by Pat Goss
Static electricity can be a lot of fun to play with, but it can be dangerous and damaging around an automobile. Let’s say you’re putting fuel in the fuel tank, and for some reason you have to go back into the inside of the car. Maybe you forgot your credit card or something like that. You go around the side of the car, you slide in on the seat, you get the credit card, you come out of the car, it’s back around to the fuel fill nozzle, you touch it, and zap! You get a spark. Well, that spark can ignite fuel vapors around the fuel filler neck, and you’re faced with a flash fire that might be very, very close to you, and it is definitely dangerous.
Also static shocks can damage electronic components in the car. How do you prevent them? Well, even that shock that you get when you touch the door handle on some cars, all of that can be done away with, with Static Guard. You spray it on the carpeting , that’s most important , but also you spray it on the seats if you have cloth seats. Don’t spray it on leather or plastic.
Okay, now, another problem that many times is concealed, and that is you tap a curb. You know, you’re just barely moving and you tap a curb, and that certainly couldn’t hurt anything, right? Well, that’s wrong, because it could.
Here we have a ball joint out of a full size sport utility vehicle [left]. It just barely touched a curb in a parking maneuver, and what happened was is that the ball joint stud was bent severely. Now, it wasn’t all that noticeable in driving the vehicle, but it wore out the tires in a matter of about 100 miles, and it was dangerous. The ball joint stud should be straight like this one [right]. So even the most minor bumps, you need to have the front suspension components checked.
And speaking of sport utility vehicles, here’s a big new problem. Now this applies to sport utilities, anything that has 4-wheel or all-wheel drive, especially full-time systems. You no longer replace one tire or two or three. You replace four tires at the same time, same brand, same style and everything. The reason is outside circumference. Now, we’ve measured these two tires. We used a flexible measure. One is used, the other one’s brand new , 95 1/4 inches on the used one [top], 96 3/4 on the new one [bottom]. Now because of the different rotational speeds of these tires, this can burn up clutches and viscous couplings and all kinds of things in the 4-wheel or all- wheel drive system. So it’s four , not one, two, or three , tires when it’s time to buy.
If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.