Timing Belts, the Nitty-Gritty

Timing belts - The Nitty-Gritty

Oh, no! My belt just broke! Will my pants fall down? Good news: No! 

What is a timing belt, anyway? First of all, a timing belt is a source of mystery to many folks. They find themselves wondering, "Does my car have a timing belt? Where is it located? When should it be replaced? What happens if I don’t replace it? If I don’t have one, what do I have?" 

The timing belt is one of many crucial parts of the engine. It is a black, circular rubber belt, with a specific number of teeth.  The belt’s teeth are turned by gears which also have a specific (but different) number of teeth. This causes the belt to turn the internal engine parts together in synchronicity. It ‘times’ the internal moving parts of the engine and keeps the valves from hitting the pistons. It also makes sure the fuel, air and spark are delivered at the proper times to make the engine run. Some belts turn oil pumps and coolant pumps. There are even cars that have more than one timing belt. The belt moves, turning the gears, which in turn, turn other internal engine parts.

Some vehicles do not have a timing belt (mostly found in older cars), but all engines must be 'timed'. This is accomplished by different methods, such as a timing chain, or by gears. 

Why not wait until it breaks – then replace it? Because, although your pants won't fall down when your belt breaks, the car’s engine will stop running. That's right. Your car will stop. Believe me; this type of event never happens at the perfect place or the perfect time. (For example: Anywhere on Highway 17.)

What symptoms indicate that my belt may break soon? Bad news: there are no warning signs. Timing belts do not normally make noise or give any other warning prior to breaking.

When should I replace my timing belt? Recommended maintenance intervals for the timing belt vary (from 60,000 to 105,000 miles) depending on manufacturer and type of engine. Most belts last for their designated lifetime – as long as all related components last, including belt tensioner(s), idler pulley(s), water pump, and miscellaneous oil seals. In other words, the components related to the belt need servicing and/or replacing at the same time the belt is replaced. Otherwise, the new belt may fail prematurely due to oil contamination or just mechanical failure. Yes, it is important to repair those oil leaks!

I did not do this maintenance, my belt broke and my car stopped. What's the big deal? Once it breaks other dreadful things can happen. For example, if your car has an "interference engine", the pistons hit the valves - causing them to bend; bent valves = broken engine = big dent in pocket book. Your entire engine will require dis-assembly and all the parts that got bent will need to be replaced. 

Water Star Motors recommends that you avoid this potential major engine repair by attending to regular maintenance: simply replace your timing belt according to the recommended schedule. And save hundreds of dollars in potential future labor costs by having the related components serviced at the same time a new belt is installed!

I need to find out about my timing belt! What now? Call your local professional auto repair shop like Water Star Motors 831-457-0996. We look forward to researching your needs and providing you with the information and service that will resolve your automotive problem(s). 


Audi Makes Synthetic Diesel from Co2 and Water

Audi Makes Synthetic Diesel from Co2 and Water

Working with Joule, Audi has developed a new recipe for renewable diesel fuel: Extract carbon dioxide from the air; use wind and solar green electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and apply high heat and pressure until the hydrogen combines with the CO2 to form "blue crude."
The crude is then converted into pure synthetic diesel fuel, which is free from the sulfur and aromatic contaminants typically found in petroleum diesel. The synthetic diesel fuel also has a high cetane number for easy ignition, and can be blended with fossil diesel. 

However, perhaps the most significant fact about Audi's synthetic diesel is that the fuel is completely carbon neutral. The amount of carbon dioxide released when the fuel is burned equals the amount consumed when the fuel is made.
Synthetic e-diesel is just one element of Audi's e-fuels effort, a project to create renewable and carbon-neutral fuels using environmentally friendly production processes. Audi's project also involves the exploration of other synthetic alternative fuels such as e-ethanol, e-gas (methane) and bio-isooctane (bio-gasoline).
Audi's tests have shown that e-fuels burn more efficiently and produce fewer emissions than petroleum-based products. a glass window so engineers could see how the synthetic fuels performed under actual operating conditions. Part of their testing creates simulated conditions inside an engine in a pressure chamber at up to 15 bar and temperatures of 350 °Celsius. A special camera scans the spray at intervals of 50 microseconds to record how the fuel behaves during the injection process, as only a clean mixture preparation process will assure optimal combustion.
The optical research engine has a glass window so engineers could see how the synthetic fuels performed under actual operating conditions. This test setup reveals the processes that are otherwise hidden by the metal walls of the cylinders. A small window made of quartz glass enables engineers to observe the fuel’s behavior in the cylinder and how it interacts with the airflow in the combustion chamber.
During each of up to 3,000 revolutions per minute in the research engine, a minute amount of fuel shoots into the glass cylinder is compressed and ignited, and the exhaust gas then expelled. The engineers mix a tracer that glows when stimulated with a laser into the e-fuels. The laser-induced fluorescence process thus highlights those places in the glass cylinder that are particularly bright as being where most of the fuel is. Using a high-speed camera, the combustion process is captured with time-lapse photography.  

The investigators found that unlike fossil fuels, the composition of which varies depending on their place of origin, synthetic Audi e-fuels are pure fuels. Thanks to their chemical properties, fewer emissions are generated when they are burned. They do not contain any olefines or aromatic hydrocarbons. As a result, the synthetic fuels assure a more effective mixture preparation process, cleaner combustion and lower emissions.
These processes are still in a developmental phase and large-scale production is a long way off. Liquid e-fuels have an advantage of easily being distributed through the existing vehicle fueling infrastructure.
Audi operates a research facility in Hobbs, New Mexico for the production of e-ethanol and e-diesel in partnership with Joule. At this facility, Joule’s Helioculture platform uses engineered microorganisms which use water (brackish, salt or wastewater), sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce the high-purity fuels.

Audi also has an e-gas project in Werlte, Germany underway as another component of its e-fuels strategy, as well as a new partnership with Global Bioenergies on bio-isooctane (bio-gasoline).

Click here for your appointment today. Your Serene, Green Auto Repair Team www.WaterStarMotors.com


Running Like New

From Residue to Running Like New
How a Fuel System Cleaning Can Restore Your Engine

Whether you put too much food down the garbage disposal (we prefer composting), too many leaves fall into the gutters or grandma's famous tuna casserole left your oven covered in an unknown greasy substance, things stop performing at their optimal level unless they're cleaned. The same is true for your car's engine.

Residue gets left behind in your engine every time you turn off your car. Any time an engine shuts down, it goes through a 'hot soak'. A hot soak is when your engine is still producing heat and there is no air flowing through it to cool it down. During the 'hot soak' period, fuel residues become thin deposits called gum and varnish. with time, these this residues accumulate and bake into rock-hard carbon deposits, which can be very difficult to remove.

The hard carbon deposits cause a multitude of problems with engines. these include hard starts, stumbling, loss of fuel economy, increased emissions and reduced performance.

To unclog your gutters, all you need to do is remove the leaves, use some oven cleaner to remove the mystery grease from your oven. But how to clean the deposits from your engine? Regular fuel system cleaning as a preventive maintenance can address the fuel deposit-related problems before they require expensive repairs, including engine dis-assembly and part replacements. 

Our favorite product is BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner. We recommend using it annually (12,000-
15,000 miles). It is a standard part of our maintenance services for our customers. This is poured into your fuel tank (good to have a full tank)and as your car runs, the product will clean throughout, helping to remove those harsh deposits and improving vehicle performance.

There are no negative side effects what so ever when you use a quality fuel system cleaner. We also carry a BG fuel System cleaner for diesels as well. (By the way, BG can only be purchased through auto repair facilities.) 

Click here for your appointment today. Your Serene, Green Auto Repair Team www.WaterStarMotors.com


Being 'Cool' Again

Coolant System Explained (Part two of two)

Last week we discovered a pool of ‘green blood’ under the car…Is it an Alien’s? 

As we learned in Coolant System Part 1, that "green stuff" is not some weird alien blood (although to some, a car may seem like an alien)! It is anti-freeze – also known as coolant.

What does Coolant do? Coolant performs a number of important roles in keeping your vehicle on the road. Its primary function is to cool engine parts around the cylinder walls and cylinder head where your car’s fuel is burned; that is, where combustion takes place. The engine needs coolant circulating through it continually; without it, the combustion chambers reaches temperatures over 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (RED HOT, in other words).

Its secondary responsibilities are to heat the inside of your car (via the heater) and to keep corrosion from forming in the radiator, engine, and heater core.

How does the coolant circulate? Coolant is kept moving along by a pump (misnamed as ‘the water pump’). A well-functioning water pump is essential because, as you know, idle coolant is the devil’s playground! (HOT, HOT, HOT!) J

As coolant (designed to not boil until it reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit) circulates through the engine, it carries heat away from the cylinder walls / combustion chambers to the radiator. The anti-freeze cools down as it flows through the radiator. It then repeats its cycle of flow - back to the cylinder walls, picking up the heat to expel once again to the radiator.

The thermostat is what regulates the coolant temperature by controlling how fast and where the coolant goes, maintaining the cooling system's proper temperatures at a cool 190-200 degrees.

Needless to say, the cooling system needs to be kept in good working order: coolant performs essential roles in keeping your vehicle on the road and comfortable (warm and toasty). Proper maintenance is required.

Water Star Motors recommends that you repair all leaks immediately, take care of your water pump, and REPLACE COOLANT every 2-3 years. (As exotic as it is, and although some coolant is advertised as lasting for up to ten years, coolant has a relatively short life span; experience tells me that 5 years is max and 2-3 years is best.) A good, professional "Coolant System Flush" – replacing the entire contents of the cooling system – is a great investment for your car’s health.

[Please note: many kinds of coolants cannot be mixed with other kinds. Be sure to consult a professional if you are not absolutely certain what kind your car currently has. Also, please be aware that in the world of cars, things are constantly changing – including the color of coolants; they now come not only in green, but red, orange, blue, and even purple!]

In closing: We highly recommend regular ‘green blood’ transfusions for your 'Alien' – that is, regular cooling system maintenance – to promote long life and happiness.

And no, even though it may bleed ‘green blood’, your car really is not an Alien; you can think of it as just having a preference for green ‘cool-aide’.

Click for your appointment today. Your Serene, Green Auto Repair Team - Water Star Motors