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  • When you should replace shocks

    Posted on 10, March, 2017

    5 Ways to Tell if It’s Time to Replace Shocks and Struts

    Do you need to replace shocks and struts on your vehicle? How can you tell? Your car’s shock absorbers are designed to limit the amount of suspension movement by dampening spring oscillations. Struts similarly reinforce the the active components of the suspension to the same end, which means that struts and shocks are what keep you from hitting your head on the ceiling of the car every time you hit a bump and from vibrating while traveling down rough roads. Because of the interconnectedness of your car’s system, problems tend to be contagious. Here are several signs that your car might need shock and strut replacements. Noticing these signs right away can prevent further damage to your car.

    1)Bumpy Rides

    Because the primary goal of struts and shocks is to prevent the amount of suspension movement, the most telling sign that you need to have them checked is if you are experiencing a bumpy ride. Your car is designed to comfortably withstand a certain amount of movement, so if you experience bumpiness or shakiness while driving, your shocks and struts are most likely to blame.

    2)Steering Problems

    One of the first signs people notice when their car needs new shocks or struts is poor steering response. The steering wheel will often become stiff and hard to turn, and their may be unusual noises when turning wheel. In addition to these problems, you may find that your car sways or leans on turns or when changing from one lane to the other.

    3)Braking Issues

    When struts are worn or damaged, the vehicle will often compensate in other ways. You may notice a “nose-diving” sensation as well as instability while braking. If you feel a lurch forward while braking, you’ll need to have your struts and shocks checked out by a mechanic.

    4)Visually Damaged Struts

    While often strut damage is better felt than seen, you might notice visibly dented or damaged struts or shocks. In addition to this physical damage, fluid leaks among struts and shocks are common when a car needs replacements. Mounts and bushings can also become corroded, damaged, or worn as time goes on.

    5)Tires

    If your tires show unusual wear patterns it may be time to replace your shocks and struts. Suspension damage can cause cupping in tires, which is when cups or scalloped dips develop around the edge of the tread. Cupped tires can be incredibly dangerous, so it’s important to look into having your tires rotated or replaced at the same time you replace your shocks.

    Whether you’re noticing problems or nearing the mileage checkpoint, maintaining shocks and struts can prevent long-term damage to your car. Because everything in the car is connected, a problem with the suspension can lead to other problems. Suspension problems can also be particularly rough on tires, which can become dangerous and expensive to replace.


  • Check Engine Light

    Posted on 07, March, 2017

     

    What does check engine light mean?

    Determine whether your vehicle has a loose gas cap or serious engine problems

    You're driving along in your car or truck and suddenly a yellow light illuminates on your dash telling you to check or service your engine. If you're like most car owners, you have little idea about what that light is trying to tell you or exactly how you should react.

    Call it the most misunderstood indicator on your dashboard, the "check engine" light can mean many different things, from a loose gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine.

    "It doesn't mean you have to pull the car over to the side of the road and call a tow truck. It does mean you should get the car checked out as soon as possible," says Dave Cappert of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, a Virginia-based organization that tests and certifies auto technicians.

    Ignore the warning, and you could end up damaging expensive components. It also can be a sign that your car is getting poor fuel economy and emitting higher levels of pollutants.

    What the light means

    The "check engine" light is part of your car's so-called onboard diagnostics (OBD) system. Since the 1980s, computers increasingly have controlled and monitored vehicle performance, regulating such variables as engine speed (RPM), fuel mixture, and ignition timing. In some cars, the computer also tells the automatic transmission when to shift.

    When it finds a problem in the electronic-control system that it can't correct, the computer turns on a yellow warning indicator that's labeled "check engine," "service engine soon" or "check powertrain." Or the light may be nothing more than a picture of an engine, known as the International Check Engine Symbol, perhaps with the word "Check." In addition to turning on the light, the computer stores a "trouble code" in its memory that identifies the source of the problem, such as a malfunctioning sensor or a misfiring engine. The code can be read with an electronic scan tool or a diagnostic computer, standard equipment in auto repair shops. There are also a number of relatively inexpensive code readers that are designed for do-it-yourselfers.

    "The 'check engine' light is reserved only for powertrain problems that could have an impact on the emissions systems," says John Van Gilder, General Motors' lead OBD development engineer.

    Exactly what the OBD system looks for depends on the make, model and year. The original systems varied widely in their capabilities. Some did little more than check whether the various electronic sensors and actuators were hooked up and working.

    That changed by 1996, when, under OBD II regulations, car makers were required to install a much more sophisticated system that essentially acts like a built-in state emissions testing station. The computer monitors and adjusts dozens of components and processes. For example, it continually samples exhaust emissions as they come out of the engine and again when they leave the catalytic converter, a device that removes carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon pollutants from the exhaust. The system also monitors your car's fuel system to ensure that gasoline vapors are not escaping into the atmosphere through a leak or even a loose or missing gas cap. In most cases, if a problem occurs, the computer will wait to see if it corrects itself before turning on the light. Modern OBD II systems are so thorough that state testing centers increasingly are checking for any stored trouble codes and foregoing the traditional tailpipe emissions test.

     

     
     

  • Keep your car bottom clean

    Posted on 17, January, 2017

    Rusting Away?

    Our cars are exposed to numerous dangers; theft, crash, abuse, improper maintenance and the like, but an equally dangerous but more insidious risk is simple rust. Virtually every vehicle is going to have some rust on it somewhere, sometime. The combination of complex sheet metal work, with lots of hidden nooks and crannies, has led to the construction of some vehicles that are notorious "rust buckets". Many manufacturers have taken steps to slow rusting, but most of their rust control systems have failed or proved inadequate. So the problem remains: How does the typical car owner control rust?

    There are three main areas of a car's structure that can suffer potential damage. The areas of concern are:
    1. Engine and Trunk Compartments Corrosion and rust can cause leaks in the air intake systems, reducing their capacity. Connectors, both mechanical and electrical, can be very problematic, because these kinds of failures may be intermittent and difficult to diagnose. This is especially true, if a car is stored for more than 30 days. 
    2. Frame and Chassis Sub Structure There are numerous metal devices attached to the frame and chassis structure that rust. Hinges, exhaust and control systems, window frames, braces, bumpers, trailer hitches and various other metal items are in a constant state of attack by water, salt, air and other contaminants. 
    3. Painted Surfaces Paint takes a horrific beating from the elements. Lumps, bumps and scratches on the paint are the early warning signs of rust. They turn into large bubbles that cause paint to flake off.

    What do you do, in order to deal with the threat or reality of rust?
    1. Inspect: Periodically inspect your vehicle for the presence of rust, or a weakness of the protective coating. The best prevention is to be alert to early rust and corrosion signs that predict major problems and take action. 
    2. Protect: A  good quality rust-preventative treatment or coating should be applied to the iron to prevent, or discourage the formation of rust. It is easier to prevent rust than to have to eradicate it. Many factors affect the rate of rust and corrosion growth. This is why iron and steel tend to corrode more quickly when exposed to salt (such as that used to melt snow or ice on roads) or moist salty air near oceans. 
    3. Correct: If rust is detected, it must be aggressively treated to stop it and deal with its effects. The most important step is to treat future potential rust and corrosion sites. Undercoat  products are the answer.

    4. Periodically rinse the underside of the car to clear debris from the drainage paths and seams.

     

    How do I correct rust problems?
    1. Removal and replacement of the affected metal. Ideally, replacing rusted metal with fresh metal is the best way to have a rust-free vehicle, but very few of us can afford the cost of new panels. 
    2. Conversion of existing rust. Rust conversion involves stopping the rusting process by chemically acting on the rusted metal and changing it into a more stable compound. It's biggest disadvantage is when the rust converter has trapped water vapor. This is when rust converters fail. 
    3. Slowing and/or stopping the spread of rust. Slowing or stopping the spread of rust is the most realistic and most economically practical. In most situations, neither metal replacement nor rust conversion are wise solutions. For instance, treating the inside of rocker panels and frame rails. Both of these areas are prone to rusting, but are fairly inaccessible. In most cases, these areas only require the use of  an undercoating oil based spray, which is easy to apply and will slow and even stop the spread of existing rust. Spraying it on makes it possible to treat difficult-to-access areas. The resulting treatment seals the surface from exposure to air and moisture and most importantly adds inhibitors which slow the formation of new rust and the spread of existing rust. The process is perfect for areas which will not be exposed to direct weather.