Tips on Proper Tire Pressure Maintenance

Tire Pressure

The Importance of Tire Pressure

One of the most important parts of your car is the tires. They keep your vehicle rolling, so it’s important to always maintain the right tire pressure specific to your vehicle. Some important driving factors affected by the air pressure of your tires are safety, handling, and fuel economy.

Checking Tire Pressure

The tire pressure (PSI) requirement for your vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual or listed on a sticker located on the driver’s side doorjamb. DO NOT go by the number on the tire’s sidewall.

To achieve the most accurate tire pressure reading, tires must be at a cool temperature; be weary of the outside temperature and whether or not you are in a shady place.

Once you find your PSI requirement, have your tire gauge in hand and locate the valve stem cap on your wheel. Unscrew the cap and firmly press the tire gauge onto the valve stem for one or two seconds. Do the same thing for all four tires and compare your tire pressure readings with the number specific to your vehicle.

Inflating Your Tires

You have two options when inflating your car tires: A portable air compressor at home or use the air compressor at your local gas station (costing 50 cents to a dollar for use).

Reach the hose to your tire and activate the compressor. Remove the stem valve cap, attach the air hose to the valve stem, and then press the lever to activate the airflow. Use your tire gauge to check how much air has been inflated.

If your tire has been over inflated, you can use your tire gauge to release air by pressing down onto the valve stem head. Once you have reached the desired PSI screw back on the valve stem cap.

You can save a lot of time and money by repeating these steps on a regular basis

DIY Wheel Maintenance Tips for Your Alloy Rims

Yes, you can DIY wheel maintenance.

Alloy wheels may be stronger than the typical steel wheel but they are still affected by the same everyday roadway wear and tear. Elements such as brake pad dust, road salt and tar, can damage your wheels and cause permanent damage to your rims. Most Automobile manufacturers will recommend using soap and water as your go-to wheel cleaning method. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose the right wheel-cleaning product for your rims. So, let’s talk about how to do your own wheel maintenance.

Here are several options for you to get back that new wheel shine:

• The Lemon Juice technique is an effective method for cutting through dirt and dust on wheels that are still in fairly new shape. Just apply an even coating of lemon juice to your rims and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing
• If your rims are coated in grease, try soaking wheels in a tub of white or cider vinegar
• A great option for cutting through the tough grime is to use Oxy-Gel kitchen cleaner. However, it is an oxygenated bleach so be careful
• Avoid using the more abrasive cleaners and polishing compounds to clean your alloy wheels. Please use a wheel brush that is made specific for alloy wheels
• Another thing to remember when choosing to clean your rims is to avoid automatic car washes. They sometimes use acid-based cleaners in combination with abrasive brushes, which can permanently damage your wheels. So please check with your local car wash to avoid running your rims

Remember to protect your rims from future harm after using these cleaning methods, by applying an even coat of wax to your rims every two to three months. The best way to maintain a long-lasting and great looking wheel is to follow these tips on a consistent basis. If you’re worried your rims aren’t holding up as they should, call us and we can find the right solution for you.

Signs Your Car is Ready for a Tune Up

Sure you’ve heard of a Tune Up. But do you truly know when its necessary to get one?

Of course it is better to be pro-active with your vehicle, which means getting regular service and tune ups. However, most of us are guilty of not having regular maintenance performed on our cars. If you are one of those people who waits until the last minute to get service on your vehicle, then you have probably seen or felt the signs that your car is not performing at its best. Not Sure? Here are several indications that your car may be ready for a tune up.

1. A misfiring engine
When your spark plugs ignite at inopportune times either from excessive wear or faulty equipment it is considered to be misfiring.

2. A dirty or clogged air filter
This will greatly reduce acceleration. Filters will get dirty over time, but you will notice your car gradually getting slower.

3. Engine deposits
Low-quality or contaminated gasoline create issues causing the vehicle not to drive properly, which could be an indication that your vehicle needs a thorough fuel system cleaning.

4. Check Engine Light
The most common of them all is the infamous Check Engine Light. When something isn’t right within the emissions control system it will trigger this light to tell you there is a problem. Don’t ignore this!

5. An old oxygen (O2) sensor
Even if it has yet to trigger the Check Engine Light, an Oxygen sensor can still be hurting your fuel economy. Not to mention, the wear this puts on your engine and it’s performance.

Due to the fact that there are so many of the same signals that could be coming from different problems, it is best to bring your vehicle in for a thorough diagnosis or a tune up. Having your car checked could prevent you from costly maintenance down the road, or from having to purchase a new vehicle completely.

2017 Vehicle Recall Alert Update

Beware when purchasing your new car. Vehicle Recall Alert List of 2017 has been released.

Cars.com has recently published the 2017 Vehicle Recall Alert List and it is shocking! Here is a snippet of the list including the ones with a higher number of faulty vehicles. Is your car on the list?

2017 Buick LaCrosse:

Approximately 2,000 vehicles affected

Recall Alert- Electrical  connectors for the electronic power steering system improperly sealed. This may cause corrosion due to exposure to water. This may cause the vehicle to lose power steering and greatly increasing risk for an accident.

2016-2017 Chevrolet Cruze

Approximately 17,200 vehicles affected

Recall Alert- Possible welding issue on seatback recliner bracket. This may cause head restraints to malfunction and seatbacks to break during an accident increasing the risk of serious injury.

2015-2017 Mercedes-Benz Cars, Wagons and SUVs:

Approximately 354,000 vehicles affected

Recall Alert- In the event the engine or transmission can’t turn over, repeated attempts to start the vehicle could result in a fire from the starting current limiter overheating.

2016-2017 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, 2017 Continental:

Approximately 27,500 vehicles affected

Recall Alert- Frontal airbags may be faulty and may not inflate or detach from the module during an accident, due to a misalignment of components within. This could increase the chances of fatality or serious injury.

2014-2017 Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300:

Approximately 69,000 vehicles affected

Recall Alert- Front driveshaft bolts have the potential to come loose possibly causing the driveshaft to disconnect. This could result in a loss of motive power and increasing the risk for an accident.

2014-2017 BMW i3:

Approximately 19,000 vehicles affected

Recall Alert- Fuel tank vent line could rub against the wire protection sleeve of the positive battery cable. This may cause a fuel vapor leak and pose a potential fire hazard.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

Approximately 34,000 vehicles affected

Recall Alert- Brake booster has the potential to fail and could result in a loss of power brake assist. This could result in a longer breaking distance and increases the risk of an accident.

The list continues on for over 160 pages. Be sure to check on manufacturer recalls regularly to ensure your vehicle is safe for the road.

Why is my Check Engine Light On?

I’m sure you’ve been a victim of the daunting Check Engine Light– also known as the Service Engine Light. Its that antagonizing light that just glares at you from the dashboard. So what do you do now? Do you just stare it with avoidance? Do you cover it with electrical tape? As absurd as that sounds, this is how most people deal with the Check Engine Light. However, what you should be doing is asking why. There are several things that could be triggering this alert to your vehicle. We are giving you the top 5 most common reasons your check engine light may be on.

  1. Oxygen (02) Sensors

    Your Oxygen sensors measure the amount of unburned Oxygen from your vehicle’s exhaust system. These sensors monitor how much fuel is burned and sends that data to the car’s computer. Sensors can become contaminated with oil ash over time causing them to not function efficiently. With faulty sensors, you’ll notice a decrease in gas mileage and increased emissions, because your vehicle is burning more fuel than necessary.

  2. Loose or Cracked Gas Cap

    While the gas cap doesn’t seem to serve much purpose other than sealing your tank, it does have a more important task. Your gas cap helps maintain pressure in the fuel system and prevents fuel evaporation. If the cap is cracked or not on correctly, fuel vapors could be leaking from your car. As a result, your vehicle will have a reduction in gas mileage and increased emissions as well.

  3. Catalytic Converter

    The Catalytic Converter works to convert carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. This helps to reduce the amount of harmful compounds being released into the environment. If your Catalytic Converter is failing, it could be from a lack of regular maintenance on one of the other listed items. This is not usually the most inexpensive to fix, but if you bring it to us for repair immediately, we can help keep your expenses from piling up.

  4. Mass Airflow Sensor

    You may have never considered this one, but is still a possible culprit. The Mass Airflow Sensor tells your vehicle’s computer how much fuel to release to make the car run efficiently. It is solely dependent on the amount of air coming through the engine. If this is the cause of that glowing Check Engine Light, you will notice your vehicle get worse gas mileage and it may even begin to stall.

  5. Spark Plugs

    Spark Plugs seal the combustion chamber and ignite the air/fuel mixture. If it isn’t working properly or needs replacement, you’ll notice the car having issues with acceleration. Most manufacturers recommend that Spark Plugs be changed every 25,000-30,000 miles in older vehicles, or 100,000 for newer vehicles. Some sources suggest this is an easy fix, but that depends on the year, make and model of your vehicle. We suggest bringing it in and letting us have a look just in case this isn’t the true source of the problem.

If you’re seeing the Check Engine Light on your dashboard, just call us at Courthouse Automotive and we’ll get you in and back on the road in no time.

When Should I Replace My Shocks and Struts?

How can you tell if its time to replace your shocks and struts?

Shocks and Struts aren’t usually the most recognizable of issues. The purpose of these mechanisms is to stabilize your vehicle and absorb or “dampen” the amount of movement your vehicle experiences when hitting bumps. When you consider rough roads with potholes, bumps, rocks and uneven pavement do you ever consider how you’re not slamming your head into the roof of your vehicle? Probably not. That’s because most people don’t really ever consider their shocks and struts as being necessary for safety on the road.

There are ways to tell if your shocks and struts are in need of replacement. The most obvious is excessive bouncing even with the littlest of bumps. At first the bouncing may not be all that distracting to your driving, but it can really damage your tires and suspension.

Once this happens, it becomes a domino effect to your braking system. You may notice that you’re jolting forward at stops, or that its taking longer to stop. This happens because once your suspension has been affected by worn out shocks and struts, more weight is added to your brakes. You run the risk of having or causing an accident because of impaired handling of the vehicle and slow brake time.

If you’re looking for some easy telltale signs of worn out shocks and struts there are a few of methods:

  1. The “Bounce Test”- Push down on each corner of your vehicle and pay attention to how quickly it bounces back. If it seems to continue bouncing, then it may be time to see an auto repair shop. If it returns slowly, you should be in the clear.
  2. The Fluid Check- If you notice fluid seeping from the shocks, thats an indication that they are weak.
  3. Steering Check- If you’re noticing that its harder to turn the wheel or you feel swaying on the road, shocks and struts could be the culprit.

It is recommended by most manufacturers to replace your shocks and struts every 50,000 miles. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, bring your vehicle into our repair shop and we will inspect the issues for you.

Most Common Electrical Issues

Newer cars utilize computers and electricity to perform various operations. From the radio to the engine, electricity runs throughout most components of your vehicle. If electrical issues arise it could cause unsafe driving conditions or a non-functioning vehicle. There are usually several common electrical issues that are considered in a diagnosis.

Dead Battery

The battery is the most common cause of electrical failure. This is typically the easiest of issues to diagnose, because the vehicle completely shuts down and all electrical devices stop working. No lights, no radio, and no engine turn-over. Often times, it only takes a jump start to get the vehicle running again, but in some cases you may be due for a full battery replacement.

Battery Cables

If your vehicle won’t start, the first thing you should investigate is the battery. If you notice corrosion, try cleaning the cables and terminals. This could be a simple fix.

Bad or Failing Alternator

If your vehicle’s battery will not hold a charge after a jump start, then this is an indication that the alternator is faulty. The alternator acts as a generator for your battery. If it breaks, then there is no charge powering the battery, and the vehicle will not start.

Overworked Starter

It’s all about that “click.” If you’ve ever tried to start your vehicle and all you hear is a clicking noise, then your starter or solenoid has gone bad.

 

Blown Fuses

If a particular electrical system fails, but not another, you can attribute that to a blown electrical fuse. Your vehicle houses a fuse box and it is a simple task to replace fuses.

Spark Plugs

If your vehicle is running but the idling is rough or the car feels sluggish, then more than likely your experiencing the symptoms of failing spark plugs. A tune-up and plug change can be done easily and get your car running like new again.

If you think you’re experiencing any of these issues, contact Courthouse Automotive at 757-453-6399

Top 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars 2016

fuel-efficient

10 of the Most Fuel-Efficient Cars You Can Buy Under $25,000

Looking for the most fuel-efficient cars? It can be really important these days to save a few bucks a year and get you further. We can also help you save some dough by recommending these top 10 fuel-efficient cars that are under $25,000. Not bad, right?

1. 2016 Ford C-Max Hybrid
This vehicle can get you 42/37 MPG city/highway. It’s a practical and efficient hatchback that’ll give you more oomph than a Prius.

2. 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid
This roomy, mid-size sedan will get you 43/39 MPG city/highway.

3. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
This stylish Hyundai will get you 40/44 MPG city/highway.

4. 2016 Toyota Prius V
With excellent cargo space, this vehicle also boasts 44/40 MPG or 42 combined MPG.

5. 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The most efficient in its class, this Hybrid boasts 44/41 MPG.

6. 2016 Toyota Prius C
The Prius C is the smallest of it’s Prius family, but it is also the most affordable car on this list. It also gets 53/46 MPG.

7. 2016 Toyota Prius
This all new Prius is more fuel-efficient than ever. It can get you 52 MG combined or 54/50 MPG.

8. 2016 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
This little smartcar might not be the roomiest but if efficiency is more important, this is your top choice. It gets 122/93 MPG.

9. 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
The is the most affordable fully electric car in the country. It boasts an impressive 126/99 MPG.

10. 2016 Chevrolet Spark EV
Drumroll please… this electric car from Chevy gets 128/109 MPG or 119 combined for the most efficient car you can buy under $25,000.

With varying horsepower, cargo space and efficiency, any one of these vehicles could be the perfect fuel-efficient car for you.

10 Best Used Cars Under $8,000 for 2016

best used cars

10 Best Used Cars Under $8,000

According to Kelley Blue Book, these are the top 10 best used cars for reliable transportation under $8,000. They won’t provide you with the latest tech or the best looking paint job, but if a monthly car payment is still intimidating for you, check out these cars first.

1. 2010 Kia Soul
Surprising, right? This used car is a great alternative if you can’t afford a full on SUV. It does come with some issues though, such as a failing blower motor and purge control valve. However, these repairs won’t break the bank.

2. 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata
If you can make do with a 2 seater, you will love this car. It has go-kart like handling and is incredibly fun and easy to navigate through traffic with. This used car comes with some overheating issues, so just check your coolant system and hoses fairly often.

3. 2007 Subaru Impreza
Subaru has continued to impress in recent years. It’s reliable transportation with the added bonus of all-wheel drive. Potential issues include a worn out catalytic converter and AC evaporator.

4. 2007 Nissan Maxima
This mid-size sedan offers a certain amount of luxury and a nice ride quality. With poor maintenance however, you could be looking at a failed transmission after 100,000 miles.

5. 2006 Subaru Outback
The Outback has similar issues as the Impreza, but it is one of our top choices for a safe and reliable family car with excellent cargo space.

6. 2008 Ford Crown Victoria
This vehicle has proved year after year that it is built for extended mileage. Potential repairs include the windshield wiper motor burning out and problems with the throttle actuator causing poor acceleration.

7. 2008 Toyota Corolla
There’s a reason there are so many of these on the road. With routine maintenance, this sedan has the least amount of repair issues out of any vehicle in its class.

8. 2010 Honda Civic
The most common issue with this Civic is a air compressor relay that stays on with the car is shut off causing a dead battery when parked. It’s an easy fix and inexpensive. Plus, the tire pressure monitoring system sometimes gives false readings.

9. 2007 Honda Accord
Well-cared for, this sedan will give you another 100,000 miles even used. Some issues include oil consumption problems and needing to replace the catalytic converter.

10. 2006 Toyota Avalon
This sedan gets our winning slot on the top 10 list. It’s quiet, comfortable and reliable. It comes with minimal repair issues. KBB’s master mechanic sites only a minor rear suspension noise and the flat doors can easily attract door dings. Clearly, the best choice for a used car under $8,000.

If you’d like to read more about KBB’s ratings for these top 10 best used cars complete with MPG and horsepower stats, click this link.

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Motor Mount

motor mount

How Do You Know if You Have a Failing Motor Mount?

Common signs include knocking noises, vibrations, and engine movement.

A motor mount’s sole responsibility is to secure the engine of the vehicle to the body of the vehicle. Without a properly functioning motor mount, your engine will begin to rattle and move about under the hood, causing more than just unsettling noises. There are some signals to be aware of that will indicate that your engine mount needs servicing.

1. Knocking noises sounding off from under your hood. These are considered impact noises. A worn, damaged, or broken motor mount can cause this and other strange sounds from the weight of the engine shifting rapidly.

2. Rapid vibrations are another sure sign of a dysfunctional engine mount. If the rubber or buffering mechanisms wear out or are damaged, it will reduce the mount’s ability to absorb the engine vibrations. At this point, your whole vehicle will feel the vibrations and make for a very uncomfortable ride.

3. Engine movement is definitely a warning signal. A properly working mount will securely stabilize the engine. If the mount is broken, the engine will move about in the engine bay. As a result, you’ll notice more impact noise when accelerating.

As part of its regular operation, a vehicle’s engine will generate vibrations and motor mounts are an important component in helping to reduce these. Without having a properly functioning engine mount you could be jeopardizing other important parts of your vehicle or engine. To avoid putting this type of strain on your vehicle and causing more damage, bring your vehicle to one of our professionals to inspect any issues. If we find that you’re in need of a new motor mount, we can certainly take care of that for you.