Don’t Skip important Coolant Flushes and Services

Coolant Fluid

If your engine is the heart of your vehicle, then coolant is its bloodline. Engine coolant (or antifreeze) is typically a 50/50 mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water that absorbs engine heat and dissipates it through the radiator or heat exchanger (for your cabin heater in the colder days). Without a properly operating cooling system, your car can quickly overheat and do serious engine damage.

Water alone will cause damage

Though water is used in conjunction with coolant, water alone or an improper mix can still result in damage to your engine. Engine coolant carries rust inhibitors that prevent components in your cooling system from rusting, anti-freezing properties for cold climates to prevent cracking from freezing and expansion, and extra cooling proponents for hot conditions to avoid boil-over and evaporation over time. Coolant flows throughout your engine block, cylinder heads, water pump, radiator, thermostat and other cooling system components. Without the proper mixture of coolant, your engine can overheat, doing costly engine damage in the process and leaving you stranded on the side of the road

Cooling System/Coolant Maintenance

To ensure the longevity of your cooling system and trouble-free engine performance, regular preventative maintenance steps are recommended. Over time, the chemical properties that lend themselves to the cooling, anti-corrosive, and anti-cavitation aspects in coolant break down, diminishing the effectiveness. This leaves your cooling system and engine vulnerable to rusting and corrosion of components, overheating, or freezing and cracking in the colder months.

To ensure that your cooling system is protected, regular coolant services or coolant flushes are recommended. This service is best performed by certified technicians who will drain the existing coolant in the system, flush the radiator with a special machine that forces a pressurized chemical flush to clean corrosion and build-up, and refill the system with the proper type of coolant at the proper ratios, bleeding the system of air whenever necessary. Technicians will also inspect your coolant system components for leaks or other potential issues for early detection.

Source: Examiner

Photo Courtesy of Linear Automotive

Power Steering Fluid Flush Info and Importance

What Is This?



Power steering

In power rack-and-pinion steering, fluid pressurized by the pump pushes on either side of a piston mounted to the rack, helping you turn the wheels.

Simply put, power-steering fluid is the hydraulic fluid that transmits the power in power steering. Servicing it involves draining or flushing out your car’s old power-steering fluid and then adding fresh power steering fluid.

Should I do this service when it’s recommended?

Absolutely. The fluid is the cheapest component of your power-steering system. Changing it can help to prolong the life of other, more expensive power-steering components such as the power-steering pump and the stratospherically expensive power-steering rack.

Why do I have to do this?

Over time, the seals, O-rings and internal power-steering components will wear out. When they break apart, they contaminate the power-steering fluid, which forces the power-steering pump to work harder (having to pump little chunks instead of just fluid) and eventually break down.

What happens if I don’t do this?

You’ll eventually chew up your power-steering pump. It’ll have to be replaced at a cost of several hundred dollars, or you’ll have no power steering — and you can’t easily drive a car that’s equipped with power steering when the power-steering system fails. You also may damage the rack, which will require you to take out a small home-equity loan to replace.

Is there any maintenance required between intervals?

If you hear a whining or moaning noise when you turn the steering wheel, you should have your power-steering system checked. Your power-steering pump may be about to fail.

Also, if you notice a leak of any kind, you should definitely check your power-steering fluid level and make sure you keep it topped up. Running out of fluid will cook the pump, too.

Source: Car Talk

illustration by

Is brake flushing really necessary?

If you’re like most drivers, you don’t think about your brakes until they stop working (and hopefully you’re not careening down a mountain road when this happens). But, if you’re smart, you’ll take good care of your brakes. You’ll replace the pads and resurface the rotors as needed. Still, when your mechanic recommends that you get your brake system flushed, do you think you should you do it or save the cash?

Do it.

Brake Fluid

Braking systems aren’t indestructible. Parts, like the rubber in the valves in the master cylinder, calipers and wheel cylinders deteriorate. All the nasty little bits that flake off end up in your brake fluid. Plus, the fluid itself can get old and worn out. Moisture can also get in the system. That leads to rust, which leads to more nasty bits in your brake fluid. All this adds up to a brake system with compromised effectiveness and decreased stopping power.

Think of it this way: You wouldn’t skip changing your car’s engine oil, right? It’s the lifeblood of your engine, and when it gets contaminated by impurities, you put the entire engine at risk. It’s the same with brake fluid. Let it get dirty and you won’t be able to stop as well. So while it may not seem like a big deal when you’re standing at the service desk and the mechanic asks if you want him to flush your brakes, but when you’re careening down that mountain road, you’ll understand why it’s an important part of vehicle maintenance.

A good rule of thumb is to have your brakes flushed about every 30,000 miles (48,280 kilometers) or so. Note that brake flushing and bleeding the brakes are two different procedures. Brake flushing involves removing all the brake fluid from the system and getting all-new, clean fluid inside. Brake bleeding just means removing enough brake fluid to get air bubbles out of the brake lines. So, make sure you get your brakes flushed regularly.

And, if you ever notice your car or truck has decreased stopping power, have it inspected by a certified mechanic right away — even if you’re not planning a drive in the mountains.

Source: How Stuff Works

Signs Your Alternator is Not Performing Correctly

6 Symptoms of a Failing Alternator

If you experience flickering headlights, stalling or strange noises when driving, your car isn’t haunted; chances are it’s just a failing alternator. The alternator is a key component in your car’s electrical system, turning the energy from the crankshaft into useful electricity to power your vehicle’s electrical systems and to help the battery recharge. When it starts to fail, it can create a domino effect of electrical problems that can ultimately cause a breakdown.

How do you know when you have a failing alternator? Here are six symptoms to watch for.alternator

  1. The indicator light

It’s quite likely that your vehicle is equipped with a warning indicator light in the dashboard titled “ALT” or “GEN.” This is often the first indicator that the alternator is going bad. Don’t ignore this indicator, even if you are experiencing no other symptoms. Take the vehicle to a reliable automotive specialist for a diagnostic.

  1. Headlights are dim or flickering

Flickering or dim headlights are a strong signal that your alternator may not be working correctly. The alternator provides power to the headlights, so the flickering usually means the alternator is struggling to perform.

  1. Other electrical failures

When the alternator is going bad, other systems that are powered by the alternator may start to act up. These can include the power windows, power locks, dashboard lights, air conditioning, even your car radio. Other things might be causing these failures, but it’s worth taking it to a trusted auto repair service to have it checked out.

  1. Strange noises

This seems like a vague symptom–after all, lots of things can cause unusual noises in the car. However, sometimes alternator failure can cause some of the bearings to fail in the engine, creating unusual rattles. The alternator might be the culprit, especially if accompanied by some of the other symptoms we’ve mentioned.

  1. Car stalls or has difficulty starting.

Your car isn’t just running on gasoline; it also runs on electricity (even though it might not be one of those hybrid vehicles). The alternator provides power to the spark plugs that ignite the gasoline in your engine. When the alternator is failing, there might not be enough power in the spark plugs to keep the engine alive, which can cause it to stall for no reason while running, or to have trouble starting. Ignore this symptom, and your car eventually won’t start at all.

  1. Battery dies

Obviously, batteries sometimes fail on their own–but a bad alternator can actually cause the battery to drain because it’s failing to recharge it. If your battery goes dead, have the alternator checked when replacing the battery so it doesn’t happen again.

Source: Lloyd’s


Fuel Economy Tips in Colder Weather

Fuel Economy in Cold Weather

Cold weather and winter driving conditions can reduce your fuel economy significantly.

Fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional gasoline car’s gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can drop as much as 22% for very short trips (3 to 4 miles).

The effect on hybrids is worse. Their fuel economy can drop about 31% to 34% under these conditions.

Why is winter fuel economy lower?

Cold weather affects your vehicle in more ways than you might expect:

  • Engine and transmission friction increases in cold temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids.
  • It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This affects shorter trips more, since your car spends more of your trip at less-than-optimal temperatures.
  • Heated seats, window defrosters, and heater fans use additional power.
  • Warming up your vehicle before you start your trip lowers your fuel economy—idling gets 0 miles per gallon.
  • Colder air is denser, increasing aerodynamic drag on your vehicle, especially at highway speeds.
  • Tire pressure decreases in colder temperatures, increasing rolling resistance.
  • Winter grades of gasoline can have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends.
  • Battery performance decreases in cold weather, making it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged. This also affects the performance of the regenerative braking system on hybrids.

In severe winter weather, your mpg can drop even further.

  • Icy or snow-covered roads decrease your tires’ grip on the road, wasting energy.Snowdriving
  • Safe driving speeds on slick roads can be much lower than normal, further reducing fuel economy, especially at speeds below 30 to 40 mph.
  • Using four-wheel drive uses more fuel.

What can I do to improve my fuel economy in cold weather?

You may not be able to completely mitigate cold weather’s effect on your fuel economy, but you can do some simple things to help your gas mileage:

  • Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin.
  • Combine trips when possible so that you drive less often with a cold engine.
  • Minimize idling your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs, and reduce emissions.
  • Don’t use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly.
  • Use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving.
  • Remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, preheating the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle’s range.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, using the seat warmers instead of the cabin heater can save energy and extend range.


Tips for Driving in Snowy Weather


Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AAA reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather.

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
  • Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Always look and steer where you want to go.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for driving in the snow:Driving-in-Snow

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.



Tips for long-distance winter trips:

  • Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
  • Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by an Auto Repair facility.
  • Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
  • Pack a cellular telephone with your local towing company’s telephone number, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
  • If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
  • If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

Source: AAA

Four-wheel Drive Service Importance!

Four-wheel drive vehicles, sometimes called 4×4 or all-wheel drive, demand rugged performance, especially when used for off-roading and towing.

And components that have to work extra hard require periodic TLC. Take the transfer case, for example. It helps deliver power from the transmission to the wheels. In four-wheel drive, power from the engine is directed to both the front and rear axles. In all-wheel drive, it shifts power from one axle to the other, depending on conditions. Your transfer case requires lubrication, just like the engine and transmission. It has its own fluid, which should be checked and changed at regular intervals. This is even more important in four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles because if the fluid degrades enough, the vehicle might not be able to shift into four-wheel drive.4x4 snow

Similarly, the differential requires regular maintenance. This gear box is located between the drive wheels and allows them to turn at different speeds as the vehicle is taking turns. Over time, the properties of the lubricating fluid inside deteriorate, resulting in improper lubrication of the gears. At Auto Select, we’ll replace the old fluid with fresh fluid, which helps avoid excessive wear on the differential. This is key to saving yourself a costly differential or axle replacement.

The Battle Between Winter and All-Season Tires

Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires

“What is the difference between winter tires and all-season tires?” is one of the most common questions asked during the tire buying process. Before you head to the store, get the information you need on all-season tires or winter tires to make the right decision.


-WINTER TIRES (Right on Picture)

  • Winter tires can provide enhanced braking performance in snowy & icy conditions
  • These tires perform well in all types of winter conditions – snow, ice, sleet, slush, wet and even cold dry roads
  • Winter tires feature tread designs made specifically for ice, snow and other severe winter conditions
  • They have specially formulated tread rubber that stays flexible at low temperatures for better vehicle control
  • The aggressive tread on a winter tire reduces snow build up
  • Most drivers find that winter tires provide a sense of confidence and control in challenging winter weather conditions

-ALL SEASON TIRES (Left on Picture)

  • All-season tires are designed to help provide traction and grip in wet and snowy conditions
  • They are made to help provide stable handling and even tread-wear in both wet and dry conditions
  • Although all-season tires offer traction in a variety of different weather conditions, winter tires surpass them when it comes to traction in snow and ice

Source: Good Year

Getting Your Vehicle Winter Ready

Winter is approaching, cold temperatures make it harder for an engine to work properly. Snow and ice limit traction. Potholes damage wheels and tires. Salt causes rust and gravel pits the paint. But there are things you can do to help your vehicle in this time of duress. Following are some easy steps to properly prepare your car for winter. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.Cody-Subaru-Snow

  1. Consider using snow tires.
    The condition of your car’s tires is critical during the winter. If the tires are worn or if they are high-performance tires, braking, acceleration and handling all suffer on slippery roads. Because of reduced vehicle capabilities, the likelihood of a crash increases. All-season tires will work to a certain point, but their effectiveness depends on their tread depth.

If you have the cash, consider buying a set of winter tires. Winter tires are optimized for snow and ice. They aren’t magic — even with winter tires, your car will still perform worse on slick roads than dry ones. But winter tires provide more traction on slick surfaces than all-season tires.

  1. Check your tire pressure.
    Tire pressure is especially important during the winter, because traction is often at a minimum due to wet or snowy conditions. It’s critical to have properly inflated tires, which guarantees the best possible contact between the tire and the road. A properly inflated tire will also help protect against wheel damage that might occur as the vehicle drives over potholes. Read your owner’s manual to find the correct tire pressure.

In winter’s lower temperatures, the air pressure in a cold tire will drop. Since air is a gas, it contracts when it cools. Keep this in mind if you are checking tire pressure. Generally, for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit change in ambient temperature, your tire’s inflation pressure will change by about 1 psi (up with higher temperatures and down with lower temperatures).

  1. If you have a four-wheel-drive system, make sure it is working properly.
    A big selling point for SUVs is that many offer four-wheel drive, which improves traction in slippery conditions. But most people don’t use their 4WD systems during the summer. And while a 4WD system requires minimal maintenance, it’s still a good idea to check that it works properly before winter arrives.

Make sure the system engages and disengages smoothly, and that there are no strange noises emanating from the drivetrain when the system is in use. Check to make sure that the transmission and gear oil levels are correct.

If there are multiple drivers for your vehicle, make sure each of them knows how to operate the 4WD system. The owner’s manual will state at what speeds and in what environments the 4WD can be activated.

  1. Check to see if your engine requires lower-viscosity oil in the winter.
    This isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds. Viscosity simply refers to how thick or thin a fluid is. (Tar has a higher viscosity than orange juice, for example.) Engine oils are sold with different viscosity levels. When winter arrives, the outside temperature drops. The colder the oil is, the thicker it will be. A thicker oil doesn’t circulate as well in an engine during start-up as a thinner oil would. If the oil is too thick, the engine doesn’t get the proper lubrication.

To solve this wintertime problem, some engines require a change to a thinner oil. This may be more necessary on older vehicles, since many new cars already come with oil that’s thin enough to withstand the winter. Even when the thinner oil is cold, it is still not too thick for proper engine lubrication. Keep in mind that an oil can also be too thin.

It’s easy to determine what type of oil your car should have in winter. Simply read the owner’s manual. It will list the manufacturer’s oil recommendations for different climates. If a dealership or local garage performs the oil change, you can ask the manager what type and viscosity of oil he’ll put in your vehicle.

  1. Inspect the belts and hoses.
    Belts and hoses in modern cars lead long lives. But that doesn’t mean they don’t die. Cold temperatures can accelerate the demise of a belt or hose, so have them inspected before winter starts.
  2. Inspect the wipers and wiper fluid.
    Visibility is particularly key in winter, as it is often compromised by precipitation, salt build-up on the windshield and reduced daylight. The life expectancy of a wiper blade is one year. If your car’s blades are older, replace them. There are a number of aftermarket wiper blades that are made for winter use.

Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. You might consider adding wiper fluid that has been mixed with a de-icer. A harsh winter storm is the worst possible time for untreated wiper fluid to create ice on your windows or for you to discover your blades aren’t performing properly.

  1. Check the battery.
    Batteries give little notice before they die, and they absolutely love to expire at the worst possible moment. Very cold temperatures can reduce a vehicle’s battery power by up to 50 percent. If your vehicle battery is older than three years, have it tested at a certified automotive repair facility. Also, make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion. If the posts are corroded, you can clean them with baking soda, water and a small wire brush.
  2. Check antifreeze mixture.
    The ideal mixture of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot- and cold-weather performance can suffer.

If you were to put pure water in your vehicle’s radiator, it would freeze at 32 degrees F. But if you combine the water with an equal amount of antifreeze, the new mixture won’t freeze until   -34 degrees F. Most antifreeze you’ll find in stores already comes pre-mixed, which makes this process much easier.

You can check the composition of a radiator’s mixture by using an antifreeze tester, which is available at auto parts stores and is inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture is off, adjust it by adding more antifreeze.

  1. Carry an emergency kit in your car. Cody-Subaru-Snow2
    A roadside kit doesn’t take up much space and can prove invaluable in an emergency. Many companies sell preassembled kits, but if you want to save a few bucks, you may already have the key items around the house. Things you might want to consider carrying include:
  • A flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit.
  • Jumper cables, a tool kit and tire chains.
  • A blanket, warm clothes, hat and gloves.
  • Paper towels.
  • A bag of abrasive material, such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter. Use this for added traction when a tire is stuck.
  • A snow brush, ice scraper and snow shovel.
  • Extra washer fluid.
  • Extra food and water.
  1. Check the heater and windshield defroster.
    Winter will put your vehicle’s windshield defrosters to the test. It’s a good idea to check that they are in working order. While you’re at it, check the air-conditioner, too. An easy way to speed up the defrost process is to turn on the A/C. (You can leave the temperature dial on warm so you don’t have to suffer.) And now is also a good time to make sure your heating system works.

Source: Edmunds

Photo Courtesy of: Cody James Earl Appitz-Henn

Headlight Restoration Increases Driving Safety

With Less Daylight Ahead, Having Your Headlights Cleaned and Bulbs Checked Is A Must For Safety

An average of 9 out of every 10 cars on the road today has dirty or yellowed headlights that greatly reduce vision and need to be replaced, repaired or restored.

Most people do not know that not only do worn or cloudy headlights look bad, but they also reduce light output by as much as 95 percent. That is a huge difference in whether you can effectively see or be seen when driving at night.
Headlight fog
In a recent search on Google and Yahoo search engines, it was found that thousands of accidents were linked to ineffective light output due to worn and cloudy headlights. The majority of headlight lenses produced today are made of plastic and are very susceptible to road and weather conditions. Harsh UV rays in hot climates, chemicals from the engine and fumes, smog, etc. all take a toll on the plastic and cause it to breakdown from the outside in. The resulting cloudiness is like cancer and quickly gets worse. Soon reducing visibility and making your vehicle unsafe at night.

Accidents caused by reduced light output and bad or cloudy headlights tend to also be much more severe. According to the National Institute For Highway Safety:

Accidents at night due to a more limited visibility are usually of a more severe nature, but when equipped with ineffective headlights the chances for a more severe accident are far greater.

How do we repair or restore the headlights on our cars?

Clean the headlights or have them professionally restored and repaired. Dirty headlights can and will decrease visibility by as much as 90%.

Up until now the only solutions were to either replace the cloudy lenses with expensive OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts at your local dealer (headlights can easily cost over $300 each) or to just take the risk and drive with the bad headlights. Now there is an alternative, headlight restoration. You can restore these cloudy headlights to like new condition and be safe again. Restored headlights look new and have the same light output and safety of new headlights for a fraction of the cost. It is very effective in increasing night time.
So it is a proven fact that worn and cloudy headlights will have a great effect on night time driving and safety. Therefore, headlight restoration is an economic and very effective alternative to headlight replacement.


Source: Streetdirectory