Recognizing Signs of Water Your Gas Tank
Whether it is accidental or on purpose, water can find its way into your gas tank. It’s usually due to condensation, which can accumulate and cause issues. Fuel combustion is essential for your engine to run. When water dilutes the mixture, your engine can go into hydrostatic shock. In other words, it will refuse to start.
There are many reasons why water can enter your gas tank. One is natural condensation as stated before. Others include:
A bad fuel pump.
Your chances of water entering the tank increase greatly with a bad fuel pump.
Poorly sealed gas tank cap.
If your cap isn’t properly sealed, rain or even a routine car wash can prove to be a disaster.
You would never think that it would happen to you, but it can! People, whether of malicious intent or all in good fun, will put water in your tank. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen to you. Remember to never give someone an obscene gesture in a parking lot. Your car is vulnerable when parked.
Improperly handled fuel.
Not by you, but by the refineries. If the fuel is mishandled, it can get contaminated with water and so can your gas tank.
But how do you know if you have water in your gas tank?
Biggest indicator is a sudden increase or decrease in speed while driving. Which can be an indicator of other problems, too. So, also keep an eye out for sputtering when the gas pedal is pressed and take notice if you’re making more frequent fuel ups. Have you noticed that after one of those trips to the gas station that your vehicle has starting or idling trouble? If you notice one or more of these things, you may have water in your gas tank. And don’t delay in getting rid of it; water in your tank can lead to bio-degradation of fuel, microbial growth that can damage your fuel system. It can even produce holes in your fuel tank.
How to Know When to Replace Your Shocks & Struts
The shocks and struts in your vehicle are part of your suspension system. Your suspension’s job is to maximize the friction between the road’s surface and your tires. This provides stability when you’re steering. If the road were flat with no inconsistencies at all, a suspension system wouldn’t be necessary. These irregularities in the road apply forces to your wheels. Without a suspension system, your car would lose contact with the road completely when faced with an irregularity in the road. Your suspension is made up of many parts, but your shocks and struts in particular absorb the energy and force to give you a smoother ride. It also ensures good handling and comfort for you and your passengers. So, it should be obvious when you need to replace your shocks and struts, right? Not necessarily. Here are some signs to look out for:
• Poor steering response with noise or stiffness when steering
• Experiencing a “nose dive” or instability when applying the brakes
• Vehicle swaying or leaning on turns or when changing lanes
• Excessive vehicle “bounce”
There are other visual signs that you can look out for, such as:
• Dented or generally damaged looking shock or strut bodies
• Fluid leaks from your shocks or struts
• Uneven, cupped tire wear
• Damaged, corroded or broken mounts or bushings
If you experience a generally bumpy or uncomfortable ride, poor steering response, noise or stiffness when steering, instability upon braking or vehicle swaying you definitely need new struts or shocks. Testing has also shown that generally vehicles will need these parts replaced around 50,000 miles. If you’re still not sure, check for the visual signs. But don’t delay in getting a repair. It’s the kind of job that can’t wait. If you think you need new suspension parts, come on in to Courthouse Automotive and we’ll give you an honest quote.
Recognizing and Diagnosing Engine Oil Leaks
Have you ever seen the warning light come on indicating an engine oil problem? This warning light can be a bit intimidating. You know your vehicle is consuming oil, but you’d rather keep topping it off to avoid the underlying problem. You’re right; this could indicate a major repair. However, sometimes it doesn’t. The onset of this warning light can be a result of both internal and external leaks.
Recognizing the Difference
An external leak is considered to be the best case scenario. For example, you buy a new gasket, install it and bing bang boom, successful repair. Other external engine oil leaks can come from your oil filter and housing or the front and rear main oil seals. On older models, check your pan and fuel pump gaskets as well as timing covers.
Internal engine oil leaks come from worn piston rings, valve guides that have excess clearances or worn valve seals. These all allow oil to enter the combustion chamber. This will cause it to burn with the air fuel mixture. Your exhaust will be bluish in color especially when you first start up the car. This is an indication of a major auto repair that we all fear the most.
When diagnosing your engine oil problem, start with the best case scenario. With luck, you’ll find an external engine oil leak. When searching for an external leak, keep gravity in mind. If you spot drips on the oil pan, trace them back to their original source. They are more than likely coming from above the oil pan. Even the smallest engine oil leaks can cause excess consumption. If you replace a gasket and/or a seal and have repeat failure, you may have abnormal crankcase pressure. This is a repair for your favorite local mechanic.
If you’re experiencing engine oil leaks and cannot diagnose the problem, stop on by Courthouse Automotive. We’ll hopefully be able to give you the best case scenario. However, we will always give you our honest opinion.
Looking for Trusted Auto Repair Virginia Beach?
At Courthouse Automotive, we pride ourselves on being the most trusted auto repair shop Virginia Beach has to offer. The role of a mechanic gets a bad reputation. We understand. There are a lot of not so reputable mechanics in the world. You bring your car or truck in for a simple service. Say, replacing a tire. You are then confronted with thousands of dollars worth of repairs. Who’s to say if they’re exaggerating or even straight up lying if you’re not automotive savvy? This is a terrible situation to be in. Do you risk further damage by not getting the suggested repairs? Or do you fork out the cash now?
Courthouse Auto likes to be the repair shop that you bring your vehicle in for a “second opinion”. We don’t recommend more than the necessary repairs. We’re here to prolong the life of your engine and keep you safe on the road. That’s it. We don’t want to make an extra buck off of any of our customers. Because we know that if we treat you right, you’ll keep coming back. Fool me once shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you, right? We don’t want to fool any of our customers. Here are a couple of warning signs for shops that may be trying to rip you off:
1. Recommending maintenance work that does not show up on your owner’s manual. We always tell our customers, for periodic maintenance check your owner’s manual. Every vehicle is different, so there are different “regular” intervals for routine maintenance. If your mechanic is recommending maintenance procedures that are no longer needed for you vehicle, be wary.
2. Are they selling you a tune-up? If your car or truck was built in the last 10 years, it does not need a tune up. Once again, reference your vehicle’s owner’s manual for when to change your spark plugs or air or fuel filters.
We want to be your new favorite auto mechanics. If you think another shop is cheating you, come on in to Courthouse Auto for a second opinion. We like to think that our shop is the most trusted auto repair Virginia Beach can offer.
Think you may have a Leaking Radiator?
Have you noticed a puddle forming under your car after letting it sit for a while? Perhaps your temperature gauge has been on the rise. Either way, it is possible that you have a leaking radiator. While this is a relatively common problem, it is one that can leave you stranded should your vehicle overheat. Knowing the signs of a leaking radiator will help you protect your car and your passengers.
Visible Leaking Fluid
Radiators were designed as a heat exchanger and use a liquid-based coolant in the fluid-to-air cooling process. Therefore, the easiest way to detect a leaking radiator is to monitor the surface under your vehicle. This may be your garage floor or your driveway depending on where you typically park your car or truck.
Coolants can come in a variety of colors, but a leaking radiator will often produce either a bright green, orange, or pink liquid. Coolant fluid is extremely toxic to people and pets and should be handled with great care.
If you suspect a leaking radiator and your engine is still warm, the area of the leak may produce steam.
Rising Temperature Gauge
A good indication of a leaking radiator is a quick drop in your vehicle’s coolant reservoir level. Small changes in the reservoir level are not unusual. If you are suspicious of a leak, fill the coolant reservoir and examine it after several days of normal driving. If you happen to notice a constant rise in temperature or even frequent overheating, it is time to take action.
There are myriad ways to temporarily fix a leaking radiator, but you will only be delaying the inevitable. It is best to bring your vehicle into the shop for a professional to assess.
As always, the car experts at Courthouse Auto will be happy to discuss any vehicle maintenance concerns or issues and offer a range of services, those of which include comprehensive coolant system evaluations.
Is Your Vehicle Emitting Black Smoke?
Smoke coming from your tailpipe is never a good thing, let alone blue or black smoke. If your vehicle is emitting smoke, odds are that your vehicle is not properly maintained or tuned. When not tuned up, your vehicle is no longer able to control the level of pollutant emissions. Petrol engine vehicles emit smoke mainly due to excessive wear. Diesel vehicles emit smoke because of poor injector maintenance, poor driving technique or excessive fuel delivery rates.
Gas engines like your vehicle can also emit smoke. Blue normally means engine wear or even damage. Black smoke usually results from an excessively rich fuel mixture.
Here are some reason that your vehicle may be emitting blue or black smoke.
1. Air Filter
If you have a dirty air filter, your fuel mixture can get too rich. Be sure to replace your air filter regularly.
2. Fuel System
More than likely, you’re getting smoke because of a fuel system issue. It could be your carburetor or engine management system issues. Among fuel system issues, you’re looking at a long list of potentials:
-choke butterfly unable to open fully
-putting in the incorrect grade of oil
-faulty or incorrectly adjusted choke
-worn or loose jets or needles
-faulty oxygen sensor
-faulty fuel injector
If you’re getting black smoke coming from your tailpipe, you’re probably also getting very low gas mileage. This is because you are burning an excess of fuel or “running rich.” When black smoke is present, check your engine oil first. Make sure that excess fuel hasn’t contaminated it. Also, check the dipstick and the underside of the engine oil filler cap. If it looks like a chocolate milkshake it’s contaminated. If you can smell a raw fuel smell in the engine oil, do NOT start the engine! Call your favorite mechanic and let him know what’s going on.
How Do I Know if I Have a Bad CV Joint?
CV stands for constant velocity. CV joints transfer power from your vehicle’s transmission and differential to the wheels. It’s a greased, flexible joint that lets the axle flex with road conditions. A bad CV joint does not.
The joint is packed with grease to keep out debris. Because they are under a lot of stress, they will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. There are a few tell-tale signs that will let you know you have a bad CV joint that needs replacing.
Loud clicking noises when turning
One of the most common signs of a bad CV joint is an audible clicking noise when you’re turning. As the joint wears, it becomes loose which produces the clicking noise. The sound may become louder when you’re making faster turns and will be pretty pronounced on the side that needs replacing.
If your CV joint or axle is damaged, it won’t rotate properly. This will cause the shaft to vibrate when you’re driving. You may notice the vibrations becoming more pronounced as you increase speed. Excessive vibrating can interfere with the handling of the car and be a serious safety issue. If this is the case, you’ll need to have the joint and axle replaced.
Tear in the CV Boot
A CV boot is a protective rubber boot enshrouding the joint. CV joints can last 100,000 miles or more if the CV boot remains intact. If you can see a tear in the CV boot, it may mean your CV joint needs replacing. The boot keeps the grease in and dirt, debris and water out. Rub the grease between your fingers. If it feels gritty, the CV joint is already contaminated.
If you suspect that you have a bad CV joint or a torn CV boot, bring your vehicle in to Courthouse Automotive. Our ASE-certified technicians will inspect it for you and give you an honest quote.
When to Replace your Car Battery
The car battery is the power for every electrical element of in vehicle. Sooner or later it will need to be replaced. How will you know when that time comes? Why would your battery need to be replaced?
Over time, a lead-acid car battery will lose some of its capacity. This is due to sulfation (a lead-sulfate compound deposited on the lead electrodes). Eventually, the capacity will drop to the point where the car battery won’t be able to start the car. Your car battery can last an average of 5-7 years. Maybe longer if the car is driven daily. If your car is parked for lengthy periods without starting, it may need to be replaced sooner.
How can you tell if your battery needs to be replaced? Well, there are some things to look for. If your car is turning over slower than usual, it may indicate your battery is failing. You may also notice that the interior lights are dimmer than usual when you’re starting your car.
Your mechanic can easily and inexpensively test your car battery with a simple battery tester. This device can also test your car’s charging and starting systems. This test will tell you if your battery needs to be replaced or simply charged. Remember, a battery absolutely needs to be replaced if it shows signs of leaking.
Does a car battery require any maintenance? Most modern batteries are maintenance free. You may need to get the terminals cleaned if there are signs of corrosion.
If your battery is draining very quickly it could indicate an internal defect or some electrical component is staying on and draining it. Your mechanic may recommend a parasitic draw test to make sure all your electrical components are turning off.
Courthouse Automotive is happy to test your car battery and your electrical system. A simple check could save you from the dangers and frustration of being stuck on the road.
How long can you keep your car running? Ask Irv Gordon, who’s 1966 Volvo P1800 just reached 3 million miles. Yes, I said 3 MILLION. Now, most of us won’t come to a fraction of that, but there are some steps we can take to get our car running as long as possible.
1. Follow your vehicles service schedule.
The manufacturers built the car, they should know how to maintain it. Newer models even have oil life monitoring systems that tell you the best time to change the oil. Most newer cars have indicators lights located in the dashboard to remind you of recommended maintenance. So really, there’s no reason to be sparing on proper maintenance.
2. Regularly check fluids and tire pressure.
With the engine cool check the engine oil. Check the radiator overflow reservoir level and the brake cylinder reservoir. Also check the power steering fluid level and while you’re under the hood look over the hoses and belts for any signs of wear. Now start the car up and after it’s warm check the transmission fluid level. And lastly, with the tires cool check their pressure to make sure they’re filled to the proper psi.
3. Don’t race off.
If a car has been sitting cold for more than 5 hours it will have little or no oil left on it’s moving parts. The oil is in the oil pan. After start up it only takes a few seconds for the oil pump to lubricate the engine. During those few seconds keep the rpm’s down to a minimum. Give the engine about 30 seconds before dropping it into gear.
Wear and tear is normal, so don’t stress out over it. The steps we’ve discussed can be used on any vehicle and will help you be proactive about your car’s longevity. Remember, parts wear out on all cars, even really expensive ones. However, it’s almost always less expensive to repair your car than to buy a new one.
Drop by Courthouse Automotive and we’ll help you keep your car running as long as it can. Maybe not 3 million miles, but who knows?
Car care tips to ensure your vehicle does not overheat or breakdown
The weather is heating up, and the windows are being rolled down – it’s summertime! Our families may be taking a vacation from school and work, but we still need to focus our attention on car care and maintenance. While the heat of the season can pose severe challenges for our vehicles, there are steps you can take to ensure your car is properly cared for so that your vacation does not end up as a “stay-cation.”
1. Essential Fluids
Our cars need to stay hydrated, therefore it is extremely important to check the level of coolant and ensure that there are no leaks from the hoses. The hoses should also feel firm rather than soft. Along with the coolant, be sure to watch the oil, brake, power-steering, and windshield-wiper fluids.
The serpentine belt runs between several components of your engine and is used to keep your alternator, power-steering pump, air conditioning, and even your water pump running smoothly. A squealing sound from under the hood may hint at loosening or deterioration of the belt. It is important to watch for cracks or missing pieces. If these appear, it is time for a replacement.
3. Windshield Maintenance
Our travels can often take us off of the highways and interstates and onto dirt and gravel backroads. Excess sediment can be flung up from other cars and into our windshields. Small cracks and chips should be dealt with immediately. Any crack larger than six inches will call for a full windshield replacement. It is also important to keep your windshield clean.
Dirt and grime has a tendency to build up over extended periods of time, so we don’t typically notice it. Haze can diffuse sunlight and cause glares, making it hard to see where you’re going.
Rain will not provide a thorough cleaning job, nor will worn wipers won’t do you any good. They can leave streaks across your windshield and add to your frustration of a lack of visibility.
4. Air Conditioning
Air conditioning is not something we typically think about during the winter, and it is always fun to just enjoy the breeze flowing in through the windows. On hotter days, however, it can be frustrating when your car is only blowing lukewarm air. A lack of cold air can result from a refrigerant leak. Instead of breaking the bank to have your air-conditioning system recharged, just check with your mechanic and have them inspect the problem.
5. Air Filter
Over the winter, your air filter can become clogged with salt and road debris. It is always a good idea to check the filter to see if you can clean it out or possibly replace it with a new one. A clean air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.
If you should remember anything from high school, draw your mind back to chemistry. You probably learned that as temperature increases, pressure increases. In terms of car care, as the temperature rises, your tire pressure rises with it. Because of this, the chance of a blowout or accelerated deterioration is much higher. Keep your tires properly inflated and keep an eye out for any holes or punctures.
While treating yourself to a fun-filled summer, keep your vehicle in mind. Proper car care maintenance can go a long way in keeping your vehicle on the road and out of the repair shop. However, if you have any concerns, our certified technicians here at Courthouse Automotive would be more than glad to see you!