9.0 HYBRID AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES: PRESERVING THE BATTERIES

There comes a time, when maybe due to work assignments, you might consider parking your hybrid vehicle for a short period of time.

You never know, what the outcomes of the assignments might be, considering the uncertainties in some work schedules.

Lets say, you end up spending more than a week, then a month, and in some cases, up to a year.

So, in order not to return home with unplanned expenditures on your car’s batteries system(battery problems), here are some strategies you could employ before embarking on a journey.

WHY DO YOU NEED TO PRESERVE THE HV BATTERY?
The simple reason is not doing what you can to care for the high voltage battery, would increase its monthly discharge rate, beyond 1%!

And of this is the case, this means that if the battery is nearing, or is at its last leg of LIFE, and the monthly discharges continues, you’d get home, and meet a dead battery pack.

FOR THE HV BATTERY(Toyota Hybrid system used as an illustration)

08 Camry pack in the rare, already removed

Pack on a worktable, ready for disassemble

1. A day prior to your trip, drive around for some time, to charge up the high voltage battery to at least 6bars(this depends on your vehicles hybrid brand).

Energy monitor on this Prius 2008 showing battery “juice” on one bar.

Battery fully charged, and safe to be stored or garaged.

2. Park the car in a properly ventilated garage, if you have one.
Most people around with car’s these days, inclusive of me, don’t have access to a garage.

So, how do you go about this? You could “garage” it on the street!

But you got to be mindful of thieves when doing so.

If you are in the Florida area of the United States, we’ve heard stories of catalytic converters on the gen2s being stolen.

I bet you this is applicable everywhere.

3. In the absence of garages, your cars can be parked under shady trees.
Please, be careful not to park directly under trees with fruits.
Fallen ripened fruits could shatter windscreens, and shields.

4. If car is parked under tree shades, etc, endeavor to use trampolines as a cover, to protect the car’s body paints from bird droppings(they are pretty hard on paints), and requires a lot of energy cleaning them up.

5. Use black and white tinted wraps, and sunshades on the car. This helps in reducing the direct impact of the sun’s radiations on the front, and rear screens of the car.

Notice the black shade covers on the side glasses

6. Ask a family member, or a friend, to help with warming up the vehicle, for at least 30min, or if you trust the person, have him/her, drive the car down the street for 45min, to recharge the battery pack.

FOR THE 12V BATTERY
1. Disconnect the negative terminal from the negative battery post, and wrap the terminal with an electrician’s tape (black tape).

Doing this helps to prevent accidentally allowing the terminal to come in contact with the battery post.

08 Camry hybrid 12V battery

07 Prius 12V battery being testes with a voltmeter

Displays positive battery terminal on a Prius 12V battery post

2. A battery maintenance charger, capable of delivering slow charge could be used, if the availability of power, isn’t a problem.

The maintenance charger, would throughout the duration of your stay, continue to trickle charge the battery. This way, the battery’s state of charge is maintained.

CONCLUSION
One of the most expensive components on a hybrid vehicle, is it’s high voltage battery pack.
Leaving it unattended to, would quickly cause its degradation.

The rate of degradation the HV battery pack undergoes is increased when it is stored, or left in storage for long, without any protection.

8.0 (+1 )TRANSMISSION SYSTEM FAILURE!?

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Vehicles and other industrial machniery goes through enomours amount of heat generations during their operations.

The heats generated, if not taken care of, have the tendncies of shortening the lifespans of machines, especially, automatic transmission systems, and in some rare caseswe have seen, destroy a whole engine, in an automotive application.

Many auto manufactures, have device various means possible to help reduce this heat, by employing the following strategies(this may vary on vehicle models on your vehicle):

1.1 Water cooled.

This method has being in existence for a long time now. In this procedure, the supply and return pressure hoses(and pipes in some vehicles), are routed directly an aluminum casing(the configurations of the casing varies from cylindrical, to rectangular in shape), embedded beneath or at the sides of a water cooled radiator system.

Water cooled system, without an external trans cooler

During operations, coolants flowing flows across the aluminum casing embedded in the radiator system, in order to cool the transmission fluids, at every heat exchange by the car’s enfine cooling system.

1.1.1  DISADVANTAGES OF SUCH SYSTEM

1. There’s always a risk of wrongly connecting the transmission system tubing to the wrong port, if the various pipes were not marked out initially before disconnection.

2. The risks of transmission system damage is just too high. This does not entails that all such systems are prone to transmission system failures.

Although, this depends on the material compositions of the transmission system cooler casing embedded in the radiator system, and the age, and number of cycles it has undergone.

An old radiator system with such a set up, might require some level of inspections now and then.

3. They are easily affected by overheating, seeing that the transmission’s system heat dissipation capability is dependent on the coolant in the engine’s cooling systems.

A low leveled coolant in the transmission system, would heat up the engine, and subsequently, the transmission system too.

Making sure your car’s engine cooling system is intact, is the sure way to prevent transmission related problems.

4. The risks of transmission system damage abounds, if the transmission system cooler in the radiator system is compromised.

1.1.2 ADVANTAGES?

I know you have being expecting this. People always want to see what’s in it for them.

That’s human nature though.

1. Transmission system gets heat exchanges pretty much more than the aircooled one, because its cooling capability is not dependent on the uncertainty in ambient air temperatures.

1.2 AIR COOLED

Some modern vehicles have incorporated into them, what we called, an external cooler system.

Such coolers are mounted in front of the condenser(that’s front of the engine), with (or) without an electric cooling fan, and the transmission’s system pressure hoses connected to the cooler.

Front view of a 4runner V8 2008. Notice the trans cooler placed at left driver side

Air cooled trans cooler system. Notice the fins are not distorted from their vertical orientation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their cooling efficiencies are dependent on environmental (or ambient) temperatures. For instance, in very hot environments like Florida in the USA, or up North in Nigeria, where temperatures could get up close to 40-50°C, without a fan aiding to cool down the ambient incoming air  temperature, the heat exchange of such a transmission system is reduced. This puts the transmission system in pretty precarious state.

Insufficient fluid exchanges encourages transmission system fluids breakdowns, which in turn, would reduce the potencies of additive ingredients in the transmission system. This I bet you, would be terrible for your transmission system, if that’s the method installed on your vehicle.

1.2.1 DISADVANTAGES?

1. In some applications with an electric cooling fan, mounted over the external cooler in front of the radiator, any failure in the electric cooling fan,would cause transmission system overheating.

2. Expensive, and prone to failure, when using high stream washing pressure to wash them up.

1.2.2 ADVANTAGES?

Yes, there are advantages to this system.

1. They last longer than the water cooled ones, because they are not exposed to frequent heat exchange cycles as their water cooled counterparts.

2. They can withstand a lot of abuses from environmental agents(debris,etc).

3. Labour hours (time) requires for their disassemble, repair(or replace), is low, compared to the water cooled one(you have to have the radiator system removed, and disassembled, before getting access to the cooler).

1.3  HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT SYSTEM YOUR VEHICLE HAS?

1. Air cooled? Look at the front of your car’s condenser. Do you see something resembling a small radiator, or a condenser? In some applications, there’d be an electric cooling fan attached to the cooler.

2. Water cooled? Yeah, almost the same, but you for to look out for pressure hoses going through the lower or side radiator system casings to identify it.

Asian vehicles are known for using the lower radiator system covers(the plastic under the radiator), for the hose routings, while their American counterparts, sometimes utilized the side radiator arrangement.

1.4 HOW DO YOU KNOW THE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM IS AT RISK OF DAMAGE?

1. Your car’s engine cooling system goes down. I mean, the level of coolant, always goes down, each time you top it up.

Removing and inspecting the transmission system dipstick gauge, would display a milky colouration, showing that’s where the coolant has being holidaying.

This would damage the transmission system, if proper care is not taken to fix the problem.

It would behoove you guys, that a lot of car owners have lost transmission systems, just because of this problem.

It mostly prevalent with the water cooled cooler system.

2. Milky colouration of the transmission fluids, when checked.

Coolants in the transmission system, would portend lots of problems, and eventual seizure of the system.

Identifying this problem in the initial stages of the coolants transmission fluid mixing, would help avert a major transmission system replacement, or job.

3. In some vehicles, when the transmission system fluids temperature exceeds a certain threshold, the “A/T TEMP” indicator is lit on the dashboard.

Seeing such lights lit on the dash, indicates a problem with the transmission system(its basically telling you, “can you please check me? I’m running on steroids”. Driving with such an indicator on, would cause damage to the transmission system.

1.5 HOW TO PREVENT THAT TRANSMISSION SYSTEM FROM FAILURE

1. Ensure coolants are in the radiator cooling system. Make sure its gauged, because, some transmission system share engine coolant for their heat exchanges.

2. Remove all debris, leaves, or polythene, stuck to the external cooler fins(I mean those tiny holes on the cooler).

This would prevent proper air flows.

3. Do not directly point a high pressure steam washing nozzle directly on the fins, when washing the engine bay.

Regulate the exit pressure of the spray nozzle, to some few PSI, or stay some distance, before steam washing a radiator/transmission cooler. That would prevent the fins from distorting out the orientations.

4. Always ensure that the transmission system cooler engine protectors are in place.

If you own an RX 330 vehicle, would notice the car’s external transmission cooler, is located by the driver side front fender area.

Check to see if it’s covered with mud.

Wash with soap, and a steady stream of water using a garden hose, until the coooker is free of muds.

RX330 transmission cooler exposed, without a fender covering. Can cause transmission temperature rises.

Example how a fender covering looks like on a different vehicle

 

 

1.6 CONCLUSIONS

Transmission systems don’t just go bad. There are a lot of underlying symptoms, that may have not being taken cognisance of, during their early manifestations.

Being able to know what kind of transmission system your vehicle has, and how to spot the early signs of a potential problem, would go a long way in averting an expensive repair, or replacement.

Always flush through all transmission system coolers, in the event of a transmission system replacement, as a result of mechanical failures, or contaminations.

Not performing this, would void any warranty, you may have on a replacement transmission system.

Use only appropriate fluids to flush the transmission system hydraulic lines, in such an eventuality.

 

7.0 IMPORTING/BUYING NON RUNNING VEHICLES; A HUGE GAMBLE.

 

Nigerians(or some), and lots of citizens of the so-called developing countries, consider having a car a huge privileged, and a kind of status enhancements in the society. Please don’t get me wrong here.

I sure understand lots of people, and businesses, do require vehicles, as a daily commute to work, and businesses, etc.

But this position, has kept potential car owners doing everything possible, to possess, any type of vehicle, no matter its conditions, safety wise, etc, to go all out importing USED, NON RUNNING vehicles into their various countries.

 

So when we say a NON RUNNING vehicle, what do we actually mean?

Here’s what I would have to say about it. 

Non running vehicle, according to me, “are vehicles that are not in service (or operations) any longer, due to a major fault, which could be mechanical, electrical, or other problems, which the owner, or an entity disposes off, or totalled, because probably the costs of bringing it back to service, outweighs the current value of the vehicle “.

 

People bring such kinds of vehicles in to their countries, because they, 

1. Assumed that it could be repaired, and sold for a huge profit margin.

That’s pretty much what’s happening almost at every  car dealership stands(some dealers I would say pardon my generalisations).

2. They see it that such vehicles, are cheaper, and can be cleared, and repaired for cheap. If tose are your assumptions, you’re really mistaken.

 

Characteristics of non running vehicles

1. They have a NON RUNNING sticker(tag) on them, displaying their  present state.

2. They are a big financial drain on ones pockets, when considering the cost of fixing them.

Though potential buyers don’t mind the financial drains that comes with such an ” adventure “.

3. They tend to occupy most dealership stands. At least, I have seen lots of them. If you are in Lagos, Nigeria, visit car stands close to the ports, you’d see for yourself the time and money people spend refurbishing them.

4. They show signs they have being left parked for a long time in the open, or garaged. God help you, if they are hybrid electric vehicles.

If they are hybrid and electric vehicles, you sure would have to budget for replacement high voltage battery pack, or some other high voltage battery systems, if you aren’t lucky with your buy!

5. They have mileages that depicts end of lifespan of the vehicle.

Well, don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying all of such vehicles are high mileaged.

Some of such vehicles, at least the ones I have come across, have low mileages on their instrument clusters.

One of the reasons such vehicles are discarded as  non running, probably might have  major mechanical failures, that would require expensive replacement parts, and labour cost, at a dealership.

 

Expected problems

1. You get to spend almost close to the costs of the value of the car. This in my opinion, doesn’t make any business sense either!

In some instances, we had to replace complete engines, etc, because such vehicles were not running, and there were no ways to know which components were working, or not .

2. If you’re a dealer, and hoping to get such vehicles sold, beware that, at least on some platforms, potential buyers are now abreast with companies running VIN checks on vehicles world over.

And if you’re into the business of refurbishing such vehicles for sale, why not disclose the full details of such vehicles to your clustomers before it gets messy?

3. If it’s a hybrid electric vehicle, be ready for potential HV battery pack system related problems.

We had to replace an entire battery pack, and do a complete paint job on one of such vehicles some months back.

 

4. Vehicles might break down, or develop unexpected problems in the future. in some cases because of component wears(transmission system and engine failures) that were not disclosed by the owner prior to importation.

5. Issues of mileage rollbacks abound a lot.

I have seen vehicles, most especially, with mileages  close to the 400,000mile mark, that were later on sold to unsuspecting customers, as low mileage.

Most vehicles on our roads today, are not displaying their actual odometer readings.

Below are case studies of our encounter with such vehicles. They are fun working on though. Please, don’t get me wrong.

You gain lots of experiences and all that.

 

¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶  { 1}¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶

Vehicle type: Jeep Liberty; 4×4

Model year: 2009

Engine configuration: V6

History:

Vehicle towed to the shop, with a crack in one of the cylinder walls; and a severe detonation damage on the passenger side(bank 2) cylinder head.

Cause of actions taken:

Engine had already being dismantled at a previous autoshop, and was towed to our shop.

Initially, thought the cylinder bore crack, and the cylinder head, could be fixed by a machinist.

Discovered, wasn’t worth it, and had to get a complete engine replacement done.

That costs hundreds of thousands of naira(or dollars) on parts, labour, ans manhours expended.

 

Rear view if the vehicle

Front view of vehicle

Disassembled engine, in the rear. This vehicle was towed to our shop, as is(this state) before fixing it

The engine being hoisted into the engine bay, using a hoisting chain

 

 

¶¶¶¶¶¶¶2¶¶¶¶

Vehicle type: Toyota Camry hybrids

Model year: 2007 & 2010

Histories:

1. 2007 had a knocking sound from the Port (Apapa), when it was first attended to.

Timing chain, chain guides, and balance shafts were replaced by mechanics at the Port. The parts replaced did not solve the problem.

Customer brought car to the shop, and had it fixed.

Of course, lots of money was spent.

2. 2010 had issues with the HV battery pack. Can never started, when it was brought in by the customer.

Instead of purchasing a brand new battery from Toyota, or a used one, reconditioning the battery pack, helped a whole lot in resuscitating the vehicle.

Just imagine, what would have happened, if the battery pack, has to be replaced If the reconditioning option was not OK!

Signs of a leaky water oump

Balanced shaft on dispay

An intake camshaft being inspected for uneven wear on lopes, and clogs in oil passage ways

High voltage battery pack ready to be installed on the Camry

A flooded high voltage relay assembly, inspecting the glass like fuses. Note this is for a highlander hybrid 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In concluding, buying non running vehicles, are cheap, but its also a huge gamble you’re making. You might be lucky, to make much profit from their sale. But in some situations, you might not be lucky.

I’m bold to say that people who patronized such vehicles, actually know what they are getting into, in the first place. But some, really don’t know. They are talked into buying such vehicles, because they are “cheap”!

If you would enjoy reading this article, please drop us a comment, on the comments bar. We’d like to know what you think.

6.0 HYBRID VEHICLES JUST HATE THIS!

INTRODUCTION

Yeah,I mean,they just hate being in flooded neighborhood, and getting submerged, for a long!!! Time.

One of the worse enemies of electronic and electrical components, are flooded waters.

They easily find their way into the cavities of electrical harnesses, and on ICB (integrated circuit boards) of electronic components.

The Havocs potentially caused by these intrusions, can be curtailed, if they are quickly identified, and isolated, from the source of flood.

If you’ve been abreast with the happenings some times last year, about horicane Irma, and the floods  that happened in Lagos, Nigeria, you’d released that that year, had being a nightmare to a lot of people, especially car owners.

Some owners had to totaled their cars, while others, had to spend so much on repairs.

In this article, I’d be presenting a case study of a hybrid highlander that got its battery pack flooded, and how it deteriorated in no short time,leading to expensive repairs/replacements.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Vehicle was parked down the street, andgot flooded, so much more that the floor carpets in the car, had to be dried in the sun, and the interiors  treated of potential molds infestations.

Highlander hybrid 2006 submerged to the hybrid pack level. Thus puts the battery pack and electronics at greater risks

EXTENT OF DAMAGES

1. HV battery pack modules were discharged beyond acceptable open voltages

Situations like these, puts the battery at risks of reversed polarization.

Middle stalk of the module pack with floor pan flooded.

Notice the brownish discoloration on the floor pan of the pack. This gives credence of how rapidly corrosion has occurred

2. Battery smart unit (or battery ECU), HV cabling, and HV relay assembly (contactors) were all shorted out.

On display was the HV relay assembly. Electric arching destroyed the HV circuitry in the HV relays, and networks,as a result of water interference

Burnt out battery ECU pin outs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Rear electric DC brake motors were corroded.

The extent of damages assessed on 1) and 2) above, would have being minimised, if the durations of submergence in the flood waters, wasn’t more than 24hours.

This is what actually happens, when for instance, a mobile phone  mistakenly dropped in a puddle of water, would never be successfully restored back to it’s functional state. This, basically is due to the long time the mobile device, had remained submerged. However, if same phone was immediately removed from the flooded waters, the likelihood of the phones restoration is about 90%.

RESUSCITATION OPTIONS

Bringing the vehicle back to service, we proposed two options:

¶1. replace the entire pack, with a new one from Toyota, or get a used one from a credible retail outlet.

New Toyota packs, are I’m the thousands of dollars, enough to get you a new corolla car, straight front the factory.

Such battery pack would last the customer, for the next 10years.

A used pack from a credible source is another cheaper option to go, if funds are a problem.

Such packs, costs some hundred of dollars.

¶2. Recondition the existing pack, while replacing all the affected damaged parts, with replacements from a used pack we bought.

This option, is quite cheap, but takes huge time, and patience.

THE FIX!?

Making the vehicle serviceable, we employed the second option (reconditioning the pack, and also replacing affected parts).

∆bringing the pack back to life, took us about 3weeks.

Just charging them up, without following the reconditioning protocols would not bringing up the capacities of the modules.

Always endeavor to follow these protocols.

Load testing a Camry pack. Illustrative purposes only

Assessing pack floor pan

Battery pack removal stages

∆all HV cabling, battery ECU, HV relay assembly (contactor’s), were replaced with used units.

∆battery floor pan was treated for corrosion using lubricating fluids, and a soft brush.

Do not use iron brushes. That would increase the rate of corrosion affecting surfaces.

You could choose to use paints to stall the rate of corrosion ongoing on the pan, or replace it, if you’re that buoyant enough.

∆cleaned up all the debris, and grits that got stuck on the rear discs, and electric motors.

∆it was now time for a test drive. Had to drive the car, and realised that the electric mode on the car, do not stay that longer before switching to ICE(internal combustion engine).

Be sure there are no HV indicator lights on the instrument cluster.

This made me realised that the capacity of the pack, had deteriorates, and that would need a complete battery pack.

∆long story short, got a complete pack for some bucks, and got it replaced.

 

Car drives perfectly fine now, and stays much longer on electric mode.

CONCLUSION

Hybrid electric vehicles, are sweet stuffs to own. But its worse enemy is water(floods,etc).

Getting them submerged in floods, isn’t the end of their service.

An end to their serviceability, depends on the levels of floods on the vehicle, and the duration the HV system has being exposed to such exposures.

Fixing such problems, isn’t a “heaven comes down” situation.

If the various components were not allowed to stay more than 24hours,they would have being reused.

 

Disclaimer: If you are not conversant with HV systems, please do not get close to these things.

They sure can cause huge shocks, and could kill you from electrocution.

I would not be responsible for anything that happens afterwards from your misuse of information therein.

 

4.0 IS IT WORTHWHILE INVESTING IN A HYBRID OR ELECTRIC VEHICLE THAT HAS BEING IN STORAGE FOR MONTHS, OR YEARS? 

 

Before giving an answer to this question, a lot of factors have to come into play here.

You have to ask yourself some of the following questions, and only you, can answer them.

  1. What’s the mileage on the car? This would give a glimpse of how old, how it has being used, and if it is worth investing on the car.

 

  1. Location of the vehicle. Where is the car parked, or located. A car parked in a faraway location, tend to discourage customers from patronizing. Get the car stationed at a close a place to the target market or customers.

Cars that have being used in a hilly location, would definitely tell on the car’s hybrid battery.

 

  1. Hybrid battery condition. Traction batteries have different chemistries, than their auxiliary 12volt counterparts. They tend to discharge overtime, even when used, or in storage.

Camry pack

A stored battery like this, would have being exposed to a lot of environmental conditions and temperature variations, that impacts on the battery pack’s chemistry, based on Arrhenius equation(Rate of reaction increases with temperature).

 

  1. Auxiliary battery condition. Is the battery of the car even ok? A battery that has sat for more than even six months without charging, or any form of activity, would degrade in capacity.

Such batteries could show signs of good condition, but when eventually (in terms of voltage) loaded, might fail.

12volt battery

 

 

 

 

  1. How the interior of the car does looks like? Is the cabin clean, and all that?

Take a detailed look at the seats, floor mats, and even the dashboard. Any signs that you would need to carry out some repairs?

 

  1. Cars that have being left unattended for years, tend to grow molds, and all kinds of bacteria.

If you are investing in such a car, be rest assured that you would have to spend some money in fumigation of the cabin system.

 

  1. How are the conditions of the fluids in the various systems? In the transmission system, AC system, radiator and inverter coolants, and engine oil, etc?

eCVT fluid change

Checking brake fluid integrity

 

For a car that has sat for that long, it would be wise, to replace all fluids, asides the transmission fluid, if the mileage is not in the hundreds of thousands more.

 

Fluids degrade with time, from storage, or non-activity.

The same goes for petrol.

And unused petrol has the tendency to cause hard starting problems for any car.

 

  1. How is the wiring harnesses looking like? Any signs they have being eaten by rodents?

wiring harness damaged by rodents

 

NEXT STEP?

Get quotes for the following hybrid component parts, just in case, they have failed, or are likely to failed in the future.

? ABS brake actuator/motor?

?High voltage battery pack?

  1. Try starting the car, and see if it does start.
  2. Hybrid battery pack. A new Toyota OEM hybrid battery pack, cost around 2000 dollars, while non OEM new batteries that have being manufactured by aftermarket companies, are in the $1000 range.

Such batteries, would not only last beyond the warranty period, but they would give you peace of mind.

Another option would be to secure a refurbished hybrid battery pack, and just replace it. The downside of this is that such companies warranty, are sometimes not followed.

The last and cheapest option would be to have the modules in any of the batteries rebuilt by replacing any bad one, with a known good one from eBay, etc.

  1. Auxiliary batteries are not that much expensive.
  2. Replace all the fluids in the car
  3. Compute the potential cost of the car, and use as a bargaining chip.
  4. Get a competent mechanic that understands hybrid vehicles to help with future repairs and maintenance.

 

3.0 NAVIGATING SAFELY THROUGH FLOOD WATER(S) IN THIS RAINING SEASON!?

 

INTRODUCTION

Just imagine what it looks like, when as a busy person, you are set off for work, and there has being slight showers, cumulating in to a flood; or, while in traffic, you’re stuck because of flood waters somewhere. You look to the left and right, and exclaimed: Ewo; Elo’runmio! There is water everywhere, up to the level of your car’s engine bay, and probably the cabin area (I mean, behind the steering wheel).

Apologies, if you do not understand the dialects written in this text.

So what would you do?

What logically would to mind would be, “how do I get myself safely out of here, and how to fix (repair) the havoc already caused by the flood waters, afterwards.

Last year, was a terrible one for residents of Lagos State. Some parts of the State, was inundated by unprecedented levels of flood waters, which wreaked havoc to lives and property.

Such levels of destruction was visibly noticed in some parts of Lagos island, where whole apartments were submerged, and car owners had to abandon their cars, and ‘’swim’’ for safety!

Well, don’t ask me where they swam to, or how they did it.

All these events happened just last year 2017.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in the USA same year, thousands of people were displaced, and properties worth millions of dollars destroyed across some states in the US.

These states were inundated by flood waters, above 60cm depth, caused by IRMA and HARVER battering Florida, and Texas, which has left a trail of destruction, never imagined before, since the Katharina incidence.

Currently as write, it has being raining all day in some parts of Nigeria, especially Lagos, where I currently live.

So, like the topic suggests, how do you navigate safely through these floods, without accumulating so much maintenance cost on your car?

It’s quite easy.

Follow me as we discuss various ways to accomplish these tasks.

 

PHASE ONE:  PLAN YOUR TRIP(S)

If you are in a place like Lagos, Nigeria, it’s always amazing how traffic gridlocks forms, immediately there has being slight showers. This, sometimes, can be attributed to inadequate network of drainage structures, which has being responsible for most of the major/minor floods on the highways.

  • Listen to or watch weather reports. Such information would at least give you a clue where and when to expect thunderstorms, etc.

Check out the websites of relevant agencies (NEMA, NIMAT) in Nigeria, etc, for more information.

Pictorial depicts various weather conditions

Traffic radio, and sometimes, GIDITRAFFIC are other sources of information for your perusal.

  • Information above could help you look for alternative routes to your destination.
  • Do inform family members and friends of your trips before leaving, just in case you would need some help.
  • Have a fully charged mobile phone battery, or get some extra batteries. They would come handy, when you are in ‘’danger’’, especially when you have a broken down vehicle, or your car is almost being flooded with a 60cm depth or more of flood water.

Such depth of flood waters is enough to capsize a vehicle.

  • Have some food(depends on what you termed it to be) with you, just in case you are surprisingly caught up in a heavy gridlock as a result of a flood, so severe that you cannot drive to an eatery for some snacks, if you will.

 

 PHASE TWO: APPROACHING A FLOODED TERRAIN

  • Estimate tire depths of vehicles inundated in the flood ahead of you. That would enable you figure out if it’s safe to drive behind such vehicles, or not.
  • Drive gently and slowly, behind vehicles ahead of you, through the flood.

    Vehicles driving through flooded highway

Do not speed through it. This would only aggravate potential flood related problems on the car (electrical short-circuitry problems, water finding its way in to the engine compartment).

  • If either the points above cannot be followed for some other reasons, its best to reroute your destination, or postponed the driving until when you deemed it save.

 

PHASE THREE:  WHAT TO DO IN THE MIDST OF FLOODED WATERS

What you do while in a flood, depends on the depth of the flood, your resilience, and height of your car.

NB: At this stage, your fully charged phone comes in to play.

  • If the waters reaches about 60cm your wheels, that is enough to cause some brake problems (reduced traction force, and contaminated hydraulic systems).

    Wheel base of truck submerged

  • If you possibly can, immediately get out of the car, if you are in danger. Your priority is first and foremost to get out of that car ALIVE, and not DEAD.

Car owners desperately awaiting rescue services to arrive

Your car could be rescued later.

  • In a functional state, you could easily give a call to a rescue team, such as AA.
  • Do not attempt to start/crank the engine; if for instance, the engine suddenly dies out on its own.

Cranking an already submerged engine, would lead to severe engine damage (pistons, and some valve train components could be broken).

Some vehicles with their wheel bases almost submerged

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHASE FOUR: TO-DO-LIST AFTER A FLOOD

  • If the car was towed or driven to your residence, have it properly detailed and dried out.
  • If the engine was submerged, depending on the extent of damage,

Check out the following components:

  • Air filter for wetness, replace if need be.
  • Fluid level. All fluids should be checked for contamination. If there are slight increases in fluid levels, or milky discolorations, this suggests a fluid contamination problem that needs urgent attention.

Water and petroleum based fluids do not mix, and have a terrific on fluid viscosity.

  • Check for hydro locked engine problems, by turning the engine a complete revolution to determine this. If it cannot be turned freely, critical engine components may have given way.
  • Disconnect all engine management sensors/actuators, and inspect for water intrusions.

Clean them up with paper towels, and spray some electronic spray to prevent future corrosion problems.  You can get that from your electronic store.

 

  • Check the brake systems for potential malfunctions. Depending on flood water’s depth, brake system components, such as calipers, brake discs, drums, brake lines, and wheel cylinders are prone to corrosion.

    Brake shoe(lining) checks

In some cases, the hydraulic brake fluids, could get contaminated, when water find its way in to them, leading to brake master, calipers, and wheel cylinder seals, which could lead to risk of an accident.

 

Replaced front brake pads

WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO YOUR CAR AFTER A FLOOD

  • Engine damage. Although on rare occasions, critical engine parts could get damaged, leading to engine rebuilds, and/or outright engine replacement, which are quiet expensive.
  • Safety related components are severely compromised. The presence of rust, as a result of flood water intrusions on ABS/SRS, and hydraulic brake systems can severely hamper component operations, and put a driver at risk.
  • Damage to body paints. A car with flood water intrusions would reduce the durability of body paints by developing into weak spots.
  • Electrical/electronic components systems could fail in the short or long term. Some of these failures, includes, component failure; short, or open circuitry problems, as a result of corrosion, etc.

    Shorted electrical wiring harness at a car’s fender

  • Totaled by insurers. Severely flooded vehicles are rejected by insurers, because of the potential cost implications of future repairs.
  • Ridiculous resale value. A flooded car, would sure not get the intended resale value, since no one would want to purchase a car that has being reportedly flooded.

 

The key to safely navigating through floods this raining season remains to plan your trip in advance, and use common sense whilst approaching or in a flood.

Most vehicles imported into the country today, are flooded with no salvaged titles on them. It’s either they were removed abroad, or in the destination country by shrewd dealers.

 

 

 

PS: Please leave your comments in the comments bar, and tell us how you feel about this topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L

2.0 ALL YOU NEED KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAR’S STARTER BATTERY

 

 

INTRODUCTION

With the world’s population gradually increasing exponentially every second, the demand for alternative mobile energy storage sources (devices), especially batteries, to power consumer electronics such as laptops, mobile phones, and even electric vehicles(to power up accessories) has almost quadrupled over the past ten years.

This poses a great challenge to battery manufacturers’, seeing that to develop different battery chemistries that would suit different applications (high energy densities), and of course, and a cheaper cost.

Imagine a world, where all applications in need of one form of mobile energy source lacks an energy bank (battery). It would be a boring and frustrating experience. Businesses and social lives of individuals would be severely impacted negatively.

 

WHAT ARE STARTER BATTERIES THEN

In this article, we would be laying more emphasizes on STARTER BATTERIES.

Batteries are storage devices that consist of one or two cells in which the chemical reactions between them, creates flowing charges or electrons that powers a load in a circuit.  The load in this case, could be a light bulb, mobile phone, or an electric motor.

Starter batteries are batteries used in applications that require an external energy source to power them. Such applications include generators, and vehicles.

A starter 12 V battery

WHY DO STARTER BATTERIES FAIL IN THE SHORT TERM

People get surprised, when for instance; a newly purchased battery fails within a short period of time. They tend to blame such failures mainly on fake batteries. This is not far-fetched though, but there are other causes as explained below:

  1. Substandard or fake batteries. Most batteries being branded as original or genuine ones are not what they appear to be in the inside. Some batteries, from manufacturers in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries, do not have the acclaimed capacities the manufactures’ stamp (sticker) on batteries show.

 

Some of these batteries also have substandard electrodes (the positive and negative poles on batteries), and electrolytes (the liquids resident within the battery, that acts as a medium for the movement of charge).

 

What you can do:

  • Read up the battery’s date code. It reveals vital information about the battery, such as date of manufacture.

In some situations, such information is not stamped on the battery casing on some batteries.

  • Take a look at the finishing. We have millions of batteries in the market, with terrible finishing, compared to known brands. Some have got their stickers removed, and superimposed with a known brand’s stamp, in order to defraud the public.

 

  1. Undercharged batteries. Batteries that are not fully charged are prone to failure. In this case, they become ‘flat’, meaning they cannot deploy the energy needed to power any application (or even start your car).

Voltages in this scenario are usually, below 13.5volts.

Undercharged batteries develop what is called sulphation (the growth of solid deposits) on the electrodes of the batteries. These growths, clogs the surfaces of the electrodes, reducing the surface areas of exposures of the electrodes to the liquids (electrolytes). The buildup of these solids, acts as a high resistance on the electrodes preventing the battery from delivering needed capacity.

 

What you can do:

  • Check for faulty contacts. Corroded contacts would lead to high resistance on the contacts, and a subsequent lack of charging.

Ensure all the terminal posts are properly torqued right.

  • Alternator voltage regulator. Some alternator’s voltage regulators can be replaced, instead of buying another alternator assembly, while others, requires getting a complete alternating system.
  • Check for slack alternator belts, as found in some applications with separate belts for their charging system. In other applications, where serpentine belts are used, ensure that belt teeth are not worn or missing.

 

THE FIX: Ensure your car’s charging system is perfectly in good order.

Charging system indicator lit ON; shows faulty charging system. That would kill your battery

New serpentine belt with no cracks

Cracks on serpentine belt ribbons

 

Missing belt teeth would only cause further problems, like belt noise (squeaking)

  1. Overcharged batteries. One of the main enemies of batteries, no matter their chemistry, is overcharging.

A battery is overcharged, when a charging system, supplies more current than the necessary C-rate(or than the battery capacity can bear).

Charging a battery with a more than necessary its C-rate, would cause the active materials in the battery to ‘boil’. When the electrolytes (liquids) are charged to such a ‘boil’ point, the internal temperatures of the electrolytes increases, thereby resulting in increased pressure. Situations like these, are always dangerous, in the sense that they pose a safety hazard (an explosion could occur), and a fire could be started.

 

So in this case, an overcharged situation, would depict if the battery is being charged beyond its fully charged voltage, greater than 14.5 volts.

What you can do:

  • Check the voltage regulator of the alternator, or replace the alternator, if that is where the problem is coming from.
  • The voltage switch off an external charger should also be checked. Do ensure battery chargers have mild charging currents.
  • Ensure that there are no engine oil spills on the alternator or close to it. That would cause erratic behaviors of electronic and electrical components, explosions, and the loss of electrolytes (the liquid).

 

  1. Improperly fitted battery in tray. Some people have mistakenly replaced starter batteries severally, just because of the failure caused by improperly fitting it in the tray.

Such batteries fail because of the inherent vibrational impacts the electrodes had to undergo.

 

  1. Ambient temperatures. Batteries imported into this country are meant for winterized climates in some cases, and not meant for tropical climates as seen in the Middle East, and Africa.

Severe cold limits a battery’s charging ability. In order to charge batteries in this state, the charging system, most especially the alternator has to do much work to overcome the internal forces inherent in the active materials.

 

When temperature is greater than the temperature of the active materials, the electrolytes tend to leak out through their terminal posts.

A battery exposed to excessive temperatures would degrade faster, and shorten the lifespan of active materials.

 

  1. Dirty or worn out or broken battery cables and connections. Cable connections that are poorly tightened cause terminals heating up and can cause an explosion, as a result of sparks voltage spikes.

Corroded clamps also results in high resistance, and power loses.

 

  1. Excessive discharges. Accessories in cars, such as radios, headlights, doors, etc., acts as battery drains, especially on city traffics were the engine continuously idles, in such situations, it might be difficult for the battery to start the engine later.

 

  1. Parasitic current draw. This happens when there is an unexpected current draw on the battery system, as a result of a known or an unknown short circuit problems in the electronics or electrical system in a vehicle.

Corroded wire harness shorted to ground. Responsib3le for parasitic draws

  1. External short-circuit. Bridging of external terminals of battery by any conducting material, creates a pathway for voltage spikes that can cause wire insulation damage.

 

  1. Hitting on terminal heads with wrong tools. This damages terminals and cause escape of electrolytes.

Always use the right tools for tightening battery posts

HOW TO SIMPLY TEST A STARER BATTERY

  1. Without any tools. You can use this method, by observing the car’s dashboard and headlamp lights, immediately you attempt to start the car. If the dashboard lights are dimmed as you attempt to crank the engine, that shows the battery is heading south, and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
  2. Using voltmeter. Digital voltmeters are simple tools that come in handy, when carrying out voltage tests; they are not so much expensive. You could get one on eBay, for less than $100.

 

Here is how:

  • Connect both positive and negative probes of the digital meter to both the corresponding terminal battery posts, and put on the meter and set it to read DC voltage (set range to 20 volt).
  • If the reading is less than 12 volts, it’s time to replace the battery.

    Battery testing using voltmeter(without load)

Note this is with or without any load on the battery yet!

  1. With the meter still in place, put on the ignition or start the car. The reading should jump quickly to about 13.45+ volts, indicating the alternator is charging perfectly.
  2. A dead battery would after a while of charging, quickly discharge. This does not take time to notice.
  3. Using a load tester. Employing this method gives a more reliable result. Here, a more known load in the form of a resistor is used as the cable connections of the tester are fitted to a battery post. This load is applied for some few seconds, and the voltage readings displayed on the digital screen are compared against a set standard.

    Battery loader tester connected to battery posts

    A battery load tester setup

  4. Specific density test. This method requires the use of hydrometers to test the specific density of electrolytes, and also comparing them to a known set standard.

They give accurate results, when used on wet celled batteries.

          

MAXIMIZING BATTERY CAPACITY

  • Don’t over charge or undercharged
  • Store in a moderate environment, not more than 40degrees
  • Always ensure contacts are firmly tightened, and free of corrosion
  • Batteries should be fitted properly in their trays, and secured with brackets
  • Use an over rated battery capacity for your application, than smaller ones. Do not use small batteries for bigger applications. That would result in the premature death of the batteries.

 

WHY DO BATTERIES DRAIN AFTER AWHILE

  • Leaving doors open or radio on
  • Expired battery, that cannot hold a charge
  • Short circuits in fuse or relay and starter systems

 

SIGNS OF A FAILING OR BAD BATTERY

  • Car takes longer to start. It appears as though the engine has got less power from the battery to crank it
  • Battery indicator turns static red from green.
  • If a wet cell, electrolytes not gauged
  • Swollen AND a foul smell from the battery
  • Fluctuating voltage readings
  • Vehicle may suddenly stop in some cases, or not even start

 

CONCLUSIONS

Batteries, typically, do not fail. They are like normal tear and wear items. They degrade with time, from prolonged usage, exposures to extreme ambient temperatures, and improper maintenance.

One of the many ways prolonging battery life is to follow simple maintenance battery tips, and the use only rated batteries for the stated applications, amongst other things.

 

 

 

 

1.0 FLUID SPECIFICATIONS FOR HYBRID/ELECTRIC CARS

 

INTRODUCTION

HYBRID/ELECTRIC vehicle fluids(transmission, engine oils, etc)just like any other fluids used in automotive applications, degrade with time.

The rate of degradation of manufacturer specific additives in these fluids, depends on usage, and probably their shelve life, and also other factors not mentioned here.

Vehicles, whether hybrid or not, have their specific transmission fluids to be used; depending on the type of transmission system design.

In order to adhere to a stricter emissions and fuel economy specifications, major auto manufacturers have incorporated eCVT transmission systems in most hybrid vehicle trans axles, while opting for a more conventional CVT, or standard automatic transmissions on none hybrid vehicles.

 

WHEN TO REPLACE THE TRANSMISSION FLUID

Fluid replacement can be done following an established maintenance scheduled recommended by the manufacturer.

In some cases, you don’t follow the manufacturer’s schedules, depending on environment in which the vehicle operates.

This would normally depend on the number of distance covered, or a calendar based system of replacement.

  1. When the fluid is due for replacement, following an established laid down maintenance schedules, date or calendar based, whichever one comes first is the key.
  2. If the color of the fluid is black in color. In some conventional transmission systems, because of the available moving components in the transmission systems (gears, etc), the fluids tend to wear with time, causing transmission issues if not replaced.

There are instances where this does not follow. It absolutely does not mean the fluid must be black. There could already be availability of debris and other contaminants in the transmission system.

  1. When it smells burnt. In some severe situations, a lack of fluid replacement, leads to the additives in the fluids deteriorating with time. This leads to the formation of sludge as a result of oxidation.

 

H0W T0 REPLACE THE FLIUDS

Different vehicle brands recommend specific ways of transmission fluid replacement.

Toyota, and others recommend only a drain and refill procedure on their transmission systems; especially their TSD (Toyota synergy drive systems), found in their hybrid vehicle lineup. While in some conventional vehicles, the fluids are replaced with new filters.

 

FLUID REPLACEMENT FOR HYBRID VEHICLES, ESPECIALLY TOYOTA

  • Level the car straight up, to avoid incorrect readings
  • Allow engine to cool down
  • Choke the wheels and place front and rear ends on jack stands to ensure safety
  • loosen the drain bolt and refill bolt(22mm size in diameter)
  • Refill using a transparent hose to connect to the refill port(depends on models and cars)
  • Refill bolt washers, and tighten to specified torque
  • Start the engine (Ready it), and allow to warm up.
  • Shift through allow the gears (P:D:R)

A floor jack positioned close the transmission system

Drain bolt position

WS Toyota recommended transmission fluid for Camry Hybrid

NB: Refill fluids until there is fluid flowing out of the refill port.

This replacement procedure is not only limited to Toyota brands, but applies to other vehicles with sealed transmission system. What is worth knowing here is the size of both the drain and refill bolts. In some applications, the bolts are usually Allen wrenches.

Table below shows transmission fluids replacement type and intervals for some major hybrid brands.

 

SOURCING FOR TRANSMISSION FLUIDS

Transmission fluids can be sourced from different sources, depending on credibility and cost of such purchases.

They can be sourced on online platforms like, eBay, credible dealerships, and from a vehicle’s manufacturer.

 

TRANSMISSION FLUID IMPORTANCE

Transmission fluids just like any other automotive fluids, acts basically as a coolant, cooling internal critical parts, and also reducing the rate of wear and tear experienced by such parts. These, keeps them lasting much longer.

 

DANGERS OF WRONG TRANSMISSION FLUID USAGE

Using the wrong transmission fluids, could cause transmission shift issues, leading to expensive repairs in terms of complete transmission system replacement.

Using the right specification of fluids, would save you more cash, and speedy death of the transmission system.

 

HYBRID VEHICLES

The charts below represents three automotive brands: Toyota (Prius, Camry, Highlander; Ford (Fusion); Nissan Leaf; and GM’s Volt).

TABLE 1:SPECIFICATIONS OF FLUIDS FOR REPLACEMENT

Manufacturer

Vehicle

Recommended

Intervals

Engine

Oil recommendations

     Capacity Fluid type
Engine oil eCVT
Toyota highlander/RX400h 5000 miles/6months 5W20(API SL or ILSAC GF4 )Premium oil 4.7L w/f 3.5 TWS
Prius ‘’ Same as above 3.3 w/f 3.5 TWS
Camry ‘’ ‘’ 4.0 3.5 TWS
Honda civic 3750miles/6months 0W20 Premium oil(5W20) may be substituted 3.4L w/f 3.0 HCVT
Ford fusion 2.3L (US) 5000miles (Canada 3000) or 6months 5W20 synthetic blend or 5W20 premium oil 4.5l w/f ̰̰7.0 MV

*Electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT)

*W/f: with filter

*TWS: Toyota World Standard fluid

*MV: Mercon V

For 5 speed use 6.73 liters; 6 speed use 7.03 liters (approximate dry fill

*Recommended intervals applies only to engine oil change

Honda interval is 30, 000miles

Ford fusion is 60,000 miles

Harsher/Severe conditions means repeatedly short trips stop and go traffic in hot weather; and low speed driving for long distances. Also includes dusty, muddy, rough or salty driving conditions, or using a car top carrier.

 

CONCLUSION

A vehicle’s transmission systems can outlive the vehicle, if properly maintained, or taken care of.

The use of wrong transmission fluids and abuse are the major cause of some shift problems, and expensive repairs/replacements car owners suffer most.

Do not wait until the fluid gets darkened before replacing it.

PS: If you own a used imported vehicle, that has never had its transmission fluid replaced, or its more than 60,000 miles, now is the right time to do so.