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.

hazardous conditions

Drive Safely in Hazardous Conditions

Driving in hazardous conditions does not require Nascar-grade driving skills. There is no class to train you to drive better in the fog, snow, rain or sleet. The only requirement in to be aware of hazardous driving conditions and adjust yourself accordingly. Plus, be aware that other drivers will most likely not adjust properly to the poor conditions and continue as if everything were a beautiful sunny day. Slow down, don’t follow other vehicles closely and know that the vehicles around you are more than likely going to do something completely unsuitable for hazardous driving conditions.

Rainfall is very dangerous for driving. However, most drivers don’t take it as seriously as they should. It is incredibly easy to hydroplane. It doesn’t take much at all—even with good tires you can hydroplane. It occurs when you drive too fast on rain-covered roads. It can also occur when your tires are worn down, even just a little. If a puddle is deep enough to fill in the grooves of your tires you can hydroplane. If you notice that your car is now surfing on the road, slow down. Your tires will regain traction. With anti-lock brakes, braking lightly is safe to do.

Driving in sleet, snow or ice is highly precarious. Each storm presents differently, so it’s even more difficult to drive in than rain. Furthermore, as more cars drive over the snow-covered roads, the conditions change. Just be aware of a few things when driving in the sleet, snow or ice:

• Bridges will freeze
• Change lanes only when necessary
• Stay in the far right lane
• Drive through the tire tracks of the vehicle in front of you
• Test your brakes when you first begin driving to gauge necessary reaction times
• Black ice: It’s nearly impossible to see, and incredibly dangerous. All you can do is take your foot off the brake and hope your vehicle stays straight.

Fog is also a hazardous driving condition. If thick enough, you won’t be able to see even 10 feet in front of you. It’s best to just avoid driving in fog altogether. But if you absolutely have to, treat it like any other hazardous condition and drive slowly. Do yourself a favor and turn off the radio, too. You’re going to need your ears to indicate what’s going on around you. The only other precaution is to turn on your fog lights. High beams will further obscure your vision. The fog just refracts the bright light and reduces the distance that you can see clearly. If you’re preparing to brake, tap them first to alert the driver behind you. And as with snow, stay in the far right lane. The less lane changes you have to make the better. Plan out your turns ahead of time and give yourself and other vehicles plenty of notice.

In conclusion, the best practice is to drive slowly and increase your following distance. Some accidents are unavoidable especially in hazardous conditions. Recognize less than optimal driving conditions, and adjust accordingly.

Black Smoke Coming from my Tailpipe

black smoke

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:
-carburetor flooding
-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.

Keep Your Car Running Forever

keep your car running

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?

Summer Car Care Tips

car care

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.

2. Belts

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%.

6. Tires

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!

Air Filter

A Dirty Air Filter Can Trigger Your Check Engine Light

Who thinks about changing their air filters? Let’s admit it. No one does. You head to your local auto parts store for a new windshield wiper, and they always ask. Would you like to purchase a new air filter today? You inevitably decline. But, if you stop to think about it—when was the last time you changed your air filter? Probably never! It seems like such an inconsequential part—like something that they just try to get you to bundle with your much-needed purchase to get more money out of you. Switching out your filter regularly can’t really do that much for your vehicle’s performance… can it?

The truth is, your air filter is vital to your vehicle’s performance. You car or truck needs an exact mixture of air and fuel to run efficiently. This is how your vehicle maintains the combustion process, which powers your engine. Your air filter acts as a barrier that protects your engine from dirt and other particles. If you’re skeptical, check your grill and your front license plate after driving a long distance in warm weather. It’ll inevitably be covered in leaves, sap, bugs and other grime. All of these things can make its way into your engine bay—even water. If these bug guts, water and other grime can make it passed your air intake, it can cause corrosion or abrasion in your engine. Two things that you definitely don’t want to happen! Your air filter catches all of these contaminants before they can reach your engine. However, when your filter gets clogged, these particles can pass right through and cause your engine to work harder. A clogged air filter will actually starve your engine of air, which it needs to execute the combustion process. In theory, a totally clogged air filter can cause your engine to stop running.

More than likely, a dirty filter will just reduce your engine’s performance. It can lead to decreased MPG, reduction in power and even permanent damage to your engine. You may think that permanent damage is a pretty severe side effect for such an inconsequential part. However, it is a realistic outcome. These contaminants can wear on your engine’s metal and produce even more debris. If the debris accumulates enough, it can get sucked into the combustion chamber and cause your engine to completely shut down.

Even if it hasn’t gotten that far, a dirty filter can seriously affect the performance of your vehicle. When your air filter is blocked, the oxygen in your fuel mixture decreases and clean air can’t mix with the fuel. The mixture will become too fuel-rich and lower your gas mileage. This can put unnecessary stress on your engine. You may even notice that your vehicle is running a little rough. Your check engine light may even turn on. Don’t ignore these warning signs. Some parts on your vehicle, you can procrastinate on replacing. For instance, certain worn out floor mats or that cheesy piña colada air freshener. However, your air filter is not one of them. It’s a simple, but vital part and they’re cheap and easy to replace. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see how often you should replace it. Or, have your favorite auto technician check the state of your air filter at your next tune up.

Wheel Alignment

best used cars

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.