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Car Care: Quick fixes need speedy attention
By Jack Biddle • 28/02/2016
There has been many a time when a quick, temporary repair was the only option available to a stranded motorist.
Such was the case recently when I was cycling with mates and came upon an old Range Rover sitting on the side of the road, its left rear wheel missing.
The vehicle had come to a grinding halt when the wheel departed company from its mounting flange after the driver exited a roundabout. I suspect the change of direction from entering and then exiting the roundabout was the final straw for the wheel.
The driver said he had bought the vehicle the previous day. He claimed the cause of the failure was because the wheel studs had stripped, but I suspect the retaining nuts had been left loose for some reason (recent wheel change?) and had finally unwound themselves completely when the vehicle was on the move.
The one big blessing about this failure was that there were no other road users involved in what could have been a very serious accident.
The temporary fix was to take a wheel nut from each of the remaining wheels and refit the detached wheel, to allow the road to be cleared and the vehicle to be driven carefully to a place of repair.
The permanent fix would be to check the suspension, brakes, wheel studs and wheel for damage and to repair or replace parts as required, including replacing the missing wheel nuts.
Hopefully, the new owner will sort it all out properly and swiftly and not continue to drive the vehicle in a dangerous condition.
Another story I picked up this week was about a DIY mechanic trying to help out a family member whose vehicle was suffering from coolant loss. He had a quick look around the engine bay for signs of leaks, found nothing obvious, so went to the local auto shop and purchased a container of coolant stop-leak.
Not surprisingly, the coolant loss continued and water stains appeared on the garage floor. The leak was finally traced to a badly swollen and split heater hose. No amount of stop-leak was going to fix this problem, and potentially more harm than good could be done by using such products.
On the other hand, if ever a minor coolant leak developed from places such as the radiator core or engine block frost plug when time was short and proper repairs could not be carried out urgently, adding such product may be a lifesaver, albeit a temporary one.
Trying to make a temporary fix last too long or ignoring advice given to undertake more permanent repairs, can end in tears.
As our older vehicle fleet ages even more and their values continue to drop, the dilemma for some owners is deciding whether to spend money on repairs that can cost close to or, in some cases, more than their vehicle’s value.
Spending a little money on getting the right advice is the answer.