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Questions To Ask Your Mechanic Next Time You Visit

Discussion in 'Straight Talks & Quotes' started by Admin, May 19, 2016.

  1. Admin

    Admin Administrator

    Good day esteemed readers.

    Based on popular demand, we've been requested to write this article. But before these questions, answers and recommendations are given, we'll like to explain the purpose of this article, lest it be used for the wrong purpose.

    1. Automaton On Wheel is using this medium to Celebrate an Icon in the Nigerian Automobile Industry, in the person of Kevin O. Emesiobi, the CEO/CTO of Automaton On Wheels. We wish him Happy Birthday Long Life and Prosperity. He is so passionate about transforming lives and making people achieve their dreams and purpose in every sphere (especially in the Nigerian Automobile Industry). That is the reason why we can't do without sharing vital information with you all.

    2.To enlighten the mechanic and Vehicle Owners as information useful to both of them are being shared, this helps them to check mate one another.

    3. To help identify the extent of further training that your mechanic needs in order to be able to serve you and other clients better, thereby giving you a chance of advising him/her for the betterment of both parties.

    4. To help the client know more about faults that are ongoing on in his vehicle and the need to have a
    knowledgeable Technician or Mechanic explain more and fix such faults before an expensive part is broken or a permanent damage is done to vehicle system.

    Automobile repair industry took a new turn in the early 80's when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in California mandated the installation of a microchips in the vehicle to monitor the level of exhaust emitted gases(CO, NOX, CO2, HC) known as byproducts of the combustion process, this is due to the fact that these gases are not environment friendly. Automobile manufacturers keyed into this line of thought and decided to include other systems, sub-systems and components that could help provide optimal performance and comfort

    On achieving this, the need to monitor the functionality of these systems, sub-systems and components made them introduce other monitors that can communicate with the Technician/Mechanics to aid proper symptoms investigation and problem solving in the Automobiles. That was how we got here....


    1. What is the Vehicle manufacturer's specified fluid for your Engine system, Transmission system, Brake System, Power steering system and Cooling System?

    The answer to this question is contained in one of our previous articles, you can scroll to it and read for better understanding. Vehicle Manufacturers have been generous to include details of things meant for your vehicle in the open, placed under your Hood. But because of alterations made during the time of vehicle usage I recommend you look for this specifications in your Vehicle Owner's Manual (Very Important).

    A. The specified blend of Engine Oil to be used for your Engine System will be indicated on the vehicle oil fill cap i.e. 0W-20 or 5W-30. The figures represents the lowest atmospheric temperature in which your Engine oil can work i.e. 0C or 5C and the highest temperature where the oil will not burn up or loose it's properties i.e. 20C or 30C. If he or she recommend any other oil blend, detailed explanation will be required as to how the recommended blend suits the vehicle more than the manufacturer's specifications.

    B. Specification for Automatic Transmission Fluid are always inscribed on the transmission dipstick. This specifications are mostly for fluids made by the vehicle manufacturer and information for equivalent grade of related fluid can be seen in the Vehicle Owner's manual. This fluid are manufactured to help solve some know faults in vehicle A/T. One more thing, most manufacturer's will indicate that the ATF is for Vehicle lifetime, But based on practical observations the transmission system will work more and shift faster if serviced when the ATF in the assembly has lost it's cooling and lubricating properties.

    C. Any Technician that offers to Top up your Brake Fluid Reservoir without inspecting your Brake Pad Levels or checking for Brake Fluid Leakage really needs to relearn Automobile Repair basics again. This is so, as the Brake Fluid level only drops when your Brake Pads/Linning are wearing off. The replacement of such Brake Pads or Linning with new ones will always cause the level of Brake Fluid to rise back to the 'Full' mark on its reservoir. The Brake system has a closed loop path for fluid flow and because of the importance of the Brake system to safety of life and properties the cause of shortage should be checked before fluid replacement.

    The right specifications for your Brake Fluid is as inscribed on your Brake Reservoir Cap and in your Vehicle Owner's Manual. This specification should be adhered to as Vehicles with expensive Electronic Brake Systems fail easily with the usage of wrong Brake Fluid Specification. Some common Specifications include DOT III (for 2000 to 2007 model vehicles), DOT IV (for 2008 and Newer models). If particles are found in the Brake Fluid Reservoir, consider flushing and replacing the whole Brake Fluid.

    D. Power Steering Fluid is a cooling Fluid that is vital in ensuring your vehicle steers with comfort. This Fluid has a lot of cooling and lubricating functions to perform in the Power Steering Rack and Pinions because of the pressure and temperature under which it operates. Most Vehicles will use the same specification of ATF as the Power Steering Fluid especially if they are both cooled in a common cooling fin or 'radiator'. The Power Steering Fluid should not be topped when short, the source of leak should be confirmed first before replacement.

    E. Engine Cooling System has turned to a water jacket over the years with most vehicles being cooled by only water. Most coolant shortage are due to leakages which may be from a failed Radiator Cap, Radiator Crack, punctured Radiator Fins, Cracked Radiator Hose caused by corrosion, if only water is used as a coolant, e.t.c.These leakages become more prominent at higher temperature resulting in a common fault known as Overheating. Any Technician that offers to fix an overheating condition by topping it up with water will make things worse. The Cooling system is effective when filled with 50% Coolant Concentrate (Ethylene Glycol ) and 50% Water. The Coolant Concentrates helps to increase the boiling point of the cooling Fluid and lowers the freezing point of the mixture; it also helps to prevent corrosion of Radiator and engine Coolant orifices and pores.

    Various types of Coolants are available in the market but no Technician should encourage you to use
    ordinary water as a Coolant.

    2. How do I know my Engine is due for Servicing?

    As Technology is becoming more advanced daily, manual processes are now replaced by Automated
    Processes which execute such process with ease at the push of a button. There are various methods to
    determine if your engine oil is due for change either as manual process or automated processes and some of the method stated here cut across most brands and model, save a few.

    N.B: Used Engine Oil is cancerous and should not be handled carelessly. If in contact with the Skin wash it thoroughly with Soap and Water.

    A. Inspecting the engine Oil on the Dip stick for color change is very essential to knowing the quality of Oil in your Engine. When talking about new Engine Oil and their color,

    Synthetic Oil blend will have a translucent light golden colour,

    Part Synthetic Engine Oil Blend will be translucent light brown in color; these two blends are light in viscosity.

    Mineral Oil Blends are usually thicker and deeper in their translucent brown coloration.

    Adulterated Oil will be greenish or burnt brown in coloration and thick, this shouldn't be used on any vehicle Engine.

    With long time usage Engine Oil changes colour due to tiny dirt particles that are being removed from the Engine and filtered by the Oil Filter. The Oil changes color from its initial color to a darker brown colour and then black color. With the presence of such black colour the Oil is due for change.

    A loss in viscosity will also accompany this colour change. A notable trend in Oil viscosity change due to usage is that the Engine Oil becomes lighter and less viscous as it is exposed to more heat during Engine operation; when it gathers excessive particles and stays for a longer time (longer than due in the vehicle ) it gains viscosity and starts forming thicker sludge segments under the Oil Sump this will finally result in the knocking of the Engine when the sludge block up Oil passage galleries.

    Finally, inspect your Oil dipstick for traces of tiny particles and metal pieces. This will help you identity how suitable the Oil blend is for your Engine and also to know if the Engine needs a flush or not before a new Oil is put into the Engine.

    B. Mileage check: On every modern Vehicle Instrument Cluster is a TRIP A and TRIP B, these trips are service records that are meant to be reset every time the indicated system is serviced or replaced. This also coincides with the Mileage record that is often written on the service tags pasted on the door pillar after servicing, some times appears like "Current Mileage" and "Next Service due Mileage". Most Vehicle Service experts calculate the "Next Service due Mileage" based on manufacturer specifications or information found in owner's manual which require the Engine to be service every 3,000 miles, 5,000km or 6 months whichever comes first.

    This will work fine in a country where there are good roads that aren't congested with vehicles; But in Nigeria, take for example Lagos States, the traffic situation could be as bad as turning a 15 minutes trip (15 miles of Trip Mileage equivalent to 15 miles of Engine operation as recorded by the Tachometer) on free road into a 2hrs 30mins trip or more (this implies that a journey meant for 15min is covered in 2hrs 30mins, meaning the tachometer recorded 15mins engine operation but the engine actually operated for extra 2hrs 15mins without being recorded, this is known as the idle mileage and it's the silent killer of engines. This means, when the Trip reads 3,000 Miles the Engine has actually worked for an equivalent or more than 30,000 Miles of free road Mileage. Just think about that for a minute. That's why at Automaton On Wheels we don't recommend a fixed value for all vehicles; I'll prefer knowing the vehicle usage history before approving a service interval.
    But for those that will be told to use this method, compliment it with the Method A.

    C. Intelligent Oil Life Monitor aka Oil Life proves to be more automated and accurate than the Maintenance Required that works based on the Trip or Mileage record. This is because it uses the Engine RPM, Engine Oil Temperature and Viscosity to to determine the Engine Oil Life, while the engine is operating at high RPM or Low RPM (idle) and when the engine is off. The Maintenance Required Light or "Spanner" on Honda Accords only illuminate when the Trip A or B reaches it's preset limit as indicated on the Vehicle Setting. When this is used in conjunction with Oil life it gives an accurate information as to when you should service next. The Oil Life is indicated in % and it decrease from 100% (at service and reset) to 30 to 15% (Warning is issued for Maintenance Required: consider servicing at this point) and 0% (the Oil might have started building sludge at this point).

    The Challenge with this is that the old mechanic don't know how to reset the Engine Oil Life and then you don't know if it is correct or not, you just have to do the physical oil check again. To know your engine Oil life, Turn the Key ON But Engine OFF, Press the Trip/ Reset button and you will see TRIP A, TRIP B, Oil Life % and any other warning information on your vehicle. Bear in mind that the oil reset basically informs the PCM/ECU/ECM that an oil change has just being carried out on the vehicle, in other to have a corresponding performance.

    3. What should I do when Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL), 'Check Engine Light', 'Service Engine Soon' comes ON?

    Most 'Old Mechanic'- mechanics not learned in the diagnosis and repairs of year 2000 and newer model vehicles are not capable of giving useful information on this subject matter. Some self-acclaimed Technicians, dressed up with fancy Scanners and tools will also beat about the bush in answering this questions. However, there are lot of things that can illuminate your MIL and other warning lights as well; this means many answers could apply.

    But there are some answers that don't just agree with OBD II Technology, few of them are listed below:
    A. "Na so that light dey be once the vehicle enter Naija o"
    B. "That light indicates that your Vehicle is working Fine"
    C. "Oga Owner, that light go OFF when you fire the vehicle very well"
    D."Let me remove the Battery terminal for 3 minutes and the light will be gone forever".
    E."Oga Owner, if you no wan see the light again I fit remove the bulb or block the light"
    F. "Let me clear the codes and the light will be turned OFF"(Please know that the scanner does not fix any problem, it's only a communication path between the vehicle and the technician)

    All these are ridiculous answers that don't solve the fault in your vehicle.

    But any Mechanic that assures you that such warning light i.e. MIL, ABS e.t.c., require Diagnosis before the fault can be fixed deserves an applause and he/she is in tune with modern vehicle repairs.

    The Warning light on your vehicle's Instrument Cluster is your best chance of knowing that a fault is ongoing in your vehicle system; it isn't meant to spread a sense of panic but it is meant to hint you of a need for thorough Diagnosis of the faulty system.

    With all these questions and answers going on, I believe you have finally come to terms with the capability of your Mechanic and he has seen the the need for him to advance himself/herself in order to serve you better.

    I hope you find these information Helpful.

    If you have questions that you need answers to feel free to send us a mail.

    Be a Fixer and not a Fitter... Patronize a Fixer and not a Fitter.

    Oyatoye Oluwayomi
    Auto Diagnostician for Automaton On Wheels

    Culled from www.naijacarlovers.com
  2. Godchild

    Godchild Well-known Member

    Useful informatio. Thank You:D