Monthly Archives: July 2018

Small Car Repairs Now

As drivers hold on to cars longer, small repairs now can save money, time in the future

(ARA) – Drivers are holding on to their cars longer in these tough economic times, so AutoZone, the nation’s leading auto parts retailer, is offering tips to help motorists get the most out of their investment.

“Holding off on purchasing a new vehicle can be a smart financial decision, especially if drivers properly maintain their vehicles to ensure they’re running safely and efficiently,” said Steve Stoll, Merchandising Director of AutoZone. “Maintaining and replacing key components, such as brakes and batteries, can keep vehicles on the road and help prevent costly repairs in the future.”

The average length of time consumers hold on to their vehicles is more than five years, according to a recent automotive industry study. Older cars can be safe and dependable, but need ongoing maintenance to keep them running at their best. According to the National Car Council, 80 percent of vehicles on the road are in need of service or parts.

Motorists who know the signs of impending failure and understand the impact extreme weather conditions can have on various car components, can plan ahead for repairs and replacements instead of being hit by an unexpected bill down the road, Stoll said.

“The longer car maintenance is delayed, the more costly it can be,” said Stoll.

Two key components in any vehicle are the braking system and the battery. AutoZone experts offer the following tips to ensure these vital parts are properly maintained.

Give Brakes A Winter Check-up.

Excessive build-up of road salt and brine solutions in the winter on brake components is one cause of brake failure. These solutions can create contamination of exposed brake parts and can cause brake components to deteriorate prematurely. Hazardous road conditions can also lead to increased use of Antilock Braking Systems (ABS), which can cause premature wear of all brake system components.

As temperatures warm up, motorists should check their braking systems to uncover any damage that may have occurred during the winter months.

Check Brakes Quarterly To Ensure Proper Performance.

In general, brakes are the most important safety feature on any vehicle and should be checked quarterly to ensure proper performance. Brake pads and rotors should also be checked any time the tires are removed, such as during a tire rotation. Other brake components such as brake fluid should be checked at every oil change.

Extreme Temperatures Can Mean Battery Failure.

A battery’s biggest enemy is heat. High temperatures can cause the grids inside batteries to corrode and break down. The effects of the corrosion are usually seen when winter hits, when the car requires more electrical power to start. Drivers should have batteries tested up to twice a year in normal climates, and more frequently in extremely hot or cold climates.

Retailers Such As AutoZone Offer Free Battery Testing.

Replace the battery every three to four years.

While batteries can last more than five years in ideal driving conditions, factors such as temperature, the car’s age and nature of usage can impact the life of a battery. Many motorists are unaware that under the stress of normal city driving, the average life of a vehicle battery is about three years.

Beware of Potholes

They’re back and they’re bad. Potholes have returned and hitting one with your car can do a number on tires, wheels, steering and suspension, and alignment. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, watch for the following warning signs provided by the Car Care Council.

  • Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming-out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.
  • Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.
  • Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.

“Every driver knows what it feels like to hit a pothole. What they don’t know is if their vehicle has been damaged in the process. If you’ve hit a pothole, it’s worth having a professional technician check out the car and make the necessary repairs to ensure safety and reliability,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Potholes occur when water permeates the pavement – usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic – and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street. Many potholes appear during winter and spring months because of freeze-thaw cycles, which accelerate the process. Potholes can also be prevalent in areas with excessive rainfall and flooding.

Air Flow Sensor Tells No Lies

Every sensor on or in a computer-controlled car or truck talks to the “on-board PC” in a kind of language you’ve never heard or seen. All of the inputs are in a voltage-speak and are all numbers. All of these signals to and from the PC travel in and out at up to 300 times per second. That is some party line!

Your PC knows the amount of air going into or being inhaled by the engine. It knows the temperature of the air, the barometric pressure, the outside temperature, if it’s raining and if the engine is pinging. It knows if the engine has too much fuel or too little fuel being delivered to it. It knows the temperature of the coolant and the catalytic converter, and it knows how cold it is inside the car and how that compares to the temperature you are requesting.

Most of the voltages start at zero and have a high end of 5, 8 or 12 volts. For instance, 1.0v means low and 5.0v means high. Or 1.0 means cold and 5.0 means hot, hot, hot.

But most scanners convert these numbers to a range we can understand, like 20 grams or 212F or 45{13259275bfc3a9ffa409d3d46d5b0afe81a2ba9b95573d773aeed87710dd9f13} throttle.

The mass air flow sensor (MAF) tells the PC how much air is flowing into the engine; we read that data in grams. So a little air means no foot on the throttle and lots of air means foot to the floor. Think of the mass air flow sensor as a goal post with a filament across the top arms. It actually looks like the filament inside a clear light bulb.

The PC sends voltage to the filament and then monitors the electricity needed to keep it warm or hot. The MAF starts lying when this filament gets covered with trash, bugs and dirt. Pretend you are in a tunnel and naked. You could easily tell how much air is flowing thru this tunnel and what the temperature is. How good of a job could you do if I covered you with 5 layers of clothing, gloves, hats and full face coverings? That is exactly what happens to your MAF: it gets covered up and starts lying about its environment.

We want to see about 5-10 grams depending on the size of the engine. This gram number determines fuel trim. A dirty MAF won’t see all the air, so it tells the PC to trim the fuel down. 1 gram at idle is a problem.

So if you want to save yourself from $45 to over $100, go to the auto parts store. Ask them to point out where the MAF is located on your car, and ask them to show you what it looks like. You may need special tools. Then buy some CRC Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner. The CRC product was developed specifically for cleaning this very delicate sensor.

Pull the negative battery cable. Remove the MAF sensor. DO NOT touch the filament. DO NOT get your wife’s toothbrush out and scrub it. If you damage it, you just cost yourself hundreds of dollars. Just spray it off like you would spray a small painted wire with carburetor cleaner when you only want to remove the paint. Do it maybe 3-4 times and once every 30-40,000 miles.

Let it dry, reinstall, connect the battery and drive away. It will take the PC just a few hours to reset those parameters that just changed because the MAF is now cleaner and working more precisely.