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Uh Oh…My Check Engine Light Is On

March 30th, 2017

So you come out to start your car one morning and the Check Engine light on the dashboard comes on…and doesn’t go back off again. You can’t really notice any difference in the way the car runs and drives, but it’s on anyway.

What does it mean?Check Engine Light

Since the late 80s, most engine functions have been controlled by a central drivetrain computer. This includes emissions controls, fuel metering and delivery, ignition timing, shift points and many other elements of drivability and performance. The drivetrain computer relies on information from a chain of sensors that monitor exhaust composition, camshaft position, throttle position and many other factors.

The voltage readings from any of these sensors are supposed to fall within a certain range. When ...[more]

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Get Your Car Really, Really, REALLY Clean!

February 23rd, 2017

It can be a lot of work and attention to detail to get your car really clean…especially if it’s pretty dirty to start with…but here are some ideas for truly thorough cleaning that you may not have thought of!Cleaning Car

--A cheap foam paintbrush can get into crevices (like A/C vents) that might be impossible otherwise. As you loosen up dust from these spots, keep a vacuum cleaner nozzle at work in your other hand to suck up the dust and prevent it from settling other places.

--A soft-bristled brush is perfect for cleaning around radio knobs and other buttons.

--While you’re cleaning, don’t forget to locate your cabin air filter and replace it. A dirty cabin air filter can lead to a lot of odd smells and stinks. Check your owner’s manual; cabin a ...[more]

  Tags: tips
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Are You Ready For A Roadside Emergency?

January 26th, 2017

Yeah, yeah…your vehicle’s fairly new and you take care of it, and you’ve even got a membership in AAA. That doesn’t mean that your chances of Car troubleending up in a tight spot are zero. It’s just common sense to be prepared with a trouble bag in your car. Here’s a pretty good rundown of things you should keep in a car emergency kit:

Fully charged cell phone: You may want to consider a cheap prepaid “burner phone” with a long battery life and keep it strictly in the car. If nothing else, at least keep a charged-up power bank on hand.

First-aid kit: At a bare minimum, a first-aid kit should include gauze pads and bandage tape, aspirins, antiseptic wipes, scissors, antiseptic cream or ointment, Band-Aids, rub ...[more]

  Tags: tips, car care kit
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

So You Think Some Traffic Laws Are Nuts?

December 29th, 2016

Yes, there are plenty of traffic laws in certain areas that don’t make much sense. Here, though, we present a collection of traffic laws from other parts of the world that are just bizarre:

--In Thailand, the law states that no driver, male or female, shall ever drive without a shirt.Weird Traffic Laws

--In South Africa, “the driver of a vehicle on a public road shall stop such vehicle at the request or on the signal of a person leading or driving any bovine animal, horse, ass, mule, sheep, goat, pig, or ostrich on such road.” Or face a $500 fine.

--Splashing a pedestrian with water is illegal in Japan.

--In Montana, you can forget about driving with a sheep in the truck unless the sheep has a chaperone... and the state of Alabama had the presence of min ...[more]

  Tags: tips, auto facts
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Your Car’s an Investment – Protect It

November 24th, 2016

You rely on your car every day, and you have a lot of money tied up in it. It’s probably one of the more valuable things you own…so make sure you get the most out of that investment:

Oil changes: Changing your motor oil at regular intervals will ensure long engine life by cutting wear and friction and helping to prevent the buildup of sludge Antique Carand carbon on internal engine assemblies.

Cooling system: Older cast-iron engines could overheat with no serious consequences, but not so with today’s aluminum blocks and heads. Your engine’s coolant has a finite life and should be changed and flushed at regular intervals to prevent accumulation of scale and corrosion in the radiator, heater core and water pump.

Finish: ...[more]

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Make Sure Your Car's Ready For Winter!

October 14th, 2016

You know that winter and bad weather are coming. Is your car ready? Here’s a quick checklist of things to get up to speed on:

Motor oil: Motor oil has a tendency to thicken in cold weather, making it harder to circulate to upper engine parts at startup. If you haven’t ever used synthetic oil Driving in the Winterbefore, this might be a good time to start. The flow properties of synthetic oil are a lot more consistent, meaning it doesn’t thicken in sub-freezing temperatures or thin out when it’s hot outside.

Wipers: Even the best windshield wipers only last about a year. If your wipers are showing cracks or chips or losing strips of rubber, go ahead and replace them. Don’t forget to refill your washer fluid reservoir…you’ ...[more]

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Things To Look For When Buying a Used Car

September 15th, 2016
Buying a used car is somewhat less of a crapshoot than it was at one time. You can get detailed information on a vehicle's history via the CARFAX report, and a Car for saletechnician can use onboard diagnostics to get a good picture of what's going on under the hood and what problems might be coming up. 
 
It's always a good idea to get a mechanic to look over any prospective purchase, but there are things you can get a look at yourself before you spend the money for a professional inspection. These are things which will give you a pretty good idea of the kind of use and maintenance a vehicle has seen before you got it. 
 
-- Put your head against a fender and sight down the side of the vehicle with one eye. Look out for ripples or ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Tips On How To Keep Your Car Organized!

August 11th, 2016
For some, the idea of an "organized car" is almost blasphemous, but having your vehicle set up so you can actually find things can be pretty nice. The bigger the vehicle -- minivans, SUVs -- and the more people they haul, the more disorganized they can get. Don't let your minivan turn into a rolling dumpster -- here are some great ideas for keeping it organized. 
 
-- While newer vehicles have come a long way in terms of driver and passenger ergonomics and an abundance of cubbies and cupholders, you can use a simple shower caddy across the back of a seat and make it easier for back seat passengers to keep toys, snacks, and other stuff within easy reach. 
 
-- Doesn't it always seem like you have way, way too many plastic groc ...[more]
  Tags: tips
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

What's Leaking From My Car?

July 14th, 2016
You go out to your car, start it up, pull out of your parking space and see a puddle of...something...where you were parked a moment ago. This is never a good feeling. What could it be? 
 
Fortunately, some automotive fluids are dyed different colors to make this a little easier to narrow down. 
 
Does it appear to be water? Were you recently running your A/C? Chances are that's just condensation from the A/C system, which drips out through a rubber tube and is perfectly normal. No worries there. 
 
For years, antifreeze was dyed a bright green to make it easy to identify. Today, other antifreeze formulations can be colored pink or orange, but it's still not hard to figure out -- antifreeze has a swe ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

A/C Problems Demystified

June 30th, 2016

Believe it or not, the A/C system in your vehicle is fairly simple in principle and design. Like your refrigerator, it operates on a cycle of compression and expansion of a gas, known as refrigerant. The compressor turns the gas into a liquid, and as the gas evaporates it provides cooling. Like your refrigerator, its main components are: 
 
  • Compressor
  • Condenser 
  • Receiver/dryer
  • Thermostatic expansion valve
  • Evaporator
  • Refrigerant
  • Blower 
The good news is most automotive A/C systems have become very robust and reliable compared to cars from a generation ago. Most of the time, poor performance is due to low refrigerant levels due to lea ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101
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