Why Trust Your Vehicle to a Certified Technician?

We depend on our vehicles for much of our daily necessities, whether it’s getting to work, taking kids to school, grocery shopping, or going out to dinner. Since we rely so much on our transportation, it is really important that we trust the professionals who take care of our vehicles. You need to not only count on your vehicle’s performance, but also on its ability to keep you safe on the road. Because you need to have the utmost confidence in the experience, capability, and professionalism of your auto service provider, it is a good idea to always choose a certified technician to do your vehicle service and repair.

Trust Your Vehicle to a Certified Technician

Photo credit: Jimmy Nilsson Masth / Unsplash

How Does a Mechanic Become Certified Technician? 

An independent non-profit organization called the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), has established standards to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals. In addition to passing an ASE Certification test, certified technicians must have completed two years of on the job training or one year of on the job training and a two-year degree in automotive repair to qualify for certification.

According to ASE.com the tests for certification are rigorous. Only two out of every three mechanics pass on their first attempt. To remain ASE certified, technicians must recertify every five years to keep up with advancing automotive technology. 

What Advantages are there to Choosing a Certified Technician?

This biggest advantage you gain with a certified technician is confidence in knowing that your service provider knows how to service or repair your specific vehicle make and model. ASE technicians receive comprehensive training on parts used in a diverse range of makes and models. Some technicians also earn original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certifications to perform repairs on globally recognized vehicle brands. These OEM certifications assure that a technician has not only been trained to repair specific makes and models, but they are also tested and evaluated.

In addition to up-to-date training, certified technicians understand and use the latest technologies when servicing your vehicle. Shops that use the most advanced technologies will complete your services and repairs with speed and precision.

Another advantage of using certified technicians is their commitment to best practices. Since certification standards must be met, certified auto body technicians develop and implement car repair best practices to keep their shops accountable. Your work will be done by a professional who cares about you and your vehicle. Technicians work hard to achieve and maintain their credentials, and they do so to provide you with confidence in their abilities and satisfaction with their work.

Don’t put off repair or essential service because you are not sure where to take your car. Choose an ASE Certified Technician with confidence.

October is Fall Car Care Month

Fall Car Care Month is the perfect time to make sure that your car is ready for winter and current on all maintenance and repair needs. Basic auto service and repairs can go a long way in improving the safety and dependability of your car. 

Fall Car Care Vehicle On Lift

Does Your Car Know Something You Don’t?

In celebration of Fall Car Care month, many shops across the country will be holding free vehicle check-up events.  According to the Car Care Council, last year, many vehicle owners were likely surprised by what they found out. Vehicle check-ups at community car care events across the country last year revealed that 80% of vehicles needed immediate service or parts.

Fall Car Care Maintenance Steps

hat you do today can go a long way toward improving the safety and reliability of your vehicle. Regular car care can also help avoid costly repairs down the road, saving you both time and money. Here are some fall maintenance procedures that will help your vehicle operate at its best before the winter season arrive:

Check all fluids – Window washer solvent, anti-freeze/coolant as well as engine oil, power steering, brake & transmission.

Check the battery – Replace if necessary. Ensure the connection is tight, clean, and free of corrosion.

Check hoses & belts – Make sure they are not loose, cracked, brittle, or even showing signs of excessive wear.

Check your brakes – Annual brake checks are suggested. As well as taking a look at the rotors, drums & brake linings.

Inspect the exhaust system – Leaks, damage & broken elements can occur. Inspect for unusual behaviors or loud noises.

Check your engine – Your vehicle craves the best balance of power & fuel economy while producing the lowest level of emissions.

Check your wipers – It’s important to see and be seen during winter driving. Check all the interior and exterior lighting.

Check heating/HVAC system – Proper heating & cooling performance is crucial for your safety.

Inspect steering & suspension – Annual checking is recommended. We would also encourage a review of other components like shock absorbers, struts, ball joints & tie rod ends.

Check your tires – Uneven wear and tears can greatly affect your safety. As can poorly inflated tires.

For more useful free content about vehicle maintenance, repair and enhancement visit the Car Care News Service website.

Why is it Necessary to Rotate Tires?

You probably already know that vehicle and tire manufacturers recommend that you rotate tires regularly. Have you ever wondered why? As it turns out, tire rotation can actually extend the life of your tires and greatly increase your safety on the road. 

Tire Rotation Service

What Does Tire Rotation Do for Tires?

It may be surprising to learn that there is a difference in tread wear that occurs on the front and  rear tires. The front tires are used in steering, while the rear tires remain relatively stationary in terms of lateral movement. Steering creates a scrubbing effect, putting more stress on the front tires than on the rear tires. In the case of front-wheel-drive vehicles, there is additional stress from the drive axle which means even faster tread wear on the front tires.

When you regularly rotate tires, it not only adds to the service life of your tires, it will improve your vehicle performance and safety.  During tire rotation service, a your technician will check the tread depth of all four tires, check the inflation pressure, and visually inspect the tires for any issues and potential problems.     

Does the Pattern Used to Rotate Tires Matter?

When technicians perform tire rotation service, they rotate tires following a specified rotation pattern. The pattern matters because the tires on the front axle need to accomplish very different things than the tires on the rear axle. Conditions encountered on a front-wheel drive vehicle are considerably different than those of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Tire wear effects on a performance vehicle are typically more severe than what you would see on a family sedan. Each individual wheel position can create different wear rates and different types of tire wear.

The typically suggested rule for tire rotation is to cross the free rolling axle. This means that on a front-wheel drive vehicle, the front tires should be rotated straight back to the rear and the rear tires should be crossed to the front. In the case of a rear-wheel drive vehicle the opposite applies. Front tires are crossed to the back while the rear tires are rotated straight to the front. A “double x” pattern is used with four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, so the right front and left rear tires switch positions, as do the left front and right rear.

Tire rotation service should be scheduled per the recommendations specified in your owner’s manual. Performed at the scheduled times, tire rotation will preserve balanced handling and traction, and promote even tread wear. Not only can tire rotation result in performance advantages, many tire mileage warranties require rotation to keep the warranty valid.

Tires are a substantial investment. It pays to take care of them. Properly inflated tires that are serviced on a regular basis with proper tire rotation can be expected to deliver optimal tread life, as well as excellent performance and value.

Five Ways to Improve Fall Driving Visibility and Safety

Changing of the seasons is always a good time to think about vehicle maintenance. In addition to taking your car in for its required mechanical checks, there are things you can do in your own garage to prepare for autumn. Falling leaves and tree debris make keeping your windshield clean for clear visibility a challenge. To assure you can see clearly while driving, be sure to take a few minutes to clear off your vehicle – especially at the base of the windshield and other crevices where debris may accumulate.

Leaves on a Car Representing Fall Car Care

Here are five more things you can do to assure clear visibility while driving so you and your passengers will be as safe as possible on the road.

Check Your Wipers

Fall typically brings more rain, so make sure your wipers are in peak condition to assure their effectiveness. You should inspect your wiper blades regularly, and ask your auto service professional to check them whenever you bring in your car for other service or repair. As a rule of thumb, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.

Regularly Clean Your Windshield

Leaf litter and other tree debris lead to a dusty and dirty windshield. This can be particularly dangerous at night, when oncoming lights hit the dirt on your windshield and impair your vision. Try to make a habit of cleaning the windshield every time you fill up. Most gas stations have what you need right by the pumps.

Polish Up Those Headlights

Take a moment to check out your headlights. You may be surprised by the amount of dirt and bug grime that has accumulated on them. If not cleaned, it will eventually get to the point of making your headlight beams dimmer. Regular cleaning will make clear headlights easier to maintain.

Fix Windshield Cracks or Chips

A small crack in the windshield might be annoying, but drivers tend to live with it. Unfortunately, all it takes is one bump or pothole, and suddenly that small crack spreads all the way across the windshield. Have those cracks repaired as soon as possible to maintain safe visibility and to avoid the cost of a windshield replacement.

Top Off Your Washer Fluid

For your windshield wipers to function properly they need an ample supply of windshield washer fluid. Letting wiper blades drag across a dry surface is not only ineffective, it can lead to damaging of the blades. Top off your washer fluid at every service interval or whenever the seasons change to avoid being left high and dry. Use windshield washer antifreeze in winter months to prevent damage to your washer system.

Your Summer Car Care Checklist

You depend on your car to perform safely  and efficiently in a wide range of conditions. Are you giving it the care it needs to assure that performance? The extra seasonal needs of a vehicle are obvious in the winter time, with its snow, ice and freezing temperatures.  But summer’s punishing effects might not be as obvious.

Summer Driving

Excessive temperatures can cause engine overheating, which can compromise engine components and cause expensive damage requiring extensive repairs.  When the engine temperature exceeds 230 degrees Fahrenheit it is overheated. At temperatures above 245 degrees Fahrenheit, engine damage may result.  Engine overheating is also a dangerous situation that can quickly put you and your passengers in danger.  Make sure your vehicle’s cooling system is working properly to avoid overheating.

If you haven’t given much thought to car care lately, take some time to review this summer car care checklist to help your vehicle beat the heat:

  • Batteries – Have your battery tested to be sure it is strong enough to endure the heat. People think of dead battery problems in the winter, but many do not realize hot summer temperatures can be just as rough on batteries. 
  • Tires – Keep your tires inflated to the pressure recommended for your vehicle. Soft, under-inflated tires generate heat, which can result in a blowout. 
  • Coolant – Have the cooling system flushed and new coolant installed when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer as part of scheduled maintenance. Depending on the type of coolant used, this is usually required every two to five years.
  • Radiator – Have your radiator checked to be sure it is in good condition and that the fluid level is correct. Another issue to watch for is a plugged radiator core. This problem can happen when coolant flushes are not performed.
  • Cooling Fans – Cooling fans should be regularly checked to avoid engine problems. A cooling fan failure can lead to engine overheating problems. In some cases, trouble with the air conditioning system can be a sign that you have a cooling fan problem. 
  • Thermostat – Have your thermostat inspected. A bad thermostat is a common cause of engine overheating. A failing thermostat can also be indicated by the check engine light illuminating or the car heater not working.
  • Water Pump – A compromised water pump will often cause a coolant leak, so if you notice the coolant level dropping at a faster rate, you should have it checked as soon as possible. 
  • Belts and Hoses – The belts and hoses in your cooling system should be checked to make sure they are tight and in good condition.  Cracks or deterioration of the rubber are signs of trouble.

 

 

Five Signs You Might Have Fuel Injection System Problems

The purpose of your vehicle’s fuel injection is to assure that the engine runs smoothly and efficiently by feeding it the right mixture of fuel and air. Before fuel injection systems,  autos had to rely on a carburetor to supply fuel to the engine. Today, most newer vehicles are equipped with fuel injection systems.

Close-up of car engine at repair garage

Automobile parts photo created by peoplecreations – www.freepik.com

Fuel Injection Systems vs Carburetor Systems

Fuel injection systems offer several advantages over carburetor systems:

  • Fuel injected systems deliver fuel in precise bursts, and are typically more powerful and efficient
  • Fuel injection is also more economical and produces less emission pollution.

Although fuel injector systems offer advantages, they do experience problems such as a clogged or dirty fuel injector.  Periodic maintenance should include proper cleaning of fuel injectors to address issues before they become serious and costly. 

Five Signs of Fuel Injection System Trouble

The following are five signs that your fuel injection system may be compromised or heading for costly problems:

 

  • Check Engine Light Turns On – Seeing the “Check Engine” light is an obvious sign of trouble. This light can signal several problems including a bad fuel injector. Any time an injector delivers too much or too little fuel, engine efficiency is reduced, which can trigger service light illumination.
  • Stalling and Rough Idling – If your car is not getting enough fuel or an inconsistent supply of fuel, the idling RPM drops below the optimal level causing the idle to feel aggressive or rough. If the RPM falls too low, the car will eventually stall.
  • Engine Vibration – A compromised fuel injector will cause the corresponding cylinder to not be able to fire. This will cause the engine to vibrate as it tries to finish each cycle without adequate fuel.
  • Engine Misfires – When the engine does not get enough fuel because of a clogged injector, the engine can misfire as you drive. This may be felt as a struggle to accelerate or a hesitation after you step on the gas pedal. This problem should be addressed as soon as possible or the engine will be vulnerable to overheating or other issues.
  • Fuel Leak – It is possible for a fuel injector to become broken or cracked from damage or old age. This will result in fuel leaks and inability of fuel to reach the nozzle. Inspection of the fuel injector may reveal gasoline on the exterior or on the nearby fuel rail. In many cases the leak comes from the fuel injector seal, which deteriorates over time.

 

To avoid fuel injection system problems, have the system cleaned and inspected as part of your regular maintenance routine.

 

How Taking Care of Your Tires Can Help Offset High Gas Prices

Record high gas prices have everyone thinking about ways to save money. While you may not have the option to drive less, there are other vehicle related expenses you can reduce to make your overall driving budget go farther. 

Gas Prices Vehicle Expense

Taking care of your tires will help extend your driving budget by protecting your tire investment. Not only will your tires last longer and perform better, you will also get better gas mileage and be safer on the road.

Five Tire Care Tips for Extending Your Driving Budget

  1. Inspect Your Tire Tread on a Regular Basis

The tread on your tires is essential for proper performance. Regular tread inspection is important for identifying tread wear problems before too much damage is done. The penny test is a simple way to confirm that your tire tread is in good shape.

Hold a penny so that “In God We Trust” appears across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire, taking note of the visibility of Lincoln’s head. If you can consistently see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time to go shopping for a new set of tires. If the top of Lincoln’s head (to about the forehead hairline) is covered throughout the tread grooves, the tread is in good shape and your tires probably do not need replacement.

  1. Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly

Check your tire pressure at least once a month.  This one quick chore could save you money by improving your tire life and gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual to confirm the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires. Remember that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare when you check your other tires, so it is ready when you need it.

  1. Get Your Tires Balanced

Tire balancing should be part of your regular scheduled maintenance. Your owner’s manual will provide a recommended schedule for your car, truck, or SUV. Tire balancing promotes a smooth ride and even tire wear by correctly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle.

  1. Get Your Tire Alignment Checked

Incorrectly aligned tires will decrease tire life because poor alignment leads to uneven tread wear. Poor alignment also compromises the safety of your vehicle. Have the alignment checked any time you notice problems with your vehicle’s handling to assure your safety and protect your investment.

  1. Get your Tires Rotated

Having your tires rotated on a regular basis is an important part of tire maintenance that will significantly extend tire service life. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for the tire rotation recommendations for your particular vehicle.

Pay Attention to These Signs of Pothole Damage

Whether as a driver or a passenger, we’ve all felt that horrible thud of hitting a pothole. But potholes are more than simply a springtime nuisance. They are actually one of the most abusive hazards your vehicle faces on a regular basis. Hitting potholes can lead to a host of problems for you and your vehicle. It is best to avoid them, but in some cases they are just unavoidable.

road pothole collecting rain

Potholes Prey on Shocks and Struts

While you might just think of getting a flat tire or bent rim when you hit a pothole, did you know that shocks and struts are a component of your car that can also be seriously damaged if you hit a bad pothole? Shocks and struts control your car’s ride and handling, and act as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of the car’s springs. They also control spring and suspension movement to keep your car’s tires in contact with the road so that it will steer properly, maintain stability, and brake safely. 

Watch for the Warning Signs

Compromised shocks and struts can impact steering and handling, so it is essential to be aware of the warning signs that your vehicle’s shocks or struts may need to be replaced:

  • Rolling or swaying on turns
  • Front-end dives when braking or rear end dips when accelerating
  • Bouncing or sliding sideways on rough or winding roads
  • Bottoming out or thumping on bumps
  • Unusual puddles under the car or leaking fluids
  • Loss of directional control during sudden stops

It is a good idea to have your car inspected if you experience any of the above signs. Catching pothole damage issues early can prevent more extensive problems down the road.

 

Seeing Your TPMS Warning Light? It Might Not Mean What You Think.

Drivers of newer vehicles have a host of warning lights to alert them to potential vehicle problems. While extremely helpful, this technology can lead to confusion. When those anxiety-inducing lights come on, it may not mean what you think it means. For example, seeing the TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) warning light does not necessarily mean there is a problem with your tires.

Cold Weather TPMS Warning Light

If your car’s TPMS warning light comes on when the temperatures are extremely cold, it may be a simple problem that is easier to fix than you think.

How the TPMS Light Works

tpms_display1The TPMS light is part of the pressure monitoring system that involves sensors that are connected to your actual tires.  The TPMS symbol looks like an exclamation point in parentheses. It lights up when the pressure in one or more of your tires is reduced by around 25%. It may also indicate an issue with the tire pressure monitoring system, such as a dead battery.

There is also a reason the light can come on that is not a sign of trouble, but instead just and indication of the season.

How Cold Temperatures Affect Tire Pressure

Tire pressure can decrease about 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. It isn’t because the air is escaping, but because the air inside the tire is condensing and taking up less space. The effect is temporary because as you drive the tire will heat up, which increases the tire’s pressure.

Additionally, tires tend to lose about 1 PSI per month from seepage of air around the edge of the rim, and even through the tread. Together these factors can cause tire pressure to drop as much as 25 percent below the recommended level. The sensing transmitters inside your tires notice this and trigger your TPMS dash light. If your TPMS light comes on you may not have a problem. You may just need to check your air and bring your tires up to the right pressure.

Don’t Ignore The TPMS Warning Light

It is good to know you may not need to start shopping for tires when you see that light, however that does not mean you should ignore it.  Seeing that light means your tires are below the proper air pressure, which increases the chance of tire failure, compromised handling, improper tire and tread wear, and poor gas mileage. 

Check your tire pressure at least once a month during the winter, and have your technician check your tires to make sure there is not a bigger problem triggering that TPMS warning light.

What Does An Alternator Do For My Car?

Many of the convenient and important features and functions of your vehicle require electrical power. Your car’s alternator serves as a kind of generator or charging system that provides that power. While the vehicle’s battery supplies some power, the majority of its devices draw electricity from a continuous supply from the alternator. 

BMW Dashboard and Steering Wheel

How The Alternator Works

Your car’s alternator is a mechanical device that is energized by the crankshaft of the engine. When the engine is running, the alternator transforms the motion of the crankshaft into electric energy. This is the electricity that powers devices such as the cooling fan, the stereo, the headlights, the windshield wipers, the air conditioning system, and the defogger.

What Are Signs That Your Alternator Is Having Issues?

If your alternator is creating a considerable amount of noise, this could be a sign that something is wrong with it. As the bearings inside the alternator become worn, you will often hear strange and excessive sounds when the hood is open. Other signs of trouble include:

  • Dead battery
  • Dim headlights
  • Starter problems
  • Burning smell
  • The “GEN” or battery service light may appear

What Service Does An Alternator Need?

During maintenance service your tire and auto service technician test how your battery, starter, and alternator perform at idle, during high RPMs, and under high voltage loads. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out how often your alternator should be inspected to avoid problems.