Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vehicle safety report

Nine students from Physics II Lab conducted vehicle safety checks on 36 vehicles belonging to students departing for the summer. Oil, coolant, other essential fluids, tires and tire pressures, and check engine light trouble codes were all checked.

The following list is of the fault conditions identified by our student workers, rectifications and or recommendations documented, all carefully supervised for safety.
  • Vehicle with worn front passenger-side tire, uneven wear, tire down nearly to the wire on one edge. Uneven wear suggests alignment at least half an inch out. Recommend new tires and alignment immediately. If this is not possible, driver not to exceed 55 mph on drive home
  • Vehicle with at least five quarts extra oil in sump. Especially if driven hard, front and rear crankshaft seals will be destroyed, then engine. Recommend remove oil to within proper range on dipstick. Driver shown how to do this
  • Three vehicles with tire pressure below 15 psi, indicating slow leak. One screw identified in one tire. Tire pressures increased to proper level. Recommend to all, fix slow leaks immediately, monitor tire pressure carefully thereafter
  • Three vehicles with dangerously high tire pressure, above 50 psi. Tire pressure reduced to proper level. Drivers educated on correct tire pressure. The correct tire pressure is not the maximum tire pressure written on the tire. It's the recommended tire pressure given in the owner's manual or written on a small sticker on the drivers-side door. Too much air in your tires can be dangerous too, just like too little air. You'll bounce more very time you hit a bump, and can bounce yourself clean off the road. You'll also wear out your tires unevenly.
  • One vehicle no or very little oil in sump. Dipstick clean of oil. Oil added to line on dipstick. Recommend driver monitor oil level very carefully. Good way to kill your engine
  • One vehicle check engine light indicates loose gas filler cap. On investigation badly fitting filler cap applied. Recommend purchase correct filler cap. Other check engine lights indicate evaporative emissions control failures probably secondary to filler cap problem, but recommend monitoring
  • One vehicle check engine light indicates evaporative emission system leak -- loose filler cap, lean mixture and/or loose vacuum line. Loose filler cap found, also cracked filler cap seal. One loose vacuum line found. Codes cleared. Recommend monitor check engine light, replace filler cap with new one to eliminate filler cap as source of leak, monitor carefully, take to shop if light comes back on or the lean mixture will result in early engine wear
  • Various vehicles check engine lights for oxygen sensors
Obviously some of these were likely to be dangerous and/or expensive. The weather was hot and muggy and the work quite hard and dirty. Our students can be proud of their labors to help their colleagues get home or to summer jobs safely.

Here are the photos from the day's activities.

Thanks to all the students who helped (Cat, Sam, Tasha, Ben and Ben, Adam, Jake, Kristen, and Frances).

Ben contrives to look both scholarly and practical at the same time

Adam adds fluids

Tasha in mid-exclamation, Frances on the compressor

Sam and Jake team-task a truck

Checking the coolant overflow container

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