Signs Your Vehicles Brakes May Need Replacing

Safety First Brake Check


Signs your vehicles brakes may need service:

  1. Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
  2. Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
  3. Low Pedal:brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
  4. Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
  5. Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
  6. Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
  7. Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle and they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.

Source: Car Care Aware


When Your Wiper Blades Need Replacement

How Often Should Wiper Blades Be Replaced?

 Wiper blades should be replaced every six months to a year or as soon as you notice a difference in driving visibility. When wiper blades no longer make proper contact with the windshield surface, they can begin to squeak, chatter, skip, smear or streak reducing driving visibility.

The life of the wiper blades depends on the materials from which they are made, how much exposure they get from the sun and outside temperatures (extreme heat or cold), how often they are used, and how much road splash and dirt ends up on the glass. Road splash can be very abrasive when it contains hard particles of dirt, sand or gravel dust. As the blades lose their sharp edges, they can’t wipe as cleanly and may streak or smear.


Many blades are made of natural rubber because it provides one of the best wiping surfaces. But it doesn’t hold up to the environment as well as other synthetic materials. And regardless of what the blades are made of, eventually they wear out and must be replaced.

Changing a set of wiper blades is fairly simple on most vehicles — once you’ve had some experience with the various blade mounting systems. There are a number of different mounting systems, and if you have never replaced a set of blades or haven’t encountered a particular type of mounting system before, removing the blades can be a confusing and intimidating experience.

That’s why many motorists put off changing the blades even when they know the blades are bad and need to be replaced. If they put it off long enough, the rubber will eventually tear away. And if the vehicle has metal blade holders, the holders may end up carving permanent scratches in the windshield.

Wiper blades should never be allowed to deteriorate to the point where they are literally falling apart. It’s dangerous because it limits wet weather visibility, and it may result in expensive damage to the glass. A windshield typically costs about $400 to $500 to replace, but a set of wiper blades may cost $10 to $30 a pair to replace.

Source: Rain-x, Tomorrows Technician

Tire Rotation Intervals and Importance

When is Your Vehicle Due For A Tire Rotation?

Tires should be serviced periodically following the rotation patterns provided in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or as established by the industry. Using tire rotation as a preventative maintenance will equalize front-to-rear and side-to-side wear rates while enhancing wear quality and pattern noise. Any minor 1/32″ to 2/32″ differences in front-to-rear tread depth between tires that might be encountered immediately after periodic tire rotations at 3,000-5,000 mile intervals won’t upset the vehicle’s hydroplaning balance and should not preclude rotating tires. For that matter, any differences in wear rates actually indicate that tire rotations should be done more frequently.

“When done at the recommended times, [tire rotation] can preserve balanced handling and traction and even out tire wear. Tire rotation can even provide performance advantages.”

Tire rotation can be beneficial in several ways. When done at the recommended times, it can preserve balanced handling and traction and even out tire wear. Tire rotation can even provide performance advantages.


Many tire mileage warranties require tire rotation to keep the warranty valid. When should tires be rotated? We recommend that tires be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles even if they don’t show signs of wear. Tire rotation can often be done with oil change intervals while the vehicle is off the ground. This can also be a good time to have your tires rebalanced if the vehicle has developed a vibration. It’s also a good time to inspect the tires for any damage, remove stones or debris from the tire treads, check for uneven wear by checking the tire tread depth and of course, checking your tire pressure.

Tire rotation helps even out tire wear by allowing each tire to serve in as many of the vehicle’s wheel positions as possible. Remember, tire rotation can’t correct wear problems due to worn mechanical parts or incorrect inflation pressures.

While vehicles are typically equipped with four tires, usually the tires on the front axle need to accomplish very different tasks than the tires on the rear axle. The tasks encountered on a front-wheel drive vehicle are considerably different than those of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Tire wear experienced on a performance vehicle will usually be more severe than that of a family sedan. Each wheel position can cause different wear rates and different types of tire wear.

It is an advantage when all four tires wear together because as wear reduces a tire’s tread depth, it allows all four tires to respond to the driver’s input more quickly, maintains the handling and helps increase the tire’s cornering traction.

When your tires wear out together, you can get a new set of tires without being forced to buy pairs. If you replace tires in sets of four, you will maintain the original handling balance. In addition, our suppliers constantly introduce new tires, each of which improves upon their past product’s performance. If you replace your tires in sets of four, it allows you to experience today’s technology, instead of being forced to match yesterday’s.

National Car Care Month


Why April?

In April, as winter comes to an end, it is time to get your car ready for spring driving and summer road trips! National Car Care Month reminds you to take care of any issues that may have occurred or been ignored during winter.

Spring driving brings its own hazard such as slick, wet roads. It is important to make sure you tires, brakes and windshield wiper are ready for the rain. Spring also means allergy season.

Many vehicles were neglected during the recent winter months, and could use a little extra care by now. The Car Care Council recommends setting aside a little time during National Car Care Month in April to get your vehicle ready for the spring and summer driving season.

“Your car has gotten you through one of the worst winters in recent memory, working overtime in harsh conditions, but the extreme cold, potholes and road salt have taken a toll,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Since most Americans rely on their vehicles nearly every day to get to work, school and everywhere in between, taking a little time for car care now can save headaches and money in the long run.”

The non-profit Car Care Council recommends that motorists follow three simple steps during National Car Care Month in April.

  • Keep your vehicle clean. Regular car washes and waxes protect the paint and body of your car from corrosive debris. In parts of the country where salt is used on the roads, regularly washing is especially important.
  • Keep your car on schedule. Every vehicle has a manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule. Whether you choose to do your own maintenance or patronize a local repair shop, following a routine service schedule is essential to keeping your car in safe and dependable working order.
  • Keep an eye on the little things. Your windshield wipers aren’t cleaning as well as they should? Your gas tank is missing its cap? There’s a warning light on your dashboard?  When you see your car needs attention, don’t delay. Repairing small things now can help avoid more costly problems down the road, and add years of useful vehicle life.

Source: Car Care Council

Understanding The Cost of Your Vehicle Repairs

Why Does My Car Cost So Much?

Understanding What Goes Into An Estimate

People ask all the time how the price of an auto repair is determined, usually phrased something like, “Why does my car repair cost so much?” This is a question worth asking, especially if you’ve been given a repair quote that runs into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

There are three main criteria used in pricing any given auto repair. The first is the labor rate, or what the shop charges for the time and expertise that goes into repairing your vehicle. The second is for the parts themselves, and whatever other shop support materials are used in the process of the repair. The third area to consider are the fixed costs or overhead that the repair shop has to cover, but that doesn’t get reflected on your bill.

Understanding Labor ChargesWork order

When you see a line item for “labor” on your repair estimate or bill, there are two factors that go into it. The first is the shop’s own per-hour labor rate. The second is “book time.”

A shop’s labor rate is the hourly rate it charges for work. The term “book time” refers to the average amount of time it takes to perform a particular automotive repair or maintenance job. This is a number that’s set based on how long it takes a factory mechanic (or “technician,” as is the common industry parlance) to do the job, but with a modifier applied in order to establish a more realistic time that a less trained technician might take. It’s the automotive tech’s responsibility to complete the job within that “book time” window, though sometimes repairs take longer or can be performed quicker.

Shop labor rates vary with the geographic area of the country and are competitive within a particular area. Labor rates typically run $100-$170 per hour nationwide.

A shop that specializes in a particular area usually charges higher labor rates for their service than a general service shop. While a specialist may charge more, this type of shop can often wind up being cheaper in the long run. A specialist is more likely to diagnose and repair a problem in laser-like fashion, fixing the vehicle in less time and using fewer new parts. Shops unfamiliar with a type of problem can end up muddling around, wasting the customer’s money on unnecessary parts and long hours of labor just trying to find a solution.

Parts And Supplies

Yes, auto repair shops mark up the price of parts. These guys have to make a profit to stay in business, so typically they will tack on about 30 percent. Keep in mind that this markup also means that reputable shops can provide a warranty for their repairs.

The type of parts used for auto repair directly affects the bottom-line price. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts tend to be the highest priced, followed by aftermarket parts. There are typically two to three tiers of aftermarket parts. Different tiers are defined by quality. I use the top of the line aftermarket parts to raise the chance of a longer lasting, effective auto repair.

Finally, used parts also vary in price depending on the mileage and/or demand of the part. A used part can render an effective repair, depending on its condition.

“Shop support” can be defined as any products or services used to complete the repair. During the course of any auto repair certain stuff gets used, supplies like brake cleaning solution, shop rags, and replacement fluids. There are other ancillary services that you might encounter, like recycling and disposal fees for oil and other fluids. Costs of this nature are often passed onto the consumer.

Keeping The Lights On

What’s not often passed onto the consumer are the costs of running a shop, which in this modern age, can be pricey. Regardless of size, a shop has expenses that have to be paid by the work generated. There are the obvious ones, like the rent, electricity, heat and other utilities.

But there are also substantial costs for equipment and technology. In order to work on today’s cars a shop must have state-of-the-art scanners, diagnostic software, and lab scopes to analyze vehicular datastreams in an effort to extract critical information for accurate vehicle repair. Without such info, techs cannot deliver accurate repairs. Other equipment such as vehicle lifts, floor jacks, lubrication equipment and the likes are necessary to operate a shop efficiently and effectively.

Good trained service personnel costs money, period. Usually techs are classified as “A”, “B”, or “C” techs, and the more high-grade techs in a shop, the more it costs to pay them. In order to attract a high-grade technician these days, shops have to pay a good hourly rate or weekly salary. In addition, health insurance and other benefits such as a company car often go into the package to attract the class “A” technician.

These technicians have to go to school on a regular basis to keep up with new automotive technology. Without this training, techs cannot repair vehicles in the “book time” allotted for a particular service operation. (Not to mention the occasional “headache” job that comes along that every tech in town has had his/her hands on without success.) A repair shop usually pays for this training.

Many shops carry their own parts inventory. Given the number of different years, makes, and models of vehicles on the road, this inventory must be broad. Sitting on this inventory is not cheap.

As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into auto repair pricing than parts and labor.

Source- Autoblog

Spring Vehicle Maintenance

From potholes and road salt to ice and snow, winter weather puts stress on cars. Check out these spring auto maintenance tips.

Winter can be brutal on your car. In many areas of the country, drivers face snow storms, below-zero temperatures and pot holes – conditions not conducive for healthy cars.

Technicians say spring is a good time to wash away the winter sludge and tune up your ride.


Here are five spring car maintenance tips to keep in mind:

5 Car Maintenance Tips for Cold Weather

Maintain your car’s performance during the transition from warm weather to cold weather with some basic maintenance.

  1. Remove leftover salt

Salt, used on roads to melt ice and snow, can cause serious damage to cars, especially their undercarriages where metal can rust. Take your car to a highly rated car wash to eliminate salt, and check that the business has sprayers that clean the undercarriage.

  1. Check alignment and suspension

Driving over potholes can damage your car’s alignment and suspension. You might have a problem if you notice that the car pulls to one side or the steering wheel vibrates as you drive. An alignment check typically costs $30 to $50.


  1. Change oil and check fluids

If your last oil change was before winter, then this is a great time to do it, spring is also an ideal time to flush your transmission fluid. It’s one of the most neglected services. It’s a very costly repair – between $2,200 and $5,200 – if you have to rebuild or repair (a transmission).”

Mechanics recommend changing your car’s oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Don’t forget to check window washing fluid levels, as well as your brake and cooling system fluids.

  1. Rotate tires and check air pressure

You should check the tire pressure, including the spare should you ever need it. You car’s tires affect the ride, handling, traction and safety.

Mechanics recommend tire rotation every 5,000 miles to keep tread wear even.

One of the biggest issues we see is the front tires wearing out prematurely. That can lead to handling issues. Tires aren’t cheap. They can go from $500-$600 for four new ones.

  1. Inspect brakes

Nothing, perhaps, is more important than having brakes that function properly. Have a technician check the pads and rotors to ensure there are no safety issues. Neglecting them can lead to a costlier repair down the line.

Source: Angie’s List

Photo: Embracinghomemaker

Your Car’s Suspension

Why Is Your Car’s Suspension So Important?

Your car’s suspension system is responsible for smoothing out the ride and keeping the car in control. Specifically, the suspension system maximizes the friction between the tires and the road to provide steering stability and good handling. The suspension system also provides comfort for passengers to limiting the impact of particular road conditions to not only the car, but the passengers riding inside.


The suspension system is made up of several components, including the chassis, which holds the cab of the car. The springs support the vehicle weight and absorb and reduce excess energy from road shocks, along with the shock absorbers and struts. Finally, the anti-sway bar shifts the movement of the wheels and stabilizes the car.

Your car’s suspension system must be in good condition. Worn suspension components may reduce the stability of the vehicle and reduce driver control, as well as accelerate wear on other suspension system components. Replacing worn or inadequate shocks and struts will help maintain good ride control, as they:

  • Control spring and suspension movement
  • Provide consistent handling and braking
  • Prevent premature tire wear
  • Help keep the tires in contact with the road
  • Maintain dynamic wheel alignment
  • Control vehicle bounce, roll, sway, drive, and acceleration squat
  • Reduce wear on other vehicle systems
  • Promote even and balanced tire and brake wear

To keep your car’s suspension system in optimal shape, bring your car to Maplewood Auto Service.


Source: Burke Center

Wheel Alignment: What is it? And It’s Importance.

Importance of Wheel Alignment

A lot of things go into maintaining your vehicle so it performs safely and at its best. Proper wheel alignment is one thing that plays an important role. Wheel alignment affects fuel efficiency, tire wear, tire performance, vehicle handling and maneuverability. Wheel alignment is a big factor in a vehicle’s steering response. This leads many to the most frequently asked question about tire alignment, “When should I get an alignment?” There is no absolute answer to the question since all vehicles have different service requirements. A service technician at your local dealership will be able to do a quick test to determine if alignment if necessary. He or she can also give you advice about how often you need to have alignments done.

What Is Wheel Alignment?

Vehicles rely on precision in order to function safely. Tires and wheels can easily become misaligned due to anything from road conditions and driving habits to hitting a big bump or getting into a minor accident. Most often, the front wheels are more susceptible to losing proper alignment, though rear wheels can also experience issues with displacement and proper alignment in many of today’s vehicles.


The process of alignment varies depending on the vehicle. Passenger cars with a modern four wheel suspension receive a different alignment process when compared to a wishbone suspension, or the wheels and tires on a 24 foot box truck that is used to haul heavy loads. That’s why tire alignment is something that should be performed by service technicians. These technicians are certified possess the expertise and equipment necessary to properly align tires to the exact specifications of specific vehicle makes and models.

The Importance of Wheel Alignment

When tires and wheels are out of alignment, a number of problems can develop within a vehicle’s various systems. When alignment is really bad, it’s easy to tell as you drive. The vehicle will pull one way or the other. In other words, if you let go of the steering wheel and the vehicle immediately steers to the left or right, there’s a good chance that there’s an issue with your wheel alignment. Misalignment may also cause vibration that you’ll feel especially in the steering wheel.

SImply put, proper wheel alignments allow for safer driving. Wheel alignment will also extend the life of your tires. Incorrectly aligned wheels are one of the main causes for uneven wear on a tire. Uneven tread wear will decrease the safe driving life of a tire, or in a worst case scenario may damage a tire beyond repair, requiring premature replacement.

Getting a Wheel Alignment

Known as everything from an alignment job to wheel alignment or tire alignment, this service is one that must be performed by a professional technician. Because wheels and tires being a part of the intricate suspension system, it’s helpful to rely on a specialist at a credible automotive shop. These technicians are trained and certified to service your vehicle. They’re qualified to install tires and wheels, repair them, and perform alignment tests and four-wheel alignments.

It’s recommended to have a tire alignment any time you have a new set of tires installed on your vehicle.  Your automaker recommends regular alignments according to your automaker’s specifications for your particular model. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for more information about your service schedule or contact your local auto dealership.  Automaker-certified service professionals can quickly test to see if there are wear patterns that suggest an alignment issue. They can also perform more in-depth diagnostic tests to ensure that your wheel alignment-and the rest of your vehicle-meets all safety and performance specifications.

Source: Right Turn

Preparing for “POTHOLE SEASON”

Pothole Season is coming! Keep an eye out and be prepared!

As winter’s icy grip refuses to let go of much of the United States, many motorists begin to hope for the inevitable spring warming   – they first need to prepare for the annual onslaught of “Pothole Season.”


The Rubber Manufacturers Association, the national trade association for tire manufacturers producing tires in the U.S., is urging motorists to be extra careful to avoid potholes that can ruin tires, rims and wrench a vehicle out of alignment.

“Potholes are an unfortunate consequence of the freezing and thawing cycle occurring in late winter and early spring,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president, public affairs. “Over the next several weeks, motorists need to be watchful for these lurking road hazards that frequently cause tire disablements and other vehicle damage.”

Potholes can puncture a tire and cause immediate disablement.  Sometimes, pothole damage may not be apparent at first until a motorist notices noise or vibration that indicates internal damage.

“If you notice a change in your vehicle’s performance after hitting a pothole, have it inspected immediately,” Zielinski said. “Hitting a pothole can cause internal tire damage causing a vibration or unusual road noise.  Or, if you notice your car pulling to one side after hitting a pothole, it may indicate an alignment issue.  Failure to address faulty alignment could cause uneven and premature tire wear.”

Potholes are caused by the expansion and contraction of ground water after the water has entered the ground under the pavement.  When the water freezes, it t expands – taking up more space under the pavement.  The pavement will weaken as it expands, bends, and cracks under the weight of cars and trucks passing over the weak spot in the road,  Eventually, pieces of the roadway material weakens, which  causes the material to be displaced or broken down – creating the pothole.

Source: Rubber Manufacturers Association

Signs Your Vehicle is Due For a Transmission Flush

5 Signs That Your Car Needs a Transmission Flush

The 5 signs include:

1) Strange noises or even grinding coming from the transmission, 2) You experience problems shifting gears, 3) You experience some slippage when shifting gears, 4) Unexplained surging of you vehicle, and 5) Delay in movement after placing the vehicle in gear. Check your manufactures vehicle recommendations for when service is needed.

In most cases, getting a transmission flush every 30,000 miles, or every two years or so is sufficient. However, there may be times when you need to get a transmission flush sooner, in order to help protect your car’s transmission. There are some common signs that you need to perform a transmission flush on your car or truck.


Transmission Grinding or Strange Noises
A vehicle transmission that is contaminated with dirt, grease and sludge can display symptoms very similar to inadequate levels of transmission fluid. When driving your vehicle, if you notice your transmission grinding or making strange sounds, you should stop the vehicle and check the transmission fluid level while the engine is still running. Insure that the transmission fluid color is bright red and not brown or black because of grime or sludge. If the fluid level of the transmission is acceptable, your vehicle probably needs a transmission flush.

Problems Shifting Gears
Regardless if you drive an automatic or manual, your car requires clean transmission fluid that flows easily throughout your car’s transmission. A transmission that contains too much dirt or sludge will cause sluggish response in the transmission which will result in your vehicle changing gears too quickly or too late while driving. In manual transmission vehicles, you may find it very hard to change gears at all.

Slipping Gears
A dirty transmission may cause a lack of hydraulic power, much the same as not having enough transmission fluid will cause. In order to stay in the appropriate gear, the transmission must develop enough pressure. When a transmission is too dirty, contaminants may interfere with the flow of transmission fluid that helps with this. If you’re transmission has no other problems, and the fluid level of the transmission is full (or close to it), the problem is probably restricted fluid flow due to a buildup of dirt and contaminants that need to be flushed out.

Surging of the Vehicle
When your vehicle’s transmission is polluted with a lot of dirt and contaminants, and needs a transmission flush, you may notice unexplainable surging of your vehicle. Because your car’s dirty transmission does not allow for adequate transmission fluid flow, your vehicle may tend to jump or surge forward and fall backwards for no good reason. This is caused by inconsistent flow of clean transmission fluid that is needed to ensure smooth operation of the gears and other moving parts inside the transmission bell housing.

Delay in Vehicle Movement
Another sign that your vehicle may have contaminated transmission fluid is when the vehicle stalls for one or two seconds before moving after having been put in gear. If there are no other problems with the transmission, a transmission flush may help.

You should be aware that if the vehicle is displaying these symptoms, your dirty transmission may have already caused bigger problems.

Source: Cars Direct