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Signs Of These Common Car Suspension Problems

Suspension Problems On Car: Common Signs!

Signs Of These Common Car Suspension Problems

If you’ve been driving for a few years (or even decades), you’re probably pretty comfortable getting your car from Point A to Point B every day. But, how do you feel about diagnosing and fixing issues when your car stops running properly?

If you’re like most Americans, you’re not comfortable at all with this scenario.

Even if you can’t confidently repair your car, you should at least be able to tell when things aren’t right, especially when it comes to important parts like the car’s suspension.

Read on to learn about the warning signs of car suspension problems that you should be on the lookout for.

What is a Car Suspension and Why Does it Matter?

The purpose of your car’s suspension system is to smooth out your ride and help you keep your car in control. It does this by maximizing friction between the road and your tires.

This provides steering stability and makes your car easy to handle. It also minimizes the impact of road conditions on you, your car, and your passengers.

The suspension system consists of several components, including the following:

  • Chassis: This holds the cab or your car
  • Springs, shock absorbers, and struts: These support your car’s weight and absorb excess energy from road shocks
  • Anti-sway bar: This shifts movement of the car’s wheels and stabilizes it

If components of your car’s suspension system are worn out or not functioning properly, your car will be less stable. You’ll also have less control behind the wheel, and other parts of your car, such as the tires, will wear unevenly.

Common Car Suspension Problems

As you can see, your car’s suspension is pretty important. Issues with it can lead to severe damage and increase your risk of getting into an accident while driving.

The following are some of the most common car suspension problems you can experience:

1. Your Car Pulls to One Side When You’re Driving

Sometimes, when your car pulls to one side while you’re driving, the issue is simply an underinflated tire or uneven tire pressure. However, it can also be a sign of a suspension problem.

Start by checking your tires and inflating any that seem to be low. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you should take your car in to have the suspension checked.

Whatever you do, don’t keep driving your car and putting up with the pulling. Even if the suspension and tires aren’t to blame, it could be an alignment issue or problem with your brake caliper. Both of these issues can decrease your gas mileage and cause uneven tire wear.

2. You Feel Every Single Bump in the Road

If your rides feel rougher than usual, you could have a problem with the shocks and struts of your car. They’re likely worn and need to be replaced.

One way to tell if the suspension is the problem is to try the “bounce test.” Park your car, then put all your weight down on the front end. Release and see how your car responds. If it bounces back and forth more than three times, this is a sign that you need to replace the shocks and/or struts.

3. One Corner Sits Lower Than the Other

Take a look at your car when it’s on level ground. If one of the corners sits lower than the others, chances are you have a damaged spring or shock and your suspension is off.

If you have a damaged spring, you might also hear a clunking noise when you go over bumps.

One way to test the springs is to press down on the trunk of your car. When you release, listen to hear how the suspension reacts to the pressure. If you hear any kind of squealing or creaking, this is further proof that a suspension issue is the cause of the problem.

4. Your Car Nose Dives, Leans Back, or Rolls

If you notice any of the following issues with your car, your shocks and/or struts could be damaged:

  • “Nose diving” or leaning forward when you hit the brakes
  • “Rolling” or leaning side-to-side when you’re cornering
  • “squatting” or leaning back when you accelerate

If these issues happen (and you’re not doing any kind of extreme driving, of course), then you’re likely dealing with some kind of suspension damage.

5. Difficulty Steering

Finally, if you find that steering is difficult, especially when you’re driving slowly, your suspension could be to blame.

If you notice your steering feels like it’s “slipping” when to turn the wheel or hold it in a turned position, it’s important to get your suspension checked right away.

There are other issues that could be the culprit, including low power steering fluid or a leaking power steering rack. But, it’s still best to get things checked so you can rule out any kind of suspension problem.

6. Your Shocks Look Oily or Damaged

If you look under your car and check out your shocks, they should be relatively clean.

If they appear greasy or oily, they’re likely leaking fluid and not working the way they should. Be sure to take your car in and have them replaced right away; this will likely get rid of your suspension issues and smooth out your ride.

7. Your Tire Treads are Uneven

If you’re not in the mood to look under the hood (or have no idea what you’re even looking for), another simple way to identify a suspension problem is to take a look at your tired.

Is the tread worn down unevenly? Or, are there balding spots on just one or two tires? If so, this is a sign that your suspension isn’t holding your car evenly and is putting uneven pressure on the tires.

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Automotive Insights

What Auto Maintenance Do You Need at 30K/60K/90K/120K?

Maintenance Schedule For Car: At 30K/60K/90K/120K

What Auto Maintenance Do You Need At 30k/60k/90k/120k?

In 2017 there were a total of 237 different vehicle models in production. And Every vehicle is different. Each one has its unique scheduled maintenance regimen.

Plus, technology is expanding by leaps and bounds. So, it is getting more and more difficult to put a firm timeframe or mileage number on your maintenance routine.

For this reason, it is best to read your owner’s manual to gain a full understanding of your car’s needs. But, in the meantime, we are here to give you an idea of what you can expect to happen during your most pivotal maintenance sessions. Read on to learn more!

Why Routine Auto Maintenance and Inspections are Important

Routine car maintenance keeps your vehicle on the road. The Inspections tell you if you need to do anything else before it is normally scheduled.

Like you, your car ages. It gets sick. It even gets injured.

Sometimes the damage is visible. Sometimes only an expert can see the damage. And yet at other times, special instruments are required to understand the problem.

Often there is no problem at all. But what happens when you don’t check and there is an issue?

It can lead to breakdowns, costly repairs, and even accidents. Not getting auto maintenance can also cause your car’s warranty to be voided. To make it easier to track the maintenance done to your vehicle or to create your own vehicle maintenance schedule try using an auto maintenance log.

As we mentioned earlier, the details of each car’s needs are specific to its make and model. But there are certain things you can expect always happen at particular stages of your vehicles life.

All Scheduled Maintenance Inspections

There are certain things you can expect almost every vehicle to need at each of its major scheduled maintenance sessions.

Many of them you are already familiar with and even request each time you go have your oil changed. Others you may have forgotten they need to be done at all.

Oil Change

No matter your car’s recommended maintenance schedule, you can always expect an oil change to be at the top of that list. The oil change is one of your most frequent duties as a car owner and it should never be ignored or postponed.

That said, it is a common misconception that oil changes are required every 3,000 miles. At one time this was quite true, But with current technology, this is no longer the case. Because of vehicle efficiency, today’s oil changes are often only required at 5,000 to 7,500 miles.

As with every rule, there are exceptions. If you drive in a lot of stop-and-go or slow-moving traffic, it would be in your best interest to continue your oil change routine at ever 3,000 miles. Otherwise, changing it so often is wasteful.

Tire Rotation, Spin Balance, and Tire Pressure Adjustment

As far as importance is concerned, evaluating the health of your car’s tire system is at least as important as an oil change. It doesn’t take much to see why. Your tires are what connect your vehicle to the road, after all.

A regular tire rotation ensures your tires will wear evenly. As a rule of thumb, the front tires will wear out quicker than the back tires because the engine is usually found at the front of the car. If left untended this type of wear could cause a tire blowout that leads to an accident.

If the balance weights on your vehicle’s wheels fall off then the wheel will become unbalanced. This can cause the vehicle to shake leading to increased tire and suspension wear.

Improperly inflated tires will also cause the vehicle to become unstable. It can affect the way your car handles and can cause your tires to wear out faster. A tire pressure adjustment will help ensure your tires are not over or under-inflated.

Inspect and Replace Filters

Filters are used to remove impurities. It does not matter what type of filter you are referencing, that is the job of every filter. If a filter is dirty then it can’t be expected to remove anything.

Oil filters ensure the oil is clean when it circulates through your engine. When the filter is dirty, the circulated oil passes through and comes out with tiny, hard particles.

These particles damage to the oil pump and bearings in the engine. The oil filter should get replaced during an oil change.

Similar to oil filters, fuel filters remove impurities from the fuel lines to keep the fuel pump and injectors from wearing down too quickly. The fuel filter should get changed during a tuneup.

Cabin filters are a lot like HVAC filters. Left unchanged, they will build up with mildew and other allergins making your car stink and could potentially make you sick.

General inspection of Vehicle Parts and Systems

During each auto maintenance session, there are certain things that should be inspected every time:

Brakes – Check the brake pedal, fluid, lines, hoses, and assemblies.

Lights – Includes headlights, taillights and brake lights.

Belts and Hoses – Inspect the timing and serpentine belts for wear and hoses for cracks. Also, ensure the hose clamps are mounted properly.

Drive-Train – An audit of the transmission and related parts is required.

Fuel System – Check the fuel system for cleanliness and leaks.

TuneUp – Change the spark plugs, plug wires, as well as the air and fuel filters.

Other inspections may be required depending on your car, but these are the key points for your mechanic to look at.

Inspections at More Than 90,000 Miles

Once you hit the 90K or 120K mile marker, you may think you are in for an inexpensive visit to the mechanic, but you would be wrong. Assuming you have stayed on top of your auto maintenance, it really shouldn’t be too bad.

There are a few things that get added to the itinerary, but all in all, it isn’t too bad.

These days, many vehicles come with long-life Spark Plugs that do not need replacement until they hit the 100K or 120K mark. Most extended life plugs are made of platinum or iridium. The life of these plugs can be shortened with excessive idling.

Some coolants are another item that has received a bit of an upgrade with regard to lifespan. Orange coolants are now available for certain vehicles that will last for up to 150K miles.

Be warned, these new products still have some issues. The acid in orange coolants is known to erode gaskets and cause rust buildup.

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How Often Should You Do Oil Change

How Often Should You Have Oil Change

How Often Should You Do Oil Change

Regular oil changes cost, on average, $120 for an entire year maintenance. That’s less than the typical American’s average monthly grocery bill and less than a family of four’s average weekly grocery bill. What’s more, that $120 is nothing compared to the consequences of neglecting your oil changes. The average engine swap price? Four-thousand dollars. So why then, are regular oil changes brushed off as unimportant? And why as cars age do we change their oil less, when in reality older vehicles need frequent oil changes? While there’s no definite answer it’s a good bet that most people can’t tell you their vehicle’s recommended oil change schedule; even though it’s written down in their vehicle’s manual. That’s a huge issue and has our vote for why most people skip out on oil changes. Today, we’re bringing you our guide on how often should you change the oil in your car.

What Happens If You Wait

Put simply, waiting to change your oil puts extra strain on your engine. How long you wait determines how much damage actually occurs. A few hundred miles might shorten your car’s lifespan, while a few thousand might ruin your engine.

Oil 101

Engine oil lubricates your engine and contains special additives that prevent soot, dirt, and grime, from building up and increasing friction. Each specific vehicle needs oil with a different viscosity to keep its components moving freely. It’s a fairly straightforward process. Choose the correct oil (either natural or synthetic) and fill up your vehicle at the predetermined mileage numbers.

Dirty Oil Consequences

Though for something so simple failure to change your oil has extremely expensive consequences. Because oil touches every part of your engine there’s unlimited potential for damage. An overheating engine is usually the first sign of dirty oil. When your oil collects debris and dirt friction increases within the engine. This friction decreases your engine’s efficiency and stresses its components. Worn out engine parts mean expensive repairs and an overheating engine can leave you stranded. Combine towing and future repair costs and you’ll spend far more money than an oil change. Moving beyond the “minor” damage, particles in dirty oil can grind down engine components separate from friction. Instead of components rubbing against each other, it’s actually the oil itself that causes the abrasion. When your oil starts harming components you’re in real trouble. It’s expensive to repair small engine components buried within the engine block. Furthermore, after enough miles, oil stops lubricating your engine altogether. When this happens the engine “seizes” which means the components can’t move freely. The only solution is a brand new engine.

When to Do Oil Change

Your oil change schedule depends on several different things, including the oil type and your vehicle make and model. Let’s break down how each variable affects your oil change schedule.

Conventional Wisdom

Variables non-withstanding conventional wisdom says to change your oil every 5,000 miles. Edmunds now recommends 7,500 – 10,000 miles, but even then acknowledges that every vehicle has different circumstances. For this article we’re recommending that you don’t listen to conventional wisdom.

The Car Handbook

Every car comes with a manual that lists maintenance details about the vehicle, including the proper oil change schedule. For most cars that ranges anywhere from 3,000 (the extremely low end) to 15,000 miles (the extremely high end). In addition to the vehicle’s oil change schedule, the manual also includes information on oil viscosity, commonly written as “10W/30.” Always use the vehicle manual recommendation as your baseline oil change schedule and then adjust based on the following variables:

Synthetic Versus Conventional

Without getting into too much detail, synthetic oil lasts longer than conventional oil. While both derive from crude-oil, synthetic oil undergoes a chemical reaction that results in uniformly sized molecules. Uniform molecules reduce friction and thus heat and engine wear. Plus, compared to conventional oil synthetic oil has higher-quality additives that keep your engine cleaner for longer. Synthetic oil also lacks conventional oil’s paraffin wax, meaning synthetic flows faster and lubricates better over short trips. If you choose synthetic oil expect several thousands more miles between oil changes when compared to conventional engine oil. Though it’s important to look at the oil manufacture’s recommendations for more information.

Your Driving Habits

Most people qualify as a “severe” driver, which just means you drive short trips (less than 4 miles), don’t let your car warm up, drive in stop-and-go traffic, and accelerate harder than normal. While it’s termed severe driving it’s really just commuting. However, no matter what you call it severe driving decreases the miles between oil changes. The wear and tear quickly deplete oil additives, leaving you with more friction, dirt, grime, and heat. And most 7,500 – 10,000 miles recommendations are based on ideal driving conditions, which means commuter driving habits significantly lower those recommendations.

So How Often Should You Change the Oil in Your Car?

When someone asks, “how often should you change the oil in your car,” there’s no straight answer. It all depends on your vehicle’s manual recommendations and other variables like driving habits and oil type. No two vehicles have the same ideal oil change schedule. That’s why it’s important to find a mechanic that can handle your vehicle’s oil maintenance. They’ll make recommendations on specific oil types based on your vehicle’s condition. What’s more, they’ll also get to know your car and catch small problems before they become expensive repairs.

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10 Tips To Prepare Your Car For A Road Trip

10 TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR A ROAD TRIP​

10 Tips to Prepare Your Car For a Road Trip

As the sunshine brightens and lengthens the summer days more and more people head out on road trips.

In fact, more than 79% of Americans this year will take a good old-fashioned family road trip as their main vacation despite the price of gas being so high.

Before you head out to explore all that America has to offer you need to make sure you and your car are ready for the adventure.

Check out these essential tips to prepare your car for a road trip!

Fluids

It’s better to be proactive in your car’s general health than to wait for it to tell you it’s in need of fluid. By the time the light comes on damage can already be done by improper fluid levels.

It’s especially true when traveling distances to ensure your fluid levels, filters, and hoses are all ready for travel.

You’ll want to check:

  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Antifreeze/coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Oil

Any regular maintenance of fluids such as oil changes should be performed before you take to the road. You don’t want to incur major expenses and delays during your vacation because of lack of car care.

Take in to account how far you’ll be traveling when considering what maintenance to do.

You may still be thousands of miles from needing an oil change but if you’re driving across country for a month, you’ll want to have your trusted mechanic perform any service prior to setting out.

Hoses, Tubes, Belts, and Such

It’s much easier to deal with any issues while at home in familiar surroundings than to be in a strange town waiting for a hose or belt to be delivered to a strange mechanic you don’t know if you can trust or not.

Have a trusted mechanic give your car the once over before you take to the road. They can ensure all hoses, belts, nuts, bolts and working parts are in fact working the way they’re supposed to.

Lights

It’s important that all the lights you need are working when you need them to. You don’t want to find out while speeding down the highway in the middle of the night or trying to switch lanes during rush hour.

Headlights, blinkers, brake lights are all essential to safe driving. You should check that fuses and dashboard lights are all working as well and it may be smart to have a spare pack tucked into your emergency car kit just in case.

It’s a good idea to ensure your trunk light is also working because you never know when you’ll need to be searching for a jack to change a tire or trying to find your extra sweater when the road trip continues through the night.

Battery

Battery issues can slow your adventure down and be a real hassle so it’s always smart to give it a thorough inspection prior to your trip.

While you may not be able to tell battery health just by looking at it there’re several warning signs of a potential problem with your battery. Dim headlights, electronics not functioning properly and difficulty starting can all be indications of a battery issue.

There are several things that can drain or damage your car battery which you’ll want to avoid. The most common dead battery issue is that someone left something switched on for a long period of time.

You can see some signs like corrosion or swelling battery case but if you have other concerns about the age or power of your battery it’s better to talk to your trusted mechanic at home than to have your vacation come to a standstill when it dies in a strange town.

Tires

Your car manual will specify the right tires and the proper pressure amount for them.

Tire pressure, tread wear and tear and your spare tire all need to be checked before any trip.

If you find your tires require air on a regular basis you’ll want to check for tire leaks and visually inspect the treads for areas that are worn down.

Changing a tire is a great skill to acquire before heading out on the road. Make sure that all the supplies to do so are packed and in good working order.

There are tire gauges and small air compressors that are great to include in your emergency kit.

Emergency Kit

“Be Prepared” shouldn’t just be the Boy Scouts motto, but the motto for any road trip. It’s vital to your safety and ability to enjoy your vacation that you’re prepared for unplanned situations.

Putting together an emergency car kit can be a time and life saver that you’ll be glad you took the time to prepare beforehand.

Extra car fluids like motor oil, brake fluid, coolant, windshield wiper fluid, a bottle of water and a gas can are all smart to include.

Every emergency kit should have:

  • Jumper cables,
  • Flares or reflector triangles, and
  • Bungee cords.
  • Tools, a pocket knife,
  • Flashlight and batteries

Many people include items like pantyhose (to replace a broken engine belt in a pinch), kitty litter (in case stuck in the snow or sand to create traction), emergency supplies like medicine, food, and water.

First Aid and Survival Supplies

Having a first aid kit is something no one ever really regrets. Everyone regrets not having one in the car when needed.

A standard kit can be picked up at a local pharmacy or health care supplies store. On top of the usual first aid supplies of band-aids, antiseptic, gauze, scissors, etc. you should always include an extra supply of all medications travelers are taking, EpiPens, etc.

Your planned adventure will help determine what survival supplies are appropriate to pack. Blankets, soap, energy bars, water, water purification pills, etc may be considered for off-road adventures or where you could possibly end up stuck away from civilization.

You’ll also want to ensure you have appropriate clothing and supplies for all weather possibilities on your route. Don’t forget nights can be cold even in the summertime and you don’t want to face it without warm clothes and blankets to protect you from the elements if necessary.

New Age Technology for your Auto-Insurance:

Companies are now making more use of Telematics than ever— which is an essential part of road trips nowadays. What they do, is monitor a vehicle with GPS using smartphones or physical devices plugged into the vehicle to record speed, distance, braking, acceleration, among others. This technology is used to provide insight into a driver’s behavior behind the wheel as well as information regarding the car’s need for maintenance. A number of car insurance companies give drivers an upfront discount on their premium just for signing up for a telematics program. If the data shows that they’re safe drivers, the discount may increase up to 15% upon renewal of the policy. Another use of telematics lies in pay-per-mile policies, which base premiums on vehicle usage. If you don’t drive often or have short commutes, this kind of policy could help you save on your car insurance. How much you save will depend on the kind of monitoring program you sign up for with your auto insurer!


Most of us don’t use paper maps anymore but if you end up with a dead cell phone battery or out of service range while using it as a GPS you could end up being as lost as the cell signal. Make sure you have all the cords, adapters, backups and technology you need to be safe and stay informed throughout your travels.

Paper Essentials

As much as we’ve developed technology this is not a paperless society and there are some essential papers you’re going to want to make sure you have.

Car Paperwork

The car manual, registration, insurance, etc are all essential paperwork you should have access to in case you need it. You don’t want to have to dig to the bottom of your trunk to show them to law enforcement or other officials if needed.

Personal Paperwork

Make sure you have car owner registration (and a letter from the owner if you’re borrowing it for the trip), personal identification including drivers licenses, birth certificates, health information, etc someplace you can get to them if you need to.

Health and Legal

Medications should all be in original prescription bottles, medical alert bracelets and health emergency contact information is good to have in a visible place in case the information is needed and you’re unable to communicate.

If you are traveling across borders to Canada, Mexico or beyond you’ll need to have legal documents such as passport, custody arrangements for children, legal ownership of car, etc.

Repairs and Maintenance to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

The best way to have peace of mind and prepare your car for a road trip is to take it in for any maintenance and repairs it may need now or in the near future.

A mechanic can ensure your car is safe and working optimally for your trip. They can identify issues that you may not have seen. You can have confidence that your car is safe and enjoy your trip without the fear or hassle of car issues.

Contact us before your next road trip to ensure your car is performing at it’s best.

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Don’t Swerve: 8 Must-Know Signs Of Shock Absorber Damage And Wear

8 Must-Know Signs Of Shock Absorber Damage And Wear

Don’t Swerve: 8 Must-Know Signs of Shock Absorber Damage and Wear

It looks like in 2022 Europe, your car will automatically force you to slow down if you go too fast. Thanks to new laws and new tech, speeding will be harder to do. Blasting over potholes and wreaking havoc on your shocks and vehicle and traffic flow will be limited too. Good thing! We want you, your car, and everyone to be safe.

But here we are in the present day, and you’re blasting over potholes or not, no tech yet. And you want your shock absorbers to be functioning at their best.

So, how do you know if your shock absorber function is in good shape, you ask? How do you know if your car’s handling is up to par?

To help, we’ve put together eight signs of shock absorber wear and tear you need to know about. Keep reading these shock absorber basics to know when your shock absorbers need fixing or replacement.

Shock Absorber Basics

How do shock absorbers work, you ask? Here’s a quick rundown before we hop into the eight signs your shocks are not doing their thing.

Automotive shock absorbers manage the shock and rebound action that your car’s springs and suspension experience. They’re hydraulic pumps that use oil. The makes your ride more smooth and, most importantly, keeps your tires touching the road. Your car needs tires on the surface of the road to function. Brakes, steering, and overall driving are impaired when tires don’t touch the ground.

Shock absorbers are little oil pumps that have a piston inside. They work hand in hand with the suspension and springs. As the car’s suspension goes up and down, it is slowed by the piston fluid as it’s pumped out of the piston. The spring is slowed too.

If the car is going fast and the suspension is moving fast, the shocks adjust to the road condition and push back with resistance.

Eight Signs Your Shocks Are Worn or Damaged

If your shocks are worn or damaged, the suspension doesn’t work right and tires don’t rest properly on the road. Let’s look at eight signs that’ll tell you if something is wrong.

1. Your Tires Wear Down Unevenly

Your shocks keep your tires connected to the road. When they’re not doing their job, tires roll unevenly and wear unevenly. The bald spots are uneven. This is a huge warning sign and easy to spot.

2. Fluid Leaks

When a shock absorber’s seal gets worn, fluid can leak out. This decreases shock absorber function and causes many of the symptoms on this list. Look out for leaking fluid on the road. Also, look for fluid leaks on the side of the shock absorber.

3. Your Car and Steering Wheel Vibrate on the Road

Fluid can get out of control if the shock’s inner valve or piston seal is worn and not sitting right. Fluid gets past the seal and every time you hit one of those potholes or even a minute bump, your shocks overreact. You’ll feel it on the wheel.

4. You Swerve or Nose Dive When You Stop

Again, if the fluid can flow out past the seal, it will gush at a slight turn, stop, or other movement and cause the piston to move in extremes. So if you turn left, a bigger then usual movement to the left will happen and you’ll swerve when you correct for it.

When you hit the brakes, the car will dive forward for the same reason. This is dangerous in rain, so get it taken care of fast.

5. It Takes Longer to Stop

Because of the worn seal, fluid overflow, and out of control piston movement, it takes longer for the car to take in the piston. This slows its functionality, and it takes the car longer to stop.

6. Harder Bumps

Your shock absorbers work to minimize impact when you hit a bump. They also lessen vibration when working right, as mentioned. So if your shocks are worn and you hit a bump, boom! You’ll feel the impact much more strongly. And if you hit a bunch of little bumps, as you do when traveling down the road, your car will continuously rattle and move and bump and vibrate a lot.

7. Your Car Veers Left and Right

This is like the swerve. When your shocks are leaky or worn, and you turn, your call will lean hard in that direction. If you slightly move the steering wheel to one side, even a little, the car veers in that direction because of the big piston movement. If your car is constantly veering, take note.

8. Your Car Makes a Tap Tap Tap Noise

At the end of each shock absorber is something called a bushing. It’s rubber and pointy. It is where the shock absorber gets bolted to your car. The rubber can crack which makes your shock unstable and decreases shock absorber function.

When a bushing is cracked, your cat goes tap, tap, tap when you hit a bump or bumpy spot. Basically, it’s rattling inside as it’s not held down as firmly as it should.

Shake, Rattle, and Swerve

Do any of these shock absorber symptoms sound familiar to you? If so, it’s time to hit the garage. Your mechanic will take a look at your suspension and shocks and let you know if you need to replace anything.

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Preventative Maintenance That Keeps A Car Running Smoothly

Preventive Maintenance Automotive: Keep A Car Running Smoothly

Preventative Maintenance that Keeps a Car Running Smoothly

Cars are lasting longer than ever before. It’s more common to see cars reach 200,000 miles and they last about 12 years. Of course, a lot of that longevity depends largely on two factors: the car itself and the upkeep of the car. Some models are more likely to last longer than others. That being said, you are in full control when it comes to the longevity of your car. Preventative maintenance will help your car be more reliable and last longer. Ready to find out what the top car maintenance tips are? Keep reading to learn the top tips to make sure your car is always in good shape.

1. Know the Regular Maintenance Schedule

You’re probably aware that you need to have your oil changed every 3000 miles. Do you know that there are big car maintenance milestones at 30k, 60k, 90k, and 120k miles? There are also standard maintenance tasks that should happen about every three months. Depending on how much you drive your car, these tasks can be done when you get your oil changed.
  • Check the fluid levels
  • Replace the air filters
  • Tire rotation
  • Test the battery and clean off the battery contacts
  • Check the serpentine and timing belts
These are preventative maintenance tasks that will keep your car running smoothly. When you put these tasks off, you’re risking driving around with dangerously low fluid levels or dirty air filters.

2. Keep a Maintenance Calendar & Journal

Between quarterly applications and 30k maintenance milestones, how can you remember to take care of these things in the middle of a busy life? Keep a maintenance calendar. It sounds like another spreadsheet or something to keep track of at first, but there’s a lot of value in keeping track of car maintenance. It’s also very easy. Yes, there’s an app for that. For iPhone users, Fuelly is a great app that will remind you of scheduled car maintenance. You can also track your mileage in between fuel ups, so you can track your miles per gallon over time. This app is a time and money saver. For Android users, there is the app Car Maintenance Reminders which gives you maintenance reminders and MPG charts. You also want to keep a journal of the car maintenance that’s been done to the car. It’ll be hard to remember exactly which repairs and maintenance were performed on your car. If you plan to resell your car, you can add value to the car by showing you took great care of it while you owned it.

3. Inspect Your Car Regularly

On top of regular car maintenance, it’s a smart move to have a mechanic look over your car on a regular basis. Things can happen in between maintenance and you want to make sure that your car and your budget are prepared. They might see a few issues that need to be addressed now or regular wear and tear that can turn into a major expense over time. It’s a good idea to have a car inspection every 9 months to make sure that it’s running just as it should.

4. Plan for the Unexpected

No one wants to see the “Check Engine” light. Your car is like a computer and no matter how detailed you are about car maintenance, things happen. About 40% of Americans can’t work with a $400 unexpected expense. You don’t have to be part of that 40% by planning ahead. Set aside some cash every month as part of your car budget. The older your car is, the more you should set aside. It will give you peace of mind to know that your car can get repaired. You won’t be without a car for too long and you can resume your daily activities much sooner.

5. Other Tips to Keep Your Car Running for a Long Time

Car maintenance comes in many forms. There are some simple things that you can do when you’re driving around that can contribute to the overall health of your car. Here’s what you want to keep in mind.

Filling Up the Tank

When you fill up the gas tank, you’re probably like most folks who top it off. You could be one of those drivers who love living on the edge and drive around until the gas light comes on, telling you that it’s time. In both cases, you can be doing more damage to your fuel system that you realize. That can turn into an expensive repair later on.

Detail Your Car

The exterior of your car is just as important to the overall health of your car as any other form of car maintenance. Dirt and debris can get into the engine, which will impact the car’s performance. Plus, in the Texas heat, cars can get beat up by the sun and hot roads, not to mention epic hail storms. Detailing the outside of the car as well as the engine will keep your car from looking beat up. Your engine will also be clear of dirt and debris.

Keep Your Keychain Light

Do you ever joke about the number of keys you have on your keychain? Believe it or not, a heavy keychain can damage your car. If you have a key starter, a heavy keychain can weigh down the ignition and cause damage over a long period of time.

Top Car Maintenance Tips for a Smooth Ride

You depend on your car for everything – getting to work, picking up groceries, taking the kids to school and activities. It’s almost impossible to get around without a car. It’s easy to overlook car preventative maintenance, but you’re going to have to fit it in with your busy life. You can do that using apps that will remind you when it’s time for maintenance.
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Automotive Insights

Time To Change The Flux Capacitor: How To Tell If You Can Actually Trust Your Mechanic

TIME TO CHANGE THE FLUX CAPACITOR: HOW TO TELL IF YOU CAN ACTUALLY TRUST YOUR MECHANIC​

Time To Change The Flux Capacitor: How To Tell If You Can Trust Your Mechanic

Are you a person who knows very little about cars and how they work? Most of us are, and that can become a little tricky when it comes time to check out at the mechanic. Without specific knowledge of auto parts and car maintenance, it’s difficult to know when a mechanic is making you pay for more than you need to. In reality, most mechanics could be squeezing us for additional costs in almost every transaction. This means we need to trust our mechanic to do only the things that need to be done and be honest with us about the process and the cost. We’re going to give you a few tips that you can use to make sure your mechanic is trustworthy.

How to Know Your Mechanic is Trustworthy

It’s extremely difficult to know when you’re mechanic is dishonest. Without taking a close look at the repairs and understanding the various functions of your car, it would be impossible for the layperson to have an educated guess as to what things cost. Beyond the standard oil change and tune-up, most of us are clueless. Here are a few ways to get a gage on how honest your mechanic is being.

Start By Asking Questions

The most effective way to build an understanding and get a feel for your mechanic is by asking them specifics about what’s going on underneath the hood. Most mechanics will be happy to describe the process to you, but this will be a trigger for some. Those mechanics who may intend to rip you off will probably be averse to the idea of giving you specifics about what they’re going to do. Sure, every mechanic will give you the itemized list of tasks they’re going to perform, but not all of them will be thorough with specifics. You can treat this as an exercise in assessing your mechanic rather than understanding your car. Even if your mechanic goes on for fifteen minutes about the vehicle without you understanding a word, you should use this time to see how much they know about the vehicle and if they’re telling you everything in detail. If their descriptions are vague and seem like efforts  to get you out of the shop, it may be time to look for a new person.

Are Costs Clear?

Another sign of the good mechanic is that they’re clear on costs and don’t surprise you. You should have a good estimate of what your ultimate costs will be before the project is completed. We’ve all experienced the dread of showing up to get our cars and hearing a total much higher than the one we expected. Things do come up in the process, and the items and labor needed to fix your car could be a lot more than was originally expected. At the same time, a good mechanic will call you and ask your permission before they take the action to put new and expensive pieces on. Even if something is essential for your car to function, your mechanic should always call and ask your permission to do the work. Many times, mechanics assume that because something is essential, they’ll put it on without asking. This changes the cost, and people often don’t have the money to cover the additional expenses. Even if it seems like a no brainer question to make the repairs, if the mechanic calls you to ask permission, that’s a good sign.

Get Part Descriptions

When working with a new mechanic, get a list of parts they’re going to use to fix your car. With an itemized sheet of the various products and services that were involved in making the repairs, you can cross-check to make sure everything looks right. First, you should look up the parts online to see how much they’re going for. This will help you to see if the mechanic is tacking on extras for individual parts. Next, see how much labor for that job typically costs. Time and labor costs are typically where you see the most expenses from dishonest mechanics. While you can’t be in the shop watching over and timing the process, you should be able to get a feel for how long it takes other mechanics to do the same job. This isn’t something that most people do, so a lot of shops get away with it. If you have something fixed and the receipt is saying it took 9 hours to work on, double check with online resources and make sure that that’s a reasonable amount of time to handle the project.

Are They Offering Preventative Measures?

Finally, a good mechanic won’t withhold information about your car’s future. In other words, they’ll let you know if there are immediate fixes that need to be made to ensure that your vehicle doesn’t break down soon. A shady mechanic won’t mention these things in order to get more business down the line when your car breaks down. A good mechanic will always pose suggestions about maintenance so that you don’t have any problems later. A good way to know whether or not your mechanic is skilled and honest is to just look over how often you’ve been to the shop in the last couple of years. If you’re going in regularly for different issues that seem to be popping up, your mechanic may be withholding information. It’s impossible to know what road conditions, hazards, or other drivers will do to your car, but there are a lot of ways that mechanics can tell if your car can expect maintenance. They should be letting you know so that you can take care of those problems before they arise.
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Automotive Insights

Wonky Wheel? Top 5 Signs It’s Time For A Wheel Alignment

How Do You Know If You Need A Wheel Alignment

Wonky Wheel? Top 5 Signs It’s Time for a Wheel Alignment

Around 19,000 people are injured every year because of tire-related car accidents. Another 500 are killed.

Even more terrifying is that the majority of these accidents were preventable. By checking things like tire pressure and wheel alignment, you can avoid being in a tire-related car accidents.

We’ve gathered this list of five signs to look for that may indicate you need to have your car’s wheels aligned. Be sure you don’t ignore these signs. It could save your life.

Keep reading to find out more.

1. Loose Handling

One sign that your car needs a wheel alignment is when the handling feels loose. When you’re going straight, it may feel like your car is wandering back and forth in your lane. On turns, it may be difficult to keep it smooth.

This is because your wheels are not lined up properly. When they’re not all facing the same direction, they can pull your car in different directions which causes loose handling.

2. Squealing Tires

Tires are not supposed to make noise under normal driving conditions. If you ever hear your tires squealing when driving normally, it could mean you need a wheel alignment.

The squealing you hear when your tires are poorly aligned is caused because the tire isn’t in contact with the road the way it was designed to be. It could also be from abnormal tire wear, which you’ll see is another sign of bad wheel alignment.

In addition to squealing, your tires may simply make more noise than usual. This is caused by the air chamber. When it’s not lined up properly, it can create strange noises while driving.

3. Abnormal Tire Wear

Wear on your tires could be more than just a sign you need new tires. If it’s abnormally worn, it could mean your wheel alignment is off. As you can imagine, if the wheel isn’t correctly aligned, different parts of the tire will be in contact with the road.

Abnormal tire wear patterns include:

  • Wear in center only
  • Wear on outer edges only
  • Tire feathering
  • Scalloped or cupped tires

It can be hard to know for sure if your tires have abnormal wear unless you’re having them checked regularly, which is why we recommend having professionals check your tires a couple times per year.

4. Crooked Steering Wheel

Your steering wheel should be straight when you’re going straight. If it doesn’t come all the way back to its original position on its own after making a turn, there’s likely an alignment issue.

Something else that may happen when you need a wheel alignment is that if you pull your steering wheel into its normal position, your car ends up going to one side.

In most cases, this has everything to do with your wheels, and nothing to do with your steering wheel. Following an alignment, your steering wheel should go back to being straight.

5. Car Pulls to One Side

Because this is one of the most common signs of poor wheel alignment, we saved it for last. If you find your car is pulling to one side, it’s likely because the wheels aren’t all facing forward as they should.

A common test is to take your hands off the wheel while driving straight to see if your vehicle drifts sideways or continues straight. This is dangerous and we don’t recommend doing this.

Instead, you can check this by simply feeling the way your car drives while straight. Do you have to hold onto the steering wheel to keep it straight? Is it hugging corners tightly on one side and a fight to turn the other way?

Why Get a Wheel Alignment?

Let’s now take a closer look at some of the reasons why you want to get a wheel alignment if you’re noticing some of these signs. After all, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to have a crooked steering wheel.

However, as you’ll soon see, there are bigger issues than the appearance of your interior to be worried about when it comes to wheel alignments. Here are the two main reasons you should get your wheels aligned.

Save Money

There are several ways getting a wheel alignment can save you money.

First and foremost, you won’t prematurely wear down your tires. Tires can last up to 70,000 miles which is around 5 years for the average American. However, if they’re worn down prematurely because of improper wheel alignment, you’ll have to replace them early.

The second way a wheel alignment will save you money is on general wear and tear on your car. The suspension can become damaged when your wheels aren’t aligned properly, which means you could need to replace that early, too.

Finally, properly aligned wheels will save you money by avoiding tire drag. Tire drag makes your car work a little harder to maintain speed. This costs you extra in gas.

All in all, the money you spend on a wheel alignment will end up saving you in the long run.

Avoid Accidents

Getting a wheel alignment will also help you avoid accidents.

For one thing, when your tires are being worn prematurely, this puts them at risk of a tire blow-out. A blow-out while driving at high speeds is particularly dangerous as you may lose control of your vehicle.

Another way you may get into an accident if your wheels are poorly aligned is by lacking control of your car. If your handling gets loose or your car is pulling to one side, it’s hard to keep your car where it should be, which could mean running into something.

Know You Need a Wheel Alignment?

If any of these five signs sounds way too familiar to you, it may be time to get a wheel alignment. If it’s not an alignment issue, there may be something else going on with your car that you should have checked out anyway.

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