Published on November 14, 2007
By Pattanadesh Asasappakij
One thing I'd like to warn drivers in Thailand about, though - expats as well as fellow Thais who have spent years abroad and have just come back - is the large number of festivals that are held during this season.
In Bangkok, a lot of parties are held after the rainy season exits, and upcountry can be found year-end festivals, Red Cross festivals and especially temple fairs. Many luk thung performers start touring the country as farmers have finished the harvest and are getting into the mood to party.
As you no doubt already know, apart from various types of food, every party in Thailand is awash in alcohol, so you must be careful when driving at night (or even during the day), as this is also the season of drunk drivers (as well as fog, which lowers visibility). If you notice that the vehicle behind you is driven by someone under the influence, simply let them pass and keep your distance, or conversely pick a safe moment to accelerate and leave them far behind. This will lower your chances of getting involved in an accident with the drunk driver.
I receive the same questions each year during this season. This week, three different people have told me about experiencing a lot of engine vibration when they start up in the morning, especially when shifting the automatic gearbox into drive and stepping on the brake. But when the brake pedal is released, the vibration disappears.
This can have several causes. First, determine when was the last time transmission fluid was replaced. If it has been a long time, I recommend replacing it, then see if that does the trick.
And if you can closely watch the changing of the transmission fluid yourself, examine the old fluid to see whether its colour is dark or it has a lot of dirt in it. If so, then there is a chance that the clutch plate in the automatic gearbox is worn out, and it's time for a replacement.
But if the fluid is still nice and clear, that means the transmission parts are still okay, and you'll need to look elsewhere.
The next area to check is the engine and transmission mounts. Since the vibration does not occur while the engine is running in neutral, it could be caused by the load when the gear is in drive and the brakes are engaged. The mounts may not be able to withstand this extra load, and this could result in the vibration. Rubber mounts that have been used for a long time or show signs of wear or damage should always be replaced. In fact, you should replace the entire set.
Sometimes you must also decide whether the vibration comes from the engine or elsewhere in the vehicle. Check the rev counter to see whether it is still idling at a particular speed when the vibration occurs. If so, then the vibration could be coming from elsewhere, not from the engine.
But if the rev-counter needle swings up and down, try checking the compression ratio in the combustion chamber, since there could be a leak in one of the chambers. One of the most common problems is the valve not completely closing during ignition. If the vibration has a rhythm to it, then carefully check this area.
And if the vibration is constant and the rev counter swings marginally, check the ignition to see whether it is complete. First to be checked is whether the fuel fed to the combustion chamber is constant, which means checking the fuel pump.
Next, the spark plugs. Remove them and check the spacing and the colour of the soot covering the ends. See whether the colour is similar on each plug.
And if the vibration occurs only for a while - say until the engine is warmed up - and only during the cool season, then you may not need to do anything. Simply warm up the engine a little longer. No need to spend any money here.
E-mail your motoring questions to Pattanadesh@nationgroup.com.
By Pattanadesh Asasappakij
The Luxury LS 460 is a wonderfully comfaortable car fitted with all mod cons, althoough not necessarily the most fun vehicle to drive.