A car that refuses to start can have any number of things wrong with it, but by far the most common is a dead battery. Rather than paying a tow truck to bring it in to the shop here at Cars for Keeps, there are a few simple ways to diagnose whether your battery is dead or something more serious is amiss.
Here are a few simple ways to check if it’s time to get a new battery or some professional help from a mechanic.
Try turning the headlights on. If you turn the ignition key and hear a “click”, but the engine doesn’t roll over, this is a good indicator that there’s not enough juice to turn the engine. A good way to double-check this is to try the electrical system by turning on your headlights and attempting to honk the horn. If they don’t work, it’s a likely bet your engine is dead. If your lights work but the engine might roll over, there may be a problem with your carburetor or fuel injector, and it’s time to bring it in to Cars for Keeps for some car battery repair.
Check for dirty or faulty battery connections. Put on some non-conductive (latex) gloves, pop the hood and check the cable connections to your battery. If you’re not at all mechanically inclined, simply look for the two large lead terminals protruding from a box, with cables leading out from the terminals. Wiggle the clamps to see if their loose, then reaffix them securely to the terminals. Clean excessive dirt from the lead terminals if they’re dirty, then try starting the car again. If it still doesn’t start, it’s probably time to visit Cars for Keeps for some car battery maintenance.
Try jumpstarting the battery. Just like in Princess Bride, car batteries have different levels of “deadness”. A car battery that’s mostly dead will start when jumpstarted. If the car does jumpstart, you’ll want to make sure the engine is turned on long enough for the car to recharge. If it doesn’t restart, the car battery is likely all dead – or something more serious is wrong. Rather than looking through its pockets for loose change, give us a call.
Faulty alternators, fuel injectors and carburetors can often mimic a dead car battery, so if your vehicle has reoccuring start problems or none of the above tests work, it’s a good idea to have a professional mechanic take a look under the hood. Catching these types of problems before they blossom into a full breakdown can save on hefty repair costs.
Hunting season is fast approaching, and that means it is time to at least start THINKING about winterizing your vehicle. Have you ever jumped inside your car to head to work in the morning to find your car will not start? It’s happened to the best of us, but there are a few simple things you can do to help prevent this scenario from happening to you this winter.
Something to keep in mind is that our car’s battery loses about a third of its starting power when the temps dip down into the 30’s. In addition, our driving habits in the winter make it less likely the alternator will be able to fully recharge our car battery as we drive. For example, we tend to drive less often and we drive shorter distances in the winter, we constantly run the defrost and we are using our headlights more than in the warmer months – all putting a larger load on the alternator.
So what can you do?
1) Take a Peek Under the Hood: Have your battery checked before winter hits to make sure your terminals are tight and your battery is not corroded. (Stop in at Cars For Keeps & We’ll do it FREE!)
2) Turn “Stuff” Off: Turn off your blowers and accessories when you turn off your car so there isn’t as large of a load on your battery when you go to start your vehicle again. Turn your headlights on after you start your vehicle, NOT before.
3) Park Inside: Park your vehicle in a garage if you have one. This will help keep the battery somewhat warmer.
4) Pay Attention to Your Headlights: Do they dim and brighten on occasion? If so, stop by Cars4Keeps and one of our technicians can test your alternator for you.
5) Listen to Your Vehicle Start: Do you notice your car is having trouble turning over (starting), but once it is running everything seems normal? This may indicate that your battery has a low charge, weak connection or strater getting ready to leave you walking.
The last thing any of us need this winter is to be stranded somewhere with flakes swirling around us and a car that refuses to start. Be proactive and take winterizing your vehicle seriously this year. While there is more to it than batteries and alternators, a quick stop into Cars4Keeps is all you need to get your car in top winter condition.
Knowing When To Change A Timing Belt
Changing a timing belt on your vehicle can be a very time consuming. This is due to the fact that there are a lot of components under your hood that must be removed before you can even get to your vehicle’s timing belt. This is why it is best to change a timing belt at the same time that you are planning on doing other repairs and maintenance practices to your vehicle such as putting on a replacement water pump or changing belts like the serpentine, air conditioner or water pump belt.
Timing belts tend to begin breaking down at around 60,000 miles. You will notice the power to your vehicle begin to slow down, the fuel efficiency of your vehicle can be affected as well as your vehicle showing signs of working harder.
How To Change A Timing Belt or Timing Chain
Different vehicles have different patterns for changing a timing belt or timing chain. The best thing to do when you want to change the timing belt is to look over your owner’s manual that is specific for your make and model vehicle. You can also purchase an automobile repair manual that is designed specifically for the needs of your automobile at any automotive repair shop in your local area.
The basics to changing a timing belt on the vehicle however are pretty much uniform. The steps to do this are as follows:
Step 1. Before you can replace the timing belt on any vehicle it is a good idea to let the vehicle sit overnight so that the engine is completely cool and there is a reduced chance of experiencing serious burns from the engine.
Step 2. As it is with most vehicle repairs you must first disconnect any power supply to the vehicle. This means that the battery cables must be removed from the battery terminal and tied back so that there is no risk of them touching the posts or other parts of the vehicle while working.
Step 3. Place blocks in front and behind the wheels of your vehicle so that there is not chance of the vehicle rolling and accidentally causing injuries to you or others who may be around.
You will now need to remove any obstructions that may be in the way of getting to your timing belt. This includes:
Step 4. Make sure that the air intake assembly to your vehicle is completely removed.
Step 5. Locate the pulley that powers the supply to your water pump if this is in the way on your vehicle. You will need to loosen the bolt holding this pulley in place.
Step 6. For some vehicles it may be necessary to do the same for other equipment such as the power steering pump. This will require you to loosen the bolt and remove the belt that is around the pulley. You can then unbolt the power steering pump and move it out of your way.
Step 7. Line up the mark on your crankshaft pulley to the O that is on the timing scale with a large wrench. You can find the timing scale molded on your vehicle engine block.
Step 8. Using the right sized socket you will have to removed the bolts that are holding the timing belt cover on. When you have the bolts removed you can then pull off the timing belt cover.
Step 9. Inspect the timing belt tensioned bearings for any looseness or noise. If these problems exist you will need to replace the timing belt tensioned bearings as well.
Step 10. Locate your camshaft and check to makes sure there are no leaks in the crankshaft or camshaft seals. If you do notice leaking this could be an early sign that there will be premature failure for your new timing belt. It is best to replace these seals now instead of waiting for bigger problems and the chance of having to do all of this work again.
Step 11. For most vehicle makes and models you should now be able to locate the timing belt. Make sure that all timing marks on your belt are properly lined up. Loosen the timing belt tensioned and you will then be able to remove the timing belt very easily. Make sure that the camshaft and crankshaft for your vehicle’s engine are secured and that they do not move while your timing belt is off of your vehicle.
Step 12. Place your new timing belt on the same way that you removed it. Make any tension adjustments to the timing belt as necessary. Inspect the new belt to make sure that it is fitting over the teeth for the timing sprockets correctly. Makes sure that you do not over tighten the belt.
Step 13. When replacing the timing belt cover install a new gasket to seal the cover correctly. Do not use an old gasket as this will not seal properly.
Step 14. If you had to remove any pumps at the beginning of this project you will now have to hook them back up again. This includes the water pump, power steering pump as well as any other accessories that may have gotten in the way at the beginning of this project.
Step 15. Visually inspect all timing marks to make sure that they are still aligned correctly.
Step 16. Reinstall your vehicle’s air intake assembly that was removed in the beginning.
Step 17. Reconnect your vehicle’s battery. Make sure that there is no corrosion around the posts or the battery cables while you are at this step.
Step 18. Turn on your vehicle and look for any problem areas such as leaks that there may be prior to driving your vehicle. Do not hesitate or postpone any repairs that may be needed.
What you will need:
1. Combination Wrenches
2. A Socket Set
3. Torque Wrench
3. A Harmonic Balancer Puller
5. A Three-jaw Gear Puller
7. Hammer and Punch
8. Gasket Scraper
9. Timing Light
10. Tube of Silicone Sealer
11. Timing Chain Cover Gasket Set
12. New Timing Chain and Gears
13. Drain Pan
16. Jack stands
Before You Start:
Follow these instructions carefully. Read and be sure you understand them before you begin.
Gather together all of your tools and supplies before you begin.
Allow plenty of time to do the job so you don’t have to hurry.
Remember that these are general instructions. For more detailed instructions pertaining to your specific vehicle, consult an appropriate repair manual.
Safety is important whenever you’re working around machinery. Beware of hot objects, sharp instruments and hazardous materials.
Don’t substitute tools unless you’re sure you won’t compromise either your safety or the performance of your vehicle.
Never work on a vehicle that is only supported by a jack. Use jack stands to support the vehicle while you work. Work on a solid, level surface. Never jack a car up on dirt or grass.
Why Replace Your Timing Chain?
Over time, wear on internal working parts of your engine will spell the need for replacement. One of the internal working parts that wear is the timing chain and timing sprockets. The timing chain and sprockets are the connecting line between the crankshaft and the camshaft. As the crankshaft turns, via the timing chain, it drives the camshaft that operates the engine’s valves via the lifters, push rods and rocker arm assemblies The timing of the valves opening and closing at precise intervals is crucial for proper engine operation. As the timing chain and sprockets wear, this precise timing of the valves gradually changes, eventually to a point where replacement is necessary.
Telltale signs of worn out timing chains are:
Sluggish performance and poor economy.
Sudden engine performance change including the inability to start the engine.
Intermittent backfire through the intake manifold.
Inconsistent ignition timing or a clattering noise coming from the front of the engine.
Before starting the disassembly procedures, I would suggest cleaning the engine with an engine degreaser. A clean engine is easier to work on and helps prevent dirt or contamination from entering the engine during disassembly.