Archive for May, 2012
Before you embark on that long distance road trip this weekend, make sure your car is safe to drive. Do a quick safety check.
7 things you can check yourself today
- Make sure you have sufficient fresh oil in the engine. The best way to do this is to pull out your oil dip stick, wipe it off with a clean cloth and re-insert it into the hole. Pull out the dip stick again and hold it horizontally. Look and see if the oil level falls between the low and high marks. Also look at the condition of the oil. Does it look clean – the color of honey. If the oil looks dark and dirty, get an oil/filter change.
- Check for leaks; fuel, oil, coolant leakage.
- Check the condition of engine drive belts and coolant hoses – look for cracks, tears, splits or a loose belt.
- Check the condition of the battery – make sure the battery’s terminals are free of corrosion. Watch out for parasitic drain. Parasitic drain will kill your battery – drain on the battery when the car is turned off from accessories like GPS etc.
- Inspect your tires carefully – the spare tire too – and replace tires that are worn out. Tread that is 2/32nd and below is considered worn out. Check your tire pressures, 38 psi to 40 psi is okay.
- Check all lights. Especially High beams, Low beams and Brake lights.
- Check to see if you have Reflective Warning Triangles in your trunk just incase your car breaks down. Also check to see if you have Volvo Road Side Service contact tel # 1.800.638.6586 or AAA if you have it, tel # 1.800.222.4357
Tip – The brakes, front wheel alignment, and steering gear should be checked by your Volvo Dealership only.
Volvo Replacement Light Bulbs:S60 Bulbs, S80 Bulbs, S40 Bulbs, C70 Bulbs, XC90 Bulbs, XC60 Bulbs, XC70 Bulbs, V70 Bulbs, 850 Bulbs
- Volvo High beam
- Volvo Low beam
- Volvo Bi-Xenon headlight (option)
- Volvo Front fog lights
- Volvo Rear fog lights
- Volvo Front parking lights, Volvo front/rear side marker lights, Volvo license plate light, rear foot-well lighting
- Volvo Front turn signals
- Volvo Side indicator turn signals
- Volvo Brake lights, backup lights
- Volvo Rear turn signals
- Volvo Rear parking lights
- Volvo Vanity mirror lighting
- Volvo Front foot-well lighting, cargo area lighting, Trunk lighting
- Volvo Glove compartment lighting
Some bulbs may be difficult for you to replace yourself. So, let an authorized Volvo retailer replace these bulbs for you please.
This is probably the most common service we do on a daily basis. simply call your Volvo Dealership or Volvo Service Center and ask what time to come in for the Volvo Express Bulb Change service. Express bulb change — service while you wait – takes between 30 and 45 minutes. So, please don’t ask for a loaner car. No person, in their right mind will give you a loaner car for bulb change.
In our Dealership the best time is between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. If you cannot make it this morning, then ask to come in at 1 p.m., right after our guys — Volvo Technicians — get back from a greasy lunch at MacDonald’s.
Now, you can change your burned out bulbs yourself, but I don’t recommend it because new model Volvo’s require you to remove the whole headlight assembly to get access to the bulbs — It’s a very tight squeeze in the engine compartment.
When you purchase new bulbs do not touch the glass on the halogen bulbs with your fingers. Your finger tips may have Grease, oil, and other impurities, which can be carbonized onto the bulb and cause damage to the reflector. Wear gloves or use a clean dry cloth to hold the bulb with.
Also, be sure to use bulbs of the correct type and voltage.
Don’t forget to Switch off the ignition before you attempt a bulb change.
Please don’t mess around with Bi-Xenon headlight lamps (An option when you buy a new Volvo). Bi-Xenon’s require high voltage to power the headlights; therefore, these bulbs should only be replaced by an authorized Volvo service technician.
Bi- Xenon headlight lamps produce high intensity light — exhibits a distinctive bright, white, heavenly light – as compared to Halogen lamps, which exhibit a more down to earth, kind of light.
Bi- Xenon headlight lamps are not only three times more brighter than regular Halogen lamps but also more expensive.
Bi-Xenon bulbs are so expensive, they will burn a hole in your wallet — $145-$215 for each bulb and you need two.
But on the brighter side they will last longer, 2000 hours of average service life as compared to 500-1000 hours for regular halogen lamps.
Bi-Xenon Ballast Flikering or Dimming problems: How to tell if you have a bad Ballast or a bad Bi -Xenon Bulb
Simply swap ballasts. If the opposite lamp does not work, then the ballast is faulty. However, if the ballast works then you can assume the bulb is faulty. A new ballast will cost you $500. And if you need two, one for each headlight lamp, that will run you $1000.
A failing bulb — dimming bulb — requires more and more voltage to produce an arc. The only problem here is that the ballast puts out only 12 volts. Thus, the bulb will eventually die out.
How a Bi-Xenon Bulb Works
Bi-Xenon headlight lamps — high-intensity discharge lamps or HID — require a ballast/igniter to produces that brilliant white light. Bi-Xenon head lamp is a metal-halide lamp, a lamp that produce intense white light when electricity is arced through a gaseous mixture of vaporized mercury and metal halides. Inside the metal-halide lamp, is a compact arc tube containing a high-pressure mixture of xenon, mercury, and metal halides. (Xenon is a rare inert gas present in the earth’s atmosphere in trace amounts)
Metal halide bulbs require electronic ballasts to limit the arc’s current. Electronic ballasts consist of an electronic oscillator which generates a high frequency current to drive the lamp. As a package, the Electronic ballast also includes the igniter circuit.
An underpowered metal-halide bulb — as a result of a lower operating temperature — will emit a bluish light because of the evaporation of mercury alone. This normaly happens at start up, when the optimum bulb temperature has not been reached — Xenon arc only happens during the start-up process.
The Hard Truths About Low Tire Pressure
When the Volvo low tire pressure light –Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) – is illuminated on your dashboard it means that one of your tires is dangerously low in pressure. So, you should call your local Volvo dealership and ask for express tire service. And have them check all your tires, for low pressure as well as tire failure. If the tire pressure in any one of the tires is at 18 psi or below, have it checked out because it may have already suffered irreparable damage.
The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is designed to monitor the tire pressure of tires mounted on your Volvo. The TPMS sensor — RFID Chip — signal’s the driver if a tire falls below a predetermined level. However, do not wait until the light comes on. Make it a habit to use a manual pressure gauge, at least once a month, to check your tires. Recommended tire pressure for Volvo is 38 Psi.
Tire damage will also activate the TPMS light; Impact damage from huge potholes
Impact damage is a result of tire hazards — Potholes, Curbs and Road Debris. Damage may not be visible to the naked eye because it could be internal. And a tire damaged by a sudden impact may fail today, tomorrow or even next week.
Symptoms of tire damage
- Air leaking out of cuts, cracks, penetrations. Symptoms of under-inflation
- Unusual tire wear.
- Bulge on tire sidewall.
- Vibrations or pulling to one side.
Make a visual inspection of your tires if you sense unusual vibration. See if there is air leaking out of the tire. A pressure check with a gauge will let you know right away and if you see a difference of at least 2 psi in one tire then you know that the tire has a problem. Next, look for a nail that may have penetrated the tire, or hissing air leak from a damaged valve — Valve leak –., it is also possible that your alloy rim is bent, resulting in air loss.
Repair all tires with the combination method – plug plus inside patch. Plug only repairs are not effective.
A tire should be removed from the rim and inspected prior to any repair. This will prevent more damage to the tire as a result of contaminants — moisture and other debris — entering the tire structure. When a tire is repaired without first inspecting the rim, it may fail suddenly at a later date and start to leak air.
Tread Wear Characteristics
Under-inflation – Causes thin tread wear along the edges. Too little air, and the tire will ride on it’s outer edges.
Over-inflation – Causes thin tread wear in the center of the tire. Put too much air and the tire will ride in the center, the point of contact with the surface of the road.
Out of balance – Causes patchy wear or flat spots on the tire. Also causes more vibrations in the tire.
Out of Alignment – Causes camber wear. Which means, increasingly more wear on inner or outer edges of the tire. Also causes the car to pull to one side, either to the left or to the right.
Tip – Never repair a tire with less than 2/32nds of an inch tread remaining. The tire is worn out, get rid of it, quick.
A tire with sidewall damage, such as a bulge should be replaced as soon as possible.
Volvo Tire Advantage:24 Months, Tire Road Hazard Protection Program
This Complimentary Program covers eligible tires – Volvo-Recommended Tires – for a term of 24 months from the date of purchase of tire/tires, or until 2/32″ or less of tread remains, which ever comes first.
Now, if your tire was damaged by road hazards — puncture, bruise, or break due to nails, glass and potholes etc — as a result of normal driving, the tire repair will be covered up to $20, beyond that ,you are responsible.
But if the tire cannot be repaired and you meet all the guidelines as stated below, you can get up to 100% replacement value — within 12 months of purchase – for the exact same tire, and up to 50% replacement value if damage occurs between 12 to 24 months after purchase. For example, if the tire cost $100 then you get $50.
The Volvo Tire Advantage program is only available to the original purchaser of the tire and is not transferable.
Last week, a lady got stranded, after her black 2010 XC90 with New York license plates struck a massive pothole in the Washington DC Area, at least that is what she claimed.
She had her car towed to a tire shop somewhere in Landover Maryland, but they did not carry the tire she needed for her Volvo. So, she got a friend to give her a ride to the nearest Volvo Service center, which happened to be our Dealership.
She informed us that she had the Volvo Tire Advantage –24 Month Road Hazard protection plan – because she had recently purchased four new tires from her local Volvo Dealer in New York.
The only problem was that she did not have her damaged tire with her. So, we arranged to have her Volvo XC90 towed to us, courtesy of Volvo Road Side service. And on further inspection of the car after it was towed in, we discovered that the strut was bent out-of-shape, like a pretzel — let’s just say that the tire was the least of her problems.
How to make a claim:you need to do the following three things
- Return the tire to your Volvo Dealership – where you bought the tire — and have the tire examined.
- If the Volvo Dealership determines that the tire cannot be repaired and is found to be eligible for coverage under this program, the followings terms below must be met.
- You must sign the repair order or replacement invoice and provide the dealership with the original invoice when you purchased the tire. The dealership will make copies of the original invoice and the repair / replacement order — the original invoice will be returned to you. The damaged tire must be surrendered to the dealership.
If the tire fails during the first 12 months of the 24 month period, and you meet the above guidelines, the Volvo Dealership where you bought the tire/tires will replace your tire with an exact make/model of tire, if available. 100% coverage.
After the first 12 months, if your tire fails, the coverage will be 50% of the original purchase price. So, if the tire cost you $200, then you get only $100 for the tire.
The program limits the coverage to no more than $399 per tire for the 100% coverage. You are responsible for any additional charges, including but not limited to, mounting, balancing, taxes and other expenses.
Volvo Tire Rotation: Is it Better To Rotate Your Tires or Not To Rotate?
Imagine for a moment, that William Shakespeare was alive, today. He would be driving a brand new horseless carriage — picture a luxurious, Blue, Volvo S80 Sedan.
So, one fine day, while driving to his office at the famous Globe Play House Theater, the service reminder light is illuminated on his vehicle’s dashboard.
He makes a quick call to the Hamlet Volvo Dealership and sets up a quick service appointment to have his first service done — 7,500 mile service.
From his glove box, he pulls out and glances down at his Volvo’s Owner’s manual to see what the 7,500 mile service entails. And to his amazement, while reading through the requirements of the Volvo 5 year Safe and Secure Plan, he reads that Tire rotation is not recommended by Volvo.
In his past life, way back in the good old days of 1589, he remembered diligently rotating the Horse Shoes on his Horse’s feet, to improve Horse mileage.
Wow!He thinks to himself, “how times have changed.”
Now, Jim the sales guy, did not tell the famous playwright – William Shakespeare — that when you buy a new Volvo, the tires are fitted to the vehicle, as original equipment.
Thus, tires are warranted separately by the tire manufacturer, not by Volvo. You will find your tire warranty booklet in the Owner’s wallet.
You will also discover that, the tire manufacturer will not warranty your mileage warranty without proof of proper regular rotation.
What this means is that, if your tire fails prematurely, you will be stuck up the creek without a paddle.
According to Volvo – Not Rotating Tires Improves The Braking Stability Performance of your Volvo
Volvo cars are designed with your safety in mind.
Most Volvo’s are front-wheel drive (FWD) cars and Volvo Engineers have designed the car with a bias for under-steer in the suspension.
Under-steer – happens when you turn the steering wheel to avoid crashing into an object, but the car feels like it’s fighting you — or does not want to turn as quickly as you want it to, but you still have control. This sense of control is due to the rear tires, tightly, gripping the road.
Over-steer is the opposite of under-steer. This is when you turn the steering wheel to avoid crashing into an object and the car feels like it turning more than you wanted. The rear end of the car starts to fish tail, overtaking you – the worst case scenario is when the car spins out of control. Say your prayers buddy.
What is happening here, is that the rear tires have lost traction. No tread equals no grip. The weight of the car has shifted forwards as you slam on the brakes. The front tires begin to burn rubber from frictional forces, and the back end of the vehicle start to skid sideways into a spin.
For front-wheel drive cars (FWD) like Volvo, the front tires wear out faster than the rear tires. This means that you will notice less tread on the front tires as compared to the rear tires as time goes by. The reason behind this is that when you apply brake force, the weight of the car shifts forwards due to inertia.
The outside force acting on the vehicle is deceleration due to friction. Friction generates heat, and heat melts off the rubber material on the surface of the tire, tread.
In physics, this can be explained by Newton Law’s of motion: An object in motion stays in motion and will not change its velocity unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. The unbalanced force here is deceleration.
So, when you have more tread on the rear tires it creates a state of under-steer when you apply a braking force. Under-steer, is therefore easier for the average driver to cope with than over-steer.
“better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”
Volvo believes that numerous technical, performance, and handling benefits outweigh any perceived benefit of tire rotation
Not Rotating Tires Improves Driving Performance
Volvo designers are of the opinion that when you don’t rotate tires, the tires can set and fully adapt to their relative positions. And those positions will provide a better steering or handling, lower tire noise, and improve fuel economy.
Not Rotating Tires Helps Diagnose Suspension Wear
A tire’s tread wear pattern can help in detecting and diagnosing a suspension problem. Bent or a worn out suspension component leaves a tell tale pattern — Diagonal Scalloped Tread wear pattern.
So, each tire, left alone, will tell you a story about it’s life and also about the suspension issues that need to be corrected. Tire rotation, on the other hand, can hide a developing problem.
Benefit of Tire Rotation
On a front-wheel drive (FWD) car, without tire rotation, you will have to replace the front tires sooner than later– every 25,000 miles. Two new tires will go to the rear, and the older rear tires are rotated to the front. Thus, maintaining a bias for Under-steer.
When you rotate your tires, you ensure that the life of the tires — 45,000 miles — will be achieved. This is because the front and rear tires will wear out evenly. But you risk increasing the probability of over-steer, and thus risk your safety.
In my opinion, the primary benefit of tire rotation is tire warranty coverage by the Tire Manufacturer, if you can meet the stringent requirements. Get tire insurance — Volvo Tire Advantage — a 24 month tire road hazard insurance. I will write a post about it soon.
As a customer, you have the choice not to rotate your tires as Volvo says and buy two new front tires every 25,000 miles …or rotate your tires, and buy 4 new tires every 45,000 miles.
I used to rotate my tires, I thought it was car smart, even die hard Mechanics swear by it. But now, I have changed my mind. I will let my tires tell me a story, maybe I can even write a play, titled – Volvo Shakespeare. What do you think?