Oil-change intervals vary by manufacturer and engines, so consult your owner’s manual or maintenance schedule to see how often to change the oil in your vehicle and what type of oil to use. You may be surprised. We were surprised to learn that a Camry’s 2.5-liter engine requires 0W-20 synthetic oil, for instance. Manufacturers suggest you change oil more often for “severe” driving conditions, such as frequent trailer towing, extensive stop-and-go driving or idling in traffic, driving in extreme heat or cold, or frequent short-distance driving in which the engine doesn’t reach full operating temperature.
How do I know when it’s time for an oil change?
Time and mileage intervals vary by vehicle manufacturer and whether an engine requires synthetic oil (which is meant to last longer). Use the guidelines in your owner’s manual, including whether most of your driving qualifies as happening in “severe” conditions, such as frequent short trips and stop-and-go driving. Under those conditions, you should change the oil more frequently.
How often should I replace my oil?
You should change the oil at least as often as is
Want cold air in the summer or clear windows in the winter? Then you’ll want a functioning air-conditioning compressor. It is the power unit of the air-conditioning system that puts the refrigerant under high pressure before it pumps it into the condenser, where it changes from a gas to a liquid.
Feeling warm? Don’t make assumptions. Not all air-conditioning problems are because the system is low on refrigerant. Some are caused by issues with system parts, such as the compressor.
How do I know it’s time to replace my air-conditioning compressor?
An air-conditioning compressor, usually driven by a serpentine accessory belt, sometimes squeals or squeaks before it breaks, but it also can stop working without any audible warning signs. In addition, a compressor can leak refrigerant, which will mean less cool air or none at all. A qualified mechanic is the best source for diagnosing if a compressor isn’t working as air-conditioning problems also can be caused by refrigerant leaks elsewhere in the system, by a slipping accessory belt or by corrosion in the air-conditioning evaporator. If there is a leak,
When your air conditioner blows only mildly cool air or no cool air at all, it’s probably low on refrigerant. That means it’s probably time for an air-conditioning recharge, but there’s more to it than just filling up. Because the refrigerant operates in a closed system, the most likely cause for low levels is a leak in the air-conditioning system. Most repair shops have a qualified technician inspect the system for obvious leaks in hoses, pipes or the air-conditioning compressor, and make repairs as necessary.
After inspecting the system, the technician extracts the remaining refrigerant into recycling equipment that removes any impurities, recharges the system by injecting the “clean” refrigerant back into the system, and top it off with fresh refrigerant as needed. EPA regulations forbid releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere, and specialized equipment is required to extract it. The technician then tests the system and runs an electronic leak test.
Can you save money by topping off the system with refrigerant? Possibly. Could you do it yourself? Yes, kits are available from automotive stores. But there are major issues
When you top off your motor oil, avoid spilling oil on your engine by wadding up a couple of paper towels around the oil receptacle on the crank-case. This will absorb drips and spills. Be sure to dispose of your empty oil container and the paper towels responsibly when finished adding oil.
In addition to basic tire changing equipment, keep a plastic tote filled with diesel repair Glendale AZ supplies in the trunk of your car in case of emergencies. Fill it with at least a quart each of motor oil, transmission fluid, steering fluid, and brake fluid and a gallon of water. Add a can of penetrating oil spray, a roll of duct tape, twine, bungee cords and basic tools so that you can manage minor repairs on the road.
If you feel pressured by the garage or dealership you visit to get your
Unlike the old days, when a pair of “snow tires” would be mounted to the drive wheels only for winter use, today we recognize that a vehicle should have four matching tires: same type, same model and, yes, even same degree of wear. The reason is simple: A car with four tires that behave the same — whether accelerating, braking or cornering — is balanced and predictable. If any of these factors are different at one or more wheels, traction characteristics can vary and performance will be unbalanced.
Tread depth is measured in 32nds of an inch, and most new tires typically have 10/32 to 12/32 (5/16 to 3/8) of an inch of tread. If a car’s other tires have lost only 2/32 or up to maybe 4/32 of their original tread depth, it’s probably OK to replace just the damaged tire.
There can be exceptions, though. Some manufacturers of all-wheel-drive vehicles recommend that all four tires be replaced, not just one or two, because a new tire will have a larger overall diameter than the other tires. The ones that have lost just a few 32nds of tread depth will spin faster than the new
If it’s cosmetic or superficial damage, such as from scraping a curb, the wheel is probably still round and has no bent sections or chunks of metal missing. On the other hand, if the wheel is bent, cracked or structurally weakened from hitting a massive pothole, running over a steep curb or some other mishap, it may need to be replaced, though it could possibly be repaired.
A dented wheel may not be able to maintain a seal with the tire bead, resulting in consistent slow leaks or blowouts, and will be difficult if not impossible to balance so that it doesn’t vibrate at speed. A wheel with structural damage could eventually break apart. When in doubt about the severity of damage, a mechanic experienced in assessing wheel damage should inspect the entire wheel with the tire removed.
Whether to repair or replace a damaged wheel is often a judgment call, but because it involves safety issues as well as cosmetic concerns, the best course is to err on the side of safety.
Repair services that promise to restore badly damaged wheels to like-new condition might be able to remove dents and bends and make
Oh, the pain of hearing one of your expensive alloy wheels scrape against a curb because you slightly misjudged a parking maneuver. But unless you scored a direct hit that damaged the wheel structurally, the “curb rash” you caused probably can be fixed and the wheel restored to a like-new appearance.
As aluminum alloy and all-aluminum wheels have become standard or available on most new vehicles, growing demand for repair of “curbed” wheels has resulted in shops and services that provide restoration services, some of which will come to you and do the work in your driveway. The cost can vary depending on the amount of damage, the type of metal used in the wheel and whether it’s painted and/or has a clear-coat finish, but it’s generally far less than the cost of buying a new or used wheel.
The process to repair a curbed wheel also can vary but typically involves removing all dirt, paint and protective finishes. The damaged area has to be sanded, patched with filler if needed, and sanded or buffed to a smooth finish. Then the damaged area has to be primed, painted to match the original finish and topped with
Your shift interlock feature, which requires you to step on the brake pedal to prevent unintentionally shifting out of Park, could be malfunctioning. Alternatively, the shift cable or linkage connected to the shift lever could be gummed up with grease or corroded so that it can’t operate freely.
If the interlock switch is worn and not fully releasing, or the brake lights don’t receive a signal from the brake light switch to illuminate, you won’t be able to shift out of Park.
Grease, dirt and moisture can collect in or on the interlock and brake light switches, and on the shift cable and related parts, hampering their operation. When that happens, you’re most likely to have problems shifting out of Park when the engine and transmission are cold, such as after the car has sat for hours. After the engine gets warm — and other parts get warmer, as well — the goo might become softer and make it easier to shift out of Park.
Most cars have a means of overriding the shift lock so you can drive the car to a mechanic rather than have it towed: A small door the size of
If your car is making a squealing or squeaking sound when you turn the steering wheel, there could be any of several culprits at play.
One common cause is low power-steering fluid. When the fluid that powers and lubricates conventional power-steering systems gets low, it can lead to a squealing noise that may sustain for as long as the steering wheel remains off-center. Checking the fluid and replacing if necessary might be enough to solve the problem. Contamination of the fluid by dirt and debris also could be at the root of the problem. A failing power-steering pump could likewise be the cause. If adding fluid doesn’t solve the problem, a technician should be able to identify the cause and recommend a repair.
A suspension or steering component that’s lost lubrication also could cause a squeak or squeal when the steering wheel is in motion. Tie-rod ends, seals, ball joints and universal joints all need lubrication, and if they dry out, that could lead to noise. Again, a technician should be able to identify the problem and recommend a repair.
We’ve also experienced squeaks from the steering wheel housing in new cars rubbing against interior
The answer to that question hinges on several variables, including how many miles a vehicle is driven, on what kinds of roads it’s driven, and whether it’s driven gently or with abandon.
Those variables make it virtually impossible to assign a number of years or miles as a broad stroke, though we would expect shock absorbers (or struts on vehicles with strut-type suspensions) to last at least four or five years, unless the vehicle has been subjected to extreme use. It’s also not unusual for shocks to last 10 years on a vehicle that has lived most of its life on smooth pavement.
On the other hand, rough roads marked with potholes, large cracks and sharp ridges that run across the pavement (the typical urban torture test) will wear out shocks faster. Frequently carrying heavy loads or driving on unpaved roads with deep divots or imbedded large rocks will do the same. If you’re the type who takes bombed-out roads at the same speed as fresh asphalt, that devil-may-care approach is bound to exact a toll over time. Winter weather and road salt can also shorten shock absorber life by contributing to corrosion.
When you’re getting a blast of cold air, especially one you don’t want, chances are that something has gone wrong in or around the heater core. It’s a small radiator that generates heat by allowing engine coolant to circulate so that the fan blows warmed air into the cabin to keep everyone toasty.
Because the heater core is usually placed in an inconvenient location (behind the dashboard) you might want to have a pro look elsewhere first to eliminate simpler possibilities.
First, check the coolant level when the engine is cold. If it’s really low, it might not be able to warm the heater core. The cooling system thermostat also may not be opening, preventing coolant from circulating. In these cases, there’s also a good chance your engine will be running hot, and be in danger of overheating.
If neither of those is the cause then the heater core and ancillary components are likely culprits. If water isn’t circulating through the heater core, perhaps a diverter or valve isn’t opening to allow that flow, or the core itself is leaking or clogged. Another possibility is that a door or diverter that is supposed to direct
The fuel pump sends fuel from your car’s gas tank to its engine. Fuel pumps are usually electrically powered and located directly in or on the fuel tank. The ease and cost of replacement depends on the car’s design, and the decision to replace it should be undertaken only after determining that the problems aren’t electrical or related to the fuel lines.
How do I know if my fuel pump is bad?
The most obvious sign is that your car won’t start because fuel isn’t getting to the engine, though there are many possibilities for a no-start situation. One way to tell if the fuel pump is at fault is that when you turn the ignition on you can’t hear the pump motor activate inside the gas tank. Another is intermittent loss of driving power, particularly during acceleration or while driving at highway speeds. If the pump appears to be OK, the problem might be that the fuel pickup in the tank is clogged and can’t deliver enough gas.
How often should I replace my fuel pump?
With luck, the fuel pump will last the life of your vehicle. Fuel pumps are not a regular maintenance item,
For some vehicles, you’re advised to change the coolant every 30,000 miles. For others, changing the coolant isn’t even on the maintenance schedule.
For example, Hyundai says the coolant (what many refer to as “antifreeze”) in most of its models should be replaced after the first 60,000 miles, then every 30,000 miles after that. The interval is every 30,000 miles on some Mercedes-Benz models, but on others it’s 120,000 miles or 12 years. On still other Mercedes, it’s 150,000 miles or 15 years.
Some manufacturers recommend changing the coolant more often on vehicles subjected to “severe service,” such as frequent towing. The schedule for many Chevrolets, though, is to change it at 150,000 miles regardless of how the vehicle is driven.
Many service shops, though — including some at dealerships that sell cars with “lifetime” coolant — say you should do it more often than the maintenance schedule recommends, such as every 30,000 or 50,000 miles.
Here’s why: Most vehicles use long-life engine coolant (usually a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water) that for several years will provide protection against boiling in hot weather and freezing in cold weather, with little or no maintenance[EM1].
Among obvious signs that your headlights aren’t properly aimed are oncoming drivers flashing their lights at you because your lights are blinding them, or the road ahead is brightly illuminated for only 20 feet or so, meaning the headlights are aimed too low.
Suspension problems or a heavy cargo load can change your vehicle’s ride height and shift one or both headlights subtly. A collision or hitting a road hazard also can move a light assembly and misalign your lights.
One way to tell if headlights are correctly aimed is to park the vehicle on a level surface and shine the headlights on a garage door or wall 25 feet ahead (some vehicles may require a different distance). The top of the low beam shining on the wall should be at or slightly below the height of the center of the headlight lens for most vehicles. You should expect the light pattern to be higher on the right side (passenger side) to illuminate road signs and lower on the driver’s side to prevent blinding oncoming drivers. This should give you a good idea of whether the lights on both sides are aimed correctly.
That is a signal that the onboard diagnostics system (or OBD II) has detected a malfunction in the vehicle’s emissions, ignition or fuel systems. It could be something as simple as a loose gas cap or something as severe as a faulty catalytic converter, so you shouldn’t ignore it. All cars and light trucks have onboard diagnostics that are supposed to detect engine-related problems that affect the emissions control systems.
The check-engine light (typically a yellow or orange outline of an engine with the word “Check”) should come on for a few seconds every time you start the engine with other warning lights. If it stays on, that means there is a problem.
If the check engine light is flashing, that usually indicates a misfire or other serious issue, and it should be dealt with quickly at an auto repair shop. Ignoring a flashing light increases the chances of additional problems, including damaging an expensive catalytic converter (which costs more than $1,000 to replace on some cars).
If it isn’t flashing, before rushing to an auto repair shop you should first tighten the gas cap because a loose cap can trigger a warning. See if
If steam is pouring from under your hood, a temperature warning light is glowing bright red on your dashboard or the needle in the temperature gauge is cozying up to the High mark, it’s time to pull off the road and shut down the engine before it fries from overheating.
Any indication of overheating is a serious matter, so the best course of action is to shut down the engine to prevent further damage. Driving a car with an overheated engine can warp cylinder heads and damage internal engine parts such as valves, camshafts and pistons.
Even letting the engine cool for an hour and topping off the radiator with a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water may not fix what’s wrong. Here are some reasons an engine will overheat:
- The coolant level could be extremely low, because of long-term neglect or because a leak has developed in the radiator or radiator hoses. Coolant circulates inside the engine block to cool it, and the leak might be in the block, or from the water pump or heater hoses. Old coolant loses its corrosion-inhibiting properties, allowing rust to form and ultimately causing damage.
- The thermostat that allows