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Why Do Good Starters Go Bad?

Friday, February 22nd, 2019
A car's starter. Starters rarely fail, but when they do, it's hard to ignore. Diagnosing a troublesome starter can be tough, but this helpful guide could give you a starting point.

Starters rarely fail, but being an integral component in the starting system, you’ll know it when they do. And despite the rarity, there are a number of ways and reasons a starter very quickly becomes anything but. Luckily, knowing what you’re dealing with can help diagnose or preserve the life of your current starter and help you answer a vital question: Why do good starters go bad?

Thriving Startup

A starter is an electromagnetic actuator comprised of several mechanisms working together to turn electrical energy into enough mechanical energy to “turn over” an entire engine. It actually comes down to a tiny, but strong pinion gear that thrusts toward the engine and spins, engaging the flywheel, which gets the pistons moving. Add fuel, air and spark, and the engine takes care of running itself from there.

From Starter to Finished

Most often, starters fail from wear and tear — naturally or induced by operator (or installer) error. Inside the starter is an armature, and the magnetic “brushes” that ride around it can wear out over time. The starter solenoid, which sits just outside the main casing, allows electricity to flow through the starter, and can thus be exposed to damagingly high temperatures, and are prone to arching and mechanical sticking. If you ever see or smell smoke from the starter, it is not long for this world and you should contact a professional immediately.

Tooth Be T’old

The teeth of the pinion gear, which contacts the flywheel, can also suffer wear over time, as can the teeth of the flywheel itself. In either case, the gears will not mesh properly and the flywheel will not spin. This usually results in a grinding or whirring sound when you attempt to start the vehicle. This problem can start small with worn spots, but will be greatly and quickly exacerbated if the driver continues cranking at the ignition. So if your car ever cranks but won’t start, don’t force it or you could make things a lot worse.

Rules of Engagement

Some issues arise from poor installation. The bolts holding the starter to the engine also provide a ground for current. If they are loose, you could get electrical woes and will likely face wallowed out holes creating misalignment and damage on the flywheel and starter. But be careful to not over-tighten them, or you’ll snap the casting. The two gears must also be enmeshed in installation, or you might crack the casing and again, the engine may not spin.

Before replacing a starter, always confirm that you’re not just dealing with a dead battery, a blown fuse or a bad ignition switch. Starters aren’t usually too difficult to replace, but it’s important to take precautions like removing the battery’s negative cable first, or you’ll be in for a sparky surprise.

Knowing the basics of how a starter works and what components are likely to fail can help you answer the question of: “Why do good starters go bad?” Containing a failed component, especially one that’s as crucial as your car’s starter, can stop something bigger from happening.

Check out all of the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on what can go wrong with your car’s starter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.

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Know-How Notes: How to Treat Rust With WD-40 Rust Remover Soak

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
Know-How Notes: How to Treat Rust With WD-40 Rust Remover Soak

Ask anyone what the biggest concern about their cars and tools is and the word rust is bound to come up often. Rust is unrelenting and there a hundreds of products on the market to prevent or slow its ever-present march of destruction. The problem is that once it starts, it is difficult to stop.

The most common solution is mechanical removal, which means sanding or grinding it off. This is fine for parts or tools being restored, but things that not so easily repaired such as chrome parts, tools, rare parts, and other items that just have a little rust starting to form. You need a better solution to remove the rust and leave the chrome or paint untouched. Enter WD-40 Rust Remover Soak.

This 100% non-toxic and biodegradable formula eats away the rust, leaving behind clean bare metal, which can then be treated to prevent future rust. It is safe for gaskets, chrome, and painted surfaces, all while being non-flammable and 50-state compliant, making this water-based solution perfect for anyone who faces the epidemic of rust.

When you have rusty tools and parts, their performance is reduced. Pliers stick, and scissors leave rust dust all over upholstery. Time to fix it.

Using WD-40 Rust Remover Soak is easy, you just need to follow a few basic rules to ensure that the product gets the job done quickly and effectively. WD-40 Rust Remover Soak is reusable several times, so don’t worry about wasting the product. Used solution should be kept separate from unused solution, so don’t pour any used solution back into the bottle, simply store any used solution is a separate sealed container for future use. Once the solution becomes dark black, the effectiveness decreases and should be disposed of according to your local guidelines.

Getting Started

Prep the part or tool to be treated by removing any dirty, grease, oil, and loose debris with a detergent or degreaser. WD-40 Rust Remover Soak is most effective on clean metal.

We prepped the tools by taking them apart. The scissors simply unbolted, but the pliers cannot be separated, we just removed the rubber handles.

Fill a container that will hold the part(s) with enough soak to fully submerged it. WD-40 Rust Remover Soak comes in 1-gallon jugs and is available in a four pack. Do not dilute the solution.

The tools were placed in a plastic tray and covered with just enough WD-40 Rust Remover Soak to cover the rusty bits. Then we left it to soak overnight.

Place the item into the soak. How long it needs to be in the solution depends on the amount of rust. Light rust will be removed in as little as 30 minutes, while heavy rust scale can take 24 hours.

The longer you leave the parts in the soak, the darker the liquid becomes. When it is black, the performance decreases.

Once the rust is gone, the part needs to be rinsed and dried off completely. If there is rust remaining on the part, such as inside the pitted areas of heavily rusted items, re-soak and repeat the process.

Each part was removed and cleaned and dried.

 

The pliers are rust-free now. If we don’t protect the bare metal, they will just rust again.

Now that your parts or tools are rust free, you need to protect them. The rusted areas are bare metal, there is nothing to stop the rust from coming back, which can happen overnight. To protect your cleaned parts, spray them with WD-40 Original Formula for flash rust protection, or for long-term protection, use WD-40 Specialist Long-Term Corrosion Inhibitor. For painted parts, you can always simple repair with matching paint.

We used WD-40 Long-Term Rust Inhibitor to seal the metal so that it won’t rust up.

 

This stuff goes on pretty heavy, we wiped it down so that it doesn’t get all over the parts we are working on.

 

We took this opportunity to through a new coat of paint on the vintage Clauss upholstery scissors. Now they are ready to chop up some leather, stain-free

Rust is no fun, and often we just let it slowly eat away at our tools because it so hard to combat. WD-40 Rust Remover Soak is your new best friend in the battle against rust.

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on WD-40 Rust Remover Soak, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

The post Know-How Notes: How to Treat Rust With WD-40 Rust Remover Soak appeared first on NAPA Know How Blog.

The Different Types of Alternators Explained

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
A car's alternator. Your car's electrical system is compromised of multiple components. Here's how to tell what kind of alternator your car has.

Your vehicle’s electrical system consists of three main parts: the battery, a voltage regulator and an alternator. The alternator gets its name from the term “alternating current,” as it converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. Together with the battery, the alternator generates power to run your car’s accessories, including the lights, audio and navigation systems, and the heater. There are different types of alternators and applications where they are used, besides in your car.

Just Another Synchronous Generator

A synchronous generator is another name for the alternator. This term is often used when describing the main source of supplying commercial electrical energy.

Power generator stations typically include synchronous generators, which are connected to the grid. They’re one of a series of components that generate electricity for residential and commercial properties.

Marine alternators, which are typically found in yachts, are similar to car alternators. Specially adapted for a salt-water environment, they’re explosion-proof to avoid brush sparking that could ignite gas mixtures in an equipment room. The larger the yacht, the more likely two or more alternators are present to handle the heavier load.

Trains, specifically electric locomotives, also use an alternator. Here, the prime mover (a diesel engine) turns an alternator, which supplies electricity for the traction motors. Besides powering trains, traction motors help move hybrid and pure electric passenger vehicles.

Yet another alternator application was found in the early days of radio transmissions. So-called radio alternators were used for long-distance communication, including transatlantic dialogue. These were expensive to build and quickly became obsolete as vacuum tube transmitters came online by the conclusion of World War I.

Let’s Make Electricity

As for your personal vehicle, the alternator includes a voltage regulator, stator, rotor and diode. On ignition, power from the battery turns the starter, which then turns the alternator belt via the accessory drive, which spins the pulley on the alternator. This causes the rotor located inside the alternator to spin quickly. The rotor represents a group of magnets situated within an outcropping of copper wires, known as the stator.

Electricity is generated by spinning the magnets at a high speed, which is known as electromagnetism. The electricity flows from the copper wires to the diode, where electricity converts from AC to DC — making the right current for the car’s battery to use. Meanwhile, the voltage regulator monitors electrical flow to the car battery, shutting off the flow whenever voltage reaches a certain level, typically 14.5 volts. In doing so, the regulator ensures the battery doesn’t overcharge and burn out. At the same time, the regulator sends current to the battery as it is drained.

We’ve Got a Problem

As you might imagine, a problem alternator spells trouble for your car. Fortunately, the initial signs are evident and may include difficulty starting the car, weak headlights, a dead battery, an active service engine light and other possible indicators, throughout all of the types of alternators. An immediate diagnosis can help you avoid becoming stuck.

Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on what kind of alternator your car has, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.

The post The Different Types of Alternators Explained appeared first on NAPA Know How Blog.

A Quick History of Windshield Wipers

Monday, February 18th, 2019
Streaking windshield wipers. Modern windshield wipers have come a long way and, when they are in good shape, do a great job of pushing water off of your windshield. Here's the history behind the humble windshield wiper.

Curious about the history of windshield wipers? Was there ever a time when this most basic — and seemingly necessary — aspect of automotive safety equipment wasn’t a common feature on every vehicle?

It might surprise you that not only is the answer to that question “yes,” but there have been a number of improvements and innovations that have guided the evolution of the humble wiper to its modern form. Let’s take a quick look at the path that’s been taken, and the reasons behind current wiper design.

It Began on a Trolley

Before cars, there were other vehicles that needed to see ahead of them, too. In fact, the history of windshield wipers begins on the trolley tracks, not the highway, after a woman named Mary Anderson found herself shocked by how difficult it was for a New York City streetcar driver to keep the glass in front of him clear on a stormy day.

Anderson had trouble finding a taker for her concept, and despite patenting the manually operated technology in 1903, she would never benefit financially from her idea before its trade protection expired. Several other early visionaries in Europe (and an American named Robert A. Douglass, focused on trains), would also see their efforts ignored by the industry at large.

Ten years later, however, wipers had become increasingly common on the newfangled automobiles that were starting to crowd roads and city streets. Some early electric designs actually used rollers that passed over the glass to do the cleaning, but it would ultimately be the spring-tension rubber blades developed by Tri-Continental Corporation in 1917 and the vacuum-powered automated wiper mechanism to power them that would dominate the next several decades of passenger car production.

Vacuum Blues

The history of windshield wipers would see a bit of drama when intermittent timing appeared on the scene, invented by Robert Kearns, who would later battle Ford whom he believed stole his idea without giving him credit after he had presented it to them in 1963.

The move away from vacuum power also began in this decade. A disadvantage of using a vacuum to move wipers was that it wasn’t strong enough at higher engine speeds to counteract the force of the wind moving against the blades themselves, often making it dangerous to drive in the rain. Electric motors provided an easy solution to this particular problem.

Automatic for the People

Today, wipers have advanced to the point where they can use a sensor to detect the amount of rain on a windshield, in place of a more traditional intermittent system, as well as hide themselves under the hood cowl for better aerodynamics when not in use. The rubber in the blades themselves has also improved, incorporating materials such as Teflon and silicone to better resist damage, move more freely and prevent freezing. Still, the basic concept — a clean sweep across the glass in a carefully controlled arc — continues to be the backbone of most wiper designs.

If you ever wondered how modern windshield wipers came to be, this walk down memory lane takes a look at the necessary components. For simply pushing water off of your windshield, wipers are complex components that have come a long way.

Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the history of windshield wipers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

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Benefits of Car Covers Over Tarps

Sunday, February 17th, 2019
Car covers protecting vehicles from the environment. Parking your car in a garage is the best way to protect it from Mother Nature. If you don't have a garge, a car cover or a tarp are good alternatives.

There’s a clear advantage to having a garage if you own one or more cars. A garage protects your vehicle from the elements when you’re not driving it, but not everyone has access to one. In that case, a car cover offers the protection your ride needs. There are several options available, but the benefits of car covers ought to make you think twice before you use a tarp or leave your vehicle uncovered.

You could just leave your vehicle outside, which is indeed what almost everyone does, but this can be a problem. The sun will ruin your vehicle’s interior, not to mention any paint that has clearcoat damage. Bird bombs (poop) contain acids that corrode your car’s finish. Natural and industrial fallout, like pollen, soot and acid rain, also wreak havoc on car paint, chrome and glass.

Car Covers vs. Tarps

The typical hardware-store utility tarp is made of plastic and is basically just a waterproof sheet. Different thicknesses generally determine how long they’ll last outside, exposed to the elements, particularly the sun, whose ultraviolet rays degrade everything they touch. As car covers, tarps don’t fit the vehicle well and are not breathable. Wind can blow dust between the tarp and the vehicle, which can scratch the paint. Humidity can’t escape the trap (see what I did there?), leading to mold and mildew inside and outside of the vehicle.

Car covers fold up when not in use, are available in indoor and outdoor variations, and fit your vehicle better than tarps. Universal car covers are one-size-fits-all, which might not be much better than a tarp, but more breathable. Ready-fit car covers are fitted a bit closer to your vehicle, so this

Other Options

Other car cover options offer even more protection. Car bubbles require you to zip your car inside a bubble and then inflate it with air. The fan offers excellent air circulation to prevent moisture problems, and the inflated bubble never touches your car, even offering some protection against storms. Portable carports are another great option, as they don’t touch the car, but tarp types will eventually succumb to ultraviolet damage. Carports are the least portable of car cover options, though.

Considering the benefits of car covers, it’s unfortunate that blue and brown tarps are still covering and ruining cars across the country. If you want to protect your project car, daily driver or summer cruiser from the elements and prying eyes, a car cover will do the job.

Check out all the maintenance products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the benefits of car covers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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Elliott Finishes Eighth in Second Duel at Daytona

Friday, February 15th, 2019
#9: Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA AUTO PARTS

Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team will start 18th in the 61st running of the Daytona 500 after finishing eighth in the second Duel of the night at Daytona International Speedway.

Elliott and the NAPA team started the second Duel of Thursday evening the front row alongside teammate Alex Bowman.

 

 

Elliott maintained his runner-up position behind Bowman for the first 12 laps of the race before heading to pit road for a fuel only green-flag stop.

On Lap 15, the 23-year-old driver found himself in the inside lane without help in the draft, which caused him to fall back in the pack outside of the top 10.

 

 

By Lap 25, he had moved back up to ninth as the field settled into single-file racing. In the final 10 laps, Elliott began to pick off cars one-by-one, making passes on the bottom before sliding back up to the outside lane.

With five laps to go, he had moved up to sixth, but two laps later he fell back a few positions when he was caught on the bottom while attempting to move into fifth.

 

 

He ultimately took the checkered flag in eighth, picking up three points for the finish. The result will line Elliott up 18th for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

 

Start / Finish: 2 / 8
Points Earned: 3
Points Standing / Total: 8th / 3 points

 

Next Race: Feb. 17, Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM Channel 90

 

NAPA: @NAPARacing
Chase Elliott: @ChaseElliott
Hendrick Motorsports: @TeamHendrick
No. 9 Team: @Hendrick9Team

The post Elliott Finishes Eighth in Second Duel at Daytona appeared first on NAPA Know How Blog.

6 Reasons to Recycle a Car Battery

Friday, February 15th, 2019
6 Reasons to Recycle a Car Battery

There are some compelling reasons to recycle a car battery. While these batteries are harmless under the hood of your vehicle, they can be tremendously damaging to the environment if not properly discarded. Below, we’ll share six reasons for recycling this critical automotive component.

Why Recycle Your Car’s Battery?

Recycling your car’s battery makes sense for the following reasons:

1. It protects groundwater from heavy-metal poisoning. Car batteries contain heavy metals such as lead. According to information published by Sciencing, if car batteries are deposited in landfills, these heavy metals can create toxins that can poison our water supply. The lead contained in these batteries can poison the environment for years following contamination.

The World Health Organization reports that lead poisoning can be particularly harmful to young children, causing severe damage to the brain and nervous system. In adults, lead poisoning can lead to kidney damage and high blood pressure.

2. It helps create jobs. By recycling, you’re supporting an industry that benefits the economy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling and reusing activities create 757,000 U.S. jobs in a single year. Annually, these jobs create $36.6 billion in wages and $6.7 billion in tax revenue.

3. It reduces the waste sent to landfills. According to the EPA, the U.S. generated 262.4 million tons of solid waste in 2015, with the average person generating 4.48 pounds of waste each day. Right now, 52.5 percent of that waste gets sent to landfills, and there are a finite number of landfills in this country. Recycling reduces the burden placed on landfills.

4. It’s legally required in several states. Several states, including California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Indiana, have laws in place that make it mandatory for car owners to recycle the batteries used in their vehicles. This law covers more than just the lead-acid batteries typically used in gas-powered cars. In California, for example, it also applies to batteries with the following chemistry:

5. It saves energy. Recycling allows parts in your car battery to be reused. Reusing parts in this way requires less energy than creating these components from scratch.

6. It can earn you money. Your used car battery can earn you money. Instead of discarding it, you can sell it to a local auto parts shop or junk shop. These businesses reuse old car batteries in various ways. They may scrap them for parts or recondition them so they can be resold. A used car battery can get you as much as $15 at one of these facilities. Batteries that are still in relatively good condition will get the best price, as will those that are made by well-known manufacturers.

Good for the Planet, the Economy and Your Wallet

There are many reasons to recycle a car battery. It keeps the planet safe for current and future generations, and it also provides jobs that help our economy. You can also earn some extra cash by selling your battery so it can be scrapped for parts or reconditioned.

Check out all the car battery products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to recycle your battery, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of East Penn Manufacturing Co.

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Can You Clean an Oxygen Sensor?

Thursday, February 14th, 2019
Can You Clean an Oxygen Sensor?

An oxygen sensor is an important part of your vehicle’s emission control system. Simply put, an oxygen sensor measures the amount of emissions released from your vehicle and sends that information to your car’s management computer located within the engine. Your car has at least two sensors, and when one of them goes bad, you need to do something about it. Can you clean an oxygen sensor? No, despite what you might have heard or read, such sensors should be replaced when they become faulty.

Locating Your Oxygen Sensors

Likely, you won’t know something is

The number of oxygen sensors present vary according to engine type. Typically, you’ll find two sensors on transverse four-cylinder engines — one is located upstream, the other downstream. Inline four-cylinder engines, inline-six and V6s, and V8 engines have three sensors apiece, with one located on each engine bank and a third found downstream. Transverse-mounted V6 and V8 engines have four sensors, including one on each bank, one downstream and the fourth found at the rear of the engine.

All you need is for one faulty oxygen sensor to cause problems for your vehicle. Thus, you must identify which sensor is defective.

Replace, Don’t Clean

You may have found information online on how to clean an oxygen sensor. Usually, these instructions are quite detailed, explaining how to carefully remove the sensor, apply a cleaning agent and return the unit to its previous location.

However, this information is misleading as oxygen sensors are designed for replacement, not cleaning. No car manufacturer supports cleaning sensors. In fact, you always risk voiding a warranty if you attempt to clean a sensor and something goes wrong later. If you find that your car has a faulty oxygen sensor, here’s how you can replace it.

Test Your Oxygen Sensor

Oxygen sensors may be tested for effectiveness. The way this works is that a digital voltmeter and back probe are used. Once the surrounding wires are inspected and ruled out as a possible problem, then start the car and allow it to run until the engine temperature hits at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

The voltmeter and back probe are then used to measure a set number of points under specific conditions. As you might imagine, experienced mechanics are often called upon for oxygen sensor testing. This will also ensure that the correct faulty oxygen sensor is identified and replaced, saving you money.

Can you clean an oxygen sensor? Yes, technically you can. But it’s not recommended as the component is meant to be replaced when an issue arises. Cleaning an oxygen sensor takes more work than replacing the component, and after locating the part and checking if it’s working effectively, going down the route of replacing it adds peace of mind for the future.

Check out all the relays, sensors and switches available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to replace your car’s oxygen sensors, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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WINTER PREPARATION 2018 — FORGET THE FORECAST

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018
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When considering winter preparation plans this season, many look for forecasts to get an idea of what to expect. Earlier this year, the NOAA‘s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center predicted higher-than-average precipitation across the northern States, including the northern Rocky Mountains, eastern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Interestingly, most NOAA predictions oppose those from the Farmer’s Almanac, another popular guide. Still, people in those northern climes know that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, which is why NAPA Know How suggests forgetting the forecast and making winter preparation plans right now. Here’s how.

Snow Tires

Getting caught on a snowy road in summer tires could cost you much more than good all-season or snow tires. Make sure all-season tires have at least 6/32″ tread depth remaining. Summer tires should be replaced with all-season or snow tires, as summer tires offer less traction when temperatures drop.

Charging System

Cold temperatures put a car’s electrical system to the test. A weak battery might start a car in the summer, but winter-cold oil could be too much. Have the battery tested for SOC and SOH (state of charge and state of health), and replace it if it fails the tests. Check the charging system output and the generator drive belt condition and tension, and don’t forget to clean up power-robbing corrosion.

Air Conditioning

Forget, for a moment, that air conditioning cools the air, and remember that it also dries the air. The best way to keep your windshield fog-free is with hot dry air. Have your air-conditioning system checked for proper pressure, cycling and drive belt condition. For the outside, get a pair of winter wiper blades.

Driving Tactics

Driving on dry, sunny roads is different from driving on cold, wet roads, and icy roads can be particularly dangerous. Brush up on winter driving tactics, and maybe practice in an empty parking lot, if there’s snow on it. If it does snow, remember the single best practice is to simply slow down.

Emergency Kit

In case you’re unexpectedly caught in poor conditions, having a winter emergency kit will get you back on the road and could even save your life. Because of the cold, this goes beyond the typical first-aid kit and warning triangles. A battery booster or jumper cables might make up for a weak battery, and a snow shovel and salt can help you get unstuck. Don’t forget blankets, bottled water and trail mix.

Winter preparation is all about getting ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you and expecting the unexpected. If the NOAA says more snow for your area, but Farmer’s Almanac says less, then prudence demands preparing for the unforeseen. The truth is no one really knows what’s going to happen this winter, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on winter preparation, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

WHAT IS HIGH-MILEAGE OIL?

Monday, October 2nd, 2017
Oil barrell

Curious about the bottles of high-mileage oil you’ve seen on shelves or the advertisements you’ve seen on television? Wondering if there’s a real benefit to using this type of oil in your engine, and if there is, when your vehicle crosses the threshold from standard oil to high mileage? We cut through the hype to bring you the straight answers you need to make the right decision.

What’s Inside Your Oil?

Modern engine oil is far more sophisticated than you might think. In addition to the actual petroleum-derived lubricant designed to keep everything rotating safe and smooth inside your engine, each bottle of oil also includes a package of additives. Additives are chemicals designed to further reduce engine wear and prevent corrosion, and detergents that help to keep oil passages clean and clear of sludge. In fact, it’s these additives that wear out over time, not the lubricant itself, requiring you to regularly change your vehicle’s oil.

Special Circumstances, Special Additives

As your engine accumulates miles, the additives required to keep it operating in peak condition can alter. Specifically, as interior seals begin to wear out due to heat and time, and sludge begins to accumulate more aggressively, standard engine oil might not offer the same level of performance as it once did.

Enter high-mileage oil, which contains unique additives such as seal conditioners that can rejuvenate gaskets and help prevent leakage, as well as stronger detergents designed to scour passages of sludge more effectively than a “normal” oil. This unique additives package is also why high-mileage oil is often a mix of synthetic and standard oil, as synthetic can offer a better anti-wear barrier between metal components that may no longer be in perfect factory-spec alignment inside an engine.

When to Make The Switch

Don’t assume that just because your car has passed its warranty period that it’s automatically time to make the switch to high-mileage oil. While some bottles might advertise the lubricant as being intended for vehicles with 75,000 miles or more, if you don’t see any oil leaks or drips or notice any blue smoke in the exhaust system that could indicate a seal problem, there’s probably no need to purchase this special oil. If you are well over the 100,000-mile mark, however, or have noticed evidence of leaks, then it’s probably worth talking to your mechanic about its benefits.

Making the right engine oil choice doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these tips, and your high-mileage car will stay healthier.

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on high mileage oil, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.