Air Conditioning: What’s that smell?

Have you been experiencing a mildew like odor when your air conditioning is on? We promise this more than likely is coming from your air conditioning, and not yourself or your passengers. That smell often is deriving from a growth of bacteria in the air conditioning system. Frequently, this occurs in older vehicles or a vehicle that gets seldom use. The bacteria build up can also come from excess moisture, caused by the air conditioning regularly being on the maximum setting.

Don’t worry this is can be fixed. Replacing your air filter will help take care of this issue. Your air filter collects dust, dirt and water and is a perfect place for bacteria to live. Best practice is to replace your air filter every 12,000 – 15,000 miles. If replacing your air filter does not eradicate the odor, your air conditioning evaporator may require a good cleaning as well.

Your local Car-X is here to help, so call or go online to schedule an appointment at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/ and we’ll investigate that pesky smell for you.

Time for Spring Car Cleaning!

spring car cleaningSpring is officially here, and with the season comes time for some Spring Cleaning. Spring Cleaning is not only something for the household or office but your car too. Now that we are all spending more time in our vehicles again, having a clean car can help with a clear and calm head.  Here are some tips to help you with your Spring Car Cleaning:

Inspect your interior
• Take out any unnecessary items. Get rid of that unwanted trash (old receipts, take out bags, empty water bottles).
• Clean the plastic surfaces with a mild spray and cloth and vacuum the remaining surfaces. (For leather surfaces, use a leather cleaner). If you don’t have a vacuum many car washes and gas stations have self service vacuums you can use, some are even free!

Exterior Wash
• It is important to give your vehicle a good hand wash a couple of times a year. Make sure that your car is not in direct sunlight when washing. Use soap specifically for cars, and a hose with a mist-spray nozzle. Wash the fender and bumper areas last. Always blast the underside of the car with the hose to remove buildup. Dry the vehicle with a drying cloth instead of letting it air dry (to avoid those ugly water drop stains).
• Once your vehicle has been cleaned, look for chips, scratches, and rust. Repair any abrasions with a touch-up kit.
• Wax your car if you want it to shine.  Paste waxes are easier to use than liquid waxes; liquid waxes cleaned the best; and spray waxes were easiest to use and left the fewest stains on plastic parts, but they didn’t last as long as other waxes.

Maintenance checks
Windshield wipers – Check your wipers; if they leave streaks, miss areas or if they are ripped, it’s time for new ones. Most blades typically last 6 months, but you can extend the life by wiping them with cloth and glass cleaner.
Tires – Check the tread on your tires and make sure they are properly inflated. The penny trick is and easy way to check tread depth!
Under the hood – Clean engine parts carefully with soap and water, being careful around electrical connections. If you find encrustation on the battery, clean it with water and baking soda.
Headlights – At around the five-year mark, many headlights become ineffective due to cloudy or yellow lenses. This can be dangerous and should be addressed. Headlight restoration kits can be found at hardware stores or online for less than $20.
Locks and hinges – Use lubricant on your locks and hinges. Check your owner’s manual, as some recommend graphite lubricant on your locks.

If your busy schedule doesn’t leave you time to get this all done in one go, break it up into small increments. Take it one step at a time to get the job done.

Spring Cleaning & Maintenance

spring car maintenance

Wash winter’s grit & road salt away and enjoy the Spring weather in your clean ride!

Spring cleaning checklist:

Undercarriage flush – With the onset of spring, all car owners should have their car’s undercarriage flushed.

De-grunge – To remove grunge you need to wash your car with a strong detergent; most car wash solutions do not have the strength to cut through the dirt. Try a solution of 1 ounce of dish-washing detergent to 3 gallons of cool water to wash your car.

Clean and Seal – If your car’s paint feels rough, you need a cleaner. If your paint has scuffs and scratches, you need a heavier polish.

Treat – If your car has a leather or vinyl interior, it needs to be treated before the onset of summer’s heat.

Dashboard Shine the dashboard with a clean fabric softener sheet. The anti-static elements will help repel dust from the dashboard.

Chrome & Windows – To clean chrome & glass, sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp rag, scrub, & rinse clean.

Hubcaps – To clean dirt & grime from hubcaps, spray with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. Let sit for 15 seconds and rinse clean.

 

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.

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

Avoid Getting Stranded!

What to do if…

…Your car won’t start

There are several possible reasons your car may not start, such as corroded cables or a light left on.

• If your car makes a clicking noise when you turn your key in the ignition – This type of sound usually indicates a dead battery. Have the battery checked and/or replaced by a certified technician.
• If your car is silent when you turn your key in the ignition – Check the battery cable connections and make sure they are tightened properly. Try starting your car again.
• If your car turns over but won’t start – Check your fuel supply. If you have plenty of gas, examine your spark plugs to ensure they are getting the electrical spark.
• If your car won’t start on cold days and your car has fuel injection – It will need professional assistance.
• If your battery seems alright – Failure to start problems can also be caused by bad ignition switches or starter connections. These can be examined and/or replaced by a certified technician.

Knowing how to jump start your car is important for if you ever do end up stranded.

1. Get out your jumper cables – Always carry a set up jumper cables in your car.

2. Find someone who is willing to assist you by using their car. Place both cars in park with the ignitions turned off and the emergency brakes on.

3. Remove the caps of both batteries.

dead car battery, how to jump start your car4. Connect the cables to the two batteries. The red cable has positive clips on each end and the black cable has negative clips. They should be attached in the correct order. One of the red clips should be attached to the positive terminal of your battery. The other red clip should be attached to the positive terminal of the other person’s car. One of the black clips should be attached to the negative terminal of the other persona’s batter. The other black clip should be attached to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the carburetor or battery.

5. Try to start your car. If it still won’t start, make sure the cables are connected properly and have the other person run their engine for a few minutes. Try to start your car again and if it still will not start, you battery may need to be replaced.

…Your car breaks down

car break downMany things can cause you car to break down. If you feel your car experiencing a problem while driving, make every possible attempt to pull over to the right-hand shoulder of the road.

• Turn on your flashers. If it is nighttime, turn on your interior lights.
• If you were unable to make it to the side of the road, remain in your vehicle and call for help. Always try to carry a cell phone with you while driving.
• Many suggest hanging a cloth or piece of paper out of the drivers’ side window. This lets other drivers know your vehicle is in trouble and to go around you, as well as alerts any police officers or highway patrol that you are in need of assistance.
• If you are familiar with your car under the hood and want to look for what the problem may be, ensure you are far enough to the side of the road and stand only on sides of the car that are far enough away from traffic. Get back in your car as soon as you’ve looked around.
• If you are concerned about getting stranded, you may want to invest in a roadside assistance program such as AAA or OnStar, which can now get to you very easily by using GPS to track your location.

An important first step to any car trouble is to refer to your owner’s manual.

Find an Automotive Brake Specialist in Your Area

Most brake specialists recommend biannual brake inspections. Why so often? Because brakes experience a lot of wear.

No one ever said stopping a moving vehicle was easy. The friction that is created each and every time a driver steps on the brakes will wear brakes down over time.

The good news is that brakes are relatively simple devices. There are really only a few things that can go wrong with them. A trained brake specialist is often able to diagnosis and correct most brake problems in short order. Where do they begin?

Like most automotive problems, brake costs get more expensive when they are ignored. If a driver hears a squeak, squeal, or scrape emanating from the brakes, he should see his brake specialist as soon as humanly possible.

The Rotors

The first thing a brake specialist will check is the brake discs or rotors. If these discs have rough spots or deep grooves on them, they may need to be replaced. Failure to do so could result in complete and total brake failure. New rotors are often affordable at only around a hundred dollars a pair, not including the cost of labor.

The Pads

Brake pads absorb most of the friction and force whenever the brakes are applies. As a result, they tend to wear down quite quickly. If a pad is less than 1/8th of an inch thick, your brake specialist will recommend that you replace it. This is always a good idea. Brake pads are inexpensive and failing to replace them could damage other, more expensive parts of your braking system. Why pay a higher brake cost tomorrow when you can settle it today?  New brake pads not only improve performance, they also eliminate most brake noise.

Brake Lines

If a brake problem is not mechanical, it may have something to do with the brake lines. Because modern braking systems use hydraulics, they rely on fluids to transfer force into pressure. If the fluids are low, the brakes will not work as they should. The most common explanation is a leak in one of the brake lines. If there is a leak, brake fluid and pressure will be lost. In extreme cases, the brake pedal will sink to the floor and the brakes will be more or less useless.

If you experience any of the aforementioned problems, contact Car-X as soon as possible.

“Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” – Sounds Your Car Is Making and What to Do About Them

"car engine maintenance","engine maintenance tips

Most of us have experienced a curious sound coming from our vehicle. It is always a little nerve-racking, as some sounds can be indicators of serious problems, while others have simple fixes. Responding appropriately to the sounds your car makes can prevent problems from worsening, thus saving you a significant amount of money. The following explains what each sound means and what you can do to get rid of it.

The first part of diagnosing a noise-related problem is to determine where it is originating. Then establish when the noise occurs and how your car behaves when the noise starts.  Find a Car-X near you to listen to what your vehicle needs.

Backfire loud bang– This can be caused by an uneven air-fuel mixture or incorrect engine timing (slipped timing belt).

Chirping or squealing while accelerating– Loose, slipping belts are typically the cause of such a sound.

Clicking or tapping in your engine– The most common reason for this sound is low oil. If your oil level is good, there could be a loss of oil pressure.

Flapping– This may be a belt that is decaying or something is interfering with one of the fans.

Hissing or sizzling under the hood– If you hear this right when the engine is turned off, something is probably leaking. Any fluid that leaks under the hood hisses or sizzles when it touches the hot equipment around it.

Humming or whirring under your car– This type of sound is difficult to pinpoint because of the echoes and reverberations of the parts underneath your vehicle. A mechanic will have to diagnose it.

Knocking in your engine– This can be caused by using an incorrect fuel or oil grade. Always be sure to follow the correct oil, gasoline, and tire air pressure guidelines in your owner’s manual.

Noise from the front end while steering– May indicate bearing failure or steering linkage wear.

Popping in your engine– Potential problems include a clogged fuel filter or ignition or spark plug problems, especially if the engine misfires with the pop.

Rattling from under your car– This can be caused by loose parts such as your exhaust system.

Squealing wheels while braking– Causes range from small, such as dirt on the brake pads or rotors, to serious, such as worn pads. Brake noises are safety issues and require immediate attention.

Scraping or grinding while braking– If the squealing has gotten worse and now sounds like a scraping sound, this means your brake pads are completely worn down or close to it. This causes damage each time you apply the brakes.

Thumping on hard acceleration– May be felt through the steering wheel or floor & can be caused by broken engine or transmission mounts.

Whining– This sound usually indicates excessive transmission wear.

Each of the sounds outlined above may indicate serious problems. By identifying the what, when, and where of the sound(s), you can have the right conversation with your mechanic and prevent a small problem from growing larger and more expensive.

Does anyone else remember the old “Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” commercials? Visit your local Car-X man today.

Extend the Life of your Used Vehicle

As the prices rise for a new car, more people are opting to buy used rather than new. If you are among the population that currently drives a used car, you know how important maintaining you car can be. The below tips will help make your used car last longer.

Drive carefully – This may seem like a no-brainer, but the way your vehicle is driven has a greater impact on its lifespan than nature. By making sure you drive the speed limit and making smooth start and go transitions, you can reduce unnecessary wear on your vehicle, in addition to improving gas mileage.
Follow recommended maintenance schedule – 40% of American drivers delay regularly scheduled maintenance to save money. Unfortunately, putting off these important checkups can eventually lead to costlier transactions. Items such as filter and fluid replacements and fixing minor repairs will help extend your vehicle’s life, as well as help you avoid poor performance or expensive repairs down the road. Simple maintenance items can make a huge difference. For example, changing your vehicle’s air filter when needed helps the engine last longer.
Keep your car clean – Remove dirt and debris from both the inside and outside of your car as often as possible. This prevents your car from aging prematurely. In addition, regularly cleaning often helps spot potential problems earlier, and gives you the opportunity to repair them before they get worse.
Monitor your cooling system – Your car’s cooling system is very important to keeping your engine well cared for. Maintaining the system along with having the right level of coolant can potentially save you thousands of dollars in future repairs.
Check Tire PressureKeep your tires in good shape – Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road, therefore, should be properly maintained. Make sure your tires have the right amount of pressure and tread and get them rotated per your owner’s manual. Your tires impact the way your vehicle handles, which in turn impacts the condition of its parts.
Use high mileage motor oil – Two-thirds of vehicles on the road are considered high mileage, and many of them are a quart or more low on motor oil. With older cars, burn-off (the evaporation of oil) is a common occurrence. The problem is magnified when you car has an inadequate amount of oil. When the oil breaks down, it deposits a dirty emission in your engine, which causes it to be less efficient and prone to failure. High mileage motor oil is designed to combat the burn-off, as well as maintain the proper amount of oil. It is recommended for all cars with over 75,000 miles.
Keep accurate maintenance records – Keep a notebook in your car and document all services performed on it. Keep all receipts and documents in a safe place should you ever need to refer to them.
Shelter – If possible, keep your car in a garage or carport of some kind. The sun’s rays can be harmful to your car, and can cause premature aging as with people.
Pay attention to your warranty – If you have a warranty on your used car that is about to expire, there are a number of things you should do before it does. These include repairing damaged or concerning parts, checking for recalls, and getting a comprehensive checkup. You may want to consider an extended warranty, such as a vehicle service contract, which covers vehicle repairs, or a maintenance contract, which covers scheduled maintenance.

Getting ready to buy?
• If you are preparing to buy a car, do your research. Check performance and maintenance ratings on all vehicles you are considering. Sites such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds can help you determine the higher rated vehicles, which typically last longer. There is a tool that calculates the True Cost to Own (TCO), which helps show the maintenance and repair costs you can expect for particular vehicles.