Tag Archives: maintenance

Battery Dying Repeatedly Fix

I’m the type that tries to look for the simplest most straight forward fix for any problem. This is especially true when talking about topics I might not be real familiar with, like electrical issues. Recently I had a bout with a battery in my Ford F150 that was repeatedly dying and failing to start. First I thought the worse possible scenario, then I got smart and started with the basics. Let’s look at some simple steps that could fix a repeatedly drained car battery.

First things first, how are those connections? The positive and negative terminals on your car battery should be clear of build up. Got some corrosion built up around the terminals and even on the spades? Time to start cleaning, even a small amount of corrosion built up around the terminals can start draining a good car battery. A weak battery will not have the cranking power to start a vehicle.

While speaking of build up, what does the top surface of your battery look like? In my case, on a 04 F150, the top of the battery is exposed to the engine compartment. This allowed for a greasy build up to occur, a very thin gooey substance covering all the plastic, not even at the terminals. Believe it or not, this can slowly drain a battery over time, sucking millivolts out. This scenario would explain while it starts fine with a jump and may even start properly a few times, before finally dying.

car batteryAfter cleaning the wet substance on top of the battery, problem solved. I’ve found I have to do this any winter where we get a lot of snow. The cold temperatures, wet environments, and then the heat from the engine cause the battery problem described above.

Remember, when trying to repair a vehicle yourself, start with the simplest fixes first. In my case cleaning the battery was simple, took 10 mins for a thorough job and saved me the price of a new battery or worst case scenario taking it to a shop. It’s just good preventative maintenance to keep those battery terminals clean and the casing of the battery clean of any wet build up.

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Tips For Working On Your Car In The Cold

A broken down car sucks, being stranded sucks, and being out in the cold sucks.  Basically there is no way around being in a sucky situation when you must work on your car in the middle of winter.  However, there are tools, items, and tips that will help you brave the elements and make them slightly more bearable.  Although some of these are simple, it’s important to be reminded.

Gloves – Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, big duh.  But I’m not talking about the cute little mittens grandma made you for Christmas, I’m talking about some rough leather gloves or some padded mechanix gloves.  You need to protect those hands from cold metal, sharp edges, and the occasional smashed finger.  Try changing the oil in some suede or faux whatever and you have the formula for destroyed winter hand accessories.  Throw an extra pair in the glove box or in a side holder where you can get to them quickly and forget about it untill you really need them.

Nuts and Snacks – Maybe it’s obvious here my mind always is, constantly planning my next meal. Thankfully that’s normally not a problem, but when a car breaks down it puts a hamper on my dinner plans. The stress of not making it on time to my next food source is compounded by cold temperatures and frigid winds. Simply having some salty snacks like peanuts or having a sweet non perishable like raisins makes the wait more bearable.

Chargers – I’m guilty of not always having a charger for my cell phone or other electronics in my car. It’s because I’m cheap and not always because I live in the stone age. This is not a good practice, especially with my wife and daughter riding with me more times than not. Just a simple flat tire could have been more tolerable for my daughter if I had the tablet charger. Also, that more severe break down that was over my head would have seemed a lot less stressful had I had a way to recharge my phone. Long walks on cold winter nights are no fun.

Blankets – I wish more of what my father has taught me over the years had stuck, thankfully this tip will always be with me. When it starts getting cold, start keeping at least a couple blankets in the trunk of the car. Worst case scenarios are obviously not the norm, but I’d rather be prepared and keep myself and my family from freezing. It’s worth the few extra bucks to keep some old comforters or quilts in the back in case we have to spend the night on the highway.

More than just being an educational post, this should serve as a friendly reminder to always be prepared when you are out in the highways and byways. Also, be sure to help others if you came prepared and see a fellow traveler in need. Spread the karma around.

Winter Time Blues

[ad#Top of Post Left]I really hope everyone had a great holiday break, enjoyed eating too much, or whatever you tradition of choice requires of you.  Usually my holidays exist only to provide and receive gifts from others, followed by gorging at the kitchen table.  It’s an amazing time of the year, but when it’s over I’m left looking at all my cool stuff I get to use…when it warms up.  Which means lots of new garage and automobile toys, that will be put to better use when it breaks freezing again.

What else makes the winter time, right after the New Year, so dull for auto enthusiasts is that it’s hard to enjoy doing regular maintenance when you can’t feel your hands.  For example, my wife is due for an oil change, which is something I would normally do myself.  However, it’s just far too cold and too big a hassle for me to brave the elements, so I’ll be visiting the local speedy lube.

Because I’ll be going to the professionals I’ll also be able to skip out on some other winter time regular maintenance checkups.  For example, they will make sure the air pressure in my tires is set properly, plenty of tread to brave sudden snow storms, and top my fluid levels off.  Usually a full service oil change center will complete all of the above for a very reasonable price.  This low price becomes even more inviting when you realize all of this will be done while you are toasty in the waiting room.

So, once, maybe twice a year, I’ll leave the auto work to someone else.  Depending on how long of a winter we have headed our way, might have to stop in for another fast oil change.  Next post I’ll talk about must have items to keep in your vehicle for road trips or even grocery runs in the winter time.  Getting stuck on the side of the road in the middle of winter is no joke, so let’s plan like it.

Spring Maintenance

Ahh, the birds are starting to chirp and the air has finally decided not to bite.  For automotive enthusiasts, this means the start of spring maintenance on our vehicles.  Gone is the concern of salt and road chemical eating away at our paint, replaced by the fear of dirt, rocks, and the occasional kid chasing a ball across the street.  It’s time to consider what your car needs now that spring is approaching.

I always start by giving my vehicles a nice bath and not just one of these quickies at the car wash either.  It’s time to pull out the garden hoses, fill up a soapy bucket, and apply the elbow grease to the corners that are missed by drive through.  Try to take a little extra care and use bug remover to get the deceased off the front bumper.  Also, after a thorough cleaning it might be warm enough to actually touch up those nicks you received in the mall parking lot during the holiday rushes.  Don’t forget the clear coat.

What about those windshield wipers that took a beating from the ice?  It’s a good idea to replace those with some fresh wiper blades in preparation for the spring rain.  I prefer to spend a little extra money and buy Bosch Wiper Blades, in my experience they seem to last the longest.  New blades and a fresh coat of Rainx makes for a safer spring.

Rain X


Warmer temperatures means a fluctuation in tire pressure.  It’s a good idea to get your tires looked over for wear and adjust pressure as necessary.  This will become even more important as spring leaves and summer approaches and temperatures have a habit of scorching.  Also, if you live in an area that requires snow tires, don’t forget to switch back over to your summer driving tires now.

California DusterA good interior purging is also recommended, from being closed up all winter my vehicle has developed a unique aroma.  Too many fast food bags in the back seat have created their own ecosystem, generally a scrubbing is long overdue.  Take special attention to apply the proper cleaner to your seats, dash, and carpet if applicable.  Again, attention to detail will last much longer than a quick California Duster once over.  Any significant others forced to ride along with you will appreciate a subtle air freshener as well.

Lastly, if you had been putting up any upgrades now might be the time to cash in.  Often companies will run specials in the spring time to entice buyers to pull the trigger on a modification decision.  It seems that I always end up putting window tint on either my vehicle or someone else’s in the spring.  This time of year is the start to a hopefully long and beautiful warm weather stretch.

Is RainX Worth It?

This is a completely unsolicited post for one of the greatest automotive products ever made, RAINX.  The answer is YES, yes RainX is worth every penny.   As of late I’ve been appreciating this inexpensive, yet incredibly useful product a lot more.  In Southern Indiana we’ve been exposed to more rain this year than I can last remember and RainX has made seeing in the rain no problem.

RainX acts as a kind of wax for your windshield, which then assists with removing water.  When water comes into contact with your windshield it beads up and rolls right off.  Unlike untreated glass where the water does not bead and requires more assitance from windshield wiper blades to push the water off.

RainX Comparison

RainX Comparison

As you can tell from the comparison, inbetween wiper blade swipes visibility is greatly improved.  There is virtually no excuse for not at least trying RainX if you are living in a wet area, which during the Spring almost everywhere is.

Applying RainX to the windshield is also a snap.  Simply spray the product onto the windshield or soft clean cloth and evenly wipe the product over the glass in a circular motion.  Application is done much like you would wax your car, only waxing off is not needed. 😉