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Valentine One Radar Detector

Eric
04-27-2007, 10:06 AM
We've all heard that cars are complicated -- and that's true -- but that doesn't mean you're completely helpless when a problem arises. Some minor automotive hiccups can be dealt with even by people who don't know a cold start injector from a pine tree air freshener.

For example:

* The car feels "floaty" -- Very often this is caused by nothing more serious than under-inflated tires. Instead of supporting the weight of the car evenly and firmly, the under-inflated tire's sidewall flexes excessively -- imparting a slidy sea-sick motion. Your car suddenly handles poorly -- and you find you need more time to stop. Plus, you're also wearing out your tires really quickly. Solution? Top off the air in all four tires so that they are inflated to the recommended pressure listed on the side of the tire (or on the sticker inside the door jamb or your owner's manual). Never assume tires are properly inflated just by looking at them -- or by kicking the sidwall. The only way to accurately tell whether a tire is properly inflated is by using a tire pressure gauge to check it . You can buy a tire pressure gauge for less than $10 at any auto parts store. Keep it in the glove box -- and use it at least every couple of weeks.

* The engine is making "clicking" or "tapping" sounds -- Very often this is caused by low oil. It's not a major problem -- unless you continue to operate the engine this way. Being a quart or more down from the "full"mark on the dipstick can happen to anyone -- and any engine, not just old, high-mile clunkers. All internal combustion engines consume some of their lubricating oil as they run. Check out various owner's manuals and you'll see that burning up a quart or so of oil every 3,000-5,000 miles is not unusual -- or anything to worry about. The problem arises when the lost oil is not replaced, which can starve moving parts of oil, especially at start-up after the engine has been sitting overnight, when all the remaining oil is sitting at the bottom of the oil pan. So if your engine is making clicking or light tapping noises, the first thing to do is pop the hood and pull out the engine oil dipstick. It will have markings on it indicating "full" and "add." If it's low, add a quart, run the engine for a few minutes, then shut it off and recheck the level after the oil has had a chance to settle back to the bottom. Add more as necessary to reach the "full" mark -- and the clicking noises should (hopefully) disappear. (If not, there may be a more serious underlying problem that you should have a trained mechanic check out.)

* I can't get the key out of the ignition -- This fairly common problem is caused by the locking mechanism in the steering column not lining up exactly right. You can usually unstick things by returning the key to the "run" position, centering the steering wheel, then returning the switch to "off" and pulling the key out. Don't try to force either the key (it'll snap or bend) or the steering column (you could break something there, too). It may help to spray a little aerosol lubricant (such as WD-40) into the locking mechanism, but if the key is still "sticky," have your dealer look at it.

* I can't move the gearshift out of "Park" -- This problem is caused by a safety device called the brake-shift interlock, which is designed to prevent the car from being put into a forward gear before the driver has his foot on the brake. Sometimes, though, the mechanism breaks -- and it's seemingly impossible to put the car in gear so you can get going. Luckily, the fix is easy. If you look around the area around the shifter handle, you'll see a small tab that's designed to be broken off in order to temporarily defeat the brake-shift interlock -- and let you drive instead of wait for the tow truck. (Later on, you can stop by the dealer and have the brake-shift interlock checked and fixed as necessary -- and the trim plate with the break-off tab repaired or replaced.)

* The turn signals won't blink -- or they stay on without blinking -- If your left or right turn signal stops working -- or starts acting funny -- the problem is almost always with the flasher and not the lights themselves. The flasher is a small round thing that plugs into your car's fuse panel. It's a simple matter of finding the fuse panel (see your owner's manua), pulling out the dead flasher and plugging in a new one, which you can buy for a couple bucks at any auto parts store. Just bring in the old one for reference -- or ask the auto parts store counter man to give you what you need. It's also a good idea to keep some extra fuses of the type your car uses tucked in the glove box for those just-in-case moments when a 15 cent fuse can be the difference between being stuck and out of luck -- and making it home. Whenever any electric-related system suddenly stops working, the fuse box is the first thing to check. But if the fuse continues to burn out, there is probably a bigger problem here that will need an expert's touch. Never crutch the problem by swapping in a higher rated fuse -- a 20 amp in place of a 10 amp, for example. That's just asking for a fried wiring harness and big bucks repairs.

* Brakes "screech" -- Any type of grinding or screeching noise coming from your car's brakes is cause for immediate investigation -- but more likely than not, it's the wear indicators telling you it's time to have new pads installed. Many new cars have tabs built into the brake pad material that are designed to make noise once the friction material has worn beyond a certain point. It's no big deal -- unless you ignore the warning. If you do and the brakes wear down to bare metal, you'll dig ruts in the rotors and get to pay for new ones -- instead of just for pads. As a general rule, front brakes will go for about 30,000 miles before getting on the raw side; rear brakes (whether discs or drums) tend to last longer because it's the front brakes that do most of the work of stopping the car. It's not unusual for rear brake pads or shoes to go for 50,000 miles or more before they need to be replaced.

* Engine never warms up -- If the temperature needle seems to stay on "cold" no matter how long you've been driving and the heater hardly puts out anything more comforting than a tepid breeze -- you may have a stuck thermostat. The thermostat regulates the flow of engine coolant through the engine, radiator and a part called the heater core -- which is how you get warm air inside the car when everything's working right. The thermostat helps the engine warm up faster by limiting circulation of coolant at start-up -- but after it reaches a pre-set temperature, it should open up and allow the now-warm coolant to freely flow throughout the entire system, including the heater core. Sometimes, though, the thermostat will stick -- and if it sticks, especially in winter, the engine will have a tough time ever fully warming up -- and you will be one cold commuter! If you notice the engine running cool all the time --or the heater never seems to work very well -- have a mechanic check out the thermostat. It's an easy fix -- and you'll be toasty again in no time.

bikerlbf406
04-27-2007, 08:31 PM
Eric you make some good points there, however after the recent problem with the Nissan Altima of mine, there is something that some people may not realize. Even if your vehicle has never had a history of an oil leak, and you have never had to add oil to it between oil changes, and you do check your fluids fairly regularly, if you experience a ticking/clicking sound or even a rattle from the motor, check your fluid levels immediately. Leaks can develop at any time & it is possible that although you check your fluids regularly, have oil changes regularly & have never had to add any oil between oil changes, I still happened to start leaking (about a quart every 3 days) & be 2 quarts low before I got around to checking it.

mrblanche
04-27-2007, 08:41 PM
The most frequent cause of a "sudden" oil leak is some sort of debris from the road holing the oil pan.

A rule of thumb is that if a warning light comes on, you should get to the shoulder immediately. If it's an oil light, turn the engine off and coast over!

DonTom
04-28-2007, 07:06 AM
"* The engine is making "clicking" or "tapping" sounds -- Very often this is caused by low oil."

Very low oil can also sound like a hole in a muffler! At least this is true in a 1999 Ford Mustang!

-Don-

Eric
04-28-2007, 07:58 AM
The most frequent cause of a "sudden" oil leak is some sort of debris from the road holing the oil pan.

A rule of thumb is that if a warning light comes on, you should get to the shoulder immediately. If it's an oil light, turn the engine off and coast over!


Last summer, I had a Mazda6 press car. As I came back from a long drive, just as I entered our driveway, the oil ight came on. This was nothing short of a miracle. Why? Because it was at just that moment that the oil drain plug - which had worked its way loose somehow (or just not been tightened) simply fell out - along with all the oil. Had it happened 5 minutes earlier, when I was running 75 mph, it might have been catastrophic....

Eric
04-28-2007, 07:59 AM
"* The engine is making "clicking" or "tapping" sounds -- Very often this is caused by low oil."

Very low oil can also sound like a hole in a muffler! At least this is true in a 1999 Ford Mustang!

-Don-



Yep!

And after a few more minutes of run time, it often makes another (much louder) sound, too!

Eric
04-28-2007, 08:00 AM
Eric you make some good points there, however after the recent problem with the Nissan Altima of mine, there is something that some people may not realize. Even if your vehicle has never had a history of an oil leak, and you have never had to add oil to it between oil changes, and you do check your fluids fairly regularly, if you experience a ticking/clicking sound or even a rattle from the motor, check your fluid levels immediately. Leaks can develop at any time & it is possible that although you check your fluids regularly, have oil changes regularly & have never had to add any oil between oil changes, I still happened to start leaking (about a quart every 3 days) & be 2 quarts low before I got around to checking it.


Definitely... see my reply to Mike!

ChevyMan
04-28-2007, 05:32 PM
Eric,
>>> Last summer, I had a Mazda6 press car. As I came back from a long drive, just as I entered our driveway, the oil ight came on. This was nothing short of a miracle. Why? Because it was at just that moment that the oil drain plug - which had worked its way loose somehow (or just not been tightened) simply fell out - along with all the oil. Had it happened 5 minutes earlier, when I was running 75 mph, it might have been catastrophic...<<<


Couldn"t that just as well have been the oil filter instead coming loose for not being tightened properly (as by hand-tightening)? That is why I always make the final teightening with an appropriate filter wrench JUST TO MAKE SURE!.

Eric
04-28-2007, 06:05 PM
Eric,
>>> Last summer, I had a Mazda6 press car. As I came back from a long drive, just as I entered our driveway, the oil ight came on. This was nothing short of a miracle. Why? Because it was at just that moment that the oil drain plug - which had worked its way loose somehow (or just not been tightened) simply fell out - along with all the oil. Had it happened 5 minutes earlier, when I was running 75 mph, it might have been catastrophic...<<<


Couldn"t that just as well have been the oil filter instead coming loose for not being tightened properly (as by hand-tightening)? That is why I always make the final teightening with an appropriate filter wrench JUST TO MAKE SURE!.




Well, bear in mind that the filter has a compressible rubber gasket. The oil drain plug is usually just a bolt - maybe it has a nylon washer. Also, the filter's designed to be tightened "hand-tight" - not more. The plug on the other hand should be torqued down to a specific value - with a wrench. You'd never get it tightened properly just using your fingers!

mrblanche
04-29-2007, 01:53 AM
Couldn"t that just as well have been the oil filter instead coming loose for not being tightened properly (as by hand-tightening)? That is why I always make the final teightening with an appropriate filter wrench JUST TO MAKE SURE!.




The ISX Cummins engine has had a problem with the center, screw-in part of the oil filter housing coming loose. When it happens, the oil filter (and all ten gallons of oil) leave very suddenly. I'm told that when the oil light comes on, by the time you get to the shoulder and turn it off, the $30,0000 engine is junk. I had mine checked and locktited.

Eric
04-29-2007, 07:49 AM
Couldn"t that just as well have been the oil filter instead coming loose for not being tightened properly (as by hand-tightening)? That is why I always make the final teightening with an appropriate filter wrench JUST TO MAKE SURE!.




The ISX Cummins engine has had a problem with the center, screw-in part of the oil filter housing coming loose. When it happens, the oil filter (and all ten gallons of oil) leave very suddenly. I'm told that when the oil light comes on, by the time you get to the shoulder and turn it off, the $30,0000 engine is junk. I had my checked and locktited.


If you take your bike to a track day, the drain plug and a few other key bolts (and the oil filter, if it's an exposed/cartridge type as on a car) must be safety wired....

mrblanche
04-29-2007, 10:51 AM
OK, I know how to safety-wire bolts, but how do you safety-wire an oil filter cartridge?

Eric
04-29-2007, 11:41 AM
OK, I know how to safety-wire bolts, but how do you safety-wire an oil filter cartridge?


I dunno (my bike doesn't have an external/cannister type filter). But those that do must have 'em safety wired. Track rules!

DonTom
04-30-2007, 05:51 AM
"Had it happened 5 minutes earlier, when I was running 75 mph, it might have been catastrophic...."

Many years ago, in my 1984 GMC 3/4 ton Van, I started the engine and let it idle on the driveway. I was warming it up and got out for a few minutes to get something or whatever. When I got back in, I noticed a CHOKE light on and no oil pressue on the gauge, engine still running.

I turned off the ignition and took off the engine cover and noticed that the distributor bolt was loose and the distributor popped up ( so it could not run the oil pump, but could still run the engine). Ever hear of that happening?

The choke light was on because this van has both an oil pressure gauge as well as a oil idiot lamp. But GMC's way was to wire the choke lamp to the oil pressure switch. Had a separate sender for the oil pressure gauge. One thing I liked about this design was when you had no oil pressure on the gauge as well as a choke light on with warm engine running, it was an obvious no oil pressure problem, not a sender or oil gauge problem!

No damage done, but I thought it was rather strange that this would happen at idle on the driveway when I drove it many miles the day before without any problem.

-Don-

Eric
04-30-2007, 08:28 AM
"Had it happened 5 minutes earlier, when I was running 75 mph, it might have been catastrophic...."

Many years ago, in my 1984 GMC 3/4 ton Van, I started the engine and let it idle on the driveway. I was warming it up and got out for a few minutes to get something or whatever. When I got back in, I noticed a CHOKE light on and no oil pressue on the gauge, engine still running.

I turned off the ignition and took off the engine cover and noticed that the distributor bolt was loose and the distributor popped up ( so it could not run the oil pump, but could still run the engine). Ever hear of that happening?

The choke light was on because this van has both an oil pressure gauge as well as a oil idiot lamp. But GMC's way was to wire the choke lamp to the oil pressure switch. Had a separate sender for the oil pressure gauge. One thing I liked about this design was when you had no oil pressure on the gauge as well as a choke light on with warm engine running, it was an obvious no oil pressure problem, not a sender or oil gauge problem!

No damage done, but I thought it was rather strange that this would happen at idle on the driveway when I drove it many miles the day before without any problem.

-Don-




I'm amazed it even ran! If the distributor popped up , the drive/driven gears would have disengaged.. meaning the distributor wouldn't be firing - in addition to the oil pump not turning... or maybe the gears partially disengaged?

DonTom
04-30-2007, 10:46 AM
"or maybe the gears partially disengaged?"

Of course. I didn't know this was possible until it happened to me. It idled perfectly, at least no change noticed. Obviously it made contact to the gear well enough to run the distributor, but the distributor gear made no contact with the oil pump gear.

-Don-

mrblanche
04-30-2007, 11:05 AM
On a Chevy engine, the distributor gears engage first, then the distributor has to go down another 1/2 inch or so to engage the oil pump drive shaft. It's not uncommon to have trouble getting the distributor down that last little bit and have to bump the engine over a little to get the top of the oil pump drive shaft and the bottom of the distributor to mesh.

chiph
04-30-2007, 09:15 PM
* The turn signals won't blink -- or they stay on without blinking

If the turn signal blinks fast, it's usually a sign that you've got a turn signal bulb burned out.

Chip H.

DonTom
05-01-2007, 01:06 AM
"If the turn signal blinks fast, it's usually a sign that you've got a turn signal bulb burned out."

That depends on the design. More common is for the lamps to stay on and not blink because there is not enough heat (caused by the decreased current) in the blinker to make the thingie bend to break the connection.

If it's an electronic blinker, it then depends on the design.

In old motorcycles that had poor voltage regulation fast blinking of turn signals meant your battery is overcharged. No blinking meant low battery voltage or burn out lamp as either would cause less heat in the blinker unit.

-Don-