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How to Learn Basic Car Maintenance

basic car maintenance
admin 2021-01-10

Did you know there’s some basic car maintenance that you can DIY without having to go to an auto repair shop? Understandably, there are going to be some regularly scheduled visits for your make and model, but other things you’ll probably be able to handle on your own. You can stay ahead of the game and do these basic tasks yourself. Here are some great things to learn to ensure reliable auto performance.

Check Your Tire Pressure

A trip to the gas station used to be a good place for checking your tire pressure. These days, it’s easier to do at home. There are even handy air pumps that you can store in your trunk. They work by using the cigarette lighter plug-in. This option is more convenient. You don’t even need to leave the comfort of your driveway. One of the items you’ll want to have handy is a pressure gauge. They’re small enough to leave in a glove box. This tool tells you how much pressure you need and how much your current tire pressure is. It’s important to stay within range for safety reasons, and also to extend the life of your tires. After all, they’re a big investment.

Inspect the Battery

Car batteries are more advanced than they were decades ago, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go bad. It’s a good idea to check your battery from time to time. Look for corrosion that can form at the connectors. Also, examine the condition of your battery to see if there’s anything abnormal. Is your car slow to start? When you inspect the battery, notice if there’s an odd smell. Another sign of trouble is a bulging battery case.

Related Content: Your Car’s Year in Retrospect: Did You Do Your Annual Maintenance?

Refill the Coolant Levels

A radiator works hard to keep your engine from overheating, so it pays to keep an eye on its coolant levels. Learn more about the best coolant for your model. An auto shop can help you make this decision, but it’s still good to do your own research. Using the wrong coolant can be bad for your vehicle, so only use what’s suggested by the manufacturer.

Check the Oil

Popping the hood can tell you what you need to know about the oil level in your car and if it needs to be changed. If you aren’t familiar with checking the oil level, the owner’s manual will explain more about this basic car maintenance task. There are also great YouTube tutorials on how to check your car’s oil level. It’s pretty simple once you understand the steps. The most important issue is keeping the correct oil levels topped off. Learn to identify which oil brand is meant for your make and model.

Related Content: Easy Ways to Maintain Your Car During the Pandemic

Listen For New Sounds

You already know how your car is supposed to sound because you drive it all the time, but listen for any little changes. New sounds can indicate a serious problem is forming. Issues like shaking or vibration are no laughing matter. If there’s a sound that you’re not familiar with, it’s one more sign to call for an appointment. Even little humming or knocking sounds shouldn’t be disregarded. Trust your ears and senses for any changes that happen. It indicates that your car needs more than basic car maintenance.

Beyond Basic Car Maintenance

When you need a local auto shop, call us at Lafayette German Car Repair (925) 284-3390. You can also view our current specials by clicking here. We want to save you money!

How to Clean Foggy Headlights

Foggy Headlights
admin 2020-01-15

Foggy headlights are not only a safety hazard on dark roads, but they also make your car look worn out. Luckily, the solution is usually pretty simple. This quick guide walks you through the DIY steps to restoring your car’s shine.

What Causes Foggy Headlights?

The lenses in car headlights used to be made of glass, but today they’re mostly comprised of a thick plastic. This means they’re more durable, but UV rays from the sun eventually degrade the outer layers of plastic, giving foggy headlights that yellowy, opaque look.

What You’ll Need

Auto supply stores sell headlight restoration kits, which provide a bottled cure for foggy headlights. But there are also home remedies that you can use in a pinch. Plus, most people already have these supplies just lying around.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Old towels
  • Toothpaste
  • Disposable gloves
  • Masking Tape
  • Water

Once you’ve gathered supplies, follow these simple steps:

  1. Rinse headlights and pat them dry.
  2. Protect the paint and plastic around your headlights with masking tape.
  3. Put on latex gloves, if you chose to wear them. Scrub foggy headlights with a dab of toothpaste and a little water, using a clean cloth, or soft-bristled brush.
  4. Rinse both headlights, and allow time for them to air dry. If you have it at hand, it’s all right to apply a small amount of car wax to protect your clean headlights.

Overall, this quick tip is a simple process that should only take about ten minutes, and next time you’re out for an evening drive, you’ll definitely notice better visibility.

If you have any further questions about headlight maintenance or replacement options, please contact us at our shop. We can be reached at (925) 284-3390.

How to Make Your Tires Last Longer

make your tires last longer
admin 2019-12-19

New car tires aren’t cheap, but they’re vital to your safety. Before you hit the road, check out these maintenance tips to make your tires last longer.

  1. Rotate Tires
    Uneven tire wear is common, even with all-wheel drive vehicles. Tires last longer when they’re rotated. The general recommendation is every 4,000 miles. A technician can move them to a new position during a routine oil change. It’s not a bad idea to have this done prior to a long road trip.
  2. Tire Pressure
    Maintaining the correct air pressure is the simplest way to ensure tires last longer. Extreme weather can affect tire pressure. Regardless, they’ll lose at least a pound of pressure per square inch (PSI) every month. This matters because the wrong air pressure can increase wear and breaking times. Additionally, it makes a blowout more likely.
    You’ll also get fewer miles to the gallon if there isn’t enough air in your tires, so check once a month.
  3. Alignment
    You can be sure your alignment is off if your car pulls to one side or the other, or the steering wheel shakes. Sometimes neither of these signs will be present when the alignment is off, though. Little things can shift the alignment, like driving over a pothole, or bumping the curb, so a mechanic should adjust your car’s alignment every six months.
  4. Tread: The Penny Test
    It’s dangerous to drive on bald tires. Check for uneven wear or flat spots, as well as any cuts or cracks. You can use a tread depth gauge. There should be a 2/32 inch tread depth. If you don’t have a gauge, you can use a penny. Slide the coin into the tread upside down and facing you. If you see all of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.
  5. Balance Tires
    While you’re having your wheels rotated, you might as well get them balanced, too. Your mechanic uses a special machine to do this. Even new tires aren’t perfect. Regularly balancing them will promote even wear.

If you follow these five tips, your vehicle will be safer and handle better, and your tires will last longer. Just remember to keep track of maintenance so you can stay on schedule. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (925) 284-3390 or request an appointment.

Tips for Keeping Your Car in Storage

Car in Storage
admin 2019-11-16

Cars need to be driven on a regular basis or they begin to break down. Issues can range from ruined tires to rodents nesting under the hood. But fortunately, if you plan on placing your car in storage, there are some steps you can take to protect it. Follow these simple tips to secure your car while you’re away.

 

Disconnect the battery

The battery is one of the first things to go when a car is in storage for too long. If there’s no one to periodically start the car, it’s a good idea to just disconnect the battery because otherwise it can leak corrosive acid that damages the engine. In particular, older batteries lose a charge more quickly, but jumper cables can be used when you’re ready to drive your vehicle again.

Tires

Jack stands take weight off the tires, which will prevent flat spots from forming. Otherwise, as tires lose air pressure, the weight of the car can create permanent flat spots where tires meet with the ground. This happens more quickly in cold weather.

 

Change the oil

Change the oil before leaving your car in storage for longer than thirty days. Dirty engine oil can thicken, making it difficult to start a vehicle that’s been parked for weeks.

 

Use a car cover

A car cover is an easy precaution. Wash and wax your vehicle to remove any grime that might damage the paint then cover your car for added protection.

 

Top off the tank

A full tank of gas prevents rust from forming while your car is in storage. It will also keep the seals from drying out. A stabilizer can be added to preserve the fuel for up to several months.

Whether you’re traveling for an extended time, or have a spare vehicle that just isn’t suitable for winter roads, carefully planning to put your car in storage will save you time and money later on.

Mysterious Car Sounds What They Might Mean

car sounds, car noises, listening to your car
admin 2019-05-22

A fully operational and working machine is expected to produce some noise. The soft twirl of the motors or a soft hum of the engine should be enough to guarantee that the equipment is working properly. However, when you start hearing something out of the ordinary, it’s time to pay attention. There could be a number of reasons behind noises, and sometimes finding the cause can be difficult.

Following are some of the common vehicle noises that can spell trouble:

Whistling or Rumbling Exhaust Sounds

In most cars, the engine is located in the front but the exhaust of the engine travels the length of the car so noises can be created anywhere along that system through vibration or defect. The further back the sound is heard, the less serious the issue probably is. Apart from this, you might hear high-pitched or low-pitched whistling or rumbling sounds if it’s an exhaust issue. This could be caused by a crack or hole in the exhaust causing the exhaust to leak somewhere throughout the system.

Popping Engine Sounds

A popping sound coming from the tailpipe of your vehicle is a sign that there is something wrong with the engine. It could mean a clogged catalytic converter, a bad power circuit or accelerator pump in your carburetor, bad spark wires, worn or dirty spark plugs, water in your gasoline, a clogged fuel filter, an ignition problem, or a dirty air filter. Similarly, if there is a rattling noise when sitting at a stoplight or stop sign that sounds like a box of rocks shaking, then it could mean that your catalytic converter is bad. A popping sound that comes from the engine or under the hood could mean that a sensor might not be working properly or your car could benefit from a tune-up.

Braking Noises

You will usually hear squeaking, squealing, or screeching noises when you have brake issues. And if there’s a clunking noise, it could indicate a problem with a worn steering system; brake hardware is missing or damaged or the disc brake caliper is mounted improperly. A squealing noise when braking could be various things; brake pads that have overheated and are now glazed, brake pads and/or shoes that are worn, dirt on the brake, disc brake calipers that have come loose, and more.

Pinging or Knocking Sounds

You may hear knocking or pinging. Although rare, it happens, and this generally means a problem with your fuel or ignition system. It could simply mean that your engine needs a tune-up or the fuel in your gas tank could contain water.

Gurgling Noises

Gurgling noises are one of the stranger sounds when it comes to vehicles. Most of the time, you’ll hear this because your cooling system is not doing its job. Boiling coolant can be heard from the hoses as well as the coolant reservoir. In this case, let your engine cool and check the reservoir level to see if you need to add coolant.

 

Mysterious sounds are worth looking into. If your vehicle is doing anything alarming or suspicious, bring it into Lafayette German Car Repair. We’ll see to it you get back on the road safely.