When is it Time for Struts & Shocks RepairApril 15, 2016
Knowing when to take your vehicle into the auto shop for struts and shocks repair can be kind of tricky. The damping characteristics of shocks and struts diminish slowly over time, making it difficult to detect a problem. Usually when a driver notices that there is a problem, it’s well past the time of needing replacement.
Shocks and (or) struts are part of your vehicle’s suspension system. Not all vehicles have both shocks and struts; some only have one or the other. Each aid in the vehicle’s stability and handling. There’s no strictly set time for shock and strut replacement as part of it depends on driving conditions such as how you drive and the condition of the roads. Some need replacement at 30,000 miles, and others can go as long as 60,000 miles. There are however some good indications that it’s time to get in to the auto shop and have them looked at by service technician.
Signs that it’s Time to Replace or Repair Struts
Shocks and struts are responsible for keeping you on the road, so you’ll want to know the signs of wear. If you notice any of theses signs, it’s important to take your vehicle into the automotive repair shop to ensure that it’s working safely and properly.
- The vehicle is not running as smoothly as it once did or showing difficulty in handling while on the road.
- The ride is excessively bumpy.
- The vehicle bottoms out when going over a bump or dip in the road.
- When driving on a curvy road, the vehicle tends to sway.
- You notice fluid leaking from the shock or strut
- You notice a poor steering response or noise when steering.
- The shocks or struts show signs of physical damage.
- The vehicle makes an excessive nose dive when breaking.
- Tires show cupped or uneven wear.
- The drive feels “shaky.”
- You notice instability when braking.
Finally, it’s important not to ignore the warning signs. The shocks and struts make your vehicle manageable to drive and interact with other systems such as steering and alignment. Neglecting them can lead to the need for additional future repairs, adding to repair costs. Driving on worn shocks and struts can make the vehicle difficult to drive which could lead to unsafe driving conditions. Replacing shocks and struts regularly can keep your vehicle performing optimally and help extend it’s life expectancy.
Seasonal Tire PressureMarch 15, 2016
Having the correct tire pressure is an important part of regular maintenance of your car, and it’s also a necessity for being a good driver. The amount of air pressure in your tires has an immediate effect on the quality of your driving, especially when braking and turning. Aside from these concerns, seasonal temperature changes can also effect the performance of your tires, and the overall pressure within them.
Let’s start with the basics, of tire pressure.
Like most maintenance suggestions and requirements, always check the user manual and manufacturer’s schedule for when to have certain repairs and what is required. Your car’s user manual and maintenance handbook will also tell you the exact psi requirements for your tires, and you can also find this information on the tires themselves.
Always check the psi in your tires regularly, during scheduled maintenance and tune-ups (your mechanic should always do this for you), and it’s a good idea to go it before going on long car trips too. If your tires are under-inflated, or have a low psi, this can create unnecessary drag on the car and can cause decreased fuel efficiency.
How does weather affect my tires?
When the seasons change and temperatures begin to rise and fall, so does the air pressure in your tires. Because air that is colder contracts, the air pressure inside your tires falls and the tire may become under inflated. In the summer, the reverse is true. When air starts to get warmer, the volume of the air expands, so for air trapped inside the tires, it begins to expand and increases the overall pressure and potentially causing the tire to become over inflated.
In extreme cases, this can damage the tires and cars if not taken care of. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your tires and check the pressure when the temperature starts to rise and fall dramatically like in summer and winter.
Winter tires, tires designed especially to deal with winter weather precipitation like snow and ice, may have their own specific psi requirements that differ from the average tire. Be sure to check these when getting new winter tires, and check regularly to make sure that the correct psi is maintained throughout the season to deal with fluctuating weather and temperatures. This is especially important when driving in adverse weather conditions, so you always want to make sure you are fully prepared to drive in anything!
Having trouble with your tires? Feel free to stop by Alpine Automotive to talk to a mechanic about your car’s tires and get everything checked out!
Winter Automotive MaintenanceFebruary 15, 2016
Adjusting to the winter months takes some effort, and some of that effort should go in to winter automotive maintenance. No matter where you live, the changing seasons present a challenge to your vehicle, and probably more than you realize. A lot goes in to keeping your ride riding smoothly, and any car maintenance issues that you ignored in the summer could create an additional hazard in the winter.
Winter automotive maintenance includes anything that prepares your car for winter, from protecting sensitive components to assuring proper visibility. Auto repair shops approach the process in two ways; preparing the car for the worse possible weather conditions and making important repairs that insure the long-term functionality of your car.
You might have to grit your teeth and personally gird yourself for a long harsh winter, but winter automotive maintenance is much easier than most people think. Most importantly, any efforts you put in now can increase safety while decreasing the probability of costly repairs.
Battery Test or Replacement
Cold temperatures can reduce battery power up to 50% and shorten the batter life. When temperatures drop, have your auto repair shop test your battery for performance. If it is near expiration, it’s better to replace it than risk driving with a dying battery.
Have an auto technician go through the heating and auto-defrost system and make sure it is in top condition. On the road is not the place to find out that a water pump has a crack or there is a short in the electrical circuit.
Worn brakes can cause a problem at any time of year but pose even greater hazard in wet weather. Brakes are no places to cut corners, so have your auto repair shop inspect your brakes for any problems.
Having proper antifreeze levels is essential to your winter automotive maintenance checklist. Make sure the level is full and the mixture is as close to 50/50 as possible.
Your tires are the point of connection to the road, so you’ll want to make sure that they are in good condition. Look for ware, cracking, cupping, or bulging. If they are in poor shape, replace them If you are in an area that receives snow, use snow tires during the winter months.
Lights, Bulbs, Wipers, Windows
Maintaining visibility is high on the list of winter care priorities. Inspect all bulbs and lenses. Replace any that are burned out and clean or replace any dirty or damaged lenses. Wiper blades only last a year, so replacing for the winter months is a great idea. Use a detail polish on your windshield to help rain or snow sheet off.
There are many important elements in preparing your vehicle for the long winter slog, and auto repair shops make sure that winterizing your car takes the chill out of future repair.
What to Consider When Hiring Towing ServicesJanuary 15, 2016
Towing, or using one vehicle to move a disable second vehicle, is a common and useful service. It’s also one that’s much more complicated than it seems, requiring lots of vehicle and industry specific knowledge to ensure safe transport. If your car is broken down at the side of the road, chances are good that you do not have time to call around for referrals, but choosing the right auto shop or towing service is important in getting the job done well. That’s what makes knowing a few tips before you call so important.
When it comes to towing services, what you know and do before the tow can save you a lot of hassle later. It’s always important to consider these tips:
Know Your Situation
Before you call the auto shop or towing service, collect as much information about the situation as possible and provide it to the service. Things like location, type of vehicle, condition of the vehicle, and whether or not the vehicle is stuck can help the service decide what type of tow truck to send and what equipment to bring.
Choose Your Auto Shop
When possible, choose to use the auto shop that does your car maintenance for your towing service. Not only do you already know that they are reputable, they can also tow your vehicle directly in for service.
Find Out if the Towing Service Has the Right Tow Truck for the Job
There are three main types of tow trucks: flatbed, hook and chain, and wheel-lift. Not every company has each kind of truck. Some car problems might require one type, and not be fit for another. Improper towing can create additional damage, and not asking the right questions or providing enough information could cause delays in waiting for another vehicle to show up.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If your insurance company is involved, find out with which towing service companies they already have an agreement or which they prefer. This information not only keeps you covered if it’s a provided service, it gives you a great idea of reputable tow providers.
Find Out About Fees and Payment
Before you contract for towing services, find out about the fees, how far they will tow, and accepted payment methods.
Needing a tow can be pretty stressful. The best way to minimize the frustration is by investing a little time in getting the right facts and providing the best information.
Clutch RepairDecember 15, 2015
Just like brakes, it’s easy for drivers to tell when the clutch is wearing out and needing a replacement. A worn out, or wearing out, clutch can be harder to handle. You might notice that the pedals seem to ‘stick’ more, and that pushing the clutch in requires more force than normal. A clutch in need of repair can also lose the smoothness of a clutch in good condition; you might notice a ‘shakiness’ or jerking motion when the clutch moves from gear to gear, or even total loss of control at times, as the clutch slips out of gear entirely.
The clutch doesn’t usually last the lifespan of the car. Depending on the vehicle’s make and model, and how well the clutch is treated, the clutch may or may not last more than 50,000 miles. Even the climate of where you live and drive, and your commute-type can affect the clutch. A driver that sits in city traffic all day, inching along, uses the clutch a lot more than a driver that coasts down the highway. Hot weather also affects the usage of clutch fluid, and can cause the fluid to run thin much faster than in a cold climate.
If you haven’t noticed a gradual wearing-down of your clutch, and find yourself in a sudden clutch crisis – the clutch stops working entirely or you notice smoke or the smell of electrical fire underneath your hood, you’re likely in for a surprise clutch replacement.
This type of replacement is something that controls your daily driving experience, so it’s important to take this repair seriously. Locate a good mechanic shop, one that you trust. Since the cost of clutch replacement varies so widely, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, while getting the repair done right. Depending on the make and model, a clutch replacement can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Small sedans like the Honda Civic can run on the less expensive end of the spectrum, while more “driving-focused” cars like many BMW models can run into the thousands to replace the clutch. It’s best to have a relationship with a mechanic before you find yourself suddenly in need of their services. If you do find yourself in a bad clutch replacement situation, you can contact Alpine Automotive to get more information and even a quote on the repair costs. We’re ASE certified mechanics and NAPA – endorsed automotive repair establishments.