February 23, 2015

The Importance of Fluids in the Vehicle

To keep your vehicle lasting as long as possible, make sure you keep the vehicle well maintained. This is the best way to make sure your vehicle is safe and reliable when you need it to be. Between visits it is important to check the fluid levels in your vehicle. Make sure the fluid levels are at the designated line on each reservoir. You can also bring the vehicle in and we can inspect the fluid levels for you. Engine Coolant is Important for Your Vehicle Engine coolant runs through your vehicle’s engine, absorbing and transferring heat to the radiator where it is cooled before being re-circulated. Coolant contains specially formulated chemical packages that inhibit rust and scale buildup, lubricate water pumps, help protect against freezing, and improve heat transfer. There are plenty of things that can cause your coolant to wear out. Not changing it frequently enough, running the engine in an overheated condition, and even just working the engine extremely hard can result in breakdown of the coolant’s chemical properties. This leaves the cooling system more susceptible to rust and scale buildup and freezing in the winter. In addition, the water pump can wear out from excessive friction and heat. Power Steering Fluid Should be Inspected Power steering fluid is hydraulic oil, just like transmission fluid. Your power steering system consists of a pump and fluid reservoir, lines, and a power steering gear. The pump creates hydraulic pressure from pumping the fluid, which powers the steering gear, making steering easy. On most vehicles, power steering fluid does not show up in the maintenance schedule, so there are no severe or normal service recommendations. Check it at every oil change, inspecting closely for evidence of metal flakes, indicating steering gear or pump wear, or a black or dark color, indicating overheating. Either condition calls for replacement of the fluid and inspection of the system. If the fluid appears to be overheated, the pump should be checked for internal wear. If you catch these problems early enough and replace the pump, you can usually circumvent replacing the steering gear later. Don’t Forget to check the Brake Fluid Check the brake fluid every oil change, inspecting closely for the proper level and signs that the fluid needs to be changed. Some manufacturers do suggest having the brake fluid completely changed every five to seven years. Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid used as a medium to generate the pressure needed to activate the brakes. When you press the brake pedal, the master cylinder pumps fluid through the system, which pushes the brake caliper pistons against the brake pads, which in turn make contact with the brake rotors and slow the vehicle. Brake fluid that is black in color has been overheated. If the brake fluid is dark in color, the brakes should be checked for a malfunction. Rust sediment is an indication that moisture has contaminated the brake fluid. By checking the fluid levels, you can help keep your vehicle lasting as long as possible.  
February 12, 2015

Warning Lights on Your Vehicle

Modern vehicles are filled with electronics and packed with sensors to monitor both how your vehicle is behaving and to make our motoring life easier. When something does go wrong, it can be a difficult task trying to work out exactly what that warning light flashing away on your dashboard is trying to tell you. It is important to know what the dashboard warning lights could actually mean. You should also bring the vehicle in so we can inspect the vehicle for the source of the issue. The Brake System Light The brakes are arguably the most important feature on your vehicle. If there is a warning light flashing on your dash highlighting there is something wrong with the braking system, it’s best to get it checked out right away. This light could signal low brake fluid. It could also mean that the brake pads are worn out, or there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system. If the Engine Warning Light Illuminates If your engine warning light is illuminated, often it will be accompanied by some unusual symptoms. These could include a lack of power, as the vehicle has gone into safe mode to protect itself. An intermittent stuttering as you press the accelerator, caused by a misfire, or another fault, which could alter the normal response from the engine. Sometimes this can be down to something as small as a faulty electrical sensor, although sometimes it can be a larger mechanical issue. If the engine warning light is showing, bring it in as soon as possible, as driving around any longer could cause further, and potentially irreparable damage. Power Steering Light If the power steering warning light, often known as the EPAS light is illuminated, it means there could be something wrong with the steering system. If the system fails, the steering could go heavy, meaning more effort will be needed to make the vehicle change direction. This can be an annoyance at low speed when you are trying to maneuver, but a real risk at higher speeds if you need to make a sudden lane change to avoid an obstacle. Coolant warning light Without any coolant the engine would get so hot it would effectively weld itself together. If you see the coolant light show up on your dashboard, it could mean coolant levels are running low, so check the gauge on the side of the coolant tank under the bonnet and top up if necessary. In conjunction with a temperature gauge reading well into the red, it could mean your engine is overheating. This is either the sign of a larger problem, such as a head gasket failure, or symptomatic of something less major, like a leak in the system somewhere. This means the engine has run low on coolant and got too hot. Get it seen to as soon as possible to avoid a potentially expensive repair bill. Having the issue inspect at the first sign can help save on time, money, and stress in the long run.