February 28, 2018
Washes are Important Now for Removing Road Salt
Road salt is a necessary evil. It is great for preventing accidents and keeping roadways safe. Salt lowers the freezing/melting point of water, making it a fast and inexpensive way to melt slippery snow and ice on the road. The problem is that salt is also a highly corrosive element, and its affects can be extremely damaging to your vehicle.
Road salt exposure throughout the winter can wreak havoc on the metal components of your car. Most vehicles have an exposed underbody, so most salt damage occurs underneath the car, where it goes visually undetected. Rust on essential parts of your vehicle can leave you with huge problems ranging from brake system leaks to frame damage. While your rubber tires will suffer little or no damage from salt, your wheels are highly vulnerable, since the metal areas of your car are most at risk for salt damage.
Thankfully the coatings and paint finishes used in today’s automotive manufacturing do a much better job of providing protection against salt damage. And since the process of salt leading to corrosion and rust takes awhile, you have time to undo salt damage potential.
The best way to protect your car from road salt corrosion is to take it in for regular washings during the winter months . Base the frequency of your car washings on how much salt and road sludge it is exposed to on a regular basis. If you have really expensive wheels, consider swapping them out it the winter months, since salt is particularly hard on chrome.
For further protection, make it part of your fall routine to wax your vehicle. Waxing seasonally will make your washes more effective.
February 16, 2018
Two Likely Reasons Why Your Car Heating System is Giving You the Cold Shoulder
You dust the snow off your vehicle and scrape the ice from the windshield. After letting your engine warm up for the usual amount of time, you turn up the thermostat, anticipating that warm, comforting heat. But then it hits you – a blast of cold air. You wonder, what happened to my car’s heating system?
How the Car Heating System Works
Your car heating system depends on an essential element called the heater core. The heater core acts as a heat exchanger, distributing heat into the cabin of the car. The car’s engine provides the original source for this heat, which increases as the engine operates.
Heat is conveyed from the engine to the heater core by way of a liquid called coolant. Coolant serves a dual purpose in that it first pumps through the engine to cool it and protect it from overheating, and then recycles the heat it removes by sending it into the radiator and circulating it to the heater core.
At least this is what happens if the heating system is functioning as it should.
Two Common Heating System Problems
If your car’s heater is blowing cold air, there are two issues that are often to blame:
- The coolant is not properly flowing through the heater core
- The air from the blower motor is not being directed through the heater core
In the case of coolant flow issues, the problem can often be attributed to a plugged heater core.
If the problem is air flow, it could be a malfunctioning, or stuck blend door. These doors are flaps inside the ducts that open and close to allow heat or stop heat from coming through the vents into the passenger compartment.
If your car is not warming up to you, take it in to your auto pro to have it checked for these issues.
January 30, 2018
Does it seems like you have been seeing your tire pressure monitoring system light illuminating a little more frequently lately? If so, you can probably blame one simple reason – the cold.
In order to understand how cold effects your TPMS, it is necessary to know how your TPMS works. The system use sensors technology to alert drivers when tire pressure in one of the tires goes below a predetermined level. When tire pressure in one or more of your tires drops, the light comes on.
Since ambient air pressure decreases in frigid temperatures, the air pressure in a tire goes down 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change. This is why drivers typically see the TPMS light illuminate more frequently.
It is important to check your tire pressure when the tires are cold. Why? Once you hit the road, friction will cause the tires to heat up, increasing the pressure within the tire. Checking the tire pressure after you have been driving awhile may give an inaccurately high pressure reading.
Proper tire inflation is always important, but it is especially critical in the cold winter months when weather conditions make driving more hazardous. Tire pressure is important because:
1. Low tire pressure can make a vehicle handle poorly
2. Tires tend to wear out much faster when they are not properly inflated
3. Under inflated tires tend to overheat, which could lead to a blowout
4. Low tire pressure reduces gas mileage and costs you money
Check the pressure of your tires monthly. In order to obtain the most accurate pressure level, wait until tires have cooled – about 30 minutes after parking – or check the pressure first thing in the morning.
January 16, 2018
Let’s face it, we tend to take our ride for granted. For the most part it is always there, ready to take us wherever and whenever we need to go. We only think about taking care of it when there is an obvious problem, like a flat tire or a dead battery. The problem with this approach is that it is not good for your car, and it can be very risky for the safety of you and your passengers. Why not make 2018 the year you resolve to make vehicle maintenance a priority? Regular auto and tire maintenance not only make sense for protecting and prolonging the life of your vehicle and tires, it also means you’ll be safer on the road.
Check Tire Pressure & Tread Depth
Make it a point to check your tire pressure at least once a month. You can find the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires listed in your owner’s manual. Keep in mind that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure. Don’t forget to also check the pressure of your spare tire.
You also should check the tread depth on your tires two or three times a year. The penny test is a simple way to gauge your tread depth. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time for a new set of tires. If Abe’s head is covered to about the forehead hairline, the tread is in good shape and you probably do not need new tires.
Tire Balancing & Rotation
Tire balancing and rotation should be part of your regular service. Tire balancing provides a smooth ride and assures even tire wear by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation is an important maintenance step that will greatly extend the life of your tires. Manufacturers have specific recommendations, so it is advisable to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines to ensure proper tread wear.
Stick to a Regular Maintenance Schedule
To keep your car running properly and performing at peak levels, it is essential to stay up-to-date with recommended regular maintenance services. Like us, our vehicles need regular check-ups to maintain good health and catch potential problems before they become serious issues. The following is a list of typical services – consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended services and frequency.
- Coolant Flush and Replacement
- Oil Change
- Fluid Checks – Power Steering and Brake
- Brake Inspection
- Check Belts & Hoses
- Filters – Air and Fuel
- Battery & Cables
- Exhaust System
- Windshield Washer Fluid & Wiper Blades
Establishing a regular care routine allows you to drive with confidence knowing that you are traveling safely where ever the road takes you. You will also get to enjoy your vehicle and tire investment much longer.
December 20, 2017
If there is anything I love as much as vehicles and tires, it’s the holiday season. With that in mind you can imagine how delighted I am to find any combination of cars and Christmas! I recently happened upon a real treasure trove of holiday automotive artwork on the classic auto enthusiast website, Petrolicious. In honor of the season, I wanted to share some of these beautiful paintings.
Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com
So, who is the artist behind these amazing images? I was intrigued by the question and looked up Ken Ebert. He is an American artist from the Bronx, New York City. At an early age he developed tremendous talent as a painter, as well as an affinity for automotive street scenes.
Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com
In 1965, Ken Eberts was recruited by the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan to join a design team working on the design of several new vehicles. A year later he worked for Lockheed Aircraft on the design of a new aircraft.
Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com
A few years later he focused his career solely on painting, and began showing his artwork at shows and galleries. Using techniques he developed using watercolors and gouache, he was able to realistically portray chrome, glass, and leather in amazing, life-like detail.
Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com
Throughout his career, Ken Ebert produced a multitude of works used to promote high profile auto industry events, and his work is included in several important museums. Today, Ken Ebert continues to paint automotive scenes as a prestigious and award-winning artist.
To see more of Ken Ebert’s work, check out the Petrolicious blog post, or look up his work on Google.
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the happiest holiday season!
December 14, 2017
There is nothing I love to hear about more than someone who is enthusiastic about taking care of their car. I am a big proponent of drivers investing time in learning about their vehicles so they can do their own service and repair work. Having said that, I will add the following caveat, some automotive services should always be left to the professionals. No matter how much of a car enthusiast you are or how much you need to save money, some auto services simply should not be done at home for the sake of vehicle safety.
What does the auto professional offer that you cannot? Unless you are a trained and certified mechanic, you more than likely do not have the education and experience needed to do the job right. Also, people do not have in their home garages the costly and complex equipment that is required to properly diagnose and repair today’s vehicles. Your local auto service professional is equipped to perform all automotive services in an affordable and timely manner.
For this post, I will be focusing on three examples of automotive services you should leave to the professionals: Engine Diagnostics, Tire Rotation, and Suspension Repairs.
Engine Diagnostics – Today’s advanced on-board automotive technology has greatly simplified the diagnosis of engine problems to a large degree, however the technology is not perfect, and it does not eliminate the need for human interpretation. Engine codes can be very general and require more sophisticated equipment to reveal the true source of the problem.
Tire Rotation – While it may seem simple to jack up your vehicle and change the tires around, not doing the job correctly could mean costly damage to your tires, or worse yet, it could result in losing a wheel at highway speeds and a life threatening auto accident. It is better to have a tire professional do the job. They have the training to not only do the job properly, but also to spot signs of uneven tread wear and tire damage.
Suspension Repairs – The suspension system of your vehicle provides stability to your vehicle’s steering system therefore it is critical to the safety of your vehicle. Any work you do or new components you install during a suspension repair could have a serious impact on suspension system performance and reliability.
While some auto services should be left to the professionals, there are many simple car maintenance services you can perform yourself. Just keep in mind this rule of thumb – when in doubt, see an automotive services professional.
November 29, 2017
Brake system failure is one of the most dangerous situations a driver can experience on the road. The brake system on your vehicle is highly complex, involving an extensive number of integrated components, all of which are subject to wear and eventual failure. Brake failure can have serious and deadly consequences, so it is important to be aware of, and responsive to, any indications of brake trouble.
Your car has many ways of letting you know that brake trouble may be ahead. By paying attention to these five indicators, you can have brake system issues addressed before they put the safety of you and your passengers at risk:
Hearing Weird Noises
Hearing a high, screeching sound when you apply your brakes? It could mean that your brake pads need to be replaced.
Pulling to One Side When Braking
Does the vehicle tend to pull to one side when you are braking? This could be an indication that the brake lining is wearing unevenly or that the brake fluid is contaminated.
Brake Pedal Feels Strange
Does the brake pedal feel spongy or sink to the floor? There may be a leak in the braking system, possibly an air leak in the brake hose or a brake fluid leak. A brake pedal that feels hard or difficult to press may indicate a blockage in the brake line or an issue in the vacuum system.
Excessive Vibration When Braking
Have you noticed excessive vibration in your brake pedal during breaking, similar to the vibration you feel when the anti-lock brakes feature engages? A vibration or pulsating brake pedal can be a symptom of warped rotors.
Grabbing Sensation When Braking
Have you experienced a grabbing or jerking feeling when applying the brakes? This could be an indication that the rotor is unevenly worn or that the brake fluid is contaminated.
In addition to these indicators, the warning light on your dashboard will illuminate if your vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system senses any problems. Although sometimes these lights come on even when there is not a problem, you should always take your vehicle in and let your service technician inspect your brake system.
November 14, 2017
This time of year finds everyone busy preparing for holiday celebrations, shopping for gifts, and making plans for holiday travel. Odds are you are not thinking about your car. But you should be.
When Thanksgiving Day arrives, we imagine we’ll be sitting around the dinner table with loved ones, enjoying great food, sharing memories, and reflecting on all those things that make us truly thankful. You sip a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, nibble on a few more bites of pumpkin pie, and settle into that warm, cozy, holiday feeling.
But what if Thanksgiving Day comes and you hop into a car that has been woefully neglected for maintenance service? You may end up sitting in a cold, dead car, digging through seat pockets for something to eat while waiting for a tow truck to arrive. You sip a half empty water bottle, nibble on a few more bites of stale saltine crackers, and settle into that awful, regretful, why-didn’t-I-get-an-oil-change feeling.
If a road trip is in your plans this year, make sure it is a safe trip. Now is the time to get your vehicle in for a pre-trip service check!
Be Thankful You Had an Oil Change
Putting off an oil change can cause significant damage to your engine. Be sure to follow the recommended oil change schedule as described in your owner’s manual. For fall and winter, ask your service technician to recommend the best oil to use for the season. Since cold temperatures cause motor oil to thicken, your tech may suggest a different weight for the season.
Be Thankful You Had a Tire Check
Tires are one of the most critical safety features on your vehicle. Drivers should do a monthly check of the air pressure and tread depth of tires. Always be on the lookout for nails, cuts, bulges, and signs of unusual tread wear. Be sure to have a professional inspect your tires at least once a year and also follow the recommended schedule for wheel alignment and tire rotation.
Be Thankful You Had a Battery Check
Extreme weather, including cold temperatures, can degrade car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals. This can lead to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded. Your service technician will check the battery charge and clean the cables if there are signs of corrosion. They will also ensure cables are securely attached to the terminals.
Be Thankful You Had a Fluid Check
In order to perform at its best, your car needs several fluids in fresh and adequate supply. Your service technician will check:
Power steering fluid
Windshield washer fluid
Cold weather has an impact on your vehicle’s fluids. Maintaining the proper levels is essential in assuring dependable performance and a safe trip.
It doesn’t take long to get a routine service check, so be sure to make a little time to get these services done. You will be thankful you did!
October 31, 2017
Today is a day for tricks, treats, and fun, but it also seems like a good day to remind drivers of something truly scary – driving on old tires! Not only is it critical to recognize the signs of worn out, dangerous tread, it is also important to understand that even if old tires look okay, they could be seriously compromised and a safe driving hazard.
Old tires often show no visible sign of deterioration. While they may appear to be safe, usable tires, cracks can develop both on the inside and the outside of the tire. Since the rubber compounds used in tires degrade over time, cracks will develop in the rubber, regardless of mileage and wear. Ultimately, this cracking leads to the steel belts in the tread separating from the rest of the tire.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association reports that putting an expiration date on a tire can be difficult since factors such as heat, driving, and storage conditions can greatly impact the usable life of a tire. The recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to refer to the guidelines set by the specific tire manufacturer when it comes to tire aging and usable life.
In some cases, such as a used car purchase, the origin and age of a tire might be unknown. You can still find out how old those tires are. In 2000 the U.S. Department of Transportation began requiring tires to have a DOT code. With this code, you can learn details about the tire, including its age. Decipher the code by downloading a free app offered by the Tire Safety Group. Available for Android and iPhone, the app enables you to get to get a free Tire Facts Report by simply entering the DOT code from your tire. The report lets you know if a tire is old, defective, or has been the subject of a recall. The app shows you where to find the code on the tire and even includes a flashlight function to help you see the code clearly!
If you find out your tires are too old to drive on, go out and buy some new tires as soon as possible! As for your old tires, look for a creative way to recycle them:
Image Courtesy of Pinterest
Happy Halloween and Safe Travels!
October 17, 2017
Falling leaves and crisp temperatures are sure signs that winter driving season is just around the corner. If you are considering investing in a new set of winter tires this year, now is the time to plan. Waiting until the snow and ice hit to shop for winter tires could be risky. Winter tires are typically manufactured during the summer, so quantities are usually limited. If you wait too long to shop for your winter tires you may not get the best tires or the best deal.
In making your plans for winter driving, the first thing to consider is whether or not you actually need winter tires. Think about the weather in your region. Do you frequently drive in snowy or icy conditions? Do you find yourself worrying excessively about sliding off the road, being able to brake, or making it up even the slightest grade? If the answer is yes, winter tires would probably be a wise investment for you. Winter tires provide a superior grip when driving, stopping, and cornering. Their specially designed tread bites into snow and ice and they are made with a softer rubber, which is formulated to stay pliable at freezing temperatures. These features also mean that winter tires wear faster than all-season tires, however as long as you change back to your all-season tires in the spring, your investment should last for several seasons.
When timing the purchase of your winter tires keep in mind that retailers begin to stock the newest models of winter tires in the fall, so that is when you will find the best selection. If your tire retailer does not have the tires you want in the size you need, you can usually order them, and your retailer will install them, at your convenience, before the winter weather season.
When shopping for winter tires, look for a mountain/snowflake symbol on the sidewall. This symbol lets you know that the tires have passed an industry test for severe snow use.
September 25, 2017
Do You Know What to Do When You Have a Dead Car Battery?
It can happen at any time. You climb inside your car, turn the key or press the start button and nothing happens. Soon the temperatures will be getting colder so your odds of experiencing a dead car battery will be increasing since low temperatures cause batteries to become more sluggish. It is important to not only be equipped with a quality set of jumper cables in your car, but also to know how to use them properly.
Jump starting a dead car battery isn’t difficult, but it can be dangerous if not done correctly. Jumper cables actually transmit electrical current from one car to another. It is essential that you take precautions to prevent dangerous electric shocks. Once you have one end of the jumper cables connected to a car, it is critical that the metal clamps on the other end of the cable do not touch anything other than the specified components on the other car. It is a good idea to keep rubber gloves and protective eye wear with your jumper cables and wear them for extra safety.
Preparation Steps to Jump Starting the Car:
Park the running car so the cars face each other, about one to two feet apart. Make sure that the cars are not in contact with each other.
Set the parking brakes on both cars. Turn off both cars and take out the keys.
Lay out the jumper cables on the ground, making sure the clamps do not touch each other.
Open the hood to both cars. Locate the batteries and battery terminals. (See your owner’s manual for details). The two terminals on each battery are usually covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Confirm you are able to identify which is positive, and which is negative, as this will be crucial to the success of your jump. Dirty or corroded battery terminals should be cleaned off with a rag or wire brush.
Attaching the Jumper Cables to the Car:
Attach the red, positive cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a solid connection to the battery terminal.
Attach the red, positive cable clamp on the other side of the jumper cables to the working battery’s positive (+) battery terminal
Connect the black, negative cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal. In the vehicle with the dead battery, attach that clamp to a metal part of the car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking.
Make sure that none of the cables are in contact with moving engine parts before starting the engine.
Performing the Jump Start:
Start the engine of the car with the working battery.
Let the car to run for several minutes. The time required to get the jump to work may vary depending on the age and condition of the battery.
Attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If unsuccessful, allow the working car to charge the battery for a several minutes longer and try again.
As soon as the disabled car is running again, you can disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps. Never allow the clamps to come in contact with each other while any part of the cables is still attached to a vehicle.
Taking the charged car for a short drive lets the battery to build up a charge to ensure the battery doesn’t die again once you turn off the car.
September 6, 2017
Tire failure is something all drivers need to be concerned about. You spend a lot of money on your tires. More importantly, when you drive, you depend on those tires for your safety and the safety of those you love. The good news is that the most common cause of tire failure is a condition that is highly preventable – under inflated tires.
One of the best things you can do to protect your tires is to make sure they are properly inflated. Under inflation causes a number of problems in tires including increased stress, friction, and overheating. When tires do not have the proper amount of air, sidewall flexing can occur and eventually lead to a rupture. Overheating can cause the rubber to degrade, which makes tires weaker and more prone to failure.
According to the NHTSA, four out of five drivers are driving on improperly inflated tires. There are many benefits of maintaining correctly inflated tires. Not only can you greatly reduce the risk of tire failure with proper inflation, you can also save as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel and increase tire life by an average of 4,700 miles.
The right pressure to prevent tire failure
The right pressure to prevent tire failure varies from vehicle to vehicle. The best recommendation for your specific vehicle is listed in your owner’s manual. There is a tire pressure number stamped on the tire, but that number is the tire’s maximum pressure, not the recommended pressure.
How to check tire pressure
Make sure you have a working tire gauge. Both manual and digital models are available. Check the pressure when the tires are cold – meaning the vehicle hasn’t been driven for at least three hours. Remove the valve cap and press the tire gauge on the valve stem. You’ll hear a hissing sound when you first press down, which stops once you press the gauge all the way down. Only a few seconds are needed to obtain an accurate reading. If air is needed, you can fill tires with either a portable compressor, or you can use the air pump at your local gas station. The process of filling tires is similar to checking the pressure. Instead of pressing the gauge to the valve stem you will press the fitting on the air hose to the stem. Check the pressure as you inflate until you reach the right pressure number. If your tires are over inflated, you can remove air from the tires using your gauge. Remember to put the valve caps back on each tire when you are finished.
Check the pressure of your tires monthly to greatly reduce your chance of tire failure. Since road debris or other unforeseen circumstances can still lead to tire issues, be sure to check the pressure of your spare while checking your other tires so you are always prepared.
August 22, 2017
Distracted driving used to just mean things like eating lunch or changing the radio station while driving. Today, distracted driving has reached a whole new level of activity that can potentially lure someone’s eyes away from the road. As a new school year begins, now is a good time to think about the problem of distracted driving. Consider your own habits and talk to the younger drivers in your life about texting and driving.
On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text message. That might not seem very long, but did you know that at 55 miles per hour a car travels the length of a football field during that five second interval? A lot can happen during those five seconds of distracted driving, including a life-changing accident.
The more we rely on smart phone technology, the greater the temptation becomes to focus on a screen instead of the road. How can we take practical steps to avoid the perils of distracted driving? Here are seven ideas:
- Silence is golden. Take a moment before pulling out of your parking spot to silence your phone. Once you are on the road, it will be easier to keep your mind off of your phone if it is not humming, vibrating, or otherwise beckoning you.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Putting your phone in your purse, glovebox, or storage console is another way to help reduce the odds that you will be distracted by it.
- No red light sneaks. A lot of drivers like to sneak a quick look at their phones while stopped at a red light. The problem with this is that if you are not looking at the light, you will not know when it changes.
- Make it known. Let everyone you call or text with know that you have a strict “no phone” policy while you are driving. That way you will not have to worry about someone thinking you are ignoring them.
- Pull over. If it cannot wait make sure to pull over before using your phone. There are usually plenty of parking lots around that provide a great place to stop and do what you need to do.
- Plan ahead. Before you press the ignition button or turn the key, do what you need to do. Let mom know you are leaving. Type your destination into your GPS app. Whatever you feel you need to do, do not do it as you are pulling out onto the street.
- Get a connected vehicle. If you have a career that involves a good deal of car travel, consider investing in a car with onboard technology that connects to your phone. Advanced voice features will allow you to communicate or use GPS features without having to take your eyes off of the road.
While everyone likes to save time by multi-tasking, it is important to understand that multi-tasking on the road too often means distracted driving. The time saved could turn into a life lost – in just an instant.
As you focus on eliminating distracted driving habits, make sure you also correct any low-tech bad behaviors, too. Change the radio station, adjust the seat, get your sunglasses out of your purse…do it all before you even start the car. Stay safe!
August 8, 2017
Spark Plug Replacement and Tune Ups – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
This post, our last in the Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series, focuses on spark plug replacement and tune ups. Spark plug replacement and tune ups are necessary for keeping your vehicle running reliably and performing its best.
Spark plugs initiate the combustion and power needed to move your vehicle. The combustion drives clean gas and air to the vehicle’s cylinders. Eventually the fuel injectors can become clogged, fuel filters get dirty, and the spark plugs can become corroded. When parts are compromised, your engine will not perform as it should, and your gas mileage will suffer.
During a tune up, your automotive technician will check the condition of your spark plugs and test their performance. Other items that are typically checked during a tune up include the fuel filter, fuel pump, fuel injectors, PVC valve, as well as the engine timing and idle.
Maintenance that is not part of the regular tune up may also be needed, so a tune up provides a good opportunity to check the brakes and clutch, fluid and oil levels, and any other systems that are not regularly used or inspected. Getting a tune up in spring or early summer may be a good idea so you can have the air conditioning system checked before you need to use it.
Why spark plug replacement and tune ups are necessary?
Getting spark plug replacement and tune up service will restore power and efficiency to your vehicle. Your engine relies on many components working together to ensure proper starting and functioning. When these components wear out or fail to function, the result is lost performance and fuel inefficiency. Tune up service performed by your auto service professional will help maintain and extend auto life.
How often spark plug replacement and tune ups are needed?
Generally speaking, you should have a tune up every two years or every 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. See your owner’s manual for your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for tune ups and spark plug replacement.
July 20, 2017
Transmission Flush and Fluid Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
Transmission service is the topic of this post in our Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series. Part of your recommended regular vehicle maintenance, transmission service includes a transmission flush and transmission fluid change. Regular transmission services will keep your car performing at its best, and keep it running dependably.
What a transmission flush does for your vehicle
Transmission fluid is an essential lubricant that cools and protects the moving components in your vehicle’s transmission, and facilitates gear shifts. Like other automotive fluids, transmission fluid degrades over time. Transmission fluid deterioration can be accelerated by certain types of driving, such as city driving or heavy hauling. A transmission flush service gets rid of the old transmission fluid so it can be replaced with new fluid.
What happens during a transmission flush and fluid replacement?
Your auto service professional will:
- Remove and inspect the pan
- Replace or clean the screen or filter
- Clean and reinstall the pan with a new pan gasket
- Remove the old transmission fluid and replace it with fresh fluid
Why are transmission flushes important to your vehicle?
A transmission flush gets rid of old fluid and washes away tiny particles, such as clutch material and metal shavings, which accumulate as the fluid ages. Without a flush, those particles eventually clog passages and wedge between moving parts, causing wear within the transmission. Flushing the fluid gets rid of those particles and prevents the wear they cause. Regular transmission service allows your transmission to function better for years longer, which means you’re less likely to breakdown and be faced with a major transmission repair.
How often is a transmission flush needed?
Transmission service is typically recommended every 50,000 miles. As with all auto services, it is important to refer to your owner’s manual to see the recommendations for your specific vehicle.
June 29, 2017
Cooling System Flush & Coolant Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
In this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance, we are going to take a look at the one of the best ways to help your car keep its cool – the cooling system flush. The best way to understand the importance of a cooling system flush is to start by looking at the role of coolant.
The main job of coolant, or antifreeze, is to transfer excess heat from the vehicle engine to the radiator. The coolant absorbs the heat and redirects it to the radiator where it is evacuated into the air. It may also be directed through the heat exchanger to heat the passenger area. Coolant is comprised of a 50/50 ratio mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water. Though water alone could do the job of transferring heat, it is not used alone because it would be too corrosive to the engine. Read more…
June 15, 2017
Tire Rotation and Tread Inspection – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
Tires are the focus of this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance. As one of the most important safety and performance features on your vehicle, tires need the same attention to maintenance that essential mechanical components require. Tire rotation and tread inspection are two recommended maintenance items that need to be done regularly.
What tire rotation and tread inspection do for vehicle performance
Tire rotation and tread inspection are about extending the usable life of your tires and making sure they are safe. By rotating the tires, you can balance out the wear to get the most even wear on all four tires. Since tires in different positions do not wear the same, this will also help to assure there is a safe and sufficient amount of tread on every tire.
What happens during tire rotation and tread inspection service?
Rotation service consists of rotating or repositioning tires by moving them from one side of the vehicle to the other. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer recommendation, this may include moving them from front to back. Tires tend to wear differently depending on their position, the condition of your suspension, and the way you drive. When your auto service professional rotates your vehicle’s tires, the front tires are usually swapped with the rear tires. Typically the driver side tires stay on the driver side and the passenger side tires stay on the passenger side. This can vary with different types of vehicles or tires.
Why tire rotation and tread inspection are necessary
Regular rotation and tread inspection are important because tires are subjected to a tremendous amount of wear. Without proper rotation, your tires will wear prematurely, preventing you from getting the most from your tire investment. Tire rotation protects your investment by extending the quality and service life of your tires. Tire rotation is also important because it promotes safe and even tread wear. Front and rear tires wear differently. Front tires are subjected to much more pressure than rear tires, so the tread wears more rapidly on the front tires. Regular rotation also improves driving performance and gas mileage.
Quality tires are expensive! It only makes sense to get the most for your money. Tire rotation and tread inspection service will keep your vehicle safe and to keep your tires properly maintained to get the most from them.
How often tire rotation and tread inspection are needed
Generally speaking tire rotation is recommended every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Your service manual will provide you with the best maintenance schedule for your particular make and model vehicle.
June 6, 2017
Oil Changes – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance
The more you know about car maintenance, the better prepared you’ll be to keep your vehicle safe and performing at peak levels. The goal of our Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series is not to make you an expert, but to help you understand some key services and why they are important. Today we will take a look at oil changes.
What does an oil change do for my vehicle’s performance?
Over time oil decreases in effectiveness and becomes saturated with dust, water, and combustion residues that cause engine corrosion. Regular oil changes will improve engine performance because clean oil performs much more efficiently than dirty oil. Regular oil changes are essential to vehicle’s performance and safety and will also help prevent costly repairs throughout the life of your vehicle.
What happens during an oil change?
Your auto service provider will change your vehicle’s motor oil using full synthetic oil, synthetic blend, or high mileage motor oil, depending on the recommendation of your vehicle’s manufacturer. The old oil and oil filter will be removed, replaced, and recycled.
In most cases, the technician will also perform a courtesy inspection, which may include:
- Topping off fluids
- Checking vehicle lights
- Lubricating chassis as necessary
- Inspecting belts, hoses, steering, suspension, skid plates and undercarriage
- Checking windshield wipers
- Checking car battery
Why are oil changes necessary?
As the miles on your vehicle accumulate, high operating temperatures will cause the thermal breakdown of oil. This makes it less effective as a lubricant. Lubricant is essential in the prevention of engine part wear due to excessive friction. Acid neutralizing additives in oil also decrease in effectiveness over time. Accumulation of dirt in the oil is a problem, too. Although the filter traps much of the dirt, eventually the filter will clog and the contaminated oil will bypass the filter through a relief valve. When oil becomes dirty and thick it also becomes abrasive and causes more wear. Regular oil changes are essential to vehicle’s performance and safety.
When will your vehicle need an oil change?
The rule of thumb has always been to change oil every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Vehicle manufacturer recommendations vary, though so you should always consult your owner’s manual.
May 19, 2017
We all know the importance of making good car maintenance a habit. So, how are you doing with that? Just in case you haven’t quite gotten in gear, we have a five-part series ahead to inspire you.
First, let’s take a look at some eye-opening stats from AAA :
Among U.S. adults who drive, one third (35 percent) have skipped or delayed maintenance or a repair that was recommended by their mechanic or specified in the factory maintenance schedule
And a survey of AAA approved auto repair facilities revealed:
Six in ten (62%) repair shops say more than half of the vehicles they service are behind schedule for routine maintenance services.
Three‐quarters (77%) of repair shops estimate customers who forget or ignore manufacturers’ recommended maintenance could save, on average, $100 or more per visit if they properly maintained their vehicles.
The more you know about car maintenance, the better equipped you’ll be to get in gear. Not only will you understand what needs to be done, you will have a clearer picture of why car maintenance services are so important. Some of the maintenance services we’ll be looking at that need to be done regularly include:
- Oil Changes
- Rotate Tires & Inspect for Proper Wear
- Flush Cooling System & Replace Coolant
- Drain & Refill Transmission
- Tune-up & Spark Plug Replacement
The goal of this series is not to make you an expert, but to help you understand these services and why they are important, so you can get in gear car maintenance. Up first: Oil Changes
May 5, 2017
Hydroplaning occurs when the tires of a vehicle ride on top of water that is on the road rather than on the surface of the road. Many drivers may not realize that hydroplaning can happen even when road surfaces are slightly damp. Hydroplaning is a very real possibility whether you are driving in heavy rain or just after a passing shower. It is important for drivers to know how to handle hydroplaning when it occurs, and more importantly how to avoid it.
Those of us who have experienced hydroplaning can attest that it’s really scary situation. If hydroplaning does ever occur while you are driving, it is important to fight the urge to brake or turn suddenly. Try to ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the contact with the road. If you must brake do it with a light pumping action. Most vehicles are now equipped with anti-lock braking systems that will safely and effectively pump automatically as you brake.
It is important to remember that hydroplaning is highly preventable. A few of the avoidable factors that contribute to the likelihood of hydroplaning include worn tire tread and improper inflation, as well as driving at high speeds.
Thanks to developments in tire technology, the tread on your tires has been designed to prevent hydroplaning by channeling and dispersing water and slush away from the face of the tire. Worn tread cannot do this because the channels lack the required depth. Under-inflated tires are also unable to disperse water properly.
Traveling at high speeds can increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. Moving at a higher speed, the tire does not have enough time to push the water out of the way, as it is designed to do. Keeping your tires in good condition and driving smart in inclement weather will go a long way in preventing hydroplaning.
Always slow down when driving through rain, snow, or slush, especially when turning or on curves. Avoid driving through puddles or standing water whenever possible.
April 19, 2017
April is National Car Care Month! Now is the time to take care of car maintenance, including any problems you put off having checked over the winter.
Car care begins with making sure you are on track with recommended regular maintenance services. Not only does this keep your vehicle running properly and performing at its best, finding problems before they escalate will save you time and money while extending the life of your vehicle.
The list below includes services are usually part of regular car maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for your recommended services and frequency:
Battery & Cables
Check Belts & Hoses
Coolant Flush and Replacement
Filters – Air and Fuel
Fluid Checks – Power Steering and Brake
Windshield Washer Fluid & Wiper Blades
Make sure your car care includes care of your tires. It is important to regularly check your tire pressure and tread depth. Check the tread depth of your tires by using the penny test. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into several different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time for a new set of tires. If the tread is in good shape, Abe’s head will be covered to about the forehead hairline.
Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle in your owner’s manual, or reference the sticker located on the driver’s side door jam. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare tire as well.
Regular tire balancing and rotation service will benefit both your car and your tires. Tire balancing promotes even tire wear and provides a smooth ride by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation is will greatly extend the life of your tires. Vehicle manufacturers have specific recommendations, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines.
March 28, 2017
When people shop for something these days their first move is typically to check prices online. Tire buying is no different. If you look for tires online, you will undoubtedly find some great low prices, but unless you know exactly what you need, you are taking a risk. Even if you are shopping for a specific tire, it may still be a gamble. If the wrong tires are sent or you have problems with them, working with an online retailer to get things right could be very time-consuming and complicated.
When you are in need of new tires you need to think about more than price. Before starting the tire buying process, here are some things to consider:
1. Vehicle Manufacturer Recommendations
The manufacturer of your vehicle will have specific recommendations regarding the best tire selection for that vehicle’s safety and performance. Read more…
February 28, 2017
Brake fluid plays an important role in the proper functioning of your vehicle’s brake system. Working under extremely high temperatures, the brake fluid facilitates the movement of the brake system’s various components. A non-compressible substance that is contained within the brake lines, brake fluid provides the force created when the brake pedal is pressed. This force is applied to each of the brake rotors on the four corners of the vehicle, effectively applying pressure to the wheels to slow or stop the movement of the vehicle.
Brake fluid is an element that needs to be periodically replaced. There are a variety of brake fluid types, so it is important to choose the right type for your vehicle. The primary types of brake fluid are glycol-based and silicon-based fluids. Glycol-based brake fluids are mostly used in vehicles with anti-lock brake systems (ABS) and vary by individual grade options. Silicone-based brake fluids are designed for use in vehicles without ABS technology. If a non-ABS vehicle has ever had a glycol-based brake fluid used in the brake system, that type of brake fluid must be continued since residual amounts of glycol will compromise the performance of a silicon-based fluid. To find out the best brake fluid option for your vehicle, refer to your owner’s manual, or ask your auto service technician.
It is necessary to drain and replace brake fluid periodically because it absorbs moisture from the air and degrades over time. Changing brake fluid at recommended intervals will assure proper brake system functioning. Brake fluid changes are typically done every one or two years, however different vehicles will have different recommendations for best performance.
Since your vehicle’s brake system and brake fluid are so crucial to its safe operation, it is really important to have this service done. It is also recommended that this service be done by a qualified professional automotive technician.
February 8, 2017
Are you doing all you can to get the longest service life from your tires? If you are not getting regular wheel alignment and tire balancing services, you are not doing all you can to protect your tire investment.
Why is Wheel Alignment Important?
Also known as “front end alignment” or “tire alignment”, wheel alignment service involves the adjustment of the angle of your vehicle’s wheels to the original position recommended by the manufacturer. Wheel alignment includes inspecting tire tread for signs of poor alignment as well as checking the toe, camber, and caster to precisely measure wheel orientation. Wheel alignment checks are typically recommended every 10,000 miles. You may need wheel alignment service before your recommended interval if you notice the vehicle pulling to one side, or if the vehicle has recently been in a collision.
Why is Tire Balancing Necessary?
Tires lose balance as you drive, so periodic tire balancing service is needed to return proper balance. As the miles on your tires accumulate tread wear causes the distribution of weight around the tire to change, creating an imbalance. Unusual shaking or vibration as you drive can result from this imbalance. During tire balancing service, the technician will use a calibrated spin balancer, testing non-moving or static balance as well as moving or dynamic balance. Tires will be adjusted to the proper balance in accordance with the test results. Tire balancing is usually every 5-6,000 miles or 6 months.
Getting wheel alignment and tire balancing service is not expensive and it does not take a lot of time to get done. It is well worth the effort to protect your tire investment.
January 19, 2017
Poor engine performance can mean serious and expensive problems for your vehicle. It is essential to catch and address engine issues early, before they result in devastating consequences. Fortunately, today’s vehicles are equipped with warning lights, including a check engine light, to let you know if there is a problem. When the check engine light illuminates, you should schedule diagnostic services to identify the problem. If the light flashes, this indicates a more serious issue that should get immediate attention.
Aside from your check engine light, here are some additional signs that your engine performance might be in trouble:
1. Power loss
Internal combustion engines convert fuel into the power required to move a vehicle. The combustion engine operation involves a four stroke cycle – intake stroke, compression stroke, combustion stroke, and exhaust stroke. Failure during any one of these strokes could result in a lack of power to the engine and compromised engine performance.
2. Unusual or excessive noise
Problems in the combustion flow can result in a wide variety of strange sounds such as knocking, hissing, popping or backfiring. Any time you hear weird noises when you start up your vehicle, consider it a warning sign and schedule a service call.
3. Poor gas mileage
Having to fill your gas tank more often than usual, could mean more than a hit to your budget. It might mean there is a problem with the compression stroke of your engine. Fixing it may be as simple as having fuel injection service or getting a tune-up. Your best course of action is to have a diagnostic performed to make sure it is not a more serious issue.
4. Engine Stalling
When it comes to automatic transmission vehicles, engine stalling is highly unusual, and probably means there is a problem with the engine. Most commonly the problem is that the intake stroke is not getting the spark or air/fuel mixture it needs. Here, too, the problem may be fixed by a tune up, but it could also be more serious, and should not go unchecked.
5. Odd smells
Like sounds, anything persistent and unusual should not be ignored with odors. Problems with the exhaust stroke could lead to strange exhaust smells to be noticeable in the vehicle.
6. Engine run-on
If your car continues to run after you turn it off, you should have it checked out. This sign of troubled engine performance is most common in high-performance vehicles. Causes of the problem might include incorrect octane gas for the vehicle, a failing solenoid, or carburetor issues.
7. Engine runs rough
Clogs in the system or old spark plugs can cause a rough running engine, as can improper octane in the gasoline or a low battery. Like the other issues mentioned, a simple tune up could be all it takes to remedy a rough running engine.
As with any vehicle problems you may encounter, the important thing is to have engine performance problems or signs addressed as soon as possible to avoid more expense and complications.
Poor engine performance can mean serious problems for your vehicle. Pay attention to these signs that your engine performance might be in trouble.