Import Auto News: Volume 6 Car Repair & Car Care Advice For Do-It-Yourselfers

Car Overheating? Watch Out - Third Degree Burns are NOT Pleasant!
Thanks to Steve L. (from his own experience)

Be VERY careful when checking the engine after it has overheated but is shut off. The engine temperature will rise, creating more pressure.

I was in this scenario a few weeks ago when my car overheated. There was no steam, no sound, and the engine didn't feel "that" hot. As I was looking at the left side, the radiator nozzle suddenly broke, sending superheated steam into my arms and face. Second-degree burns are NOT pleasant. Luckily, I was wearing safety glasses, so my eyes were okay.

If your pre-1997 BMW 3-series (may apply to others) suddenly overheats, suspect the water pump. Apparently, BMW changed from a plastic pump impeller to a metal one in late 1996. The plastic pump will quit without warning. Also, watch out for those radiator nozzles - they break around 100K miles.

A Note From AutohausAZ on Plastic vs. Metal Impellers: Yes, you're right Steve. The BMW M50 engine water pumps with plastic impellers were known for premature failure, which is why AutohausAZ offers the updated metal impeller version to fit these engines.

But it's important to note that all water pump impellers will deteriorate over time - plastic or metal - and not all plastic impeller water pumps are inherently "bad". On the other hand, metal impeller water pumps are more susceptible to deterioration from corrosion caused by poor antifreeze protection, so proper winterizing/summerizing with fresh antifreeze every two years is an important preventive maintenance project.

And, please remember: Never add common tap water to the coolant system except in an emergency, nor should deionized water be used. A purified water blended with antifreeze or the preblended antifreeze mix should be used.

More on How to Keep Rubber Parts From Cracking
Thanks to Mike B. (from his own experience)

This is an add on to "How to Keep Rubber Parts From Cracking". I use No Touch tire care for anything rubber. It provides ozone protection and an anti-static barrier, which (they claim) repels dust and dirt. It can be used on: trim, bumpers, hoses, etc. Just spray on and it cleans your radiator hoses while lubricating them. A word of advice: Put something under your car to catch what comes off hoses while doing this. I use this product on my BMW 325i as well as my Porsche 944.

A Note From AutohausAZ on Hoses: It's a good idea to check your car's hoses every time you perform routine maintenance on your car. For information on how to check hoses, see Perform Monthly Car Maintenance & Keep Auto Repair Costs Way Down in Gasoline Alley.

And remember it's easy for you to shop for all the hoses on your car by selecting Search by Part Grouping and clicking on Hoses and Lines to display all the hoses shown in our online catalog for your car. If all hoses are not yet listed for your car, feel free to use the Request Custom Quote option to have our Parts Experts prepare a listing for you. Most people are shocked at how inexpensive it is to replace all hoses and it's certainly ALOT cheaper than paying to have your car towed and repaired when a hose breaks!

Problems with Poor/Rich Performance on Your VW? Check This Out!
Thanks to M. (from his own experience)

Volkswagen depends on steel exhaust manifold to aluminum head for electical conduction of the O2 sensor. Dielectric corrosion can open the path causing poor/rich performance problems. To clear up a difficult-to-find problem with poor/rich performance, try running a separate ground wire to the body of the sensor.

For more information on your car's oxygen sensor(s), see Oxygen Sensors Are a Critical Key to Passing Emissions in Gasoline Alley.

How to Save Money When Replacing Your Timing Belt
Thanks to Garnett J. (from experienced techs & auto tech instructors)

When replacing timing and/or balance shaft belts, go ahead and replace the tensioner pulley or assembly at the same time. Tensioner pulley failure can cause premature belt failure even though you've just replaced the belts. Even though your pulley may seem fine, failure could happen at any time, so it's a good idea to go ahead and replace the tensioner assembly while you're at it.

Also, if your water pump is behind the balance and timing belts, you may want to go ahead and replace that at the same time also. This will save you from having to take all those timing components off again (or from having to pay to have them taken off again) just to get to your water pump that failed right after you performed your belt replacement.

In my young career, I've already experienced having to replace water pumps or tensioner pulleys for customers that have just had their timing belt replaced a few months or even weeks earlier. Take my advice, spend the extra money on the parts beforehand and it will save you from even more labor intensive repairs in the future.

A Note From AutohausAZ on Timing Belt (or Water Pump) Replacement: It's easy for you to shop for the various components you'll need for timing belt and/or water pump replacement by selecting Search by Repair Job and clicking on Timing Belt Replacement or Cooling System Repairs (as necessary) to display the various parts you may need to complete the job. Or feel free to use the Request Custom Quote option to have our Parts Experts prepare a listing for you.

Sell Your Car Easier & For More Money with Complete Maintenance Records
Thanks to Bob (from his own experience)

When you have the timing belt changed on your car, keep a copy of the repair in your glove box and one on file at your home or office. This is extremely helpful when trading your car in or selling it outright.

It would be great if dealers could provide customers with this information. Due to the fact that this is a mandatory maintenance procedure for most cars, it would be a good idea if car manufacturers could add a function light in their car systems to show if the belt is ready for replacement or that it has been replaced based on mileage. This would take the guess work out of making a decision on purchasing a used car.

A Note From AutohausAZ on Maintenance: Actually, there are many "required" maintenance jobs for your car. Several tech articles are available to you on how to maintain various components of your car in Gasoline Alley.

Even better, we'll be providing you with an easy way to keep track of your car's maintenance through the new free Maintenance Reminder service for your car(s). Due for launch in November 2003 (next month!), you'll be able to schedule automatic email reminders when it's time for your pre-selected service(s). You tell us what you want to do and when, and we'll keep track of it for you and let you you know when it's time to do it. And, when you want to sell your car, you can easily print out the complete maintenance schedule for your car, showing when you performed what services. It doesn't get any simpler than that!

More on How to Keep Battery Posts Clean
Thanks to Barry M. (from his own experience)

Today while cleaning the battery posts, I could not find my old standby baking soda. Instead, I tried using some mag wheel cleaner I had laying around (Dura Gloss 581). I did use masking tape just around the post as it states it could damage plastic. It did a fantastic job - no scrubbing needed and fast. Make sure to wash off with water!!!

For other products you can use to keep your battery posts clean, see It's Simple to Keep Battery Posts Clean - Here's How in the Import Auto News Archives.

Perplexing Turn Signal Problem Solved! Here's How
Thanks to John O. (from his own experience)

For several months I had been having problems with the right front turn signal on my 1997 Jetta. It was flashing abnormally fast, then the light would not function at all. After replacing the bulb several times and even taking my car to a foreign car mechanic (all he did was replace the bulb), I decided to investigate further.

I found that the connection (or port) for the bulb itself had a little corrosion inside where the contacts meet. I put 220 grit sandpaper on the end of a small screwdriver and gently cleaned the contacts, blew it out with some canned air and it has been fine for several months now.

I am not sure if this is a common problem or not, but it sure was perplexing to me. Hope this helps someone!

Hard Water Spots? Here's an Easy & Cheap Solution
Thanks to William R. (from his own experience)

For years I had very hard water (from a well), which can cause spots on the car. The easy and cheap way to solve this problem? After washing my car, which I do quite often, I used a small amount of vinegar and water and wiped the entire car. No spots. No damage.

Someone had this same problem and wrote to my local newspaper asking for help. The columnist's answer? He suggested having a professional "wet sand" the entire car! Talk about an unnecessarily expensive solution! My method works. And, it's cheap. Please share it.

For more information on maintaining your car's appearance, see Cleaning, Shining and Protecting Your Car's Surfaces in the Import Auto News Archives.

How to Avoid Unnnecessary Engine Damage After an Oil Change
Thanks to Lawrence K. (from his own experience)

A lot of engine wear can occur when starting the engine AFTER an oil change - the filter is empty and all of the oil has drained out of the system.

To avoid this problem on many car makes, you can disconnect the high tension wire coming out of the coil (or equivalent) so that when you crank the engine, there is NO possibility of it starting - there's no "spark" getting to the plugs.

Crank the engine for 30 seconds or so in this mode so that the oil filter can fill and oil can get into the upper portion of the engine. Then reconnect the wire and you're back in business!

A Note From AutohausAZ on Maintenance: For more information on regular maintenance for your car, see Perform Monthly Car Maintenance & Keep Auto Repair Costs Way Down in Gasoline Alley.

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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