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Car Care Tips

Understanding Lubricants & How That Affects Performance & Savings

Choosing The Right lubricants

The heart and soul of every vehicle is its engine and keeping it well lubricated ensures minimal friction as well as wear and tear. This immediately translates to better performance, efficiency and fuel savings. There are three forms of mineral and synthetic motor oils with the third being the hybrid of the two – Semi-Synthetic lubricant.

Mineral Lubricants

Mineral engine lubricant is the earliest form of motor oil used which does produce excellent lubrication. With its low cost of manufacturing, it is the lowest cost among the motor oils and has a wider appeal among the budget-conscious drivers. This oil does come with shortcomings. Contaminants such as sulfur are not filtered out with the usual filtering process. This impurity under extreme temperatures tends to solidify, oxidize and breakdown faster than synthetic oils.

Synthetic Lubricants 

All lubricants contain additives that prevent foaming, engine wear and viscosity conditioners that determine a lubricant’s effectiveness. Both mineral and synthetic oils are pumped from the earth but synthetic oils go through a much more refined process resulting in a higher-performing lubricant. This clearly translates to higher production cost and price tag.

With fewer contaminants, synthetic motor oils are very effective in preventing engine wear despite extreme usage.

Semi-Synthetic Lubricants 

Semi-synthetic lubricants seek the best of both worlds and as the name suggests is a marriage of having the lower cost of mineral oils and the higher performing and higher engine protection. This compromise however also means it falls short in terms of performance as compared to synthetic oils and cost more than regular mineral oils. This form of lubricant becomes a natural step up from mineral oil users, providing the added performance without burning a hole in their pockets.

Understanding Motor Oil Grades & Viscosity

The industry unit measure for the temperature-sensitive viscosity of lubricants is SAE which is determined by the Society of Automotive Engine. Viscosity is the thickness of a liquid, with a thicker liquid being lower viscosity and a thinner one a high viscosity.

Single grade oils like with an SAE 30 rating, for example, will be too thick when an engine is cranked while operating with a good viscosity when the engine is warm, while an SAE 5 rated oil will crank an engine well in winter climates but will run too thin when the engine is warm. A compound of the two will provide a thinner viscosity for easy start-ups but sufficient protection with the oil not running too thin during operation.

A typical multi-grade lubricant SAE rating like 5W 30, simply means a low viscosity of 5 when cold (W for winter) and high viscosity of 30 when the engine has reached its optimum temperature.  One way to better understand mineral and synthetic lubricants is the difference between using butter or vegetable oil when frying an egg. The butter tends to burn up and carbonize with extreme heat forming deposits while the vegetable oil retains its integrity despite it whilst keeping the pan evenly coated.

Always consult with a reliable auto mechanic on the recommended oil grade to use that is specific to your vehicle model or just refer to your car driver’s manual. 

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Car Care Tips

Easy tips on tire rotation to get the longest service life

Car tires tend to wear out at different rates due to the different weight distribution as well as the additional torque distributed at the drive wheels. The front tires tend to bear the brunt of usage at every turn but also because most cars are front-wheel drive. Rotating the tires ensures that the tires wear out evenly throughout its service life.

Four-Wheel-Drives

According to most car manufacturers, car tires need to be rotated as frequent as lubricant changes. This can take approximately half a year or 12,000 km (7,460 miles). This can vary according to the type of lubricant used too. Some car manufacturers provide a 22,000km (13,670 miles) between oil changes which is too long a duration to wait for a tire rotation. If you drive less than 12,000 km between oil changes then you can rotate the tires every 6 months.

All-Wheel-Drives

In the case of all-wheel-drive cars where there is a more even wear as compared to a front-wheel or rear-wheel drive vehicles, there will still be some level of uneven wear from the front tires. Most all-wheel-drive car manufacturers recommend a tire rotation every 12,000 km or seven months.

Tyre Rotation Patterns

Directional tires have tread patterns that are designed to run in only one direction. Small arrows on the side of the tire indicate the direction of the roll. For directional tires, tires remain on the side but are switched front and back.

Non-Directional tires, on the other hand, can be used in both directions. These tires are rotated by moving the rear tires to the front on the same side and crossing the front tires to the back. In other words, the front left tire is moved to the rear right while the front right tire is moved to the rear left.

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Car Care Tips

5 Benefits You Don’t Want To Miss For Getting Your Wheels Aligned

Wheel alignment is a relatively quick and simple procedure where adjustments are made to the wheel alignment of a vehicle. This process also may require adjustments to both the front and rear suspension systems.

Not to be confused with wheel balancing where the wheel is tuned to prevent vibration when the wheels spin which occurs when a wheel is not balanced. Wheel alignment focusses on fine-tuning the angles of the wheels such as its camber, caster and toe. The wearing of the tires also indicate the alignment issues of a vehicle as you can see in the illustration below:

Frequency of wheel alignment

Prevention is always better than cure. So the recommended frequency for wheel alignments is once every 2 to 3 years or when your tires are replaced when you notice uneven wear on your tires. If you bring in your vehicle for service regularly then this is usually covered by the service centre. But you can always request for the wheel alignment to be checked as well.

The 5 benefits of wheel alignment

Benefits of getting your wheels aligned:

  1. Reduces of rate and uneven wear and tear
  2. Optimises lifespan with even wear
  3. Optimises comfort for driver and passengers
  4. Optimises performance and fuel economy
  5. Reduces steering and stability issues and thereby enhances handling and safety
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Car Care Tips

3 Easy Steps To Safe & Longer Lasting Vehicle Tires

Tire pressure may very well be one of the last things we think about when it comes to driving. However, driving within the specified tire pressure actually ensure that your vehicle operates in its optimum traction whilst ensuring even wear resulting prolonged use and more bang for your buck for sure.

Here are 3 simple steps you can take to ensure that you not only inflate your tires as recommended but you do so regularly:

1. Refer To The Manufacturer Specifications

You can find the manufacturer specified tire pressure you should use for your vehicle in the vehicle owner’s manual or on the sticker located in the driver’s side door jamb. Though you can also find the tire pressure markings on the sidewalls of your tires, you should never use them as they indicate the maximum and not the recommended pressure.

2. Checking Tire Pressure Regularly

It is rather obvious that simply knowing the correct tire pressure and inflating them to the specified pressure is just half the story. If this is not done regularly, you will only enjoy the optimum traction and even wear of your tires for as long as the tire pressure remains within that desired pressure. It is recommended to test your tire pressure at least once a month.

3. Checking Tire Pressure In Ambient Temperature Changes

Tire pressure is also affected by ambient temperature and usage. Yes, your tires heat up when used. So the best time to test your tire pressure is when it is cold (or rested).

Tire pressure can vary 1-2 pounds per square inch (psi) for every 10-degree Fahrenheit (5.5 Celcius) difference in ambient temperature, according to Goodyear. So it makes sense to perform a tire pressure test when there are weather changes that affect the rise or fall in temperature.

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Car Care Tips

3 Easy Steps To Safe & Longer Lasting Vehicle Tires

Automotive brakes work by applying friction from the brake pads against the disc brake in each wheel. This same friction over time will produce wear and tear. Unlike the routine automotive service maintenance schedule which is determined by mileage or time, the indicator for the replacement of worn-out brake pads isn’t that simple as it is affected by driving styles, traffic and road conditions. So what would be some indicators to know that it is time to replace brake pads, brake disc or both?

1. Visual Inspection

As your brakes wear out, the most obvious sign you will notice is excessive brake dust residue that accumulates over the wheels of your vehicle. This accumulation of this brake dust will rust and will form a brown to dark brown tinge.

2. Physical Inspection Of Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are visible and accessible with most modern automotive wheel designs. You can physically inspect the brakes when they have cooled if the vehicle had just been used. Disc brakes work when the brake pads clamp on to the disc brake from the centre so over time the centre side of the disc brake will wear out more than the outside rim. So you can tell the degree of wear by running your fingers from the inside to the outer edge on the disc brake. This form of inspection, however, is not possible with drum brakes where the brakes are concealed and inaccessible.

3. A High Pitch Screeching Sound

Brake manufacturers build in metal squealers that work as brake replacement indicators that release a screeching sound as brakes wear out revealing that layer when it comes into contact with the disc as the brakes are applied. To effectively perform this test, do so in a secluded & quiet place with your windows wound down where you will be able to hear the brakes as you apply them. Any screeching sound will be an indicator that a visit to your auto mechanic is due.

4. Pulsing Or Shaking

Any shaking or pulsing occurring when your brakes are applied is a clear sign that brakes are worn or warped and needs immediate professional attention. It goes without saying, driving with faulty brakes can be fatal.