SUPA QUICK CUBBY HOLE GUIDE
QUICK QUESTION #1: HOW SHOULD I PREPARE MY CAR FOR A GREAT ESCAPE?
Going on a road trip to get some well-deserved R & R? Make sure your car gets you there without the wheels falling off with our handy escape check list:
• Do yourself a service. Get your car checked out by giving it a service. Part of the check-up should include a look at the tyres, including wheel alignment and balancing.
• Don’t get ‘tyred’. Look for any unevenly worn spots, or skimpy tread on your tyres. If the tyres are worn, invest in new ones. You'll need them eventually anyway, and it's better to start out on a trip with new tyres than have a blow-out in the middle of nowhere.
• Do jack. We don’t mean nothing, we mean pulling out the jack and tyres to make sure your tyres are in good shape. If your spare is flat, get it pumped up.
• Tool up. Make sure you have the right tools for the job before you waai - you'll save yourself a big headache later if you find yourself on the side of the road with a flat.
• Don’t forget the fun stuff. Load up on your favourite music, padkos and liquids to keep you hydrated so the good times keep on rolling along with your wheels!
Optional Items to Pack
Flashlight (with extra batteries)
Tarp or mat to kneel on
Plastic rain poncho
Fix-a-flat™ spray foam
QUICK QUESTION #2: HOW DO I CHANGE A FLAT TYRE?
Believe it or not, changing tyres isn’t just for the hairy chest variety. Follow these simple steps to fix the problem and be on your way in no time.
• Find a safe spot to pull over. If you're on the freeway, taking the next exit is the safest bet, even if you have to drive on a blown tyre. Otherwise, pull as far onto the shoulder as possible. Don't park in the middle of a curve where approaching cars can't see you and choose a flat spot to park; jacking up your car on a hill can be a disaster! If you have a manual transmission, leave your car in gear. Finally, be sure to set your parking brake so your car doesn’t roll off into the blue yonder!
• Put your hazards on. Get the jack, wrench, and spare tire from your boot and bring them over to the tyre that is flat. Use other tools or supplies, if needed.
• Loosen up. Use the wrench to loosen the lug nuts. You may need to remove the hubcap. Don't remove the lug nuts at this point; simply loosen them by turning the wrench to the left (counter-clockwise). If the lug nuts are really tight, try placing the wrench on the nut and standing on the wrench arm to use your full weight on it.
• Get lifting. Use the jack to lift the vehicle off the ground. Different car models may have different places to put the jack; consult your owner's manual for specific locations. Once the jack is securely in the correct spot, jack up the car until the tire is about 6 inches off the ground.
• Start pulling. Remove the lug nuts and pull the tyre off the car. Make sure to place the lug nuts in a pile that won't get scattered, and pull the tyre towards you to remove it from the wheel base.
• Now’s the time for your spare to shine. Place the spare on the car. Line up the lug nut posts with the holes in the spare, and push the spare all the way onto the wheel base until it can't go any farther.
• Start lugging. Put on the lug nuts. Don't put them on tightly; just make sure they're on enough for the spare to stay on the car for a moment.
• Bring your car back to earth. Use the jack to bring the car back down to ground level. Remove the jack from underneath the car.
• Tighten things up. With the car back on the ground, you can now tighten the lug nuts. Rather than tightening them one by one in order, start with one lug nut, tighten it about 50%, move to the opposite nut (across the circle) and tighten that one about the same amount. Keep tightening opposite lug nuts gradually in turn until each lug nut is as tight as it can be.
• Give your old tyre the boot. Put your flat tire and tools back in your boot and be sure not to leave anything on the side of the road.
• Fist pump the air and drive off smiling. You have successfully just changed your own tyre all on your own, road side assistance se foet - you’re your own tyre changing hero!
QUICK QUESTION #3: HOW DO I CHECK MY CAR’S COOLANT?
Keeping your cool in traffic may be a bit of a challenge, but keeping your car’s engine shouldn’t. Ensure your radiator remains as cool as cucumber with our simple tips on checking your cars coolant (antifreeze).
• Check the level. Before you even open up your radiator cap, check to see if the liquid reaches the ‘full’ line on the side of the coolant reservoir.
• Top up. If the liquid is below the ‘full’ line, open the radiator up and add a mix of 50% water and 50% coolant until it does. Some coolants are premixed, so check the bottle to see whether you need to add water or just use it as-is.
• Use the coolant colour code.Coolant is usually red, green, blue, or yellow. If it looks colourless, looks rusty, or has things floating around in it, flush your cooling system and add new coolant.
• Be concerned about consistency. If the coolant has a sludgy, oily surface, immediately take the vehicle to your mechanic to check for internal head gasket leakage. The service facility has special equipment for performing this check.
• Cop a feel. While you’re checking your coolant, feel the radiator hoses, too. They’re the big hoses that go into the top and come out of the bottom of the radiator. If they’re leaking, cracked, bulgy or squishy, they should be replaced.
• Play it cool. Emergency situations happen, and it’s only in these situations where you should attempt adding only water to the coolant system. Most modern engines have aluminium cylinder heads, which require the protective anticorrosive properties of antifreeze. A 50/50 mix of liquid or coolant is usually sufficient. Some coolant recovery systems are pressurized and have a radiator pressure cap instead of a normal cap. Older vehicles may have no coolant reservoir, so to check and add coolant, open the cap on the radiator.
• Don’t be hot headed.Never add coolant to a hot engine! If you need to add more liquid, wait until the engine has cooled down to avoid the possibility of being burned or cracking your engine block. Don’t open the caps on either of these systems when the engine is hot; if you do, hot coolant may be ejected.
• Take a chill pill. Checking your coolant may not ward off those pesky taxis, but it will help you feel cool, calm and collected in even the worst of traffic jams here on out!
QUICK QUESTION #4: HOW DO I REFILL MY WINDSCREEN WIPER FLUID?
If your windscreen is as clear as mud, there is a chance you need to refill your windscreen wiper fluid. To ensure the coast is always clear, follow these tips to fill up on wiper fluid:
• Pop the hood. Look for the washer fluid reservoir. On most cars, the washer fluid reservoir is located at the back of the engine bay, near the base of the windshield. The tank is usually translucent, allowing you to see whether there is fluid in the reservoir or not.
• Check the level. Many washer fluid reservoirs have marks to show the fluid level. If the tank is less than half-full, you'll need to refill it.
• Crack down on cracks. While you’re checking your wiper fluid, inspect the tank for cracks or leaks.
• Fill the gap. Unscrew the washer fluid reservoir and add washer fluid until the reservoir fluid level reaches the "full" mark. You may want to use a funnel to avoid spills. Once you've refilled the tank, replace the cap and close the hood.
• Test the waters. Turn the car key to the "on" or "accessory" position. This will let you test the washers' performance by turning on your windshield wipers and then the washers. The washers should deliver a steady stream of fluid; if not, you may have to clean the washer nozzles and lines.
• Come clean. If you’ve followed this list, you’re ready to wash up and drive off with a clean slate!
QUICK QUESTION #5: HOW DO I CHECK MY BRAKE FLUID?
Hitting the brakes is a necessary skill to have if you ever need to perform an emergency stop, but don’t forget to check your brake fluid to ensure your car has everything it needs to stop you dead in your tracks. Here’s how:
• Brainy braking. Before you even start checking your brake fluid, keep the following points in mind to avoid making a few brake fluid bloopers. 1) Brake fluid is toxic, so take any rags with more than just a couple of small spots of fluid on them and any partially used cans of fluid to a toxic waste centre for disposal. 2) Don’t get brake fluid on anything that’s painted because brake fluid eats paint. If you spill any, wipe it up immediately and dispose of the rag ecologically! 3) Avoid getting grease or oil in your brake fluid; either one may ruin your hydraulic brake system.
• Prep for precision. Start with cleaning the top of the oil reservoir carefully. Even a small amount of dirt falling into the fluid can cause the internal seals of the master cylinder to fail. Your brakes will begin to lose effectiveness and ultimately fail completely.
• Open up. How you open your brake fluid reservoir will depend on what kind of reservoir you have; if you have the kind with a plastic reservoir on top, unscrew the cap of the reservoir. If you have a metal master cylinder that contains the reservoir, use a screwdriver to pry the retaining clamp off the top.
• Make it snappy. Don’t leave the master cylinder uncovered or an open can of brake fluid sitting around for too long. Brake fluid soaks up moisture to keep it from settling in the hydraulic components and corroding them. If moist air gets to brake fluid for as little as 15 minutes, the fluid is ruined. So don’t dawdle, and keep the can tightly closed until you’re ready to use it.
• Level up. Look to see where the fluid level lies and make sure that the brake fluid level is within half an inch or so of the cap. If the level isn’t high enough, add the proper brake fluid for your vehicle. If the brake fluid reservoir is empty when you check it, you may have to bleed the brake system.
• Colour code. Brake fluid deteriorates with use, so be sure to check the colour of your brake fluid. If your brake fluid is dark in colour, it should be replaced by a mechanic.
• Book your next brake-up. Have your brake fluid changed every two years. Doing so protects the hydraulic components from internal corrosion and premature brake failure.
QUICK QUESTION #6: HOW DO I CHECK MY AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID?
Transform your driving into smooth sailing by following these steps to check your automatic transmission fluid:
• Find the fluid pipe. On many newer cars, the transmission fluid pipe will be labelled; if not, consult your owner's manual for its location.
• Dipstick duty. With the gearshift in Neutral or Park and the parking brake on, let your engine run. Be sure the engine is warm before pulling out the dipstick (don’t turn off the engine).
• Be a fluid fundi. Dip the tip of your index finger into the fluid on the dipstick and rub the fluid between your finger and the tip of your thumb. The transmission fluid on the dipstick should be pinkish and almost clear. If it looks or smells burnt, or has particles in it, have a mechanic drain and change the fluid.
• Double dip. Wipe the dipstick with a clean, lint-free rag; then reinsert it and pull it out again. If the transmission fluid is clear but doesn’t reach the “Full” line on the dipstick, use a funnel to pour just enough transmission fluid down the dipstick tube to reach the line. Don’t overfill!
• Be a smooth operator. Your car's transmission fluid is now properly set and you’re officially on the road to a smoother driving experience!
QUICK QUESTION #7: WHERE CAN I LEARN TO SPEAK FLUENT MECHANIC?
He’s speaking mechanic, but it may as well just be French as far as you’re concerned. Dazzle your mechanic by unravelling his carspeak jargon right here:
ACTIVE SAFETY FEATURES
Your car most likely has a whole range of features that were designed to keep you safe and sound while you drive, like an antilock breaking system (ABS) or an electronic stabilisation programme. These are your active safety features that reduce the chances of an accident taking place.
In cars without ABS, slamming on brakes in an emergency could just cause your car to skid out of control. The only way to regain control is via cadence braking; an advanced driving technique that involves pumping the brake pedal as frequently as possible. This action mimics the effects of ABS brakes and allows you to steer and brake more effectively on slippery surfaces.
A carburettor is the device that allows your engine to run properly by mixing just the right amount of air and a fine spray of liquid fuel to form the combustible compound that propels your car forwards or backwards. A cracked or damaged carburettor will suck in additional air, causing the engine to misfire. In order to avoid sitting with a seized engine, be sure to get your damaged carburettor fixed as soon as possible.
All front-wheel drive cars have Constant Velocity (CV) joints, which can be found on the inner side of your two front tyres. These CV joints deliver power to the front wheels during turns at a constant speed, while accommodating the up and down motion of the suspension. If you catch a damaged CV joint early on, simply replacing the boot is easy enough. If the CV joint has been exposed to ongoing damage, you may need to get the whole CV joint or drive shaft replaced.
A differential or “diff” is a device located at the centre of each axle that splits the engine’s torque two ways, allowing each output to spin at a different speeds. The inside of a corner is always shorter than the outside, so to accommodate the difference, the cogs in the diff allow the left and right wheels to travel at different speeds.
A locking differential or ‘diff lock’ is a variation of the standard differential listed above. This device helps prevent wheel spin over uneven surfaces and provides greater traction by restricting each of the two wheels on an axle to the same rotational speed.
A type of brake that slows the rotation of a wheel by employing the friction of brake pads against a steel disc that’s attached to the wheel. Disc brakes can found on most racing and sports cars and some of the newer passenger vehicles.
ESP AND DSC
Electronic stabilisation programmes (ESP) and drive shaft coupling (DSC) are electronic stability systems that correct over or understeering to prevent skids and spins and help you maintain control of your vehicle in all weather conditions. These systems intuitively detect instability and cut engine torque by applying the brake to one of the wheels to keep you on the road.
PASSIVE SAFETY FEATURES
While active safety features help prevent accidents, passive safety features soften the blow if an accident does take place. These include airbags, crumple zone and side-impact beams.
A system of gear changing in which the driving and driven moulded gear rings inside the gearbox use friction to slow down the rotating gears and ultimately make it easier to change gears.
At its most basic level, torque the twisting force applied to something. Torque is then the amount of “turning power” you have, much in the same way you turn a wrench. Well, what can this do to a car? The answer is: cause it to accelerate! Torque is the most important component of an engine’s output, not power. If you’re driving up a steep hill and you’re not changing your gears often, your car has good torque (good pulling power).
Viscosity refers to the thickness of a liquid or oil, or its resistance to flow. A fluid with large viscosity resists motion because its molecular makeup gives it a lot of internal friction.
SECTION 8: SHOCKS
QUICK QUESTION # 8: HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY SHOCKS ARE WORN?
Would you be shocked to find out that 3 in 5 cars on SA’s roads have worn shock absorbers? Shock wear and tear tends to happen gradually, resulting in the driver adjusting their driving over time to compensate for the loss of control.
Shocks help keep your tyres glued to the road by playing an important role in handling, stopping distance and safety. Know when to change your shocks with these 10 warning signs:
• You’ve gone the distance. It’s recommended that your vehicle gets new shocks fitted after your last set has done more than 80 000kms to ensure maximum safety, performance and comfort.
• Dipping and diving. Worn shocks result in poor traction, which causes your car to nose dive when you brake sharply. New shocks will shorten your stopping distance, which could be the difference between a close call and a collision.
• Bobble head. Worn shocks lose their ability to control the bouncing string and this reduction in stabilisation results in excessive bouncing of your vehicle after driving through potholes or over rough surfaces.
• Gone with the wind. Due to a loss of stability, worn shocks can cause your car to rock when large trucks pass by or veer slightly when driving through cross winds.
• Rocking and rolling. Rock and roll might be a good choice for your stereo, but not for your suspension – worn shocks tend to lose their ability to respond quickly to weight transfer, especially around tight corners.
• Bad vibrations. Your steering wheel vibrating at high speeds could be a result of worn shocks.
• Uneven Stevens. Worn shocks reduce suspension control which causes your tyres to bounce excessively. This wears down your tyres over time, so check for premature or uneven wear and tear on your tyres.
• Emotional shock. Damaged shocks may leak, causing the strut to become encased in grime and grit. Get your shocks replaced if any fluid leakage is spotted on your shocks or struts.
• Damaged goods. A dented or damaged shock can cause other components on your car to work harder, causing unnecessary wear and tear and could also result in far more serious damage to your vehicle.
• Simon says. Replace your shocks immediately if your tyre technician raises any concern about your shocks.