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Auto Repair & Tires Blog
It pays to be aware of the top 10 car killers, the corrosive agents that can destroy your vehicle from within. They tend to be stealthy, often escaping the notice of even the most careful car owners, but the experts at Mountain View Tire can help you defend your vehicle from all of them.
1) Lube and Fuel Oxidation
Oxidation of engine oil produces harmful sludge that can reduce engine cooling, accelerate component wear, and plug passages necessary for proper oil circulation and lubrication. Abrasive material then accumulates within the engine, destroying bearings and promoting seal leakage. Likewise, oxidative by-products of fuel reduce the efficiency of fuel pumps and filters, and can result in costly fuel injector failure. Higher tailpipe emissions and poor fuel economy always follow in the footsteps of damaging fuel deposits.
2) Diesel Injection Clogging
Heavy carbon residues build up on fuel injectors, reducing their optimal efficiency. This leads to a poor fuel spray pattern, reduced injector cooling and flow, and inefficient combustion. If left unattended, this condition can rob an engine of power and will produce excess exhaust gas smoke, poor power and fuel economy, and shortened injector life.
3) Driveline Abrasion
Rear differential ring and pinion gears can suffer scoring, fretting, and pitting due to corrosion and a lack of lubrication. Stress cracks may develop, weakening the gear surface and promoting further damage. Also, excessive gear and bearing noise may indicate that abrasive metallic wear is occurring within your gear set. Progressive gear wear within this unit will have a negative effect on seals, causing fluid leakage.
4) Fuel / Air Induction Carbon
Gummy residues derived from residual fuel vapors have a tendency to accumulate within the air intake (plenum) over time. These deposits restrict air flow and disrupt combustion air swirl and dispersal. This all serves to decrease engine efficiency and fuel economy. Engine devices such as MAF sensors and idle air controllers, as well as critical throttle plate clearances, are also impeded by these gummy deposits.
5) Transmission Sludge
Transmissions operate under adverse conditions and expose the transmission fluid to wide swings in temperature. As automatic transmission fluid (ATF) ages, it forms sludge, which reduces fluid circulation and transmission cooling. Abrasive metal particles generated from aged ATF will ruin seals and cause irreversible damage to internal transmission components. You may eventually experience erratic shifting, excessive vibration or noise, or even transmission failure.
6) Power Steering Debris
High pressure power steering units require excellent lubricants to function properly. Damage to gears, seals, O-rings, bearings, bushings, and spool valves is dramatically increased by poor quality lubricants. Critical brass and other soft alloys rely on the proper balance of lubricant additives to ensure long power steering life and trouble-free operation.
7) Cooling System Scale
Minerals found in tap water have the tendency to combine with the additives found in automotive coolant. When this happens, they form a chemical complex called “phosphate scale” which coats the heat transfer surfaces of the radiator and heads, resulting in decreased heat-transfer efficiency. When this occurs, your car will overheat and run much hotter than it was designed to. This scale can also lead to the destruction of water pump bearings.
8) Brake Fluid Moisture Contamination
The gradual deterioration of brake fluid over time occurs because of its exposure to heat, pressure, and moisture contamination. As the brake fluid additives deplete, the fluid breaks down at an increased rate, resulting in the corrosion of brake parts, poor compressibility, and eventual loss of brake function.
9) Climate Control Mode
Mold, mildew, and spores can inhabit your vehicle's climate control system. The presence of moisture in air conditioning ducts is common, since the air leaving the A.C. evaporator is saturated with it. And there is little time for ducts to dry out during hot weather when the air conditioning is used continuously. High moisture in ducts can cake with dirt and create an environment in which mold can grow. This situation leads to serious air contamination problems, resulting in headaches, watery eyes, nausea, skin disorders, and fatigue.
10) Battery Corrosion
Slower-than-normal cranking may be a sign that your battery is holding less than its optimal electric charge. Oxidation of the battery terminals and build-up of exterior dirt and corrosion accelerate the loss of current through the case of the battery, prematurely discharging it.
You can learn a lot about your tires from reading the sidewalls. The alphanumeric code may seem like hieroglyphics at first, but once you know what each section stands for you'll be a smarter tire shopper.
Example P205/55R16 91W
P identifies the tire as a passenger tire. If the tire size starts with LT rather than P the tire is meant for use on a light truck.
205 identifies the tire section width, which is the measurement of the tire from sidewall to sidewall in millimeters. This measurement varies depending on the rim to which the tire is fitted. (There are 25.4 millimeters per 1 inch.)
55 is the two-figure aspect ratio. This percentage compares the tire's section height with the tire's section width. For example, this aspect ratio of 55 means that the tire's section height is 55% of the tire's section width.
R indicates the construction used within the tire's casing. R stands for radial construction. B means belted bias, and D stands for diagonal bias construction.
16 is the last dimension listed in the size and represents the diameter of the wheel rim, which is most often measured in inches.
91 - The load index and speed rating, or service description, are the numbers that follow the tire size.
W - Speed ratings are represented by letters ranging from A to Z. Each letter coincides with the maximum speed a tire can sustain under its recommended load capacity. For instance, S is equivalent to a max speed of 112 mph. Even though a tire can perform at this speed, we do not advocate exceeding legal speed limits.
The "DOT" symbol and serial number certify that the tire's manufacturer has complied with the U.S. Department of Transportation's tire safety standards. Here's a description of the serial number:
Starting with the year 2010, four numbers are used for the Date of Manufacture. The first two numbers identify the week of the year (01 thru 52), and the last two numbers identify the year the tire was made.
Auto accidents are the leading cause of death during winter storms. So, if you should ever find yourself driving on snow or ice-covered roads, remember these tips.
Listen to the forecast before you leave. If you know a bad storm is on the way, you may be able to delay your trip or chose an alternate route that might not be hit as hard.
Watch for ice. Take extra care when driving on bridges and overpasses; they're typically the first parts of the road to freeze over. Also, remember that black ice can be anywhere. Black ice is that icy coating that allows the color of the road to show through, making the ice very difficult to see.
Slow down. The consequences of driving too fast on slippery roads are never worth any time you might save by speeding.
Stay alert. Make sure you're aware of other drivers around you.
Stay in control. If the back end of your vehicle begins to skid (also known as "fish-tailing"), turn in the direction of the skid and keep your foot off the brake and gas pedals. If you must brake on a slippery surface, pump the brakes gently unless you have ABS (Anti-lock Braking System). If you have ABS, press the brake firmly and hold it down. Do not pump the brakes if you have ABS. This will lessen their effect.
Avoid steep hills if possible. Use alternate routes to avoid hills. Even if they do take you out of your way, you may be able to stay safer.
Keep enough distance between you and other cars. Slick conditions can triple the distance it takes to come to a complete stop. So, allow more room than you think you need to stop safely.
Always buckle up! This tip applies year 'round, no matter what the driving conditions.
Since its invention many thousands of years ago, the wheel has come a long way. For one thing, wheels are no longer made of wood, so there's no doubt the ride is much smoother these days. What hasn't changed is the fact that the wheel is still one of mankind's greatest inventions. Can you even imagine modern life without it?
The early wheel was very simple: a solid curved piece of wood. Leather was eventually added to the edge to soften the ride. As time progressed, wheels became solid rubber, which led to today's technology - the pneumatic, or air-inflated, radial tire.
Vulcanization and Charles Goodyear
Rubber was not always as useful as it is today. Early rubber did not hold its shape. It would be sticky in hot weather and become inflexible in the cold. In 1839 Charles Goodyear was credited with the development of the vulcanization, the process of heating rubber with sulfur. This transforms sticky raw rubber into a firm but pliable material that makes it the perfect material for tires.
Although Goodyear dedicated his life to making the most out of rubber, he would never profit from his efforts. Charles Goodyear died bankrupt. Forty years later, though, a rubber company would honor his hard work by using his name for their new tire company.
Solid Rubber Tires
Soon, after the development of vulcanization, tires were made out of solid rubber. These tires were strong, absorbed shocks well,& and resisted cuts and abrasions. Although they were a vast improvement over earlier versions, these tires were very heavy and did not provide a smooth ride.
The pneumatic rubber tire uses rubber and enclosed air to reduce vibration and improve traction. Robert W. Thomson, a Scottish engineer, first patented the air-filled tire. Unfortunately, his idea was ahead of its time and was not a commercial success.
In 1888, John Boyd Dunlop of Belfast, Ireland became the "second inventor" of the pneumatic tire. Dunlop claimed to have no knowledge of Thomson's earlier invention. The second time around, the pneumatic tire caught the public's attention. And the timing was perfect because bicycles were becoming extremely popular and the lighter tire provided a much better ride.
Bias Ply Tires
For the next fifty years, vehicle tires were constructed of an inner tube that contained compressed air and an outer casing. This casing protected the inner tube and provided the tire with traction. Layers called plys reinforced the casing. The plys were made of rubberized fabric cords that were embedded in the rubber. These tires were known as bias-ply tires because the cords in a single ply run diagonally from the beads on one inner rim to the beads on the other. However, the orientation of the cords is reversed from ply to ply so that the cords crisscross each other.
Today you can still find bias-ply tires as authentic equipment for antique and collector cars, as well as for certain types of off-the-road tractors.
Michelin invented radial tires in 1948. They were first introduced in Europe that year. Radial tires are so named because the ply cords radiate at a 90 degree angle from the wheel rim. Also, the casing is strengthened by a belt of steel fabric that runs around the circumference of the tire.
Radial tire ply cords are made of nylon, rayon, or polyester. The advantages of radial tires include longer tread life, better steering, and less rolling resistance, which increases gas mileage. On the other hand, radials have a harder riding quality, and are about twice as expensive to make.
Your tires are the only part of your car that touches the road when you drive, so taking good care of them is very important to the safe operation of your vehicle. By investing just a few minutes each month you can extend the service life of your tires and keep them working their best.
Check Your Air Pressure Once a Month
Incorrect air pressure is the leading cause of tire damage. To avoid trouble, check your tire's air pressure at least once a month. The correct tire pressure is listed on the vehicle placard and can be found in the following spots:
The air pressure listed on the side of your tire is NOT the correct air pressure for your vehicle. That number is the maximum air pressure for the tire. Failure to keep your tires properly inflated can lead to premature wear and will have a negative effect on your vehicle's handling and fuel economy.
When checking and adjusting tire pressure, keep the following in mind:
Take this opportunity to inspect your tires to make sure there is nothing stuck in the tread and that there are no deformities, or cuts or bulges in the sidewall.
To avoid skidding and hydroplaning your tires must have sufficient tread. The minimum tread depth is 1/16th of an inch.
The easiest way to check your tread depth is by performing the penny test. Place a penny into the tread of your tire. (Abe Lincoln's head first.) If you can see all of Abe's head, you need a new tire. Honest!
You should also check your tire tread for uneven and premature wear. Irregular wear shortens the service life of your tires. If you think your tires are wearing unevenly or too early, come in to any Mountain View Tire store. We can find the cause of the problem and repair it for you.
The best way to prevent uneven wear is to have your tires rotated every 5,000 to 6,000 miles or as often as specified in your owner's manual.
Potential Tire Troubles
Replacing Your Tires
When replacing your tires, choose the same type that came on your vehicle as original equipment. This includes tire size, type, and speed rating.
Tires are not just simple black rubber circles that are stamped out at a factory. They're sophisticated products that can take years of research and development to produce. If you've ever wondered how tires are made, read on.
Start with Rubber and Additives
Tire construction starts when raw chemical additives such as sulfur, carbon black, and solvents are combined with natural and synthetic rubber. The process takes place in a large machine called a banbury. In addition to grinding and mixing, the banbury heats the rubber to make it workable. The raw product emerges in the form of long, flat bands of rubber, which are then worked in rolling mills.
Six Main Components
It takes several machines to shape the rubber into the individual components of the tire: the tread, ply, belts, beads, sidewalls, and innerliner.
The Green Tire
The six components (tread, ply, belts, beads, sidewalls, and innerliner) come together on the tire-building machine. These six components are assembled into what is known as an uncured, or green, tire in two stages.
The two sub-assemblies are then joined together and the result is a green tire.
The next phase is vulcanization, the molecular transformation of the soft, gummy green tire into the tough, long-wearing, modern passenger tire. The green tire is placed in a curing mold and is subjected to intense pressure and high heat internally and externally for a specified period of time. Simultaneously, the tread pattern is imprinted onto the rubber. When it emerges from the mold, the tire is ready for final finish and inspection.
Finish and Inspection
To meet showroom quality standards, any excess rubber is trimmed off, and the tire is thoroughly inspected. The tire then undergoes various uniformity checks to assess ride and comfort quality. Once the tire has passed all the inspections, it is sent to the distribution warehouse for shipment.
Driving in the rain can be dangerous. In fact, thousands of car accidents are caused by wet driving conditions each year. So, it's a good idea to check your tires before you hit the road, especially if you know you'll be driving in the rain. Here are a few reminders.
Keep your tires properly inflated. The correct air pressure for your tires is specified by the vehicle manufacturer and can be found on the vehicle placard on the door edge, door post, glove box door, or fuel door. Also listed in the owner's manual. The number listed on the side of the tire is not the recommended air pressure for your tire. It's the maximum air pressure for the tire. By the way, you should check your tires' air pressure at least once a month.
Check your tires' tread depth. Tires should have at least 1/16th of an inch of tread depth. Sufficient tread depth will help prevent skids and hydroplaning.
Have your tires rotated at least every 5,000 to 6,000 miles. This will prevent irregular wear and help us detect alignment problems before they cause premature tire damage.
As rain hits the pavement, it mixes with the grime and oil that's already on the road to create slick conditions that can lead to skidding. The best way to avoid skids is to slow down. Driving at a slower pace allows more of the tires' tread to make contact with the road, and that leads to better traction.
Recover From a Skid
Even the most cautious drivers can skid. If it happens to you, don't slam on the brakes. And if your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) do not pump the brakes. Instead, apply pressure to the brakes in a firm manner and steer the car in the direction of the skid.
Maintain a Safe Distance
Coming to a complete stop requires about three times more distance on a wet road than on a dry road. That's why you should keep at least two-and-a-half car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Recover from Hydroplaning
Rainwater creates a barrier between the road and your tires. The liquid film that forms can cause you to lose traction and glide - or hydroplane - across the water's surface. If this happens, do not hit the brakes. Instead, take your foot off the gas, hold the steering in place, and lightly apply the brakes. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch and let the car slow down on its own.
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