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Old 17th August 2013, 21:34   #1
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Thumbs down Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

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I had an old tata indica v2. It was a lemon. What started out as a simple A/C 'not functioning' problem ended with engine failure, gearbox issues and electrical issues more than I care to remember. Tata engineers had given up on the vehicle. Tata vehicles were selling well (back in those days), and hence Tata couldn't care less about me.
Fortunately-unfortunately, the Indian 'jugaad' solutions helped me run this car for 90k kms before I got fed up (thankfully, resale was good and I did recover some money I had put into this car). I still marvel at my stupidity of keeping this car for so long. But, I did learn a lot from this vehicle. I am listing down some of the most important things that you shouldn't ignore in your vehicle. It doesn't matter whether you are an enthusiast or not. You simply shouldn't ignore these crucial things.

After all, with freedom (which a car provides), comes responsibility.

I like to think of cars not as machines, but rather a collection of various individual machines that all work together. But those components break down and we have to fix them, and some are more serious than others.

It's not the end of the world if you go a little longer than you should on oil changes from time to time. But there are some parts on your car you should never ignore, lest they put your safety at risk.

To give you a very crude analogy: Say you are involved in a fatal accident. You are rushed to a hospital. Investigations reveal that you have damage to various internal organs such as heart, brain, kidneys, spleen, liver etc. When the doctors are treating and operating upon you, their first priority will be save the brain, heart, lungs and kidneys. Damage to spleen, liver and intestines can be managed at a later stage. They don't pose an immediate danger to your life (This is a very crude analogy. There are lots of factors involved. Please do not come down on me on this aspect).

Ignore these, and you'll risk not only your hard earned money but also your life:


1) Tyres

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I cannot even begin to emphasize on this point. The most important of all the listed points. Today, tyres are designed to take a lot of abuse but ignore them, and you are inviting Lord Yamraj.
These are your only contact on the roads. Keep a regular check. Inspect the tread, the alignment and rubber on the tyre. For more info read this thread on t-bhp:
1. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/tyre-a...t-blowout.html (How to handle (and prevent) a Tyre Burst / Blowout)
2. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...top-shape.html (Best Practices : Maintain your Car in Top Shape)



2) Brakes

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While you can save some money by using handbrakes for low speed braking, and engine braking; using these techniques you will not face a problem at city speeds. But what will happen when you see a pram rolling out in front of you? Never ignore your brake cylinders and brake lines. And for god's sake, please keep a thorough check on your brake pads and rotors!


3) Ball joints

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Ball joints are your pivot between your steering and suspension. A bad strut / linkage will not endanger your life, but a bad ball joint..well inform your wife to prepare a sumptuous feast for Lord Yamraj.
The ball joint design in most cars resembles the ball and socket type joint found in the hip joint of humans. I'll leave it to your imagination what will happen when your hip joint will fail..



4) Timing belt

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I speak this from personal experience. The indica in question one fine day decided to break down in the middle of nowhere. I thought it must have been the electrical theatrics the car loves to show me. My oh my..I ended up spending big $ on complete engine overhaul. Destroyed valves / pistons = death of engine.
Timing belt / chain / camshaft belt is a part of an internal combustion engine that synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft(s) so that the engine's valves open and close at the proper times during each cylinder's intake and exhaust strokes.
This is one component which is usually recommended to be replaced at long intervals, and is blissfully ignored by most owners (either due to lack of awareness or due to pure laziness). The regular A.S.S. are also very unenthusiastic in performing this critical preventive maintenance because:
1. In many cars, its a very cumbersome and sometimes labour intensive job.
2. By not replacing this part, the likelihood of engine failure shoots up, and they can earn more money from engine overhauls.



5) Fluid levels

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It's one of the simplest things you can do. Just keep a regular check on the brake fluid, coolant, engine oil fluid levels. For your own convenience all manufacturers label the min. and max. levels on the containers. I mean, it takes less than a minute to just pop up the hood and check up the levels.
If the engine oil is less, you kill the engine.
If the brake fluid level is less, you kill the others in your car
If the levels are falling, then your engine / system has a leak somewhere.

Replace and top up as advised by the manual.



6) Fuel lines

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Although not much of an issue in today's modern gen cars, I will still advise you to inspect these by a local mechanic at regular intervals. The phobia is mainly due to some earlier generation cars whose design flaws made them more susceptible to these lines becoming leaky and well..car catching fire!
Another reason for a regular inspection: most fuel lines are made of rubber, and rubber being rubber will have problems over time.



7) Lights

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Just keep a check whether all your lights are functioning or not. I have once had a near miss when I misjudged a single headlight for a motor-cycle; it turned out to be a car! That one bulb on the brake lamp not working? Replace it! It will cost you less than 50 bucks and save not only your life but also the life of people following you.



8) Visibility

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In this section, everything you need to look out of the vehicle is included. Wipers, windshield, ORVM's, rear view mirrors. Replace your wipers at regular intervals, keep your windshield free from scratches and make sure you keep those ORVM's clean. Clean your windows if you cannot see through them.



9) Rust

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This is a silent killer. You may even call it as the cancer of cars. You won't even know when it will become a big issue. Today's cars come with rust protection from factory for an average of 7 years. Some of the cars (especially earlier mahindra's and tata's) faced this issue. The thing is, even if your drivetrain components are rock solid reliable, they'll be useless if they just fall through. Another problem with rust is, if and when you meet with an accident, your body panels are much weaker and there is possibility that you may have to absorb more of the impact directly.
If you see even a hint of rust on your car, have it attended to in priority. Prevention is the best cure.



10) Steering

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My knowledge is limited to rack and pinion design only. Quoting from wiki directly: steering wheel turns the pinion gear; the pinion moves the rack, which is a linear gear that meshes with the pinion, converting circular motion into linear motion along the transverse axis of the car (side to side motion). This motion applies steering torque to the swivel pin ball joints that replaced previously used kingpins of the stub axle of the steered wheels via tie rods and a short lever arm called the steering arm.
Of course, every part should be visually inspected, but give a special preference to tie rod ends.


These are the things that I can think of which are downright dangerous to ignore. Please add any other points which you think that can be downright dangerous if ignored.
Please don't add things like battery check, struts check etc. These things, although not good, will not cause a dangerous situation.

Thanks,
Simple_car

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References:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_joint
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timing_belt_(camshaft)
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steering

Last edited by Simple_car : 18th August 2013 at 19:53.
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Old 19th August 2013, 13:49   #2
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Technical Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 19th August 2013, 14:40   #3
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

This is good collection of Do's, Simple_Car! Many tell us what not to do, but your post also tells what to do

Today's modern cars come with a lot of computer aided systems and thing that if I may add to it - watch out for any dashboard lights. Many of the things such as over-heating, steering malfunction etc would be spotted by merely looking at those lights. This comes from the experience of my friend who failed to notice the temperature needle going up-north until the radiator gave up!

And of course if one just goes through the links that you already included from the articles section, we have covered a lot of ground!
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Old 19th August 2013, 20:09   #4
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

A very useful thread and compilation.

The door lock system maybe? Especially for the after market central lock fitments. We should be checking them from time to time, child locks especially. Also, is there a way to check the "openability" in case of a fire?
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Old 20th August 2013, 10:22   #5
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

Thanks a lot. It's a very informative post for maintaining cars. My car is about 11 years old, but it has clocked very low figures on the odometer. During last service, I asked the SA that if my car's timing belt needs to be changed to which he simply refuted my theory of '11 years'. He simply said that its not required before 90K kms. What do you guys think of it?
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Old 20th August 2013, 10:46   #6
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

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Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Thanks a lot. It's a very informative post for maintaining cars. My car is about 11 years old, but it has clocked very low figures on the odometer. During last service, I asked the SA that if my car's timing belt needs to be changed to which he simply refuted my theory of '11 years'. He simply said that its not required before 90K kms. What do you guys think of it?
The service manual of your car gives the time period after which you have to change the timing belt. Like in the ford, it is 120k kms or after 10 years. If your service manual doesn't specify the time interval, then please ask the other experienced members since I have no clue about the maruti engines. I replace the timing belt every 7 years if the car is low mileage (this is a personal decision I have taken after my indica fiasco).

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Old 20th August 2013, 19:08   #7
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

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Originally Posted by Simple_car View Post
The service manual of your car gives the time period after which you have to change the timing belt. Like in the ford, it is 120k kms or after 10 years. If your service manual doesn't specify the time interval, then please ask the other experienced members since I have no clue about the maruti engines. I replace the timing belt every 7 years if the car is low mileage (this is a personal decision I have taken after my indica fiasco).

Thanks,
Simple_car
'Safety-critical' components are those which put you in immediate danger if they fail - so tyres, brakes, steering, suspension and related components which affect their use. For example, a brake pipe may be rusting out of sight behind an axle or fuel tank - and burst in an emergency application of the brakes. The fluid inside the pipes takes in water which reduces its boiling point which can also lead to complete brake failure. So checking brake lines and replacing brake fluid is regarded as being safety-critical.

Tyres are what are so often neglected. I think of them as four (hand) palm-sized rotating contacts with the road, which are all that prevent you from sliding into an oncoming heavy truck. It doesn't matter how good your suspension, EBD, ESP, ABS or whatever - it's the tyres which do all the work. I try to avoid much less than 4mm tread.

Shock absorbers or suspension dampers are criticial to keeping the maximum pressure of tyre on the road as the suspension deflects and rebounds to the road's iiregularities. They have a huge effect on vehicle stability and control.
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Old 21st August 2013, 14:26   #8
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

>>4) Timing belt


I couldn't agree more with you on point no.4- Timing belt. I had a breakdown of my car 5 days ago on a highway in the middle of nowhere on Aug 15th. The vehicle was serviced exactly 3 days before I set out for a trip on the long weekend. A few guests were accompanying on the trip and imagine my plight when a freshly serviced car's timing belt snaps and we are stuck on the highway!

Maruti On Road Service van showed up after an hour. They diagnosed the problem of a broken timing belt, but could not carry out any repairs. (What a waste if they can only diagnose the problem and not fix it!) Moreover, since it was Aug 15, all workshops were closed. It took a good 3-4 hours to locate a mechanic and replacement parts and convince the mechanic with some $$$ to fix the car. What was supposed to be a leisurely morning drive turned out to be a late evening dash.

What appalled me was why Maruti service station did not take care of preventive maintainence when I gave it for servicing. After all, we give our cars to them to make informed decisions about reactive and more importantly preventive maintainence. When the mechanic was replacing the timing belt, the AC belt also had to be removed and I noticed that the AC belt was almost broken too. I bet Maruti service station didn't check on it either.

Gone are the days when a full service meant the service station would proactively check all vitals. High volumes of cars means the service stations only check something only when you mention that there is a problem with it. In the wake of this, I encourage everyone to insist on vitals being checked during every full vehicle service that @Simple_car has mentioned.
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Old 21st August 2013, 15:28   #9
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

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They diagnosed the problem of a broken timing belt, but could not carry out any repairs. (What a waste if they can only diagnose the problem and not fix it!) Moreover, since it was Aug 15, all workshops were closed. It took a good 3-4 hours to locate a mechanic and replacement parts and convince the mechanic with some $$$ to fix the car. What was supposed to be a leisurely morning drive turned out to be a late evening dash.
Timing belt change is job that may not be preferable to do beside a road. Consider yourself lucky if your engine is running as good as before, as normally a snapped timing belt would mean engine destruction. BTW, how much kms and years your car has done?
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Old 21st August 2013, 15:51   #10
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Yes, I spoke to my regular Maruti service station and they have advised me to come over and have it rechecked if the job was done correctly. I have to pay them a visit to ensure everything is ok. If not for the mechanic, the car would have had to be towed and fixed the next day.

Technically, the timing belt did not snap. A few teeth of the belt gave way and the belt wasn't rotating.(For the engine though snapped and non-rotating belt is the same) The running engine turned off suddenly after a toll booth. It was quite an ordeal. I drove about 800 kms after getting it fixed and I only hope there has not been any engine damage due to it.

Car is 7 years old and has done 46K+ kms.
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Old 21st August 2013, 15:57   #11
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Default Re: Critical Safety Components of your Car that you shouldn't ignore

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>>4) Timing belt


I couldn't agree more with you on point no.4- Timing belt. I had a breakdown of my car 5 days ago on a highway in the middle of nowhere on Aug 15th. The vehicle was serviced exactly 3 days before I set out for a trip on the long weekend. A few guests were accompanying on the trip and imagine my plight when a freshly serviced car's timing belt snaps and we are stuck on the highway!

What appalled me was why Maruti service station did not take care of preventive maintainence when I gave it for servicing... I encourage everyone to insist on vitals being checked during every full vehicle service that @Simple_car has mentioned.
Although I am not sure, but most likely it must have been one of the accessory serpentine belts which must have snapped. Can you please look up in the manual and check at how many kms is the timing belt change recommended. Usually, they also give a diagram of various belts in the engine. I did replace all the belts in my brother's ritz (which was about 36k kms old) before handing over the car to him. I don't remember now whether there was a separate timing belt. Will be helpful if you can check and let me know since I don't have the car with me anymore.

And yes, it is much better to inspect the belt visually yourself. I have faced a similar situation myself in another car. I do not trust the A.S.S. to do these jobs anymore. I rely on myself and a local mechanic for this.

Quote:
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as normally a snapped timing belt would mean engine destruction. BTW, how much kms and years your car has done?
Not necessarily. If the engine is an interference one, then timing belt snap will cause an immediate wanton destruction. If the engine is non-interference one, it will be damaged only if the person continues to drive and overheat the engine. I think, most likely the suzuki's engine is a non-interference one. Can you please check and let me know?

Thanks,
Simple_car

Last edited by Simple_car : 21st August 2013 at 15:59.
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Old 21st August 2013, 16:20   #12
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I think, most likely the suzuki's engine is a non-interference one. Can you please check and let me know?

Thanks,
Simple_car

Some of the Popular Suzuki Engines (source: Wikipedia):http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_G_engine

G10, G13A, G13BA, G13BB : Non-Interference

G13B: Interference

Out of the above, G10 (B) was used in the old Zen (993CC 4/16 V). So does it mean that a snapped timing belt in a Zen will not be that bad?

Most newer MS vehicles use the K series, which I believe is a non-interference engine.
BTW, which car were you driving abhinavrm?
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Old 21st August 2013, 16:50   #13
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G10, G13A, G13BA, G13BB : Non-Interference

G13B: Interference

Out of the above, G10 (B) was used in the old Zen (993CC 4/16 V). So does it mean that a snapped timing belt in a Zen will not be that bad?

Most newer MS vehicles use the K series, which I believe is a non-interference engine.
Thanks a lot for the prompt reply,

Timing belt snap is fatal. Period.

Only difference is, if the engine is an interference one, your valves will bend immediately and that will kill your engine.

In a non-interference one, only thing that is beneficial is that atleast the valves are not damaged. The synchrony will be lost for sure, but you are protected from serious damage easily if you shut down the engine immediately. I have had such an issue, and thankfully my engine was a non-interference one. Infact I was so stupid, that I ran the engine thinking that the battery must have conked off.. as soon as the temperature needle rose up from normal, I switched of the engine and towed the car to the service center. The engine still runs like new as on date. From that day onwards, no more trusting your car to the A.S.S.. Only my own eyes I shall trust.

Thanks,
Simple_car

P.S. Can you please confirm about the K-series engine? I don't have the maual and I am interested since I will be inspecting the same in a few months, when my brother comes home with the car. Will be much obliged.
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Old 21st August 2013, 17:13   #14
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P.S. Can you please confirm about the K-series engine? I don't have the maual and I am interested since I will be inspecting the same in a few months, when my brother comes home with the car. Will be much obliged.
Which car are we talking here?
The newer generations of Maruti stable like the Ritz, Swift, Dzire, etc use the K12M while the Alto K10, now no prizes for guessing, uses K10B engines.

The K12M has a timing chain, which is good for even beyond the normal life spans of the engine itself. My guess is beyond 2.5-3.0 lac kms.

Last edited by saket77 : 21st August 2013 at 17:14.
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Old 22nd August 2013, 00:28   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Timing belt change is job that may not be preferable to do beside a road. Consider yourself lucky if your engine is running as good as before, as normally a snapped timing belt would mean engine destruction. BTW, how much kms and years your car has done?
Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
BTW, which car were you driving abhinavrm?
Maruti 800, 2005 model. (non K series, most recent version of 800 before alto 800)
7 years, 46k+ kms,



Quote:
Originally Posted by Simple_car View Post
Although I am not sure, but most likely it must have been one of the accessory serpentine belts which must have snapped.
It was the primary belt. Picture of the faulty belt attached.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simple_car View Post
Can you please look up in the manual and check at how many kms is the timing belt change recommended.
Manual says replace after 1,00,000 kms with I (Inspection) every 20k kms.
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