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.

Symptoms of a Bad CV Joint

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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.

Excessive vibrations
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.

Winter Showdown: Steel vs. Aluminum Wheels

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Which is best for winter: steel or aluminum wheels?

So, you’ve decided it’s time for new winter wheels. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before choosing a set of new custom wheels for your vehicle. What wheel will give you the best performance? What is the right wheel to suit your needs? What kind of style options are you looking for? There are two types of wheels that we offer at Courthouse Automotive: steel and aluminum alloy. So, what are the differences and which is best for you?

Steel Wheels
Steel wheels are the best economical choice. The price is low due to mass production and the low cost of steel. Your style choices are limited though. They come in fairly basic designs. Steel wheels can lack excitement. However, you do have the option to place a plastic hub cover over the steel that will give it that aluminum wheel look. Steel wheels also require little to no maintenance. But given that they’re steel, they may rust after a couple of years. They are also not made for every vehicle application.

Aluminum Alloy Wheels
Aluminum alloy wheels come in a vast amount of style choices. You basically have your pick of colors and finishes. For the winter, a fully painted finish is best such as silver or black. A chrome finish can be delicate and is less practical for the winter months. Machined lip wheels are also not the best choice for this time of year. Road salt and brake dust can collect and cause the clear coat to peel off. These types of wheels would require regular maintenance to preserve the finish. While aluminum wheels are becoming less and less expensive, the price ranges greatly based on style.

When choosing your new custom wheels, it’s best to consider your needs first. Steel wheels are low cost, durable and presentable. Aluminum wheels are more expensive, but stylized and can improve vehicle handling.

Wheel Alignment

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Proper Wheel Alignment is Important for Your Vehicle’s Performance

Everything that you own needs routine maintenance. Your air filters need to be replaced frequently for your HVAC system to work properly. You need to clean your dryer’s lint trap to reduce fire hazards. Your computer even needs to be updated frequently to work properly. Have you heard the turn of phrase, “a well-oiled machine”? Well, that’s because machines don’t work accurately when not properly cared for. Your wheel alignment is no different. It plays an important role in the your vehicle’s performance.

Your car hinges on precision to perform safely and efficiently. Your wheels can be easily misaligned. Usually, just from road conditions. But maybe you also drove forward through that parking spot, and didn’t realize until it was too late that there was a parking stop in front of you. Whatever the circumstance, your alignment requires regular check ups. Misaligned wheels can obviously cause uneven wear on your tires. But, “So? That’s only costing me more money on tires!” This may be true. But, think how challenging it can be to drive on a flooded or icy road with new tires. When your tread is worn unevenly, it becomes increasingly more challenging. Not to mention when your alignment is off, your vehicle has a tendency to pull to one side.

Besides being a potential safety risk, improper alignment also puts unnecessary stress on your vehicle. This can lead to other issues. It may also affect your brake shaft performance. When your vehicle pulls to one side, it can lead to steering system problems and cause uneven braking. Improper wheel alignment can also cause problems with your suspension. Your suspension is comprised of carefully balanced parts. When your alignment is off, your suspension is sure to go next. What was once a tune up, it now a very costly endeavor.

If you find see signs that your alignment in off, it’s time for a check up. Call our professionals at Courthouse Automotive to make an appointment today.

Brake Pads

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Squealing for New Brake Pads

You’re driving along, not a care in the world. Then, you brake while approaching a stoplight. You hear a high-pitched squeal or squeak. You think, well maybe that’s just because it’s raining today. Don’t ignore the squeak! That’s your brakes telling you that it’s time for a new pair of brake pads. Many cars have a built-in wear sensor that scrape against the brake disc when your pads need replacing. When applying the brakes, you’ll hear this annoying sound.

There is no schedule for changing your brake pads. It depends on how often you drive. Not only that, it depends on where you drive. If you live in an urban area, you may only drive about 8,000 miles a year. But living in an urban area, you tend to drive through more traffic and busy streets. As a result, you put on the brakes often. Much more frequently than if you live in a rural area. You can drive down a country road for 20+ miles without hitting the brakes once. This is why you need to rely on your ears and the expertise of your favorite automotive technician. If you get your tires rotated every six months as recommended, this is a great time to have your mechanic check the brake system. They can inspect the thickness and condition of your brakes pads for you.

Brakes are one of the most crucial elements of your car’s performance. If you suddenly need to stop going 60MPH on the highway, it can take the length of a football field to come to a complete standstill. This is easy to forget when you’re rocking out to some tunes with the wind blowing through your hair. Even racecar drivers will tell you that it’s more important to be able to stop than to increase the power and speed of your vehicle. Nobody wants to rear end another vehicle or run into a wall because they can’t stop. Especially a racecar driver going 200MPH! Paying attention to warning signs that your brakes need servicing could mean the difference between life and death. If you hear a squeak, squeal, feel a vibration in the pedal, notice that the car is pulling to one side while braking or even practically hitting the floor with the pedal to stop—it’s time to have your brakes serviced.

If you’re experiencing any of these problems, your brake pads are extremely worn and need to be replaced immediately. If you haven’t noticed any of these issues, but think that your brakes aren’t performing well, do a visual inspection. Inspecting your brake pads is fairly easy. Just view the pads from the outside of the front tire. Sometimes you may need to remove the tire to check the wear, especially if your pads are particularly worn. The outside pad will be looking right at you. If the depth of your brake pad is less than 1/4 inch, it’s time to replace them. If it’s less than 1/8 inch, go to the parts shop immediately! You are dangerously close to damaging your rotors at this point. If you’ve gotten to the point where you hear the squeal, you’ve already begun damaging your rotors. This can cause further braking issues. Have you ever driven a car that just stopped abruptly when you depressed the brake? This is due to damaged rotors. Damaged rotors can also cause the vibrating or pulsating in the brake pedal or even the steering wheel. If you continue to drive on worn out brake pads, your rotors can be irreparably damaged and even warped! Which can cause you plenty more than just a couple of new brake pads.