Old Man Winter is Coming – Prepare your Car

 

Here’s my best tip for foul weather driving – don’t if you don’t have to.  Leave the roads open for those that do have to be out, for snow plows, and for emergency vehicles.

But if you do have to drive in winter conditions, prepare your vehicle now.

1.  Tires –  Make sure that your tires have plenty of tread left – 3 mm or more is the goal.

Check tire pressure for optimal traction – use the normal recommended tire pressure

2.  Maintenance – make sure that regular maintenance is done:

Check the cooling system – this sounds counter-intuitive, but the antifreeze in the radiator needs to keep it from freezing.

Park your car with the gas tank full – this will keep water condensation in the tank at a minimum

3.  Visibility – Clean the car well of snow and ice.  You especially need to be able to see now when  conditions are hazardous.

Windshield – glare and ice cause visibility problems.  You can reduce glare by making sure that the windshield is clean inside and out

and also in  good condition i.e. free of scratches and dings.  Might be time to replace your windshield?

Windshield wipers should be good

Keep washer fluid reservoir full

4.  Gather and put in your car now for the winter months:

Ice scraper and snow brush

Extra washer fluid

Shovel

Tow strap

Tire chains

Bag of salt, sand, or kitty litter

5.  Keep in your car at all times, but especially now:

Spare tire (properly inflated and usable)

Jack and lug nut wrench

Jumper cables – cold temperatures are especially hard on batteries

Tool kit

 

Proactive tips for avoiding accidents during winter driving:

 

When on snow and ice, do everything slower: driving speed, braking, turning
Leave 3 times more space between yourself and the car ahead of you than you usually would
Use a lower gear to increase traction if […]

By |October 16th, 2014|Auto Service|0 Comments

Save Money – Maintain Your Car

This blog column has regularly recommended having routine maintenance done on your vehicle.  In addition, I’ve tried to educate you about the symptoms that you may see, feel, or hear in your car.  This month I’m directing you to a site that discusses the monetary savings of having your car maintained by your (honest) mechanic.

http://money.msn.com/car-buying/the-true-cost-of-not-maintaining-your-car

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Gary

By |April 23rd, 2014|Auto Service|0 Comments

9 Reasons to Call Your Repair Shop and Make an Appointment

In January we discussed what constitutes a pull over immediately auto repair emergency.  In February’s post we listed auto repair symptoms that warrant driving straight to the repair shop.

This month we list  9 symptoms that are not emergencies, but do warrant calling your auto repair shop and making an appointment.  They are:

Ride seems bouncy or mushy
Check engine light is on steady
Check gauge light is on
Power windows are inoperative
Minor brake squeak
Slow crank/long crank time
Engine hesitation on acceleration
Vehicle drifts right or left
Maintenance due or oil change reminder light is on (looks like a wrench)

With these 3 lists hopefully you’re armed with enough information to drive safely and knowledgeably.

Gary

By |March 26th, 2014|Auto Service|0 Comments

7 Reasons to Pull Over Immediately and Call a Tow Truck

When you’re driving and your car does something strange, do you ever wonder what to do next?  This month I’ll list 7 “pull over now” events.

Pull over now if:

Check Engine light is flashing
There’s a raw gasoline  odor
Low oil/oil pressure light is on
Temperature gauge reads high
Loud brake grind
Loud clunking or banging
Large fluid leaks of any kind

In any of these cases, call a tow truck. When in doubt, by all means call your repair shop.  A reputable shop will always be happy to hear from you.

Next month will be the list of symptoms that warrant driving straight to your repair shop.  The final month’s blog will be what symptoms can wait for an appointment at your shop.

By |January 30th, 2014|Auto Service|0 Comments

When Should I Replace My Battery?

In this installment of our regualr maintenance feature, we are going to dicuss car batteries. Batteries are actually the single most common reason we see vehicles ending up getting towed to our shop! There are a number of battery related issues that might result in a ‘no start’ including loose and/or dirty battery cables and corroded battery terminals. The latter is also going to force your car’s alternator to have to work harder which can in turn cause it to fail prematurely. The good news is that these corroded terminals can easily be cleaned using a wire brush and/or light sand paper. If you are doing this yourself then you must remember to remove any metal jewelry that you are wearing.

It is good practice to have your mechanic check the battery whenever you are having an oil change, so don’t be afraid to ask. This is one of the reasons why finding a reputable ASE mechanic is so important even for basic maintenance. Here at Parker Automotive we do a 10 point inspection that includes battery terminals.

The life expectancy for the average battery here on the Colorado plains is around 47 months. If you know that you are nearing this age then whenever you have an oil change it is wise to ask your mechanic to check the battery load. Extremely hot or cold temperatures can have an effect on fluids which means that weak batteries are most likely to fail on very hot or very cold days – the worst possible times to get stranded because the car won’t start!

We have developed the following checklist in order to help you avoid those ‘no starts’. If you answer yes to any of the following […]

By |August 27th, 2013|Auto Service|0 Comments

When Should I Replace an Air Filter?

Welcome to our brand new, regualr blog feature about car maintenance. We believe that the more our customers know about car maintenance, the less likely they are to experience breakdowns and expensive repairs. With some basic car maintenance knowledge, you will also learn how to spot an honest mechanic and know when an unscrupulous one is just running up the cost of your bill!

Your car’s owner’s manual is going to have some specific recommendations about what to inspect and when to replace certain parts, but we can give you some general reccomendations that apply to most of the popular American, European and Japanese models. Today, we will start off by discussing Air Filters.
Air Filters
Your air filter should be inspected around once every 10,000 miles. At Parker automotive, we will actually inspect it as standard every single time you come in for an oil change. When your air filter gets dirty, you will find that your gas mileage drops considerably.

Your air filter needs to be replaced at least every 15,000 miles. This should cost somewhere in the region of $10-$30 depending on the model of your car.

In our next car maintenance feature we will be looking at batteries.

Wishing you safe and happy driving.

With regards,

Gary

By |July 26th, 2013|Auto Service|0 Comments

Car Maintenance: Vital Fluids – Transfer Case Fluid

What Does Transfer Case Fluid Do?
You will only find a transfer case on all-wheel drive or 4 wheel drive vehicles. It is there to transfer power from the transmission to both of the axles. The main purpose of the fluid is to lubricate and cool, but in some models (for example Jeeps) it also takes on the role of a viscous coupling that can transfer power via the fluid.
Why Flush The Transfer Case Fluid?
It is not actually necessary to flush the transfer case fluid, rather it needs to be drained and refilled (kind of like an oil change). The transfer case holds only a minimum amount of fluid, so it is fairly inexpensive to refill. You should look at having a complete drain and refill about once wvery 80,000 miles.
Warning Signs
The following warnign signs indicate a transfer case problem in your vehicle:

If you notice a chatter noise on turns, caused by the rear wheel turning at a different speed than the front wheel.
If you hear unusual noise on accelaration.
If the vehicle simply will not move then it could be a complete transfer case failure.

Worst Case Scenario
If your vehicle’s transfer case fails completely then it will almost always need replaced rather than repaired. This runs to about $2000 for parts and labor.

Since the cost of a transfer fluid drain and refill is only around $60-$80, or $120 where synthetic fluid is needed, it makes sense to properly maintain the transfer case to avoid that worst case scenario.

 

By |June 17th, 2013|Auto Service|0 Comments

Auto Maintenance to Save Money Today

I came acriss an interesting article today that I feel really reinforces the education that Parker Automotive are providing via this blog. In short, maintaining your vehicle will save you money. It can do this in 2 different ways:

By extending the life of your car.
By improving your gas mileage.

You should take your car to a reputable auto shop and have it checked over. At Parker Automotive we offer 3 different levels of inspection:

With every single oil change we will also look at the 9 basic systems within your vehicle.
With our ‘Trip Check’ we look at 18 different items during a half hour check before you hit the road.
Our ‘Pre-buy Inspection’ covers 50 items and takes around an hour. Although it is designed for inspecting a car you might like to buy, you can also use it as a thorough check-up for a car you already own.

We will talk a little more about how to maintain trust in your auto shop of choice in a future blog, so keep reading. In the meantime – drive safely.

With Regards

Gary

By |May 14th, 2013|Auto Service|0 Comments

New Brakes Break-in

In the past, organic break pads required a ‘break in’ period, but that is not the case with newer brake pad materials. The majority of modern brake pads are now made from either a semi-metallic material which produces a higher volume of brake dust, or ceramic which not only produces less dust but is also more efficient.

Here at Parker Automotive, our technicians will take your car out on the road following a brake pad replacement in order to test out the brakes before handing the car back to you. They do this to make sure that they are positioned correctly and are providing full, even contact on the brake rotor. The basic procedure is to drive the car at a steady 30mph before bringing it to a complete stop and then driving an additional quarter mile to cool the brake pads before stopping again.

One of the most common questions we hear from customers is ‘why do my breaks squeal when applied?’

The answer is simple. Whenever the brake rotor is going around and you apply the break, the metal callipers that secure the brake pads are squeezed and the contact between the pad and the moving rotor causes a squealing noise. Applying a buffer layer of ceramic lubricant will solve the problem! Whenever our technicians apply new brake pads they will use high temperature ceramic lubricant on all moving parts to avoid the squealing noise.

However, if you hear a metallic scraping when you are not breaking then it is time to head to the mechanic. Your brakes have a metal tab that indicates when brake pads are wearing thin. When you hear this noise it is time to replace your break pads. Do not dealy […]

By |April 23rd, 2013|Auto Service|0 Comments

Car Maintenance: Vital Fluids – Manual Transmission Fluid

What Does Manual Transmission Fluid Do?
Manual transmission fluid is designed to both lubricate and cool the vehicle’s gears and bearings. The majority of older and rear wheel cars use 75W90 (GL5). However, newer models will generally use either automatic transmission fluid or a synthetic motor oil.
Why Flush It?
Flushing your manual transmission fluid is not necessary. Instead you will simply drain it out and then refill will new fluid.
Warning Signs
If your manual transmission fluid is leaking then it indicates a problem.
Worst Case Scenario
In the worst case scenario, your brass synchronizers could fail which is indicated by grinding noises and/or the car popping out of gear. Your transmission could potentially overheat and fail which could require either a rebuild or a complete replacement.
How Often Does it Need Checked/Changed?
Your manual transmission fluid needs to be checked at least every 2 years or 30,000 miles – whichever comes first! At Parker Automotive we will actually check it as standard whenever you come in for an oil change. You can expect to pay between $60 and $80 for a drain and refill, although if you need synthetic fluids then it will be more expensive, in the region of $120.

By |April 4th, 2013|Auto Service|0 Comments

Car Maintenance: Vital Fluids – Brake Fluid

What Does Brake Fluid Do?
Brake fluid a hydraulic fluid in the brake system. Whenever you push down on the brake pedal, brake fluid goes to the calipers and/or wheel cylinders. That’s what produces the force that slows the wheels down.
Why Flush It?
Brake fluid is a hygroscopic (water absorbing) substance. This means that over time water can break it down, so it needs to be flushed every every 2 years, or according to owners manual. (American cars seem need more often than foreign cars.) Old brake fluid can actually eat away at the brake line which can cause leaks resulting in a complete loss of braking power in your vehicle.
Warning Signs
The following warning signs indicate a problem within your caqr’s braking system:

Red warning light says “brakes” on the dashboard is illuminated
The brake pedal feels low, spongy, or even goes all the way to the floor with little resistance.
Reduced braking action.
Brake fluid should be should be clear. If it’s dark brown or black – it needs to be changed.

Worst Case Scenario
There is not much to say here! The worst case scenario is a complete loss of your ability to brake!

Brake fluid, like other other fluids in your car needs to be checked and occasionally flushed to keep things running efficiently and safely. You can expect to pay around $90 to have your brake fluid flushed.

Look at our home page for a coupon to encourage you to change your brake fluid!

Safe travels!

With Regards

Gary

By |January 24th, 2013|Auto Service|0 Comments

Car Maintenance : Vital Fluids – Power Steering Fluid

What Does Power Steering Fluid Do?
Power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid that is pressurized by a pump to a steering gear.
Warning Signs
The following warning signs may indicate that there is a problem with your power steering:

You can hear a whining noise at low speeds when turning the wheel. This indicates that the power steering fluid level is low.
It requires an increased amount of effort to steer your car.
Power steering fluid is red in color – if it appears black then it needs to be changed.
You may see leaks on the ground that are a clear to brownish color depending on how old your pwer steering fluid actually is.

A Note to DIYers!
You should not attempt to DIY this! Flushing your power steering fluid requires the use of a specialist machine.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst case scenario is that without power steering it will become more difficult to steer your car. A complete loss of power steering has the potential to cause you to creash.

Like other lubricating fluids, your power steering fluid needs to be checked regularly and will occasionally need to be flushed. It is usually around $150 to have this carried out.
Check out our home page for coupons that will help to encourage you to change your car’s vital fluids regualrly.

By |December 31st, 2012|Auto Service|0 Comments

Warning: Replace Your Timing Belt on Time

Why?
The main reason for replacing your timing belt before it has actually snapped is that this can prevent any additional internal damage to the engine. If the timing belt was to break while the engine was running then you run the risk of damaging the valves and pistons. This can result in a very expensive set of reapirs, and you still need to replace that timing belt anyway, so it is far better to replace it before it breaks!
When?
Knowing when to replace your timing belt actually depends on the mileage of your car. Depending on the manufacturer, you may see recommendations for it to be replaced anywhere between 60,000 and 105,000 miles. It is best to call your local repair shop and ask for advice about replacing your timing belt. You can expect to pay in the region of $750-$1000 to have it replaced.
What if I Have a Timing Chain, Not a Belt?
If you have a timing chain then this will not require regualr interval replacement to maintain it because timing chains do not break. However, they can still wear out over time so if you are hearing a rattle or a whine under the hood it could be time to look at replacing the chain. Unfortunately, replacing a timing chain is more expensive at arounds $1000 – $1700, but in theory they should need repalced less often so it does balance out.
What Else?
Your car’s water pump is actually driven by the timing belt, so a good step toward preventative maintenance is to replace the pump at the same time as your timing belt. If your water pump was to develop a leak after you have the timing belt replaced then your mechanic is […]

By |October 19th, 2012|Auto Service|0 Comments

How Do I Know if I Need a Brake Job?

When you hear squealing and/or grinding, or if you are feeling vibrations when you press your brake pedal then that probably means it is time to seek out a mechanic to check what’s going on with your brakes!

The majority of brake pads are equipped with a wear indicator which is essentially just a metal tab that sticks out! Whenever the brake pads wear down to that level, the metal tab will cause a squealing sound which will alert you to the fact that the pads are wearing low. This metal on metal sound serves as a warnign that your brakepads must be replaced. If you delay too long after hearing this noise you risk actually beginning to wear away the brake material which is not only dangerous, but which will result in more expensive repairs ince you may need to repalce the brake rotor and calipers instead of just the brake pads.

When you hear these noises, head to your local reapir shop and ask for the brakes to be inspected. Usually the fee for an inspection is fairly nominal, and most mechanics will do it for free if you are having other work done on the vehicle. A proper brake inspection involves removing all of the wheels and looking at the amount of material remaining on the brake pad. It also involves measuring how thick the brake rotors are, checking the condition of the brake calipers, checking the integrity of all cables and inspecting the brake fluid.

As part of your routine maintenance, the brake fluid shoulf be changed around every 36,000 miles, or 3 years. For some European or Asian models this may be closer to 5 years or 50,000 miles, just check with […]

By |October 15th, 2012|Auto Service|0 Comments

Alignment Basics

How do you know if your car needs an alignment?
If your car is pulling in one direction or another, then it may need an alignment. You might also notice some abnormal wear and tear on one or more of the tires which is another indication that you need to book in for an alignment.
What is an alignment?
There are three different direction that your wheel can be out of alignment :

Caster – When the top of the tire is leaning forwards or backwards on the suspension.
Camber – When the tire is leaning too far in or too far out.
Toe-in – When the front of the tire points inward in relation to the center of the suspension.

An alignment consists of making the necessary adjustments to all three of these alignments. A technician uses an alignment machine to get all 3 angles in degrees and then makes the required adjustments.
Do I need a 2 wheel or 4 wheel alignment?
Front wheel drive and all wheel drive vehicles require 4 wheel alignments. The rear suspension needs to be aligned first before the front suspension can be tackled. However, rear wheel drive vehicals and 4 wheel drive vehicles such as light trucks only need the front suspension aligned (2 wheel alignment)

By |September 20th, 2012|Auto Service|0 Comments

Why Do Cars Breakdown in the Heat?

Last month, we talked about Summer auto care. This month I want to look in a little more detail at what happens to your car in the Summer heat!

Batteries – Heat can cause the acid and fluid inside your battery to expand which can result in leaks. Heat will also speed up the chemical reaction occuring inside your batter which can cause it to overcharge. Both of these are going to reduce the life of your battery.
Tires – Heat can cause your tire pressure to increase. If your tire is at all worn or has other weaknesses then it could very well blow out.
Radiators – A combination of heat and low coolant levels could result in your engine getting overheated.
Belts & Hoses – Heat can cause hoses to stretch and deteriorate which leads to the possibilit of leaks.
Air Conditioner – In the Summer we often use our A/C a lot, but continuously running it at full power is going to put strain on the system.

We fully recommend checking all of these areas regualrly during the Summer months, especially before embarking on a roadtrip or vacation!

Safe Travels.

With Regards,

Gary

By |June 29th, 2012|Auto Service|0 Comments