Care Care: Ashes to ashes, rust to rust
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Such is life: no matter who or what it is, some things just don’t age gracefully, including our beloved vehicles.
Breakages, leaks and smells happen from time to time. Although some can be serious and others less so, they’re often an annoying inconvenience.
Age and heat take their toll on plastics and rubber, and our vehicles are loaded with them. Ever had to unclip a brittle plastic connector only to have it snap as soon as you looked at it? It can take two seconds to wreck a part that can cost you hundreds of dollars.
Modern vehicles, and particularly those from Europe, have a lot of plastic components in their cooling systems that contain O-Rings — a rubber seal. As they age and harden, they no longer seal effectively and can leak coolant, especially if the vehicle isn’t often used.
This may also happen after replacing the antifreeze because clean, fresh fluid tends to be great at finding the gaps.
A sickly, sweet smelling steam can be a result of cooling system leaks and, in the worst case scenario, can also cause the engine to overheat.
The engine rocker or cam cover is another common source of burning oil smells, leaks and residue. Over time, the rubber seal hardens, losing its tension and sealing capabilities.
This can cause an oil leak from high up in the engine that can spread down into the exhaust, causing a mess and a distinct smell every time the system gets hot.
This is often noticeable when a vehicle is parked as smoke can be seen wafting from under the bonnet. To be able to diagnose the exact cause of the oil leak, a technician may need to degrease the engine.
One of the grubbiest leaks is when the drive-line constant velocity (CV) boots split.
These small rubber boots are found on each end of a vehicle’s drive axles. They hold the grease inside the joint to keep them lubricated and to keep out unwanted contaminates.
Because they rotate at wheel speed, a split can lead to thick, black grease spraying everywhere, leaving your brakes, bodywork and even the exhaust covered in unsightly stains.
Once again, this can cause smoke and burning smells if it gets on to the exhaust.
Running over plastic bags on the road can be an annoying source of problems. If unnoticed, the burning odour of plastic melting on to your exhaust system could mislead you in to thinking something is seriously wrong or you’ve got a leak.
Once the car has cooled, get beneath it and look for any evidence of burnt material stuck to the exhaust pipe or muffler.
Motorists often notice a small puddle of clear liquid under their car when parked. For those who aren’t in the know, it can be a little alarming at first glance. However this is normal and it’s all down to the way the airconditioning system operates.
The by-product, which in this case is water, is drained out of the system on to the ground via a small tube.
It’s actually more concerning if the little puddle of liquid isn’t there if you’ve been using the A/C system as it could be leaking on to the floor inside the car instead.
If you have any concerns we recommend getting your car checked out by your technician or service centre.