Monthly Archives: May 2016

Tips For Change your Brake Fluid

The recommended intervals for changing brake fluid are all over the board depending on the manufacturer, from as often as every two years to never. Really.

For example, Chevrolet says to change the brake fluid on most models every 45,000 miles, but Honda says to do it every three years regardless of the vehicle’s mileage. Three years is also the recommended interval for most Volkswagens, but Mercedes-Benz vehicles typically call for fresh fluid every two years or 20,000 miles.

In contrast, on the Ford Escape, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Camry and other models from those manufacturers, there are no recommendations for replacing the brake fluid, only instructions to inspect it periodically.

This leaves it up to the owner to consult what the manufacturer says in their car’s maintenance schedule and rely on the advice of a trusted repair shop.

Brake fluid lives in a sealed system and can survive for years, but moisture from the surrounding air can work its way in through hoses and other parts of the brake system. Water in the brake lines lowers the boiling point of the fluid, so stopping ability can diminish in hard stops as heat in the system increases. In addition, over time the moisture can cause internal corrosion in the brake lines, calipers, the master cylinder and other components.

Flushing and replacing brake fluid might cost $100 or less on many vehicles, but replacing rusted brake lines and other parts can run several hundreds of dollars, so clearly there’s value in keeping up with maintenance.

As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to have the brake fluid inspected and perhaps tested for moisture content every few years and no more than every five if you live in a high-humidity area.

You might be able to tell it’s time for a change by looking to see if the fluid is still fresh. Brake fluid is often light brown in color, but in some vehicles it’s clear (at least when new) and will darken with age, becoming murky from water contamination. A better way is to have it tested by a professional for moisture and see what they recommend.

Which one do you choose struts or shock bsorbers

Maybe forever, if you rely on an overly liberal interpretation of the maintenance schedules set by some vehicle manufacturers. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them or even accept the manufacturer’s recommendations, though; instead, add them to your list of items that should be checked annually after the first three or so years of ownership.

With accessory drive belts, most manufacturers recommend only a periodic inspection for cracks, fraying or other visible wear, and on some GM vehicles the first inspection isn’t until 10 years or 150,000 miles, when someone else might own the vehicle.

Hoses? What about them? Most owner’s manuals don’t even mention radiator or coolant hoses (except that they can get really hot on an overheated engine). Other hoses, such as for the power steering or air conditioner, usually are mentioned only as something that should be checked as part of routine maintenance or when leaks are suspected.

Coolant hoses typically last several years, though anything longer than 10 years may be pushing the limits. Rubber weakens with age and from repeated exposure to hot coolant, so the older they get the higher chance they’ll leak and cause the engine to overheat.

Drive belts are usually the serpentine type that snake their way around pulleys to power the alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump and perhaps the water pump, and they’re designed to last several years.

When to replace a drive belt is a judgment call by a repair technician, and it’s up to the vehicle owner to decide if the time is right given the manufacturers have largely chosen to stay out of it. We would err on the side of caution, because when a drive belt breaks your car comes to a halt. Depending on where this happens and when, a belt that fits your car may not be available until tomorrow, leaving you stranded.

Don’t confuse a drive belt with a timing belt, which connects the crankshaft to the camshafts and controls the timing of when valves open and close. Timing belts are out of view behind a timing cover and more complicated and expensive to replace, mainly because of the additional labor. Many vehicles have timing chains that are considered good for the life of the vehicle, but timing belts usually have a recommended mileage before changing. In some cases, that’s as soon as 60,000 miles but in others it can be 100,000 or more.

Worn ball joints allow too much movement in the suspension, so the driver may feel more vibrations — or hear squeaks or rattles on bumpy surfaces or when turning — caused by looseness in the suspension. Other signs of worn ball joints include uneven tire wear and steering that wanders instead of going straight.

Because these symptoms also can apply to other suspension and steering issues, any or all of the above are good reason to have a thorough inspection conducted by a qualified mechanic before pointing the finger at the ball joints. Some ball joints have wear indicators, but others have to be checked by raising the car off the ground and seeing if the wheels allow excessive play. In addition, some ball joints have rubber dust covers that, if torn, can allow dirt and water in. That can damage the joint.

Front ball joints connect the suspension control arms to the steering knuckles; their ball shape allows the suspension to move up and down and the wheels to pivot when you turn the steering wheel. On vehicles that have rear ball joints, they act like hinges to allow the wheels to move up and down with the road surface. Vehicles with strut-type front suspensions have only lower ball joints, but double-wishbone styles have upper and lower ones.

They often last more than 100,000 miles but can wear out earlier if driven frequently on rough roads, which puts more stress on the suspension. Load-bearing ball joints that carry the weight of the vehicle tend to wear out sooner than those that aren’t load-bearing. Ball joints used on most modern vehicles have grease sealed inside them (some require that grease be added periodically). The seals can leak with age, and once the grease leaks out, that will accelerate wear and eventually cause failure.

Don’t ignore warning signs of worn ball joints, because eventually they can break. That can break a control arm or other suspension part, allowing the wheel to come loose. Ball-joint replacement is typically not listed on a vehicle’s maintenance schedule, but many manufacturers recommend they be inspected for wear at regular intervals, such as at oil changes.

Sticker From Your Car

Stickers on cars can symbolize just about anything under the sun. They can show support for a certain political candidate, identify you as a proud parent of an honor student or the fact that you just love that one special dog breed. Others are required by local laws, like city stickers. Some even come attached to your new car straight from the dealer.

But political campaigns and straight A’s end at some point, and those city stickers need to be replaced every year.

While removing stickers isn’t as easy as putting them on, we have some advice that should make the job a little less sticky.

What you need:

  • Hair dryer with hot air settings
  • Razor blade or a box cutter (if removing from glass)
  • Sturdy plastic card — could be a library card, credit card, frequent shopper card or ID
  • Two clean rags or detailing towels
  • Glass cleaning solution (if removing from glass)
  • Tree sap remover solution
  • Quick detailing spray
 

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

What to do:

1. Ensure that the sticker and the surrounding area are free of dirt. Doing this removal process works best after a car wash.

2. Plug in the hair dryer, turn the heat setting to hot and hold the hair dryer just a few inches above the sticker. Do not place the hair dryer directly on top of the sticker and the car’s paint.

 

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

3. Keep the hair dryer over the center area for a few seconds, making sure the air coming out is hot and then slowly begin to move it around the rest of the sticker. You want to heat the edges of the sticker last so you can prep for the next step.

image: https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/1170×1170/2/img1837892243-1472069383802.gif

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

4. After you’ve let the sticker heat up, use the plastic card at an angle to gently scrape up under the sticker. You can also try using your fingertips. If the surface area is hot enough, you will be able to slide the card under the sticker’s edge and begin to peel it away.

Repeating steps 2-3 a few more times may make a cumbersome presidential campaign sticker that’s been on your bumper since the last time your party won easier to remove. You can also try moving the plastic card or razor blade back and forth while you slide it under the sticker’s surface.

If you’re removing a sticker from your car’s glass, use the box cutter or razor blade at a slight angle. Do not use a box cutter or razor blade on your car’s paint; it will cause damage. On glass you will be able to apply a bit heavier pressure, if needed, to remove the sticker.

Belts and Hoses Last

Maybe forever, if you rely on an overly liberal interpretation of the maintenance schedules set by some vehicle manufacturers. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them or even accept the manufacturer’s recommendations, though; instead, add them to your list of items that should be checked annually after the first three or so years of ownership.

With accessory drive belts, most manufacturers recommend only a periodic inspection for cracks, fraying or other visible wear, and on some GM vehicles the first inspection isn’t until 10 years or 150,000 miles, when someone else might own the vehicle.

Hoses? What about them? Most owner’s manuals don’t even mention radiator or coolant hoses (except that they can get really hot on an overheated engine). Other hoses, such as for the power steering or air conditioner, usually are mentioned only as something that should be checked as part of routine maintenance or when leaks are suspected.

Coolant hoses typically last several years, though anything longer than 10 years may be pushing the limits. Rubber weakens with age and from repeated exposure to hot coolant, so the older they get the higher chance they’ll leak and cause the engine to overheat.

Drive belts are usually the serpentine type that snake their way around pulleys to power the alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump and perhaps the water pump, and they’re designed to last several years.

When to replace a drive belt is a judgment call by a repair technician, and it’s up to the vehicle owner to decide if the time is right given the manufacturers have largely chosen to stay out of it. We would err on the side of caution, because when a drive belt breaks your car comes to a halt. Depending on where this happens and when, a belt that fits your car may not be available until tomorrow, leaving you stranded.

Don’t confuse a drive belt with a timing belt, which connects the crankshaft to the camshafts and controls the timing of when valves open and close. Timing belts are out of view behind a timing cover and more complicated and expensive to replace, mainly because of the additional labor. Many vehicles have timing chains that are considered good for the life of the vehicle, but timing belts usually have a recommended mileage before changing. In some cases, that’s as soon as 60,000 miles but in others it can be 100,000 or more.

Lets Check and Fill Tires

While it may seem like a mundane task, inflating tires is much more crucial to your car than you may think, and it results in a safer and more economical experience on the road. Your vehicle’s handling also will be greatly improved as the larger a tire’s inflated footprint, the more responsive and comfier the ride balance will be.

Because it’s National Tire Safety Week, it’s the perfect time to check your car’s tires.

Before starting

To find your tires’ proper inflation level, look for a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. It displays the vehicle weight restriction and tire information. The info is also found in the maintenance or car-care section of your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Don’t refer to the sidewall markings on your tires, which in part specify the maximum tire pressure — not the recommended pressure.

Unless your tire is visibly flat, don’t judge tire inflation just by looking at it; you have to use a tire pressure gauge to get the correct pounds per square inch reading. There are three types of tire-pressure gauges: digital, internal slide and dial. Prices range from $5 for a basic gauge to more than $30 for one that is digital, has an air-release button — or even talks. All will do the job, but you may want to consider the conditions in which you’ll be using your gauge. “We’ve found that low-cost digital pressure gauges are very accurate and maintain the accuracy longer, but in extremely cold temperatures the gauge may not show up properly,” said John Rastetter, Tire Rack’s director of tire information services.

Tips for checking and filling your tires

Tire manufacturers suggest checking tires when they’re cold for the most accurate reading. Outside temperatures can cause tire pressure to vary by as much as 1 psi per 10 degrees; higher temperatures mean higher psi readings. “Tires are black; what does black do? Attract heat,” Rastetter said, noting the importance of finding a shady place to check and fill all four tires.

Temperature plays a huge part in tire psi, Rastetter said, adding that the most crucial time of year to check pressure is in fall and winter when days are shorter and average temperatures plummet.

Check your tires in the morning before going anywhere, because as soon as you get behind the wheel for an extended amount of time, psi will rise. Rastetter said that if you’ve been on the road a long time and notice higher psi in your tires, don’t let the air out, as the increase in pressure has built up due to the warm, constantly-in-motion tires

What to do

1. Pull your car onto a level surface in the shade.
2. Remove dust caps from the tires’ valve stems.
3. Using your tire gauge, firmly press the tip of the gauge straight on to the tire’s valve stem for a brief moment.
4. The tire gauge should provide a psi reading; if the number seems unrealistically low or high — for example, 85 psi or 1 psi – you will need to repeat the previous step, ensuring that the tire gauge’s tip is properly making contact with the valve stem.
5. If the tire gauge’s recorded reading is higher than the manufacturer-recommended rating, press the gauge tip on the valve stem until you hear air leak out. Check the tire pressure again.
6. If the reading is lower than recommended, fill the tire with air by firmly pressing the air-hose tip onto the valve stem. You will hear air quietly enter the tire. If you hear air leaking or spraying out, you need to double-check that the connection between the air hose and the tire’s valve stem is secure.
7. When you think you’ve added or let out enough air, check the pressure a few times with the gauge.
8. Replace the valve dust caps. Rastetter emphasized the importance of keeping dust caps on during winter driving because if water gets into the valve stem and freezes inside the tire, it could cause a flat.

While you’re at it, check your spare tire’s pressure. You don’t want to have a flat tire and then find out your replacement is flat, too.

Time to Replace Ball Joints

Worn ball joints allow too much movement in the suspension, so the driver may feel more vibrations — or hear squeaks or rattles on bumpy surfaces or when turning — caused by looseness in the suspension. Other signs of worn ball joints include uneven tire wear and steering that wanders instead of going straight.

Because these symptoms also can apply to other suspension and steering issues, any or all of the above are good reason to have a thorough inspection conducted by a qualified mechanic before pointing the finger at the ball joints. Some ball joints have wear indicators, but others have to be checked by raising the car off the ground and seeing if the wheels allow excessive play. In addition, some ball joints have rubber dust covers that, if torn, can allow dirt and water in. That can damage the joint.

Front ball joints connect the suspension control arms to the steering knuckles; their ball shape allows the suspension to move up and down and the wheels to pivot when you turn the steering wheel. On vehicles that have rear ball joints, they act like hinges to allow the wheels to move up and down with the road surface. Vehicles with strut-type front suspensions have only lower ball joints, but double-wishbone styles have upper and lower ones.

They often last more than 100,000 miles but can wear out earlier if driven frequently on rough roads, which puts more stress on the suspension. Load-bearing ball joints that carry the weight of the vehicle tend to wear out sooner than those that aren’t load-bearing. Ball joints used on most modern vehicles have grease sealed inside them (some require that grease be added periodically). The seals can leak with age, and once the grease leaks out, that will accelerate wear and eventually cause failure.

Don’t ignore warning signs of worn ball joints, because eventually they can break. That can break a control arm or other suspension part, allowing the wheel to come loose. Ball-joint replacement is typically not listed on a vehicle’s maintenance schedule, but many manufacturers recommend they be inspected for wear at regular intervals, such as at oil changes.