How To Know If Your Brakes Need To Be Replaced

The brake pads are an essential factor in your braking system. They protect the rotor from damage and distribute heat from friction. Many problems could arise if the brake pads are worn down more than a quarter of an inch. The metal “wear indicators” making friction with the rotor can cause warping or cracking. Without brake pads, the heat from fiction won’t distribute evenly, which could cause the entire braking system to overheat and fail. Replacing the entire braking system will be much more expensive than getting new brake pads. Here are 4 warning signs that you may need new brakes.

Strange noises

Squealing, buzzing, or scraping sounds- Wear indicators are metal tabs near the top of the brake pads. As the brake pad wears down, the indicator will scrape against the rotor. The grating noises sound as an alarm to the driver to replace the brake pads. Neglecting these sounds can result in warped or cracked rotors.

Clicking noise- A holding device and/or clips, bolts, and pins hold the brake pads in place. You may hear a clicking or rattling noise if the brake pad has become loose.

Braking takes longer than it used to

You may begin to feel the brakes’ lack of performance when you’re driving. Be on the lookout for longer stop times or needing to apply more pressure when braking. These are clear warning signs that you’ll need to get your brakes inspected immediately.

Shifting to one side

Sometimes the brake pads wear thinner on one side faster than the other. Your car may pull slightly to the left or right when pressing on the brakes if this occurs. You run the risk of damaging your steering system if this problem is ignored. Other issues, such as uneven tire pressure, can cause uneven shifting of the car. Determine the root cause of uneven stopping by getting an inspection ASAP.

Brake pedal vibrates

A rotor in poor condition will cause the brake pedal to vibrate when stopping. An uneven grasp on the brakes will cause the rotor to become scarred, warped, rusted, or cracked. This will cause a vibration or pulsation while braking.

The braking system is one of the most critical safety features of your vehicle. Issues or concerns about brakes should not be dismissed, as negligence can lead to an accident, expensive fees in repairs, and damage to other systems in your car.

If you’ve noticed any of these issues when braking, visit your local Car-X for an inspection or repair service today: https://www.carx.com/location_search/

Why You Should Avoid Potholes on the Road

The months of December- April are considered pothole season. Potholes are formed in the pavement due to the expansion (freezing) and contraction (thawing) of ground water from rain and snow, and from heavy traffic.

While potholes usually only develop to a depth of a few inches, if they become large enough, they can cause damage to your car’s tires, wheels, suspension, and undercarriage.

How Potholes Affect Your Car

Tires and wheels Potholes typically have rough edges which can compress the tire. The impact could cause tread separation of the tires or even a flat. Running over a deep pothole can scratch the rims or bend and crack the wheels.

Suspension Repeated jolts from potholes accelerate the rate of wear and tear on your steering and suspension system. Your car’s suspension is made to absorb impact but sometimes an unruly pothole can cause damage. Misalignment, broken ball joints, or damaged shocks are all possible outcomes. Look out for any strange noises, vibrations, or pulling in one direction while driving.

Undercarriage Smaller cars are lower to the ground which makes damage to the low-hanging bumpers and sidings more likely. While this damage is mostly cosmetic, it can be a costly repair.

Exhaust pipes Your exhaust pipes are one of the lowest-hanging parts of your car. This makes them a perfect target for potholes. Damage to the exhaust system includes scraping or puncturing of the pipes. You’ll know right away if the exhaust system is damaged from a lot of noise and possibly loss of power. Concerns about the exhaust system should be addressed as soon as possible.

How to Avoid Potholes

Sometimes running over a pothole is unavoidable- they can come up quickly and are sometimes impossible to maneuver around due to surrounding traffic. Swerving or braking quickly can do more harm by causing a collision with other cars on the road.

Your best bet is to slow down while driving and if you must go over a pothole- keep your wheel straight. If there is no surrounding traffic, carefully check your mirrors and maneuver around it.

Avoid flat tires or bent wheels by making sure your tires are properly inflated. Check your vehicle’s proper inflation level on the sticker found in the driver-side doorjamb or owner’s manual. If you notice any loud noises, uneven rolling, or a bulge or dent in your tires, get your vehicle inspected immediately at a local Car-X Tire & Auto.

How to know your wipers need to be replaced

Most of us pay little attention to our wipers, until we need them the most. The rain is coming down fast and thick and you can’t see 5ft in front of you. You turn on your wipers and you can barely see out better than you could before. Your heart begins to race as you guess how far in front of you that car is and where the road lines are, and that is when accidents happen. Before this occurs, take a look at your wipers from time to time and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they torn, cracked or even broken off in some places?
  • Are your wipers causing streaks or leaving grime after using wiper fluid?
  • Do you hear a chattering sound when using your wipers?
  • Are the wiper frames distorted/bend?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, you need new wiper blades. It is good practice to get ahead of these problems and change your wipers when the seasons change. This is not a costly maintenance, so make the choice to remain safe on the roads and get some new wiper blades. We at Car-X are more than happy to help you replace them if you don’t know how to do it. Call, or go online to www.carx.com to make an appointment today.

Driving in Hazardous Weather

Winter driving, snow tires

Preparation, practice, staying calm and caution are the keys to staying safe in hazardous driving conditions. Conditions such as snow, heavy rain, or even thick fog often relate to an increase in traffic incidents/crashes. Don’t let this make you think that a little bit of snow or rain doesn’t also call for precautions when driving. Vehicles leave oils and exhaust that can accumulate on roads and a small amount of precipitation can lead to slick and slippery road conditions. Though, there may be times where you cannot protect yourself from every danger on the road you can do your part to minimalize the risk.

Driving in Fog

Fog is more common in the colder months and reduces visibility and gives an incorrect perception of your current driving speed. If you feel at any point that you are unsafe to drive or if visibility is so poor, make the choice to pull over on the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If the weather conditions are bad stay in your car and wait for the fog to dissipate. It is not easy to say how long that will take but it is always best to take the safe route when in dangerous weather while driving.

If you must drive in the fog, following are some tips:

  • Use your low beam headlights, whether it is day or night. High beams will reflect light back at you in fog, making it even more difficult to see. Use fog lights if your vehicle has them.
  • Make sure your windshield is clear and use your wipers and defrosters as needed to increase your visibility.
  • Always signal well in advance for turns and brake early when approaching a stop to help others see your vehicle.
  • Keep your windows and lights clean to improve visibility.

Driving on Slick/Slippery Roads

Rain is at times not the only cause for slippery roads, any time water gets on the road it can be dangerous to drive. When the weather is dry the oil from our vehicles builds up on the roads and then when it mixes with fresh rain the road conditions can turn hazardous. Large amounts of rain fall, especially when coupled with freezing cold, also leads to slippery conditions.

Tips for driving on slippery roads:

  • Slow down – there is less friction causing reduced traction. When you completely lose traction that is when hydroplaning can happen, sending your car out of control.
  • Increase space between other cars – with less traction you will need more room to brake.
  • Turn on headlights – increase your car’s visibility to other cars.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Drive in the tracks of the cars in front of you – the path the car in front of you is leaving less water on that part of the road.
  • Check your tires – The tread on your tire helps channel water out the way and helps provide traction. If your tire tread is low, you increase the risk of losing control of your vehicle.

For the colder months the same applies to snow and ice. During winter weather conditions it is important to regularly check your car tires for low tire pressure and tread depth, along with your battery. Extreme cold often leads to a dead battery and that is the last thing you want when out in winter weather. Also, remember to make sure your gas tank always has at least a half tank full during the winter.

Car sitting idle for weeks or months? Here’s what you need to know.

car sitting idle, auto repair, car maintenance, car care

Has your car been sitting for weeks? Maybe even Months? If so, there are some things you need to know to keep your car working properly for when you need it. The main issue that you might run into is a dead battery. That is why it is good practice to drive your car for a few minutes every two to three weeks. The last thing you want to happen is to be in an emergency situation where you need to use your car and it won’t start due to a dead battery.

A dead battery is the main concern but there are other issues that can occur with letting your car sit dormant for too long. You many also run into a problem with your tires. Over time, and especially in the colder months, your tires will slowly lose air pressure and if you don’t refill the tires and continue to let the car sit this can cause permanent flat spots. Driving with flat spots on your tires will cause a bumpy ride and even a bit of noise. By keeping your tires inflated and driving your car every couple of weeks, you will avoid this problem and help retain your tire’s shape.

A less common issue that can happen is rodent infestation in your car. Sometimes rodents will take up residence under the hood or even in the exhaust pipe. The biggest problem that can happen is the rodents may chew through wiring harnesses and other parts made of soy and other organic materials used on modern vehicles.

Make sure to do a routine check on your car every couple of weeks. Drive it for a few miles to make sure everything is working. Keep your tires inflated and gas tank full. If you find yourself with a dead battery, flat tire, or even damage by rodents your local Car-X is here to help. Find your Car-X here.

Are Your Tires Ready For Winter?

With the winter season upon us, it is inevitable we will soon be dealing with colder temperatures, snow, and ice. Properly maintained tires are vital to the safety of your vehicle during the winter months. Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road. Because of this, there are a few precautions you should take before the weather becomes unfavorable.

• All four of your tires should be the same type, size, tread pattern, speed rating, and load index. Differences in these factors can negatively affect a vehicle’s handling and stability.
• Proper inflation and pressure are imperative. Having inadequate tire pressure can cause unnecessary wear, as well as impact your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Keep in mind that as the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tires. Make it a priority to check your tires’ pressure every few weeks in the winter.
• Have your tires checked for proper alignment and tread. This is something that should be done on a regular basis, but is most crucial to have done in preparation for winter.
• Make sure your tires are in good shape, or get new ones. Tires that are worn, cracked, or out of balance can seriously hinder your ability to drive and control your car. The majority of winter accidents are caused by loss of control of the vehicle on snowy or icy roads.
• Should you decide to get new tires, winter or snow tires are the best bet for those living in regions that have particularly cold and snowy winter months. Snow tires can provide up to 20% better snow traction than all-season tires. With snow tires, you receive the benefits of shorter braking distances as well as more predictable and controllable turning.
• If you choose not to purchase winter/snow tires, be sure to check the tread on your current tires. The next time you do purchase tires, check for deep grooves on the edges of the tires. These types of grooves move both snow and water outwards from underneath your tire, creating better handling and traction year-round.

Should your College Student Take their Car to School?

taking car to collegeBack to school can be a time of big decisions for parents and students. One of the most difficult is whether or not to take a car away to college. Consider the following when making this decision:

Responsible use – Has your child done his or her part in taking care of their vehicle so far? Have they driven safely and not had a problem with speeding tickets or accidents? Keep in mind the atmosphere of college inevitably means less supervision and more opportunities for poor decisions, so trust is a major factor.

School policy – Colleges have varying policies on cars for students. Many universities don’t allow first-year students to bring cars to campus. If your student’s school does allow vehicles, the next thing to look into is parking. Will there be a nearby lot or deck they can park in, or will they have to park further away? If the parking area safe?

• Convenience to family – Does it make sense to the rest of the family that your student’s car be gone for semesters at a time? There could be younger siblings near or of driving age that may need the car.

Jobs or internships – If your student has a part-time job or internship this fall, especially off-campus, then it is important they have a reliable means of transportation.

Cost – Does your child have a way to pay for gas, parking permits, etc., or will you be covering that? Come up with a plan, such as you paying a certain percentage if your student maintains a certain GPA.

Rules – Should you make the decision your student will take their car, establish some ground rules. Classmates will surely ask to borrow or drive the car at some point.

Alternatives – Should you decide your student won’t take their car, there are several alternatives to having a car on campus to consider.

Get Summer Road Ready

Are you ready for the Summer?
Summer Road Trip
Let the ASE Certified Techs at Car-X Tire & Auto  make sure your vehicle is safe & road ready!

Get vacation ready w/ the following tips:

Battery– Have your battery checked along with the charging system. Most people feel that the cold is tough on a vehicle’s battery, but it is heat that truly wears a battery out!

Tires– Have your tires checked for wear and have them rotated if needed. Teen-agers really do not enjoy changing tires while on vacation. Swimming and boating is a lot more desirable to them then this activity.

Cooling system– Ensure that your coolant can handle the extra heat you will be asking it to absorb and make sure it is still protecting all the different metals in your engine. Have the belts and hoses checked as well. The number one reason for vehicle break down while on the road is a blown heater hose.

Fluids– Make sure that all critical fluids are full and ready to make the long trip with no problems along the way! This list includes engine oil, transmission fluid, brake and power steering fluid, and also differential fluid. Change any of these fluids that are at the end of their useful life.

A/C– No time is the air conditioning system needed more then during a long road trip with the family all on board the vehicle. Cooler inside temperatures usually mean cooler tempers and a lot more enjoyable road trip. The A/C system should be checked for proper performance including compressor operation along with the cooling fans. You need to ensure that vehicle will be properly cooled when the outside heat is 90 plus degrees. Most newer vehicles are now equipped with a cabin filter and this needs checked yearly especially if anyone in the family suffers from allergies. Lastly, the A/C system should be checked for any small leaks so that the A/C does not quit half-way through your fun filled vacation trip.

How to Maximize Fuel Economy

Improving fuel economy is a matter of changing your driving habits. The benefits range from environmental to personal and financial. Here are some easy and effective tips on maximizing your fuel economy.

  • Drive Conservatively – Rapid acceleration and hard braking can reduce your fuel economy by 15-30% at highway speeds (10-40% in stop and go traffic).
  • Use Cruise Control – Cruise control reduces the fluctuations in speed keeping your car at a consistent pace helping to saving gas.
  • Avoid unnecessary Idling – Between 1 quarter to ½ gallon of fuel per hour is used when idling. Turn off your engine until you’re ready to get on your way, restarting your engine only uses 10 seconds worth of fuel. Only shut off your engine when it is safe to do so.  
  • Practice Proper car Maintenance:
    • Remove any extra items from your car – More weight = more fuel your car needs to use
    • Change your oil regularly
    • Check your tire pressure
    • Check your engine air filter and replace if needed
    • Choose to roll down your windows instead of using AC
    • Regularly track your fuel economy

What to Keep in Your Car at All Times

Ask yourself this: If you were stuck with a flat tire, a dead battery, an empty gas tank, a blown gasket or any number of other car troubles, would you be prepared? Most drivers try not to think about the possibility of being in any of those situations, but the fact is it happens more often than what we would think. Throw in the factor of bad weather, especially come the winter months and that probability of getting stranded increases.

When these events occur having an emergency kit can make a large difference in your experience. Having some of these items can help you get yourself back on the road sooner than later or at least can help keep you safe until someone can come to the rescue.

There is no limit to what you can have in your emergency kit but there are some things that are essential to have. Below is a list of those essential items to keep in your vehicle:

  • Lighting – Flares, Flashlight, Reflective Lighting

No. 1 on your emergency kit checklist should be lighting. Reflective lighting triangle and flares will help notify other drivers of the roadside hazard. We suggest getting Led battery-operated flares, they are longer lasting and reusable. A flashlight is also very important to have on hand to help you investigate the issue with your car. It is important to keep extra batteries as well. 

  • Jumper Cables/ Jump Starter

Car batteries often die or lose juice at the least opportune moments, having jumper cables can be the difference between waiting for 10 minutes to find another driver to jump your car or hours for a tow truck to get out to you. Another option is having a jump starter. This device acts like the battery of another vehicle with jumper cables directly attached. The instructions are the same procedure as jumping your battery with another person’s vehicle. Often these devices have multipurpose uses, some come with an air compressor and a flashlight attached. The only thing that you must make sure to do if you decide to get a jump starter is to make sure to charge it. Without a charge it will be useless, so it is always good to have a separate set of regular jumper cables.

  • First Aid Kit

The first aid kit is a must have item for your emergency kit. You can find prepack kits that will have all the essentials for small to more serious injuries. It is easy to injury yourself while trying to get your car back up and going. Be prepared for the worst and always hope for the best.

  • Blankets/Warm Clothing

These items are more essential in inclement weather conditions. If your car loses power completely and leaves you stranded on a winters day or evening the temperature in your car will decrease at a very fast pace. Make sure that you keep these items easily accessible to avoid leaving your car door open for longer than necessary, letting in the cold air

  • Spare Tire & Tools

Most of our vehicles have a spare tire or at least should. You should always double check to make sure you have a spare and to make sure that spare is properly inflated. A flat tire and a flat spare tire a recipe for disaster or having a properly inflated spare tire but no tools to switch out the tires. Ensure that you have the proper tools to use your spare tire when the time comes.