Get Summer Road Ready

Are you ready for the Summer?
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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.

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.

“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.

Extend the Life of your Used Vehicle

According to the 2010 Census, there are about three times more used cars than new cars sold each year. 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.
Keep 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.

Tips for Car Engine Maintenance

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After you have spent a tidy sum on a car purchase, it makes sense to protect that investment by maintaining your car through regular check ups as prescribed by the manufacturer. If you become aware of any knocking, grinding or other noises emanating from your car, or if your car does not seem to have its usual power, then a further investigation into the cause is in order.

When you start the engine, it should start with no delay. The idling engine should be continuous and smooth, without any hiccups. Check your tailpipe to ensure that there are no black smoke or liquid emissions. Any moisture you see within the engine is most likely indicative of a leak.

Check the fan, timing and other belts to make sure that they are not cracked and brittle. If they are, get them changed out. Also, look at the fuel and air filters and make sure that they are clean and free of solid deposits, and examine the contacts on spark plugs.

If your engine oil level is insufficient, you risk ruining your entire engine. If you find that you have to top up oil frequently, then most likely there are gaskets that are faulty and need replacing. The marker on the dipstick will tell you the level of oil in the engine. Make sure that the oil is not above the “full” mark, nor close to the “empty” marker. Engine oil should not be dark brown or opaque, nor should it appear that it contains water.

Ensure that the level of coolant in the radiator is sufficient. Note, however, that this should not be done when the engine is already heated as you risk getting burned. The radiator fan should be in good working order to cool the engine sufficiently. The radiator hoses should be free of cracks and tears. Your temperature gauge should lie just below the mid-point between “Hot” and “Cold”: anytime the gauge moves colder to the “Hot” marker, immediately switch off your engine, let it cool for at least 20 minutes, and begin your investigation into the temperature rise.

Check the oil pressure: when you turn the starter, the oil indicator light should not stay on for longer than two seconds; if it does, turn off your engine directly and check the oil filter and engine oil levels.

If you find that the gears do not engage smoothly from first to second, second to Drive, and so on, check transmission fluid for sufficiency and efficacy.

 

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.

Why Are Oil Changes Important?

Even the most inexperienced driver knows that engines have a lot of moving parts. If not properly lubricated, these moving parts begin to wear down as friction increases. A driver that does not have his oil changed on a regular basis may damage vital engine parts. In fact, the number one reason for engine failure is wear and tear that is caused by an increase in viscosity, which means the oil becomes thick and sticky, like mud. This worn-out oil clings to moving engine parts and instead of lubricating them, it destroys them.

What happens next?

If a vital engine part breaks, the vehicle will not move. It’s really that simple. Because these parts are intricate and replacing them requires a professional, it is often cheaper to simply buy a new engine or a new car. They are cheap and they only take a few minutes.

How Often?

Even the experts disagree about oil changes. Some say that you should get them every 3,000 miles, while others say every 7,000 miles is fine. Who’s right? That’s hard to say. But what we do know is that most drivers do not get their oil changed every 3,000 miles.

The average American drives about 10,000 miles each year. According to the purists, that average motorist should get his oil changed at least three times per annum. Most drivers do not follow this advice. Not because they cannot afford frequent oil changes, but because most folks don’t believe that oil is dangerous after only 3,000 miles.

The best advice we can give you is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. The manufacturer only benefits if he is honest. Since he wants the customer to buy more of his cars in the future, it is better for him if the customer is satisfied with his purchase. All manufactures thoroughly test their cars and trucks and they know exactly how long they can go between preventative maintenance appointments.

This article was brought to you by Car-X Auto Service.

 

What To Do If Your “Check Engine” Light Turns On


We all know how pesky the Check Engine light on your dashboard can be. It is inconvenient and troublesome to take your car in to get this checked. There are a few common triggers for the Check Engine light that all drivers should be aware of. Check Engine lights can be complicated to repair – knowing how they work and what to check for will help you take the best care of your vehicle, as well as avoid unnecessary trips to an auto mechanic.

Understanding the Check Engine light
This light serves as a warning indicator. It is a response of your vehicle’s computer to changes or hindrances in the emission control system. When the light comes on, it is a result of one of many trouble codes stored in the system. These trouble codes are what auto mechanics use to determine the cause of the light.

Every U.S.–manufactured vehicle must pass a Federal Test Procedure – an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test, which sets allowable limits of deterioration of your emission control system. The Check Engine light was created to indicate that your emission control system is failing, causing your vehicle to pollute the air. However, many other factors can cause the light to turn on, which makes diagnosing the cause tricky.

Tips to keep in mind
• Is your gas cap closed tightly? – This is an extremely common trigger for the Check Engine light in many vehicles. If the cap is not sealed properly, the pressure is not correct, which signals the light to turn on.
• Are you carrying a heavy load? – It is possible for heavy loads combined with high speeds to effect how your car’s computer views the emission control system.
• Do you have OnStar? – If you have a 1997 or later General Motors vehicle equipped with OnStar and an active OnStar subscription, advisors can read the code and give advice on what to do.
• Is a serious problem causing it? – Check your dashboard gauges and lights to see if there are issues such as overheating and low oil pressure. Problems such as these are critical, and indicate that you should pull over and shut off your engine as soon as possible.
• Is your car performing differently? – Your vehicle should be inspected if you notice a change in how your vehicle is running.
• Do not confuse a red Check Engine light with a yellow Service Engine Soon light. This is a warning that indicates your should proceed with caution, and can be caused by anti-lock brake systems, faulty sensors, safety restraint systems, or emission components. These issues typically require an experienced technician to fix.

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.