Recognizing the Signs of Engine Damage

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Recognizing the Signs of Engine Damage

It’s not always easy to recognize when your vehicle is suffering from engine damage as symptoms can be overlooked and seen as “normal.” While not all sounds and smells may threaten the life of your engine, there are some obvious warning signs that require a vehicle inspection right away.

“Early diagnosis of engine damage can most likely be treated, but it is important to be aware of potentially damaging symptoms and have the vehicle inspected if something doesn’t seem right,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “By acting quickly and making necessary repairs as soon as possible, you could be saving yourself from the cost and hassle of breaking down along the road.”

One of the signs of engine trouble is an illuminated check engine light. This light indicates that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly, even if the vehicle appears to be running normally. Ignoring the check engine light can negatively impact your fuel economy or cause damage resulting in more costly repairs.

Many motorists are familiar with the noises their vehicles make on a daily basis. However, any noise that is new, different or suspicious may indicate a problem, including a high-pitched squeal, grinding or thumping. Sounds under the hood, such as hissing, can also indicate that your vehicle is in need of attention.

Although all cars burn fossil fuels that create undesired emissions, these odors should remain outside of the car. Unusual smells that could signal engine damage include burnt rubber, hot oil, gasoline, the sweet smell of syrup, burning carpet and rotten eggs. When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it.

Another symptom of engine damage is excessive amounts of smoke or steam. Although some smoke is normal, excessive amounts of dark smoke, in particular, indicates that oil is leaking into the combustion chamber and is being burned along with the gasoline.

If you have questions about your vehicle or need to schedule a service appointment, please give us a call at (866) 822-9314.

When Should You Rotate Your Tires?

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When Should You Rotate Your Tires?

Being a front tire can be hard work. A front tire typically has to deal with more weight including the car’s engine, is responsible for all of the steering duties, and when you hit the brakes – the front tires get all of the vehicle’s weight shifting forward. All of these factors can lead to uneven tire wear between the front and back tires.

By rotating your tires to different positions on your vehicle, you help avoid uneven tire wear. This helps you extend the life of your tires, maintain a smooth ride and get better gas mileage.

So how often do they need to be rotated? Schedules range from every 3,000 to 7,000 miles. Your owner’s manual will have specific directions for your vehicle but typically rotating your tires every other time you change your oil should keep them wearing evenly.

Which direction should you rotate the tires? Side to side? Front to back? Do the hokey pokey and turn your tires around? Again, your owner’s manual will have a recommended pattern for your vehicle.

If you have a full-size spare tire (not a small “donut” spare), you should include the spare in the rotation so all five tires wear evenly. Follow the normal rotation pattern, but put the spare at the right rear corner. Whichever tire would have gone to the right rear goes in the trunk and becomes the new spare.

If you have questions about your vehicle’s tires, please call our service department at (866) 822-9314.

Are You Ruining Your Transmission with These 5 Common Bad Habits?

Are You Ruining Your Transmission with These 5 Common Bad Habits?

Is it okay to coast down a hill in neutral? Should you put the car in neutral when you come to a stop? What is the safest way to launch an automatic car? Is it okay to switch from reverse to drive while the vehicle is moving? What happens when you put the vehicle in park?

This video from Engineering Explained gives you the answers to these questions about driving with an automatic transmission. Here are the highlights:

Never coast downhill in neutral. Most modern automatic transmissions cut fuel to the engine on their own, so putting your car in neutral won’t save you any gas. More importantly, it takes some control away from you and it’s illegal in 15 states.

Never switch directions without stopping. Make sure you come to a complete stop before going from drive to reverse or vice versa. Otherwise you’re using your transmission to stop the vehicle instead of letting your brakes do their job, which isn’t a good idea.

Never “launch” your vehicle. Don’t rev your car’s engine in neutral and drop into drive to propel yourself forward, because it’s a fast way to wear out the bands in your transmission (they’re expensive to replace).
Never put your car in neutral at a stop light – it won’t save you any measurable fuel (a tiny fraction of a gallon at most) and it can cause wear on the transmission.

Never shift into park until you’ve come to a complete stop. Some cars won’t even let you do this, but you should never attempt it in any case – you may damage or break the locking pin that’s used to keep your transmission from running.

If you have questions about your vehicle or need to schedule service, please give us a call at (866) 822-9314.

Should You Worry about the Puddle Under Your Car?

Knowing how to identify that mysterious puddle under your car can help prevent small problems from turning into big ones.

Green, pastel blue or fluorescent orange fluid found under the front center of the car often indicates an antifreeze leak caused by a bad hose, a failing water pump or a leaking radiator. Too little coolant can cause overheating and serious engine damage. Plus, pets like to lap this stuff up, and you don’t want a vet bill on top of a repair bill.

A dark brown or black oily fluid usually means the engine is leaking oil. A bad seal or gasket could cause the leak, which is often found under the engine but can occur anywhere along the length of the vehicle.

A thin fluid that smells like gas is-you guessed it-probably gas, and this can lead to car fires, so you’ll want to get it checked out.

A blue fluid that is thin and feels like water is most likely windshield washer fluid. This isn’t a serious leak until that moment when go to hit your wipers and, rather than cleaning your windshield, you just smear everything around and make it worse.

Clear, oily liquid is usually brake fluid that shows up around the wheels. This can lead to brake failure if not taken care of.

Pink, red or clear drops may be a leak of either automatic transmission fluid or power-steering fluid.

And finally, a puddle of clear water is usually no problem. It may be normal condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioner.

If you have questions about your vehicle or need to schedule a service appointment, please call us at (866) 822-9314.

4 Issues That Cause Your Car to Shake

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4 Issues That Cause Your Car to Shake

Having your car shake, rattle, and roll while you’re driving can be both annoying and potentially unsafe. These questions may help to pinpoint the cause:

Does the vibration get more intense when you drive faster?

If so, the cause of the problem may be a bent axle. If you’ve recently had an accident, it’s possible that your axle is damaged. Another possibility is that the driveshaft-the spinning part between the engine and the gears that turn the vehicle’s wheels-is bent.

Does the vibration get worse when you hit the brakes? Feel a Pulsation in the Pedal?

You could have a problem with a warped brake rotor, the part that spins in relation to vehicle speed and is gripped by the brake pads to slow the car to a stop. Instead of being uniformly flat all the way across, a warped rotor is raised or depressed on part of its surface. The calipers and brake pads, which squeeze the brake rotors, can’t get an even grip on a warped rotor, resulting in vibration when you brake.

Do you feel the vibration mainly through your steering wheel?

Your first guess might be an alignment problem, but often the cause has more to do with wobbly wheels. If a wheel is not screwed on properly, or there’s a problem with the wheel bearings, tie-rod ends, or ball joints, you can end up with a vibration problem. Another source of wobble is a wheel that deviates from a perfectly circular rotation when it is spun.

OK, but what’s the most common cause of vehicle vibration?

Your tires.

If your car vibrates at various speeds, you may need a tire balance. If you notice uneven tire wear, then you may need a tire rotation. If your tires aren’t perfectly round and they’re rolling unevenly, then it may be time to have them replaced.

If your vehicle is vibrating, your best bet is to let us take a look so we can diagnose the exact problem. And, as with all car maintenance, the sooner you fix the problem, the better your chances for avoiding a bigger, more expensive one down the road.

To schedule an appointment with one of our certified technicians, please give us a call at (866) 822-9314.

Why You Should Clean Your Steering Wheel

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Why You Should Clean Your Steering Wheel

Your steering wheel is one of the most-used parts of your car, but it’s also usually one of the least-cleaned. Leather steering wheels have natural pores and crevices that can easily collect dirt, grime, oil, food residue, and who knows what else, especially in the areas where you typically grip the wheel.

The good news is that cleaning a steering wheel is quick and easy.

The first step is to remove any loose dirt and grime. You can pick up a good leather cleaner at many stores or through Amazon (Meguiar’s is a popular leather cleaner). Spray a small amount of the product on a cloth – we recommend spraying it on the cloth rather than directly on the wheel, since this helps prevent overspray from reaching your instrument cluster. And it’s best to use a microfiber towel rather than terrycloth, which can spread lint all over the place.

Gently wipe the wheel, making sure you don’t rub too hard-you’ll be surprised at how much dirt comes off! Then use a damp cloth to wipe off any excess cleaner and dry the wheel with a dry microfiber towel.

The second very important step is to protect your cleaned steering wheel by replenishing the oils with a good conditioner that will help keep the leather soft, flexible, and durable. Apply the product and allow the oils to be absorbed, then simply rub it down with a clean towel to remove any excess.

Why You Need to Check Your Car’s Hoses

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Why You Need to Check Your Car’s Hoses

Over time, hoses can weaken and if they’re not replaced, they can cause the engine to overheat. This is especially important with summer coming along.

In a recent survey, about 10% of vehicles inspected had a hose that needed replacing. Yet in most cases, the owners were totally unaware of the condition of these parts.

When the weather heats up, the last thing you want is one of your car hoses to break down causing an overheated engine and leaving you stranded. We’ll walk you through this easy monthly maintenance check you can do yourself.

Most hoses fail from the inside out. Rubber hoses, which are actually made of neoprene or other synthetic materials, can deteriorate with age and exposure to heat. Tiny cracks develop in the rubber, which eventually cause the hose to split, blister, or leak. Oil on the outside of the coolant hose can also accelerate the breakdown of the hose material. This type of deterioration can usually be seen on the outside.

When you check your hoses, you should first make sure the engine is cold to avoid any chance of burning yourself. The easiest way to check the condition of a hose is to squeeze it. It should feel firm but flexible. Worn hoses often feel squishy. Look for any signs of:

1. Softness and swelling
2. Hardening and cracks
3. Chafing and heat damage

Hoses are a relatively inexpensive part to replace, but the damage caused by a bad hose can lead to a very costly repair.

If you have questions about your vehicle’s hoses, or want to schedule a service appointment, please call us at (866) 300-4805.