How To Tell If Your Engine Might Be Failing

 

 

Engine Might Be FailingIt is important to be aware of signs your engine might be failing. Although most vehicles today are equipped with a check engine light to warn of potential problems, you should also understand the warning signs your vehicle may give you. Engine failure can mean expensive problems as well as the risk of being stranded. 

When you see that check engine light it might be tempting to ignore it, but you really should schedule diagnostic services to identify the problem. Aside from your check engine light, here are some additional indications that your engine performance might be lagging or your engine might be failing:

Is Your Engine Losing Power?

The function of an internal combustion engine is to convert fuel into the power needed to move a vehicle. Combustion engine operation involves a four stroke cycle – intake stroke, compression stroke, combustion stroke, and exhaust stroke. Failure during any one of these strokes could result in a lack of power to the engine and poor engine performance.

Are You Hearing Strange or Excessive Noise?

Interference in the combustion flow can result in unusual sounds such as knocking, hissing, popping or backfiring. Whenever you hear odd noises when you start up your vehicle, consider it a warning sign.

Have You Noticed a Drop In Fuel Efficiency?

If you’re not getting the miles per gallon you used to, it could be a sign that there is a problem with the compression stroke of your engine. Fixing this issue could be as simple as having the fuel system cleaned or getting a tune-up.  

Has Your Engine Been Stalling? 

Engine stalling in automatic transmission vehicles is highly unusual and likely a sign of trouble. The intake stroke might not be getting the spark or air/fuel mixture it needs. The problem could be serious and should be checked. The solution could be as simple as a tune up.

Are You Noticing Engine Run-On or Running Rough?

Does your car continue to run after it’s turned off? Does the engine seem to be running rough?

Engine run-on could be caused by incorrect octane gas for the vehicle, a failing solenoid, or carburetor issues. A failing battery, clogs in the system or old spark plugs can cause a rough running engine. So can incorrect octane in the gasoline in the tank. Once again, a simple tune up could be all it takes to remedy these problems.

Pay Attention to Signs That Your Engine Might Be Failing

Just like the check engine warning light, you should not ignore these signs when they occur. Addressing engine issues early can help you avoid serious consequences.

Buying New Tires? Five Questions to Consider

buying new tiresAt some point, every vehicle owner needs to think about buying new tires. Depending on the number of miles you put on your vehicle annually, that time may come sooner rather than later. According to Edmunds, if you drive your car around 12,000 to 15,000, your tires should last about three to four years. Other factors that will influence how soon you need tires including the type of driving you do, roads you travel, and whether or not you’ve kept up with maintenance services like tire balancing and wheel alignment.

If you are thinking about buying new tires, here are five questions for you to consider to help in the decision process and to aid in protecting your investment.

How does your tread look?

Tread wear is one of the most critical factors in determining whether or not you need new tires. Most tires have built-in tread wear indicators, but the penny test is another simple way to gauge your tread depth. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time for a new set of tires. If Abe’s head is covered to about the forehead hairline, the tread is in good shape and you probably do not need new tires.

Have you looked for promotions?

If you have determined your tires should be replaced, you will need to start shopping. Tires are expensive, so begin by looking for promotions to see where you can save money. There are plenty of nationwide rebates and promotions each month that are available through your local tire professionals. Take some time to browse online for not only the right tires, but the best value.

What size tires do you need?

Tires are identified with an alphanumeric tire code that might not make a lot of sense to the untrained eyed.  Actually that code that gives you a host of information about its characteristics, including the size. For example, P195/70R15 43H M+S, shows you the type, width, aspect ratio, diameter, tire speed rating, and indicates the tire is an all-season tire. By checking out the tire code on your current tires, you will have some basic information about what you will be looking for when buying new tires.

Which type of tire is best for your driving?

The climate you live in, your driving habits, and your own personal preference can all factor in when determining the tire type that will be best for you. Generally speaking, an all-season tire is a good choice for most climates and vehicles. The all-season tire can be changed out for a winter tire if you live in a northern climate that gets a great deal of ice and snow.

How do I maintain my new tires?

Regular tire maintenance is the key to protecting your tire investment. Once your new tires have been installed you will want to keep them inflated to the proper pressure to prolong their service and prevent tire failure. PSI should normally be 30-35, but always refer to the specific recommendations for your particular tire and vehicle. Tire rotations, wheel alignments, and tire balancing should be part of your regularly scheduled maintenance to extend the life of your tires and your vehicle.

 

Simple Car Maintenance: Check your Tires

In honor of the Rubber Manufacturers Association’s “National Tire Safety Week” this week’s simple car maintenance tip is about tire care. Tires are not only one of the biggest investments you make in your vehicle, they are also among the most crucial components that will ensure your vehicle performs well and handles safely. Here are two maintenance practices you can follow to make sure you get the most from your tires:

1. Check Your Tire’s Pressure

Keeping your tires properly inflated is a very important aspect of tire maintenance, so check your tire pressure regularly. Find the correct tire pressure for your tires in your owner’s manual. You may see a tire pressure number stamped on the tire, but that number is the maximum pressure. You want to go with the recommended pressure instead. If you don’t have a tire gauge, you can pick up a digital model pretty inexpensively.

Remove the valve cap and press the tire gauge on the valve stem. You will probably notice a hissing sound when you first press down, but it stops once you press the gauge all the way down. Only a few seconds are needed to obtain an accurate reading. If your tires need air, you can fill them with either a portable compressor, or you can use the air pump at your local gas station for a nominal fee. The filling process is similar to checking  the pressure – instead of pressing the gauge to the valve stem, you’ll be pressing the fitting on the air hose to the stem. Check the pressure as you inflate until you reach the right pressure number. If your tires are over inflated, you can remove air from the tires using your gauge. Remember the hissing sound? When you hear it, let it go for a bit, then recheck the pressure. When you are finished, put the valve caps back on each tire.

2. Check Tire Tread

Make it a habit to check tires for tread wear or damage. The “penny test” is an easy way to check tread wear.

Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time for a new set of tires. If Abe’s head is covered to about the forehead hairline, the tread is in good shape and you probably do not need new tires.

Tire Siping – Is it Necessary?

Dear Tracy,

I am wondering if you can tell me what tire siping is? I have heard it improves traction and tire performance, and improves handling when driving on snow and ice. Friends of mine were talking about having their tires siped this fall, before the winter weather hits. Is this something I should be doing?

-Tony B.

Dear Tony,

When tires are siped, it involves a process of cutting slices across the tire tread. The concept is that the slice opens up on the surface of the road, griping the road and dispersing water to improve traction.

The idea of tire siping goes back to the early 20’s when John Sipe, a slaughterhouse employee, had problems with his shoes slipping on the wet floor. Sipe discovered that by cutting groves into the sole of his rubber shoe, he could greatly improve their traction. Sipe was so confident in his discovery that he had the concept patented and it became officially known as “siping.” By the 1950’s, tire manufacturers were using siping in tire tread designs. Today specialized siping patterns are used for a variety of tire types.

There are varying opinions on as to whether or not after-market tire siping is beneficial. On the pro side, those who believe in tire siping say that that it offers real performance and safety benefits. There are actually tire siping machines that can do a variety of configurations for after-market tire modification. On the con side, many argue that today’s tires already use siping in the way that there are designed and manufactured. There is a lot of engineering and performance testing behind modern tread design, and many think that there is no need to modify it. It is also said that after-market siping could void your tread-wear warranty.

Tony, as to whether or not you should sipe your tires, your best bet will be to talk to your tire dealer who knows the type, condition, and age of your tires. It might make more sense to purchase a quality set of winter tires that are manufactured to incorporate siping features and benefits.