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Tala Dayrit, Contributor
 
September 09, 2010

Women on Wheels: What to Do When Your Car Stalls

Having your car stall can turn a good day into a nightmare. FN offers some helpful tips on what you can do if this happens. By Tala Dayrit
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women_on_wheels.jpgA car stalling can send anyone in a mild panic attack. After all, a car is built to run, right? There are many reasons why a car won’t start or stall, and these can be remedied by proper car maintenance. However, it can happen to just about anyone, so it’s always good to be prepared.

FN offers you tips on what to do in five different cases:

Want to read up on more Women on Wheels stories? Check out the articles listed below:


IF YOUR CAR WON’T START

If the car just outright refuses to start, check your surroundings first before getting out of the car. Once you’re sure you can check your car safely, pop the hood and check your battery wires. They are the ones connected to your battery’s knobs. If any are loose, tighten them with a wrench (they call it a 10 wrench) and not with your hands!

If the battery wires are wound tight, move on to your spark plugs. They are four wires plugged into the top of your engine. Move them a bit to see if they’re loose. If they are, push them down firmly to make sure they are properly connected.

Follow the wires coming from the engine, and you will end up at your distributor, which looks like a bit like a cow’s udder. If the wires are loose, push them towards the distributor. If any are still loose after that, push down on the loose plug and tape it securely with electrical tape (a very handy thing to have in your car for emergencies just like this one) and head to your nearest car repair shop for servicing.


IF YOUR CAR OVERHEATS

It’s very scary to have your car suddenly die while you’re in the middle of the road or while caught in traffic. The first thing you should do is try to freewheel to the nearest curb or service bay (if you’re along a highway or EDSA). Once you’ve stopped, check your temperature gauge before doing anything else. If the gauge’s needle is higher than the halfway point, chances are you’ve overheated.

Hopefully you have water with you; and if you don’t habitually carry this in a large container in case of emergencies, we suggest doing so. We recommend getting a six-liter container of distilled mineral water. Don’t fill it with tap water or purified water—always carry distilled water for your car’s radiator!

With a wet rag, pop the hood. If the radiator is smoking, then you’ve definitely overheated. Do not open the radiator cap.

Carefully pour water on the radiator, but keep it away from your engine. Douse the radiator’s front area with water slowly.

Once your radiator is cool, twist off the cap slowly with a wet rag. Pour your remaining water in it and make sure your reservoir gets topped up as well. Start the car and let the water do its thing. If the water level goes down, pour some more. Once the temperature’s leveled off, replace the radiator cap and try to go to an auto servicing shop to have them check if there’s any damage to the radiator or your car’s cooling system.

We recommend using a synthetic coolant like Water Wetter (which goes for around P600 to P700 per bottle) for your radiator. Most coolants are already diluted when sold, so all you need to do is to have your radiator drained of water and top up. Coolants can last a long time without you topping up, and they help preserve your radiator against rust and sediments from normal water (distilled or otherwise).



IF YOU HAVE ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS

If the temperature is not the problem, it could be an electrical issue. Check your lights and honk your horn. If the lights (especially the clock) and horn are weak, then you can remedy this by jump-starting the car.

Have a friend or a good Samaritan move his car close so your jumper cables have enough slack to them. Turn off both cars before you start connecting. Clip the positive (red) cable your battery first, then to the donor’s. Connect the negative (black) cable to the donor’s negative terminal, then to your engine block. (Note: It’s important that you do not connect this to your negative terminal).

Have the donor start his car and leave it running for around 3 minutes before staring yours. Rev both cars so the donor won’t have his battery drained. After a few minutes of revving, remove the cables in the reverse of the order you used to connect them—starting from your engine (negative), his negative terminal, his positive terminal, then your positive terminal last.


IF YOU HAVE TO PUSH-START

If you don’t have jumper cables, you will need to go old school and push. Put the shifter on second gear then have someone push the car to gather speed. Once it’s rolling, let go of the clutch while simultaneously cranking the car.

If it doesn’t work, gather more speed then repeat the process. If it does work, step on the clutch immediately to avoid stalling again. Rev the engine a few minutes and proceed to the nearest car battery store to have yours checked and replaced if need be.

Note: You cannot do this if you drive a car with automatic transmission! Call a reliable towing service instead.


IF THE PROBLEM IS WITH YOUR TIMING BELT

If your battery is still good and your temperature is optimal, yet your car still dies, do not keep trying to start the car. Your timing belt might have snapped and you will damage your engine further if you crank it. Make sure you’re safely parked, then pop the hood.

You might need a flashlight and a little flexibility to check your belts. The timing belts are located to the side of your engine and further down, near the floor of your engine bay. If they have indeed snapped, then you’ll have no choice but to call a towing service.


            
Stalling can indeed turn your day upside down, but hopefully with these tips and the proper tools (synthetic coolant, jumper cables, water, flashlight and electrical tape) and maintenance, car stalling in the most inconvenient moments will not be a problem!

(Photo by africa_if via
sxc.hu)

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  • Jessica Sep 10 2010 @ 06:40am Report Abuse
       
    I got a new car this year but before with my old car I would always have problems getting it to start in the mornings, especially cold rainy mornings. I wish I could have read this before!
    Last modified A long time ago
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