Import Auto News: Volume 3 Car Repair & Car Care Advice For Do-It-Yourselfers

Cleaning, Shining & Protecting Your Car's Surfaces

To keep your car's interior looking great, here are some great tips:

1. When cleaning your car's interior, first wipe all the vinyl and plastic down with a mild degreaser and/or a vinyl cleaner before using any protectant on old or dirty surfaces. Then dress it with a water-based, not a petroleum-based, product.

2. Be careful what you put on your plastic or vinyl. Some chemicals that make vinyl shine will also eventually dry it and make it crack. Try using Tuff Stuff or a silicone-based product like Mother's.

3. To protect your car interior's vinyl or leather, try a sunscreen that is made for human use - SPF 15 or 30 is fine. Rub it in and allow a couple of hours to dry. Then use your favorite protectant.

4. To keep your dash looking great all the time, carry a cleaning cloth like Swiffer in your glove compartment and, when you notice dust on the dash or steering wheel, wipe it clean. Or use a tack rag (the kind you use to get rid of sawdust before you paint wood) on your dash - it picks every little piece of dust up!

5. To deep-clean tough to reach spots like panel vents, grilles, etc., try using a Q-Tip or a clean, dry paintbrush. For the cracks in between the controls and crevices, use a toothpick with some toilet paper on the end.

6. When cleaning your windows, always use two towels - one to clean and the other to dry to a streak-free shine. And don't forget, if your car has tinted windows, do not use any ammonia-based products (like Windex). The ammonia could permanently fog the film coating and require the removal of the film and re-tinting.

7. To make your tires shine, use some bleach white or similar product before dressing them. It removes all dirt and debris. After applying and removing, put on your favorite tire shine product.

Audi A8 Quattro Final Drive Seal Replacement
Thanks to John G. (from his own experience)

The A8 Repair Manual CD is still not available, so I tackled the job on experience alone. The job is pretty easy if you're handy. Just don't force anything. By way of reference, my car is a 1999 A8 4.2Q.

Disassembly Instructions:

1. Confirm that the final drive prop seal is leaking. Look for wet gear oil on aluminum splash shield immediately below prop shaft front CV joint. Look for burned oil residue on LH converter. Yes? Continue...

2. Pull exhaust system from converters to tailpipes as an assembly. Disconnect at crossover immediately behind cats. Just loosen clamps, plus ease off rubber o-ring exhaust carriers at various points toward rear of car (I believe there are 4 in total). Use spray lubricant at exhaust nuts and bolts. Use a floor jack to ease the exhaust system down - it's heavy.

3. Remove the LH converter at the header pipe. Heat the 8mm nuts with a butane torch if they're corroded. This will prevent damaging the bolts/nuts. Put the converter on a 4x4 to one side - this will prevent having to disconnect the Ox sensor.

4. Remove the heat shields, noting how they overlap.

5. Remove the alloy front CV joint splash shield noted above. Use Torx head socket. Turn both bolts 1/4 turn each in succession until loose. This will prevent snapping off one of the ears and having to epoxy it back together.

6. Loosen the prop shaft 8mm bolts, starting with the front. Use the parking brake to hold shaft. Gently tap CV joints with plastic mallet to unseat. Take care not to damage flange gaskets. Remove the center bearing shaft support, noting position of mounting and carefully remove the prop shaft rearward. It is fiberglass and must be handled carefully. Keep exposed CV joints and flanges absolutely clean. Cover with plastic bags if you will leave them open for any time. Don't wipe off the CV joint grease - just keep them clean.

7. Remove the final drive output flange (Torx socket). Flange will slide off with a gentle plastic mallet tap.

8. Pry out seal. Do not score housing. Seal will come out easily.

Reassembly Instructions:

1. Install new seal flush to housing. Put in dry, then lube seal lips with a little grease. Be sure to use OEM ZF seal.

2. Inspect drive flange. Polish seal surface with 1000 grit paper or 0000 steel wool. Clean well. Grease splines and treat (clean) center retaining bolt with non-hardening sealer (e.g. Permatex Aviation). I believe the center bolt is where mine was leaking - not the seal.

3. Reverse disassembly, noting:
   - Clean and (blue) Loctite CV joint bolts. 45-50 ft. lbs.
   - Preload center bearing support toward front of car a little, per original mounting.
   - Hang and mount exhaust system completely before tightening anything. Then square LH cat and tighten clamps. Exhaust assembly should be free to move within rubber mounting constraints when finished. Make sure tail pipe tips are dead parallel with ground.

4. Top off final drive with Audi final drive lube - it is unique - and not parts store 90 wt. Filler is on RH side of case; Allen socket to remove.

Averting Disaster When Changing Fuel Pumps
Thanks to Carl D. (from a tech manual)

I installed a new fuel pump but (imagine my surprise when) the fuel line fell off! Always remember to clamp your fuel lines to the fuel pump. They cost only $1.75 at Auto Zone.

NOTE: Need more advice on fuel pumps? Check out Fuel Pumps & Fuel Injection Repairs.

Dangers of Using American (Non-OE) Expansion Tank Caps
Thanks to Ken S. (Parts Specialist)

Many European cars use an expansion tank instead of an overflow bottle in the cooling system. This means the tank is pressurized, along with the rest of the system. It should not be opened while the system is hot and, most importantly, the proper pressure cap must be installed.

Why? Replacement American brand name caps may not be sufficient in pressure setting and/or fit to maintain proper system pressure. We have had many overheated customers who have replaced the water pump, the radiator, the thermostat and fan clutch and still had their cars overheating. They swore they had a new cap on the system but the system kept losing water and overheating. The problem? They used an American cap!

European cooling systems vary in pressure by year and manufacturer but many are 1.2 bar, 1.4 bar, 1.5 bar and now even 2.0 bar pressure. The 1.2 bar system is approximately 17 psi and the 2.0 bar is approximately 28 psi of pressure. A simple replacement American cap that fits might only hold 7-10 psi of pressure. This would allow the water to overheat and run out at less-than-normal summer operating temperatures.

If your car has an expansion tank, notable by having the pressure cap on it instead of on the radiator, you MUST replace the cap with the proper pressure-rated OE replacement. Too much or too little pressure can spell disaster at the worst possible moment - in the middle of nowhere on a hot summer day! Always use OE/OES (original equipment) pressure caps - those rated for the specifications on your car.

NOTE: Autohaus carries ONLY OE/OES expansion tank caps - never aftermarket! Want more advice on troubleshooting your cooling system? Check out Cooling System Repairs: It's Easy to Prevent Breakdowns BEFORE They Happen.

Check Engine Light On? Here's An Easy Test
Thanks to Kenneth D. (from his own experience)

I've had a couple of incidents with "check engine". I discovered that each time the incident took place the gas cap was not secured after a fill up.

Pollen or Smoke a Problem? Try This Tip
Thanks to Thomas K. (from his own experience)

If you suffer from pollen or if you are a smoker, the best way to control this is by turning on your interior cool/heat fan and spray Lysol air freshener into the fresh air intake (usually located under the engine compartment hood).

Feedback on 1995 Honda Accord Fuel Filter Changes
Thanks to Richard B. (Honda Specialist)

In response to John L.'s comments in the November issue on the difficulty of changing 1995 Honda Accord fuel filters, here's what a Honda Specialist has to say:

The filter on a 1995 Honda Accord is below the brake booster on the rear frame rail. This filter is shown in any Honda service manual. There is also a filter in the tank on the fuel pump. The filter in the tank is on any fuel pump that Honda has that is located in the tank. This filter is normally never changed. Starting on the 1995 Accord, Honda calls their fuel filters lifetime filters, so I guess that's why they moved them to a location that's hard to get to. In my opinion, these filters should still be replaced as routine maintenance.

NOTE: For more information on routine maintenance, check out Tuneup & Auto Maintenance Tips To Lengthen Your Import Car's Life.

Another Tip on Removing Emblems
Thanks to Kritikar T. (from his own experience)

Use a blow dryer to heat up the emblem and it will just peel off without a scratch and no glue will be left on the car!

Tire Wear Provides More Info Than You Think

Driving on tires that are bald or badly worn greatly increases your chance of getting a flat or a blowout and is especially dangerous when the roads are wet or slick. Don't put off buying new tires when you need them - your safety is at stake!

On average, tires need to be replaced every 40,000 miles but the exact mileage depends on the type of tire and car and what kind of driving you do.

Tire wear can also tell you what's going on with your car's steering, suspension and tire pressure. Here are some tips on checking and interpreting tire wear:

- Check your tires outdoors where the lighting is good. Visually inspect all four tires.

- Remember that under normal driving conditions, all four tires should wear evenly.

- Check for even tread wear by using a tread-depth gauge (about $20). The depth of the tread (the grooves in the tires) should be even on all parts of the tire. Another way to check for tire wear (although not as accurate) is to stick a penny into the grooves, with Lincoln's head pointing into the tire. If you can see the top of his head, it's time to buy new tires.

- Let some air out of your tires if there is wear down the middle and not on the sides - there's too much air in them. Add air to tires with wear on both the inside and outside edges - there's not enough air in them.

- Bring your car to an alignment shop for a front-end or four-wheel alignment if your tires are worn on one side or the other. And don't forget to get a front-end or four-wheel alignment if you are in an accident, even if it was just a fender bender. If anything is out of alignment, it will affect your tires' wear.

- Run your hand lightly over the tread surface of each tire. If the treads feel bumpy or scalloped, even if the tread is still deep, you may need new shock absorbers or struts.

- Check the tire pressure in all four tires and the spare tire at least once a month. The recommended tire pressure is listed in your car's manual, stamped on the side of the tire and is often printed on a sticker on the driver's-side doorjamb. When in doubt, 32 psi (pounds per square inch) is a good average until other sources can be consulted.

- You should always carry a tire pressure gauge in your car. The outside temperature can alter the air pressure in your tires and allow them to wear out prematurely. Think preventive maintenance and it could save you money in the long run.

- Tires never wear evenly, even if the car is properly aligned. Rotate tires at least every 6000 miles to spread the wear on all four tires.

- If you feel a shimmy or wobble in the steering wheel or in the rear of the car with no evident tire wear, chances are the steel radial belt may be separating. Have the suspect tire checked by qualified professionals. A shimmy or wobble could also indicate tires that need to be balanced. Scalloped edges can indicate the same thing.

Don't Forget:

Repair articles are added regularly. Come back often to check for new maintenance topics.

These repair tips are designed only as a starting point. Please seek the assistance of a professional mechanic for all repair problems beyond your capabilities.

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