You are driving down the interstate when you realize that your fan belt has come off. They often do this with a snap and a bang with shredded bits dropping out from under the car as you drive. Without that fan belt you have no power steering, no air conditioning, no alternator and the water pump will not work. You have mere minutes of driving time left to find an auto parts store and get this fixed before the car overheats.
At the store the clerk tells you that the fan belt you need is out of stock. Can’t get it until sometime tomorrow and you are facing an expensive overnight stay in a nearby motel. So what do you do? The answer is quite easy really and all it requires is a rather long piece of string. You take this string and beginning at any point in the belts circuitous path, lay the string along the pulleys in the exact path the belt would normally take. Keep the starting point end of the string stationary as you go along so you can get an accurate measurement. When you have arrived back at your starting point, measure the string and return to the clerk with your measurements. He should be able to find you a belt that is very close to the length you need. Pay attention to the ribbing on the pulleys of your car as those must indeed match as well as the belt width. You can use a slightly shorter belt as your car has a spring tension device and it can compensate for a belt of slightly shorter length than normally required.
You notice that there is an odor of hot engine coolant and a growing puddle of coolant dripping from the heater box and onto the carpeting and floor of your car. The heater core has sprung a leak. Until you can make repairs there is a quick way to stop the leak and avoid having to buy more expensive coolant and prevent the engine from overheating. Find a short piece of half inch or three quarter inch pipe and two hose clamps. Remove the heater hose from either side of the heater core out under the hood and push the pipe into one of the hoses and then the other hose onto the opposite end of the pipe. Tighten down the clamps and you have just bypassed the heater core. You wont have any heat but you can make it to your destination without losing an engine and repairs can be made at a more opportune time.
Slow cranking is often a sure sign a battery is about to breathe it’s last amp. Time to invest in a new battery. You can go down to the parts store and the nice folks there will sell you exactly the battery that the manufacturer says your car should have. But wait, not so fast there. If you are interested in a good deal take some time to check out this optional way of purchasing a battery.
As an example let us say you have a mid sized ford automobile and the manufacturer suggested battery has side post configuration, and is rated at 750 cold cranking amps.You see it is listed for sale at seventy five dollars and the shop will install it for you for free. While right next to that battery you see an almost identical unit intended for a half ton pick up truck. It’s the same price, same configuration and it has 1050 cold cranking amps. So where is the deal here? The cranking amps. More amps means more reserve energy. This higher capacity battery will be cranking long after the smaller capacity battery has given up. This also means the larger battery will have an easier time running all the gadgets we have in our cars today.
In the interests of safety, take time to look at you battery compartment in your car. The larger capacity battery is also somewhat larger in size and you want to insure it will fit within that compartment and that the hood can safely close with out touching it. If that battery will fit, and the terminals mirror the configuration of your old battery then you would be getting a very good deal on the larger battery. And given that the larger capacity battery wont have to work as hard as a smaller battery, it may last a good while longer too.
Winter driving can be a real challenge and there have been a couple times that I was almost unable to make it back home due to the severe driving conditions. So here are a couple of tips that may enable you to make it home or where ever you are going. Let us assume you have lost traction trying to get to the top of a hill. If you can safely do so, drive off the right side of the road and let you right side wheels fall off the hard top. Now those two wheels and hopefully one of them is the drive wheel, is riding on gravel and dirt instead of smooth glassy asphalt. This may be enough to get you past your obstacle without spinning excessively or losing control.
The second tip I have for you involves winter driving as well and is a bit more extreme. Get out of the car in a safe place and release about have the air out of the tires that propel the car. This partially flattens the tires and the weight of the car will cause the tire to spread out, covering more surface area and this also adds greater flexibility to the partially deflated tires thus providing added traction along with the ability to ride higher on the snow. You would want to replace the air at the earliest opportunity of course but this measure may get you where you are going. And in extreme weather, can potentially save your life.