5 Must-Have Maintenance Checks for your car this Spring

As a Minnesota driver, you probably already know that our winters can be rough on your car. From salt on the roadways to freezing temperatures, your vehicle most likely needs some TLC as we thaw out from a long winter.  The tricky part is knowing what you need to have checked during your spring tune up and why.  If you’ve been wondering what’s important to include in your spring maintenance tune up with your mechanic, we’ve got you covered with 5 must-have inspections to keep your car running well as we enter the spring and summer.

  • Check your tires and rims

If there’s any part of your car that takes a hit during the winter months, it’s your tires and rims. From ice on the roads to those hard-to-miss potholes, your tires need some TLC right about now.  In addition to the typical tire rotation and balancing, make sure your mechanic inspects the tread life on your tires, and looks for any dents on your rims.  Both of these issues could impact the balance and life of your tires.

  • Ask for a suspension inspection

Checking the suspension in your car includes checking your vehicle’s shocks and struts which can impact your ride, your control, and tire wear. When your suspension system isn’t doing it’s job, you may notice excessive bounce or sway as you drive, unusual tire wear, or nose-diving when stopping. Getting your suspension checked each spring can give you peace of mind for a safe drive all year long.

  • Inspect those belts and hoses

While not as immediately noticeable as the other areas of your car, your belts and hoses may not have weathered winter in tip top shape. Our cold temps can cause wearing, tearing, or cracking to your belts and hoses, which can result in you stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. To avoid all of that unpleasantness, just ask your mechanic to inspect for any cracks and tearing before you get on the road this spring.

  • Change your cabin air filter

This one doesn’t necessarily make your car run smoother, but it will affect the ride in your car.  Your cabin air filter’s job is to keep pollutants and allergens out of the car so you can breathe fresh air, and enjoy the ride. If you neglect changing your cabin air filter, you and your car can experience more pollutants and allergens in your car, your AC will have a harder time running, your windows can fog more readily, and it can start to smell musty inside your car (especially when you run the AC or heater).  Plan on changing your air filter each spring to keep your drive comfortable and clean no matter where you drive.

  • Look over the basics

We often take our vehicle basics for granted, but it’s important to look over those basic necessities that we often neglect.  Winter can be rough on those windshield wiper blades making visibility a liability. Spring is the perfect time to inspect, and in most cases, replace those wiper blades. While you’re at, don’t forget to check your lights – including headlights, taillights, and turn signals. Be sure to replace any burnt out bulbs and ensure that your lights are not yellowed or hazed over. If they are, it’s time to replace them so you can eliminate any night driving hazards.

With these 5 essential inspections, your car will be ready to go wherever you travel this spring and summer. If you’ve been looking for a great place to take your car for these spring maintenance inspections, we’re ready to help. Simply make an appointment and we can get you ready to drive wherever the road takes you this spring.

Pulsating Brakes – Signs, Causes and Fixes

The primary cause of pulsating brakes is warped rotors. The main cause why rotors tend to warp is overheating. Your brakes might overheat generally because either your cooling fins are rotting from the inside, or you have a sticking brake condition. Both of these conditions cause your rotors to not dissipate heat in the right way.

However, beside the technical malfunctions, pulsating brakes could also just easily come from excessive braking during when you are driving in traffic. This is because you are applying too much stress on the brakes and causing them to overheat. Other situations why you may feel this pulsation is when you are driving down a steep hill and pressing down on the brakes.

Brake Surfaces

The surface of your rotor is very important to how your brakes are going to function. When you apply your brakes, your brake pads are suppose to press up against the brake rotor, apply friction, and create heat to stop the vehicle. If your rotor braking surface has plenty of rot and debris, you will feel the brake pulsation, or shaking of the steering wheel as you hit the brakes.

The Runout

A warped rotor may not always be the most apparent thing to look at and you might actually need a dial indicator to monitor the runout. The runout refers to the amount of movement that comes from your brake rotor surface going side to side.

Most manufacturers recommend less than two thousandths of runout on your brake rotor. It is important to remember is that the rotor that is showing the issue may not actually be the cause of the problem. There are instead many other reasons that can lead to overheating.

Check Your Brake Calipers and Pistons

If the piston is not functioning the way it should, it will not be able to release the pads from the rotor. This means that you will have an overheat condition. You also need to check the sliders if the brake is pulsating. This is the part where the caliper connects on to the bracket.

These sliders need to be able to move in and out easily. If they are not lubricated or seizing up in size, then you will have to encounter an issue with surging brakes. You may also notice that your brake pads are stuck inside the caliper brackets.

If the brake pad is stuck, this may be because of excessive rust buildup in between the caliper brackets and brakes. This makes it difficult for the pads to go against the rotor and release them. This means that they are pressing up on the rotors and causing constant pressure in the form of friction and heat. This leads to the pulsating sensation.

As you can see, there are many causes to a pulsating brake. This is why there is also many fixes to it corresponding to the causes. Make sure to take your car for professional checkup if you indicate signs of shuddering and shaking.

TPMS Light – Problems and Fixes

Each tire in your car is equipped with a TPMS sensor, considering that your car was manufactured after September 2007 and onwards. This sensor senses pressure shortage in your tire, and transmits that data to the car’s computer. Once it does that, a rounded exclamation mark becomes visible on your car’s screen. This is a sign that your car’s tire pressure is very low and you have to inflate them urgently. However, sometimes this does not cause the light to turn off. Usually, this is because car owners will ignore the air pressure of the tires.

Spare Tire Pressure Shortage

Not every spare tire has TPMS sensor. However, cannot tell which have them or do not have them. This is the most common reason people end up spending countless dollars at a dealer. People spend so much trying to reset their tire pressure light, when all they had to do was simply adjust the air pressure of their spare tire.

Therefore, make sure to adjust the air pressure of your spare before you try other means to fix the TPMS problem. Just remember that your spare tire will always have a different pressure than your regular tires. Before adjusting the tire pressure through the valve stem, take a look at the car’s manual for the company recommended pressure limit of the spare.

Overall, this is the most common reason why people struggle with getting their tire light to shut off. The mystery is in your spare tire. This is why you need to take a few minutes to get it adjusted. Once all your tires have the correct pressure inflated, you need to drive around for five to ten minutes.

Once you do this, you should notice the light to disappear on its own. This is how the system is designed, but it you tire pressure light still does not go out; you can try one last thing.

Reset Switch

Some cars come equipped with a tire pressure reset switch. This switch can help initialize the system and can solve some problems as well. However, the issue here is that the tire pressure is set wrong, including your spare, then this will not solve the issue at all. If your light is still on regardless of all your efforts, you may have to go to a technician.

Like all components in your car, sensors can fail if you use them past their lifespan. This is usually when your car hits the five year mark. Moreover, they can also run out of battery. In this instance, seeking the expertise of a professional technician can play greatly in your favor. They possess the knowledge and skills to carry out a thorough inspection, and replace the sensors if necessary.

TPMS sensors have a lifespan of about 10 years and many people have them for much longer. Your system will therefore generally work fine. It comes down to setting the right pressure at all times. This is why you need to stay on top of the pressure to keep the light off, and also to be safe on the road.

What to do When Coming across Snowplows in the Winter

Even when you are taking full precautions when driving in the winter, you can still find yourself in a situation where your car begins to slide out of control. This is when the roads are covered in a lot of ice and snow. To overcome this problem, snowplows are key players in making the roads a safe place to drive.

Overcorrecting

If you are caught in a situation where the car keeps slipping away due to unplowed and very slippery road, then you may end up in a situation called understeer. This is an instance where you are driving, but the car keeps slipping away regardless. This happens when you are approaching the corner too fast.

To get your traction back from this occurrence, you may have to slightly unwind to get your traction back. Make sure that you do not apply the brakes or the throttle. When your car turns more than you intended, then this is called oversteer.

Similar rules apply when you get caught up in an oversteer situation, however, instead of keeping your steering wheel straight, you want to turn it in a direction that the rear of the car is sliding. Make sure that you step off the throttle and breaks until the car traction is regained.

Driving Habits when Coming Across Snowplow

While winter driving can be dangerous and hazardous, with proper preparation and adopting safe winter driving habits, you can easily arrive at your destination without any problem. Many accidents occur in the winter due to driver negligence.

One of the reckless habits of drivers involves passing the snowplow. If you encounter a snowplow in your path, you should not try to pass it in the first place. This is because the snowplow is clearing the road ahead of you so that you do not end up in a situation such as an understeer or oversteer.

Other hazardous occurrences that can come by passing a snowplow involves being stuck in a snow ditch, or digging your tire into deep snow. Thus, it is best to stay several feet away from the snowplow ahead. If in any case you must pass the machine due to emergency, you must be careful of the blind spot.

Blind spot is an area around the snow plow or any heavy vehicle that the driver cannot see with the help of mirrors. If you are at the blind spot, and you cannot see the snowplow’s tail light due to the snow blocking your vision, then the driver will turn into you. This instance can lead to a very fatal accident, and one that you should avoid at all costs.

Snowplows are incredible machines operated by skilled drivers. A team of snowplow drivers will often strategically align on the roads so that they can systematically clear out the snow and make the roads drivable for the people. This is why you must be patient and drive slow behind them in the midst of heavy snow.

Things you should not do to your Car in the Cold Weather

Sometimes you can get so proactive with winterizing your car that it leads to faults that result in more damages and costly repairs. Below, the article will discuss some of the common mistakes that people make during the winters. Knowing about them can save you plenty of trouble and uncertainty.

Dealing with Ice

If you find your windshield to be frozen up, do not use hot boiling water as a solution to melt the ice. This is because the extreme hot temperature of the hot water can lead to cracking of the windshield. This will lead to costly repairs and replacements since they are very expensive.

In the instance of a frozen windshield, a better idea would be to have patience. If you have a defrost feature in your car, then you can use that to help with defrosting the ice on the windshield. Wait for the car’s heat to warm the ice.

Once it does, you can simply pick the pieces of the ice off the windshield by using a snow scraper. When using a snow scraper, or even a brush, make sure that are extra careful so that you do not damage the windshield glass.

Windshield Wipers

Another thing to keep in mind is defrosting windshield wipers. If they are frozen to the core, do not turn them to clear them off. When you do that, you put your windshield wipers at high risk of damage which becomes a pain.

Not only that, it can also burn out your windshield driver motor. New windshield wiper motors can be costly to replace. Therefore, make sure to hire technicians that can inspect and repair your windshield motors so you do not have to replace them.

Similar to the windshield, scraping ice from the wipers will require you to use an ice scraper. Addressing the wipers is important as they are sole contributors to your visibility on the road, especially during the instance of rain or snow.

Not Checking Tire Pressure

Winter is a time when you have to check your tires more often. If you are not checking the tires often, then you are doing a disservice to public safety. In winters, the tire pressure goes down because the cold air has less pressure than the hot air. This is why you should always check your tires first thing in the morning when the car is cold.

Without the right traction and visibility, you can put yourself in plenty of risk of being stranded in the snow due to an accident or car crash. Another important thing that you need to focus on is the car’s battery health, along with important winter safety kits and resources.