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With this crummy economy, one way of saving a few bucks is by scheduling regular car maintenance. Now, there are many ways you can maintain your auto such as replacing engine oil, checking the braking system, and inspecting the suspension system. Today, we’re going to tackle another critical part of your auto that is rotating the tires. Here, what we’re going to look at specifically is the concept of 4 tire vs 5 tire rotation.

In case you didn’t know, your car’s tires don’t wear out uniformly. The front tires usually wear out faster than the rear ones leaving each tire with its own uneven wear characteristics. What this means is that you’ll have to spend lots of cash each year just to replace your tires. So, to prevent spending a lot just on tires, this guide will discuss what exactly tire rotation is, the correct tire rotation patterns, and why it’s important to rotate your tires.

4 Tire vs 5 Tire Rotation: Proper Way to Rotate Tires

 

What is Tire Rotation and Why is it Important?

The importance of tire maintenance goes beyond your driving experience. While it’s important to inspect your tires regularly, rotating them periodically is one way you can prevent total wear of your tires. So, for those wondering what tire rotation really is, this is generally the idea of changing the position of each tire to improve the wear quality while still pushing those rubber tires to their life limits.

Now, there are many benefits of tire rotation you’re likely to observe. Apart from getting more life out of them, you’re likely to experience better car handling, increased tire performance, and improved gas mileage among other benefits. With that said, let’s get a roundup of some of the benefits you’re likely to enjoy with tire rotation.

  • Improved Fuel Economy:

By rotating your tires, there’s reduced wear and tear since the amount of wear is distributed evenly across each tire. What this means is that there is less road friction and tire pulling which basically improves traction and stability. With increased stability, your tires rotate more smoothly causing the engine to perform efficiently for better gas mileage not forgetting a reduced cost in repair.

  • Even Tire Wear:

Tires wear out differently due to many factors such as driving habits, type of terrain, temperature fluctuations, and the type of car you’re driving. For instance, if you’re driving a front-wheel-drive car, the front tires are likely to wear out faster since they bear the burden of driving your car while still steering it.

Also, if you have a habit of aggressively turning your car from left to right when driving, your front tires are likely to wear out faster than usual. So, to avoid some of these unwanted tire wear, you need to rotate your tires periodically.

Although it’s fine if you can rotate the tires yourself, it’s usually better if you can hire a professional mechanic to do the job so that they can inspect other areas such as the braking system, tire pressure, and the suspension system.

  • Improved Car Performance:

When tire rotation is observed periodically, you will enjoy better car handling as well as a safer ride. You see, when you avoid tire rotation for too long, what happens is that the tires wear out due to road friction leading to front-end misalignment which generally affects your drivability. In extreme cases, this situation can result in a blown-out tire which is actually dangerous.

  • Decreased Vibrations:

Another advantage of rotating your tires is to reduce vibrations caused by extreme tire wear. These annoying vibrations can be felt on the steering wheel when driving and can leave you with lots of discomfort when driving.

  • Saves Money:

Last but not least, rotating your tires periodically helps you to save a lot of money that could otherwise have been used to replace the tires. It also increases your fuel economy and allows each component to work properly thus saving a lot in repair costs. Finally, by rotating the tires routinely, you can have your car serviced all under one cost thus saving more on repair costs.

 

When Should You Rotate Your Tires

 

Although we’ve mentioned the various benefits of a tire rotation, one burning question most people have been asking themselves is when exactly is the right time to rotate the tires. Normally, tire rotation is considered as a common maintenance task that should be scheduled every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Although it seems normal, tire rotation is a very critical process that can impact your drivability since the tires are the ones that link your 2-ton car with the road.

In most cases, the front tires are the ones that exhibit quicker rates of wear since they’re usually tasked to handle most of the car’s performance. For instance, they’re responsible for braking, steering, and most of all, they bear the added weight of your car’s engine.

So, by rotating your tires, you actually relieve the front wheels from the enormous duty of handling your car and give them a chance to wear out evenly. Although we’ve mentioned the benefits of rotating your tires, what we didn’t mention is some of the factors that cause tire wear. We’ve mentioned about steering, braking, and weight, right? However, there are other reasons that cause uneven tire wear such as poorly inflated tires, worn-out suspension components, improper tire alignment, and uneven weight distribution.

Thankfully, tire wear can be prevented by spreading your tires to different corners of the car. While you can rotate the tires depending on the mileage, you can also consider checking the car’s manual to learn how frequently you’re supposed to rotate the tires.

Finally, another perfect timing you can consider to rotate your tires is when you’re scheduling a comprehensive car maintenance check. This can be accomplished when your car is off the ground when your mechanic is changing the oil or when inspecting the braking and the suspension systems.

 

So, How Do You Rotate Your Tires?

 

Now, the first step of rotating your tires is by inspecting them thoroughly to ensure they’re of the same size. You see, car models are different. For instance, most performance cars have wider rear tires and thin front tires. On the other hand, there are those car models (such as the Audi RS3) that have wider front tires and thin rear tires. With such cars, rotating wider tires with their thin counterparts will more likely be impossible.

Another case is with the wheels. This is demonstrated by some specific car models such as the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro z/28 that has the same tire sizes but different wheel sizes. Since the rear wheels are wider than the fronts, you have to remove the tire from the wheel for you to rotate them. Thankfully, since your car comes with a user manual, you have to peruse through it thoroughly to understand the nature of your tires.

Since we’ve mentioned the first step of rotating your tires, we’ll go straight to the second step that is marking the tires with a pencil to avoid losing track of which tire belongs to where. So, once you’re done marking the tires, loosen the lug nuts of each tire before jacking it off. Loosening the nuts when the tires are on the ground is very important as it saves you the time of having to deal with sticky nuts when the car is on the jack stand.

So, once the car is off the ground, remove the nuts with your fingers and confirm that all the tires and wheels are of the same size. Make sure you understand the tires to determine whether they’re directional or non-directional.

 

4 Tire Rotation Method

 

The 4 tire rotation method is quite common in most cars and it usually comes up with three rotation patterns. This method can be used with directional or non-directional tires as well as vehicles that use front-drive, rear-drive, and all-wheel-drive. Before you start rotating the tires, you need to inspect them thoroughly to ensure that both the front and rear tires are of the same size. So, if you’re ready, let’s begin.

  • 1. Forward Cross Pattern

The forward cross rotation pattern is one of the most common patterns used in most cars today. This rotation method is associated with cars that use the front-wheel-drive transmission. Just as we mentioned earlier, each tire on your car has its own uneven wear characteristics. For instance, front tires are susceptible to regular wear and tear since they hold most of the car’s weight as well as handling most of the car’s performance issues.

To prevent an accelerated rate of wear, the rear tires are supposed to be shifted on opposite sides of the front axles while the front tires are supposed to be swapped straight to the rear on the same side. When swapping the tires, it’s recommended that you inspect the depth of the treads and the tire pressure to ensure the tires are in perfect condition.

  • 2. Rear-Wheel Drive

The rear-wheel-drive rotation pattern is usually used when your vehicle is a rear-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive. With these types of vehicles, the rate of tire wear is usually more balanced since there’s a division of labor between the front and the rear tires. While the rear tires deliver the power, the front tires take care of the steering and the braking system.So, to rotate tires in this type of setup, the rear tires should shift straight to the front axle on the same side while the front tires should move pretty much on opposite sides of the rear axles.

  • 3. The X-Pattern

The X-pattern rotation method is an alternative to the forward cross pattern for those motorists driving the front-wheel-drive vehicles. In this tire rotation method, the front tires are swapped with the rear tires but on opposite positions. Therefore, the front tires will not go directly at the back on the same side but rather on the diagonal side. Likewise, the rear tires will move on opposite sides of the front axles.

 

Directional and Non-Directional Patterns

 

Now, following advancement in modern technology, the vehicle industry has continued to redesign car tires and wheels to improve drivability and overall car performance. This has led to the introduction of two other rotation patterns which are the directional and the non-directional patterns also known as the front to rear and the side to side patterns.

  • 4. Directional Pattern

This tire rotation pattern is also known as the front to a back pattern where tires on the same side are designed to swap only on one side. This means that the front and rear tires on the left can swap while the front and rear tires on the right can swap each other as well. For this method to work, your car’s tires must be directional and must rotate in the same direction. What makes directional tires quite unique is because the tires have a one-way tread pattern that’s optimized depending on the direction the tires are rotating.

The tread patterns are also angled to optimize handling and are designed to channel water perfectly under the tires to reduce hydroplaning and improve traction when driving on wet conditions. For those DIYers looking to swap the tires themselves, directional tires have little arrows or triangles on the sidewall that indicate the direction in which the tires are supposed to turn.

  • 5. Non-Directional Pattern

The non-directional pattern is also known as the side-to-side pattern. Unlike the directional pattern, the non-directional pattern is not limited as it offers you the freedom to rotate your tires both on the front and rear axles. However, this pattern is mostly used on side-to-side tires such as switching rear tires and front tires independently.

Now, for most performance cars that have thick rear tires and thin front tires (and vice-versa), considering the side-to-side pattern is the only logical procedure. However, if you wish to rotate the tires using the X-pattern, you’ll have to dismount the tires from the wheels then remount them on the opposite wheels to enhance balance.

  • 6. All-Wheel Drive

Just like driving any other vehicle, all-wheel-drive vehicles will also require tire rotation maintenance to stay in good shape. Although there’s a common misconception that all-wheel-drive tires wear out more evenly, this is not always the case since 4-wheel drive systems don’t always drive with all the four tires all the time.

In fact, most all-wheel-drive vehicles use the front tire mode when driving leaving the front tires with a better chance of wearing out rapidly. Also, the weight difference between the front and rear can affect the rate of wear you’re likely to experience with the tires.

Therefore, if you’re driving an all-wheel or a four-wheel-drive vehicle and you’re planning to rotate the tires, always follow the rear-wheel-drive pattern. The front tires will switch to the opposite sides of the rear axles while the rear tires will move straight to the front axles without changing sides. This means that the left front tire will switch to the right rear, the left front to the right rear and left rear will move to the left front while the right rear will go to the right front.

 

5 Tire Rotation Method

 

The next tire rotation method you might want to consider besides the 4-tire rotation is the 5-tire rotation method. This method is quite common among most motorists with four-wheel drive vehicles. Unfortunately, it’s also the most complex as it includes the spare tire into the equation. What makes it even more complex is because the majority of modern vehicles today are equipped with spare tires that aren’t intended for extended driving.

Such spare tires are usually branded as “for temporary use” meaning they’re lightweight with shallower tread depths making them the best for temporary use before you repair the original tire. So, in case your spare tire is labeled “for temporary use”, then a 5-tire rotation method will generally be impossible to implement. However, if your spare tire is of the same size as the rest of the four tires, then this method will generally work for you.

In most cases, the 5-tire rotation method works best for 4×4 SUV vehicles and All-wheel drive vehicles since the spare tires are of the same size as the rest of the tires. In this case, the spare will need to be rotated to give each tire a break. Also, this will give the spare tire a chance to help out instead of sitting there waiting to be reused. So, if you’re considering the 5-tire rotation method, here are two patterns you can consider.

  • 7. Forward Cross

The forward cross pattern is usually considered when your vehicle is a front-wheel drive with non-directional tires and a matching spare tire. In this pattern, the rear tires will move on the front hub in a criss-cross manner while the left front tire will move to the left rear hub. The spare tire will then move to the right rear hub while the front tire will become the spare tire.

  • 8. Rearward Cross

On the other hand, if you’re driving a rear-wheel-drive vehicle or a 4×4 wheel car with a full-size matching spare, then the rearward cross pattern is the best to consider. In this pattern, the rear tires will switch to the front hubs. Next, the right front tire will switch to the left rear hub while the spare tire will move to the right rear hub. The front tire will then become the new spare tire.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, the idea of tire rotation is one of the smart ways you can consider to extend the life of your tires. Other ways you can think of includes adjusting the pressure on each tire, even weight distribution, and regular inspection on the nuts to ensure they’re tight enough.

Finally, when you’re planning to rotate your tires, always make sure that you peruse through the owner’s manual to understand the type of tires on your vehicle and whether they’re directional or non-directional. In case you don’t have a manual, you can inquire at a dealership, ask a car expert, or visit your car’s manufacturer’s website to inquire from their customer support team.

In the past, carmakers used glass headlights, which were very expensive to manufacture. Today, most manufacturers have switched to polycarbonate or plastic made headlights, which are lighter, cheap to manufacture, and above all, they’re less prone to damage. While that’s a major milestone, one huge drawback with plastic headlights is that the lenses are susceptible to oxidation that comes in the form of a cloudy or tarnished hue. So, to prevent this yellowing that can cause a reduced night time vision, this guide will discuss how to clean oxidized headlights to restore them back to their former glory.

Now, the best way of dealing with oxidized headlights is by switching them with a brand new pair. However, the cost of buying a new polycarbonate pair of headlights can be very expensive. Due to this reason, most people look for alternatives one of which is cleaning the headlights to remove the oxidation.

 

But First, What Causes Oxidized Headlights?

From the 1980s, most car manufacturers stopped using glass as the primary material for making headlights. Instead, they began using polycarbonate due to its immense benefits such as its lightweight, durability, and flexibility since it was easier to design into different headlight shapes. Now, despite its immense versatility, polycarbonate or plastic is highly susceptible to oxidation, which can cause visibility issues. In this section, we will highlight different factors that cause oxidation or yellowing of the headlights.

  • Oxidation:

Car headlights come with a clear protective coat at the top that helps to prevent oxidation. However, following extreme exposure to UV rays, this clear coat eventually begins to crack and wear off hastening the yellowing or oxidation on the headlights.

  • Flying Road Debris:

Other than being damaged by the UV rays, your car’s headlights can suffer a heavy beating from minute particles of tiny dust, gravel, road salt, and other debris. These types of road debris can easily tarnish the top coat of your car and still cause serious harm to your car’s headlights such as pits, scratches, and oxidation.

  • Dirt and Chemical Buildup:

After spending a couple of years on the road, the headlight lenses of your aging car can start to form a thin layer of dirt and chemical buildup caused by dirt, magnesium chloride, and other salts. This thin opaque layer can cause the headlights to dim making it hard for you to view the road clearly.

  • Damages Caused by the Atmosphere:

Due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions, there has been an increase in cases of acid rain. What happens is that chemical pollutants in the atmosphere react with water vapor causing sulfuric and nitric acid rains. Now, when this acid rain or snow falls on the surface of your car, it causes serious harm and degradation on your car’s finish and headlights in the form of distinctive wear patterns and cloudiness.

  • Water Vapor:

Car headlights are manufactured with a watertight seal that prevents condensation from forming in the inside. As your car ages, this seal can break due to wear and tear causing condensation to form in the inside. Since it’s impossible to clean the inside of the headlights, water droplets begin to form in the lenses thus impairing the beam of light being produced by the bulbs.

 

Tips for Cleaning Oxidized Headlights

 

Now that we’ve discussed a couple of reasons that cause car headlights to oxidize, our next part is to discuss various methods you can use to clean your tarnished headlights. Now, we’re aware that some people might consider replacing their headlight kits instead of going through the hassle of cleaning them. However, replacing your headlights is advisable if you own an affordable car.

If your car is a high-end luxury auto, the cost of replacing the headlights can be really expensive. Since you’re not ready to incur such hefty costs, the best option is to fold your sleeves and clean the headlights yourself. With that said, here are a few methods you can consider.

 

Part One: How to Clean Oxidized Headlights Using Toothpaste

 

Yes, you heard me well. By the way, cleaning your headlights using toothpaste is one of the most popular methods used by most car owners today. Just like how toothpaste removes plaque from your teeth without harming them, its mild abrasive characteristics allow it to get rid of dirt and grime buildup from your car’s headlights without hurting them.

What Will You Need?

  • Automotive paint masking tape
  • Water for cleaning
  • Dish soap
  • Old toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (one with baking soda works best)
  • Clean microfiber cloths
  • Automotive detail wax
  • Spray bottle
  • UV sealant

 

Step One: Wash

Now that you’ve gathered all your essentials, let’s start cleaning those filthy nasty headlights. Shall we? Great!  As a rule of thumb, always start by washing the affected headlights thoroughly using clean water and dish soap. Scrub the surface of the headlights vigorously using a sponge or a cloth to get rid of large patches of dirt and grime.

Once you’re confident the headlights are clean, rinse them thoroughly using clean plain water. Wipe the headlights perfectly then allow them to dry up naturally. As the headlights dry up, you can spend this time to inspect the surface of the headlights to ensure they’re clean and not scratched.

Step Two: Taping

Once you’re done cleaning the headlights, use a recommended automotive-grade masking tape or a painter’s tape to cover the area around the headlights. This is a crucial step you shouldn’t bypass as failure to do this can damage the paintwork nearest to the headlights. Remember, damages to your paintwork will be caused by the abrasive nature of toothpaste combined with the pressure of scrubbing and polishing.

Note: The reason why automotive-grade masking tape is recommended is due to its gentle nature as it doesn’t peel off your paintwork once you remove it.

Step Three: Scrubbing

Now that everything is set, it’s time to start scrubbing the headlights to remove grime, dirt, and road debris. If you need to wear a pair of gloves, this is where you’ll be putting them on. If you’re okay working with bare hands, then grab your toothpaste and start applying it on the surface of the headlights in a circular motion.

Since there are many ways of killing a rat, some people will opt to apply the toothpaste on a clean cloth then start scrubbing immediately. Although this method is perfectly okay, using a toothbrush to scrub the surface of your headlights is the best method as this will give you more scrubbing power. Nonetheless, expect to spend around five minutes cleaning the headlights.

Step Four: Rinsing

After giving your headlights a vigorous scrubbing, it’s time to rinse them with clean water. Use clean water to rinse them several times until all the toothpaste leftovers are removed entirely. You can also rinse the paintwork next to the masking tape to ensure that you don’t leave any toothpaste residue behind. When you’re done, wipe the excess water with a dry microfiber cloth then allow the headlights to dry up naturally.

Step Five: Apply Car Wax

Although this method will not permanently prevent your headlights from future oxidation, you can successfully decrease the rate of wear caused by UV rays by applying a protective coat of car wax. So, start by applying the wax (automotive detailed wax) on the surface of your headlights then use a dry cloth to apply it in a circular motion. When you’re done, rinse the headlights thoroughly then leave them to dry.

Step Six: Apply UV Sealant

To finalize this method, you need to apply a UV sealant on your headlights to shield them from the sun’s rays. Follow the instructions on the sealant on how to apply it. However, as a rule of thumb, the application involves wiping the headlights in long sweeping strokes.

Step Seven: Allow it to Cure

After application, you need to park your car somewhere on the outside to take advantage of direct sunlight to cure the sealant. This usually takes around 10 – 45 minutes.

 

Part Two: Cleaning Oxidized Headlights Using Vinegar Solution

 

What if toothpaste is not your thing? Well, you can consider the slightly abrasive characteristics of vinegar especially when it’s mixed with baking soda. When vinegar is mixed with baking soda, what you’ll have is a reaction between a base and an acid which is more responsive in cleaning car headlights as compared to toothpaste.

What You’ll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean microfiber cloths
  • Water
  • Baking soda

 

Step One: Start by Washing the Headlights

Before you start getting rid of oxidation from your headlights, you’ll first need to clean them thoroughly to remove any grime, dirt, and road debris from the surface. To do this, simply mix three cups of water with one cup of white distilled vinegar. Put the solution in a clean spray bottle and start praying it on the surface of the headlights. Before you can start wiping it off, it’s good to let it soak for several seconds to loosen any hard dirt.

Step Two: Wipe Away Dirt

So, once you’re done washing the headlights, the next step is to wipe away the dirt, and the vinegar solution from the surface. In case there are some visible debris, dirt and surface grime, then you can try scrubbing using a cloth to remove them. Now, when you’re done, you’ll notice that all the dirt has been removed but your headlights are still yellowed and foggy. If that’s the case, don’t panic as the next step will handle that.

Step Three: Cleaning Car Headlights Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Now that you’ve wiped off all the grime, dirt, and road debris from your headlights, the next step is to clean the oxidation or rather the foggy yellow tint from your headlights. To do this, you’ll need to mix about four tablespoons of vinegar with two tablespoons of baking soda. The combination of the two will start to foam making it the best solution for cleaning foggy headlights.

So, once you’ve mixed the solution, simply dip a clean microfiber cloth into the container (containing the solution) and start applying it on the headlights. Use a firm circular motion when applying and don’t forget to pay attention to the edges of the headlights.

Step Four: Rinse

Once you’re through applying the vinegar/baking soda solution, the next step is to rinse the solution using clean water. This is a very crucial step you can’t afford to bypass as failure to rinse the solution can leave a white haze of baking soda on your headlights.

When you’re rising, you can opt to use a wet clean cloth to scrub the surface of the headlights or simply use a spray bottle to spray clean water on the headlights. Whichever method you prefer to use, always ensure that the headlights are sparkling clean before proceeding to the next step.

Step Five: Apply Protective Wax

Now that you’ve washed off all the oxidation from your headlights, the final step is to seal the lights to prevent any possible re-oxidation.  There are two ways you can accomplish this. One is by using an automotive wax to seal the lambs while the second one is by using a DIY vinegar wax. While we’ve already discussed how to apply automotive wax, we will discuss the DIY vinegar wax process in this part.

So, start off by mixing one cup of linseed oil, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons of beeswax, and four tablespoons of carnauba wax. Once you’ve mixed the ingredients, use a double boiler to heat them until the wax melts. In case you don’t have a double boiler, you can put the mixture in a tin then place the tin inside a pot containing boiling water.

Once the wax has melted, remove it from the pot and immediately pour it into a different container. Allow it to cool down until it solidifies. After that, start rubbing the solid wax onto your car’s headlights using a clean cloth. Always make sure that you apply the wax in a circular motion throughout the headlights to enhance uniformity.

Step Six: Remove the Wax

So, to finalize this method, you will need to use a clean cloth to buff off the wax from the surface of your headlights. Scoop the wax gently in a circular motion and don’t leave any residue behind. Remember, if any residue is left behind, it might become a hotspot for dust and debris leaving patches on your headlights.

 

Part Three: Cleaning Oxidized Headlights Using Sandpaper

 

In case you’ve tried all the above methods and nothing seems to work, then you can try our last method which is sanding the headlights to restore them back to their former glory. So, if you’re set, then let’s get rolling.

Things You’ll Need

  • Shop towels
  • Sandpapers with different values of 1000, 2000 and 3000
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Automotive masking tape
  • Spray bottle and soapy water
  • A drill
  • Finishing polish

 

Step One: Cleaning and Masking the Headlights

Now that you’ve gathered your essentials, you will start off by washing the headlights thoroughly with clean water and some soap. But before doing that, there are several things you’ll have to do. First, you need to soak your sandpapers in the water while you proceed to wash the headlights. Secondly, you have to tape the area surrounding the headlights to avoid compromising with the paintwork near the headlights.

So, once you’re done taping the areas close to the headlights, you can start washing the headlights with water and car soap. You can use a cloth or a soft-bristled brush to scrub the headlights depending on how tough the grime is.

Step Two: Sand the Headlights

Earlier on, we had mentioned about soaking the sandpapers in water. Since they’ve already dampened, it’s now time to commence the scrubbing process. Here, you need to start with 1,000 grit sandpaper which you have to scrub against the plastic headlights evenly.

Now, to avoid damaging the headlights, you have to keep spraying the sandpaper with water to keep it wet at all times. Make sure that you scrub for about 5 – 10 minutes before rinsing with clean water and a microfiber cloth. When you’re done, repeat the process with 2,000 grit sandpaper then a 3,000 grit sandpaper.

Step Three: Polish the Headlights

After you’re done sanding the headlights, the next step is to apply automotive polish. To do this, simply apply two dabs of regular polish on a 4-inch polishing or microfiber buffer pad. Attach the buffer pad on a drill then polish the headlights using a speed of about 1500 – 1800 RPM.

Step Four: Apply Polishing and Waxing

Before you polish the headlights for the second time, first wipe the surface of the headlights with a dry cloth to remove any residue. Next, apply the finishing polish again to ensure the headlights are clean and crystal clear. When you’re done, apply wax on a new buffer pad and reapply it on the headlights by attaching the pad on a drill. When you’re done, clean the headlights to remove the wax and give them a crystal clear appearance.

 

Conclusion

So, there you have it all. In case you’ve been struggling to see the road in front of you due to oxidized headlights, then this guide has offered you everything that’s needed to restore them back to their former glory. As you can see, each of these methods we’ve discussed has its own ups and downs. For instance, a vinegar solution is a smart strategy you can consider since the acid contained in vinegar can help to remove grime and tough stains on your headlights. However, vinegar is not resilient enough to remove deep rusts from your headlights.

On the other hand, sanding is a surefire strategy for removing oxidation from your headlights. That’s because wet sanding removes the top layers of your plastic headlights to make it look new. The problem with this method, however, is that when it’s done repeatedly, it can cause the headlights to crack.

Last but not least, in case you’re not getting the desired results even after attempting all the above methods, maybe you can try switching your headlights with a pair of new ones. Always make sure that you contact a professional detailer for professional advice.

Back in the old days, cars were considered crucial pieces of luxury that only individuals with high stature had the bragging rights of owning. Today, this tradition has completely faded away where almost everyone has access to a decent car. Whether it’s a new or a used car, one way of extending the life of your auto, while still keeping it at peak performance is by scheduling regular maintenance. So, to guarantee that you don’t spend most of your hard-earned money paying the mechanic, this comprehensive guide will discuss essential car maintenance tips you’ll need to follow.

You see, whether you live in the metro city or just in a small town, a car is an essential asset you can’t live without. In fact, some individuals have gone ahead to convert their cars (RVs) into mobile homes to enjoy the freedom of living almost anywhere their vehicles take them. Whatever the reason, your vehicle is here to stay and regular maintenance is what that is needed to help it run efficiently. So, with that said, whether you’re an owner of a business fleet, a limo service, or just a regular weekend car hobbyist, this guide has sub-divide the 50 car maintenance tips into different categories for easy perusal and reference. Please read on.

 

But First, What’s the Importance of Vehicle Maintenance?

 

Just like any other well-oiled machine, your car is made up of a variety of different mechanical parts that need regular maintenance to stay in good shape. While most people are aware of some basic tips they can follow to keep their cars well maintained, what they don’t know is why performing such regular maintenance checks is important to their cars. To answer this rhetoric, this section has listed seven compelling reasons as to why maintaining your car is important.

  • Improves Longevity:

This is by far one of the key reasons why your car requires regular checks. Just by conducting regular maintenance schedules, you’re able to keep various problems at bay such as battery problems, tires, brakes, and fuel level issues. By doing this, the various components within your car will have an extended life which can make it look neat and surprisingly stunning as compared to most newer cars.

  • Reduced Repair Costs:

Some people will argue that regular car maintenance is expensive. But, if you do the math, you’ll realize that spending little cash now to maintain the health of your car is much better than dealing with an unexpected repair which can turn out to be expensive. For instance, failure to inspect the engine for minor signs such as cracks, leaks and excessive wear caused by friction, can turn out to be a major issue to a point of replacing the entire engine.

  • Enhances Reliability and Performance:

As your car ages, there’s a high chance it will suffer a decline in efficiency and performance. One of the major signs that can tell your car is suffering from reliability issues is a drop in fuel economy where you notice regular refueling of the fuel tank. Another sign is a rapid drop in battery power, braking issues, and unfamiliar noises when your car is in motion. So, to prevent such problems from getting your way, make sure that you have your car checked immediately.

  • Improves Personal Safety:

Apart from human error, one major cause of most road accidents around the globe is a sudden malfunction of critical components within the car. This can be the engine, a tire bursting while driving at full speed or the braking system suddenly giving up the very moment you need it most. Another common cause is when your car breaks down at night in the middle of nowhere leaving you stranded. So, to boost personal safety and prevent some of these annoying situations that can ruin your journey, scheduling regular maintenance is really important.

  • Reduces Road Emergencies:

Apart from accidents, failure to repair your car frequently can lead to regular breakdowns, which can be very annoying. Some situations such as the engine failing to start, tire bursts, and oil/coolant leakage can also be frustrating and time-consuming especially if you had scheduled a meeting with a tight timeframe.

  • Protects the Environment:

As you can see, most countries today have implemented stiffer regulations concerning vehicle exhaust emissions. This has led to the production of hybrid and electric vehicles, which have potentially lowered the amount of harmful fumes that escape to the atmosphere. While carmakers are doing their best to reduce vehicle emissions, car owners, with cars that run on fossil fuel, are expected to play their part by avoiding driving un-roadworthy vehicles. Therefore, to cut excess carbon emissions, scheduling regular car maintenance is very important.

  • Increases Your Car’s Resale Value:

Have you ever wondered why some classic cars are actioned at a higher resale value? Well, apart from being rare and out of the market for a long time, the owners of such vehicles usually conduct regular maintenance to keep them in mint condition. Although your car doesn’t have to be a rare model just to be well-maintained, keeping it in tip-top condition can help to increase its resale value in case you plan to sell it in the future.

 

Car Maintenance Checklist: 50 Essential Steps

 

The First Two Basic Prerequisites

 

  • 1. Read the Owner’s Manual

Before you think of adding or getting rid of anything from your vehicle, the first critical step you need to take is to peruse through your car’s manual. You see, when it comes to your car’s maintenance, there’s no “one size fits all”. Since cars come in different models, sizes, and years of manufacture, each car has its own requirements, which are indicated in the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website.

So, before you change your car’s oil, it’s good to first double-check the manual to ensure that you have the right oil. Also, you will understand exactly what your car needs without causing any serious damages to the engine.

  • 2. Understand the Various Warning Light Indicators

Even after conducting meticulous inspection and maintenance on your car, it’s always not guaranteed that every component within the car will be repaired. Thankfully, most modern cars are designed with sophisticated sensors that trigger warning light indicators in case something is amiss. As part of your car’s basic maintenance, the second step is to learn the various indicator lights on your car’s dashboard to have a basic understanding of your car’s demands.

  • Check Engine Light: This indicator light usually notifies you of a possible problem in the engine. This is all thanks to multiple sensors on your car’s motor that are connected and monitored by the car’s OBD II interface. So, to correct any possible problem with the engine, you’ll need to consult a professional mechanic who will use an OBD II scanner to scan the various OBD II codes to determine the root cause of the problem.
  • Service Engine Light: Whenever you see an indicator light showing “service”, “service engine” and “maintreqd”, then it’s a direct reminder that your car’s engine needs to be serviced as soon as possible.
  • Electrical Fault Light: When you see this indicator light, then it’s a direct sign that your car’s electrical charging system is misbehaving. If you’re worried where exactly you need to start from, you can commence by assessing the alternator as it’s the one at fault here in most cases.
  • Coolant Warning Light: Do you know what this indicator light mean? Well, it simply means that your engine is overheating and needs to cool down immediately. So, to remedy this problem, you only need to pull off immediately and open the car’s hood to allow the engine to cool down.
  • Oil Warning Light: Once this warning light flashes, then it’s a clear indication that the oil level in your engine is getting lower than normal. Sometimes, the light can indicate an even bigger problem such as a malfunctioning oil pump or a blocked oil strainer that can easily wreak havoc on your car’s engine.
  • Brakes Warning Light: Several factors can cause the brake warning light to engage. One of those is when the brake fluid levels get low while the second is when the brake pads are completely worn out. The third reason is when you accidentally engage the emergency brake.

 

Engine Maintenance Tips

 

  • 3. Check the Oil Level Regularly

The reason why this tip is among the first is due to the critical role the engine plays as part of your auto. You see, the engine is the heart of your car and has multiple moving parts that generate friction whenever they rub against each other. These parts, which include the pistons, can cause a substantial reduction in your engine’s performance.

So, to prevent this issue, you need to check the oil level regularly to ensure that all moving parts within the engine are perfectly lubricated. To check the oil level, all you need is a dipstick. Some dipsticks have color indicators while others are marked with dots near the tip to indicate where exactly the oil level should lie.

Other than the oil level, something else you should be keen on is the color of the oil. In case the engine oil is dark, then it simply means it contains chemical additives, contaminants, or worse, sludge and it must be replaced.

  • 4. Check the Drive Belts

Apart from generating power to run your vehicle, the engine is also tasked to generate mechanical power to run other parts and accessories within it such as the alternator, the air conditioning compressor, the air, the water, and the power steering pumps among other components. To transfer this mechanical power, the engine relies on timing, a serpentine or a V-belt that connects to the crankshaft pulley and the rest of the mechanical parts.

Although these belts are tasked to perform such strenuous work, they’re unfortunately made of rubber and other polymer materials that wear out fast following regular use forcing them to degrade. Unless your engine uses chain belts, rubber belts will require regular inspection to ensure there are no visible hairline cracks. Since each car is different from the other, you need to refer to your car’s manual frequently to determine the right time to replace the belt.

  • 5. Check the Engine Coolant Level

The engine consists of pistons and other moving parts that generate friction in the form of heat. If this heat is not controlled, then the engine can overheat causing it to breakdown unexpectedly. Thankfully, this issue can easily be controlled with the help of the radiator and the fluid running inside it, which is the engine coolant. Once the coolant is supplied in the reservoir, then it will control the temperatures in the engine by dissipating excess temperature to the environment.

As part of your car’s maintenance checklist, regular checks on your engine’s coolant level is very important. In fact, most modern vehicles come with translucent reservoirs that let you visually inspect the level of the coolant without having to open the reservoir.

  • 6. Change the Air Filter Regularly

The air filter is among those components that play a critical role in maintaining the integrity of your engine. Its main purpose is to allow efficient fuel-air fixture in the combustion chamber by filtering out contaminants, debris and particulate matter from your fuel and air.

Now, depending on your driving conditions, there are times when the air filter may get clogged faster than usual. Failure to check it regularly means that dirt and debris can easily accumulate on the air filter causing a significantly reduced horsepower, mediocre gas mileage and sometimes, unusual sounds and misfires coming from the engine.

To prevent these issues, all you need is to schedule regular car maintenance by regularly inspecting the air filter. Although it’s good to adhere to your car’s manufacturer recommendation, replacing the air filter as soon as it gets clogged is one way of maintaining your engine’s condition and integrity.

  • 7. Check the Spark Plug

Another component that plays a critical role in enhancing the efficiency of your car’s engine is the spark plug. For those vehicles that rely on the standard copper spark plugs, replacing them after every 30,000 miles will be highly recommended. If your car relies on the more advanced iridium spark plugs, then a timely change of 100,000 miles will be fine.

Failure to replace your spark plugs can lead to engine misfires, trouble starting your car, reduced acceleration, worsening fuel economy, and engine surging. Now, to replace the spark plugs, all you need is to read the owner’s manual to locate them. From there, you need to inspect them for any signs of damage to determine whether to repair or to replace them.

  • 8. Replace the Fuel Filter

Just like the air filter, the fuel filter plays a key role in sieving unwanted contaminants from your fuel before it gets to the engine. Unfortunately, the fuel filter can also get clogged after regular functioning causing engine inefficiency. Thankfully, this can be avoided by scheduling a regular inspection of the fuel filter and replacing it occasionally by following your car’s manual.

 

Maintaining the Electrical System

 

  • 9. Inspect the Battery Regularly

The battery is among those components that are highly visible thus making it easier for you to inspect and repair. Now, some of the visible signs of a damaged battery include frayed cables, cracked cases, corrosion on the terminals, and acid leaks. So, to prevent any damages, all you need to do is to disconnect the battery from the car by disconnecting the negative terminal first followed by the positive terminal.

From there, use a damp cloth to wipe the battery casing to remove any fluids and dirt particles. You can also check for any signs of damages such as cracks and bulges as well as remove any corrosion on the terminals. Once you’re done, all you have to do is to reconnect the battery by connecting the positive terminal first followed by the negative terminal.

  • 10. Avoid Using Electrical Components When the Engine is Off

Still, on the battery, avoid leaving your car’s electrical components on when the engine is off. One of the biggest mistakes most motorists make is using their cars’ electrical components when the engine is off. This involves listening to the radio or using home appliances in case of an RV. What happens is that your car’s battery gets drained off pretty fast leaving it with no charge to power the engine.

  • 11. Drive Regularly

Now, why did you buy your car in the first place if you intended to leave it packed in the garage for weeks? In case you didn’t know, this is one way you can easily damage most of your car’s components such as the battery.So, to prevent this,don’t leave your car stagnant in the garage for weeks. Instead, take some time to drive or even leave the engine running for around 30 minutes for the battery to get charged.

Just to add on that, In case your car has been in the garage for weeks, avoid driving for short trips. Instead, try to go out for long trips to give the battery more time to recharge entirely.

  • 12. Avoid Jumpstarting a Flat Battery

The battery is one of the fragile components of the engine. During regular maintenance, one thing you should avoid is jumpstarting it when it’s already flat as this can damage your electrical components. However, if you must jumpstart a dead battery, always read your car’s manual to understand how the process should go.

Something else about the battery is that you should always secure it back in the engine bay after you’re done cleaning and inspecting it. In case you fail to secure it properly, the engine’s vibrations can easily disorient the battery’s terminals causing them to break free. Since the battery is tasked to supply a steady flow of electrical power to various components within the engine, your car is likely to stop and break down.

  • 13. Don’t Park Outside During Winter

For those living in extremely cold regions, parking your car outside during winter is one way you can cause a rapid deterioration of the battery. Now, batteries get discharged pretty fast during winter. Since your car will be exposed to freezing water when left outside, then this will generally cause the battery to get discharged faster than usual.

The most effective way to prevent such rapid deterioration of the battery is to park your car inside an insulated garage and don’t forget to charge the battery frequently.

 

Tires, Wheels and the Braking System

 

  • 14. Tire Maintenance

Other than the engine and the battery, your car’s tires are other important components that demand regular maintenance to stay in good shape. Since the tires are the ones in regular contact with the road, a slight imbalance can lead to a disaster especially when you’re speeding in sharp turns. So, to maintain the health of your tires, here are some key areas you’ll need to check on.

  • Tire Pressure:

The first thing you need to look at is the tire pressure. In case you didn’t know, most of the tire-related accidents on our roads are caused by under-inflated tires. This serious condition can put your car’s tires on the risk of blowing out while still compromising with your car’s fuel economy. So, to prevent this, all you need is to read your car’s user manual to find out the amount of psi each tire should hold.

Once you have an idea, simply grab a tire pressure gauge and insert it into the valve stem of your tire to check the amount of pressure on each tire. In case the psi number is above what’s written on the user manual, you can reduce the pressure, and if it’s below the recommended psi number, then you can simply add the pressure.

  • The Treads:

Other than the tire pressure, something else you need to be keen on is the tread depth of each tire. To check this, you can try placing a coin inside the imprinted patterns to see how deep the treads are. Secondly, you can try driving on wet mud to see whether the imprinted patterns are protrusive or not.

  • Tire Rotation:

Tire rotation is something else you can count on if you’re looking to improve the health of your tires. This can be done by closely monitoring the tires for any signs of wear then rotating them carefully to ensure that they maintain the right balance and alignment.

 

  • 15. Replace Worn Out Tires

Now that you’ve inspected the tires for any signs of wear, in case any of the tires have an issue, then you need to replace it immediately. As you replace your tires, don’t forget to take care of the spare tire as it also needs to be kept in good condition. Remember, your car’s tire is the only component that gets to contact with the ground. This makes it susceptible to damage meaning regular maintenance will have to be observed to avoid any accidents.

  • 16. Check the Brake Pads and the Rotor

The braking system is another sensitive area that demands regular maintenance. When you hit the brake, what happens is that you apply pressure on the brake fluid forcing it to push the brake pads to get into contact with the rotor. In the process, immense friction is generated which helps to stop a moving vehicle. Since the brake pads and the rotor are usually in contact when the car is in motion, these parts are likely to wear out pretty fast thus calling for sincere attention regularly.

For those that are newcomer drivers, here are some common signs that can tell when your brake pads require some check-up.

  • When your car’s steering vibrates whenever you hit the brakes.
  • When you hear metal-on-metal grinding sounds.
  • When you smell burning rubber whenever you hit the brakes.
  • If you hear a high-pitched squealing sound when you hit the brakes.

While all of these signs are just symptoms, the worst case is when you’re unable to stop your car even after pressing the brakes. If this sounds like you, then you need to conduct routine brake checks.

  • 17. Upgrade Your Brake Parts

Your car’s braking system is made up of multiple components that work together to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. Other than the brake pads and the rotor, the braking system comprises of so many parts that start from the brake pedal, the master cylinder, brake caliper, brake lines, wheel cylinder to the pistons among other components.

Now, since the braking system is very complex, most modern vehicles are fitted with multiple sensors that notify you on the dashboard whenever there’s a problem. So, to keep your vehicle well maintained, it’s always good to refer to the manual to know when it’s the best time to upgrade your car’s brake parts.

 

Taking Care of Oils and Fluids

 

  • 18. Brake Fluid

The next part of your vehicle that requires regular maintenance is the oils and the fluids. Here, we will start with the most critical fluid that is the brake fluid. The brake fluid is found in a reservoir located at the back of the engine compartment. During your car’s regular maintenance, the first step you should take is to clean the exterior of the reservoir before you open it. When you’re done, open the reservoir to check the level of the fluid. In case it’s too low, you can top it up and in case it’s too dark, then you can replace it with fresh brake fluid.

  • 19. Transmission Fluid

The job of the transmission fluid is to lubricate the transmission to make it easier for you to change the gears when driving. Just like how you do it with other fluids, you need to check the level of the transmission fluid as well as its condition. Remember, transmission fluids come in different types depending on the type of car you’re driving and the transmission (whether it’s an automatic or manual transmission). So, during your maintenance schedule, remember to check the manual to ensure that you get the right transmission oil for your specific car.

  • 20. Windshield Washer Fluid

Unlike the brake fluid, the transmission fluid, and the engine lubricating oil, you won’t need the windshield washer fluid to run your engine. Instead, this fluid plays a key role in cleaning your car’s windshield to make it easier for you to see the road. Unlike the oil and the brake fluid, the windshield washer fluid is very easy to identify, as it’s transparent. By looking at it, you can easily tell whether it needs to be topped up.

 

Air Conditioning System

 

  • 21. Run the Air Conditioner Regularly

There are many benefits to having a car air conditioning system in your car. One, it provides cool clean air to your car during the summer, and second, it provides you with warm dehumidifying air during winter. Now, in most cases during summer, most motorists prefer to open their car’s windows to get cool fresh air in rather than switching on the air conditioner.

If this is prolonged, the seals might dry up and get clogged or the condenser might get clogged with all sorts of road debris such as leaves and plastic bags. Worse, off, bacteria, fungus, and microbes might start to grow inside the evaporator core causing the air conditioner to smell whenever it’s switched on. So, to enhance proper maintenance of the air conditioner; always try to run it at least 10 – 20 minutes once every week to prevent it from getting clogged.

  • 22. Schedule Professional Service

Although it’s recommended that you run your car’s air conditioning unit frequently, scheduling a professional service at least once in a while is very important. You see, just like the engine and the braking system, the air conditioning system is very complex as it comprises of multiple parts that can get damaged over time. Here, we’re speaking of the condenser, the cooling fan, the seals, the refrigerant, and electrical wiring.

So, during the servicing process, your mechanic will inspect the condenser to remove any clogged debris that has accumulated over time. They will also check the cooling fan to ensure that it’s not chipped or cracked. They will check the fuses and the motor to ensure that they’re not blown or burned out. The electrical system will also need to be double-checked to ensure there’s no faulty electrical wiring or broken wires.

Finally, your mechanic will have to check the compressor and the refrigerant hoses for any leakages. They will also inspect the refrigerant level to determine whether it needs to be topped up or not.

  • 23. Check the Air Conditioning Coolant

The reason why we didn’t mention the air conditioning coolant under oils and fluids category is that it’s quite different from the rest of the fluids you’ll find in the engine compartment. Now, this air conditioning coolant should not be confused with the radiator coolant, as it is generally a refrigerant whose purpose is to serve your vehicle’s A/C system by cooling down hot air. While other fluids are easily checked by just dipping a dipstick into the respective reservoirs, the air conditioning coolant is checked by using an A/C gauge and a thermometer.

To check the level of the air conditioning refrigerant, the first step is to refer to your car’s manual to check the location of the low-pressure line. Next, activate the A/C unit and set it to the lowest temperature. Open the hood and connect the A/C gauge to the low-pressure line to check the reading. If the reading gets below 25 pounds, then you need to top up the refrigerant.

  • 24. Clean Away Debris

The windshield exterior grill is another part that requires regular maintenance. Other than paying too much attention to the inside components, the exterior too requires to be inspected regularly. You see, during autumn, the windshield is expected to pick up leaves from trees some of which can get through the windshield exterior grills to clog the air conditioning system. To avoid this, you need to clear away such debris regularly.

Something else you need to take care of is the wiper nozzles. You see, when driving in dusty or muddy conditions, small dust or mud particles are likely to get stuck on the wiper nozzles blocking the jets in the process. So, to avoid any disappointments, you need to clean the nozzles regularly by using a soft toothbrush dipped in warm water. You can spray the nozzles with a stream of concentrated compressed air to unblock the nozzle pipes.

 

Lighting System

 

  • 25. Clean the Headlights

Having the best headlights doesn’t mean getting the brightest ones that will blind every motorist on the road. Instead, taking care of the headlights is all that is needed to keep up with the standards. So, to take care of your car’s lighting system, the first step you have to take is to clean the headlights thoroughly.

Now, just like your eyes, your car’s headlights provide the right visibility to view the road. When the headlights are dirty, they will appear dim making it hard for you to view the road ahead of you. Thankfully, removing any dirt buildup from your car’s headlights is quite easy using DIY methods.

The first method you can consider is by mixing toothpaste with baking soda. To apply this DIY method, you first need to wash the headlights thoroughly using soap and water. When you’re done, apply the toothpaste/baking soda mixture using your finger on the wet headlights. Use a small brush to scrub the grime off the surface of the headlight until they’re clean. Finally, rinse off the residue with warm water before wiping with a dry microfiber cloth.

Another method you can consider is by using sandpaper to remove dirt and tough stains on the surface of your headlights. Now, this method is usually very risky and it requires a professional approach or else you’ll end up causing irreparable damage to your headlights. To start, you need to mask the surrounding area of the headlight with masking tape or old newspapers.

Next, start with wet 400-grit sandpaper and warm water. Sand the headlights in a circular motion then change the sandpaper to 600 grit then 2000 grit. After all the dirt has been removed, rinse the headlights with clean water then finalize it by applying protective wax.

  • 26. Take Care of Clouding and Yellowing

One way potential buyers can judge the integrity of your car is by inspecting the condition of the headlights to see whether they’re cloudy or yellowed. But first, what causes the yellowing of the headlights? Now, your car’s headlights comprise of polycarbonate lens covers, which over time, loses their protective coating.

What happens next is that yellowing and clouding start to appear due to the sun’s UV rays. In fact, this condition is exacerbated by exposing your vehicle to the sun’s rays for prolonged periods. Thankfully, you can take care of clouding and yellowing by using headlight restoration products available in the market.

  • 27. Check the Alignment

If you thought the tires are the only ones that require to be checked for misalignment, then you’re wrong. Your car’s headlights to require regular checkups to ensure they’re not misaligned at any cost. In most cases, your car’s headlights are likely to get misaligned due to vibrations caused by driving on rough terrains for too long. They’re also likely to get misaligned after an accident. Thankfully, this condition can be corrected by consulting a mechanic who will inspect the tires and align then correctly.

  • 28. Check the Illumination

Something else you need to check on when taking care of your vehicle is the illumination. Sometimes, one of the lights can dim up leaving its twin sibling working exceptionally well. In case you don’t realize it, what you’re likely to notice is low visibility when driving your car during the night. While it’s quite difficult to notice low illumination with your headlights, one way you can check this is by parking your car in front of a wall then compare the brightness level of each headlight.

  • 29. Replace Both Bulbs

In case you need to replace any of the headlight bulbs, always ensure that you replace them in pairs. Now, most of the new drivers might not realize this. However, to most experienced motorists, this is a common-sense idea. You see, if you fail to replace both bulbs, the new bulb is likely to get brighter than the old one. This will result in imbalanced headlight beams that can make it hard for you to view the road ahead.

To oncoming motorists, this can be a very risky experience as it will be totally difficult for them to see your vehicle clearly and determine its position on the road. Therefore, as a safety procedure, always ensure that you replace your car’s headlight bulbs in pairs. This also applies to the brake pads, the shocks, and the wipers, which should also be replaced as pairs.

 

Maintaining Your Car’s Exterior

 

  • 30. Wash the Car Frequently

The first thing that will make or ruin the integrity of your car is its first impression. Here, we’re talking of nothing else rather than the exterior of the car which includes the paintwork and the overall detailing. If you’re the kind of person that drives to and from work regularly, then washing your car at least once every week is one way you can maintain its hygiene routinely.

However, washing your car doesn’t mean using any soap solution. Instead, you should be very mindful of the type of soap solutions you’re using to avoid ruining your car’s paintwork. Always research the best car wash soaps that don’t contain harsh chemicals that can ruin your car’s exterior integrity.

  • 31. Don’t Forget to Wax Your Car

First and foremost, why do you need to wax your car? The answer is simple. Waxing your car brings back the former aura and glory of a brand new car. It makes your car more attractive thus upgrading its integrity. Now, washing your car regularly is an integral step in maintaining its hygiene. What you don’t know is that this can ruin your car’s paintwork after some time. If you’re a frequent motorist, exposing your car to extreme UV rays can damage the clear coat on top thus exposing the undercoat to severe corrosion, scratches, and marks.

So, to prevent damaging your car’s paint coating, you need to wax it at least twice annually. Always refer to a professional mechanic for the best wax and always make sure that you follow the right procedure for application.

  • 32. Always Keep Your Car Under Cover

One obvious maintenance tip you should be aware of is parking your vehicle responsibly. If you tend to park your car outside, then you risk exposing it to the elements, which will generally damage the exterior. Factors such as direct sunlight, heavy storm, snow, and hailstorms can easily damage your car’s exterior. In fact, exposing your car to freezing cold temperatures can damage the battery by draining it completely. Thankfully, this can be remedied by parking your car inside a garage or using a car cover to shield it against such weather conditions.

  • 33. Check the Paintwork Frequently

It’s quite normal for your car’s paint coating to fade off as the car ages. Just as we’ve mentioned above, many factors can cause your car’s exterior paint to get ruined. Exposure to the elements is one major factor while the second is washing your car using soap solutions containing tough chemicals. Another factor is when you’re involved in an accident or if your car gets scratched mysteriously.

Whatever the case is, one way you can preserve the integrity of your car’s exterior is by spot-checking the paintwork frequently. In case you detect some areas that need to be repainted, schedule your car for a painting service before the situation gets worse.

 

Take Care of the Interior

 

  • 34. Clean the Seats Regularly

It’s usually said that your car is a home on wheels. Other than taking care of the exterior, the interior is another area that can leave critical impression details about the integrity of your auto. One of the maintenance tips you need to check on here is cleaning the seats frequently. For those parents with kids and pets around, cleaning your car’s seats is very important as it helps you to get rid of the dirt that has accumulated over time. Always ensure that you clean the seats thoroughly at least once every month. In case you’re too busy to accomplish the task, then you can simply take the car to a car wash to have it cleaned.

  • 35. Always Remove Stains Immediately

Sometimes spills and messes on the seats can’t be controlled especially if you’re driving with kids and pets. However, there’s a smart way you can keep your seats cleans and that’s by removing stains immediately. However, the process of removing these stains can sometimes differ depending on the type of material used in your seats.

For instance, if your car is fitted with leather seats, the process of removing stains is much easier as compared to if you’re using cloth seats. Since you’ll most likely be doing it at home, considering home-made remedies such as using vinegar mixture, non-gel toothpaste, lemon juice, and baking soda can help to clean stains from your car’s seats immediately.

  • 36. Consider Using Vacuum Cleaners

Using a vacuum cleaner, especially those handheld models can help to clean your car’s interior thoroughly. The best thing about these handheld models is that they’re portable and come with various attachments such as brushes that can help suck and clean dirt and dust particles from your seats and carpets.

  • 37. Clean the Headliners and Visors Frequently

While maintaining your car’s interior, one area that usually remains neglected is the headliners and the visors. But, what are these anyway? Well, the headliner is the ceiling covering material that’s usually made of fabric, leather, vinyl, or any other upholstery material. The visor, on the other hand, is what blocks your eyes from direct sunlight when you’re driving in the morning or the evening.

Following frequent driving, the headliner and the visor are likely to become dirty and discolored. They’re also likely to get exposed to smokes, smells, and odors which can get absorbed on the fabrics giving your car an awful smell. So, to keep your car smelling fresh and young, you need to keep a closer eye on these silent areas regularly.

Apart from just cleaning the headliner and the visor, remember to keep an eye on the overall integrity of the interior by fixing any small rips to avoid making the problem bigger in the future.

 

Power Steering System

 

  • 38. Inspect the Hoses

On one side, an excellent power steering system makes it easier for you to control your auto, while on the other side; a faulty power steering makes it extremely difficult for you to control your vehicle. The antidote? Well, the first thing is to inspect the high and low-pressure hoses. You see, for the power steering to work perfectly, it needs to be lubricated properly. The lubrication process is conducted by two hoses, which are the high and low-pressure hoses. The high-pressure hose supplies the hydraulic fluid to the power steering system while the low-pressure hose returns it back to the fluid tank at low-pressure.

Since these hoses are usually overworked with circulating hydraulic fluid to and fro, regular wear and tear on these hoses is almost inevitable something that can cause leakage. So, to prevent any leakage, these hoses need to be checked periodically to ensure they’re intact and in good shape.

  • 39. Inspect the Power Steering Fluid

Unlike the engine oil and the transmission fluid, the power steering fluid remains relatively clean for quite a long time. Although the system has a filter, sometimes it becomes overwhelming for the filter to sieve out debris and other filler from the fluid. What this means is that debris is likely to build-up over time causing the steering fluid to get too contaminated.

As a result, this can cause serious damages to the fluid lines, the hoses, the pump, and the cylinder itself. Since such damages can be quite expensive to repair, inspecting the steering fluid occasionally can help to prevent such problems. All you need is to flush the fluid once you find out its dark and has particles floating around it.

  • 40. Check for Any Fluid Leaks

Your car’s power steering highly depends on the hydraulic fluid to work perfectly. In case there’s inefficient fluid, then it simply means that you might run into trouble with your car. Now, one common cause of low fluid levels in your steering system is leakage. This can happen in the hoses, the pump, the cylinder, or the steering rack seals. So, to prevent this leakage, you need to countercheck your power steering system for cracks or any cases of wear regularly.

  • 41. Check the Power Steering Pump

The power steering system is normally powered by a belt running from the engine’s crankshaft to the pump itself. Since the belt is made of rubber, it’s likely to wear out over time causing it to crack and eventually break. This alone can cause malfunctioning of the pump thus preventing it from pumping sufficient steering fluid to the entire power steering system.

As part of your routine maintenance, always ensure that you keep a close eye on the belt for any signs of wear. In addition to the belt, make sure that you inspect the condition of the power steering fluid to ensure that it’s clean.

 

The Suspension System

 

  • 42. Shock Absorbers

The suspension system is another immensely huge system that comprises of hundreds of different parts working together. Their main purpose is to hold the vehicle up, absorb bumps and potholes and finally, turn the car in response to your input. Since shock absorbers are the ones responsible for providing that smooth ride even in rough terrains, they’re likely to wear out over time if not maintained perfectly. Therefore, scheduling regular maintenance every 36,000 – 60,000 miles is highly important.

  • 43. Bushings and Joints

Most of the suspension parts are cushioned with rubber bushings to help absorb shock when the car is in motion. As your car ages, these bushings start to get exhausted something that affected the drivability of your beloved car. Thankfully, this condition can be taken care of simply by inspecting all the rubber bushings and the joints from the tie rod end, track bars, sway bars, strut rods to the control rods.

  • 44. Ball Joints

Another essential maintenance tip you need to observe is inspecting the ball joints. Thankfully, this can be accomplished quite easily by paying close attention to the steering wheel to see whether there are any vibrations when driving. You can also listen to any banging sounds when driving. If this is what you’re experiencing, then you need to hire a mechanic who will inspect the ball joints further by removing the tires to reach the ball joints and check for cases of leakages, corrosion, or damaged rubber boots.

  • 45. The Springs

Every car has springs, whichare designed to support the vehicle and still absorb any shock when driving. When inspecting the shock absorbers, you also need to check the condition of the springs.

 

Other Parts

 

  • 46. Check the Exhaust System

If the exhaust system is not checked regularly, it can easily wear out causing a lot of harmful emissions. Sometimes, these emissions can proceed to sneak inside your car, which can be very dangerous since they contain carbon monoxide. Therefore, this part requires regular maintenance to cut down harmful emissions.

  • 47. RepairChips Immediately

Small chips, cracks, and worn out parts need to be repaired immediately to avoid making the situation worse. Failure to repair these small chips will lead to huge cracks, which will cost you a lot of money to repair.

  • 48. Clean the Wipers Regularly

Although most people are not aware, your car’s wipers should be replaced every 3 – 6 months depending on where you live. If you live in places that experience frequent sandstorms or snow, replacing as well as cleaning your wipers regularly will be essential to avoid damaging your windscreen.

  • 49. Check the Antifreeze

If you live in extremely cold regions, you need to check the antifreeze frequently. Just as its name suggests, the antifreeze is intended to prevent the water circulating through your engine from freezing. Remember, if the water freezes, then it will generally expand causing serious harm to the engine.

  • 50. Check Your Emergency Kit

If you frequently drive in remote regions, you need to have an emergency kit ready in your vehicle. This is a smart way of guaranteeing your safety when driving especially if you’re driving on dangerous weather conditions such as freezing cold weather.

 

Conclusion

 

If you have read this guide up to this point, then you have everything that’s needed to keep your auto looking young and in good condition. Just as we mentioned at the beginning, our first two points play a critical role in the health of your car. The first was the manual (which is your car’s bible) while the second is learning how to read the various dashboard signs. By having these two pointers on your fingertips, you’ll be able to know your car better by understanding its limitations.

Lastly, if things get out of hand where regular maintenance becomes too costly, then you might consider upgrading your drive by trading your auto with something younger and more reliable.

If you live in the deep rural settings, chances are high you won’t benefit or rather access municipal water supply. Other than living in rural areas, there are a variety of cities and towns across the globe that don’t have access to clean drinking water. Since water is a basic necessity, most residences turn to private wells to access fresh groundwater for drinking and other domestic purposes. If you’re the one I’m talking to, one of the crucial components that form the backbone of your home’s plumbing system is a well pump. Unless you’re ready to tirelessly draw water from your well using a bucket, thinking about the various types of well pumps is quite inevitable if you have a huge residence that requires a lot of water daily.

Now, when you think of a well pump, not just any pump can help you to efficiently draw water from your private well. Pumps come in different variations depending on the depth of the well. So, finding a pump that will perfectly handle all your water needs while still drawing water from the right depth is highly necessary when budgeting for your plumbing project. Thankfully, this short guide has felt your pain and has gathered some inspiration from professional plumbers to discuss three main types of well pumps that can solve this rhetoric.

 

Different Types of Well Pumps

 

1. Centrifugal Well Pumps

One of the simplest and most common types of well pumps you’re likely to find in most residential homes is the centrifugal well pump. Just as its name suggests, this type of pump is designed to convert rotational kinetic energy into hydrodynamic energy to allow it to pump water from a well to the storage tanks above. Since they use rotational energy instead of suction energy like most other pumps, they’re usually less powerful thus limiting them to shallow wells with depths no more than 25 ft.

  • How Do They Work?

Now, centrifugal pumps are usually fitted with a motor that rotates a shaft-driven impeller to draw water. The impeller is usually housed in a case and submerged in water (inside the well). When the pump is turned on, the motor rotates the impeller at a speed range of 1750 – 3500 rpm forcing water through a suction port in between the impeller. The velocity imparted to the water by the impeller is converted to pressure energy to push the water through the outlet pipe to the overhead tanks.

The best thing about centrifugal pumps is that they have less moving parts thus allowing them to rotate at much higher speeds without requesting for regular maintenance. They also have a steady output and are less costly as compared to most other pumps. The disadvantage, however, is their low suction power since they rely on rotational energy rather than suction energy. That’s the main reason why they’re intentionally immersed in water.

 

2. Submersible Well Pumps

This is another popular option among most residential homes that rely on wells to access clean water for domestic use. Just as their name suggests, these pumps are strictly designed to be submerged in water for them to operate. Unlike their above-ground counterparts that mechanically suck water from a well, these ones are designed to push water out rather than suck it making them more powerful and efficient.

Due to this unique working mechanism, submersible well pumps are usually considered for pumping water in wells with depths ranging from 110 ft. to about 400 ft. without losing consistency.

  • How Do They Work?

First and foremost, since they’re submersible units, these pumps usually have watertight properties that prevent the motor, the wiring, or any other electrical component from getting into contact with water. Now, a submersible pump consists of a long 2 – 4-inch cylinder that has a diameter of around 3 – 5 inches. Inside the cylinder, there’s a motor whose task is to rotate an impeller.

When the pump is switched on, the motor rotates the impeller at a rapid pace to draw water inside a discharge line/pipe inside the pump. Once the water is in the pump, it’s then pushed into the surface through the connected pipes into your home’s plumbing line.

When shopping for a submersible pump, it’s always advisable to find a pump that meets the daily water requirements of your home as well as your well’s yield.

 

3. Jet Well Pumps

Also known as ejector pumps, jet pumps are the next type of well pumps you’re likely to find in most homes. Now, unlike submersible and centrifugal well pumps, these ones use a more mechanical working principle when drawing water from the wells. First, they rely on the sucking or pulling mechanism that’s quite different from the pushing principal of the submersible pumps. Another characteristic of these pumps is that they’re fitted above the ground rather than being submerged in water.

Therefore, the main unit (that consists of the motor, gear reducer, controller, and other electronic accessories) alongside the high-pressure lines and the power fluid conditioning unit are secured on the surface inside a housing to protect them from any contact with the elements.

Now before we get to the working principle of this pump, allow me to mention that jet pumps are available in three main variations that are the shallow well pumps, the deep well pumps, and the convertible well pumps. Shallow well pumps are designed to pump water at shallow depths no more than 25 ft. while deep well pumps can draw water from depths of 110 ft. to about 200 or 300 ft. Convertible jet pumps on the other hand work as both shallow and deep well pumps meaning they can handle the job of both pumps simultaneously.

  • Their Working Principle

Now, the working principle of jet well pumps follows the Bernoulli’s theorem of pumping fluids through a nozzle at high pressure from the surface to activate a downhole pump that sucks water to the surface. Now, to function perfectly, jet pumps rely on three components, which are the nozzle, throat, and the diffuser. The nozzle and the throat are two main components that determine the performance of any jet well pump.

Now, during operation, this pump starts by pushing the power fluid through the nozzle at high pressure and velocity. This causes the Venturi effect where low static pressure is created in a space (annular area) between the nozzle and the throat.

This low pressure generates suction power that forces reservoir fluid, in this case, water from the well, to get inside the pump. As the water gets inside the pump, a reverse energy transformation occurs where the speed of the power fluid decreases causing an increase in pressure that pushes the water up to the surface.

 

Conclusion

So, are you struggling to find the right well pump to cater to your home’s water needs? Well, this short guide has offered you everything that’s needed to get started. As you can see, there are various types of well pumps available in the market today. These pumps vary greatly depending on the depth of your well and the amount of water you’ll need to supply throughout your home.

Another type of well pump we didn’t mention in our roundup is a solar-powered well pump. These pumps are ideal in situations where there’s limited access to power lines especially for the case of rural and remote regions. They’re easy to install and are highly efficient as they don’t require any electric power to operate. So, whichever situation you might be, this guide has offered you some well pump alternatives that will work with your home’s plumbing system.

One of the few advantages of owning a private well pump is that it gives you some freedom of accessing clean water without worrying about water contamination. Another benefit of a private well is that it lowers your monthly costs of accessing clean water as compared to using municipal water. Although you’re bound to enjoy myriad benefits, one thing most people tend to forget is maintaining their well pumps routinely to keep them in good shape. So, in an attempt to answer the question of “how do I know if my well pump is bad”, this comprehensive guide will take you through several key warning signs of a struggling well pump and how to troubleshoot them.

Now, a high-quality well pump can last for a very long time without maintenance. However, a small problem such as an issue with the switches, the pressure tank, and the pump itself can cause a major problem that can affect the amount of water running through your faucets. So, with that in mind, this guide will now try to troubleshoot some of the common problems to ensure that your well pump is up and running.

 

How Long Can a Well Pump Last?

This is one of the most common questions most homeowners ask when trying to predict the life expectancy of their well pumps. However, though, the life expectancy of most well pumps ranges anywhere from 10 – 15 years for a residential 3-wired pump and 8 – 13 years for a 2-wired pump. Although this is just an estimation, several variables can affect the life expectancy of your well pump such as the ones we’ve analyzed just below.

  • Duty Cycle: Duty cycle is basically a measure of how frequent a pump operates. Some residential homes will require the pump to operate for just a few hours a day while some will need the pump to be operational throughout the day. With such statistics, it’s clear that a pump working frequently will wear out faster than one operating for just a few hours.
  • Water Sediment: Well water sediments such as sand, silt, and algae can have a serious impact on the longevity of your well pump. That’s because such sediments act as abrasive that cause serious wear on your pump’s bearings and other moving parts.
  • Water Well Yield: This is another factor that can affect the longevity of your pump. Before shopping for a pump, it’s always advisable that you first consider the amount of water in your well before installing a pump to avoid an early malfunction.
  • The Motor: Generally speaking, the more horsepower a motor has, the more powerful it really is. This simply means that a pump with a 2HP motor will typically outlast one with ½ HP motor performing the same workload. Another factor you need to consider is the bearings and the specific manufacturer of your pump as they too can influence its longevity.
  • Installation: Sometimes, you may have done your homework well but fail to identify a professional contractor to do the installation for you. If you miss on this point and get someone with limited understanding of proper placement of the check valves, the filters, and the electrical wiring, then you’re likely to lower the longevity of your pump.

 

5 Warning Signs With Your Well Pump and How to Troubleshoot Them

 

1. Low Water Pressure

In most cases, well pumps don’t just break down on the spot. The process is usually gradual and it mostly begins with an underperforming pump. One of the notable signs that indicate a struggling pump is a low pressure in your faucets, showers, and other water outlets. This is usually evident when you open two or more outlets simultaneously. For instance, water pressure in the shower might plummet when someone flushes the toilet or opens water in another tap within the house.

  • How to Troubleshoot this Problem

When it comes to troubleshooting issues related to low water pressure, one thing you need to understand is that this problem is caused by several factors. Some of these factors include a defective pressure switch, a failed pressure tank, clogged piping, clogged/stuck gate valves, malfunctioning pressure regulator, and clogged showerheads and faucets.

So, to troubleshoot each of these issues, you’ll need to hire a professional contractor who will fix each problem independently. For the case of the plumbing fixtures, your contractor will have to take out a section of the pipe to inspect the interior for any signs of orange sludge, sediments, or iron bacteria clogging caused by hard water.

If there’s any buildup of the aforementioned scale or sediments, your contractor can use vinegar or citric acid to remove them or replace the piping and the affected faucets all together. For the case of clogged gate valves, the best remedy is to replace them with new ones. However, if the underlying issue is mild, cleaning them can be a better alternative.

For the case of the pressure tank, all you need to do is to test the air fill valve with a gauge to check whether the pressure ranges from 30 – 50 PSI. You can decide to adjust the pressure in the tank to turn on at 50 PSI and off at 60 – 70 PSI. However, you need to ensure that your pump and the well’s yield will not be affected and can provide adequate water supply.

 

2. Cloudy/Muddy Water

Another common sign of a failing well pump is when you suddenly notice muddy water running out of your taps and shower. In most cases, such water contains silt and sand sediments. If you see any of these signs, then it’s a clear sign of serious wear on your well pump and needs immediate troubleshooting before it can worsen off and cause serious clogging and premature replacement of your pump.

Now, what causes pumped water to appear cloudy? Just like in our previous case, cloudy or muddy water can be caused by a variety of factors. One of them is setting your submersible pump too low near the bottom of the well.

Another cause is corrosion or degrading of the well screen thus preventing it from blocking sand and silt from being sacked by the pump. Another cause is installing a highly powerful submersible pump, which consequently sucks water alongside sand and muddy sediments from the surrounding aquifer.

  • How Do You Troubleshoot this Issue?

Depending on the severity of the situation, your contractor may decide to add new steel, iron, or PVC plastic lining (a well screen) to separate the sediments from the groundwater. However, if the well casing it too old and impossible to repair, a new well may be the only remedy.

Another alternative is to add either a centrifugal sand separator or a filter screen with a flush valve just above the ground before the water gets to your home’s plumbing system. In the case of the centrifugal sand separator, centrifugal force is used to separate the sediments from clean water where sand, grit, and sludge are slung through a separator wall into the ground while clean water is passed through a vortex locator into your home’s plumbing system.

The filter screen on its side works by trapping all the sediments which are then flushed out by opening a ball valve just below.

 

3. Skyrocketing Electricity Bills

Another common sign that can indicate your well pump is going bad is when your electricity bills start to creep up month after month without any apparent reason. Another sign that goes hand in hand with skyrocketing electricity bills, is when your pump operates continuously. Now, there are two main explanations for this issue.

One, your pump might be malfunctioning due to age or wear caused by sand and grit. Two, your pump might be blocked with sediments such as sludge, sand, grit, and iron bacteria that might cause it to overwork to meet the high demand needed by the pressure tank.

Since the pump is already overwhelmed and unable to meet the high water demands, you’re likely to notice frequent on/off cycles as it strains to pump more water to meet your daily demands. This, in the end, leads to high power usage hence abnormally high electricity bills.

  • How to Fix this Issue

To fix this issue, you’ll first need to inspect the plumbing fixture and most specifically, the iron pipe that runs from the pump underground to the wellhead. You also need to inspect the o’ring in the slider coupling assembly as it can cause water leakage back into the well. This leakage is what causes the pump to keep turning on and off frequently.

On the other hand, clogging of the main iron pipe from the pump to the wellhead is what causes your pump to overwork hence consume a lot of power to pump water to the pressure tank. The pressure switch and the check valve will also need to be inspected to ensure that they’re working perfectly.

Something else your contractor will have to inspect is the size of the pump. You see, if you’re using an oversized pump, then it will generally consume more power to operate a motor with higher horsepower. On the other hand, using an undersized pump means that it will have to overwork (hence use more power) to meet the daily water requirements.

 

4. Well Pump is Pumping Out Air

Another sign of an underperforming pump is when you open your faucets and what you hear is hissing sounds. Other times, your faucets may blast out a mixture of air and water when opened. If you’re experiencing any of these indicators, then your water table in the well may be rapidly dropping below the well pump forcing it to suck in water and air simultaneously.

Another possible cause is a failed bladder on your pressure tank that is causing air to leak to the outside. Another possible cause is severe leakage on the main drop pipe that connects the pump to the wellhead due to corrosion and cracking. Once this pipe is cracked and severely damaged, what follows is that air is sucked in causing the faucets to spit a mixture of air and water.

  • How to Fix this Issue

To troubleshoot this problem, you’ll first need to inspect the pressure switch and the check valve to ensure they’re not damaged. Secondly, inspect the pressure tank by first turning off the pump and opening a faucet. Use a tire pressure gauge to inspect the pressure on the tank to see whether it’s ranging at 40 PSI when off and around 60 PSI when on. In case pressure reduces, then the bladder may be damaged.

To check whether the drop pipe from the pump to the pressure tank has a leakage, simply pressurize the pressure tank by running on the pump then turn it off while still closing all water outlets in the main house. When you’re done, use a pressure gauge to check the water pressure and see whether it will drop. In case it does, then it simply means you’re losing water somewhere through a leakage.

 

5. Pump is Running Continuously

It’s better to have less water running through your plumbing lines than having excess water dripping constantly. Not only is it a huge waste of water, but it also leads to a huge electricity bill at the end. But, what are the causes of water dripping continuously? Now, one of the main culprits here is severe leakage somewhere on the plumbing fixtures.

Another culprit may be a malfunctioning check valve. You see, the purpose of a check valve is to ensure pumped water doesn’t stream back to the pump (due to gravity) after it’s pumped in the pressure tank. So, if the valve is damaged, then it means the pressure tank switch will have to keep switching the pump on to refill the tank causing a continuous flow of water not forgetting the continuous running of the pump. Another possible explanation is a puncture in the pressure tank that might be causing it to lose captive air pressure.

  • How to Fix this Issue

So, the first step of fixing this problem is by checking the status of the pressure switch to ensure that it’s working perfectly. Remember, the pressure switch is the one that’s tasked to monitor the water level in your pressure tank. It does this by sending an electrical signal to the pump notifying it to turn on or off depending on the level of water inside the pressure tank. So, once it’s clogged, it won’t register any charges meaning the pump will continue to run and pump excess water.

Secondly, you need to check the valve and repair it in case it’s damaged. As we discussed earlier, the check valve prevents water from streaming back into the pump. In case it’s damaged, then water will keep streaming back into the well leaving the pressure tank empty. This in return, will cause the pump to run continuously in an attempt to refill the tank.

Finally, the pressure tank might be the culprit. Here, you’ll need to conduct a comprehensive inspection of the air pressure by using a tire pressure gauge.

 

Conclusion

Other than the issues we’ve highlighted just above, many other indicators can signal you when your pump is struggling such as bad tasting water, clicking noises in the pressure tank, and dissolved gasses and bubbles in the water. Thankfully, this guide has managed to discuss the most common issues most homeowners are facing with their well pumps.

So, if you’re the one we’re talking to, then you should conduct regular inspections of your pump and your private well to prevent a buildup of some of these problems. As you can see, most of these problems are recurring meaning they can originate from a simple leakage and buildup to a major pump problem not forgetting high power usage that can lead to skyrocketing electricity bills.

If you’re reading this guide, then chances are high you’ve just purchased a new chainsaw. Another possible explanation is that your chainsaw has been out on lengthy storage and you’re trying to start the engine once again to accomplish some cutting tasks. Either way, this guide is right here to offer a detailed step-by-step procedure on how to start a chainsaw.

But, before we commence, it’s important to note that chainsaws differ greatly depending on the brand, model, and style. For instance, a Husqvarna chainsaw may have a unique way of starting up when compared to an Echo or a STIHL chainsaw. Since this guide will generally cover the gas-powered chainsaw and the electric chainsaw, it’s always recommended that you first read through your chainsaw’s manual to understand how exactly your specific chainsaw is powered.

 

How to Get Your Chainsaw Started

 

Part One: Preparation

Step One

Read the Manual: Just as we’ve mentioned in the introduction part, the first step you should take when working with an unfamiliar chainsaw is to go through its manual. This way, you will be able to orient yourself with the machine in terms of its unique characteristics both on the parts and in the starting procedure.

Always remember that, though you may think that you know a lot about chainsaws, each brand and version is different from the rest.

 

Step Two

Observe Safety: Chainsaws are machines. This makes them extremely dangerous especially considering the type of tasks they’re intended to accomplish. Since the cutting process involves dealing with flying sawdust and wood chips, an operator must wear protective gear when operating such equipment.

Some of the protective gear you should have include; cut-resistant gloves, eye goggles, a helmet, hearing protection, and the right footwear.

 

Step Three

Go Through the Checklist: Now that you’ve read the instruction manual and you’re wearing the right protective gear, the next step is to perform a quick pre-check routine before you can start the chainsaw.

  • Check the condition of the chain and whether it’s in the right tension.
  • Inspect the chain brake to ensure that it moves and engages correctly.
  • Check the lubrication oil to ensure that it’s at the right level.
  • Inspect the spark plug.
  • Finally, add enough fuel-oil mixture (in the right ratio) into the gas tank. Always refer to your instruction manual for any reference.

Now that you’ve done a quick routine check to your chainsaw, it’s now time to start the engine and get to work. So, if you’re ready, let’s fire up this beast.

 

Part Two: How to Start a Cold Engine on the Ground

Step One

Stabilize the Chainsaw: Since you’ll be starting the chainsaw while on level ground, the first step is to stabilize the chainsaw on the ground then maintain a firm grip by placing your right foot inside the rear handle while your hands press down the machine.

 

Step Two

Activate the Brakes: Next, engage the brakes by twisting your wrist forward to push the brake handle forward. Most chainsaws, whether STIHL, Echo, or Husqvarna use this technique. By doing this, you simply lock the chain from spinning during the starting process.

 

Step Three

Press the Decompression Valve: Now, just to be clear, some of these steps may vary depending on the type of chainsaw you’re using. If you’re using a home or consumer-grade chainsaw model, you might skip this step as such chainsaws don’t have a decompression valve. However, if you’re using a professional-grade chainsaw such as STIHL, this step is quite vital. So, with that said, simply push the decompression valve in.

 

Step Four

Press the Primer Valve: Next, press the primer valve a few times (two to five times) until it stiffens with fuel inside. The function of the primer valve is to suck fuel from the gas tank into the carburetor to prepare it for combustion.

 

Step Five

Activate the Choke: The choke is usually a switch or a lever located on the rear of the chainsaw. If your model has one, you need to push it up to help you start the chainsaw on a cold start. A cold start is generally starting the engine after staying for a long time since its last use. Some experts refer to the choke as the master control lever.

 

Step Six

Pull the Starter Cord: If you’re a beginner, this is the trickiest part of starting a chainsaw. In fact, this is where most people get it all wrong. First, grip the handle of the starter rope and pull it slowly but in a steady motion several times until the engine tries to fire (but fails).

When this happens, adjust the master control lever/choke up by one position. This will take it halfway to the warm start setting. Using the same technique, hold the handle of the starter cord and pull it slowly and steadily. After a couple of pulls, the engine will start.

As soon as the engine starts, press the throttle to accelerate (rev) the engine. At the same time, set the choke to the idle position then leave the chainsaw on its own to continue running freely.

 

Step Seven

Disengage the Brake: As the engine runs, disengage the brake by pulling the brake bar towards you. Once you’re done, lift the chainsaw slowly while making sure there’s no one nearly and get ready to work.

 

Part Three: How to Start a Warm Engine

When you’re starting your chainsaw when it’s hot (after being switched off for a short while), then you’ll need to follow the steps above but omit the step where you have to activate the choke. The reason for this is simply because the engine is already primed with fuel. However, the rest of the steps, including the safety measures, must be followed to the latter.

 

Part Four: Starting the Chainsaw on Uneven Ground

Step One

Secure Your Footing: So, if you’re in a situation where there’s no even ground to place your chainsaw, there’s an alternative technique you can use to start your chainsaw without exposing yourself to any risks. To do this, you need to clear the debris around the area to keep your feet stable.

 

Step Two

Hold the Handle Firmly: There are two steps here. The first one is to brace the rear handle against your body (on knee level) using your thighs. The second step is holding the handlebar firmly with your left arm while the right arm tries to pull the starter rope. From there, you can follow the entire procedure in our second part just above.

 

Part Five: Starting an Electric Chainsaw

Now that we’ve discussed how to start a gas-powered chainsaw, our last section is dedicated to owners of electric chainsaws where we’ll discuss how to safely start such chainsaw models. If you’re ready, then let’s begin.

 

Step One

Inspect the Chainsaw: As usual, the first step is always to inspect the chainsaw to ensure that everything is in order. In this step, you’ll also need to wear your safety gear such as your helmet, goggles, leather gloves, and the right footwear. You should also read the instruction manual carefully to ensure that you’re well oriented with your specific chainsaw model.

 

Step Two

Go Through the Checklist: The next step is to conduct a thorough inspection of the chainsaw before starting. In this step, you’ll need to check the chain’s tension to confirm whether it’s too loose or too tight. In case it requires some adjustments, you need to follow the right procedure for tensioning to avoid damaging the chain.

Next, confirm that the bar and chain oil reservoir is full before connecting the cord. This is a very critical step that requires you to refer to the instruction manual to determine which oil is compatible with your specific chainsaw model. Thankfully, most electric chainsaws work well with the SAE 30 oil so you don’t need to panic.

 

Step Three

Connect the Power Cable: One drawback with electric chainsaws is that they don’t come with an extension cord/cable. You, therefore, have to buy one and connect it yourself. This, by the way, is usually the trickiest part of owning an electric chainsaw. Since not all models are the same, you have to consult your instruction manual to figure out the exact type of extension cord that will handle your chainsaw’s amperage.

You also have to ensure your home’s power outlets are sufficient enough to provide enough voltage to power your chainsaw’s motor.

 

Step Four

Find the Right Balance: Before you get to the next step, you need to first ready yourself by finding the right standing or seating position. Make sure there’s no one around you, especially kids, as this can result in possible accidents caused by human error.

 

Step Five

Pull the Safety Hand Guard: Gas-powered chainsaws rely on the handle brake and the throttle lock as security measures. For the case of an electric chainsaw, the handguard and the trigger switch lockout are what protect the chainsaw from engaging accidentally. In this situation, you’ll need to first pull the handguard towards the handle.

 

Step Six

Push the Trigger Switch: Once you’ve engaged the handguard, the final step is to push the trigger switch lockout with your thumb. While holding it in that same position, depress the switch and “ON” the chainsaw goes. So, to keep the chainsaw working, you have to keep pressing the trigger switch and the throttle switch together.

 

Conclusion

As you can see in this step-by-step guide, starting an electric or gas-powered chainsaw isn’t that difficult provided you use the right technique. In this guide, we’ve mentioned everything that’s needed to get you started right from the first step. To avoid injuries, it’s prudent that you first wear the right safety gear and always read the instruction manual of any chainsaw you’re not familiar with.

By doing this, you’ll keep safe and during the process, you won’t damage your beloved chainsaw by starting it up the wrong way. Remember, your chainsaw is an expensive investment that needs maximum care to last longer.

In almost any market category, you’ll always find two dominant brands that work tirelessly to outperform each other in a bid to win a wider market share. In automotive, there’s Ford and Chevy, DeWalt and Bosch in household appliances and finally, there’s STIHL and Husqvarna in chainsaws. Now, if you happen to pick any experienced logger out there and ask them about their opinion regarding Stihl vs Husqvarna chainsaws, they’ll definitely admit that this topic is a classic debate whose argument has formed a wide rift among diehards.

And why is that? Well, the answer is simple. Both of these brands deliver almost identical results in terms of quality, performance, efficiency, durability, and safety just to mention a few. Due to this reason, it has become extremely difficult for loggers, especially newcomers, to choose between the Stihl and the Husqvarna chainsaws. Luckily, for you, we do understand your concern and that’s why we’ve crafted this comprehensive guide to try and bridge the rift between these two chainsaw brands by taking a closer look at the specs, features, pros, and cons.

 

But First, How Does a Chainsaw Work in General?

Before we get to the depth of this topic, it’s always good to start with the basics. So, how does a chainsaw work? Now, a chainsaw has many parts. However, there are those key parts that work in coordination to deliver the required output.

  • So, everything starts with the fuel tank which is responsible for holding gas in chemical form. The main intention is to transform the gas from chemical energy to mechanical energy required for cutting. Most stroke engines can hold around ½ a liter of gas.
  • The fuel then goes to the carburetor through the filters to mix with air.
  • From here, the fuel-air mixture goes to the 2-stroke engine where it’s ignited by the spark plug. Combustion takes place here and the energy produced pushes the tiny piston back and forth (usually 1.75 inches in size with a moving distance of about 1.3 inches).
  • This back and forth motion of the piston is then converted to rotational motion by a rod and crank.
  • A connected drive shaft then transports this rotary motion to the clutch.
  • The clutch then connects to the sprocket, which connects to the chain to spin it around the guide bar.

 

What Type of Chainsaws Do STIHL and Husqvarna Produce?

Although these two dominant brands are usually associated with gas-powered chainsaws, the truth is that they produce both gas-powered and electric chainsaws for professional and consumer-grade purposes.

Now, both of these chainsaws have their distinctive ups and downs. For instance, electric chainsaws are light, less costly, easy to maintain, and easy to start as compared to their gas-powered counterparts. The only downside is that they’re less powerful hence limited to perform lighter duties.

On the other hand, gas-powered chainsaws are more powerful and efficient in their cutting. They’re reliable and can get to the depth of the forest since they’re not restricted by the electric cords. The only problem is their loud noise and long starting procedure.

 

STIHL vs Husqvarna: Brand History

Husqvarna

It’s no wonder that Husqvarna products have earned worldwide recognition among most power tool enthusiasts. This manufacturer has been in the business for over 320 years where they began as a firearms company back in 1689 in a Swedish town of Husqvarna.

From the 1690s, the business branched to deal with other categories besides firearms such as manufacturing power tools, motorcycles, bicycles, and sewing machines. In 1959, the company manufactured its first chainsaws, which rapidly became synonymous with the Husqvarna brand.

In 1978, Husqvarna was acquired by a giant Swedish company, Electrolux, which changed it’s weapon manufacturing tradition to specifically deal with horticultural and forestry power equipment. Since then, Husqvarna has made extensive global expansion with its tools being hugely recognized in over 100 countries.

Just like other international brands, Husqvarna has steadied its operations in different nationalities such as the USA where it manufactures high-quality chainsaws that meet the standard emission controls, not forgetting OSHA requirements.

STIHL

Although Stihl doesn’t have a long rich history as Husqvarna does, it’s still impressive none the less. Coming into existence at least 2 centuries after Husqvarna, Stihl was founded in 1926 in the German city of Stuttgart. Unlike Husqvarna whose name resembles its city of origin, the Stihl brand coined its name from its initial founder, Andreas Stihl.

While Husqvarna spent the large part of their history trying their fortune in other power tools, Stihl began its chainsaw production soon after its discovery by producing electric chainsaws before moving to gas-powered chainsaws a few years later.

From the 1950s, Stihl became the first company to manufacture chainsaws intended for the consumer-grade market. Since then, the company has steadied its brand by locating its headquarters in Virginia Beach in Virginia, USA.

 

STIHL vs Husqvarna: Specifications

Although there are those typical specifications you’ll expect to find in any chainsaw out there, Stihl and Husqvarna have specifically marketed specs and features that keep them way apart from the rest of the competition. To keep you well informed, this section will discuss some of these convincingly unique specifications that make each of these brands superior.

 

STIHL

  • High-Tech Polymer Housing: Provides a lightweight cover that withstands high impact while still being corrosion resistant.
  • IntelliCarb Compression Carburetor: Adjusts the amount of fuel-air mixture to maintain the engine’s RPM
  • Easy2Start System: Provides an effortless mechanism of starting the engine.
  • STIHL Quickstop Plus: This is an added braking feature that allows Stihl chainsaws to get to a sudden stop immediately the throttle is released.
  • STIHL M-Tronic: Is a feature that electronically meters the fuel mixture to ensure engine efficiency such as consistent RPM.
  • ElastoStart Handle: It’s designed with a shock-absorbing mechanism to reduce strain on your hands when starting the engine.
  • STIHL OILMATIC Saw Chain: This is specifically made by Stihl to reduce vibration and kickback during operation. This is a smart safety feature.
  • Ematic Bar: Is designed with a polymer ramp reservoir that holds lubricating oil until it’s needed by the chain.

 

Husqvarna

  • X-TORQ: This is a smart engine design found in all Husqvarna 2-stroke engines that lowers fuel consumption by almost 20%. It also lowers the amount of CO2 emissions by nearly 60% to comply with strict environmental regulations.
  • Auto-Tune: One drawback with gas-powered chainsaws is that they’re difficult to maintain. In a bid to solve this issue, Husqvarna has added an Auto-Tune feature that automatically adjusts the engine’s fuel intake settings based on the temperature, altitude, and type of fuel you’re using.
  • Smart Start: Just like in Stihl chainsaws, the Smart Start feature in Husqvarna chainsaws offers an easy way to start the engine without going through a long tiring process.
  • Quick Release Air Filter: Offers a super-fast way of cleaning and replacing clogged air filters.
  • Air Injection: This feature comprises of a centrifugal cleaning system that removes sawdust and other debris from the interior before getting to the air filter. This improves the life of the air filter as there’s less maintenance.
  • Low-Vib: Just like the Stihl chainsaw, the Husqvarna has a low vibration mechanism that reduces chain and engine vibrations when using the chainsaw.

 

STIHL vs Husqvarna: Head-To-Head

Now that you’re aware of the history behind these two chainsaws, our next section is the most important as this is where we’ll see the differences, strengths, and weaknesses of these two dominant brands.

Although we can’t mention everything, we’ve generally picked several best-selling chainsaws from both brands and examined them carefully. After careful consideration, this is what we’ve put into the account in this comprehensive head-to-head comparison.

 

1. Engine Power

When it comes to the engine power, it’s usually hard to mention which between the two is superior as both brands strive to manufacture powerful chainsaws that have enough torque to cut through branches and old tough logs. Now, when choosing a chainsaw, one factor that plays a key role is its cutting power. That’s what differentiates a residential from a commercial-grade chainsaw.

Comparing almost identical chainsaw models from these two brands, Stihl chainsaws usually have lower engine capacities as compared to Husqvarna. This is usually Stihl’s strategy to maintain their chainsaws’ low profiles in terms of lighter weight and easy maneuverability.

Since it’s a tradeoff between power and weight, the Husqvarna has the edge here as it has a more powerful engine that translates to stronger cutting power.

 

2. Fuel Economy

Our second feature in this long list of features is the fuel economy. As we mentioned in our previous point, Stihl uses a totally different strategy to design their chainsaws as compared to Husqvarna. They keep a closer eye on the weight which has forced them to reduce the size of the engine as well as that of the fuel tank.

Although it doesn’t have a great impact on fuel economy, having to refuel your Stihl chainsaw more often might lead to higher fuel consumption, not forgetting taking longer to accomplish a task. Now, about Husqvarna, this brand doesn’t seem to care much about the weight as their chainsaws have bigger fuel tanks that can hold more fuel to accomplish a task.

Now, what sets these two apart in terms of fuel efficiency is Husqvarna’s use of an X-TORQ engine system. With this technology, all Husqvarna chainsaws have reduced fuel consumption and overall low emissions. This alone makes them a better option as compared to Stihl.

 

3. Safety

Both Stihl and Husqvarna have come a long way in reducing potential risks of injury to an operator. Apart from just meeting OSHA requirements, each of these brands has added additional safety measures to win the trust of their diehard customers across the globe.

Some of these safety features you’ll find in both Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws include throttle lock, chain catcher, right-hand guard, quick stop control, and kickback guard. Husqvarna on its side has added an emergency shut-off that automatically shuts down the chainsaw with an easy thumb down motion.

Stihl, on the other hand, requires you to push the thumb counter upwards to activate the shut-off feature. Since this takes a slightly longer time to activate the brakes (leading to serious damages in a dangerous situation), Husqvarna’s inertia-activated brake system makes it a clear winner in this category yet again.

 

4. Price

One area the Stihl has totally outperformed the Husqvarna chainsaw is in the price category. Now, price is one of the factors a logger must consider when purchasing a chainsaw. Although there are other cheaper options available, Stihl’s affordability alongside its quality and positive reputation has allowed it to outperform most chainsaws in the market. This is in fact one of the major factors that make Stihl the biggest competitor of Husqvarna.

 

5. Emissions and Air Filtration

Speaking of emissions and air filtration, both brands have done their due diligence to ensure that sawdust and wood debris don’t reach the engine whatsoever. To keep the air filters from clogging, both brands use an almost similar technique to push debris away to prevent clogging. The process of removing the air filters for cleaning and maintenance purposes is also an easy one in both models.

However, when it comes to emissions, the Husqvarna seems to outperform the Stihl slightly. That’s because of the X-TORQ Technology that cuts the machine’s emissions to nearly 60%. Since Stihl doesn’t boast a similar technology, the Husqvarna emerges as a clear winner in the emissions department with a tie in the air filtration category.

 

6. Reputation and Brand History

Just like in our previous point, we have combined two categories here in a bid to see which of the two brands will earn the bigger piece of the cake. Now, when it comes to reputation, both of these brands have played a major role in one way or the other. Husqvarna for instance has a reputation of being diverse in its product range while Stihl has won the most poles when it comes to quality and affordability. This, therefore, makes a tie between these two brands.

However though, when it comes to their history, both the Stihl and the Husqvarna differ slightly. Now, Husqvarna might have a centuries-old tradition of manufacturing high-standard power tools. However, Stihl is the initial creator of the modern-day chainsaws making it the ultimate winners in this category.

 

7. Maintenance

A high-standard chainsaw requires regular maintenance to keep the various parts working perfectly while still preventing cases of injuries. Maintenance usually requires checking the brake trigger, the fuel/air filters, the handguard, the chain and chain catcher, the cooling system, and the batteries for the case of cordless versions.

From what we’ve already seen, it’s evident that Husqvarna chainsaws are more complex due to the addition of multiple safety and efficiency features. Due to this reason, maintaining these chainsaws requires a bit more attention.

Stihl chainsaws on the other hand are quite straightforward as they don’t incorporate such complex features in their systems. Since they have fewer components that require low maintenance costs, they are relatively cheaper to maintain thus making Stihl the winner.

 

8. Handling

When it comes to handling, everything melts down to your preference. If you’re using the chainsaw for light residential purposes such as clearing some branches, then the Stihl is the perfect choice as its way easier to handle thanks to its lightweight.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a heavy-duty chainsaw for commercial use, then Husqvarna is the perfect option as it has more torque and a bigger fuel tank which means you’ll use it for a longer time without refueling.

Now, although Husqvarna chainsaws are heavier than their Stihl counterparts, they have added advantage of the anti-vibration technology that absorbs vibrations caused by the chain and the engine. This provides proper handling of the chainsaw while reducing hand-arm-vibration. They also have a better self-lubrication mechanism that guarantees smoother and cleaner cuts when chopping wooden logs.

Now, the Stihl too does have the same features, especially when you consider the Ematic Bar and the ElastoStart Handle. However, since Husqvarna has more advanced features, it tends to have the upper hand here though slightly.

 

9. Anti-Vibration System

Next, in our long list of comparison features, we have the anti-vibration system. Now, the various anti-vibration technologies used by Stihl and Husqvarna in their chainsaws is not a marketing stunt but rather an OSHA requirement that must be adhered to at any cost

Stihl on its side uses the ElastoStart Handle that offers a brilliant shock-absorbing mechanism. On the other hand, Husqvarna has opted to add Low-Vib Technology in its line of chainsaws to absorb the engine’s vibrations.

Both of these technologies serve a critical purpose of reducing fatigue on your hands while still lowering cases of hand-arm vibration alongside other neurological effects. Due to these reasons, both brands have tied in this category.

 

10. Durability

Speaking of durability, both of these companies have a long history of quality work. However, Husqvarna has been in the power tools business for quite a long time as compared to Stihl. This alone keeps it slightly on the front line as they have a long reputation for manufacturing durable and more powerful tools as compared to Stihl. Although Stihl does have a positive reputation, they need to prove it for a bit longer to match the type of quality consistency Husqvarna has had.

 

STIHL vs Husqvarna: Advantages and Disadvantages

Now that we’ve already discussed a lot about Stihl and Husqvarna chainsaws, our last section will close the chapter by discussing some of the notable advantages and disadvantages of each of these two dominant brands.

 

STIHL Advantages

  • Although it’s a German-owned private business, Stihl has made a huge impact in the chainsaw business thanks to its dominant Stihl USA brand. With its headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the company has managed to manufacture high-standard chainsaws that meet both OSHA and environmental standards.
  • Stihl chainsaws have a smaller fuel tank and a lighter engine making it a lightweight chainsaw alternative. This design approach makes Stihl chainsaws easy to handle and manage when cutting.
  • Speaking of the price factor, we’ve already seen how affordable Stihl chainsaws are. In fact, this is one of the key factors that has made Stihl keep up the pace in the battle for dominance against Husqvarna.
  • While Husqvarna’s chainsaws tend to lean more on the commercial side, Stihl’s chainsaws are less complex and easily manageable making them the best for consumer class customers.
  • Finally, Stihl chainsaws tend to require less maintenance. This makes them the best for novices and beginners as you won’t have to service the chainsaw more routinely.

STIHL Disadvantages

  • Due to their small fuel tanks and engine capacity, Stihl chainsaws require regular refueling to accomplish tougher cutting tasks. Their small engines also mean less power and less torque to handle challenging duties.
  • Another minor issue with Stihl chainsaws is about the safety lock mechanism in case of a kickback. While Husqvarna uses an automatic inertia-activated brake system, Stihl uses a quite slower manual brake system where you have to push the thumb counter upwards to activate it.

 

Husqvarna Advantages

  • Just like Stihl, Husqvarna has a long rich history that allowed them to build a positive and solid brand reputation. Since commencing its chainsaw business in 1959, they’ve continued to make a mark across the globe with high-standard chainsaws that meet customer demands.
  • The Smart Start feature is a huge advantage that allows loggers to turn the chainsaw on easily. Although Stihl uses the Easy2Start System Technology, the fast and efficient Smart Start feature of the Husqvarna cannot be underestimated.
  • Thanks to the X-TORQ technology, Husqvarna chainsaws are among the best when it comes to fuel economy. They’re also the best when it comes to reducing emissions making them a greener alternative besides electric/battery-powered chainsaws.
  • Another advantage of Husqvarna chainsaws is its powerful engines and bigger fuel tanks. While Stihl has opted to put weight on the front line, Husqvarna has instead sacrificed weight for a more powerful engine and a bigger fuel tank that won’t requires regular refueling.

 

Husqvarna Disadvantages

  • Although they have so many parts that enhance safety and efficiency, Husqvarna chainsaws demand frequent maintenance, which can be expensive to some loggers/users.
  • Secondly, these chainsaws are very powerful. While this makes them the best for professionals, their hiked prices make them hard-to-get for budget customers looking to try the Husqvarna chainsaw brand.

 

Conclusion

Although Husqvarna has topped in most of these categories, we cannot declare with surety that it’s the ultimate winner. That’s because both of these brands are market leaders and clear contenders in terms of durability, reliability, and efficiency.

Stihl on one side is the father of the modern chainsaw. This brand’s chainsaws are affordable, small-sized, and have a superior low-end torque that’s enough to attract customers in the residential setting. Husqvarna on the other hand is an upcoming contender that specifically manufactures heavy-duty chainsaws with superior commercial-grade features.

With that said, the rift of which one between these two brands is the best will continue to widen as the final choice will always be on the hands of the final consumer.

When you’re off the grid, like in a camping site, your RV is your sweet home away from home. It allows you to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, a real meal, and an entertainment spot where you can catch your favorite TV shows or enjoy some gaming. Now, if your RV is suddenly out of power, then this can cause dire consequences that can devastate your camping plans. Thankfully, you don’t need to despair as this guide will get to the bottom of the issue by conducting a comprehensive RV converter troubleshooting.

Although most people don’t bother to know how a converter works, a little knowledge about it is somewhat important. When your RV is parked and connected to shore power or a generator, it uses the 120V a/c power to operate some of your household appliances. At the same time, a converter is needed to transform the 120V a/c current into 12V d/c power to run the dashboard system, most lighting, and to recharge your battery. Since converters are electrical components, they too can fail, forcing you to think of ways in which you can restore them back to their working order.

 

RV Converter Troubleshooting: An Ultimate Guide

How Can You Tell if a Converter is Faulty?

It’s very easy to tell when your RV converter has a problem. The first and obvious warning sign is dimming of your RV’s interior lights. Another clue could be your electrical appliances once they seize to work. A good example is when your refrigerator fails to maintain its temperature. In extreme cases, your RV can lose power altogether.

In the first cases, the problem could be the converter where it’s unable to convert enough power to be used by your RV’s components. In the last case, the problem is likely to be the battery where it has totally exhausted its charge or it’s defective. The problem could also be a totally damaged converter.

Remember, we mentioned that its main purpose is to convert AC power into DC to charge your RV’s battery and power most low voltage appliances. So, once the converter is damaged, then it means that your battery will definitely drain since it’s not being recharged.

Safety First

Although troubleshooting your RV’s converter doesn’t require a high level of electrical knowledge, it’s always good to be cautious when dealing with electrical outputs. Some of the problems we’ll discuss can easily be diagnosed and fixed by any novice. However, some problems will require a bit of experience and will hence require you to consult a licensed RV repair professional to fix them. So, if you’re up and ready, then let’s begin.

 

1. Are the Batteries the Cause?

In case you experience total loss of power, then there’s a possibility that your RV’s converter has drained your batteries. Another explanation could be one of your batteries is not maintaining its charge causing it to draw power from the other battery.  If that’s the case, then the problem should be examined early enough to prevent damaging the other battery.

Thankfully, testing your batteries is one of the easiest things that can be done by almost any RV owner. You can do it anytime at any place provided you have a voltmeter and a multimeter.

  • Step One:

The first step is to charge your batteries to full capacity then disconnect your RV from any external power source. This could be the shore power, a generator, or solar panel. This will help to isolate your RV from your electrical power source for a while.

  • Step Two:

Disconnect each battery from its partner to separate them from each other. This will allow you to test each battery independently making it easier to spot the problem. Most RV batteries are connected in parallel where the positive terminal of one battery is connected to the positive terminal of the other battery. The same goes for the negative terminals.

  • Step Three:

Once the batteries are removed from the RV, allow them to rest for about 20 minutes to stabilize their charge.

  • Step Four:

Since the batteries are fully charged, use your multimeter to test their voltage one at a time. Now, a good battery that’s in perfect working condition should have a multimeter reading of 12.5 – 12.7 volts. Anything less than that means that your battery or batteries are unable to hold a charge and are hence faulty. In this regard, you’ll have to replace the batteries or rather the faulty battery.

On the other hand, if you record the correct readings, then it simply means that your batteries are in perfect order and the issue may well be the converter.

 

2. Could it be a Faulty Cooling Fan?

If the batteries are not the problem, then you should check the next possible culprit which is the cooling fan. Just like most electrical components, an RV converter also requires a cooling fan to cool the components by lowering the temperatures.

Since you can’t regulate the temperatures manually, this cooling fan is usually inspired by a thermostat to turn on and off intermittently in response to temperature fluctuations. So, if the cooling fan is damaged, then this can cause a serious temperature rise that can possibly damage some components within the converter not forgetting causing some electrical issues in your RV.

Thankfully, just like in our first case, the cooling fan can also be inspected and fixed.

  • Step One:

So, to test the cooling fan, you’ll need to connect your multimeter to the exact point where the cooling fan connects to the converter. In case it doesn’t give any reading, then it’s certain the fan is dead. You see, cooling fans can sometimes malfunction following regular use that can lead to wear and tear.

  • Step Two:

Since all hope isn’t lost yet, there might be a possibility that your 110V power line has a problem. Just to be certain, you can try to supply the cooling fan with a current from a separate source to see whether it works. If it doesn’t work, then it’s clear it’s damaged and will need a replacement. In case it works, then the problem might be your 110V power line or the thermostat.

  • Step Three:

In case the converter is getting hotter than normal and the fan is working, then the problem could be the thermostat. Remember, the thermostat is the sensor that turns the cooling fan on/off when temperatures in the converter rise or fall. So, if it’s malfunctioning, then it will require a replacement.

  • Step Four:

So, how do you replace a faulty converter fan? Well, although it’s easy, one tricky nut you’ll have to crack is finding the right replacement. Here, you’ll need to be extra careful as you will have to find the exact replacement that corresponds with your converter’s amperage, voltage, size, and part number. In short, you’ll need to have the existing cooling fan during your purchase to confirm all these.

However, if you’re on the road, the best advice is to visit your nearest garage or electrical shop to see whether you’ll get a replacement.

 

3. Could it be the 110V Power Source?

In our previous point, we touched something to do with the 110V power source. At this point, we will discuss in detail how to troubleshoot the 110V entry point to see whether it shows any signs of power failure.

  • Step One:

The first step is to inspect all the components responsible such as the RV inverter. Remember, the inverter is responsible for converting your batteries’ 12V DC into 110V AC power to be used by your household appliances. The inverter should, therefore, be in good working order.

You can also test the reliability of the AC power source by plugging any appliance of your choice (such as a microwave) to see whether it works.

  • Step Two:

To perform a comprehensive test, you’ll need to use a multimeter to measure the voltage in two specific points. The first point is where the 110V AC power enters the converter and the second one is testing the entry point of the 12V DC circuit breaker box. In case you don’t detect any power, then the circuit breaker is the culprit.

  • Step Three:

To fix it, you’ll need to inspect the wiring of the circuit breaker box very carefully to see whether there’s any loose or broken connection. Check every circuit breaker independently starting with the primary input breaker to check for any signs of physical degradation.

Check for cases of corrosion in the wire terminals and if any, mix a small portion of water with a tablespoon of baking soda to clean it. You can use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the affected areas. Once you’re done, you can now wipe the circuit breaker and leave it for some time to fully dry up.

Note: When testing the circuit breaker box, test power-out rather than power-in.

 

4. Check the Fuses

Just like inspecting the batteries, another simple way of detecting your RV converter’s problem is by inspecting the fuses. In most cases, fuses are overlooked when it comes to troubleshooting your converter.

Fuses are designed with a thin metal bridge in the inside that melts down to break a connection whenever they detect an electrical surge or a short circuit.  Once the current is broken, there’s a total loss of power in your RV. This is an obvious thing with fuses and it’s a positive step that helps to protect your appliances from damage as well as your wiring from melting down.

  • Step One:

So, to troubleshoot this possible issue, you’ll need to inspect each fuse by removing it from its respective spots. You can perhaps use a fuse puller or needle-nose pliers to pull them out. Be careful not to press them too much or else you’ll crush them.

  • Step Two:

Inspect the thin wire in the inside to see whether it’s burned out. If it’s damaged, then it means you’ll have to replace it. Now, during replacement, you need to find a similar fuse with the same amp rating so that it matches with the other fuses.

 

5. Inspect the Resistors and the Diodes

Sometimes the root source of your converter’s problem can be as simple as a faulty resistor or diode. Now, in some old-fashioned RV converter circuit boards, resistors and diodes are the ones used to control the voltage flowing to and from the 12V DC batteries. In such converters, the circuit board is usually riveted somewhere in the converter box making it easy to locate.

However, due to the complexity of the design, accessing these resistors will require you to disassemble the converter box completely to avoid damaging the vulnerable components inside.

Once it’s out, you’ll need to take a very close inspection of the resistor gates (the connection points) to see whether there’s any buildup of battery acid. This is one surefire way you can attest whether a resistor is faulty or not.

Now, the diodes, on the other hand, differ greatly from the resistors. They are tasked to ensure that electric current flows only in one direction without reversing. Remember, if electric flow reverses, it can potentially blow your RV’s batteries or your solar panel for that matter.

Due to their design, testing for a faulty diode using a multimeter can be very difficult, as you have to understand the direction to which the current is flowing before you can test. Just like the resistors, the diodes too can also be tested by inspecting the connection points to see whether there’s a white acid residue.

For the case of the resistors, you can easily hire a professional mechanic to replace them. However, for the case of diodes, the only remedy is to replace the entire RV converter.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, your RV is a major investment that requires extreme care for it to offer full service for a long time. One major component of your RV that’s usually factory-installed is the converter. The best thing about the converter is that it can last for a lifetime as long as your RV is operational. However regular maintenance followed by preventive measures will need to be observed if at all you need your RV converter to last for a longer time.

In this ultimate guide, we’ve discussed how to troubleshoot your RV’s converter. Some issues are easy to fix while others are quite complex and require a professional mechanic. Some are so extreme where the only way out is to replace the entire RV converter. However, regardless of the situation, one surefire way of taking care of your converter is by conducting regular inspections of your RV at all times.

Whether you own a chainsaw or you’re planning to get one, one thing you should know about these complex machines is that they’re useful in a variety of ways. Long before the discovery of the chainsaw, people used axes to cut down trees, which, of course, was tiring as compared to the convenience offered by the chainsaw. Sadly, even after being a common machine among most farmers and timber yard owners, most people are totally ignorant about learning the various parts of a chainsaw.

Now, according to numerous studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- CDC, nearly 36,000 chainsaw related injuries are recorded annually. This is because most people who buy new chainsaws don’t really know how to use them. So, to help you understand how to use a chainsaw, this guide will first discuss the various parts of a chainsaw alongside their functions. Remember, a chainsaw is a complex machine that has multiple parts. Some of these parts are designed to aid in efficiency while others are there to protect you when using the machine. In that regard, let’s now begin.

 

But First, Why Should You Know The Various Parts?

Before we get to the main party, we would like to discuss just a bit, as to why it’s important to know the various parts of a chainsaw. The first reason is your safety. You see, a chainsaw isn’t a toy but rather a complex machine that can prove deadly if not handled correctly.  Due to this reason alone, certain parts of a chainsaw must meet certain requirements as stipulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Additionally, most chainsaws produced after 1995 must also meet ANSI B175.1-1991 (Gasoline-Powered Chainsaws Safety Requirements).

Another reason why it’s essential to learn the various parts of a chainsaw is for maintenance purposes. Just to be realistic, it will be impossible to maintain your chainsaw if you hardly know its various parts and how they work. Therefore, having a basic understanding of your chainsaw will help you to maintain it, which in turn will reduce repair costs.

Finally, there’s the issue of communication. Now, imagine you wish to replace a faulty component in your chainsaw. How would you make an order when you hardly know the name of the specific component and what it’s tasked to do?

Now that you have a reason why you need to know about the different parts of a chainsaw, this guide will get straight to the point. Since we will mention both primary and secondary parts, the most important parts (primary) that must meet OSHA’s requirements will be identified by a mark (*).

 

Parts of a Chainsaw: Their Functions

 

1. *The Chain Catcher

The first part of a chainsaw, which happens to be an OSHA requirement, is the chain catcher. This is generally a plastic or metallic guard that’s intended to protect the operator from any injuries in case the chain breaks during operation.  You see, when the chain is spinning at a rapid pace, there are chances that it might break or come off the bar causing it to smash against the operator. Thankfully, with a chain catcher, the chain can easily be trapped to prevent it from causing any damage. Due to this huge task, the chain catcher can sometimes wear out forcing you to replace it regularly.

 

2. *Throttle

Just like your car’s gas pedal, the throttle is what triggers the speed of the chain when operating. Located on the underside of the rear handle, the throttle is tasked to regulate the RPM by either increasing or decreasing the amount of fuel getting to the combustion chamber. The more the available fuel, the better it is for the engine to function.

In the case of an electric chainsaw, the throttle controls the amount of amperage getting to the motor resulting in a faster and more efficient chainsaw. But, for the throttle to work, you need to engage the throttle lockout.

 

3. *Throttle Lock

Also known as the safety throttle, the throttle interlock, and the throttle trigger lock, this safety lock is specifically intended to prevent the chainsaw from being triggered accidentally. While the throttle is located underneath the rear handle, the throttle trigger lock sits on top of the rear handle making it easy to press. Since a chainsaw is a dangerous machine, the throttle lock ensures that the chainsaw cannot be activated when it’s in the idle position. Due to its huge importance, the throttle lock is another OSHA requirement that must be present in any chainsaw.

 

4. Chain

Although it’s not an OSHA requirement, the chain is the most important component of the chainsaw without which the chainsaw cannot operate. It’s that part of the chainsaw that does the actual cutting. Now, for effective cutting to take place, the chain has several parts that work simultaneously. These parts include the left and right cutter teeth, the drive links, tie strap, and the rakers.

Now, the cutter teeth are self-explanatory as they’re tasked to do the cutting. The tie straps, on the other hand, are the ones that connect the drive links to the cutter teeth. Once connected, the drive links merge the chain to the bar and ensure the chain is perfectly propelled by the motor. To make the chainsaw more manageable while reducing chances of kickback, the cutter teeth must be sharpened regularly.

 

5. Guide Bar

Another part of a chainsaw you should be aware of is the guide bar. If you’re new to chainsaws, you can easily confuse the chain and the guide bar quite easily. While the chain is tasked to do the actual cutting, the guide bar is the tough steel alloy bar that holds the chain in position.

In addition to holding the chain, the bar is responsible for determining the actual length of the chainsaw. With its size varying anywhere from 16” to 24” and above, the bar also determines the furthest you can reach when cutting a tree and whether you’ll need to rotate around the tree when cutting.

 

6. *Hand Guard

Another convenient part of your chainsaw, which by the way is an OSHA requirement, is the handguard. You see, during the cutting process, pieces of debris are left flying on the air due to the speeding chain. There are also cases of kickback especially when the cutter teeth are not sharpened properly. So, to protect you from any of these scenarios, which can cause potential injuries, the handguard must be present to guarantee you a comfortable grip. This part usually runs from the base to the top of the motor.

 

7. *Chain Brake

Located just above the guide bar and the engine, there’s the chain brake. This part of the chainsaw is among the most important safety features that are both OSHA and ANSI B175.1-1991 safety requirements. Most of the time, when you’re cutting using the nose/tip of the chain, the chain can sometimes get pinched by the wood causing it to shoot upwards resulting in a kickback.

This kickback motion usually targets the upper parts of your body such as the head, shoulders, neck, and face, and can cause major hazards and even death. Therefore, to mitigate these dreadful injuries, a chain brake becomes a necessity that must be present on any chainsaw.

To operate the brake, an operator only needs to push the hand guard-forward. From there, a steel brake band powered by a powerful spring is tied around the driven clutch drum to stop the chain from rotating. Following the advancement in technology, the chain brake can either be manual (activated deliberately by the operator) or automatic (activated by inertia or the kickback force).

 

8. Engine

Another essential part of your chainsaw is the engine. Usually protected under a metal block, the engine lies behind the spark plug and it comprises of a motor that’s connected to the cutting chain via the clutch. Most chainsaw engines are internal combustion meaning they rely on gasoline to operate. However, following recent technological improvements, electric and battery-powered chainsaws are slowly taking the main stage thanks to their environmentally friendly characteristics.

 

9. Clutch

Another part of the chainsaw that lies next to the engine is the clutch. This piece of a thin metal ring is designed to accomplish several specific tasks. The first task of the clutch is to work closely with the brakes. You see, when an operator applies the brakes, the braking system activates the clutch. For the chain to stop, the clutch squeezes against the sprocket to stop the motion.

In case you didn’t know, the sprocket is a cylindrical drum that houses the clutch and small teeth that hold the chain when it’s spinning. Now, the second task of the clutch is to prevent your chainsaw’s chain from rotating when the engine is idling. This is an important safety feature that protects an operator from any accidents caused by human error.

The last and most important task of a clutch is to protect the engine from stalling in case the chain stops abruptly. This is one feature that ensures your chainsaw’s engine is running consistently and efficiently.

 

10. Flywheel

The flywheel is another crucial part of the chainsaw that’s located inside the engine. This component has two major roles. The first role is to store kinetic energy in the form of rotational energy to be used in regulating the speed and momentum of the engine when rotating the chain. This mechanism ensures a safe, smooth, and efficient working of the engine.

If you look at a flywheel closely, you’ll notice that it resembles a fan. This unique design allows the flywheel to accomplish its second task that is cooling down the engine/motor to prevent overheating. Since the flywheel rotates at a rapid pace, its edges can easily bend, break, or get clogged. Due to these reasons, it’s highly recommended that you keep a close eye on this component to avoid damaging the engine.

 

11. Filters

In this section, we will discuss both the air and fuel filters. That’s because both of these parts perform an identical role of preventing impurities from getting inside the carburetor. Now, about the air filter, this one is concealed under the air filter cover. Its main purpose is to purify the air getting into the carburetor ensuring that it doesn’t have any impurities such as sawdust, normal dust, and small wooden chunks.

The fuel filter on its part is tasked with ensuring that the fuel entering into the carburetor is purified from dust, sawdust, and other small particles. With clean fuel and air, there’s an efficient fuel-air mixture that produces enough energy to power the chainsaw’s engine.

 

12. Carburetor

The carburetor is another crucial part of the chainsaw that controls the amount of fuel intake into the engine. Unlike a car’s carburetor, a chainsaw carburetor is pretty simple as it doesn’t have a lot of complex parts. Its main task comes in when you’re trying to start the chainsaw when the engine is cold, idling or when it’s running.

Now, a carburetor comprises of a throttle plate that controls the amount of air getting in from the air filter. It also has a narrow tube called a venture. Inside the venture, there’s another narrow hole called a jet. During operation, air flowing through the throttle plate creates a vacuum in the venture, which in return attracts a metered amount of fuel via the jets to support combustion.

 

13. *Muffler

Another OSHA requirement in a chainsaw is the muffler. Just like in an automotive, the muffler serves the same purpose of absorbing the noise to make the chainsaw bearable to the operator without damaging his/her ears. In addition to that, the muffler does a crucial task of pushing exhaust fumes away from the operator thus reducing the amount of fumes a chainsaw operator inhales. In most chainsaws, especially the Stihl chainsaw, the muffler can easily be removed for maintenance purposes.

 

14. Spark Plug

Just like in an automotive, the purpose of the spark plug in a gas chainsaw is to create the spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture. Since a chainsaw is designed to accomplish many difficult chores, it’s good to keep a closer eye on the spark plug through regular maintenance to ensure that it works at its best.

 

15. Spark Arrestor

We’ve already discussed the purpose of the muffler. Now, during operation, the muffler can sometimes release hot sparks and tiny projectiles (small pieces of metal) which can either cause a fire hazard or fly out of the chainsaw onto the operator’s face. So, to prevent such unenforceable accidents, a thin mesh-like screen is added inside the muffler to arrest these sparks.

 

16. Tensioners

The tensioner is another equally important part of your chainsaw. Located on the side of the chainsaw, the tensioner is generally a screw that’s tasked to loosen or tighten the chain. To access the tension screw, you have to loosen the clutch cover nuts first before turning it clockwise or anticlockwise. By doing this, you generally minimize the rapid wear of the chain as well as your safety in case the chain breaks during operation.

 

17. *Anti-Vibration System

When a chainsaw is cutting, the engine is likely to cause vibrations that can turn to be sensitive to your hands. In fact, excess vibrations for a long time can expose an operator to severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). These vibrations can also put a lot of stress on your arms and joints making it difficult to handle a chainsaw when cutting.

Now, a chainsaw is divided into two parts. The first consists of the chain cutter and the engine while the other part consists of the handles and the controls. In between these two rigid assemblies, there’s the anti-vibration system that comes in the form of a spring suspension. This suspension system consists of metal springs and rubber bushes that work together to absorb the vibrations caused by the engine and the chain cutter.

 

18. Manual Fuel Pump

The manual fuel pump is a smart feature that’s available in most chainsaws and power tools in general. It comprises of a ball like a primer bulb which when pressed fills the chamber of the carburetor with fuel. This technique creates enough fuel-air mixture that gives the engine a head start to ignite. With this feature, you’ll generally need a few pulls on the pull cord to start the engine.

 

19. Decompression Valve

Although this is not a standard part found in all chainsaws, it plays a key role in easing pressure from the pistons to make it easier to start the engine using the recoil start handle. Just like the manual fuel pump, the decompression valve is a small button that you press manually using your finger.

Now, depending on the chainsaw model you’re using, the decompressor valve can either be manual or automatic. However though, whether it’s manually activated or self-activated, this valve usually opens when you’re starting the engine and immediately shuts down once the engine starts.

 

20. On/Off Switch

Just like in most cases, the on/off switch is used to turn the engine on or off by blocking the ignition coil from firing. Also called a kill switch, this part of the chainsaw is responsible for shutting down the engine once you’re done using the chainsaw.

 

21. High/Low Adjustment

The high and low adjustment screws are usually marked with initials (H) and (L). Although they’re usually factory-set, sometimes it becomes necessary to adjust them especially after cleaning the carburetor to ensure optimal performance. Their main purpose, however, is to regulate the amount of fuel-air mixture to control the engine’s RPM.

 

22. Pull Cord

This is typically a small rope with a plastic handle. Its purpose is to start the engine. The pull cord is not a newcomer but rather a familiar technique of starting most appliances that rely on the internal combustion engine. They include lawnmowers, weed eaters, pumps, chainsaws outboard motors, and small aircraft among others.

 

23. Fuel Tank

The fuel tank isn’t something new to most people. This is where you put the gas or fuel in the chainsaw. Now, the fuel tank is usually part of the fuel supply system with the rest being the filters, the fuel pump, the valves, connecting pipes, and the heat exchanger. The gas tank stores the fuel until it’s needed to power the engine. Upon request, the fuel is pumped to the filters where it’s purified before being transported by the connecting pipes to the fuel injector (s).

 

24. Lubricant Tank

Just like the fuel tank, the lubricant tank provides a way of adding oil to the chainsaw. You see, when you’re running a chainsaw, there’s usually a constant metal-to-metal contact between the bar and the chain. This contact can produce serious friction that can damage the chain or the chainsaw. Therefore, to reduce this friction as well as the heat generated, a lubricant is an absolute must.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, a chainsaw is generally a convergence of multiple parts that work behind the scenes to accomplish the various cutting tasks. As I mentioned earlier, the most crucial parts that are OSHA requirements are marked with an asterisk (*). Although we haven’t mentioned everything, at least we’ve listed the basic parts that keep the chainsaw up and running.

Another thing about these parts is that they aren’t 100% accurate. That’s because chainsaws come in different flavors and varieties some of which are way different from the others. Thankfully, this guide is more of an eye-opener that will teach you the basics as you expand your knowledge.

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