Car Saving Tips

CarSavers, one of the Philippines largest independent 5-star automotive shops, and Ziebart, the world leader in automotive appearance and preservation services, hosts this site to provide vehicle owners and journalists with comprehensive, professionally written information on caring, cleaning and protecting cars, trucks, sports utility vehicles and vans.

If you wish to use or quote from any of these articles in a publication, on the air, or on your website, please feel free to copy and reproduce them. Our only requirement is that you mention both the CarSavers and Ziebart as your source. We've been in business since 1972 and have built and earned a solid reputation for excellence and reliable workmanship in the industry and appreciate your confidence in our word.

• Tuning In on Tune-Ups

• Driving through Floodwaters

• Managing The Effects of Acid Rain

• 10 Protection Tips to Keep Your Car in Mint Condition

• All About Rust

• Consumer Bulletin on Electronic Rustproofing Claims

• Caring For Leather Seats

• Choosing the Right Engine Oil

• Flooded Car? What To Do


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Carsavingtips - Tuning

Tune-ups are a periodic process of accurate adjustments of an engine’s various mechanisms in order to obtain its best performance. These various mechanisms are the starting, ignition, carburetor, and cooling systems, as well as the valves and valve gears.

There are two kinds of tune-ups, called minor and major. A minor tune-up is confined principally to the ignition system; a major tune-up comprises a complete engine diagnosis and servicing. A minor tune-up is a preventive measure for engines which are in fairly normal condition. A major tune-up is indicated for engines that do not perform satisfactorily.

Researches done by the oil industry show that engine tune-up factors have a major influence on engine wear and fuel economy. Periodic tune-ups improve gas mileage, and together with oil changes, play starring roles in preventing engine wear.

So, how often should you have your car tuned-up? Barring any outstanding problems, at least as often as recommended in the owner’s manual. However, the period prescribed should be viewed as the maximum framework only. The interval should never be longer than that set in this framework, but it may need to be shorter for a number of reasons. These include heavy stop-and-go driving, extended idling, driving through rain or floods--in short, the same conditions that dictate an early oil change.

A good way to determine if it is time for your car’s tune-up is to watch and keep accurate records of its gas mileage. Any significant variation for two consecutive fill-ups indicates the car needs a tune-up. As a rule of thumb, the tune-up deterioration should be slow, and the mileage drop should also be slow. Any consistent drop of 10 percent below the average mileage is a sign that the engine needs attention. Another indicator is when the nice gray color of your car’s tailpipe slowly begins to blacken. if you detect erratic engine performance from your car, it may mean that you already passed the time when a tune-up is due.

If on a cold, rainy morning you fail to start your car as you grind and grind the engine, you might think you are wearing down the car’s battery, without thinking that you are also wearing down its engine. Oftentimes, during cold or wet weather the battery may not have enough power to start the engine, but it may not be the battery’s fault.

The condition of the ignition system is the most important factor in a cold start. When other engine components are not properly maintained, even a new or well-charged battery can be worn down quickly before the engine starts. This is because the voltage required to start a car increases when the engine has such maladies as broken or cracked ignition cables or worn spark plugs---which speak of a neglected tune-up.

Tune-ups are indispensable for dependable starting in wet weather, and for improved fuel mileage. There is a strong relationship between extended automobile life and better gas mileage. Anything you do to increase mileage will also have a beneficial effect on engine life, and most anything you do to prolong engine life will pay off in a bonus of more kilometers per liter. When you take you car for a tune-up, you rightfully expect to get better mileage and performance after the tune-up is completed. You may not expect to get extended engine life thrown in, but anything done to make the engine more efficient will make it last longer. Which is why a well tuned-up car, whether in wet or dry weather, is a car that is going to last longer.
Driving Through

When driving through floods, the main things to consider are to avoid getting water into the exhaust pipe, the distributor system (for gas fed engines), the carburetor (for gas fed engines that are not fuel-injected), and the air cleaner (for diesel-fed engines). But this is just a survival tip.

Common sense dictates not to drive your car through a flooded street. But given the woeful state of roads in Metro Manila, which mutate into churning, murky, garbage-strewn rivers after just a short period of heavy rain, it's sometimes hard to heed this bit of common sense. What should you do when find yourself in a flooded street?

If you can spare the time and have the patience, it is much better to wait for the floodwaters to recede and disappear before driving on. By simply pulling over and sitting it out, you prevent a host of maintenance problems from cropping up in your car in the future. Just don't forget to park your car in a safe place that's on high ground. If you intend to sit inside the car, pull over to a safe place where you don't block traffic, lock all doors, turn off the engine (to avoid CO-poisoning), and, if you're parked on a roadside where traffic is still flowing, switch on the hazard or emergency lights. Turn off all other electrical accessories such as the stereo to avoid draining your car's battery -- especially if you're in for a long wait. Remember, you need sufficient power from your battery to crank up your car's cold engine to be able to drive off once the flood goes down.

If, however, a matter of extreme urgency leaves you no choice but to brave the flood and move on, and the floodwater level on the road is not higher than your car's floor or half the height of your car's wheel - and will not go any higher, say a prayer, proceed cautiously, and

  • Switch off the air conditioner. This will make the load of pulling the car through the flood lighter on the engine. Moreover, with the A/C off, the auxiliary fan stays off, reducing the risk of getting floodwater splashed onto the engine compartment and on vital electrical components.
  • Drive slowly. Again, to reduce the risk of getting floodwater all over the engine compartment and the engine itself.
  • Increase and maintain the engine RPM to about 1500, but not over 2000, or a little higher than idling level (if your car doesn't have a tachometer) to prevent water from getting into the exhaust pipe. Any higher than 2000 RPM is unnecessary

    To increase engine RPM without increasing speed.

      • For cars with automatic transmission, apply moderate brake pressure while stepping on the gas.
      • For cars with manual transmission, apply moderate pressure on the clutch pedal while driving on first gear.
  • Avoid revving the engine too much and shift to neutral if you have to stop.

When finally out of the flooded street, do not go over 20 kph and avoid sudden braking until the brakes are dry and operable. To dry them, apply moderate pressure on the brake pedal intermittently while the vehicle is in motion until the brakes are completely operable. Finally, when you park your car for the night, do not engage the handbrake or parking brake. Instead, secure your car with wheel chocks (if you don't have one, a couple of big stones will do) and leave it in gear to let your rear brakes dry out completely overnight. This way, you won't drive out the next morning and find that your rear brakes are stuck up.

Last, check your vehicle's engine and remove any piece of junk or flood debris that might have strayed into the compartment and clung to any engine component, especially the radiator, the auxiliary fan, or the condenser unit of the air conditioning system.

Should your car die down while driving through a flooded street, do not re-start the car. Re-starting the engine may only damage it. Just switch off the engine and have the car towed to the nearest auto shop.

Once your car is in the shop, make sure the mechanic checks the following:

  • Engine Oil. If the oil has been contaminated, have the oil changed. Looking at the oil dipstick is an easy way to check if the engine oil has been contaminated: if the oil on the dipstick has some discoloration, usually whitish, then the oil has been contaminated and must be changed.
  • Transmission Fluid or Gear Oil. The gear oil must be replaced if contaminated. If your car has automatic transmission, have the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) checked and replaced too, if contaminated. You can check it yourself by looking at the ATF dipstick located on the transmission assembly.
  • If your car is equipped with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), have the computer box inspected. (Most car shops and even car dealers do not have the equipment or the capability to do this though. At the CarSavers, we have the equipment and specially trained technicians who can restore flood-damaged computer boxes, cd/tape players and other electronic components, if you bring your car to our shop within 48 hours of getting it wet.)
  • Fuse box. This must be completely moisture-free.
  • Starter motor assembly. The electrical and mechanical parts must be cleaned and lubricated thoroughly.
  • Wheel bearings. The wheel bearing on all four wheels must be re-packed.
  • Because floodwater is highly corrosive, have all these done at the soonest possible time.

Better yet, have all these done in the nearest CarSavers facility. We'll do these and more (including deodorization and dehumidification) with our completeVehicle Flood Damage Restoration service!



Acid Rain

What is acid rain?
Simply put, acid rain is the atmosphere's way of cleaning itself of pollutants, chemicals and other industrial emissions that collect in the earth's atmosphere. While in the air, pollutants combine with water vapor to form nitric and sulfuric acid, which is similar to car battery acid. The rain or precipitation that passes through this industrial fallout cleans the air but collects the pollutants and brings them to earth.

How will acid rain affect my car's finish?
When rain falls, it brings down the pollutants in the form of acid rain. This "acid rain" collects in drops on your vehicle's painted surface. As the water evaporates, the acidic water eats into the paint surface. The process escalates when the sun heats the droplets and the paint. 
There are three levels of acid rain damage: mild, severe and irreparable. The severity is determined by the depth to which the acid rain has etched the painted surface.

What can be done?
No technology currently is available to reverse the effects of acid rain damage. But Ziebart recently introduced a product called Diamond Gloss, which is the first coating that will protect vehicle finishes from acid-rain damage. Additionally, some professional car-care technicians can apply a paint protector that is designed to neutralize acid rain and form a protective barrier that will help impede the damaging effects. This type of product works by intercepting the acidic water when it contacts the paint and neutralizing it to make it virtually harmless.


Vehicle owners also can help manage the problem by taking these steps:

  • Park in a garage or carport.
  • Drive your vehicle daily so that water droplets don't stand on the paint for long periods of time and are blown off naturally.
  • Rinse it and dry it after every rain to remove the acidic droplets.
  • Have a professional apply a quality paint protection designed to reduce or prevent acid rain damage, such as Ziebart's Diamond Gloss.

When shopping for a new car or truck, be aware that vehicles parked on car dealers' lots generally are the most susceptible to acid rain damage because the paint is new and not completely cured and the vehicles are not driven often. Be sure to ask if the vehicle you're considering has been protected and, if necessary, have it thoroughly inspected by a car care expert to determine if any damage has occurred.

Ziebart has more than 40 years experience protecting, enhancing and maintaining the interior and exterior of cars and trucks. Its services include professional detailing; paint and fabric protection; rust protection; window tint; electronic systems; and an array of other accessories.

Ziebart International Corp. was founded in 1959 and is headquartered in Troy, Mich. It has franchised approximately 500 stores in 44 countries. For more information on Ziebart, access its web site at



Car Tips

1. Household detergents, including dishwashing detergent and laundry soap, should never be used to wash cars. Their high pH content-designed to cut grease-will remove your car's wax coating and harm its clear-coat finish. Use specially formulated car wash treatments instead. 

2.  Rinse your car before washing it to soften and remove dirt. Caught under your sponge or towel, dirt and grit can scratch the paint. 

3.  To clean leather, wipe with a damp cloth and buff dry. Follow up with a good leather conditioner. Never apply silicone dressings to leather. If a more thorough cleaning is needed, see a professional for service to avoid damaging the leather. 

4.  Beware of acid rain from industrial fallout. Its harmful effects can be activated by dew or fog, as well as rain. Rinse and dry your vehicle often to prevent acid rain damage. 

5. Be kind to your car. Avoid car washes using nylon brushes or recycled water. Brushes can scratch your paint and recycled water may contain salt and other contaminants from previous vehicles that can accelerate deterioration. 

6. It's gross, we know, but clean off bird droppings, bug stains and tree sap as soon as possible to avoid paint discoloration and damage. For best results, use a mild car wash soap, then rinse and chamois dry to avoid staining and discoloration. 

7. Touch up chips and scratches promptly. Chipped or scratched paint can cause blisters and surface rust. 

8. Moisturize your vinyl. Interior and exterior vinyl should be cleaned and dressed at least twice a year to prevent drying and cracking. Use a cleaner specifically recommended for vinyl, then buff dry and apply a vinyl dressing. 

9. Don't use Scotch-Brite type pads on those wheel covers or aluminum wheels. Abrasive pads are made for cleaning pots and pans, not the delicate finish of your wheels. Aluminum or magnesium sports wheels have a clear-coat finish, which can strip away if not treated properly. Use a non-caustic cleaner and soft brush or sponge. 

10. Remove bumper stickers and window decals gently. Use a hair dryer to soften the adhesive. Then scrape clean with an old credit card. If your bumper is painted, keep the heat low to prevent paint damage. 

Ziebart has more than 50 years experience protecting, enhancing and maintaining the interior and exterior of cars and trucks. Its services include professional detailing; paint and fabric protection; rust protection; window tint; electronic systems; and an array of other accessories.

Ziebart International Corp. was founded in 1959 and is headquartered in Troy, Mich. It has franchised approximately 600 stores in 43 countries. For more information on Ziebart, access its web site at




What is rust?
Rust is the substance that is formed when iron begins returning to its natural state (iron ore) by combining with oxygen to become ferric oxide. This chemical combining of metal and oxygen is called oxidation. The oxidation of any metal generates corrosion, and the corrosion of iron specifically is what we commonly call rust. The steel from which cars are made is iron alloyed with a small amount of carbon and therefore may rust. Wherever iron or steel is exposed to air (oxygen), rust is likely to occur eventually. The oxidation process is accelerated by moisture, acid rain, salt and dirt, all of which act as catalysts to speed up the rust process.

Do today's cars still rust?
Yes. Rust can begin in any area of the body, inside or out, that is exposed to the elements. A recent study conducted by Ziebart International Corp. involving 240 vehicles manufactured in the 1990s determined that 105 of the vehicles (44%) showed signs that rust had formed on the inside of metal panels. The predominant locations were the bottom seams on doors, the front seam on hoods, the lower seam on trunk lids, radiator support frames, fender attachment points and gasoline filler door areas. Current model vehicles have the same construction as the vehicles studied.

Auto makers protect the outer surfaces of fenders, doors and other metal parts with coatings of paint. Even though inner surfaces, such as door panels or the side of a fender that faces the chassis are coated, it is a much more difficult task to protect those surfaces from rust. Rust may begin on the inner side of the metal that is hidden from view and work all the way through the metal to the outside, painted surface, where it bubbles-up and forms a hole in the steel panel. Rust can begin in any area of the body that is exposed to the elements.

Doors tend to rust at the bottom seam because water, dirt and other corrosive substances fall into the door through the window slot. If drain holes at the bottom of the door become plugged up, corrosives accumulate and rust begins. Rocker panels-which form the metal "step" under the door-are subject to rusting because they are at the lowest point in the car body shell and may accumulate moisture, salt and dirt. Any place on the vehicle where two pieces of metal are joined is a likely place to detect rust. These joints hold moisture, salt, dirt and other corrosive particles that promote rust. The fender support braces are one primary area of this type. Also, rust can form where paint chips off the outer surface of a vehicle. The front edges of hoods and trunks are common places for rust to appear because they are the most likely areas of a vehicle to suffer paint damage and because water that falls on the vehicle runs down to the edges of the hood and trunk.

Doesn't the manufacturer's guarantee on my car cover rust damage?
Most guarantees limit the amount of time they cover rust damage and usually exclude coverage of rust caused by such environmental factors as stone chips and floods. For example in the Philippines, the corrosion warranty for a popular Japanese manufacturer states that what is not covered are, "Factors beyond the manufacturer's Control… Damages and/or surface corrosion problems due to the environment such as acid rain, airborne fall-out, salt, hail, windstorms, lightning, floods, other acts of God and the like are not covered". For a different Japanese manufacturer, their warranty excludes "Damage or failure resulting from stone chipping, chemical fallout, tree sap, salt, hail, floods, windstorm, lightning or other environmental conditions". Another car manufacturer's warranty covers corrosion that causes perforation (rust through) within three years, but if the corrosion does not create a hole (i.e. perforation)-and is not caused by surface paint damage due to corrosive substances, industrial fall out, acid rain, chipped paint, scratches and the like - there is no coverage. You should review your car's warranty guide carefully to determine the extent of corrosion coverage.

How can I protect my car against rust?
Aftermarket rust protection coats the inside surfaces of metal panels to protect them from moisture and other corrosives, preventing rust from starting. This effectively seals out oxygen (air) and H2O (water) from contact with the metal. It's important to rust-protect your vehicle before rust begins.

Look for a process that uses durable, long-lasting protectant, supported by periodic maintenance; and ensure that the rust-proofing is applied by professional, well-trained technicians.

Wash your car regularly as recommended in your owner's manual, including the underbody, to remove corrosive substances; and clear the drain holes at the bottom of doors and under rocker panels. Spot check and power clean areas of your car that are susceptible to rust to be sure that water, salt, mud, dust-control chemicals and other corrosives are not collecting there.

For used cars which may already have began to rust, Ziebart offers used car rust-protection which first treats your vehicle body shell with its Rust Eliminator chemical before proceeding with the Rust-Protection process.

Does aftermarket rustproofing void the manufacturer's guarantee on my car?
No. The overall manufacturer's warranty is not jeopardized by rust protection, but manufacturers will not honor any sheet-metal claims resulting from a faulty application of rust protection. Sheet- metal claims do not pertain to any mechanical or non-corrosion claims. Fortunately, Ziebart provides a lifetime guarantee for any rust damage, and the terms of the guarantee far exceed the terms offered by manufacturers.

What guidelines should I follow to determine if my car needs after-market rustproofing?
Every car can benefit from after-market rust protection in two primary ways:

a. The physical appearance and performance of the vehicle are preserved. 
b. Its resale value is increased.

If you have a car plan from your company, remember that you may want to purchase it at the end of the plans term. So whether you have a car plan or own your vehicle outright, you should have it rust-protected if you plan to keep it for more than two or three years. 

Ziebart has more than 50 years experience protecting, enhancing and maintaining the interior and exterior of cars and trucks. Its services include professional detailing; paint and fabric protection; rust protection; window tint; electronic systems; and an array of other accessories.

Ziebart International Corp. was founded in 1959 and is headquartered in Troy, Mich. It has franchised approximately 600 stores in 43 countries. For more information on Ziebart, access its web site at


Consumer Bulletin

We have had inquiries from consumers about some auto-dealer and repair-shop offerings of so-called "electronic rustproofing" devices. While conventional sealant products like Ziebart's offer proven effective rust protection for autos, consumers are advised to beware of any "electronic black-box" methods offered.

FTC Ruling Regarding Electronic Rustproofing
In March 1996, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled against claims for an electronic rust product called "Rust Evader." The product, that connects to the vehicles battery under the car hood, was claimed to prevent rust in autos through cathodic action. The FTC ruled that the Rust Evader Corporation deceptively represented salt-water demonstrations and other tests as proof that the product would protect motor vehicles from corrosion. Then-president David McCready was barred from future use of the names "Rust Evader" or "Rust Buster" for this or similar devices and from claiming that they prevent automobile corrosion.

Is Automobile Rust Protection Really Needed?
Consumers should know that there is no such thing as a steel vehicle that is rust free, even with today's advanced auto-industry technology. Rust in autos has been slowed significantly, but not eliminated, as any materials engineer will attest. Steel vehicles exposed to salt and water will still rust, but it now takes a few years longer for the rust to break through than in the 1980s. While special rust protection may not be necessary for short-term lease cars or in areas not subject to salt air and humidity, some situations make it a wise investment:

  1. If you plan to keep your vehicle for more than three or four years, pass it on to another member of your family, or are considering buying the vehicle at the end of the lease.
  2. If you drive in areas where salt is in the air and the air is very humid, such as close along a warm-weather seacoast or in the tropics.
  3. If you drive in areas the are susceptible to flooding, (either saltwater or heavily contaminated water).

What Kind of Rust Protection Does Work?
Effective rust protection requires:

  1. A quality rust-inhibiting sealant, such as Ziebart's, that coats the inside surfaces of the metal to prevent contact by water and salt.
  2. An applicator who has internal-construction specifications of your vehicle and custom tooling to assure coating of all rust-prone areas, especially seams, joints and welds inside body panels and other boxed-in components.
  3. Some provision to renew flex-point and abrasion-prone areas annually, or the vehicle could still rust in those areas, despite your precautions.

You should insist on all of these elements when purchasing aftermarket rust-protection, or you will not get your money's worth.

Ziebart has more than 50 years experience protecting, enhancing and maintaining the interior and exterior of cars and trucks. Its services include professional detailing; paint and fabric protection; rust protection; window tint; electronic systems; and an array of other accessories.

Ziebart International Corp. was founded in 1959 and is headquartered in Troy, Mich. It has franchised approximately 600 stores in 43 countries. For more information on Ziebart, access its web site at


Leather Seats

Leather has been a mainstay in luxury automobiles for years, but now leather seats are becoming increasingly popular in sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks as well as in mid-priced vehicles. While caring for leather seats is essential, it must be done properly to avoid drying, cracking and discoloration problems.

Leather Care Facts

  • Seek advice early. Cleaning leather can yield excellent results if the original finish coating is not cracked or worn through. It's important, therefore, to seek advice about proper care and maintenance early, before damage has occurred.
  • Don't use all-purpose cleaners and detergents. Damage to leather seats primarily occurs when people use products that are not designed specifically for leather seats. Don't use all-purpose cleaners, household soaps or detergents, as they increase the likelihood of damaging the leather with their harsh chemical ingredients.
  • Never rub leather when cleaning. Discoloration is caused when the dye in the seat, which is like a paint on the surface, is rubbed or worn away or becomes dried out and cracks.
  • Don't try to do it yourself. Because proper treatment and care are so critical, many manufacturers recommend that car owners actually do nothing to their leather seats, since the risk of damage is so great.

Ziebart recommends:

  • Check the owner's manual to determine the care that the manufacturer recommends for leather.
  • Blot up spills immediately with a clean, dry terry cloth.
  • Do not rub cleaner into the leather surface. Go over the surface lightly with a damp (water only)-not wet-cloth. Then dry and hand buff with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Keep your leather clean. Leather seats are extremely susceptible to scratches, even from the smallest specks of dirt.
  • Be careful about what you carry in your pockets. Sharp objects, like keys and credit cards, have been known to cause serious scratches and rips in leather seats.
  • Have a qualified professional clean your leather. A qualified professional will:
  • Inspect the leather to identify wear, cracking, loss of dye, cuts and blemishes in the finish.
    • Vacuum the leather to remove dirt and debris.
    • Clean the leather with a solution prepared especially for leather surfaces.
    • Condition the leather with products specifically developed to return valuable oils and moisturizers and keep the surface moist and supple, preventing it from drying out and cracking.

    If in doubt, the best thing to do is nothing at all. You possibly could aggravate the problem and cause permanent damage. Call a professional for help.

Ziebart has more than 50 years experience protecting, enhancing and maintaining the interior and exterior of cars and trucks. Its services include professional detailing; paint and fabric protection; rust protection; window tint; electronic systems; and an array of other accessories.

Ziebart International Corp. was founded in 1959 and is headquartered in Troy, Mich. It has franchised approximately 600 stores in 43 countries. For more information on Ziebart, access its web site at



Right Oil

Did you know that automotive professionals define the following as severe driving conditions?

  • Stop-and-go traffic wherein the engine idles or runs at low speeds for extended periods.
  • The car is driven mostly on trips that are usually less than 32 kilometers or 30 minutes.
  • The car is operated in an area where the surrounding temperature goes below 0oC or above 32oC.
  • The car is operated in a dusty or industrialized area.
  • The car is driven consistently at high speed when the surrounding temperature is over 32oC.
  • The car is used to tow a trailer.

Right off, one would realize immediately that everyday driving around Metro Manila - or most other places in the Philippines, for that matter - means operating a vehicle under severe driving conditions. Which makes the case for choosing the right oil a strong and important consideration for all vehicle owners in the Philippines.

So, how do you choose the right oil for your car's engine? 
There are three factors to consider:

  1. the company that refined the oil;
  2. the engine oil service classification; and
  3. the engine oil viscosity rating.

The first factor concerns the engine oil's quality. Go for an engine oil with a well-known name brand or is a product of an established and recognized oil company. This way, you can be fairly sure that the oil is of high quality and contains the necessary additives to perform the many essential functions of an engine oil.

Next, choose an engine oil that has a service classification appropriate for your vehicle engine. In the early 1970s, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) established an engine oil service classification system that is now accepted as a universal standard. (Hence the "API" and "SAE" acronyms printed on oil cans.)

Under this letter-grading system, oils classified as applicable for gasoline engines are designated "S," which stands for spark-ignition, and oils classified as applicable for diesel engines are designated "C," for compression-ignition. While many oils in the market today are rated "S" and "C" -- meaning they are applicable for both gas and diesel engines, "S" or "C" oils are generally classified further according to their engine protection capability and the level of work the particular engine will be subjected to. This added classification is also a letter index written next to the engine oil's S or C designation. For instance, an engine oil labeled "API SA" is applicable for gasoline engines, has no special engine protection capabilities and is only suitable for gas engines operating under mild conditions. Engine oils with a higher-letter index after their "S" or "C" classification are better than those with a lower-letter index. Choose them, or the type recommended by your car manufacturer - see your Owner's Manual.

The third factor to consider refers to the engine oil viscosity. Viscosity describes how the engine oil flows at a given temperature. An engine oil of low viscosity, sometimes referred to as a "light oil," flows more easily than an oil of high viscosity, sometimes referred as "heavy oil." As a fluid, oil's viscosity changes with temperature. When it is hot, the oil thins and flows easily; when it's cold, the oil thickens, it becomes more viscous. The engine oil you select for your car engine should then be compatible with the ambient temperature in the area where you drive to ensure that the oil will not thin out and flow too rapidly in hot weather, or thicken and flow sluggishly in cold weather. In either case, engine parts will be deprived of adequate lubrication.

An engine oil's viscosity rating indicates the ambient temperature range within which it has been rated for use. The viscosity rating of an engine oil is prominently printed on the can along with its service classification. This numeric index is preceded usually by "SAE", the acronym of the American group (mentioned earlier) that assigns numbers to oils of different viscosities. Under the viscosity grading system devised by the SAE, likewise acknowledged as a universal standard, the lower the viscosity of an engine oil -- the thinner the oil, the lower the number assigned to it. An engine oil rated SAE 10, for example, is recommended for coId weather operation since it has low viscosity and flows more easily even when the ambient temperature is cold. On the other hand, an engine oil rated SAE 30 is recommended for warm weather operation because it has high viscosity - it is thicker -- and thus will not thin out too much and flow too easily even at high temperatures. (Apart from viscosity though, SAE numbers do not specify any quality of an engine oil.)

SAE 10 or SAE 30 engine oil is an example of a single-viscosity or single weight oil that is restricted for use in a limited temperature range. In contrast, multi-viscosity/multi-weight, or multi-grade oils (as they are called now) are suitable for a much wider temperature range. Because of the viscosity-improver additive mixed into them, which minimize the change in their viscosity, multi-grade oils have the viscosity of an SAE 10 oil when cold, and the viscosity of an SAE 30 oil when hot. A typical multi-viscosity oil is stamped SAE 10W-30 (meaning it can be used in areas where the ambient temperature ranges from -18oC to above 38oC) or SAE 20W-50 (meaning it can be used in areas where the ambient temperature ranges from -12oC to over 38oC; the "W" stands for winter.) Go for multi-grade oils with an SAE grade of 10W-30 or higher.

Aside from the alpha-numeric code printed on the can, some engine oils are labeled "Energy Conserving." These are lower viscosity oil blends which reduce internal engine friction, thereby improving performance and reducing fuel consumption. There are two categories of Energy Conserving (EC) engine oils: EC I and EC II. EC II-labeled engine oils provide better fuel-economy improvement than EC I oils. (Before using Energy Conserving oil, check your Owner's Manual if the manufacturer approves its use in your car's engine.)

While most engine oils are refined from crude oil, some are artificially made by chemical processes and do not necessarily come from petroleum. These are called synthetic oils. Termed synthetic because they are not obtained directly from petroleum (a natural product), synthetic oils flow more easily than many natural oils especially at extremely low temperatures. At the same time, synthetic oils tolerate heat better while producing less sludge and carbon deposits. This is one reason why synthetic oils are much more expensive than natural ones. (Caution: synthetic oils tend to flow so easily that a minor oil leak in your engine can become a major hemorrhage. So make sure your car's engine doesn't leak at all if you choose synthetic oil for your car.)

High price aside, synthetic oils are classified and rated just like other petroleum-based engine oils. Are synthetic oils better? No doubt yes. The question is, can you afford it? Whether you choose synthetic oil or natural, don't forget to follow the oil change interval recommended by your car's manufacturer.


What to Do

1. Immediately disconnect the negative cable of your car battery to avoid any possible short circuit. This is also to protect the ECU or computer box from damage.

2. Do not start the engine. Try to push the car out to higher ground or try jacking it with the car jack.

3. Disengage and release the parking brake. Keep the transmission in 1st gear (for manual transmission) or "P" (for automatic transmission) to prevent the brake canvas from sticking. This is even more important for cars that use drum brakes.

4. Take plenty of photos both inside and outside the car to document any damage or how deep the car was underwater. This will be useful for both the Insurance and/or Professional Mechanic to determine the extent of the damage.

5. Wait at least 24 hours before you do anything to the vehicle, giving it time to drain, if not completely dry out.

6. If the water got so deep that the dashboard was covered, do not try to start it at all. If any liquid is in the cylinders it will cause damage to the engine. Most of the electronics in the car would have been submerged at this depth, as well.

7. If you don’t think the water got that high, it’s still best to take a look at the oil dipstick to see if there are any traces of water in the lubrication system. If so, assume the engine is flooded and don’t try to start it.

8. You’re in better shape if the water stayed below the center line of your wheels. Nevertheless, let the interior air out as much as possible before trying to start it, taking out the floor mats, trunk mat and even the seats. Much of the wiring and some of the computers in today’s cars are located under the carpet and console box, so even if the engine compartment was not inundated, you could still experience faults to secondary systems.

9. When in doubt, either have your vehicle towed to your trusted service center or call your professional mechanic/electrician for a more thorough inspection and assessment.


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