Engine

Don’t go dry this January

After the indulgent festive period a lot of us take on Dry January. Dry January is a public health campaign that urges people not to drink alcohol for the whole month; which is not only great for our health but also sees a staggering amount of money raised for charity.

However, while taking on Dry January is great for us humans, letting the fluids go dry in your car could have the opposite effect. Here are just some of the reasons why you should avoid letting your car go dry at this (or any other) time of the year.

Engine Oil – The purpose for engine oil is to reduce friction and wear of the moving parts, it also cleans the engine from sludge and varnish.  If your engine oil becomes low you will be notified by a low level warning alert on your dashboard followed by oil pressure warning. If ignored, the vehicle will breakdown and this can cause severe lasting engine damage, typically to the bottom end of engine.

Coolant – Coolants main function is to prevent water from freezing. If the water was to freeze in the system it can cause the engine to overheat. If you do start to become low you will firstly you will get a low level warning followed by engine temperature warning and then the vehicle will breakdown. Once again, if your vehicle runs completely out of coolant this can cause serious damage to your car; in this case the top end of the engine.

Power Assisted Steering Fluid – PAS is the hydraulic fluid that transmits power in the steering system. The fluid also lubricates the system and prevents corrosion. When your power assisted steering fluid gets low you will hear excessive noise when operating the steering wheel. Your steering will then become heavy and eventually a lack of power assisted steering fluid will cause total failure of the steering assistance system. This can cause damage to steering components like the PAS pump or steering rack.

Brake Fluid – Blake fluid is crucial for the braking system as it transfers force created when the brake pedal is pushed onto the wheel hub.  Without brake fluid your vehicle will not be able to come to a stop at your command. A low level warning will appear first followed by reduced braking effect before you then are left with no brakes at all. It is a serious safety issue to run low of brake fluid as it is very likely to cause a collision.

Fluids

Air conditioning refrigerant – Refrigerant is a chemical blend that cycles through the A/C. It changes from liquid to gas as it absorbs and releases heat. Without sufficient refrigerant the A/C system will have limited or no cooling effect. This can also cause premature internal wear of the A/C compressor, as refrigerant also contains oil for lubrication.

Screen Wash – Combined with water in our vehicles, screen wash allows us to keep our windscreen clean alongside the standard wiper function.  When we run out of washer fluid we have no means to clean dirt and grime from our windscreen and this can obscure our view. Maintaining the correct washer fluid to water ratio also helps prevent the liquid freezing in colder weather so we can maintain use when we need to.

Gearbox oil –This is a lubricant found in the transmission to help reduce wear and tear on the internal components. With insufficient levels of gearbox oil you will experience difficult or coarse gear changes followed by loss of drive. It could also cause severe gearbox damage.

AdBlue – This is a consumable for diesel-engines. When this solution meets the hot exhaust it releases ammonia which has a chemical reaction that converts dangerous nitrogen oxides into two harmless products: water vapour and Nitrogen.  If your Mercedes-Benz becomes low on AdBlue there will be a low level warning followed by being unable to restart the engine after stopping.

Fuel – Perhaps an obvious one, but running out of fuel will not only mean we cannot get from A to B, but can actually cause lasting damage to our car. Older vehicles can have debris in the bottom of the tank that has built up over time. There are filters designed to prevent debris getting through to the engine but these filters can get blocked by the debris when you have low fuel levels. Once there is a blockage the flow of fuel can stop even when you refuel.  Running out of diesel can cause damage to the injectors as air is being pumped in instead. When this happens it can be more difficult to start the engine.

With some of these essential fluids, when they do get low we are informed with a warning light on the instrument cluster so you do have the opportunity to fill them up before they run out completely. Plus, regular services will help you keep tabs on the ones you can’t do at home. If you are concerned about any of your fluid levels, contact your local service team who will be happy to help.

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