Under the Hood

Identify What Fluid Is Leaking from Your Car by Color

July 10, 2019
car-fluid-leaks

What’s black, white, and red all over? If you said, “my driveway,” then your car may be leaking…something. But what, exactly, is that hideous pool of liquid?

Don’t go dipping your pinky in a puddle of driveway-goo. There’s an easier way to figure out what your car is leaking; unless you’re colorblind, you can probably identify car fluid drips by eye. In fact, you don’t even need a particularly well-trained eye to get to the bottom of a car leak, as there are only a handful of fluids that could be the culprit.

Dark or Black Fluid Leaks

Brown, amber, or black fluids, especially when sludgy or thick, usually indicate an engine oil leak. (The smoking gun is if soaks into the ground and stains it black.)

Cars can leak oil – this is just a fact. Typically, a little drop of engine oil is not serious enough to warrant a trip to your auto mechanic. Your car’s oil may seep out of your oil filter’s gasket or seal if it’s not fastened well enough. Apply some elbow grease and you should be good to go.

However, drips can be a sign that something is awry under your car. If your car continues to leak oil, you could have a punctured oil pan, faulty oil filter, corroded drain plug, or any number of damaged car parts. A visit to your auto service center or a local oil change shop should set you straight.

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Under the Hood

10 Essential Electric Vehicle Maintenance & Service Tips

June 20, 2019
Electric-Vehicle-Maintenance

Electric cars are a rare breed within the auto world. Unlike “normal” cars, EVs don’t require regular oil changes, nor do they need new spark plugs or yearly emissions inspections. Heck, it’s unusual to even change the brakes on an EV thanks to regenerative braking technology and the electric motor’s ability to stop without any mechanically based friction. They truly are works of art that also reduce auto maintenance costs significantly.

While electric car maintenance is easier and costs less than that of gas-powered vehicles, it doesn’t mean EV owners can forego trips to their local auto service center. Electric vehicles have their own list of auto service demands – some of which are shared with conventional vehicles – and if those demands are not met, you can assume a very costly repair will be right around the corner. Here are 10 of the most vital EV maintenance tasks that should never be skipped.

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Car fun

Auto Parts 101: Car Component Functions & Terminology

June 10, 2019
car-parts

Can you name any of these car parts? Take the quiz; I’ll wait.

So, how’d you fare? Are you as knowledgeable as a mechanic or did you flunk your exam in spectacular fashion? If you’re part of the latter group, it’s time to enroll at the Lauren McCarthy Online Summer School, where you’ll receive an introductory lesson on the most common car parts and how they function to make a vehicle do what vehicles do.

And when I say “enroll,” I of course mean “review this huge list of car parts and terms that I’ve compiled.”

auto-parts

1. Turbocharger – The function of a turbocharger is to significantly increase an engine’s horsepower without affecting its overall weight. How does it work? They are a forced induction system that compresses the air going into the engine. When the air is compressed it allows the engine to squeeze more air into the cylinder. This, in turn, allows more fuel to be added, which then results in a powerful explosion in each cylinder.

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Behind the Wheel

Kansas & Missouri Child Car Seat Laws by Age, Height & Weight

May 23, 2019
child-car-seat-laws-mo-ks
Every state has crafted its own set of child car seat laws. For instance, Florida’s laws are quite lax, allowing kids older than age 5 to be fastened with a seat belt, whereas New York’s laws strictly state children through age 8 must be secured in a child safety restraint system. (To each their own, eh?)

But what about child car seat laws in Missouri and Kansas? Are you buckling up your child properly? To ensure your kids are safe in their infant, convertible, or booster seats, review the states’ most recent child passenger safety and restraint laws by age, weight, and height.

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Car Culture

Tips to Protect Your New Car Outside

May 10, 2019
protect-car-outside-no-garage

Sometimes a garage isn’t in the cards, and you must leave your vehicle to battle outdoor threats alone. But with a good deal of preparation and the proper products, you can protect your new car from bad weather, the sun, and almost every other external evil. Here are a few helpful tips to keep your vehicle from breaking under the pressure of being an outside car.

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Holiday

5 Mother’s Day Tips To Get Your Car Ready For A New Baby

April 18, 2019
Happy Mother's Day from Lauren Wants to Know

This year, it’s your turn to revel in being a mother on Mother’s Day. Congratulations! That new baby in your arms has changed you from being the one buying the gifts and cards into the one receiving them. Of course, being a mother isn’t all about sweetly sentimental presents. In fact, there’s a lot of stress involved in your new role, too! That’s why I’ve rounded up five tips to make life with a new baby in the car safer, easier, and more enjoyable.

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Money Matters, Under the Hood

How To Avoid Buying A Flood-Damaged Used Car In Kansas City

April 11, 2019
flood-damaged-used-car

It’s already plenty nerve-wracking buying a used car. You might wonder if there’s an underlying mechanical problem or worry about the after-effects of a previous accident. Now, with the recent flooding along the Missouri River, there’s one more thing to worry about: whether or not the car you’re considering has been damaged by a flood. It’s an unfortunate reality for some shoppers, as thousands of cars from all over Kansas City have been damaged by water, then cleaned up for sale. How do you spot one of these vehicles?

Signs of Flood Damage in a Used Car or Truck

A few specific signs can indicate an issue with past water damage:

  • Water lines or condensation in the lights. Unless the lights were completely replaced, you may be able to detect the faint signs of water lines or condensation on the lens or reflector of the front or rear vehicle lights. These are hard to clean completely.
  • Damp, musty carpets & mats (or brand-new carpeting). The carpets can give you a great clue about past water damage. If they were not removed right away and carefully dried, they’ll still smell like dirty water or mold. Check underneath the floor mats for any sign of unusual grime or mud. Obviously, if carpeting was just replaced, you might inquire as to why, as this is not normal.
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Under the Hood

7 Uncommon OBD-II Codes & What They Mean

March 29, 2019
Uncommon-OBD-Codes

Who’s down with OBD? Yeah, you know: Me!

When DIY mechanics troubleshoot a car problem, they rely on experience, their guts, and what their code scanners spit out. But what do all those OBD-II codes mean? With help from some friendly Kansas City service technicians at McCarthy, here are 7 of the most uncommon OBD2 diagnostic errors they’ve encountered, plus a list of symptoms, causes, and potential fixes for each.

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Under the Hood

What’s The Difference Between 87, 89 & 91 Fuel?

March 15, 2019
Fuel-Grades-Explanation

When you pull into a gas station, you probably fill up with the same type of fuel each time. But have you ever wondered which type is best for your car? Have you ever wondered what those numbers meant? Have you ever wondered what the purpose of life is?

Well, a friend of mine tweeted recently, asking what the difference was between these fuel grades. So, after speaking with the friendly technicians at a friendly Kansas City auto service center, I’m ready to give you some answers to two of those three Qs (you can guess which ones). Here are some of the key differences between 87, 89, 91, and other fuel grades.

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Behind the Wheel, Car Culture

Headlights FAQ: “What’s Wrong with My Car’s Lights?”

February 28, 2019
Headlights-FAQ
Having problems with your car’s headlights? Millions of car owners around the world are right there with you, shoddy headlamps and all. But if you’ve got questions related to your vehicle headlights, I’ve got answers—and solutions—that should put those problems in your rearview.

Why are my headlights so dim?

You’re in some automotive Twilight Zone episode, sitting between “headlights quit working” and “headlights are too bright” dimensions. Fortunately, getting out of this paranormal predicament is fairly simple. Although bad headlight switches and alternators can cause issues with hazy headlamps, dim headlights are usually caused by either old-bulb filaments or corroded ground wires.

  • To diagnose your headlight ailment, open your headlamp assembly and inspect the bulb. Notice any gray, brown, or black residue inside? If so, purchase new lights from your dealer or at a headlight store, and replace those suckers.
  • If your headlight bulbs look clear, check under the hood. Follow your headlight’s wires back to where they connect to the vehicle. With a wrench, unscrew the ground cable from its point of connection. Use a wire brush to scrub away any corrosion or dirt. Reconnect the cables and inspect your light’s brightness.
  • If neither solution solves your problem, consider taking a trip to your auto service center. They’ll help.

Why are headlights so bright?

If you feel like car headlights are getting brighter each year, you’re not crazy. With LED, halogen, HID, and xenon technology becoming a new norm, high-intensity headlights on the road today can cause temporary blindness, or “road dazzle,” putting other drivers at risk. Continue Reading…