Motoring corner: “Car Maintenance Tips III”

When one indicator is flashing faster than the other; when you indicate one way and the blinker flashes quicker than when you indicate the other way, it means one of the bulbs has blown.

When one indicator is flashing faster than the other; when you indicate one way and the blinker flashes quicker than when you indicate the other way, it means one of the bulbs has blown.

The indicator bulbs are readily available and easy to fit.  As for the Headlights’ bulbs, most headlight bulbs now are filled with halogen and have special coatings on the outside of the glass. If you pick the bulb up by the glass with your fingers, you will leave trace amounts of oil and grease on the glass.

When the bulb is used, that area of the glass will get hotter than the rest and it will eventually cause the bulb to crack. When changing headlight bulbs, only hold the metal bulb holder at the base, or make sure you’re wearing rubber surgical / mechanic’s gloves (clean ones) if you’re touching the glass.

The check engine light; this is one of the biggest menaces! Nearly every new car now comes with On Board Diagnostics 2 (OBD-II ). This is a fault-registering system connected to sensors all over the car, engine, fuel and emissions system.

When the check engine light comes on, it can mean many things. There are something like 4,000 unique OBD2 codes that can be stored. Handheld OBD2 diagnostic tools can be plugged in to the OBD2 port which is normally under the dash on the driver’s side. These tools can read out the fault code and/or reset the system to contain no codes. P0440 OBD-II code.

This is the most common code you’ll find and it’s the first thing you should check. P0440 is the code for Evaporative Emission Control System Malfunction which covers a multitude of signs. In the West, it is mandatory that, all cars have this code activated in a bid to control harmful emissions.  

The one thing it covers that you can check is your petrol tank cap. Most new cars have a pressurised fuel system and vapour recovery loop. If you’ve filled up with petrol and not twisted the gas cap until it clicks, you’ve not sealed the fuel system. It won’t pressurise and the OBD2 system will log a P0440 code. In fact, on a lot of cars, that code is so common they’ll actually have some way of telling you to check the fuel cap. In the Honda Element, for example, if a P0440 code is logged, the dash scrolls “CHECK FUEL CAP” across the odometer display.  So if you get a check engine light, check the gas cap first and see if the light goes off.

Note : even if the light does go off, the code will likely still be stored in the OBD system and will show up next time it is checked.  There lots of codes that could trigger the “Check Engine” light to go on.  The best thing is to visit your mechanic so that they can establish which code and why!

 The service engine light ; on some vehicles (like those in the USA and Canada), there is a service or maintenance light. This might indicate “Service”, “Service Engine” or “Maint Reqd”. It’s an indicator that you’re getting close to a scheduled maintenance interval.

On some cars it’s as simple as counting miles before it comes on, whilst on others it maps engine temperatures, oil temperatures, air temperatures and other indicators of probable stress to tell you when it might be time for new oil or a service. In most cars this can be overridden or reset by you, the owner. The car’s manual will tell you if this is the case. If you take your car for a service, the garage should reset it for you. Typically this light will come on when you start your car, and then turn off again as part of the self-check.

If it stays on for 10 seconds then turns off, it normally means you’re within 500 miles of needing a service. If it flashes for 10 seconds, it normally means you’ve exceeded a recommended service interval.

Brake warning light; most cars nowadays have a brake warning light on the dash. Its purpose is to alert you that something is wrong in the braking system somewhere. If it comes on, check your owner’s manual to find out its meaning. The brake warning light doesn’t have a standard meaning; it could be used for multiple purposes. For example, the same light may be used to show that the hand brake is on. If that’s the case and you’re driving, you ought to have noticed the smell of burning brake dust by now.

The light can also indicate that the fluid in the master cylinder is low. Each manufacturer has a different use and standard for this light because it would be such a drag if the same indicator meant the same thing in every vehicle.  If you’ve got an ABS-equipped car, you also have a second light - the ABS light. If it comes on, get it seen to as soon as possible. It means the ABS computer has diagnosed that something is amiss in the system. It could be something as simple as dirt in one of the sensors, or something as costly as an entire ABS unit replacement. It’s important to note that this light normally comes on when you start the car and then switches off a few seconds later.

If it blinks, throbs, flashes or in any other way draws your attention to itself, then take note. It’s not doing that just to please itself. Compared to a steady light, a blinking ABS light normally indicates something more serious. In some cases it could be as bad as “you have no brakes at all.”

motoringcorner@live.co.uk

 

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