Auto Repair & Tires Blog
You're sitting in traffic when you notice your car's temperature gauge. The needle is moving to the right, which means your engine is getting hotter.
Vehicles typically overheat in hot weather or while in stop-and-go traffic for long periods, but your engine can run hot anywhere and any time of the year if your coolant level is low or because of electrical problems or a faulty thermostat. Knowing how to react properly to overheating can help you avoid expensive repairs and may even save your engine.
A Few Tips
1) When your air conditioning is on and your car begins to overheat, roll down the windows and turn off the A.C. You'll immediately reduce the load on your engine and help it to cool.
2) If you're stuck in traffic, put your transmission into neutral or park and gently rev the engine. That will force more water and air through the cooling system and help some of the engine heat to dissipate.
3) Turn on your heater and fan to blow heat away from the engine. It may make you a bit uncomfortable, but it will protect your engine.
4) If the engine starts to boil over, pull off the road as soon as it's safe to do so. Then, shut down the vehicle.
5) Never open the hood if you see steam. Let your car cool down for at least 30 minutes before attempting any work under the hood. Use a cloth when removing the radiator cap. And remember that hot coolant is highly pressurized. If you open the radiator cap too soon, fluid will spray out, putting you and others at risk for serious burns.
6) Finally, never add cold water or coolant to a hot engine; it can crack the engine block.
It's important to see us as quickly as possible so we can determine the cause of the overheating and correct the problem. Make an online appointment or visit any of the Mountain View locations in Southern California.
Many people aren't aware of their warranty's expiration date, or how much mileage they can have on their vehicle before the warranty becomes null and void - until it's too late. Here are a few smart tips.
Read, read, read. We can't stress this enough: read your warranty. It usually comes with your owner's manual, which can be a daunting collection of information itself. But take the time to understand at least the basics of your warranty. It includes important information, such as the mileage expiration, the ins and outs of parts coverage, and the recommended service intervals. If you've misplaced your vehicle warranty, check for a copy online.
Stay current with scheduled maintenance. Don't put off regular service, such as oil changes, radiator flushes, air filter replacements, tire pressure checks and others. Most warranties require that you provide evidence of regular upkeep when making a claim, so keep your receipts, too.
Don't be afraid to complain. All aftermarket or recycled parts should be covered under warranties, and they're a common reason why some warranties are initially denied. But under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, it's illegal for companies to deny warranties on that basis, unless the part was defective and caused additional problems in the vehicle.
If the dealership where you bought your vehicle is denying your warranty claim and you know that you meet the coverage requirements (or even if you aren't sure), call the customer service number listed on your warranty.
Disc brakes consist of a disc brake rotor - which is attached to the wheel - and a caliper, which holds the disc brake pads. Hydraulic pressure from the master cylinder under the hood causes the caliper piston to clamp the disc brake rotor between the disc brake pads. That creates friction between the pads and rotor causing your car to slow down or stop.
Drum brake systems are made up of a brake drum attached to the wheel, a wheel cylinder, brake shoes, and brake return springs. Hydraulic pressure from the master cylinder causes the wheel cylinder to press the brake shoes against the brake drum. That creates friction between the shoes and drum to slow or stop your car.
Vehicles also have a secondary braking system known as the emergency brake or parking brake. Emergency brakes are independent of the service brakes, and are not powered by hydraulics. They use cables to mechanically apply the brakes (usually the rear brake).
There are a few different types of emergency brakes, too, including a stick lever located between the driver and passenger seats; a pedal located to the left of the floor pedals; or a push button or handle located somewhere near the steering column. Emergency brakes are most often used as a parking brake to keep the vehicle stationary while parked. And, yes, they can also be used in emergency situations if the service brakes fail.
The computer-controlled anti-lock braking system (ABS) is an important safety feature on most newer vehicles. When brakes are applied suddenly, ABS prevents the wheels from locking up and the tires from skidding. The system monitors the speed of each wheel and automatically pulses the brake pressure on and off rapidly on any wheels that are skidding. That's helpful when driving on wet and slippery roads. ABS works with the service brakes to decrease stopping distance and increase control and stability of the vehicle during hard braking.
When performing a wheel alignment, we use sensitive computerized equipment to adjust the angles of the wheels so they're perfectly parallel to each other and precisely perpendicular to the ground. The end result is a vehicle that rolls down the road easier and uses fuel more efficiently. Proper wheel alignment also will help suspension parts last longer.
Aligning the wheels includes measuring and, if necessary, correcting three types of angles:
Imperfections, blemishes in the rubber, and damage to a tire or rim can throw a wheel "out of balance." That means that one section of the tire or rim is heavier. When that's the case, the tire can wobble or even hop as it rolls down the road. That effect often can be heard, as well as felt in the steering wheel.
To balance a tire, we use computerized equipment that identifies where wheel weights should be applied to the rim. Those weights are used to counter-balance any heavy spots.
Wheel weights can come off when tires make hard contact with a curb or pothole, so it is possible for wheels to fall out of balance at any time. That's why it makes sense to have the balance checked after a hard impact. Also, have your wheels balanced any time your tires are repaired or rotated.
We'll be happy to take care of your wheel alignments and balancing. Find your Mountain View location here.
Is there a new driver in your family? Or maybe you've been behind the wheel for years but would like to feel safer on the road. If so, consider sharing these tips and applying them yourself.
1) Signal before you stop. You already know to use your turn signal before turning or changing lanes, but many people don’t know to signal well before they apply their brakes. A turn signal communicates your intentions to other drivers. When the driver behind you sees your turn signal before your brake lights, he won’t have to guess why you’re stopping or if you’re slowing down to steer clear of road debris that he, too, will need to avoid.
Also, signaling a few seconds before changing lanes gives other drivers enough time to react to your lane change and, if necessary, sound their horn to warn you that they’re nearby.
2) Stay right. Being forced to follow slower drivers who linger in the left lane is one of the most frustrating aspects of driving. California law states, “To drive faster, pass, or turn left, use the left lane. When you choose to drive slowly or enter or turn off the road, use the right lane.”
3) Don't tailgate. It can be stressful for the driver in front of you if you’re following her car too closely. It also puts both of you at risk for a dangerous and/or expensive accident. And if you’re the driver who was tailgating, you will be held responsible for all damages.
4) Keep it quiet. When backing out of a parking space blindly, turn off any music in your vehicle. You need to be able to hear the warnings of car horns and pedestrian voices. You should also keep your music volume low while driving through parking lots, school zones, busy intersections and in any other situation when hearing well will keep you and others safer.
5) Be patient. Don't pull into traffic if doing so will make oncoming drivers apply their brakes to accommodate you. Waiting your turn will lower your risk of an accident and keep traffic flowing. It may keep your fellow drivers from expressing road rage in your direction, too.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests vehicles to determine their crashworthiness - how well they protect occupants in a crash - and crash avoidance - how well the vehicle’s technology helps you avoid a crash or protects you and your passengers from injury.
The IIHS website features a Vehicle Ratings section that gives each new model a rating in the following categories:
• Side impact test results
Accessing the information is easy. Just visit www.iihs.org/ratings/ and enter the make and model of the vehicle you’re considering. (Once you start typing, a drop-down menu will populate, making it easy to find a specific car, truck or SUV.)
And if you're considering a pre-owned vehicle, drive it to the nearest Mountain View Tire location. We'll be happy to inspect it before you buy it.
1) How to recover from a skid. It can be scary to lose control of your vehicle, but try to keep cool. If you start to skid on a wet road, don't slam on the brakes. And if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes (ABS), don't pump them. Instead, apply firm pressure to the brake pedal and steer the car in the direction of the skid.
2) How to recover from hydroplaning. When the water on the road is relatively deep or the tread on your tires is shallow, your vehicle may actually lose contact with the pavement. When you're riding on the water - or hydroplaning - you won't have control of your car. Again, don't be quick to brake. Instead, pull your foot off the gas and steer the car where you want it to go, while gently applying the brakes. If you have a manual transmission, you can also push in the clutch to slow down the car.
3) Slow down. Driving at highway speeds is dangerous enough in dry weather. When you add rainwater to the oil and grime already on the road, you get a slippery combination. Reducing your speed keeps more of each tire on the road, which improves traction.
4) Keep a safe distance. On a wet road, you need about three times the distance to come to a complete stop. So keep at least two-and-a-half car lengths between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
5) Take care of your tires. Keep them properly inflated, and check the tread depth at least once a month. Inspect your tires for damage and signs of uneven or premature wear, and have them rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. (Make an online appointment here.)
It's true that batteries can last four to five years, but most of today's vehicles are loaded with electronic features that can drain a battery quickly – and even shorten its service life – if the battery isn't cared for properly.
So, to keep your battery fully charged, keep these tips in mind.
1) Don't idle for long periods. If you're waiting for your spouse in the grocery store parking lot, shut off the engine. It takes less gas to start up the car again than to let it run. Another benefit: you'll put less carbon monoxide into the air.
2) Don't let your car sit without driving it for more than a week. Those electronic goodies - keyless entry systems, anti-theft systems, etc. - draw a pretty good amount of power from the battery 'round the clock. If you don't drive the car regularly, you won't give the alternator a chance to re-charge the battery.
3) Don't leave any lights on when the engine's not running. Your vehicle may shut down its own interior lights a few moments after you turn off the engine; just make sure all your doors are completely shut or the lights will stay on all night and drain your battery.
By the way, a weak battery (or malfunctioning alternator) doesn't just reduce the likelihood of your car starting in the morning. It can cause the engine to misfire or stall. The ABS and airbag warning lights might come on unnecessarily, or the turn signals may not work properly.
If you need help with your battery or if it's time for a new one, pull into any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location.
Maybe your friend doesn’t have enough time during the day to pull his vehicle into a shop.
Or you might know of a family member who feels completely overwhelmed by the idea of talking with an automotive pro about technical vehicle maintenance issues.
Or it could be an elderly neighbor who doesn’t have the money to take her car in for service or repairs. As a result, she’s sacrificing her safety every time she drives.
If any of those scenarios sound familiar, consider giving the gift of car care this holiday season.
You may think that’s an unusual present, but it’s the kind of gift that could mean a lot to the recipient. It might relieve your loved one of a lot of stress.
Offer to bring your friend’s car into the shop for her and cover the costs of any necessary service or repairs, or wrap up a Mountain View Tire gift certificate for your relative. They’re available at any of our Southern California locations.
We hope you have a very merry Christmas and a new year filled with safe travels.
Have your tires rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. By regularly changing their position on your vehicle, you’ll help your tires wear more evenly, which will prevent the need for premature replacement. (Here’s your coupon for a free tire rotation and pressure check.)
Check your tire pressure once a month. Ideally, you’d use a high-quality gauge to check the pressure when your car has been parked for at least three hours. Testing “cold” tires gives you a more accurate reading, but you can always pull into any Mountain View location and we’ll check your tire pressure for you free of charge.
Keep an eye on your tread depth. Driving on balding tires is like running on ice: neither one is likely to end well for you. The deeper your tread, the more effectively your tires can funnel water and grip the road. Once the tread reaches a depth of 2/32nds of an inch, it’s time for a new set of tires.
Don’t rely on TPMS as a replacement for pressure checks. Your vehicle’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System is a nice feature, but by the time that warning light pops on, one or more of your tires could be as much as 25% underinflated. By that point, your tires could be irreversibly damaged.
We can help you with tire rotations, TPMS repair, tread and pressure checks, and every other related service. Make an online appointment or pull into one of our dozens of Southern California locations. We're open seven days a week.
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