Niagara Gazette

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January 10, 2014

TOM'S CORNER: Even more ways to 'kill' your automobile

Niagara Gazette — Here are some more sure-shot ways to kill your car …

The neutral drop

A neutral drop is when you rev the engine high in neutral and, at the peak of revving, you drop the transmission into low gear. In the case of a car equipped with a manual transmission, you dump the clutch in first gear after revving the engine high. This action causes the tires to squeal as you speed off the line. The problem with this practice is that it puts excessive stress on the drivetrain components. Driveshafts break or bend, universal or CV joints snap, differentials are damaged, axles twist and break or strip out, transmissions break internally, and clutches burn out. In short, it’s a high price to pay just to experience a little tire squealing. Not good.

Installing a snow plow On a vehicle that cannot handle one

This kind of vehicle abuse often occurs in parts of the country that get a lot of snow. In recent years plow makers have come out with what they call “personal plows” for regular-duty vehicles such as small or mid-sized SUVs. Usually these plows are made of lightweight materials such as Plexiglas, aluminum, or a synthetic material that the maker claims will not overtax the vehicle. So what’s the problem? Although these types of plows are not too heavy for the vehicle, they are intended for light use. The problem is that people tend to overwork them beyond their capability.

Often a driver will plow so hard into a snow bank that the air bag deploys. In addition, although the driver is not aware of it, the vehicle also sustains frame, suspension, steering linkage, and some body damage that can be attributed directly to the plow installation/use.

In this scenario, let’s say this guy gets away with using the personal plow for a couple of years. During year three he notices a high-pitched whine coming from the transmission; then it quits altogether. He takes it to the shop. The diagnosis? The transmission is burned up due to excessive plow use. What happened? The transmission in his light-duty truck was not intended to push several hundred pounds of snow and ice around. It gave up the ghost after just three years of plow work. The damage was a result of the hard impacts of the plow into snow banks, ice, and other obstructions hiding under the snow. Had he installed the plow in a vehicle capable of handling it, there would have been no damage.

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