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Automatic Car Transmissions 101

It is interesting to note that most automatic car's manuals say that you do not have to change the transmission fluid regularly. This is not true though since a lot of car owners are going to the mechanic to have their burned out automatic transmissions fixed. Make it a point that you change your transmission fluid and your car once you hit 30,000 miles to be sure that your car is well maintained. This article will help you to discover some things about your automatic car transmission.

Automatic transmissions generate so much heat caused by friction. These are the following: friction of the fluid churning inside the torque converter, friction created when the clutch plates engage, and the normal friction created by gears and bearings carrying their loads. This friction produces heat that can cause damage to your car's transmission. Overheating is the number one cause of car breakdowns.

Make sure that you are using the correct type of automatic transmission fluid. Using the wrong fluid will cause damage to your transmission as well. The car's dipstick or the car manual will be able to provide you with this information. The type that you need is both indicated there for your reference. Using the wrong type of fluid can affect the way the transmission shifts and feels.

There will be a huge difference when you change the transmission fluid of automatic cars. For one, you will have no drain plug. You have to remove the pan to drain the fluid. Make use of a wide catch pan to get all the fluid that will be dribbling out in all directions. The torque converter contains almost a third of the transmission fluid in automatic cars. This part cannot be drained so this means you are only changing one third of the fluid. It is advisable that you still change your transmission fluid though even if it is only one third.

It is imperative that you clean the pan you removed before you place it back. Make sure that you have the new filter positioned properly as well. It is imperative that you do not overfill your transmission too. This is why you have the dipstick. Afterwards, drive the car around the block to make sure that you can check the fluid level. The fluid level should be checked when the transmission fluid is hot.


Car Maintenance Tips for Long Trips

Nothing puts a damper on a road trip like an auto breakdown. While accidents and other unforeseen events can create delays, it is possible to minimize the chances of breaking down by practicing some basic car maintenance before leaving on your trip. You should also continue that maintenance while on your trip. Some of this can be done yourself, while other tasks may require a trained mechanic.

One of the first steps in preparing your car for a long trip is to begin with a thorough inspection of the tires. Check the tread all the way around each tire to make sure the wear is even. There should be plenty of tread left which allows for maximum control of the vehicle on slippery roads while breaking. If the tires are not worn evenly, it may be a good idea to replace them before hitting the road. Make sure that your front end is aligned and the new tires are balanced at the same time.

It is also important to make sure that the car has fresh fluids and filters of all types. This means you should have the oil filter changed and fresh oil placed into the engine. For cars that have high mileage, make sure to use a motor oil that is especially formulated for engines that have seen a lot of action.

Also make it a point to check the transmission fluid as well. Low levels could indicate a leak that should be addressed before taking the automobile far from home. In any event, if it has been some time since the fluid was changed, have it done. Knowing that the car is unlikely to run low on fluid can provide a peace of mind, as well as help the transmission to perform at optimum levels during the trip.

Do not forget the other fluids in the vehicle. Brake and power steering fluids should be checked and changed if necessary. The radiator should also be checked to make sure there is plenty of fluid and that the balance between water and coolant is within acceptable limits.

One fluid many drivers overlook when getting ready for a road trip is the windshield washer fluid. Make sure the reservoir is full and that the fluid moves through the jets with no problem. The ability to keep the windshield clean while driving is extremely important to your safety.

Checking all of your hoses is also very important. A failed hose can leave you stranded in parts unknown and ruin your trip. Make sure the body of each hose is still strong, without any leaks. You should also check that the hoses are securely connected to the correct engine components. If any hose do not seem quite right, it is best to have it replaced. This can help prevent any problems that may occur.

Continue the preparation by checking various other components, such as taillights, lamps, signal lights, and various fuses. Include an inspection of the fan belt and any other belts that may be present in the engine. The idea is to make sure every system on the car is working properly before you pull out of the driveway.

Once on the road, you still need to perform regular maintenance each day. Whenever you stop for gasoline, make it a point to check oil and transmission fluid levels. You can also take a quick look at the levels of washer fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Do not check the fluid level in the radiator until the car engine has cooled down. A good time to check these fluid levels is first thing each morning before you get back on the road.

In order to help you stay on track with your on-the-road maintenance, invest in a simple car tool kit. Many auto supply stores offer these kits; you can also purchase one online with relative ease. The kits include necessities such as replacement lamps, heat resistant tape to deal with a leaky hose, extra fuses, and even a spare fan belt for the radiator. Basic tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches are often included. Most of these kits fit neatly into a corner of the trunk of the car, making them easily accessible should you need them.

It also never hurts to take along a few extras components, just in case they are needed. Having a container with a mixture of water and coolant could come in handy if the engine overheats on a lonely stretch of road. An extra can of oil and a small container of transmission fluid should be stored in the trunk as well. By preparing the car properly and checking all systems at least every other day during the trip, you have an excellent chance of making your complete trip without any serious problems with your vehicle.


How to Change Your Brake Fluid

Has it been a while since you last changed your cars brake fluid? If so, you may want to give your car some attention on that. To help keep your car running smoothly, and out of the shop you will want to make sure you give your car the attention and maintenance it needs. Changing your cars brake fluid is a very important part in how your vehicle runs. Brake fluid over time can get dirty and start to thicken. Once it starts to reach that level it is long over due for a change. Not sure how to change your cars brake fluid? Check out the step by step instructions below to learn how you can change it yourself.

Supplies needed:

* Brake fluid based on your vehicle

* A brake bleeding kit (vacuum)

* Drip pan

* A clean rag

Not sure what kind of brake fluid you need? Check your owner's manual or ask a associate at an automotive store.

Step by step instructions for changing your vehicles brake fluid:

1. Make sure you are in an area with some room and that your vehicle is shut off.

2. Once you have a place to work you will want to pop your car's hood.

3. You will want to now locate your car's brake master cylinder. Not sure where this is? Look for something that is on the driver's side of the car, next to the engine. Think of where your pedal would be located.

4. Now that you've located your B.M.C. you will want to search for the cap. Loosen the cap to take it off and check out the fluids color. You never want to have a dark or thick color fluid. Instead, your fluid should look similar to a light, very pale brownish color.

5. If your fluid color is dark you will definitely want to consider changing your brake fluid.

6. Take out your vacuum pump and suction out all the old fluid out of the master cylinder.

7. Now put the canister on the pump, (this becomes the reservoir) and drain the master cylinder.

8. When you place the tube into the master cylinder to suck out the fluids, be sure to make sure the hose is all the way down to the bottom. If you don't place it in far enough you may not get all of the old oil.

9. Once your canister pump is all the way full, get your clean rag and put it around the tip of the hose to avoid having it leak over your vehicle.

10. Keep suctioning and emptying until all the fluid is out of the brake master cylinder.

11. Once all the fluid is out of the B.M.C. get a clean rag and wipe down the area. This will avoid having dust get in your fluid and any dirt that doesn't belong there.

12. Since all your fluid is out, you will want to get your new brake fluid and pour it to the line that says "full".

13. Once it is full, you will now need to take all the wheels off of your vehicle and get out the vacuum pump again.

14. By each tire there is a bleeder valve. Take off the cap and suction your vacuum pump to it.

15. Take a wrench and loosen the bleeder valve just a little bit

16. Now, pump your vacuum pump until all the old brake fluid comes out. (It may come out dirty at first and have a few bubbles.) Give it around 15-25 pumps.

17. Go back to your master cylinder up from and add some more of the new fluid to it. (It should be lower because you're draining it through the bleeder valves.

18. Repeat these steps for the other three tires.

19. Once you've finished the work up front and all four of your tires, you will now want to test your vehicle. You may notice that your pedal will go all the way down to the floor and the ABS light may come on. If this happens, try to pump your brake about 10-15 times and it will firm up. The ABS light will go off after you turn it off and back on again. If you notice that it doesn't turn off the first time try to unhook your battery so that the computer will reset.

A very important question that many people don't know the answer to, "How often should you change your vehicle's brake fluid?"

Answer: You should change your car's brake fluid every 2 years or every 24,000 miles, which ever one comes first.

Changing your car's brake fluid seems very intimidating at first but it is a very easy way to save money. By changing your own brake fluid you can avoid going to the automotive shops and learn to take good care of your vehicle. Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to changing your car's brake fluid in no time.


Leaking Car Fluid -- Never Again!

We cannot get by without our automobile and it is essential for life today. It's always nice to be able to go to a dealership and get a new vehicle and not have to worry about maintenance, but many of us have older vehicles which do not fare as well and from time to time we will start to notice some kind of substance on the garage floor -- leaking car fluid.

For a means of transport that basically takes us from point A to point B, the typical automobile is amazingly complicated. There are so many moving parts, which will wear out over time and the lubrication required will find its way out off perishing rubber joints and hoses, leading to leaking car fluid more often than we would like.

When you first notice something on the floor of your garage, you should try to identify what it is and where it is coming from. So many different types of fluid are within your vehicle, but they do vary in smell, color and texture. To pinpoint the source, try putting a piece of paper on the floor underneath the vehicle overnight to see where the leaking car fluid is emanating.

You should know that it is possible for a vehicle to leak water, coolant, brake fluid, engine oil, transmission oil and each has a different consistency. Depending on the size of the leak you may or may not need to worry. For example, if you have a large brake fluid leak you should not drive until it is fixed. However, an engine oil leak may not be an immediate problem and is something that you need to get checked in due course.

If you worried about an overheating engine, one of the first things you should consider is whether you have a split water hose or not. This may be the cause of the leakage and to check, run the engine and then open the hood and look to see if you can see any water spraying around. When it comes to leaking car fluid, water is the least expensive, of course!

When you have an older vehicle, it is sometimes a fact of life that whatever you do it continues to leak from here and there. If they are not serious and you can put up with them, make sure that you protect your driveway or garage floor with absorbent pads, however as this will help you to keep the area clean.

It is bad enough to have a leaking car fluid situation without having to worry about the additional effort and cost required to clean up the mess on an ongoing basis. By placing an absorbent pad, which is made of polypropylene and designed for this task, you will save yourself a lot of time and money.

Prevention is better than cure and you should often take your car for regular checkups to prevent problems from arising. Otherwise, if you find you have a significant leak and don't feel confident yourself, always bring in a professional and don't just put it off.


What Do You Really Know About Your Car's Fluids?

Every day when you head out in the morning you almost take it for granted that you'll be able to get in the car, start it up and go. Certainly we know enough to get it a (fairly) regular check up at the mechanics and many of us have enough car knowledge to know when to head to an auto car part retailer to buy certain parts to fix a problem with the air conditioning or heating system, or to replace a broken headlight cover.

What we often do not do is pay enough attention to the fluids that help keep the car going on a daily basis, which means more than just giving them the occasional top off. Fluids need to be replaced on a regular basis to stop them going bad and you also have to be careful not to overfill them, something that can be just as bad for the health of your car as too little fluid can be!

Troubleshooting Fluid Leaks can Save Your Car

Fluid stains on the garage floor can me a messy eyesore but they can also be the first sign of trouble within the car and should not just be ignored. But how can you tell which fluid might be leaking and just what that means? Here are a few pointers:

Bright Green - Most radiator coolants are bright green - although they may be orange, purple or red on some newer cars - and such a stain should never be ignored as a blown radiator cause all kinds of problems and even a small crack can be the beginning of something much worse that will end up being far more expensive to fix than a trip to a car parts retailer to pick up a few odds and ends!

Light through Dark Brown - This kind of stain is often common motor oil (how light or dark it is will depend on when your last oil change was.) and may be caused by anything from an incorrectly fitted oil filter (easily fixed) to a cracked oil pan which is far more serious.

Pale Yellow through Dark Muddy Brown: This will often indicate that your brake fluid is leaking, with the color again depending on how old the fluid is. This is not something you should try to guess at though, as the brakes are so crucial to your personal safety as well as that of your car. Instead take the car to a mechanic as soon as possible for a professional going over.

Amber - An amber is usually made by a petrol leak but you should be able to smell that it is petrol as well. A small petrol leak may be caused by something as trivial as a badly fitting petrol but it can also indicate breaks in you car's fuel lines or small holes in the petrol tank. Again, a professional should be consulted rather than trying to second guess the problem yourself.


When Your Car's Engine Consumes Excess Oil

Motor oil is supposed to course through your engine, providing a protective layer between the metal parts. As the parts move, the fluid provides lubrication. Without it, the parts inside the assembly would grind against one another, create friction, and eventually destroy each other. Motor oil prevents this from happening, and thus helps you avoid a costly repair bill.

In many cases, especially with vehicles that have high mileage, the engine begins to use oil at a faster rate than normal. Assuming you're checking the fluid level on a regular basis, you'll notice it drops quickly. We'll explain the reasons this happens below. None of the following will be pleasant news since it usually means expensive repairs are necessary.

Severely Worn Or Failing Valve Guides

During operation, the intake valves open to allow fuel into the engine's cylinders. The valves are connected to valve guides. Over time, the guides wear down, which impairs the valves' ability to seat properly. This allows oil to run down the guides into the cylinders.

Worn Piston Rings

Each cylinder contains a piston that moves up and down during the combustion cycle. The top of each piston has three rings. The top two rings regulate compression while the third ring controls the access of oil. If any of these rings wear down, fluid will be allowed to seep into the cylinders.

Is There An Oil Leak?

Another possible reason your car's oil level may be low is due to leaks. This is obviously unrelated to oil consumption, but is still worth mentioning since leaks can starve your engine of fluid. They can develop in several places, such as the valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, and the front and rear crankshaft seals. They usually occur when heat causes the gaskets and seals to harden. They become less elastic.

In most cases, it happens so gradually (over several years) that the leaks go undetected. The leaks continue to grow larger until the driver notices his oil level plummeting. Fixing oil leaks may be a relatively simple job, or require lifting the engine from the vehicle.

Side Effects Of Worn Valve Guides And Piston Rings

So, what happens in your engine when the valve guides and piston rings wear down? In both cases, the assembly will experience a loss of compression. You may notice hesitation or sluggishness whenever you accelerate or place the engine under load. The severity of the hesitation is based on the compression deficit. The bigger the loss, the more sluggish the assembly.

Another problem is that the oil that gains access to the combustion chambers is burned alongside air and fuel. This causes excess deposits to form on the spark plugs. If the problem persists, the plugs will eventually become fouled.

Fouled spark plugs will cause your engine to misfire. This, in turn, creates a higher volume of emissions, which will escape through the exhaust valve. Not only will your car be likely to fail an emissions test, but the higher volume of hydrocarbons will cause your catalytic converter to work harder. It will eventually become plugged, and overheat.

Addressing The Problem

Of course, the most effective way to eliminate excess oil consumption is to fix the underlying problem. If the valve guides or piston rings are worn, have them replaced. Unfortunately, as implied earlier, both jobs are expensive, and particularly so given that the problem usually affects high-mileage vehicles. For this reason, a lot of people attempt to reduce the level of fluid consumption in their engines by taking other approaches.

There are additives that can help slow the rate at which your engine burns oil, but realize such fluids are a temporary fix. You can also use an oil with a higher viscosity. The higher the number, the thicker the fluid, and the slower the rate of consumption. Again, it's a short-term solution.

If you notice your car is using excess oil, pay close attention to the fluid level. Check it often, and replenish it when needed. Otherwise, you may find yourself stranded with an overheating engine.


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