Archive for May, 2011
Engine oil cools down the engine by: reducing excess heat due to friction, and slowing down normal wear and tear. And as a result extending the life of your vehicle. A well maintained vehicle will last you at least 20 years.
So, how does the lubrication system provide a steady stream of pressurized oily goodness to moving parts of the engine.
Major Components of the Lubrication system:
- Oil pan
- Oil Strainer
- Oil Pump
- Oil Seals
- Dip Stick
- Oil Pressure Indicator
- Sealing Materials
Oil in Motion (Oil Circulation)
Oil starts it’s journey down below, at the bottom of the engine, some may call it the oil sump and other’s call it the oil pan, same thing.
So, while the oil is relaxing in the oil pan early in the morning, you get into your vehicle and crank the engine.
That is the most torturous moment for the engine because most of the oil is till way down, at the bottom of the engine, in the oil sump. Therefore, most engine wear and tear occurs at this crucial moment, when there is no oil in circulation.
The reason being that most people have regular mineral oil in their car, which is thicker or has a high viscosity at lower temperatures. Skinny oils (synthetic oil or synthetic blends) can quickly circulate but not thick viscous oils.
Now, the oil is quickly sucked upwards by the oil pump, it flows through the strainer in order to filter out those pesky little metal particles due to normal wear and tear.
From the strainer, oil flows directly to the oil filter, filtering out the tiny particles of dirt and metal shavings that escaped the strainer. This is why you have to change your oil filter every 3500 miles before it gets clogged up.
Through the oil filter and on towards the main gallery, the oil flows into the cylinder block and into tiny passages leading to the camshaft(s), pistons, crankshaft, and other moving parts of the engine. This lubrication action will prevent wear and tear in the crankshaft bearings, which hold the crankshaft in place as it rotates. Worn out bearing are likely to lead to low oil pressure.
Critical engine parts like bearings and pistons are in the direct path of oil through oil holes and oil jets. Oil is splashed onto the piston cylinders and then cleaned off by the piston oil rings to prevent oil and combustion gases coming together, otherwise known as blow-by.
Piston rings act as a seal between the cylinder walls and pistons, but if combustion gases blow-by, this is a recipe for oil contamination.
Effects of Blow-by
- Decrease in horsepower because the compression stroke is compromised by hot escaping air fuel mixture.
- Blow-by ‘blows’ lubrication right off the cylinder walls causing high wear and tear.
- Oil contamination. Oil dripping back into the oil sump or oil pan is compromised and cannot do its job.
As the oil lubricates the surfaces of moving parts it drips down into the oil pan and at this point the oil is really hot and has to be cooled down by an oil cooler. Once again the oil is drawn up to repeat the cycle.
The only way you can confidently purchase that used Volvo is to get a Pre-Purchase vehicle inspection, preferably from an independent or a dealership technician.
So, before you buy a used car, make sure you;
- Examine the exterior of the car for dents, uneven surfaces, discolorations or signs of body damage.
- Test drive the car– up hill, down hill, in traffic, on the highway and don’t forget to put it in reverse (I made that mistake).
- Ask the previous owner for maintenance records. The dealership will only release service records to the owner in their records.
- Have an independent service technician inspect the car.
Once upon a time, I purchased a used vehicle and it was everything I wanted: black, sporty, manual transmission, power windows, sun-roof and all the maintenance records. I made sure the car’s timing belt had been replaced, I took the car for a test drive and it drove like a charm. I negotiated the price down a few hundreds dollars and cinched the deal, YES! I felt very please with myself.
Later that day after taking the car home, I put the car in reverse gear so that I could gently back it up into my parking spot. And then– I heard this ugly grinding sound coming from the gearbox (manual transmission). I slapped myself on the head and exclaimed to myself, “You Idiot! @%&#*”.
Secondly, if you are purchasing the vehicle from an individual, please make sure you can pass your state inspection in order to register the vehicle. An individual seller has the right to sell the vehicle ‘as is’, however, a dealership cannot, and so the used vehicles in their inventory will already be pre-inspected.
Maryland (MD) State Inpection examines the condition of the following systems to determine if your car will pass or fail:
- Steering Wheel (steering column, linkages–tie rods, rack &pinion, steering box and power steering).
- Wheel Alignment (front & rear)
- Suspension (ball joints, struts, wheel bearings, springs, torsion bars, stabilizers, control arm and shocks)
- Brakes (hydraulic system, master cylinder, wheel cylinder, Disc, booster system, parking brake)
- Condition of wheels and tires.
- Fuel system (tank, gas cap, tubing, accelerator)
- Exhaust System (muffler, any piping, & manifold)
- All exterior and Lights
- Electrical system( horn, switches & battery)
- Mirrors (interior & exterior)
- Windshield damage
- Wipers (arms, park position, & controls)
- Inspect all door handles and locks to make sure doors and trunk open, close and lock properly
- Floor/Trunk pans
- Driver Seat (mounting & operation)
- Safety Belts (front & rear)
- Motor Mounts
- Gear Shift Indicator
- Universal & CV joints
- Emissions (catalytic converter, fuel filter, positive crankcase, air injection, gas recirculation & evaporative emissions)
Finally, have an independent technician do an on-ground and above ground inspection.
- Inspect lights;headlights (Low and High beam), Taillights, Hazard & Turn signals
- Physical inspection of shocks, struts, & springs
- Inspect wiper arms and linkages ( you can replace wiper blades or inserts as needed)
- Inspect for upper Engine Oil Leaks
- Inspect ignition system
- Inspect condition of drive/serpentine belts
- Check for history of Timing Belt Replacement (look for a small sticker with the date and mileage for last belt replacement)
- Inspect cooling system
- Inspect brake fluid condition
- Inspect power steering fluid condition
- Inspect Transmission fluid condition/level (should be bright red and free of contaminates)
- Inspect induction system
- Inspect breather box (PVC System)
- Inspect condition of batteries
Above-Ground inspection of undercarriage (Reveals hidden problems with the body, frame or engine)
- Visually inspect condition of Wheel Bearings and Tie Rods
- Visually inspect overall Suspension (Shocks, Struts & Springs)
- Inspect condition of CV Boots, Drive shafts, Axles & U-Joints
- Inspect condition of P/S Rack, Pump & Lines
- Inspect for fluid leaks
- Visually inspect Exhaust System
- Inspect condition of tires (uneven tread wear on tires means the alignment is off)
- Inspect the condition of Brake pads, Shoes, Disk, Hoses, Lines & Calipers.
- Inspect the Anti Lock Brakes (ABS) and overall Braking System.
- If necessary, get a diagnostic check up just to be certain that there are no underlying emission problems.
In most cases a thorough inspection can cost you about $100 – $120, but you will get your money’s worth and a good night’s sleep.
My cousin called me on my cell phone a few days ago to let me know that the timing belt on his Volkswagen broke and that he was looking at $2000 in repairs. I told him that he was lucky, because if he was driving a Volvo, he would be looking at about $4500 in repairs, basically a new engine.
The reason his car’s timing belt failed at 140,000 miles was because he went far too long between services.
When your timing belt fails in an interference engine, the camshaft stops rotating immediately, but the crankshaft continues to spin due to the force of inertia. And as a result, the valves can be caught frozen in the open position. The moving pistons will violently collide with the valves, bending them out of shape, causing catastrophic engine failure.
At the worst, a hole may be punctured into one of the pistons: permanently damaging the piston, breaking or bending the valves and destroying the cylinder head.
At the Volvo service center, we change your vehicle’s timing belt according to the service schedule laid out in your owners manual. For example, some Volvo Model’s require changing the timing belt at 105,000 miles or 10 years and others at 120,000 miles.
What is a Timing Belt?
A timing belt is a reinforced grooved rubber belt that drives one or two camshaft(s) in an internal-combustion engine. A four-stroke engine requires a timing system to coordinate the intake of the air and fuel mixture and the expulsion of exhaust combustion gases with the up and down motion of the pistons.
This is achieved by synchronizing the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft(s).
For every two rotations of the crankshaft during the combustion cycle, the camshaft(s) makes one rotation. Thus the gear ratio is 2:1.
Benefits of Timing Belts as compared to Timing chains and Gears;
- Rubber composite belts are lighter and quieter in their operation.
- Rubber composite belts are less expensive and more efficient than chains and gears.
- Timing belts do not require lubrication, which is essential with a timing chain or gears.
Causes leading to premature failure of your Timing Belt;
- High engine temperatures (overheating) in older vehicles, late model cars have heat-resistant belts.
- Hot and dry climate conditions can causes cracks to form on the belt.
- Engine oil leaks can cause the Timing Belt to fail.
Symptoms of a bad Timing belt
A perfectly timed engine runs smoothly.
But when the timing is off: the engine will start to vibrate so much that it causes the entire car to shake, your car starts belching more exhaust than usual, you hear strange noises coming from the car’s engine and you experience difficulty in starting the car. And when that Timing Belt snaps in half, the vehicle will come to a dead stop, leaving you stranded in the middle of the highway.
Interference vs Non-interference engine damage
The amount of damage is determined by the type of engine.
The difference between interference and non-interference engines is the clearance between the pistons and valves needed to prevent damaging impact.
An interference engine does not allow for enough clearance between the valves and pistons; hence, the engine will be severely damaged.
Interference engines will experience catastrophic damage during a timing belt failure due to the pistons impacting valves in the open position. While non-interference engines will not be as severely impacted, because the pistons will not crash into the valves, but still costly to repair.
Volvo Engine Valve Train
Volvo engines are belt driven interference engines and these type of engines use the double over head configuration also know as DOHC. This means that there are two camshafts driven by the crankshaft. The camshafts located in the cylinder head, control the opening and closing sequence of valves in each piston cylinder. For every combustion cycle, there are four valves opening and closing in each piston cylinder for the double overhead camshaft configuration (DOHC).
Benefits of the double overhead camshaft configuration (DOHC)
- Fewer parts in the valve train.
- More precise and accurate – up and down valve motion.
- Reduces frictional losses due to heat.
In order to save our customers money, whenever we replace the engine Timing Belt we also replace the water pump, belt-tensioner, tensioner pulleys, idler pulley, oil pump seal and camshaft seals. This is because all these parts require just as much labor to replace later due to their proximity to the Timing belt. So, you might as well save on labor costs and replace these parts now.
Observe your scheduled maintenance intervals and you will not suffer a broken or snapped Timing Belt.
Before you purchase a used high mileage vehicle; save yourself some grief by finding out if the Timing Belt has been replaced.
Oil is the life blood of your vehicles engine: oil lubricates moving parts, oil cleans out your engine by suspending carbon particles and contaminants, and oil cools down your engine.
How do you determine when to get an oil change? there are three ways you can go about this;
- Mileage (every 3000 miles or 5000 km)
- Using an oil dipstick and observing if the oil looks dirty (dark color)
- Sending a quart of engine oil to an oil analysis laboratory
The reason why we change oil at regular intervals is because the additives which gives oil it’s cleaning properties will get exhausted after a period of time depending on driving conditions.
For example, at our Volvo Service Center we encourage our customers to get an oil change every 3500 miles because of the driving conditions in the Washington DC Area.
These conditions are:
- Traffic jams
- Stop and go traffic with extensive idling
- Cold winters (10 degrees fahrenheit)
- Hot and humid summers (90 degrees fahrenheit)
- Driving short distances (5 to 10 miles)
- Towing trailers
So, most of our Volvo customers fall under the ‘severe’ driving category; therefore, require an oil change at regular intervals of 3500 miles. However, if you do not fall under the ‘severe’ category, then 7500 mile service intervals are recommended. But always check your car manual for recommended service intervals and what oil grades to use (We use 5W30 Castrol Syntec Blend oil).
Dirty oil or ”suspended carbon particles” in the oil causes oil to turn dark in color over time. This means that oil is acting as a solvent by utilizing oil additives to clean out the engine. Oil over time also becomes contaminated with coolant, fuel and water moisture. So, when your oil turns dirty you know it’s time to clean out that mess or face huge repairs in the future.
This used to be the most expensive and time consuming method of determining oil quality by means of lab testing. Similar to a blood test, you mail a quart of dirty oil to a lab and they do a chemical analysis test to tell you precisely how dirty the oil is. Unless you own a fleet of vehicles; this does not make any financial sense.
Now, Lubricheck is a inexpensive device the size of a credit card that acts like an oil analysis lab.
Simply place a few drops of dirty oil in the device’s sensor cup and it measures the capacitive and resistive properties of the oil sample. Lubricheck will determine the oil’s acidity, metal particle content, carbon particle content, and the total contaminants present (coolant and water). However, this analysis does not account for fuel contaminants (sulfur content).
According to the manufacturers ofLubricheck, an LED display will then let you know whether it is time to change the engine oil. Here, I am assuming that a green LED light is good, yellow LED light is caution and red LED light is GET AN OIL CHANGE NOW!
Advantages of Lubricheck
- Accurately measures quality of oil in service
- Shows total contamination of lubricant (does not show level of gasoline contaminants)
- Allows you to safely judge how long the oil can stay in service
- Determines safe and cost effective oil and filter change intervals
- Enables you to safely extend oil change intervals
Let me know what your thoughts are on this topic.
The question is, how do you determine when to drain your oil? do you go by mileage, how dark the oil looks or use an expensive chemical analysis lab test.
Lubricheck is a credit card size oil quality analyzer that analyzes the capacitive and resistive properties of engine oil samples, to determine if an oil change is needed.
Lubricheck can help you determine when to get your oil changed by analysing important oil quality factors such as ;
- Metal particles
- Carbon Particles
- Oil Contaminants (coolant and water moisture)
The key advantage of Lubricheck is that you can go longer between oil drains by getting an accurate assessment on the quality of your vehicles engine oil. Therefore, Lubricheck can save you money by enabling you to safely go longer between oil changes.
EVERY 33 SECONDS, A CAR IS STOLEN IN THE UNITED STATES
Business is booming for car thieves.
In a down economy, more people are keeping their old cars running longer than in previous years; hence, driving up the demand for repairs and parts. Old cars are easier to steal for parts because they may not have the best anti-theft systems.
Two Layer Security
It is difficult to steal modern cars equipped with complex two layer security, but not entirely imposible. Computer hackers may try to beat the transponder security features with sophisticated programs to hack into your cars computer. But they also have to get around the physical protection:ignition lock, steering column locking mechanism, gear selector lock, and protected ignition switch.
However, it takes 20 minutes or more to hack into a keyless system and the hacker has to be in a secluded area and in close proximity to the vehicle.
I was recently amused by an article that described a low tech means of masking your transponder key signal, so that a hacker would be unable to intercept the signal with a reader equipped, laptop computer. Simply, wrap your car keys in aluminun foil to mask the radio signature of the chip and pray that it works.
Pull out your car keys, and examine your ignition key closely, notice that it consists of a metal blade and a hard plastic or rubber casing. Inside that hard casing is a transponder chip, better known as RFID chip. RFID is a two way Anti-Theft Security that prevents thieves from stealing your car. Transponders in your car keys provide electronic security.
Take a closer look at the metal blade, notice how the theeth are cut, if the teeth look jagged like a sharks teeth, then any locksmith can cut this car key because it’s not laser cut.
Volvo car keys on the other hand are laser cut, only the dealership can cut those. Laser keys have a smooth cut, both on the edge as well as on the sides. The laser cuts on the sides of the Volvo car key have a fancy design that can only be done by a high tech laser cutting machine. Laser cut car keys provide an extra barrier of physical security that thiefs have to beat.
Now, a car key that has been cut can both open the car doors and turn in the ignition, but will not start your car. This is because the car key has not been programmed to your car. The vehicles computer does not recognise that car key.
What is a Transponder – Electronic Security
A transponder is a two-way (sending and receiving) electronic security device. Examples of a transponder are: Wireless car remotes, wireless garage door openers, and chipped keys.
Transponder Keys, also known as Chip Keys and Ignition keys
This type of car key reduces the chance of theft and increases the difficulty of getting a duplicate set of keys.
How a Transponder Key Works
Whatever you wish to call it, ignition key, transponder key or chip key; this is a key equipped with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID Chip).
The transponder chip is embedded within the head of the ignition key, allowing the driver to carry a vital component of the car security system with him or her.
When activated, the transponder or radio transmitter/ receiver sends a coded signal to your engine. If the code is correct your car will start. But if the code is wrong your car will not start.
The secret code is a random set of numbers and letters transmitted to a transceiver (transmitter-receiver), a reader within the ignition module.
The ignition module comprises of a ring antenna, around the outer ignition lock where the car key slides in or mates with the ignition lock.
When the ignition key is mated with the ignition lock and rotated, the vehicle electronics and systems are activated. This action completes a circuit and a signal is sent: first to the transceiver, then to the ring antenna, and finally to the transponder, embedded in the head of the key.
The ring antenna, acts like an induction coil or electromagnet around the transponder car key. The ensuing electromagnetic field around the transponder key energizes the transponder – chip key.
The excited transponder sends a return signal back to the ring antenna, completing the circuit and your car starts right away.
What you see here is a two way radio frequency communication between the ignition key and steering column.
- First, the ignition computer asks the transponder key to identify itself.
- Secondly, the transponder chip replies by sending out the correct code and the reader (transceiver) checks it’s memory for a match.
- Finally, if the code is a match made in car heaven, the marriage will be consummated and the car will start.
The transponder system provides a sophisticated electronic anti-theft deterrent, and only a highly skilled professional thief (hacker) with programming knowledge and tools has any hope of beating the system. By any chance, if the hacker is succesful it will take far too long to be worth his time to hack into the system.
USE COMMON SENSE WHEN PARKING AND EXITING YOUR VEHICLE
CAR KEY TIP
Ladies, have your car keys on-hand when walking into an isolated parking spot at night, press the panic button if you have reason to fear for your life or to prevent a sex crime from happening.
Your car keys are a security system that you have on hand and that can be deployed at short notice by pressing the panic button. keep your car keys beside your bed at night, just incase you hear a noise outside, like someone trying to break into your house or if you see some suspicious activity outside. The loud car alarm will scare off a burglar.
Top ten reported stolen vehicles from NHTSA’s 2008 theft rate data compilation:
- Dodge Magnum
- Pontiac Grand Prix
- Mitsubishi Galant
- Chrysler 300
- Chrysler Sebring
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Chrysler PT Cruise
- Hyundai Sonata
- Hyundai Azera
- Dodge Charger
Top ten U.S. States with the most stolen vehicles are:
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
Top ten most popular parts or items left in vehicles are:
- Wheel covers
- Air bags
- GPS units
If you are traveling or have no spare key you will have to be towed to the nearest dealership and wait several days for a blank key to be ordered and programmed for you. Most important, your wallet will be $500 lighter at the end of the ordeal.
Volvo’s like most modern cars uses special Anti-Theft keys known as transponder keys or chip keys, your car most likely has one too.
New Volvo ignition keys costs between $180 – $200 and a flip Volvo car key about $380 . A Volvo Key fob, clicker or car remote costs about $280 and requires seperate programming for both the remote and the key.
In addition, you have to factor in the cost of having your car towed to the dealership if you have no spare car key. In total, you are looking at spending about $400 to replace your lost car key and another $100 to have your car towed to the dealership.
The price includes parts, labor and programming:
A blank key is laser cut to specification by a high tech laser key cutting machine; the car key is then programmed to the car through VIDA (Volvo Diagnostic computer);programming enables the car key and the car to talk to each other through a code (special sequence of numbers and letters).
The Volvo ignition module allows a total of five to six keys to be programmed to your car.
How to order a new car key
- Call the dealership and set up an appointment for a replacement car key.
- Parts department will cut you a new car key if you have a spare key by using the vehicle identification number or VIN number to reproduce a new key. If you have no spare key, have your car towed to the dealership.
- A blank car key has to be ordered if you don’t have a spare car key and this takes two to three business days.
- The new key is cut and programmed to your car. This costs about one labor hour.
- Alternatively, a locksmith may cut you a new key but only a Volvo Dealership can program the key for you.
- Test your new key, make sure it works.