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

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.

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.
4. 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

Many 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.

Holiday Driving Safety

Due to the excessive number of travelers driving during the holiday season, it is important to remember the following to avoid any possible trouble on the road.

• Plan ahead – Plan time preceding your trip to assure your car is tuned up and ready for travel. Plan the route you will take, and leave early to ensure you get to your destination safely.
• Check your oil – Depending on how far you are traveling, it may be necessary to get your oil changed.
• Check your tires – Check the tread, and ensure there is sufficient tire pressure. This helps improve handling and increases your tires’ resistance to damage.
• Buckle up – Passengers have a lower tendency to wear their seatbelts during long road trips. Unfortunately, holidays are one of the most vital times to be buckled up due to the increased amount of cars on the road.
• Stay alert – Pull over and rest or switch drivers every so often. It is imperative to stay refreshed while driving during such a busy time of the year. Plan to make stops along the way.
• Slow down – Speeding can result in a ticket, a car accident, or worse. Slowing down also increases fuel efficiency.
• Avoid distractions – Do not use your cell phone or GPS while driving.
• Bring a safety kit – Include a flashlight, food and drinks, jumper cables, a first aid kit, an ice scraper, and anything else you feel you may need in the case of an emergency.
• Don’t over-indulge – If there will be drinking at your holiday celebration, designate a driver.

The holidays are all about family and friends. By taking a few extra steps when planning your trip, you can prevent any problems regarding travel and enjoy the festivities.

Should your College Student Take their Car to School?

Back 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.

Spring Cleaning & 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 antistatic 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.

 

Get Summer Road Ready

Are you ready for the Summer?
summer
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.

Click here to get more summer tips specifically for your vehicle.

Let us know how we’re doing

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Hearing about the experiences of our patrons is something we value. Reviews and feedback are important to us because they help us tailor the way we do business around our customers’ needs. Without this, we are unable to improve what isn’t working, and reinforce what is.

Our over 40 years of experience would not have been possible without our customers. Please let us know how we are doing. We want to recognize our outstanding mechanics, managers, and other employees. Leave us a review on Google Places or Yelp, or send us a note- we look forward to hearing from you.

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Car-X Customer Service
1375 E. Woodfield Rd., Ste. 500
Schaumburg, IL 60173

If you have a negative experience at a Car-X location, please contact our customer service team at 800-359-2359, extension 2424, so we can help you as quickly as possible.

Synthetic Oil or Conventional Oil?

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No doubt at some point in time you may have heard the ongoing debate about which type of motor oil is best for your motor vehicle. The particular motor oils in question are conventional motor oil and synthetic motor oil. As an owner, or potential owner of a motor vehicle, naturally the topic will interest you. This is because you may have good reason to rethink your current choice in the case of current users, while potential users will know how to proceed. We will briefly explore the subject in an effort to assist with the decision making process.

Functions of Motor Oil

Although the primary function of motor oils is to lubricate all the moving parts of the engine, it carries out a few other functions as well. Motor oils serve to keep the engine cool and provides protection against wear by reducing friction. It also prevents corrosion and keeps the engine free from small pieces of debris.

Conventional Motor Oil

Conventional motor oil has its origins in crude oil, which is pumped from the ground and is processed. A base oil is produced to which additives are added. This changes the properties of the liquid giving it protection properties, improved heat breakdown levels, and viscosity.

Synthetic Motor Oil

Unlike conventional motor oil the base oil of synthetic motor oil comprises artificial or synthesized components, thus its name. Like conventional motor oil however, additives are added to give it properties similar to those of conventional motor oil.

Differences Between Conventional and Synthetic Motor Oil

Although they both carry out the same functions both oils have significant differences in addition to having their pros and cons. Conventional motor oil contains minute amounts of wax, sulfur, and asphaltic material, which are by-products of its manufacturing process. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, because it is chemically produced, has none of these contaminants. Another difference between the two is that synthetic motor oils will flow at much lower temperatures making it preferable in harsh winter conditions. At these same low temperatures conventional motor oil would freeze. Being more consistent in size and shape, the molecules of synthetic motor oils better withstand extreme temperatures; hence it will take longer to break down under extreme heat than conventional motor oils. Synthetic motor oils have very low viscosity ratings and in some cases have been known to flow up to seven times faster than conventional motor oils. This comes in handy at engine start up time, as that is when the most engine wear is likely to occur.

Making Your Choice

In deciding on which motor oil you will be using there are other factors besides those already mentioned, which will have to be taken into account. One of these is the type of car that will be using the motor oil. A high performance racecar owner will obviously choose the synthetic motor oil, as that is the oil they were specifically made to use. Newer cars with smaller clearances will also lean towards synthetic motor oils. The cost of the motor oil will play a significant role in the decision on which oil to use too, as the cost of synthetic motor oil can be as much as four times that of conventional motor oil. If someone changes their car yearly they may say why bother towaste extra money on synthetic oil. The car’s age could also play a part as waxes and sludge build-up by conventional motor oil could mask worn engine seals. These could come to light with the introduction of synthetic motor oils, which tends to break down and clean away those build-ups, thus possibly causing leaks and creating problems.

For all of your oil change needs be sure to visit Car-X.com The debate is by no means over and the points here by no means exhaustive, but it is hoped that they will at least point you in the right direction when the time comes for you to buy motor oils

How to Change a Tire

It is likely at some point in your life you will get a flat tire. Do you know what to do without having to ask for help?

It is important to find a flat, level surface on which to change the tire. This will prevent the car from rolling.
• Your vehicle should be in “Park” and should have the parking brake on.
• Place heavy objects in front of both sets of tires.
• Getting out the jack and spare tire, place the jack under the frame of the car, near the tire you will be changing.
• If your car has plastic along the bottom, as most cars do, make sure the jack is in the correct spot based on your owner’s manual. If it is not in the correct spot, it could crack the plastic.
• Raise the jack to a point where it is supporting, not lifting, the car, ensuring it is firmly in place under the vehicle. It should be at a 90 degree angle to the ground.
• To remove the tire, you first need to take off the hubcap and loosen the nuts with a wrench, turning them counterclockwise. They do not need to be taken off completely, just loosened.
• Depending on the jack, pump or crank the jack to lift the tire up off the ground. While doing this, make sure that the car feels stable and the jack is lifting straight up and not at an angle.
• At this point, remove the nuts entirely. Remove the tire, keeping in mind that it may be stuck because of rust buildup. Hitting the tire with any sort of object (such as the spare tire), should loosen it.
• Aligning the rim of the spare tire with the bolts of the wheel, place the new spare tire on and put the nuts on.
• Tighten the nuts first by hand and then with the wrench once they get tighter.
• Lower the jack, but do not yet put the full weight on the tire. Tighten the nuts as much as possible, then lower the car completely to the ground and remove the jack.
• Ensure the nuts are tightened all the way and replace the hubcap.
• If the tire is not destroyed, take it into a mechanic. Tires with smaller holes can typically be repaired for under $20.
• Always refer to your owner’s manual if there are any questions about where things go.

If your replacement tire doesn’t cut it, see a local auto repair shop and pick up a new one.

For a demonstration, please see the below video.

Fixing Your Old Car vs. Buying a New One

As drivers, there comes that inevitable time in which we are faced with a dilemma: Repair our current car or purchase a new one?

It is at this point in history, coming out of a recession, when we are starting to see more and more used cars on the road.  These drivers have the right idea; all evidence points toward going with a used car, repairing and maintaining it as you go along. The Car Care Council (CCC) and Engine Repower Council (ERC) both highly recommend repairing over buying new.

There is a general rule of thumb stating it is better to fix/repair your current car if it is less than ten years old, or has less than 150,000 miles on it.

Why? New cars can be very expensive, while older cars are mostly or fully paid off.  An argument against sticking with one’s old car is that repairs are expensive. But the fact is even pricier repairs come out to be about the amount of a year’s worth of payments on a new car. Plus, the cost of auto repair has significantly decreased over the past several years, and some shops even offer financing options. Finally, let’s not forget one of the most attractive reasons to choose a used car over a new car: cheaper car insurance.

Some people’s current car is in dire need of replacement. If this sounds like you and your car is in bad shape, it is best to replace it with a newer, but used car. There are several reasons to go this route. Even routine maintenance costs are much higher for new cars as opposed to older cars. Another thing to keep in mind is that today, automobiles are designed to last much longer than in the past, on average 200,000 miles. This means that even if you are purchasing a newer used car, even though it is used you will still get great usage for thousands of miles. Finally, when purchasing a newer used car, it is best to get needed financing through your bank, not the car dealership, because you will incur lower interest rates.

Having a well-maintained used car and a little extra money in your pocket is a great feeling, and a choice that will continue to grow in popularity.