Antifreeze/Coolant found in today's cars and light trucks is designed to serve multiple purposes.

 Not only does coolant contain chemicals that keep your engine from freezing up in winter, it also contains chemicals that prevent corrosion in the cooling system and acts as a lubricant for the bearings in the water pump. Your engine's coolant does all of this on top of keeping the engine cool. 

There are two basic kinds of coolant available today... Conventional and Long Life.

Conventional coolants contain phosphates that break down over time and should be replaced yearly. 

Long Life coolants are phosphate free and do not breakdown as quickly. This type of coolant contains other chemical compounds that replace the phosphates found in conventional coolant. 

It's important to know that these two types CAN NOT be mixed. Mixing Conventional and Long Life Coolants will cause the coolant to congeal in the system and severe damage can result.

Some of the common cooling system failures related to poor maintenance include:

  1. Corrosion that result in damaged water pumps, head gaskets, and other metal parts in your engine.
  2. Freezing that can result in cracked engine blocks and cylinder heads.
  3. Seized water pump bearings.
 All of these problems can be prevented by regular maintenance of the cooling system in your car.

Come to Kool Kar Auto Repair today to have your car's Cooling System Checked before Winter!