Trade Me tip – Funding your Trade Me account

For funding your Trade Me account, bill payment is a useful option as the money usually goes in by the next working day, Trade Me banks with Westpac so if you pay from a Westpac account, then it may even appear in your account sooner.  Just don’t use a prepaid Visa Prezzie Card to top up your account as TradeMe does not accept that.

Coolant Leak from Engine

If coolant is leaking out of the engine block, one option to try is Bars Leaks Liquid Radiator Stop Leak which may seal the leak.  If it works then remember to check your coolant level regularly.  If there is a remaining slow leak and the coolant leaks out over a long period of time, the engine may overheat again, causing high pressure steam to damage the leak repair.  Additionally, it would be wise to keep some extra coolant and Bars Stop Leak handy in case it leaks again while driving.

If the coolant level is going down, but there is no visible coolant dripping from the engine bay under the hood then this probably indicates an internal leak in the engine rather than a faulty hose (so try Bars Leaks to repair it).  If there are drips but they are colourless and look like water rather than coolant then this may be condensation from the A/C especially if it’s dripping slowly.

Use caution when using Bars Leaks Stop Leak and follow the directions carefully.  Some brands of stop leak can cause additional problems like clogged radiators so use it at your own risk.  Keep in mind though that some manufacturers use Bars Stop Leak in the factory fill, so it would be worthwhile to check with the manufacturer of your vehicle if this is the case, so that you can add some if the coolant needs to be replaced with fresh coolant.  No chemical additive can fix all leaks.

Bar’s leaks was once used to stop a leak in a nuclear submarine, where salt water was leaking into a steam condenser.

Avoid all other brands of stop leak though as they may cause clogging.

Additionally avoid using any of the following substances, which are often suggested in forums:

Black pepper
Ground ginger root

So don’t keep eggs, black pepper and water in the boot/trunk of your car for long journeys.  Keep 50/50 prediluted coolant (that matches your existing coolant) and Bar’s Leaks instead.

Another option to fix the leak is a mechanical repair (obviously).  There are advantages and disadvantages of this approach.  If the leak is very gradual, i.e. over weeks or months then it may be next to impossible to find the location of the leak.  The problem may come back in the future if you use Bar’s Stop Leak, however the problem can still come back even if a mechanical repair is conducted.  Large leaks above a certain size will require a mechanical repair.

If the leak is coming from the back of the engine, then it may be hard to determine where it is coming from.  In this case wait for the engine to cool down and the coolant to stop dripping, then it is possible to inspect with a torch where the wet part stops and the dry part begins (as long as it was a coolant mix and not just water in the radiator).  This should give you an idea of where the leak is.


Battery light comes on even with new battery

If the battery light comes on intermittently while driving then this may indicate a problem with the alternator, so it might need to be replaced with a new one or second hand one.  It is also worthwhile to check if there is any fluid leaking on it from any other engine bay component.  For example on certain Ford Falcons there is a power steering hose connection above the alternator and if this is leaking fluid onto the alternator then this can seriously damage it, so it is advisable to fix the leak too.

Car will not start in the rain

If your car doesn’t start in the rain even though the engine seems to be cranking all right, then it may be a problem with the spark plugs, high tension leads or distributor cap.  This is because the leads may be brittle and cracked which allows water to get in.  Repco usually stocks these items, if you are in Auckland, Repco Greenlane seems to be the best as they tell you about their discounts and sometimes have 50% off specials on the leads.  You can also purchase a spark plug socket set from there.  Be careful not to overtighten the spark plugs and ensure that you disconnect the battery first (disconnect the negative/ground [-] wire before disconnecting the postive [+]) wire.  Also it is best to replace one lead at a time.

To get the car going temporarily, some electrical spray may help, but be wary that the engine might stall again while driving so exercise caution.

Warning: Stop the engine and disconnect the battery before touching the any parts of the ignition system due to the presence of dangerous high voltages.

Old lawnmower that won’t start

If you have a lawnmower that won’t start then try changing the spark plug at the front if it hasn’t been replaced in a while.  You should be able to get a replacement from Repco, just bring in the old one to make sure it matches up.  Also remove the air filter from the mower, which is usually attached by a screw and pull out all the grass before putting it back. Warning: make sure you don’t touch any hot parts of the lawnmower though.  Before trying to start the mower, make sure the oil is up to the full level on the dipstick and that there is plenty of fresh petrol in the tank.  Also pull the lead off the spark plug and make sure the metal inside will make contact with the plug when it is placed back on.  Also, if the lawnmower is fitted with a choke (reduces the air supply, thereby increasing the concentration of fuel in the air/fuel mix) then make sure it is applied for the initial cold start.

Dealing with Rust

If your car is black then one way to get rid of minor rust is to purchase CRC Rust Converter (Mitre 10 Mega should have it) and CRC Black Zinc (sold at Repco, it also comes in blue and white) then apply those to the rust.  The rust converter will convert the rust to a hard black compound, then the black zinc spray will add rust protection due to the presence of zinc, which provides galvanic protection.  Once it dries (wait at least forty-eight hours), wash your car at home with a product that contains wax for an additional layer of protection.  A common problem area for rust is the lower door sills as dirt can build up there, so inspect this area regularly, such as whenever you wash your car.

If there is too much rust and you are in the North Shore area of Auckland, then the Mobile Rust Surgeon provides a prompt and quality service.