Tag Archives: Maintenance

Things To Check Before A Long Drive

Weekends are themselves a means to quench the thirst of long trips for bike and car lovers. What if there is a vacation? The thirst to drive becomes an insatiable hunger, which would get eradicated only on hearing the continuous vroom of the automobiles. With engines revving up and throttles roaring, here are a few tips for riders that would make the long drives more fruitful without any hiccups. Note that these are measures that need to be carried out at least five to seven days before the long drive so as to give complete effectiveness to the pleasure of the ride.

Checklist for a Long drive
Things To Check Before A Long Drive

The things that are about to be discussed below may vary in priority depending upon the make, model and various other factors like last servicing, condition, handling, maneuvering, etc. But all of these tips, if followed, would lead up to unforgettable trip that could forever be etched in the albums of memory.

Fuel related issues:

The tank must be checked and filled to the brim always en route to a long ride, especially when the passage of travail is new to the rider. This applies especially to bikes, because there might be problems like the fuel not reaching the engine from the reservoir (the fuel tank). This improper supply of fuel to the engine might mostly due to the blocks in the passage leading to the engine, due to the accumulation of foreign particles like dirt and impurities. The passages must be cleaned so that the driver does not find himself/herself in the middle of the road in the hot burning sun with nobody to come to help (except for GoBumpr, if it is Chennai, maybe).

Starting troubles:

This might be caused due to fuel injector problems (considering the diesel engines) or spark plug issues (in case of petrol variants). This would cause improper mix of fuel and air to be injected into the chamber, thereby rendering the operation of the vehicle gradually ineffective, regarding the diesel engines; for petrol engines, this would create increased starting troubles.

In bikes, the spark plug issue can be managed for quite some time if the vehicle is facilitated with both kick-start and self-start. While self-start facilitates the quick ignition of an engine than the kick-starts, it does not play an effective role when the vehicle has not been operated for quite some time (say two to five days); this is because the engine slowly comes to the temperature of the surrounding environmental conditions, and it takes some time for it to regain the temperature required for ignition. So at this point, even with vehicles with self-starts, it is sensible to use kick-starts to get the engine heated. Though this takes relatively higher time for the vehicle to start, it provides an effective solution for a long ride.

One common mistake that most of the bikers do is pressing the self-start switches continuously for longer period, say 5 to 8 seconds. In reality, the button should never be pressed beyond 2 to 2.5 seconds because it just acts as a contact point to start the engine. Pressing it continuously has two main disadvantages. Firstly, the main functionality of a self-start is to initiate the engine, which means it loses its effectiveness beyond 2 seconds, after which it needs to be pressed again. Secondly, it would overwork the accessories that lead up to the engine, thereby reducing the lifetime of the switch.

Display check:

Most of the riders would not mind this very much, but display comes as one of the notable points to be taken care of in both cars and bikes. Without the proper working of speedometer, the driver might tend to forget the gear at which the vehicle is running; this would eventually lead up to confusion, while coming to a halt.

The next accessory is the odometer. This is very much essential because one needs to keep track of the mileage of the vehicle and the distance covered consecutively between two successive fillings. This would also be an indicator to show if there is any regular maintenance checks required (for example, first servicing after driving 3,000 kilometers, etc.)

ABCs:

The accelerator, brake and clutch – the pulse of the vehicle – need to be checked for effective operation. In some cars, the pedals might become loosened up from their usual positions, thereby rendering them ineffective.

This problem is more prevalent in bikes where the clutch wires become slack and the clutch almost always remains in the half pressed position (technically referred to as the “off clutch” condition). The clutch is used to engage and disengage gears during the gear change, and it must either be fully pressed (during gear change) or not pressed at all (at top gears or constant speeds, called as cruising). This would spoil the gearbox in in the long run, causing jamming of gears.

Exhaust system:

Though this involves several components technically, the silencer is one accessory that requires a periodic check. Especially when long drives are on the cards, the silencers need to be cleaned up effectively so that the exhausts do not get clammed up there. Accumulation of solid exhausts would mean improper ejection of burnt gases, and when this problem builds up, the internal components get heated up, the vehicle might stop then and there, and in the worst case, there are possibilities of explosion.

The exhaust gases can also act as an indicator for the engine oil replacement; this can be understood better when thick black smoke comes out of the exhaust during throttling at neutral gear position. This would mean that the engine oil is dry and needs to be replaced soon. So before planning for long trips, keep track of the exhaust system, which usually does not seem important, also.

Engine oil:

Engine oil is in the correct concentration during initial stages. But as the vehicle gets driven, the concentration gets marginally high and hence the lubricating properties usually come down with usage. The engine oil might change color from pale brown to a kind of brackish black. The degree of this black color decides the fate of the engine oil, and it all boils down to periodic replacement. So even if it is not due for an engine oil replacement, it is better to use new oils for long travels.

things to check on car before long trip
Things To Check Before A Long Drive – Oil Change

Though this replacement of engine oils would mean variation in the physical properties like the viscosity and fluidity, this is one important aspect to be done before a long travel.

Riders for long distances are the true metaphors of the saying, “Miles to go before I sleep.” But miles can be covered with smiles only with all the checkboxes ticked successfully.

 

Tips for Extending Bike/Car Battery Life

TIPS FOR EXTENDING BIKE & CAR BATTERY LIFE

Automobiles – both bikes and cars – can no longer be categorized exclusively into the sphere of mechanical engineering, with the increasing emphasis on electronic components. From the spark plug to sensors, and gear shift to cruise control, contemporary vehicles have become an ensemble of various other fields that come to the limelight based on their functionality, other than the traditional ones – the most important of them being the electronic ones.

Batteries are one of the most, or rather the most important components that form the nucleus of the electrical and electrical side of the vehicle. Be it horns or wipers or air conditioners, the conglomerate of cathode, anode and electrolyte are the saviours coming to the rescue.

The prescribed battery life for any automobile ranges from 4 to 5 years, but not every battery lasts till the “calendar life”. Before we delve deep into the battery life extension, let us give a glimpse into the basic aspects of a battery.

Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life
Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life

Image courtesy: pixabay.com

Sneak peek into battery ratings:

Batteries used in on-road automobiles are usually of 12 V capacity, but the current rating or amperage can vary depending upon the size and capacity of the vehicle. The overall charge and discharge rates of the battery are described by the term ampere-hour (A.h). Some of the ratings are 26 A.h, 40 A.h, 90 A.h, etc.

For example, the indicator lights of a Tata Indica takes up to 2 A of current. Considering 40 A.h battery for this scenario, this means that 40/2 = 20 hours. Hence, the battery would last for 20 hours from the full charge condition before draining, provided indicator is the only electronic component being operated. This is arrived at by taking into account another bullet point that it is not being continuously charged by a medium.

How do the car batteries charge themselves during the operation of a vehicle?

A: What if the battery drains while the vehicle is being driven?

B: It wouldn’t.

A: You kidding? How come?

Here comes the alternator. Alternator is a device which runs throughout the operation of a vehicle, charging the batteries and enabling them to act as the source for fulfilling the functions of the accessories. Alternator is coupled with the battery in series to provide a constant current charging to it.

Some more information about batteries:

Batteries are of different types like lithium ion batteries, nickel cadmium batteries, etc. but the lead acid accumulators are the most commonly used type in automobiles, because they are cheap and provide long life. With the advent of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), the lithium polymer batteries are coming to the fore now, but still the dominance of lead acid accumulators cannot be shaken.

Tips and tricks:
The various issues with batteries that can be solved with proper maintenance are as follows:

Corrosion in the terminals is one of the simplest yet fatal problems that tend to bog the battery’s performance down. Corrosion happens due to the continuous usage of battery for long time, and the corroded particles may be found forming patches near the terminals.

This problem can be overcome by cleaning the terminals with a mixture of three spoons of baking soda and one spoon of warm water, and then wiping away the residues with a piece of clean cloth free of any dust particles.

If the issue is not properly addressed, the corrosion may form a separate layer and would prevent the conduction of current from and to the battery thereby disabling the function of the automobile.

Mounting the battery with appropriate supports is always essential. Mounting will mostly be in the form of clamps that hold the battery in place. This would prevent the dynamic vibration of battery; vibration would cause electrical disasters like short circuits, fluctuations, sparks and would damage the components under the hood (bonnet).

Maintaining the water level of the battery could be commonly seen in the households with UPS installed. There are several knobs that usually show the increase or decrease of water levels in the battery. For example, if there are four such knobs and at least two of them do not contain water in the lids, it is time to quench the thirst of the battery, only with DISTILLED water. This is available in all petrol pumps nowadays.

Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life-Refill with distilled water to extend car battery life
Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life – Refill with distilled water to extend car battery life

Insulating the battery with a proper covering layer would increase its longevity significantly; insulators are surfaces with no or negligible electrical conductivity. Facilitation of these surfaces would mean that even if there are some wires dangling out, making contact with the battery, there are absolutely no or very less chances of short circuiting. Dielectric grease is popularly used for insulation purposes.

Isolate the battery and disconnecting the battery terminals from the contact positions, during a certainty that you would not drive the vehicle for a long time, say a week. The batteries would be draining minimal quantities of the stored energy even when the vehicle is switched off because there are components like the clock, which keep running. So it is always advisable to keep the batteries disconnected during long absence of driving.

Make sure all the electronic accessories like the air conditioner, wiper, head lights, indicators, etc. are switched off before you start the vehicle from halt. This would prevent the battery from getting drained immediately and is also a significant indicator of its longevity.

Extend your car battery life
Extend your car battery life

Image courtesy: pixabay.com

Make long trips as much as possible, because batteries require some time to get charged. Short trips would mean that the batteries are charged for only limited time, which implies that they are not fully charged. The problem is that charging and discharging, is alternated at a rapid rate, would repeatedly modify the temperatures of the chemicals in the battery, thereby making them susceptible to failure.

Batteries are the arteries of automobiles. Charge them and treat them well, so that they don’t demand much charge from your pocket every now and then. Safe journey!

Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike

One important aspect of daily maintenance check that every car and bike owner faces has to do is related to the tyres. These structures that fulfill the dynamic responsibilities of an automobile also take the entire load of the vehicle and rider; so, it becomes quintessential to keep track of the health of the tyres now and then to ensure a safe ride and prolong life of tyres. The following tyre maintenance tips will help you achieve just that .

Basic things one needs to know about tyre maintenance:

Before we delve deep into the maintenance of the tyres, let’s learn a few jargons that the garage people use to make us feel out of the league.

  • Cold tyre pressure – this is the pressure of the tyre when the car is at a halt and it has exhausted all the heat that gets aggravated after driving on road.
  • Hot tyre pressure – this is the pressure when the tyre is being driven, or that when the vehicle has just come to a halt (say, near a fuel station or a traffic signal, etc.)
  • Tread – Tread is the passage in the tyre that makes actual contact with the road. There are various types of Tyre treads. While a directional tread has V-shaped pattern that provides a rough contact (for rough terrains and rocky slopes), the symmetrical tread has a straight seam that facilitates easy driving across smooth travails.
Tyre Maintenance Tips - Tyre Tread Types
Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike -Tyre Tread Types

What, why and how do tyres get affected?

Before we have had time to realize, the day mean temperature is hot enough to fry eggs on roads. The tyres, which experience the frictional effects due to their rolling contact with the road, are the components that face the brunt of this heat.

Tyres are designed for specific pressure ranges, which would be influenced by the external environmental factors – the most significant of them being the temperature. So any variation in the prevalent temperature may affect the tyres, negatively.

Major problems with tyres:

There are many different problems that affect tyres in a drastic way. Some of the day-to-day hardships are detailed as follows:

Deflation and Punctures

With the prevalent road conditions in the city and in most parts of the country, the tyres get wounded very easily. Puncture is one common difficulty that would be the devilish nightmare of office goers. Punctures may be caused due to the vehicle being static for a very long time, constant high temperature exposure, long drives through tough terrains, or other external factors like thorns or nails.

It is always a good practice to park the vehicle at a place free of too much garbage and wastage, because there are high chances of sharp items being spilled around, which would target the rubber.

Improper pressure

While the maximum pressure given in the manual indicates the endurance limit of the tyre, it is not a good practice to inflate it to the maximum level. The optimum pressure as specified must be taken care of and it should not go beyond or below a particular permitted tolerance range.

High cold pressures (over-inflation) in the tyres would result in their outer surface bulging out because of constant frictional contact with the road, and this would result in cracks near the treads. This could also create imbalance in the load bearing capacity of the vehicle, thereby making it unstable at full load drives.

Low cold pressures (under-inflation) would result in the outward protrusion of the surface, thereby creating chances of tear and burst of tyres. Low pressures also create the disadvantage of the ground clearance getting comparably lower which might create serious problems gradually.

Tyre Maintenance Tips - Correct Tyre Pressure
Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike – Correct Tyre Pressure

One easier way to prolong the life of tyres is to rotate them periodically. Rotation refers to the change of tyres from their original position (that is, change of tyres from front to back, and vice-versa). This would ensure that the tyres are exposed to various pressure ranges, thereby making them resistant to faults. Standard tyre rotation periods are between 3,000 and 5,000 kilometers for bikes, and 8,000 to 10,000 kilometers for cars.  Maintaining proper tyre pressures can help you increase mileage of your car or bike .

Moreover, in the case of cars, where the engines are located at the front part of the body, front pairs of tyres are usually made to withstand higher loads in comparison to that of the pair at the back. Hence, the periodical rotation would extend their life to a considerable extent.

Wobbling

This problem may occur due to blowouts or improper pressures across all tyres, and may cause fatal aftereffects to the vehicle as well as the driver. Wobbling may also be a result of misalignment in wheels. This could be felt during sharp curves especially and may affect the differentials of the vehicle.

Cracks and blisters

Cracks are the results of the causes discussed so far. No tyre can stay true to its ideal capabilities after the vehicle is being driven on road for so long. But the indication that the tyres need to be replaced can be examined and detected by using one’s fingers.

Try inserting a fingernail into the visible crack. If it does not penetrate, then the crack is not serious and there is absolutely no need of changing the tyres. If the nail can go into the crack but you cannot tear away a piece of tyre, it implies the tyre can be used for further driving at least for 500 to 800 kilometers more. But if the fingernail goes inside the crack and you could remove a piece of tyre that are as wide as two fingers (note that this is the width of two fingers and not the length), that is a clear indicator the tyres need to be replaced immediately.

Permanent wear and tear

This is the final stage of the tyre and it has reached a stage where it cannot tolerate more stresses applied to it. Hence, it becomes mandatory to change the tyres at or beyond this stage.

The coin test may be an easy way to see the tread wear of the tyre (in case of a car only). Normally, the tread should not be shallower than 1/16th of an inch or around 1.6 mm. The scales could be used to check this out, but for easier diagnostics, it is recommended that you use a 1 rupee coin to test it. If the Rupiah text in Hindi is visible (in case of older types of coins), then it is a warning signal that the tyre needs to be replaced or repaired.

Tyre Maintenance Tips -Tyre Change Test
Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike – Tyre Change Test

So while looking around the building, take care of the basement also. Once the foundation is stronger, the entire construction gets a boost. The same applies to the dynamic devils – your cars and bikes. Don’t tire the tyres until the tyres tear apart. Happy riding! May the frictional force be with you!

Vehicle Maintenance Tips for Summer

Feeling the heat’ has become quite a literal phrase nowadays with temperatures skyrocketing to 40 degree Celsius effortlessly. As we take care of our physical well-being by switching according to the climatic conditions, maintenance of one of the most important mechanical contraptions – the cars and bikes – becomes a necessity rather than a luxury.

Summer Vehicle Maintenance
Summer Vehicle Maintenance

Whenever the term ‘heat’ is uttered in mechanical jargon, ‘friction’ automatically comes into play. Got the drift? Yeah, this exactly is about the TYRES. There are simple yet effective ways to prevent tyres from blowing out easily. As we see in even the simple vehicles like bicycles, the tyres tend to protrude a bit on the outwards when the pressure becomes less. This will induce uneven load distribution in the tyres causing wobbling; continuous operation of the cars and bikes in this condition would result in a tyre tear. High pressures would mean improper response to the control inputs (braking, acceleration, etc.). Don’t tire the tyres until the tyres tear themselves.

Like we recharge ourselves with jars of juices and tumblers of water, it is important to maintain the liquid levels of the vehicles too. Guess what? LUBRICATION. Since all the oils that are used in the systems tend to be volatile, it is significant to replace them by keeping track every now and then, particularly during high temperatures. Standard vehicle techniques say that it is better to replace oils after every 5,000 kilometers or 3 months (whichever comes first), and the oil filters after every 12,000 kilometers for cars, and the engine oil be changed after 3,000 kilometers for their two wheeler counterparts.

BATTERY is one significant part that always aids in the proper functioning of numerous accessories. Similar to the checking of the liquid levels in the battery of our UPS systems in houses, it becomes mandatory to follow the same in case of car batteries also. Yo6u don’t want your wiper or headlights to just not work when you need them badly. Make sure you take good care of your battery.

With the amount of pollution we are facing particularly in a densely-populated country like India, it becomes noteworthy to stress a bit on cleanliness. Oh man, the AIR FILTER! This part may get clogged particularly after long drives in highways due to the amount of dry dust that fills in the cavity of it. Make it a point to dust them out, or else you might feel the heat of it, quite literally!

One may get bored and stressed at the never-ending signals, particularly in the city. Throttling of your vehicle in the stationary condition would result in overheating of the engine. More than being vroomed, let the automobile be groomed.

Having discussed about the driven equipment, there are also certain prerequisites for the driver. HELMETS have become mandatory for a good reason, yet there are certain precautions to be followed while wearing one. Do ensure that the head gear has adequate free space between the nostrils, mouth cavity and forehead. Suffocation problems may arise due to congested helmets. Most importantly, it is primary to have an absorbent material as a covering inside the top most layer of the inner surface; this would ensure that the sweat and liquids get absorbed well, leaving you fresh (at least in the appearance perspective, though it needn’t be mentioned that drivers will be gasping after a long drive in this summer :P).

There are also other components like radiator, air conditioner and others that require diligent care and trustworthy maintenance. More than anything, remember that ‘Every action has an equal reaction’. One general piece of mind would be to opt for short travails during noons and to make use of the span between 6 PM and 9:30 PM for huge passages. As the summer gets grimmer, enjoy your rides by taking sides as per the environment. Beat the heat and drive safe!