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:
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.
- 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.
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!
Spark plugs are a critical component to your vehicle’s internal combustion engine. Without a spark, your fuel couldn’t ignite in the combustion chamber. When running smoothly, spark plugs will burn fuel efficiently. However, faulty, bad, failing, or misfiring spark plugs can be the result of many different causes. Let’s unpack a few of these potential damaging causes and symptoms to look for:
Similar to your vehicle’s air filters and oil, your spark plugs require routine maintenance. Every vehicle requires a specific type of spark plug made up of unique materials. Sometimes these materials can simply wear out, reducing the effectiveness of your spark plugs, leading to symptoms such as slow acceleration. If you start to notice your car running sluggishly, and it’s not accelerating as quickly as it used to, don’t just brush these observations off. This is a symptom that can indicate failing spark plugs (or other potential issues).
Poor Fuel Economy
Another common symptom that can allude to failing spark plugs is a decrease in your car’s fuel economy. What causes this decrease? Often, this is because the gap between the spark plug electrodes is either too far apart or too close, or your spark plug might just be worn out. If you notice your car’s fuel economy decreasing, or you are experiencing higher fuel consumption, have a mechanic examine your spark plugs and adjust the gap before possibly having to replace them entirely.
If your engine misfires, it’s typically because of an issue with the ignition system. However, sometimes this issue can be traced back to the spark plugs. If the wire or tip of the spark plug has been damaged, this can lead to ultimate spark plug failure. If you notice your vehicle making sputtering sounds or intermittent stumbling from the engine, have this checked as soon as possible.
Regardless of the cause, it is inevitable that your spark plugs will eventually wear out. That’s why regular maintenance on your spark plugs is necessary. Stay observant of how your car is acting and reacting to things, and remember to look for the common symptoms associated with spark plug failure!
Especially in the summer heat, we rely on our vehicle’s air conditioning to provide a refreshing breeze on our drives. Stepping into your car that has been parked in the sun only to find that your A/C has quit out on you is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone! Here are some common reasons that can lead to A/C failure, and actions you can take to prevent this nightmare from happening:
Faulty Fuse or Circuit Breaker
In the event that your air conditioning fails, one of the first things you should check is your circuit breaker and fuse. Many fuses use a strip of wire that can melt or break if the amount of current passing through it exceeds its capacity. Your car’s fuses are installed in line of specific circuits, in order to protect the circuits from overloading. If you notice that your vehicle’s accessories, such as the wipers, radio, power locks, etc, suddenly start weakening or cease to function, this can indicate a faulty, broken, or dying fuse. Look for these signs, so you can catch the problem early before it affects your air conditioning system!
If your vehicle’s refrigerant (a chemical your car uses for cooling) is not at the proper level, this can harm your A/C’s ability to function properly and lead to A/C failure. A/C systems are sealed and don’t require a top-off of refrigerant, therefore if the level is low, you have a leak that needs to be addressed immediately by a certified service technician. These leaks are trickier to notice. Symptoms can include an oily residue on or around the A/C hose units, connections, or potentially on any components of your air conditioning system.
Worn Out Compressor
The compressor is essentially the heart of your vehicle’s air conditioning system. It circulates the refrigerant and removes heat from your vehicle’s cabin. The compressor can simply just wear out over time, which can lead to issues with your A/C. However, there are some preventative measures you can take to prolong its life. Whenever you are getting maintenance done on your car, have the technician do a simple compressor inspection. Take matters into your own hands and run your compressor for about ten minutes once a month, regardless of the temperature outside.
If you start to feel warm air blowing through your vehicle’s A/C system, that is a good indication that something is damaging your air conditioning. Whether it’s one of these common issues listed above, or another A/C damaging culprit, keep an eye out for the symptoms so you can avoid complete A/C failure!
Saving money is a goal everyone has, especially when it comes to saving on their car. Whether you drive a gas guzzler or an innovative hybrid, everyone loves to save a little money when it comes to fueling their vehicle. Aside from finding the best deals on gasoline in your city, there are some simple things you can do to make your dollar go farther at the gas station! Read on to see how you can start saving some Benjamins by conserving your fuel.
Your driving habits have a direct impact on your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Thus, unsafe driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s expensive. Do you always have to be the first one out of the gate at stoplights? Maybe you like to test your car’s 0-60 time every now and then. If this is you, you’re not only endangering those around you, but you’re wasting hard earned money. When you accelerate too quickly you are making your vehicle work harder than it needs to, causing your car to use more fuel. It is fine if you like to live life in the fast lane, just take your time getting there. Smoothly accelerate while following the present speed limit. Simply lightening up on the pedal will improve your gas mileage.
Another common gas guzzling cause is idling. This means that your car’s engine is on but you are parked and not moving. Whether you’re warming up your car in the winter, waiting in the school pickup line, or waiting in the car while your loved one is shopping, idling is almost inevitable for most. Idling your vehicle is wasting gas. So, if you find yourself stuck in your car and not moving, put your vehicle into neutral or turn it off. This simple action will help save gas and the environment!
Make your car as aerodynamic as it can be. Your car is designed to be aerodynamic, but maximizing this quality will help you conserve fuel. Try to keep your windows rolled up and refrain from blasting the air conditioning and you’ll begin to see an improvement in your gas mileage! Other car accessories such as bike racks or luggage rails can add unnecessary weight and put a drag on your vehicle. Only use accessories when necessary, and remove any extra weight from your vehicle to help your fuel go farther!
Another simple step you can take to conserve fuel is to check your tire pressure regularly. The lower the tire pressure, the more gas your car needs to move it. So, staying on top of your car’s maintenance will not only prolong the life of your vehicle, but conserve fuel and make your dollar go farther!
Are you guilty of any of these gas guzzling causes? If so, start becoming aware of these habits and remember the steps you can take to improve them. Do you have any gas saving tips you’ve found to be beneficial? Share them with me in the comments below!
As we head into the hot summer season, it is important that we take special care of our vehicles. Of course your car needs to be taken care of year-round, but during winter and summer it requires special attention and care due to the extreme weather conditions these seasons tend to bring. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of taking care of your car during the summertime:
Check Your Tires
DON’T: Take a road trip without checking to see if your tire tread will last the trip. The last thing you want to happen is one or more of your tires blowing out, leaving you and your friends stranded on the side of the road.
DO: Check your tire tread by sticking a penny in the tread gaps with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see his entire head, it is time to get new tires. This simple trick can save you from experiencing a tire blowout. It is also important to make sure that your tires are properly inflated, especially if you are going on a road trip. Not only will properly inflated tires help prevent the risk of experiencing a blowout, they can increase your car’s fuel efficiency by up to 3%.
Replace the Air Filter
DON’T: Plan a summer full of hard driving and road trips without at least getting your air filter checked. Aside from the fact that your car’s air filter gets clogged with salt and other thick debris during the winter season, a clogged air filter will lower your fuel efficiency.
DO: Take your car to get the air filter checked and/or replaced BEFORE your first road trip. This will better prepare your car for the trip and increase your gas mileage.
Check the Coolant and Watch for Overheating
DON’T: Just assume your car can withstand the summer heat without checking under the hood to see if its coolant levels are okay. Without a proper working cooling system, your vehicle will most likely overheat, since your engine temperature is increasing under low coolant levels. A recipe for disaster.
DO: Take your vehicle to the service station and get the coolant topped off. During the summer, you’d want to your coolant to be a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water.
Do you need to get your car summer ready? Stop by one of the McCarthy Auto Group service centers! Schedule your next service appointment here.
One of the greatest things about having a car is being able to go on fun road trips with your friends. There’s nothing like venturing down the open road and seeing everything the world has to offer right from the seat in your car. Before you head out on a road trip, I suggest you take a look at some important do’s and don’ts.
Planning the Road Trip
DON’T: Head out on a road trip without precisely planning out the stops and towns you plan to visit. It is especially important to map everything out if you’ve never driven through the area.
DO: Let family and friends that will not accompany you on the trip know where you will be going, and when you expect to be there.
What To Bring
DON’T: Go on a trip without making sure your emergency items are packed and ready to use, should you need them.
DO: Make sure to pack an emergency kit full of things such as medical supplies, car maintenance tools, a flashlight, portable phone charger, and map.
What to Do During the Trip
DON’T: Be afraid to try and experience new things.
DO: Make the most out of your trip! Make your road trip even greater by making a game out of it, such as being the person who tried the most unusual foods during the trip. Silly games like this not only make the trip fun, it helps to make more memories.
In Case of an Emergency
DON’T: Hesitate to alert someone when there is a problem, even if you may have what you need in your emergency kit. Do not expect to be able to handle everything on your own. If you have all of the tools necessary to change a flat tire but find it to be more challenging of a task than you assumed, do not hesitate to call for help.
DO: Stay calm and know that emergencies and accidents happen. Fortunately for you, you will have an emergency kit that should have what is necessary to get you the help you need.