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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!
Car Culture

Common Reasons for Spark Plug Failure

July 19, 2017
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: Slow Acceleration 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. Engine Misfires 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!
Car Culture

Common Reasons for A/C Failure

July 16, 2017
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! Refrigerant Leak 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!
Car Culture

Common Reasons For Transmission Failure

July 14, 2017
Your vehicle’s transmission is one of the most important components of your car. If transmission problems arise, they can boast a hefty price tag to repair. Here are some common reasons that lead to transmission failure, and steps you can take to prevent these issues from occurring! Low Fluid Levels or Leaks. This is one of the most common transmission problems that I’ve seen. If you have low fluid levels, that is usually caused by leaks in the transmission system. Leaks can be caused by multiple different things, such as the seals in the transmission becoming faulty. Keep an eye out for low fluid levels or leaks in your transmission by looking for these symptoms: gear slippage or slow shifting. In the event that you find a transmission fluid related issue, you may need the fluid changed or transmission completely flushed and refilled. Torque Converter Problems Your vehicle’s torque converter pressurizes automatic transmission fluid. One of the most common problems that I’ve seen associated with the torque converter are worn or damaged needle bearings. Symptoms to look for here: when your vehicle is in a driving gear, you hear grinding sounds. This can affect your vehicle’s ability to properly operate, and ultimately lead to transmission failure. Overheating Overheating can be caused by multiple different factors, common ones being low fluid or a heavy tow load. If your car becomes overheated, this can cause your transmission to seize and often leads to the need for a total replacement. This is something you want to avoid at all costs. Stay aware of your vehicle’s fluid levels, and don’t over-work your vehicle. Solenoid Problems The solenoid in your vehicle controls the flow of fluid throughout your transmission. The solenoid can become damaged due to low fluid levels or various electronic related issues. Problems with the solenoid are often mistaken for low fluid levels or leaks, so if you are noticing gear slippage or slow shifting, and there are no leaks, the solenoid should be the next component you check. Driving Habits Your driving style has a direct correlation to how well your car performs. Improper shifting, aggressive driving, and general neglect of your vehicle can lead to transmission failure. For example, never shift a car into reverse while it’s moving forward! These are just a few of the many common factors that can lead to transmission failure! Take note of the symptoms you should look out for, and simply drive smart! If you are noticing any of these issues, schedule a service appointment now.
Car Culture

Fuel Conservation Tips!

July 9, 2017
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!
Car Culture

How To Keep Your Car Clean With Pets

May 17, 2017
  Bringing your pet along for the ride is all fun and games until your car, becomes a mess. While I’ve gone over how to ensure your precious cargo is safe when riding in your vehicle, today I’m here to give you some helpful tips on how to keep your car clean with those beloved animals of yours!
  • When your pet is accompanying you, try and keep them in one area of the car. This will confine all of the pet hair and help keep it from spreading. Whether you use a crate, restraint, or confine them to the passenger seat, keep your pet in one area to keep the potential mess at bay.
  • Cover up your seats! You can invest in a seat cover or simply lay towels down, but protect the interior of your car from your pet’s elements by covering it up as you are able. This way, you can just toss your covers in the wash and ta-da! Your car is now clean. This is also a very easy way to minimize the pet odor in your vehicle.
  • Don’t leave the mess around. Once you’ve arrived at your destination or returned home, get right to work at cleaning up whatever mess your pet might have made. Don’t let your car fester in the sun with your pet’s lingering odor. Simply wipe down the seats or quickly vacuum out your car. You could even use a lint roller–a little goes a long way! Trust me, this will make your life easier.
  • If you drive with your pet often, you might become immune to their smell. Avoid this permanent odor by taking care of it right away! There are many ways to combat this. If you haven’t cleaned your interior in a while, get any mats and seat covers washed. To keep a fresh scent in your car, try sprinkling baking soda on the floors or placing dryer sheets under your seats!
Do you have any handy-dandy tips for cleaning up after your pet in your vehicle? I’d love to add them to my list! Let me know about them in the comment section below.
Car Culture

Share The Road!

May 16, 2017
The first reported automotive related accident in U.S. history was recorded in 1896, when a car and a bicycle collided. Since then, everything has exponentially increased. There are millions of registered vehicles on the road. Cycling, including motorcycles have increased in popularity, and the overall population has increased. There are more people on roads in many different modes of transportation, so share the road! Accidents on the road have unfortunately accompanied these increasing trends. In 2015, there were 4,693 motorcycle deaths and an estimated 700 cyclist deaths on the roads. While not all, many of these fatal accidents were at the fault of the automobile driver. Regardless of what your preferred mode of transportation is, your safety on the road begins with you. For automobile drivers, here are some simple things you can do to ensure your safety, and the safety of those around you:  
  • Check your blind spots! Motorcycles are obviously smaller than other vehicles on the road, and can easily blend into your blind spots–so be cautious! Especially when passing and changing lanes, remember to check your blind spots thoroughly before you do so.
  • Use your signals. While this is an action you should always practice, this is important especially around motorcycles. When passing a motorcycle, the gust of wind that your vehicle creates can cause the motorcycle to become unstable and potentially knock the rider off the road. So, especially when passing motorcycles, use your turn signals! Let those around you know your intentions so they can anticipate your vehicle’s motion.
  • Be extra cautious at night. Help the riders on the road stay safe at night by increasing your following distance. Be sensitive with your brights.
  • Share the road! Your vehicle is not the only one on the road, so be courteous to all of those around you. Whether you’re a fan of motorcycles or not, there is a person riding on them, so drive safely and defensively around them.
Car Culture

Car Owner Do's & Don'ts: At The Gas Station!

May 14, 2017
You find yourself at the gas station again–oh joy! While there are no set rules for you to follow here, I do have some suggestions for you. From making sure you are using the best gasoline for your vehicle to following some unspoken etiquette, here are some gas station do’s and don’ts for you to consider! DO: Make sure you are using the correct gas for your car. Every time you’re at the pump, you’re faced with different fuel options. These are octane ratings. While you should know the difference between regular and diesel gasoline, most don’t actually understand the difference between the other choices. Educate yourself! Take a look at your vehicle’s owner manual and see what type of gasoline it says is required or recommended for your car–and listen to it. Using the proper fuel for your vehicle will make a difference in the long run! Did this raise more fuel questions for you? Read more about this topic here. DON’T: Have bad manners. Everyone wants to get in and out of the gas station in a timely fashion, so help move this process along by staying polite! Know the bearings of your vehicle and align your car at the pump, leaving enough room for the other cars around you to still have ample space to maneuver their own vehicle. If the gas station happens to be crowded, find the pump that your car would fit best at, and politely wait for your turn behind the car that’s currently there. If you see an open pump in this crowded situation, if there doesn’t appear to be anyone obviously waiting for the pump, then it should be fair game! I know you hate it when someone swoops in and steals that parking spot from you, so don’t be that person to someone else! DO: Turn your car off while fueling! For your safety and those around you, remember to turn your car off before you start to pump gas into it. While many have their own opinions as to if this is actually dangerous, just do us all a favor and turn it off. The risk of explosions from the combination of your running vehicle and fuel being pumped are low, but there are still risks. DON’T: Smoke! This falls into the safety and gas station etiquette category. It should be common sense to not bring flames to an extremely flammable place, but I’m here to give you this simple reminder! Don’t use lighters, matches, cigarettes, or anything of the sort while at the gas station, and all those around you will thank you!
Car Culture

Car Owner Do's & Don'ts: For Summertime!

May 7, 2017
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.
Car Culture

Car Owner Do's & Don'ts: For Road Trips!

May 6, 2017
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.