While it may seem like a mundane task, inflating tires is much more crucial to your car than you may think, and it results in a safer and more economical experience on the road. Your vehicle's handling also will be greatly improved as the larger a tire's inflated footprint, the more responsive and comfier the ride balance will be.
To find your tires' proper inflation level, look for a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. It displays the vehicle weight restriction and tire information. The info is also found in the maintenance or car-care section of your vehicle’s owner's manual.
Don't refer to the sidewall markings on your tires, which in part specify the maximum tire pressure — not the recommended pressure.
Unless your tire is visibly flat, don't judge tire inflation just by looking at it; you have to use a tire pressure gauge to get the correct pounds per square inch reading. There are three types of tire-pressure gauges: digital, internal slide and dial. Prices range from $5 for a basic gauge to more than $30 for one that is digital, has an air-release button — or even talks. All will do the job, but you may want to consider the conditions in which you'll be using your gauge. "We've found that low-cost digital pressure gauges are very accurate and maintain the accuracy longer, but in extremely cold temperatures the gauge may not show up properly," said John Rastetter, Tire Rack's director of tire information services.Tips for checking and filling your tires
Tire manufacturers suggest checking tires when they're cold for the most accurate reading. Outside temperatures can cause tire pressure to vary by as much as 1 psi per 10 degrees; higher temperatures mean higher psi readings. "Tires are black; what does black do? Attract heat," Rastetter said, noting the importance of finding a shady place to check and fill all four tires.
Temperature plays a huge part in tire psi, Rastetter said, adding that the most crucial time of year to check pressure is in fall and winter when days are shorter and average temperatures plummet.
Check your tires in the morning before going anywhere, because as soon as you get behind the wheel for an extended amount of time, psi will rise. Rastetter said that if you've been on the road a long time and notice higher psi in your tires, don't let the air out, as the increase in pressure has built up due to the warm, constantly-in-motion tires
What to do
1. Pull your car onto a level surface in the shade.
2. Remove dust caps from the tires' valve stems.
3. Using your tire gauge, firmly press the tip of the gauge straight on to the tire's valve stem for a brief moment.
4. The tire gauge should provide a psi reading; if the number seems unrealistically low or high — for example, 85 psi or 1 psi – you will need to repeat the previous step, ensuring that the tire gauge's tip is properly making contact with the valve stem.
5. If the tire gauge's recorded reading is higher than the manufacturer-recommended rating, press the gauge tip on the valve stem until you hear air leak out. Check the tire pressure again.
6. If the reading is lower than recommended, fill the tire with air by firmly pressing the air-hose tip onto the valve stem. You will hear air quietly enter the tire. If you hear air leaking or spraying out, you need to double-check that the connection between the air hose and the tire’s valve stem is secure.
7. When you think you've added or let out enough air, check the pressure a few times with the gauge.
8. Replace the valve dust caps. Rastetter emphasized the importance of keeping dust caps on during winter driving because if water gets into the valve stem and freezes inside the tire, it could cause a flat.
While you're at it, check your spare tire's pressure. You don't want to have a flat tire and then find out your replacement is flat, too.
Make these steps part of your routine. It will benefit your vehicle and your wallet.
You can always come to Belmont Shell to have one of our technicians check and fill your tires.
Your vehicle's battery is not very demanding, and most often only thought about when it fails. But just a small amount of care and maintenance will help ensure it doesn't let you down when you need it most.
Lack of battery care and maintenance combined with cold weather has a way of bringing out the borderline batteries that were fine in the summer, but don't have the power for a cold weather start. And not just winter, battery care and maintenance is a year-round requirement. You want to catch a bad battery before it lets you down, usually on one of the coldest days of the year.
Testing and maintaining a battery is fairly simple and only requires a few basic tools. If you only think about your battery once a year, fall would be a good time to go outside and spend some quality time with your battery.
Important Safety Note: Before you do anything with a battery, you need to wear eye protection and keep any open flames away from the battery.
This includes cigarettes and other smoking products. Batteries produce hydrogen gas that is extremely flammable. Batteries contain sulfuric acid so I would also recommend wearing latex gloves to keep battery acid from burning your hands.
Testing The Battery
If you have a non-sealed battery, it is highly recommended that you use a good quality temperature compensating hydrometer. There are two basic types of hydrometers, the floating ball type and a gauge type. Personally, I prefer the gauge type. They are, I think, much easier to read and I don't have to stand there trying to decipher colored balls. Battery hydrometers can be purchased at an auto parts or battery store for less than $20.00.
To test a sealed battery or to troubleshoot a charging or electrical system, you will need a digital voltmeter with 0.5% (or better) accuracy. A digital voltmeter can be purchased at an electronics store, such as Radio Shack, for less than $50.00. Analog (needle type) voltmeters are not accurate enough to measure the millivolt differences of a battery's State-of-Charge or measure the output of the charging system. A battery load tester is optional.
2. Inspect The Battery
Look for obvious problems such as a loose or broken alternator belt, low electrolyte levels, a dirty or wet battery top, corroded or swollen cables, corroded terminal mating surfaces or battery posts, loose hold-down clamps, loose cable terminals, or a leaking or damaged battery case. Repair or replace such items as required. Distilled water should be used to top off the battery fluid level.
3. Recharge The Battery
Recharge the battery to 100% State-of-Charge. If non-sealed battery has a .030 (sometimes expressed as 30 "points") or more difference in specific gravity reading between the lowest and highest cell, then you should equalize the battery using the battery manufacturer's procedures.
4. Remove The Surface Charge
The surface charge, if not removed, will make a weak battery appear good or a good battery appear bad. Eliminate the surface charge by allowing the battery to sit for between four to twelve hours in a warm room.
5. Measure The State-Of-Charge
To determine the battery's State-of-Charge with the battery's electrolyte temperature at 80° F (26.7° C), use the following table. The table assumes that a 1.265 specific gravity cell average and 12.65 VDC Open Circuit Voltage reading for a fully charged, wet, lead-acid battery.
If the electrolyte temperature is not 80° F (26.7° C), use the Temperature Compensation table to adjust the Open Circuit Voltage or Specific Gravity readings.
The Specific Gravity or Open Circuit Voltage readings for a battery at 100% State-of-Charge will vary by plate chemistry, so check the manufacturer's specifications for a fully charged battery.
Temperature Compensation Table
|Open Circuit Voltage||Approximate State-of-Charge at 80°F (26.7°C)||Hydrometer Average Cell Specific Gravity||Electrolyte Freeze Point|
|11.89 or less||DISCHARGED||1.120 or less||20°F(-7°C)|
For non-sealed batteries, check the specific gravity in each cell with a hydrometer and average cells readings. For sealed batteries, measure the Open Circuit Voltage across the battery terminals with a digital voltmeter. This is the only way you can determine the State-of-Charge. Some batteries have a built-in "Magic Eye" hydrometer, which only measures the State-of-Charge in ONE of its six cells. If the built-in indicator is clear, light yellow, or red, then the battery has a low electrolyte level and if non-sealed, should be refilled and recharged before proceeding.
If sealed, the battery is bad and should be replaced. If the State-of-Charge is BELOW 75% using either the specific gravity or voltage test or the built-in hydrometer indicates "bad" (usually dark or white), then the battery needs to be recharged BEFORE proceeding. You should replace the battery, if one or more of the following conditions occur:
6. Load Test The Battery
If the battery's State-of-Charge is at 75% or higher or has a "good" built-in hydrometer indication, then you can load test a car battery by one of the following methods:
During the load test, the voltage on a good battery will NOT drop below the following table's indicated voltage for the electrolyte at the temperatures shown:
|Electrolyte Temperature °F||Electrolyte Temperature °C||Minimum Voltage Under LOAD|
If the battery is fully charged or has a "good" built-in hydrometer indication, then you can test the capacity of a deep cycle battery by applying a known load and measuring the time it takes to discharge the battery until measures 10.5 volts. Normally a discharge rate that will discharge a battery in 20 hours can is used.
For example, if you have an 80 ampere-hour rated battery, then an average load of four amps would discharge the battery in approximately 20 hours. Some new batteries can take up to 50 charge/discharge "preconditioning" cycles before they reach their rated capacity. Depending on your application, fully charged batteries with 80% or less of their original rated capacity available are considered to be bad.
7. Bounce Back Test The Battery
If the battery has passed the load test, please go to Tip #8, below. If not, remove the load, wait ten minutes, and measure the State-of-Charge. If the battery bounces back to less than 75% State-of-Charge (1.225 specific gravity or 12.45 VDC), then recharge the battery and load test again. If the battery fails the load test a second time or bounces back to less than 75% State-of-Charge, then replace the battery because it lacks the necessary CCA capacity.
8. Recharge The Battery
If the battery passes the load test, you should recharge it as soon as possible to prevent lead sulfation and to restore it to peak performance.
You can always come visit Belmont Shell and we can help you solve your car problems.
If you turn your car key and get nothing, or get anything less than an engine roaring to life, you might be in for a bad day. Starting problems can be very frustrating because there are so many things under the hood that can keep a car from starting. Heck, pretty much everything under the hood can keep the car from starting.
In order to troubleshoot a no-start problem, you need to start at the beginning of the line, the battery, and work your way back.
Some tests for a no-start problem are simple, others are a pain in the neck and a technical nightmare. Nonetheless, you need to figure out why the car won't start, so we'll try to help. If your key won't turn in the ignition, try this fix.
Electrical No-Start Problems
If your starter spins freely when you turn the key, the problem lies elsewhere. Now you begin to check the other systems that could keep it from firing up.
With the starter-related causes of your no-start problem out of the way, we continue the search for why your car won't start. If the engine can't get spark, there will be no fire. But don't crawl into the hole just yet. Spark is created by your car's ignition system (ignition means "to ignite). Ignition system troubleshooting isn't too difficult when you're looking for a no-start problem. The first place to check is your coil.
Did it start? No? OK, on to the fuel-related possibilities.
If the starter is spinning and the sparks are flying, your no-start problem has got to be related to the fuel system. If your vehicle is fuel injected, there are a number of sub systems that could be the culprit. It will take some serious diagnostic work to figure it out, but there are some things you can check in the garage that will narrow it down, and could save you some money by avoiding a trip to the repair shop.
Here are some things to check:
The above items are things you can check yourself easily and with everyday automotive tools. There are many other elements of your fuel injection system that require electronic diagnosis. Unless you are familiar with this and have the right equipment, it is best to leave this to the pros at Belmont Shell.