Braking systems aren't indestructible. Parts, like the rubber in the valves in the master cylinder, calipers and wheel cylinders deteriorate. All the nasty little bits that flake off end up in your brake fluid. Plus, the fluid itself can get old and worn out. Moisture can also get in the system. That leads to rust, which leads to more nasty bits in your brake fluid. All this adds up to a brake system with compromised effectiveness and decreased stopping power.
A good rule of thumb is to have your brakes flushed about every 30,000 miles. Note that brake flushing and bleeding the brakes are two different procedures. Brake flushing involves removing all the brake fluid from the system and getting all-new, clean fluid inside. Brake bleeding just means removing enough brake fluid to get air bubbles out of the brake lines. So, make sure you get your brakes flushed regularly
Winter Light Reminder!
As we lose out on daylight, it becomes ever more important to keep your headlights in good condition. Whether its ensuring that they are bright and clear with headlight restorations or just making sure that they aren't burned out to avoid being pulled over, it's crucial to ensuring a safe and smooth travelling experience.
Winter is a tough time of year where vehicles are concerned. Iced windshields, frozen locks, and getting stuck in mud and snow are all too common winter automotive realities. Follow these simple tips and tricks to make winter driving life a little easier.
A good general rule to start with--always warm up your car or truck before you go driving in the winter. Revving a cold engine causes additional wear, and a warm car with cleared windows is much safer and comfortable to get into.
Ice covered windows are not only a pain, they are unsafe. Prevent ice from covering your windshields during a storm with these tricks. Put a large, flattened piece of cardboard or the floor mats from your car over the windshield, securing them under the wipers when parking during a storm. When it’s time to leave again, gently crack the wipers free and remove the covering; your windshield will be clear and ice-free, without any scraping. Large garbage bags taped together and laid across the windshield, closed in the doors, protects from ice build ups, too.
We’ve all had it happen: the missing ice scraper. In the absence of this important tool, try using a nylon or plastic kitchen spatula or the edge of a credit card.
To help loosen and melt away a solid or hard-frozen sheet of windshield ice, keep a box of fine grain salt in the car. Pour the salt over the ice and rub it in. Give it a few minutes to work, then scrape the ice away.
How many times have you run out of windshield washer fluid and forgotten to buy more? This winter, try this home-made washer solution. Combine two quarts of rubbing alcohol, one cup water, and one teaspoon dish detergent. With the alcohol, the mixture should be safe to a freezing point of 30 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).
Eventually, a frozen set of locks hits everyone. Small cans of lock deicer are sold commercially, but these tricks work as well.
Warm the key with a match or lighter, then try thawing your way into the frozen lock; or, try putting the key in as far as it will go, then burn a piece of twisted paper near the frozen lock and key.
A heat liniment (like those used to calm sore muscles) squirted into the keyhole may warm it enough to free the lock.
Of course, your best bet is prevention, and here’s a simple tip: when you lock the car, cover the locks with thin magnet strips. Remove them when you return for frost-free locks, ready to go.
Cleaning and Washing
To get the salt to come out of carpets and floor mats, wash them with a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water. The vinegar should break down the salty residue.
Of course, again prevention is best when it comes to rust. Try to prevent salt build ups and resulting rust with frequent trips to the car wash.
For an at home solution to remove the salt and mud from your undercarriage, try this on warm winter days or when the worst is over. Place a short lawn sprinkler underneath the car and run it for half an hour.
It’s a good idea to replace an older battery before it gives you cold weather trouble, but just in case, if your battery is old or questionable, remove it and take it into a warm house or garage at night when the temperature is expected to drop very low. Be careful where you leave it, batteries are filled with acid that can corrode surfaces. Battery contents are flammable; keep them away from flames and heat sources.
If your don’t want to mess with removing a battery, or you’re not sure your battery is that bad, back your vehicle into its parking space or the garage so it can be reached with jumper cables if the car decides not to start.
We may not like to admit it, but getting stuck in winter ice and snow happens to most of us eventually. Having something to put down for traction can usually get you out if gently rocking the car doesn’t work. For a backup, keep a couple of asphalt roof shingles in your trunk. Other emergency traction suggestions: carry coffee cans filled with salt and sand, boards, a sheet of canvas, or an old rubber bathmat cut in half lengthwise. In a pinch, you can use tree branches or your interior floor mats for traction too.
It can probably go without saying, but having your vehicle checked ahead of time can prevent many winter driving problems. Do it yourself or hire a professional to check all your fluids (including washer fluid), wires and plugs, and very importantly, the radiator’s antifreeze. Check tires for traction and proper inflation. Make an emergency kit and put together extra lock deicer, washer fluid, jumper cables, cones, markers or flairs, and carry a blanket, snack foods, and water, just in case you get stuck somewhere for a while.
Surviving The Summer: Tips For Surviving the Heat
Your car's Air Conditioning system
Good A/C Performance and Maintenance saves Money
Too much or too little refrigerant in your Air Conditioning system can cause you to waste fuel, and is a major cause of A/C compressor failure.
The proper amount of refrigerant in the system is very critical to A/C operation. Running the system low on refrigerant causes compressor failure as the system lubricant flows with the refrigerant. Low refrigerant flow means poor lubrication. If your A/C system works but just doesn't seem cold enough, it is a good idea to get it looked at sooner rather than later.
Today's air conditioning systems do not have a way to visually check the refrigerant level and the only accurate way to get the proper amount into the system is to recover the refrigerant, measure it and then put the proper amount back in.
One way to check your A/C system performance is to measure the outlet temperature at the vent with an accurate thermometer which has a probe that will go into the vent. Drive the car with the A/C on max or recirculate. With temperatures well into the 80's Fahrenheit, the outlet temperature should be around 35 to 45 degrees. This temperature should not change much when the engine is brought back to idle.
The outlet temperature can vary depending on the car's system, the outside temperature, and humidity. The A/C system needs to keep the evaporator (the component that cools the air as it goes through it) from getting below 33 F as that would cause the evaporator to freeze up and not allow air flow.
While this is a good test to see if the A/C is functioning, it doesn't necessarily mean it is not low on charge. A system only half full of refrigerant can still cool well in the 70 - 75f degree range but be almost useless at 85 - 90f degrees. So if you do the test at 75 degrees it doesn't mean it will work properly at 80 or above.
Many times when the A/C system isn't working well, someone may add more refrigerant by just "guessing." It is easy to fill too much refrigerant in this way, causing higher pressures and heat which in turn causes mileage loss and eventual compressor failure.
Other things that can cause air conditioning performance problems include: not running in "recirculate" in hot weather, cooling fan malfunctioning, debris in front of the radiator/condenser, and heater control issues. We recommend having the system evacuated and refilled every 3 - 4 years, as even a system with no visible leakage may lose a little every year.
To see if your A/C system is functioning correctly, measure the outlet temperature at the vent with an accurate thermometer. Drive the car with the A/C on "max". With temperatures in the 70's to 80's Fahrenheit the outlet temperature should be around 35 to 48 degrees.
Alternatively bring your car in to us, and our trained technicians will evaluate your vehicle with skill and precision.