Under the Hood

What Happens If You Never Change Your Car’s Oil?

October 15, 2018
change-your-oil
A dealer friend of ours recently recounted a terrifying tale in which the protagonist failed to change his oil over the course of 8 years. We’ll spare you the gory details, but know this: the story didn’t end well for the owner of that poor car.

So, let us ask you: When’s the last time you changed your engine oil? If it was when St Louis still had a pro football team, we’re here to push you into the service center, like, yesterday. You don’t even want to know what happens to an engine when its oil and filters aren’t changed (but we’ll tell you anyway).

When to Change Your Oil

First, you need to know when to change your oil because “never” is not an acceptable length of time.

Although the traditional rule is to change your oil every 3,000 miles or 3 months, modern vehicles are typically a bit more lenient, requiring you to get an oil change after 5,000-plus miles. While that extended maintenance time is nice, it can also cause unintended consequences—namely forgetfulness camouflaged as peace of mind, leading to a missed oil change here and a skipped oil filter replacement there.

That forgetfulness can be troublesome, as you may suspect.

Engine Wears Down

Clean oil lubricates the engine and its components, reducing friction and allowing for smoother operation. The dirtier the oil, the more abrasive it can be to engine components and the engine itself. Even though old oil still has lubrication for these parts, it’s far from adequate at preventing engine wear-down.

Noisy Hood

It may be negligible, but engine noise will become a bit louder as your oil deteriorates and thickens. Loud engine sounds can be caused by any number of issues, but one of the main culprits is usually dirty car oil.

Additives Lose Effectiveness

You’ll find numerous chemical additives in engine oil, including dispersants, rust-busters, and anti-friction detergents. These additives, as the oil degrades over time and due to dirt accumulation, will also degrade, resulting in lackluster lubricating qualities.

Performance Drops Drastically

As you’d expect, worn engine components can reduce your car’s ability in general. For instance, worn steel camshafts and cylinders can cause the engine to shudder when shifting. This, in effect, reduces your fuel efficiency, which means — yikes! — additional stops at the gas station.

Higher Likelihood of Overheating

Thicker oil also reduces its ability to draw heat away from the pistons and engine itself, eventually forcing it to run hotter than was intended. Eventually, that hot environment may degrade the quality of certain parts or even warp critical components like a gasket, ultimately forcing you to replace affected auto parts sooner than expected.

Worse yet, those damaged parts may not even be noticed until it’s too late!

Oil Turns to Sludge

As oil travels through the engine, it picks up miniscule pieces of dirt, debris, and particles that get through the oil filter. Over time, those particulates begin to outweigh the oil itself, resulting in that disgusting dark sludge. The sludge can become so dense it lodges itself into essential engine components, reducing the car’s efficiency or worse—it’s ability to even start. (Think: Thick beef grease lodged in your kitchen sink’s pipes.)

Complete. Utter. Failure.

The additional metal-on-metal friction will severely compromise your engine wherever possible. (Cars are finicky like that, huh?) Once the components begin to deteriorate, there’s no looking back. You’ll begin noticing drops in electrical power, leaks, dash lights going off, and engine seize-ups occurring at a rapidly growing pace. Once the engine begins to seize, your vehicle may be beyond repair!

At this later stage, an oil change is the last of your worries. To get up and running again, you’re looking at a very expensive engine re-build or an entirely new car. Don’t be forgetful—be forget-less, and change your oil regularly!
Behind the Wheel

Do Windshield Chip Repair Kits Actually Work?

September 27, 2018
windshield-repair-kits
There you are, driving westbound on I-70, passing the familiar sign for WinterStone Golf on your way to Kansas City. Pink Floyd fills the cabin as you delicately sip that scalding mug o’ joe. Then — wham! — the truck in front of you kicks a pebble into your windshield, leaving a gnarly chip right in your line of sight. In most instances, those kinds of windshield chips only affect the surface, rarely causing damage to the internal layer of tempered glass. This type of damage is frequently correctable by your standard DIY windshield repair kit. Hooray!

But we don’t all get to live in a “most instances” world—sometimes we must survive in a “why me?” world, which means your windshield damage could be unfixable by amateur hands. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of common windshield chip repair kits, shall we?

Continue Reading…
Car Culture, Car fun

The Used Car Who Found A New Home

September 19, 2018
used-car-new-home
Once upon a time, there was a nice used car, sitting in a nice used car lot, waiting for a nice new owner. He waited and waited and waited, through rainstorms and cold nights and foggy mornings—all for a chance to find his new forever-home and prove that used cars like him were still fun to drive and reliable four-wheeled pals.

It wasn’t always like that, though. The used car once had an owner and a garage to call his own. He sang along to songs on the radio, took weekend road trips, and even visited the kids’ soccer games. But over time, those songs were left unsung, road trips untraveled, kids’ soccer games unvisited.

You see, his owner got older, and as owners get older, so too do their children. Once the reliable family vehicle, that used car was replaced by a bigger, stronger, and newer SUV that could keep up with the family’s busier life. So, the used car sat in the garage, through rainstorms and cold nights and foggy mornings, unable to make a peep. Continue Reading…
Auto News, Behind the Wheel

5 Safety Features Every Parent Should Look for When Buying a Car

August 31, 2018
While researching the best vehicles to keep your family safe and sound, you’ve likely read dozens of reviews, browsed IIHS ratings, and looked at NHTSA grades. But as safety technology improves, so too do the number of recommended vehicles on those “safest car” lists, leaving you with more of a selection than ever before.

We call that scenario a “double-edged sword.” With too many options at your fingertips, how do you know which vehicle is right for you? Do you go with a Top Safety Pick+ SUV? What about that 5-star minivan? Ahhh!

Allow me to help you, stressed-out parent. Here are 5 essential automotive safety features you should look for when picking your family’s next vehicle.

Safe Exit Assist An exclusive feature designed by Hyundai, Safe Exit Assist is the guardian angel every parent of a toddler needs. As your kids gain independence, they’ll begin doing things on their own—including opening the car door without assistance. Safe Exit Assist automatically locks the rear doors when approaching vehicles are detected, eliminating the risks of a nightmarish catastrophe. Continue Reading…
Dealership Events, Local Events

6th Annual McCarthy 2000 Seeks To Raise $20K for Kansas City Youth

August 3, 2018
arts-crafts-emoji
Our friends at McCarthy Auto Group are at it again, dishing out dollars to charitable Kansas and Missouri organizations through the end of August. That’s right: This year’s McCarthy 2000 Sales Race is officially underway, with all McCarthy dealers continuing the annual summertime tradition of supporting their communities. How? By selling 2,000 heavily discounted vehicles by August 31, and donating $20,000 to local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Salt York YMCA, and Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri.

But we’re not here to sell you on McCarthy or a specific car—we’re here to raise awareness of these exceptional youth programs and organizations in the Kansas City region. Continue Reading…
Car Culture

Car Smells That Might Indicate Trouble

July 30, 2017
We’ve all encountered a funky smell in our vehicle at least once. Sometimes it’s because you left your gym bag in the trunk overnight, or maybe you dropped a fry between the seats and forgot about it. In other cases, if you can’t find the source of the smell, your olfactory system might be hinting at you that your car is having issues. Below are some smells you could experience that might be an indication of car trouble: Rotten Eggs
  • Could indicate an overloaded catalytic converter. This smell is from the compound hydrogen sulfide that comes from the small amount of sulfur present in fuel. If your catalytic converter breaks or is experiencing issues, the sulfur is not filtered normally which results in producing a rotten egg smell. This smell could also be an indication that your engine is running too hot or you have a broken fuel pressure regulator. Regardless of the cause, you should get this issue checked out immediately.
Burning Carpet
  • This smell could indicate that you have brake issues. If your brake pads get overheated, which can happen even in normal driving conditions, you might experience this smell as a result.
Gasoline
  • If you’re experiencing this smell, and you didn’t just leave the pump, this could indicate several issues: missing gas cap, fuel tank leak, fuel line leak, fuel injector leak, faulty charcoal canister, or issues with your fuel pressure regulator. Basically, if you’re smelling fuel, something is wrong.
Oil
  • If you smell hot or burning oil, your car could be telling you multiple things. There could be leaking oil onto the exhaust manifold, a faulty vacuum modulator, broken temperature gauge, overheated engine, or you might just need an oil change. Regardless, if you notice this smell, get it checked out.
Maple Syrup
  • If you notice a sweet, syrup-like smell, this could indicate a coolant leak. The source of this leak could be coming from the heater hose, radiator, cylinder head, and more. Coolant is toxic, especially to animals, so get this inspected ASAP.
The list of funky car smells can go on and on. Basically, if you smell something out of the ordinary and there is no obvious outside source, the smell is a good indication of something gone wrong. If you’ve experienced any of these smells, you should schedule a service appointment soon.
Car Culture

Knowing When to Change Your Air Filter

July 27, 2017
It’s easy to forget that your vehicle’s air filter needs to be changed. Most don’t think about changing it until the auto shop tells them it’s dirty, or until they start feeling warm air when it should be cold. It is recommended that the air filter should be changed on average every 10,000 – 15,000 miles, or around every 12 months, whichever comes first. The air filter is a pivotal component of your vehicle. It contributes to your car’s fuel efficiency, powering your engine, and the overall performance. Below are some warning signs that it might be time to change your air filter: Decreasing Gas Mileage A common symptom of a dirty air filter is a decrease in the car’s fuel efficiency. The air filter helps maintain the airflow in your vehicle, keeping harmful contaminants out of your valve train and intake manifold, which helps to deliver maximum power to your engine. If the air filter becomes dirty or clogged, your engine will then have to compensate for the lower amount of oxygen it’s receiving by using more fuel to power your vehicle, thus, decreasing your gas mileage. So, be aware of your vehicle’s average gas mileage and take note of any changes. By maintaining a clean air filter, you can save on fuel! Service Engine Light Appears This can be a warning sign for multiple reasons, one being because of an airflow issue. An old air filter can cause deposits to form in the engine. If you see this light on your dash, get it resolved immediately. Rough Idling or Difficulties Starting Your Car Both of these are a symptoms that can be the result of a dirty air filter. These can mean you have spark plug problems, which can be caused by an abnormal air-fuel blend that can’t be filtered properly due to your old air filter. Reduced Horsepower If you notice that you’re having difficulties accelerating, or your car is not responding normally when you try to accelerate, this is a warning sign that there is a problem with your engine. If your air filter is clogged or dirty, your engine isn’t receiving the air it needs to perform and you might start to notice these symptoms. Remain conscious of your car’s behavior and take note of any changes. These symptoms can also be a warning indication of other issues your vehicle might have, but there is a good chance that the source is your dirty air filter. Changing your air filter is definitely something you don’t want to just brush off. Maintaining a healthy, clean air filter will help improve your gas mileage, the performance of your engine, and overall life of your vehicle!
Under the Hood

Headlights How-To

July 25, 2017
Driving without functioning headlights is not only dangerous, but illegal. Most headlight bulbs are estimated to last hundreds, even thousands of hours. So, worrying about your lights burning out is not a thought most drivers stress over. However, when the day comes that one of your lights burn out, I’m here to walk you through this easy fix! Tools you’ll need:
  • New bulb(s). You can’t go out and buy just any new light bulb. Your dealership’s service center or local auto parts store should be able to match a new light bulb to the make and model of your vehicle.
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Supplies to clean and hold the new bulb. Alcohol wipes and tissues/gloves work great.
  1. Locate the headlight holder
  • Find this by opening the hood of your car and locating the headlight in pursuit near the front of your vehicle. You’ll see a bulb holder with a power connector leading to it (this usually looks like a set of three wires). Congratulations, you’ve found the headlight holder.
  1. Remove the power wires
  • The wires you just located should be attached to a plug at the base of the headlight. They are usually held in place by a metal clip, screw cap, or plastic catch. Depending on which device is holding the wires, carefully loosen and remove the wires from it. To do so, you should see either a lever, clip, or device you can unscrew to loosen the power wires and remove the old bulb.
  1. Clean the new bulb
  • Use the supplies you’ve brought to handle the bulb. The gloves or tissues are meant to keep the oils from your skin from getting onto the new bulb. Clean the bulb with the alcohol wipes to ensure any oils, fingerprints, or dust have been wiped away.
  1. Install the new bulb
  • Once the bulb is clean, place it into the base of the plug where you just loosened the power wires and removed the old bulb. When installed correctly, none of the bulb’s rubber gasket should be visible. Now that the bulb is in, put the headlight holder back in place and plug the power wires into the new bulb.
  1. Test the new bulb
  • Simply make sure your newly installed bulb is functioning correctly by turning your headlights on!
Once you’ve followed these five simple steps–voilà! You’ve successfully changed your own headlight and saved yourself a trip to the auto shop!
Car Culture

Common Reasons for A Dead Battery

July 23, 2017
Car batteries always die at the most inconvenient times. Whether it dies right before you need to leave for work or while you’re on vacation, it’s always a pain. There are several factors that weigh into why your battery might have died. Here are a few of the most common reasons: Human Error Poor driving habits can affect the life of your battery. For instance, not closing your doors all the way, accidentally leaving the headlights or interior lights on, or leaving your trunk open can all contribute to draining the power of your battery. Your car battery needs the chance to rest and recharge, that’s why accidentally leaving a light on in your car overnight can be detrimental to the battery. Most modern cars now have features that alert  you when a light has been left on, or if a door is still open. Pay attention to these alerts and become more conscious of your driving habits to help benefit the life of your battery. Charging Malfunctions If your car’s charging system isn’t functioning properly, your battery could drain even while you’re driving. Your vehicle’s alternator is often the one that powers the lights, radio, and other systems. If the alternator has had an incomplete charge, this can factor into your car battery not being able to accept a full charge, which in turn will not be able to supply enough power to your vehicle. If you notice your car constantly having issues starting, this can be a symptom that your vehicle is having trouble charging. Get this checked out before it turns into a dead battery! Parasitic Drain This occurs when a discharge of power continues to occur after your engine is shut off. However, some parasitic drain is normal. Your battery is built to keep components like your radio presets, clock, and security features operating at all times, but if other components in your vehicle continue to run after the engine has been turned off, the parasitic drain can exceed what’s normal and lead to draining the battery. Your Battery Is Old It is possible that your battery has died simply because it has lived its life. The typical car battery can last around 2 – 6 years, depending on your driving habits, vehicle make and model, etc. If your battery is old, it will start to not hold a full charge, and ultimately just wear out. If you’ve had your battery around five years and you start to notice a slow engine crank, it might be time for a new battery. If you’re experiencing issues starting your engine, a low battery fluid level, a battery leak, or issues with your lights turning on, these are all symptoms that your battery might be on its last leg. A good rule of thumb is to have your battery checked yearly to catch any problems that might occur before you run into trouble.
Car Culture

Common Reasons for Brake Failure

July 21, 2017
One of the scariest situations a driver can experience is their brakes suddenly failing. Before you get into a panic about this scenario, let’s understand how your brakes work, and then unpack causes that can lead to their failure. The brake pedal is connected to the pistons. In most modern cars, you’ll see disc front brakes and drum rear brakes. Functioning brakes stop your vehicle by using friction. If something interferes with this friction, this can lead to brake failure. Here are a couple factors that can become an interference:
  • Oil or grease on your brakes can lead to failure. Unlike your engine, the brakes do not need lubrication, and if lubrication such as oil or grease make its way to the brakes, this interferes with the friction needed to come to a stop. Keep an eye out for oil leaks. If you notice a leak, this can indicate that an oil seal has failed. Get this checked immediately to prevent further damage.
  • Your brake pads are built to work up to a certain temperature. If your brakes get severely overheated, they start to break down. If this happens, the metal in the rotors or drums can develop hard spots, also known as hot spots. These spots interfere by resisting the friction from the brake pads and shoes. If these don’t have friction, braking power is lost. A symptom to look for here is a change in feel on your brake pedal. If you notice that you’re having to press harder on the pedal, and seeing less of a reaction, get this checked immediately.
Another common cause that leads to brake failure is the wear on your brake pads. The longevity of your brake pads depend on the make and model of your vehicle, and your driving habits. Some brake pads can last around 70,000 miles, while other drivers might notice they’re having to change their pads around 25,000 miles. Your front brake pads typically wear faster than your rear ones. If you find yourself frequenting congested highways or doing more city driving, you’re probably doing some heavier braking, which means your pads will wear out quicker. A symptom that can indicate your brake pads might be wearing thin, are, squeaking or squeal noises coming from your brakes. If you start to hear these noises, get this checked ASAP! You can replace the pads before you cause any further damage, or danger yourself on the road. I hope learning these common brake failure culprits help ease your fear. Keep an eye out for these symptoms so you can prevent damage to your vehicle and stay safe behind the wheel!