Review Common Fuel Tank Problems in Automobiles

Car Gas Tank Siphoning

Car Gas Tank Siphoning

Before we review common fuel tank problems in automobiles let’s talk about what it takes to remove a gas tank from the average vehicle. As a professional automotive mechanic, I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to pull a gas tank out of a truck, car or SUV. Although it’s never fun, the more gas that’s inside, the harder the task becomes.

When we’re talking about correcting common fuel tank problems on an automobile that we own, at least we can control how much fuel remains in the tank when we begin servicing failed auto-parts. Ideally you’ll plan the repairs after running most of the fuel through the engine. In a best case scenario you’ll have less than a quarter of a tank when you begin the removal procedure. However, sometimes these automobiles develop fuel pump problems that don’t allow us this flexibility.

In these cases I recommend siphoning the fuel into an approved storage container. Do yourself a favor and get a quality fluid extractor made for gasoline transfer. An even better solution becomes an electrically powered model that makes quick work of transferring the gas from the automobile to the storage vessel. Finally, the fuel tank is held in by retaining straps with long threaded studs. These undercarriage mounted fasteners see some of the harshest elements. Exposure to road salt and water makes these difficult to remove. Review this article about how to deal with stuck and rusty bolts.

Common Fuel Tank Problems

thereadinggroup.us auto repair manuals

Auto Repair Manuals

One of the more frustrating fuel tank problems we can deal with is when the automobile refuses to accept gasoline. Fortunately, we wrote an article dealing with just this problem. See how to diagnose and repair a gas tank that won’t take fuel. Another common fuel tank issue on high mileage vehicles is the failure of the fuel pump.

This specific condition plagues certain automobiles relentlessly. General Motors has its fair share of failed fuel pumps on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. You can read this Chevrolet fuel pump technical service bulletin if you’re sure you have this problem.

If you’re not sure why the engine won’t start, but you think it’s the fuel pump, please take the time to diagnose this thoroughly before dropping the fuel tank. Although no starts from a failed fuel pump remain a common problem, other possibilities exist. When it comes to finding out why a vehicle won’t start you can’t beat the step by step diagnostic chart in the Chevrolet repair manual.

The Accuracy of Fuel Level Gauges

Volkswagen Fuel Pump Module

Volkswagen Fuel Pump Module

Car owners depend on the accuracy of the fuel level information provided by the gas tank mounted sending unit. I’ve owned cars that you could drive around on empty for a couple of days without actually running out of fuel. I’ve also owned vehicles that when the gas gauge hit empty I found myself sitting on the side of the road with a no start.

What people don’t realize is that some manufacturers allow an additional 1 to 5 gallons of reserve fuel to remain in the tank even when the gauge reads empty. With that said, not all manufacturers build this feature into their automobiles. This makes it important for the driver to learn the quirks of their particular automobile in respects to what empty means on their car.

However, despite our understanding of how far the automobile can go on empty, we shouldn’t make a habit out of this. Running the fuel at the bottom of the tank through the engine can prematurely clog the fuel filter. Sand and debris can also find their way throughout the fuel system and cause fuel injector problems. With inaccurate fuel level situations or gas gauges that don’t work at all it’s time to look into the sending unit itself.

The Fuel Tank Sending Unit

Classic Dodge Charger Gas Tank Sending Unit

Classic Dodge Charger Gas Tank Sending Unit

On my 1974 Dodge Charger SE the fuel tank sending unit was a thing of simplistic beauty. A brass float connected to a metal arm that operated a variable resistor. This in turn reported accurate information to the analog style fuel gauge on the dash. Believe it or not, most of this basic design theory exists on cars today. With that said, the days of the brass float are long gone. And the variable resistor used to report information to the dash panel also looks quite different. Finally, gauges have switched from analog to digital signals.

In addition, on modern automobiles, you often find the fuel tank sending unit tied together with the fuel pump. They call this a fuel tank module. All the puzzle pieces fit together and then they hang it from the center of the gas tank to do its job. This fuel tank module contains the fuel pump, a nylon filter called a sock, molded fuel lines and the fuel level gauge sending unit. Therefore, when you have fuel tank problems it’s sometimes wise to just replace this entire module.

In some cases you might find the parts available individually. But this means the disassembling and reassembling of the module. When you reinstall this in the tank, with the new sending unit you’re still using an old electric fuel pump. And that fuel system component may not have long to live. As we discussed in the opening, removing the fuel tank is not something you want to do more than once.

Final Thoughts about Fuel Tank Problems

Consider spending a few more dollars and replace the entire fuel tank module. The repairs become more reliable and reduce the risk of you having to perform them sometime in the near future. On many year, make and models purchasing a fuel tank module isn’t much more expensive than purchasing the individual fuel level sending unit. And if you own a 10 year old General Motors vehicle, I can tell you for sure that you want to refresh the fuel pump while you have the tank out of the vehicle.

9 Steps to Take Before You Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

truck accident lawyerEvery year, nearly 4 thousand people die in commercial truck accidents. Of these, around 85% weren’t the truck driver. Despite efforts to make driving a big truck safer, the death toll has gone up over the last 7 years.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck, you or others may have been injured. There are special steps you need to follow before you contact a truck accident lawyer.

Let’s explore what you need to know if you’ve been in an accident.

Step 1) Assess Your Own Injuries

You can’t help others if you haven’t first taken care of yourself.

If you’re bleeding, administer first aid to stop it. If you can’t get out of your car or are otherwise incapacitated, call 911 or signal someone for help.

Step 2) Assess the Injuries of Others

If you’re okay to move, get out of the vehicle and assess the injuries of your passengers. If someone is hurt or unconscious, don’t move them unless there is a significant risk of fire or explosion.

In most cases, the best thing to do is wait for professional assistance. But there are exceptions.

Step 3) Move Your Car If You Can Safely Do So

If you and your passengers aren’t seriously hurt, moving the vehicle off the road will help prevent further accidents or injury. If the car has to be pushed because of serious damage to the transmission or other vital parts, it’s usually best to leave it. You could hurt yourself.

If you can’t easily move the car, get off the road. But before you do, turn off the engine and turn on your hazard lights to warn other vehicles.

Step 4) Take Pictures

These days, you very likely have a camera on your phone. Take pictures of your damage and the damage to the other vehicle.

If the other driver tries to claim that their damage was greater than it was or minimize your damage, you’ll have the proof you need to provide your insurance company and/or truck accident lawyer.

Never put yourself or others in harm’s way to take pictures.

Step 5) Call the Police

Some truck accidents only cause minor damage. You should still call the police. Should the damage be greater than it appears, you need everything on record in a police report.

This may be used as evidence in civil court. Your truck accident lawyer will need this to make your case.

The police will also block the road so that no other accidents occur.

When you call the police, be sure to inform them about any injuries or if the car is on the road. They will prioritize your accident and arrive in an appropriate amount of time.

Write down the officers’ names. And find out how and when you’ll be able to get a copy of the police report.

Most of the time, they’ll have this information ready to hand to you. But the full report may take a few days to be completed.

Step 6) Call a Tow Truck

You can call the truck before the police arrive, but unless your vehicle is blocking traffic, don’t let them move it until the police arrive.

In a trucking accident, think of your car as evidence. You don’t want it tampered with.

Step 7) Get Contact Information

If someone saw the accident or arrived soon after, ask for their information. They may be a valuable witness to support your claims. The driver of the commercial truck may try to dispute what happened.

They may say that you cut in front of them. Or they might otherwise try to shift the fault. You usually don’t get a second chance to get contact information from witnesses so make sure you get it done.

You and your truck accident lawyer will be very glad that you took this step.

In addition, you should get contact information from others involved in the accident and provide them with yours.

You need to collect:

  • Full name & contact information
  • Driver’s license & license plate number
  • Insurance company & policy number
  • Type, color & model of vehicle
  • Accident location

You’ll need this information to provide to your insurance company who may need to get their side of the story. And if the driver disappears, you may need this info to track them down.

Step 8) Get Medical Attention, Even if “You’re Okay”

You may have no signs of sprains, tears, concussions, contusions or anything else. But still get medical attention. Right after an accident, your body is filled with endorphins.

These are hormones that you release in life-threatening situations. They reduce pain. They can cover up injuries that will make themselves known later.

Step 9) Contact Your Insurer

File a report with your insurance company. Even if you don’t think you’re at fault, they must be notified. Failing to notify them in a timely manner could nullify your coverage.

Start the insurance claims process. This may require you to contact the insurance company of the truck driver unless you’re in a no-fault state.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

Finally, it’s time to call a lawyer. You’ve helped ensure the immediate health and safety needs of yourself and others are met. And you’ve begun the process of building a case should that be needed.

Truck accidents can cause very serious injuries and even death. Once you’ve taken steps to protect yourself and others right after the accident, it’s time to call a truck accident lawyer.

Because of the size of their vehicles, truck drivers have additional responsibilities and guidelines they must follow to avoid accidents. They must adhere to regulations that determine how they handle themselves on the road and maintain their vehicles.

Even if you think that fault is unclear, you should contact a lawyer who knows the rules

Trucking Accident Steps

When you’re in a trucking accident, it’s hard to know what to do. But failing to take certain steps could impact your insurance claims or other judgments.

By taking these steps, you’ll be ready. You have what you need to insurance and a civil case — should it come to that?

For more tips on fixing and maintaining your vehicle, follow our blog.

Tips for Better DIY Brake Jobs

Parts for DIY Brake Jobs

Parts for DIY Brake Jobs

Let’s review some tips for better DIY brake jobs. Despite aiming these tips at people that prefer to work on their own automobiles, retail auto service customers will also benefit from this information. Sometimes car repair shops and professional mechanics are forced into a situation where they cut corners.

These auto repair centers need to remain competitive and therefore operate on thin profit margins for standard brake job services. Unfortunately, many technicians today still get paid on the archaic flat rate pay scale. This means they’re not compensated all that much for brake services on your automobile. The necessity to put food on the table can push them to rush the job. Rushing the job on an automotive safety system seems counterproductive. However, in the real world it happens.

Knowing how to do DIY brake jobs correctly helps those retail customers ask important questions about how their brake service was performed. In this article we’ll focus on items that driveway mechanics can employ to achieve better results. Drivers having the service performed for them, can ask the mechanic if they employed the same tactics. One thing is for sure, the more time you spend on the little details the better these DIY brake jobs turn out. In fact, sweating the details can help the new friction pads last longer and reduce brake noise.

Brake Caliper Slide Issue

Brake Caliper Bolt and Slide

Brake Caliper Bolt and Slide

The brake caliper on all automobiles is a free-floating component. The caliper physically moves when you apply the brakes and then returns when you release them. Manufacturers implement the use of caliper slides differently. In fact, on some old Mercedes-Benz cars the caliper is actually fixed and the pads slide inside the caliper.

Despite the design, the disc brake caliper needs to apply and release. If it doesn’t completely release, the brakes drag and experience premature wear. In extreme situations a dragging caliper can cause the automobile to pull while driving on the road. This condition can often be mistaken for the front end out of alignment. Common factory installed brake caliper slides need servicing during a standard brake job.

Let’s explain the words servicing the slides. The caliper slides accumulate brake dust and can experience corrosion due to their exposure to harsh conditions. These caliper slides are meant to be removed and cleaned when you’re performing a standard brake job. With that said, these same parts need to be lubricated with a specialized caliper lube before you reinstall them.

Caliper lube is manufactured to stand up to the extreme temperatures generated by automotive braking systems. In addition, this specialized grease remains waterproof even in harsh conditions. In most cases the applied lubricant will last as long as the friction pads. The factory installed caliper lube on the assembly line. Mechanics performing DIY brake jobs in the driveway should do the same. For retail automotive consumers, they should ask their mechanic if they cleaned and lubricated the caliper slides on their automobile during brake service.

Brake Pulsation and Noise

Disc Brake Rotor

Disc Brake Rotor

Many auto repair shops just quickly replace the friction pads and move on to the next car. In the industry, we call this a hang and go or a pad slap. During a hang and go operation all of the vital tips recommended by factory trained technicians get thrown into a trashcan. Although consumers might be happy with the price for a pad slap service, they will not be thrilled with how long they last. And the chances of possible problems they might experience in a short time of use increases exponentially.

When retail car repair shops apply the hang and go service to an automobile some of the first complaints from drivers becomes brake pulsation and noise when stopping. Let’s tackle the brake pulsation part first. In this situation professional mechanics recommend you replace the disc brake rotors. In the old days we would recommend a resurfacing operation for the original equipment rotors. However, in an effort to reduce the weight of the vehicle and save money, the rotors installed on modern automobiles don’t resurface well.

They use a composite material instead of pure steel. The other issue becomes the thickness of the rotor installed on the assembly line. These parts are already near their minimum thickness. This means that replacing the disc brake rotor remains the way to go. Thankfully, aftermarket companies offer these replacement parts at bargain prices for most automobiles. Unfortunately, on some German cars these parts carry a high price tag. However, even on German BMW automobiles you can find replacement parts under $200 each.

Problems with DIY brake jobs

Disc Brake Quiet

Disc Brake Quiet

The next problem we run into with a hang and go brake job becomes noise generated while braking. The noise itself is caused by a vibration of the friction pads. There are two things that help reduce the possibility of brake noise performed on a full service brake job. First, mechanics looking to achieve the best results should always replace the hardware. On disc brake systems these are stainless steel clips that firmly hold the brake pads in place.

On rear drum brakes, hardware includes the springs and shoe hold downs. Failure to replace these parts allows the brake parts to vibrate and cause brake noise. The second issue that can cause annoying disc brakes squeal also has to do with brake pad vibration.

It stems from when the brake caliper piston applies the friction pads against the rotors. We need to dampen the vibration between the face of the piston and the back side of the inboard pad. High quality replacement parts include a vibration dampening shim on the inboard brake pad. When you buy cheap parts they often lack this shim. Some auto repair shops apply a silicone substance called disc brake quiet to the inboard pad. However, they would not have to do this if they bought high quality replacement parts in the first place. Disc brake quiet can wear down over time and annoying brake noise becomes the result.

Universal Auto Repair Tools

Impact Universal Socket Joint

Impact Universal Socket Joint

Are you thinking about adding universal auto repair tools to your collection? See how a professional car mechanic feels about these alluring tools. I’ve purposely chosen the word alluring, because of its extended definition. Mr. Webster says the word stands for having a strong attractive or enticing quality.

Our friend the Internet dictionary describes the definition as a temptation or attraction to something desirable. How does this apply to universal auto repair tools? What if you could buy one tool that performed the job of a complete set of tools. The answer is, you would spend a fraction of the price and at the same time get a tool that satisfied your every need.

Does this sound too good to be true? In my opinion, it is too good to be true. With that said, I have more than three universal auto repair tools in my professional collection at this very moment. In this article we’ll provide examples of universal tools that will surely disappoint you. To balance this out we’ll provide a couple of universal tools I would never live without when it comes to fixing cars.

Universal Socket Tool

Universal Socket Tool

Universal Socket Tool

There are several different varieties of universal socket tools available. One of the more popular styles becomes a large socket filled with hardened steel pins. As you push the socket over the nut or bolt it displaces the pins in the way by pushing them upward into the top of the cylinder. The remaining steel pins surround the bolt head and provide the force necessary to remove the fastener.

There remain several issues with these kinds of designs. In an automotive tool application you often need deep or shallow sockets. When the pins rise up into the tool they often don’t allow the clearance necessary to accept the head of the fastener. Another issue becomes the remaining pins leave a little slack on the flats or corners of the nut or bolt. If this threaded retainer is extremely tight, the possibility of slippage and stripping the part exists.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks becomes the physical size of this universal tool. The tool shows removal of fasteners from a quarter inch to three-quarter inch in diameter. Of course, this also applies to 7 mm to 19 mm retainers. In fact, that’s the plus side of this universal auto repair tools. It doesn’t care if the fastener is standard or metric. With that said, if you are removing an 8 mm bolt you usually don’t have that much room around it. If automotive manufacturers use a small fastener they do so because of limited accessibility.

Universal Wire Stripper Pliers

Universal Wire Stripper

Universal Wire Stripper

I’ll try to get into a rhythm of mixing in the truly valuable tools among the ones that I would pass on. When it comes to a universal auto repair tool, my favorite is the universal wire stripper. These wire stripping pliers cleanly remove the insulation from almost any size automotive wire. My pair advertises coverage from 10 to 24 AWG wires. It’s rare that you’ll find an automotive application outside of these specifications.

The tool works by automatically sensing the gauge of the wire with a plastic feeler blade as it clamps on to the wire. It works on both solid core and stranded types of wire. The cost of this universal auto repair tool comes in at only a few dollars more than your standard wire strippers. Although I use this tool in most situations, I still own a smaller pair of specialized automotive wire strippers.

The reason is, you need a fair amount of room to use these types of automatic wire strippers. Another slight downside to using this tool becomes the case of stranded wire used on automotive sensors. In the situation where there’s a small gauge wire, the automatic function can sometimes clip off a few strands. With the gauge of the wires already tiny, losing a few more strands can change the operation of the circuit. Nevertheless, despite a few shortcomings, this is my go to automotive electrical tool.

Universal Multi Use Tool

Universal Multi Tool

Universal Multi Tool

I’m sure you’ve seen these heavily advertised universal multiple usage tools. They claim to replace a toolbox full of sockets and wrenches with a tool that you can hold in the palm of your hand. If you say this sounds too good to be true, I believe you’re correct. The list of shortcomings of this particular design becomes quite extensive. Nevertheless, I’ll hit on a few of the main points.

As you can see this tool will not handle any nuts where the bolt sticks through more than a quarter of an inch. It’s a very short or shallow well socket. The other problem becomes that they designed the tool to fit metric and standard hardware alike. They do this with an odd pattern on the inside shell. Surprisingly it fits firmly on a wide variety of metric and standard fasteners. However, the fact that it’s universal becomes an issue on stubborn nuts and bolts.

The length of the tool provides a clue into this issue. They don’t give you a lot of leverage with a long handle, because the tool slips and then strips the corners off the fasteners when you apply a major amount of force. This isn’t the kind of tool that you can slide a pipe over for extra leverage. If you elect to ignore this warning, you’ll either strip the fastener or break the tool.

Universal Ball Joint Press

Universal Ball Joint Press

Universal Ball Joint Press

The universal ball joint press is a tool that I don’t get to use very often. However, when I need it there’s no substitute for the job it does. Although we consider this tool a ball joint tool, it performs a variety of other functions as well. It’s great for removing u-joints out of rear wheel drive shafts. It’s also good for removing brake caliper anchor pins.

Believe it or not, you can get your hands on a decent ball joint press in the $50 price range. One of the factors that determine the cost becomes the amount of included adapters. Obviously the more adapters contained in the kit the wider the coverage for the automobiles that you might run into.

As an example, I have an eight piece universal auto repair tools set that covers a nice variety of cars and trucks. It cost me $60. A 16 piece set runs in the $150 range and gives you more depth of coverage. With that said, if you buy a large 16 piece ball joint press you’ll probably have adapters that you’ll never use in a lifetime.

How to Open a Mechanic Shop in Your Garage

how to open a mechanic shopThere is always going to be a need for mechanics. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 763,700 mechanics in the U.S. today. And as you read this, many more young adults are studying to become one.

By 2018, the number of mechanics is expected to grow by 5 percent so more people are wondering how to open a mechanic shop. However, only a few know how to do it fast and correctly.

How to Open a Mechanic Shop on a Budget

Are you one of the many who owns a garage? If the answer is yes, great! Let us tell you that you are actually thinking about your new mechanic shop right now.

However, just because you know how to fix cars or test oil pressure doesn’t mean that you are a natural at running a business. Luckily, we are here to help!

Keep reading and you will find the top 4 key factors to lead you to success.

Of course, since this is a story on how to open a mechanic shop and not on how to become a mechanic, we are going to assume you already have an ASE certification.

If you don’t, go get one and get back here as soon as possible!

1. Get the Paperwork Done

Creating a business comes with responsibilities and opening your doors is just not enough. Make sure you contact authorities like your secretary of state’s office and get your license.

Also, head over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website to get your EIN (Employer Identification Number) and have your papers somewhere easy to find — you never know when someone might ask for them.

We would recommend a business plan. as well. First, it will help you figure out how you will conduct your business. And second, it will be your point of reference in case you want to submit it to a potential lender or investor.

2. Financing

Getting some help from a local lender is not that difficult. Managing your money is, though. Invest just enough to get your business up and running until revenue begins coming in. But don’t be a spendthrift — at least not right from the start — and make slow steps.

To get your equipment and start with the basics, at least, get in touch with a mobile tool dealer. Get the best deal and create a network of trusted associates. Also, you can always join a trade association — you will be surprised by the number of people that might be willing to help you.

Whatever you do, start small. You can always expand later.

3. Look Professional

We don’t want to ruin the romance here, but you have to be honest with yourself. It is a garage that you want to turn into a mechanic shop, after all.

Invest in your business in terms of appearance and facilities. Give your garage the look and the feel of an actual mechanic shop. Your clients are going to trust you even more and realize that you are serious about your business.

You don’t need to spend much. Some paint, a basic waiting room area, a brand new garage door from A-1 Door Company, and a great sign. That would be a great start!

4. Marketing

Everyone markets their products or services. You have to think differently, though. Don’t be just another mechanic shop in the neighborhood. To be honest, promoting the fact that your shop used to be a garage, might be a great idea.

People will become curious, they will most likely visit your shop and, at this point, all you will need to turn them into regular clients is a great service. Just stick out and be the cool mechanic in the town.

So, now you know what to do! But do you have all the knowledge required? Make sure you keep up with our blog, a great car resource.

How to Find the Perfect Car for Your Lifestyle

perfect carHow do you know a car is “the one” for you?

Finding the perfect car can be almost as tricky as finding the perfect partner. There are seemingly endless factors to consider.

It is important to remember that no matter how stressful picking a car can be, it is important to remember that there is a perfect car out there to fit your unique lifestyle.

No two people live exactly the same way as you, and a car the seamlessly fits into your life is important in years to come.

The best thing you can do is take time to research all of your options and proceed with caution.

Read on to learn how to find your perfect car to fit your lifestyle.

The Car’s Purpose

The first step in car-discovery is asking what the car is for, and how it will assimilate into everyday life.

Who will it drive? Where will it go?

Overall, you want to think about what the underlying purpose of the car is, and what value you hope it will bring into your life.

This will help you decide what factors are most important to you. If the car will be used to transport children to and from school, it may be best to consider safety and child-friendly features.

On the other hand, if the car will be used for you to drive to work and other activities, you may only need to consider your preferences,

Once you have decided how it will be used, it should be easier to eliminate a few cars from your list.

Where You Live

The area and city you live can play a huge role in determining your needs. The simple basis of this consideration is whether you are from a rural or urban area.

This is important because it will change the amount you may need to travel in the car you are purchasing.

It also helps determine exactly how much it will be used. It isn’t a good idea to plan for a car to take you to and from work if you prefer to walk.

As well, consider other options such as public transit in some situations. A more economic car may be better if it would not be used as often.

Where You Work

The location of your job and the type of work you do also can influence the type of car you need.

If you work from home or work remotely often, then your car may be used more often for recreation than for work.

Therefore, it may be better to pick a perfect car that encourages the type of recreation that you enjoy.

For example, if you are an avid outdoors lover, a Jeep may benefit the hobby of hiking or camping.

How to Find the Perfect Car

It’s important to have resources in place to help you pick the best car for you and your household.

The internet has become an excellent platform to discover the perfect ride in our technologically focused world.

House of Cars is an excellent option to begin your search and considering different car options.

Learn more on their website, and keep a close eye on changing inventory for your next car.

Check out our blog to learn more about auto repairs and car maintenance once you find the car for you.