AUTOELECTRICS MOBILE PRODUCT SERVICES
Shropshire UK ..Telford (01952) 247007

Winter Motoring

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Motoring tips are provided courtesy of www.autoelectrics.net

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Keeping your vehicle serviceable

Preventative Maintenance:

A few simple checks will help to keep your vehicle on the road:

Antifreeze:
Antifreeze prevents the water in the vehicles engine cooling system from freezing. If the coolant freezes it normally does expensive engine damage. Expansion of ice formed when coolant freezes at low temperature can cause metal components to crack or engine core plugs to be displaced causing coolant leakage. The first indication of frozen coolant can be a high pitched squealing noise caused by the water pump drive belt slipping as it cannot rotate the pump, however if you are really unlucky your vehicle water pump may be driven by the cam timing belt, which usually means belt failure occurs causing serious engine damage.

Antifreeze should be a minimum of 25% mix with water. Most manufacturers recommend a 50% ratio of antifreeze to water.

Renewal of Ethylene Glycol based antifreeze is recommended every two years. Some manufacturers use long life antifreeze. The antifreeze specific gravity should be checked as part of routine servicing.

Battery:
Most vehicle batteries have a maximum life of around five years. Winter motoring places higher electrical loads on the vehicle battery and charging system due to lighting and heating.

Ensure the battery terminals  are clean and tight, and the battery is fitted securely. Lead acid Battery electrolyte level should be checked regularly and should just cover the plates. If you need to boost start your vehicle from another vehicle always use surge protected jump leads or a voltage surge protection device to reduce the possibility of damage to electronic components.

For more information about vehicle batteries click this link

Lights:
Ensure all lights are in an operational condition so you can see and be seen. Check the lenses are clean and lamps are secure.The correct rating of bulb should be fitted to each lamp, also reflectors and lenses should be in good condition. Specifications for vehicle lighting can be found
in "The Road Vehicles Lighting and Marking Regulations" (1989 plus later amendments )published at www.opsi.gov.uk

Link to the Road Vehicles Lighting & Markng Regulations (1989)

Vehicles may be fitted with extra driving lamps or fog lamps to increase visibility. Work lamps and interior lighting may be fitted to improve visibility around commercial vehicles.

Vision:
View to front and rear will be affected by the condition and operation of windscreen washers, wipers and demister.
Wipers should operate without smearing the windscreen.
Check the condition of wiper blades. A screen wash additive
used in the windscreen washer bottle will help prevent washer fluid freezing and enable more efficient windscreen cleaning. Avoid using washing up liquid as this often coagulates with screen wash additives and blocks washer jets.
If the windscreen is frozen over avoid switching on the wipers until defrosted as this may cause the wiper circuit to be overloaded and blow its fuse.
Check the heater motor operates and will demist the windscreen.  If your vehicle is fitted with air conditioning , this can help to demist screens quicker by dehumidifying .
 

Tyres:
Wet roads demand better displacement of water by vehicle tyres. A minimum of 2mm tread depth is essential and preferably 3mm. (legal limit in the UK is 1.6mm tread depth
on cars). Check the tyres for tread depth, condition, and tyre pressure .

Cold Starting of the Vehicle Engine:

Starting your car on a cold frosty morning is made easier by fuel mixture enrichment. On older petrol engined vehicles this was done by use of the carburettor choke device , however on modern fuel injection engines , cold start mixture enrichment is supplied by increasing the opening duration (pulsewidth) of the fuel injectors and advance of ignition timing. The engine temperature will be sensed by processing values from the Intake Air temperature sensor and Coolant temperature sensor. This information will be processed by the engine control computer and appropriate signalling provided to fuel injectors, ignition etc. We operate a full range of diagnostic equipment with latest software updates to check function of engine management controls during the repair process.

Diesel vehicles often use a preheat glow plug system in addition to fuel mixture enrichment (excess fuel device)

Charging system failure:
Increased electrical loads during winter can place bigger demand on the vehicle battery and charging system. The condition and security of the alternator , drive belt , battery and wiring is essential to the efficient operation of the charging system.

For more information on the vehicle's charging system clicking on this link will take you to the alternator page.

Camshaft timing belt failure :
One of the most likely times for a suspect cam belt to fail is during cold starting on a winter morning when internal friction of engine components is increased.
Make sure the engine on your vehicle has had its cam belt replaced according to the manufacturers service schedule.

Engine oil :
Engine oil viscosity refers to how thick or thin the oil is and its resistance to flow affecting shear strength and lubrication properties.
Low viscosity oil is thinner and flows more readily. High viscosity oil is thicker and more resistant to flow. 
Viscosity also changes with temperature, ie at low temperature oil becomes thicker,has higher viscosity and is more resistant to flow.
Another role of engine oil is to transport contaminants produced within the engine. The longer the engine oil has been in the engine the thicker it becomes as it gets contaminated with solids and more resistant to flow.
A regular oil and filter change with the manufacturers recommended lubricant will ease cold starting.
Different oils are available for different climates.

Fuel Additive:
At very low temperature diesel fuel can cause waxing of fuel filters leading to blockage. Anti-waxing additives are usually pre-mixed with fuel to prevent this happening.
Some vehicles may also have a fuel line heater to promote better fuel flow in cold weather.

Driver Comfort :

Efficient operation of the vehicle heater is essential for driver comfort as well as safety.

HGV Commercial vehicles, Ambulances, and plant are often fitted with cab night heaters to enhance comfort. More information on cab night heater repair can be found on our products & services page.

Vehicle body care

Making vehicles last longer is a problem we all encounter, whether you drive a family car or operate a fleet of trucks.
Freezing cold temperature means icy roads. Local authorities
and highways agency are required to grit roads with road salt when temperatures fall below certain levels. ( You may even see road gritters out in summer but they are just being tested to make sure they work!).
The road salt helps to melt ice to prevent vehicles skidding.
Great for preventing dents, but the long term effects are not so good on vehicle body work, so we advise a regular car was & wax in winter to keep corrosion at bay. A squirt of WD40 or similar into door locks helps keep them lubricated and displaces water saving frozen door locks.

Driving Conditions

The Highways Agency is the government body that maintains England's major roads. Their website has current information on traffic and road conditions on England's motorway network (see the links page).

Floods, can you drive through safely?

Floods are a common site in Shropshire and the West midlands at this time of year as the River Severn water level rises.
Flooded roads may have deeper water than you anticipate. Driving a vehicle through a flood may allow water on to brake linings causing reduced braking  performance.

A serious problem which can be caused by driving your vehicle through a flood is water ingress into the engine air intake , especially on vehicles where the air intake is mounted low. The water gets sucked into the engine and because liquid can not be compressed the engine may suffer a hydraulic lock , leading to possible bent connecting rods or crankshaft damage requiring major engine repairs. Unfortunate, but it happens !

We also occasionally see vehicles where flood water has entered electrical wiring and computer equipment causing havoc.

Fog & Mist

Fog Lamps are a legal requirement on modern uk vehicles , but should only be used in conditions of poor visibility because they can dazzle following motorists. Import vehicles may not be fitted with fog lamps in their country of origin but will require them if used in the United Kingdom. We sometimes come across " Lexus " style rear lamps which customers have purchased elsewhere and do not have the fog lamp function. In this case , the vehicle will require fitment of an additional rear fog lamp in conjunction with the Lexus style lights to meet legal requirements.

Snow,Ice, & Low temperature

Be aware during freezing temperatures that ice can form on the road surface which can cause loss of steering control and skidding when you brake.

Route Planning

Planning your journey route can save time and frustration, an alternative to satellite navigation systems is the very good google maps site at
 

West Mercia Mechanical Services,
10 Arrow Road,
Telford.TF5 0LF.
United Kingdom.
Telephone: 01952 247007
Mobile: 07703 558610

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