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The Dangers of a Leaking Fuel Tank

Fuel leaking from your gas tank is never something you should ignore. A gas leak will lead to reduced fuel economy and, more importantly, carries with it a risk of fire or explosion. The good news is that your gas tank may be able to be repaired instead of replaced. Click here to read more on this topic.

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Do I Really Have to Change My Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

Every 3,000 miles. That’s how often you are told to change the oil in your car. However, if you are like most people you probably have often wondered, “Do I really need to change it that often?”  Click here to read more details on this topic.

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Are Fuel Additives a Good Idea?

If you are wondering whether fuel additives are worth the money, you are not alone. This can be a confusing topic, especially since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already requires that all fuel sold in the United States contain deposit-control additives to prevent dangerous buildup in vehicles.  Click here to read more details on this topic

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How Cooling System Tanks Differ

There are two ways to cool an engine, air and water. While many old cars used air-cooled engines, today liquid cooled systems are the norm.  Read more to know how cooling system tanks differ.

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Why Ignoring Signs of Engine Trouble Only Leads to More Trouble

Sometimes ignoring a problem will make it go away. This is seldom the case when it comes to engine trouble. When you suspect there may be an issue with your engine, it can be tempting to hope it just gets better on its own. Unfortunately, that mindset could lead to costly repairs.Read more to know about Why Ignoring Signs of Engine Trouble Only Leads to More Trouble

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Signs of Faulty Radiator Hoses

A damaged or failing radiator hose can lead to big trouble for your vehicle. Thankfully there are some tell-tale signs that can help you determine if one of your radiator hoses is going bad—saving you a lot of time and expense. In this article, Ace Radiator lists out the  Signs of Faulty Radiator Hoses

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Why a Leaking Fuel Injector is So Dangerous

If you suspect that your vehicle has a leaking fuel injector it is important that you address the problem as soon as possible. Leaking fuel injectors are a fire hazard that also can cause extensive—and expensive—engine damage.

It is important that you know the symptoms of a leaking fuel injector so that you can recognize them as soon as possible. These symptoms include:

  • Fuel odor
  • Hard starting
  • Hydro-lock
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Oil thinning
  • Poor emissions
  • Uneven idling

If you suspect that your fuel injector is leaking, it needs to be tested. This is not something you want to do yourself. Instead, you need it to be performed by a car or truck parts professional who is experienced with fuel injection systems.

There are two fuel injection systems: manifold and direct. The manifold system is made up of a fuel pump, pressure regulator, fuel lines, fuel filter, fuel rail, fuel injectors and engine management system. Manifold fuel injection systems operate at approximately 45 Psi, or pounds per second and use side or top feed fuel injectors. Direct fuel injection systems operate similarly to manifold fuel injection systems except that fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber instead of the intake manifold. Direct fuel injection systems operate at fuel pressures from 500 Psi at idle to 3000 Psi at wide open throttle.

When you start your engine, the fuel rail is pressurized by the fuel pump through the operating pressure of the fuel injection system. The operating pressure is maintained while the engine is on. External fuel injector leaks can cause an engine fire. When the engine is shut down, fuel pressure should remain at operating pressure for a period of time.

Fuel injector pintle, ball or disc seat leaks as well as the bottom O-ring leak on a side feed injector cause fuel to escape into the intake manifold and fuel will run down to the intake valves. If an intake valve is open, fuel will enter the cylinder, past the rings and eventually mix with engine oil. This can lead to severe engine oil thinning which can result in engine bearing damage, scorched cylinder side walls and even internal engine explosions.

A leaking fuel injector or injectors are normally the cause for difficult or hard to start engines especially when they are warm. This is because the fuel rail pressure has dropped and fuel has leaked into the manifold and floods the spark plugs.

Top and side fuel injectors make use of O-rings to seal the fuel injector and fuel rail. Over time, these rings can harden and become brittle, causing internal and external leaks. Never drive a vehicle if there is a visible fuel leak from any fuel injection components as leaking fuel injectors can be extremely dangerous.

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Prevention is the Key to Keeping Vehicles Running Smoothly During Hot Summer Months

The scorching summer sun can take a toll on vehicles. From cars to trucks, from tractors to 18-wheelers, it can be difficult to keep even the toughest piece of equipment unscathed. Factor in the extra miles that are so common in the summer months and maintenance issues and breakdowns are bound to occur.

Like most things in life, however, prevention will go a long way toward preventing trouble for yourself on the road or in the field. If you are concerned about the prospect of summer maintenance issues, it is important that you closely monitor your vehicles to make sure you catch any problems before they leave you stranded. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  1. Perform Daily Inspections: Be sure to check hydraulic fluid and coolant every day to make sure they are topped off. Check the radiator cap for proper check operation and relief pressure. You also need to inspect your tires and tire pressure as well as confirming that the air conditioning is functioning properly.
  2. Clear Debris: Always keep radiators and cooling packages clear of debris. In addition, all inlets and outlets of the engine hood need to be debris-free to maximize airflow through the coolers. Failing to do so means that debris such as mud will bake to a solid form and become difficult to remove. Any debris that is found should be cleaned daily using compressed air. 
  3. Don’t Overdo It. While there is a lot to be accomplished in the summer months, overworking your vehicles can lead to overheating and vehicle breakdowns. To avoid damaging turbos, always let machinery idle before shutting down. 
  4. Park Properly. When you are not using a vehicle, it needs to be parked in a dry shelter area out of direct sunlight. Sheltered vehicles also are less likely to get wet and rust.
  5. Make Use of Your Service Department. If your vehicle seems to be running hot, make sure you get it serviced and have the thermostat’s opening temperature checked.

The summer months are busy but you must always make time to check that your vehicle is running properly. Failing to do so can lead to serious maintenance issues and even breakdowns—leading to downtime you cannot afford.


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Signs of a Damaged Intercooler

Wondering if your intercooler is going bad? It’s an important question since an intercooler plays an integral role in the performance of your vehicle’s engine.

The function of the intercooler is to lower the temperature of compressed air generated by an engine’s turbocharger or supercharger. The compressed air carries a great deal of heat. This heat impacts engine parts by causing the cylinders to detonate and lower boost. By reducing the temperature of the air, engine parts are protected. Further, when cooled, compressed air becomes denser, causing it to burn more fuel and increase the engine’s power output.

Your vehicle’s intercooler may fail when the lines or hoses that connect the intercooler to the engine leak, causing a drop in the pressure of the compressed air. Damage to intercooler parts also are caused when air from the turbo contains foreign substances.

When there is a leak in the intercooler’s lines, those lines will be unable to supply enough air under the right amount of pressure, resulting in the engine having a skewed air-to-fuel ratio. The result is an engine that runs too rich or too lean. An engine that runs too rich results in excess fuel being expelled with exhaust gases. When this happens, left-over fuel in the exhaust system combusts leading to lower fuel economy and sub-par vehicle performance. A tell-tale sign is black smoke coming out of the exhaust system.

A turbo will try to compensate for leaks in a few different ways. If the leak is minor, acceleration will lag and there will be an extra turbo whine. Major leaks will cause the computer to default to home mode, resulting in a drop in the power and restricted RPM. In such cases, it will difficult if not impossible to drive the vehicle.

It is important to note that air-to-water intercoolers require engine coolant and can develop clogs stemming from mineral deposits. When an intercooler becomes clogged the result is hotter air flowing into the engine, reducing engine efficiency and causing the engine to knock. When an intercooler is damaged, the turbocharger spins faster to compensate for a loss in pressure. The level of boost will be less than optimal, however.

If you suspect an issue with your intercooler it needs to be checked as soon as possible. After all, changing hoses is much easier and less expensive than having to replace the entire intercooler.


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Problems with Coolant Reservoir Need to be Addressed Immediately

A vehicle’s coolant reservoir does just what its name implies: it stores coolant for your vehicle’s engine. This plastic reservoir mounted in the engine bay is necessary because engines expel and absorb coolant as they warm up and cool down.

When an engine is cold, the pressure of the cooling system is low and, as a result, more coolant is required. When the engine runs warm, there is more pressure on the cooling system and less coolant is required.

The coolant reservoir is an essential part of the coolant system and the fact that it is pressurized means it is an important part of engine safety. Whenever there is a problem with the cooling system, it can quickly turn into engine problems—and no one wants that!

The key to keeping problems with your coolant reservoir from turning into huge engine issues is early intervention. Thankfully, there are red flags that will alert you to the fact that you need to get your reservoir looked at:

  1. Engine overheating. The most serious symptom of a bad coolant reservoir is engine overheating. When a coolant reservoir is unable to hold coolant properly or if it is unable to properly pressurize the system, it can lead to the engine overheating. Of course, any time an engine is overheating it needs immediate attention.
  2. Leaks. A crack or break in a coolant reservoir will cause leaks. These leaks can be small or large. Small leaks often produce steam and drips. Large leaks will produce streams and puddles coupled with an odor of coolant. Cracks and breaks in a reservoir can be caused by a number of reasons including age and overheating.
  3. Low coolant. If you are constantly having to add coolant to the reservoir, this is a sign your reservoir may be failing. Cracks in the reservoir or small leaks can cause the coolant to leak or slowly evaporate. The leaks may not be noticeable but over time they will empty the reservoir. A constant need to add coolant isn’t always due to a bad coolant reservoir but a diagnosis needs to be made.

The coolant reservoir is not a complicated component of a vehicle’s engine system but if it is not working correctly it can quickly lead to an engine overheating. That’s why it is important that you never ignore signs that your coolant reservoir may be damaged or not working.



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Active Grille Shutters and the Drive for Fuel Efficiency

Aerodynamics play a significant role in the fuel efficiency of a car or truck. Active grille shutters are a great way to reduce drag to improve gas mileage.

But how exactly do active grille shutters work? When open, shutters allow air to flow through the radiator and into the engine compartment. This helps to cool the engine. When there is no need to cool the air, the shutters automatically close. This allows air to be rerouted around the engine, reducing aerodynamic drag and allowing for more fuel efficiency. According to automotive experts, the average improvement in aerodynamics when the active grille shutter is closed is 6 percent.

While all engines benefit from active grille shutters, turbo engines, in particular, benefit from them. This is due to the fact that turbo engines require a great deal of cool air to be fed through to the engine.

Unless an engine is working especially hard or you are in a hot climate, there is usually more air entering the engine than is necessary to keep it cool. The active grille shutter system is able to automatically open and close the grille to maintain the correct balance between reducing aerodynamic drag and preventing the engine from overheating. Speaking of hot and cold, closed shutters have the added benefit of reducing the amount of time it takes for an engine to heat up in cold weather.

Speed also has a lot to do with aerodynamic drag. The higher the speed, the more important the role of the active grille shutter.

When it comes to overall fuel efficiency, an active grille shutter can improve the gas mileage of a vehicle up to a couple of miles per gallon over an identical model that is not fitted with one.

Active grille shutters, or a similar system, are now standard on most vehicles. The active shutter system is able to meet the demand for a well-engineered, quality system to address fuel-economy standards and reduce vehicle emissions. They aren’t going anywhere, either, as they are just one part of a whole approach to improved fuel efficiency throughout the automotive industry.

Finally, although they appear to be rather simple in terms of design, there are several considerations that go into manufacturing these systems. This include things like engine and transmission types, cooling requirements, insurance ratings and packaging.

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How DOC, DPF and SCR Filters Help Diesel Engines Perform

Emission standards have led to the need for technology that reduces emissions in large engines. Equally important is the need for these standards to be met while maintaining the power and performance of diesel engines. In order to accomplish this, more than one filter is required. To be more specific, three filters are required.

So, what are the differences between Diesel Oxidation Catalysts (DOC), Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalysts? The most significant difference between these filters is each one’s purpose in the removal of particulates and harmful gases.

The DOC is the first filter in the diesel exhaust after-treatment system and is a flow through filter containing precious metals that begin to oxidate hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and unburned fuel and oil. It, like the DPF, is a honeycomb ceramic filter. The DOC differs from the DPF in that the DPF is a wall-flow filter that traps remaining soot that the DOC could not oxidize. The soot remains in the DPF until is regenerated either through passive or active regeneration.

Back pressure will return to normal when soot is gone. Ash, however, doesn’t burn or oxidize and will remain until removed. Ash consists of metals, minerals and other trace elements from the breakdown of additives, lubricants and engine wear. While ash will build at a much slower rate than soot, it will cause major problems—increased back pressure, fuel consumption and DPF failure—if ignored. It also will increase the number of active regenerations. This can lead to extremely high temperatures and poor fuel economy. Plus, constant back pressure can negatively impact the turbo charger. Finally, the longer that ash is left in the DPF, the more likely it is to harden and close off part of the filter. Shorter intervals between regenerations is an indication that ash build up is occurring and that the DPF should be cleaned.

The final component in the after-treatment system is the flow through SCR catalyst. The SCR introduces diesel emissions fluid. This fluid contributes to the further break down of nitrogen oxides that pass through to the SCR filter.

All of these filters are in different locations, but each can become congested. Blockages in any of the systems can cause significant and costly issues including damage to the exhaust system and particulate matter entering the environment.





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Keeping Your Tractor’s Cooling System in Good Working Order

When it comes to your tractor’s cooling system, the most important way to keep it in good working order is to make sure that its radiator and any cooling units in front of it—including the air conditioner evaporator and hydraulic fluid cooling units—are free of debris and dirt.


Many people mistakenly use water to clean their radiator, but this is not recommended unless there is time for all of its parts to dry before it is used again. Failing to do some will lead to mud caking on the parts. The best way to clean radiators is to use an air hose and, from the back of the radiator, blow debris off of it.

The tractor’s coolant also must be the correct color and at the right level. Also check that there is no rust in it. When checking coolant make sure you don’t remove the cap until the radiator is cool.

Antifreeze is something else you will need to inspect. Antifreeze is mostly ethylene glycol but should also contain an additive to prevent corrosion as well as a small amount of water.

Products designed for use in diesel engines also will contain nitrate or other additives. This is so that they can coat wet engine sleeves and protect against cavitation that can lead to erosion. Other additives protect aluminum, brass and copper components and buffer acids formed by the glycol breakdown. Different formulations may have different chemical compositions, in particular, extended life organic-acid coolants. That is why it’s best to stick with the same antifreeze the manufacturer suggests and stick with this brand for the life of your tractor.

When extra antifreeze or fluid is necessary, never add just plain tap water. Doing so will lead to corrosion, rust and scale. In most cases, service technicians will use an extended life premix which contains demineralized water. This demineralized water will alleviate any issues related to its concentration or content.

If you are having an issue with your tractor’s coolant system, consider having a coolant analysis performed. This will help to identify any problems that may be occurring throughout the system.


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What Your Vehicle’s Diesel Particulate Warning Light is Trying to Tell You

The dreaded warning light. When a warning light turns on, there is always the temptation to ignore it. After all, there is a chance it will turn off on its own. Or perhaps, it turned on by accident. Unfortunately, none of these scenarios are likely.

When it comes to the diesel particulate filter warning light, ignoring it is never a good idea. That’s because when that light turns on it means that the soot level from the diesel exhaust is high and your vehicle is likely to go into limp mode.

Today’s diesel engines are fitted with a particulate filter within the exhaust that is designed to catch larger particles of soot that come from the diesel exhaust. Of course, as is the case with all filters, there will come a time when it will clog. This will cause airflow to be restricted and the performance of the particulate filter to be reduced.

While the warning light signals an issue with the particulate filter, it doesn’t mean that your vehicle is about to give out, leaving you stranded on the side of the road. That is because there are a few ways that the filter can be regenerated. This is accomplished by raising the temperature in the exhaust to a level which burns the soot, reducing it to ash. This is referred to as active regeneration.

Another type of regeneration is called passive regeneration. This allows an engine to burn off extra fuel even when it doesn’t reach high speeds on a regular basis. Passive regeneration allows the temperature to get high enough, at lower speeds, to burn the soot off. These two types of regeneration work together to keep the particulate filter from becoming clogged.

When the soot level reaches a certain threshold, typically a little less than 50 percent, the engine will work to reduce the level of soot. At this point the warning light will come on, letting you know that there is an issue. While there is no reason to panic, it is important to take the vehicle onto the highway and drive it at speeds higher than 40 mph to raise the temperature and regenerate the filter. This should result in the warning light turning off.

The worst thing you can do is to ignore the warning light. Doing so will mean soot will continue to build up, ultimately leading to the vehicle’s computer to go into limp mode to prevent more damage. Limp mode limits a vehicle’s speed in an effort to reduce the amount of soot being sent through the filter. If your vehicle goes into limp mode, you may be able to save the filter, but it will require a professional to do it. Therefore, it is in your best interest to never let things get to this point. If you do, you will be looking at a costly repair or replacement.



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A New Generation of Turbo Chargers

Fuel economy is more important than ever these days. This fact has a lot to do with the rise in popularity of turbo chargers. However, since turbo chargers are known for increasing a vehicle’s horsepower, many people are left wondering how they can do that and help with fuel economy.

A turbo charger is turned on when exhaust leaves the engine on its way to the tailpipe. As it does this, a turbine located in the exhaust manifold spins. The turbine is connected to a shaft in the intake manifold that spins a compressor. The turbo charger doesn’t produce any extra power until the driver presses the accelerator down hard (and, as a result, no extra gas is used until that happens, either).

When the accelerator does signal for extra power, the engine takes in more air and fuel, producing more exhaust. This exhaust spins the turbine, compresses air, and fuel injectors add additional fuel which allows a small engine to produce a greater amount of horsepower.

Since every little bit of fuel economy counts these days, many see turbo chargers as a way to get better gas mileage since they only are used when necessary, but the results are mixed. However, since automakers know the importance of better fuel economy ratings, the fact that they are pouring money into turbo chargers means they believe they are making a difference.

The allure of turbo charges is that they make small cars feel more powerful. Original turbo chargers were designed to make very fast cars even faster but caused a delay between when the accelerator was pushed, and when the turbo charger kicked in. Today’s turbo charged engines are in much smaller car engines and only produce extra power when needed. This means that when extra power isn’t required, fuel isn’t used.

Many in the auto industry have faith in turbo chargers, witnessed by the fact that more and more full-sized pickup trucks are turbo charged. This allows trucks with smaller engines to pack the same power as trucks with larger engines, helping them to better haul and tow—and saving on gas mileage.

Once believed to cost owners a great deal of money in the form of repair bills, turbo charged engines are shedding their image as a money pit. Bearings in older model turbo chargers often failed but newer and better oiling systems allow them to run with no problems for hundreds of thousands of miles. Further, turbo chargers of the past often damaged other parts of the car but this is no longer the case.





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