Happy Fall! Time to Think About Your Coolant

It’s time to start thinking about the colder days to come. Give us a call if you need your engine cooling system checked, so you’ll be ready when the temperature drops!

It’s the beginning of fall, and time to consider your coolant.

This is a good time to think about your engine cooling system. Regular inspections and pressure tests of your cooling system are of utmost importance, as is good maintenance by following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended coolant change intervals.

As time passes, the protective anti-corrosive additives in the antifreeze break down and lose their effectiveness. But antifreeze has two other very important jobs as well:

• It is used to decrease the temperature at which the coolant freezes.

• It is used to raise the temperature at which the coolant will begin to boil.

It is also very important that the proper ratio of water to antifreeze is always maintained. Unless specified otherwise by the vehicle manufacturer, the coolant in most vehicles should consist of a mixture of 50% water and 50% antifreeze before being added to the cooling system. This 50/50 solution not only prevents freezing, but also preserves proper cooling properties.

Also concerning the antifreeze to water mixture ratio: adding more antifreeze to the mix (once again, unless otherwise specified by the vehicle manufacturer) to increase its percentage in the mixture is not better. Generally speaking, after the ratio exceeds more than about 65% antifreeze to 35% water, freeze protection can actually diminish, but even worse, heat dissipation can radically decrease, since the water is the primary substance used for this purpose. Antifreeze itself actually has fairly poor heat transfer characteristics. Having too much antifreeze in the mixture can actually cause engine overheating.

Common Car Noises and What They Mean

August is Brake Safety Awareness Month– What better time to come in for a routine brake inspection?

Seven Signs Your Brakes Need to Be Inspected – Brake Safety Month

During Brake Safety Awareness Month in August, the Car Care Council reminds motorists that routine brake inspections are essential to safe driving and maintaining your vehicle.

“When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list, so have your brakes checked by an auto service professional at least once a year,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

The Car Care Council recommends that motorists watch for seven signs that their brakes need to be inspected:
1.Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
2.Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
3.Low Pedal:brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
4.Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
5.Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
6.Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
7.Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle and they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.

Using the Car Care Council’s free personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you remember to have your brakes inspected and take better care of your vehicle. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

Slide9 Brake Wear Indicator

Four Symptoms of a Sick Cooling System – Be Car Care Aware

Four Symptoms of a Sick Cooling System

June 10, 2014

With the hot summer temperatures on the rise, knowing the symptoms of a sick cooling system are critical to your summer driving plans, since cooling system failure is a leading cause of vehicle breakdowns. The most noticeable symptoms are overheating , leaks , a sweet smell of antifreeze and repeatedly needing to add coolant , according to the Car Care Council.

Coolant reservoir and level indicator- image “Neglecting your cooling system can result in serious damage and even complete engine failure, which would put a sudden end to your summer road trip,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “If the
cooling system doesn’t receive regular maintenance, it’s not a question of whether it will fail, but rather when it will fail. Performing regular checkups of belts, hoses, the water pump and fluids will ensure your car remains properly cooled and healthy for many miles down the road.”

The primary job of the engine’s cooling system is to remove the heat that is generated during the combustion process. The coolant temperature can be well over 200 degrees and that heat has to go somewhere, otherwise engine components are going to start failing. The key parts of the cooling system remove the heat from the engine and automatic transmission and dispel it to the air outside. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat and returns it to the radiator where heat is dissipated. The thermostat regulates the coolant temperature to keep it consistent for efficient engine operation.

A major factor that affects the replacement of cooling system parts is the frequency of regular maintenance, such as coolant changes. Motorists should consult their owner’s manual for specific recommendations about how often to change antifreeze and flush the coolant system. A coolant flush and fill is basic to cooling system maintenance as new antifreeze helps the engine run cooler and a flush removes dirt or sediment that could damage other cooling system parts.

Low Coolant The coolant level should be checked regularly at the reservoir and motorists are reminded to NEVER open a hot radiator cap. If the coolant is low, a 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water should be added.

Motorists can also do a visual inspection of hoses, belts and the radiator to help identify cooling system problems before they escalate. Radiator leaks, bulging hoses or frayed and cracked belts are clues that the cooling system is in need of maintenance.

Additional signs of cooling system problems include the vehicle temperature gauge rising near the danger zone, coolant leaks, steam or hissing sounds under the hood or the district smell of an engine that’s running hot.

The Car Care Council’s free personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you take better care of your vehicle this summer and throughout the year. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org .

Car Dashboard Warning Lights – Understanding What They Mean & How to Act

Shared from the website Visual.ly

A car’s dashboard is a communication device that relays important pieces of information to the driver. Utilizing a vast range of sensors and sophisticated on-board equipment, your vehicle is able to self diagnose a wide range of issues relating to its condition and performance. With the advancements in modern day motoring technology, the number of potential problems the dashboard can warn the driver on has risen dramatically. This infographic provides an overview of the most common and universally used car warning lights, what they mean and how the driver should act once illuminated.

Please note that every car has its own individual set of specific dashboard warning lights and precise information relating to each one can be found in the driver handbook. This allows consumers some ability to self diagnose a wide range of issues relating to its condition and performance.

For a comprehensive look at most warning lights and what they mean go to the following link on the Visual.ly website: http://visual.ly/car-dashboard-warning-lights-understanding-what-they-mean-how-to-act-they-mean-how-act

Keep Your Cool in Hot Summer Cars – Be Car Care Aware

Keep Your Cool in Hot Summer Cars

June 12, 2012

When it’s hot outside, one of the last places you want to be is sitting in traffic without a properly functioning air conditioning (A/C) system. To help avoid this uncomfortable situation, the Car Care Council recommends having your A/C system checked annually to make sure it is functioning at its peak performance level when the temperatures are soaring.

“Making sure your A/C system is working properly will give you the peace of mind knowing that your vehicle will keep you cool and safe when you hit the road this summer,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Not only are high temperatures harmful to the body with prolonged exposure, but they can provide unnecessary wear and tear on a vehicle.”

A vehicle’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system (HVAC) keeps the interior cabin comfortable in any season by providing the right temperature and humidity level. Typical A/C service consists of the following steps:

  • Service technician visually inspects hoses, lines, seals and other components for leaks as well as inspect the drive belt for cracks or damage.
  • Technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.
  • If the system is found to be low on refrigerant, a leak test is performed to find the source of the leak. Keep in mind that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, it is damaging the ozone layer.
  • Refrigerant may be added if necessary to “top off” the system. A technician may also check for evidence of refrigerant cross-contamination, which is the mixing of refrigerants.
  • A/C service should also include a check of the compressor’s drive belt and tension.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers

What to Do When Your Engine Overheats – Be Car Care Aware

More car fires occur every year due to deferred maintenance than accidents. Keep your family safe…

Things can get out of control quickly if you don’t know what to do when your vehicle’s temperature rises.

M any modern automobiles are so refined that you can hardly hear their engines anymore, but don’t be lulled into complacency—there’s still a combustion cycle taking place under the hood, and catastrophic overheating remains a remote possibility. That’s why you should periodically check your vehicle’s temperature gauge while driving. Every gauge has a normal stopping point once the engine is warmed up; it’s usually a bit below the midpoint line between cold and hot. It’s probably not a doomsday scenario for your engine if your gauge ever reads anywhere above normal, but it could easily become one if you don’t take prompt action. Here are the steps you’ll need to know.
Step 1: Check for steam
The one surefire indication that you’ve really got an overheating engine is that old B-movie standby: plumes of steam pouring out before your eyes. Except it likely won’t be that dramatic, so take a closer look. If you see any steam at all, proceed to Step 3 posthaste lest you meet the same fiery demise as many a B-movie villain. Steam is bad. Take it seriously.
Step 2: Turn off your A/C, Turn on your heater
If you’re the cautious type, skip directly to Step 3—but bear in mind that older engines in particular are prone to mild overheating on hot days, especially when the air conditioner has been running. There’s nothing out of the ordinary in this case; you just need to give your engine a breather. So if you don’t see any steam, you can turn off the A/C and see if that calms things down. If it doesn’t, put your heater on full-blast, which will transfer heat away from the engine. Of course, it will also transfer heat toward you, but your comfort is a lesser priority than the engine’s at this point. If these measures don’t work in short order, then you’ve definitely got a problem, and you need to stop driving and figure it out.
Step 3: Pull over and turn off your engine
When you find a safe place to stop, get there and kill the engine immediately. Do not idle the engine while you’re collecting your thoughts. Engines have to work harder to keep cool at idle than at cruising speed, and the last thing you want to do is add stress to a potentially overheating engine. So turn it off, and then take that breath. NOTE: If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, and you believe your engine is suffering from more than just temporary overload, now is the time to call for roadside assistance. The remaining steps will require you to get your hands dirty.
Step 4: Pop the hood
WARNING: Very likely it’s hotter than usual under there. You’ll get a feel for this once you’ve pulled the hood release and the hood is slightly ajar. If the heat strikes you as potentially dangerous—as it may well be—then let the engine cool down before proceeding. Only open the hood fully when you are confident that it’s safe to do so.
Step 5: Check coolant levels
Your engine should have a coolant reservoir in the vicinity of the radiator (see your owner’s manual for the exact location). This is usually made of plastic and thus unlikely to be dangerously hot. Check the coolant level in this reservoir. If it’s normal, you’re in luck—chances are you’ve just got a malfunctioning temperature gauge. As long as there are no other signs of overheating, you can restart the engine and proceed with caution. If it’s low or empty, however, there’s probably a coolant leak somewhere. Calling for roadside assistance is strongly advised here, though the more mechanically inclined might first inspect the radiator hoses for loose clamps and such.

Step 6: If you need to keep driving…

Wait until you’re certain that the engine is cool, protect your hand with a thick glove or rag, and twist off the radiator cap. Coolant is normally visible just below where the cap sits (your owner’s manual will have the details), but if your engine’s overheating, the coolant in your radiator should be visibly depleted. Be sure to refill both the radiator and the reservoir, using coolant or—if necessary—water. This should bring the temperature down once you’re underway, but remember, you’ve got a serious leak somewhere, so be vigilant. If the temperature starts rising again, you’ll have to pull over and repeat the process. Incidentally, by no means should you view this as a long-term solution—your engine needs professional help, so get your mechanic on the job as soon as you can.

Get Your Car Ready for a Road Trip – Be Car Care Aware

Get Your Car Ready For A Road Trip

Whether you are going for a day trip or taking a week long vacation, DriverSide is here to help make your road trip memorable and fun.
The weather’s warming and the birds are chirping. Make no mistake about it, it’s time to get your car ready for the first road trip of the season. Whether you’re headed north for some last-minute skiing or toward the coast for some fun in the sand, there are a few things you can take care of before you set off that will make your drive as easy going as the rest of the trip. They might even save you some cash by keeping you off of the side of the road, too.
Whether your trip is 100 miles down the road or 1,000, it’ll pay to get your car up to speed on all of its regular maintenance. That means taking care of any fluids that may have been neglected over the winter. If you can’t remember the last time you checked, changed or topped off your oil, coolant, brake or transmission fluid, go ahead and swap them out for brand-new examples. In the case of your oil or automatic transmission, make sure you get a high-quality filter, too. It may seem like overkill to take care of all of your fluids at once, but think of it as cheap insurance. Which is better? A $30 oil change or a new engine? Even we can do the math on that one.

Go ahead and have your tires rotated and inspected, too. The last thing you need is to head off into the sunset on bald or dry rotted tires. A blowout at interstate speeds can be both frightening and dangerous, even if you do make it to the side of the road. Err on the side of caution and replace any tires that look suspect. Again, it may seem expensive at the time, but we guarantee it’ll be cheaper than having to get someone to tow your car to some no-name garage in the middle of the night for new rubber. Once you’ve made sure everything looks good, take a look at your tire pressure. With everything up to spec, you’ll get better gas mileage and your vehicle will handle and stop better.
With the vehicle’s wheels off, it’s a good time to take a look at the car’s brakes, too. Are your rotors warped or cracked? Do they have deep grooves or are your pads warn close to their minimum clearance? Your vehicle will be experiencing harsh conditions for much longer than your daily commute to and from work, so once again it’ll pay to nip any potential problems in the bud now rather than deal with them a few hundred miles down the road.
With the major issues taken care of, you can focus on easy-to-do items. Have a friend help you check all of your vehicles lights. A burnt-out bulb is a great way to get a visit from the local police department while you’re on a trip. New bulbs only cost a few dollars and are easy to install. Some parts locations like Advanced Auto Parts or Autozone may even help you install them for free.
The same goes for windshield wipers. If your blades are more than six months old, odds are it’s time to swap them out for new ones. Bad windshield wipers can make driving in the rain in a foreign land a nightmare. Again, new wipers are cheap compared to getting into a fender bender just because you can’t see the guy in front of you.
Last but not least, give your car a good top to bottom cleaning. Pull out any and all unnecessary items from the trunk and backseat. Doing so will this help with your vehicle’s fuel economy, freeing up more cash for food and brew once you arrive. Making sure your windows are clean will also improve your visibility and reduce the likelihood of steamy glass. Remember, greater visibility reduces your chance of bumping someone in traffic. Nothing ruins a vacation quicker than an accident.
Knocking out simple preventative maintenance can go a long way toward keeping everyone smiling as you head on down the road. You may never know if what you’ve done has actually kept you out of trouble, but in this case, it’s better not to test your luck.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light is part of your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) system. Computers have control and monitor vehicle performance, regulating such variables as engine speed (RPM), fuel mixture, and ignition timing, and may even tell the automatic transmission when to shift.

When the electronic-control system finds a problem it cannot adjust, the computer turns on a yellow warning indicator and stores a trouble code in it’s memory. These diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) help identify the probable source of the problem, such as a malfunctioning sensor or a misfiring engine and can be read with a scan tool or diagnostic computer. Vehicle manufacturers originally used the OBD system to help technicians pinpoint and troubleshoot malfunctions. Exactly what the OBD system looks for depends on the make, model and year of the vehicle.

The original systems varied widely in their capabilities and some did little more than check whether the various electronic sensors were hooked up and working. With the advent of the OBD II systems, required under federal laws regulating automotive emissions, automakers were required to install a more sophisticated system that, for all intents and purposes, acts like a built-in emissions monitoring station. The check engine light is reserved only for problems that may have an effect on the vehicle emissions systems.

What does it mean?

If the check engine light illuminates, it will either blink or remain constant, depending on the problem. Either way, you should have the vehicle checked by a Qualified Service Technician as soon as possible.

If the light is steady. The problem is not an emergency, but you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

A blinking light usually indicates a severe engine misfire allowing unburned fuel to be dumped into the exhaust system. There it can quickly raise the temperature of the catalytic converter to a point where damage is likely, requiring an expensive repair. If this occurs, you should reduce power and have the vehicle checked as soon as possible.

Today’s automotive computers often try to compensate when there’s a problem: so you may not notice deterioration in performance, even though your fuel mileage is suffering and your vehicle may be emitting unacceptable levels of hydrocarbons and/or other pollutants.

If the check engine light comes on:

Look for a serious problem that requires immediate attention.

Check your dashboard gauges and lights for indications of low oil pressure or overheating. These conditions mean you should pull over and shut off the engine as soon as you can find a safe place to do so.

Try tightening your gas cap.
This often solves the problem. Keep in mind that it may take several trips before the light resets. Some vehicles have a separate indicator that warns of a loose gas cap before the condition sets off the check engine light.

Reduce speed and load.
If the check engine light is blinking or you notice any serious performance problems, such as a loss of power, reduce your speed and try to reduce the load on the engine. For example, it would be a good idea to stop towing a trailer. Have the car checked as soon as possible to prevent expensive damage.

Have the code read and the problem fixed.
Take the vehicle to a professional. Some automotive parts stores will read and interpret the code for you. However, unless there is an easy solution to the problem, you should have the vehicle diagnosed by a qualified service technician directly tell what’s wrong, so you have to test to find the real culprit. This is where the real meaning of codes comes into play. The only thing a code really indicates is which system or circuit to test in order to isolate the actual problem.

Each numerical code has a matching-numbered test procedure. Following that test will direct you to the problem. Each step of each test must be performed in absolute sequence. skipping steps or performing steps out of sequence could make the entire test worthless. Tests may also give you voltage, resistance, temperature, or time specifications, which are exact values. Close doesn’t count.

Don’t confuse the Check Engine light with the maintenance reminder or service interval light. These lights illuminate when a routine service is due. They are usually triggered by mileage, amount of fuel consumed, or some other type of vehicle-use measurement.

Things to watch for

  • The conditions of the battery and charging system are critical to the proper operation of the electronic control system. Both should be routinely checked by measuring cranking and engine running battery voltage
  • Make sure the battery rating meets at least the minimum cranking amperage (CA or CCA) requirement for your vehicle
  • The fan/alternator or serpentine belt on your vehicle is an integral part of the charging system. Belts should be inspected for signs of wear and proper adjustment
  • Loose or corroded cable ends may prevent your battery from maintaining a full state of charge

New Infographic: 6 Vehicle Warning Smells

The new inforgraphic from the Car Care Council outlines six car smells that could mean trouble for your vehicle. The infographic is based off a recent press release titled “Six Vehicle Warning Signs Your Nose Can Recognize” and a non-technical approach to understanding when something may be wrong with your car.

Remember, once you know what a smell may be, don’t delay in fixing it to ensure you are safe on the road!