Thursday, 1 February 2018

5 Causes of Steering Wheel Hard to Turn

Every vehicle has a steering system which gives the driver control over the direction in which they are driving. If you don’t have a functional steering system, then it will create all kinds of problems for you. More importantly, it will make your vehicle unsafe for yourself and the other people on the road around you. Just imagine having to make a turn or trying to change lanes and then having the steering wheel lock up or move slowly. This will likely cause an accident to the point where someone could be injured or killed.



The most common problem with the steering wheel is that it can become difficult to turn. Since most people turn while driving at low speeds, this is when the hard to turn problem will be noticeable. It is a clear indication that your power steering system is having a problem somewhere. There are many components which make up the power steering system. Aside from the serpentine belt and the pump, the system contains hydraulic power steering fluid which works against the piston so that you can easily turn the wheel without much resistance. If there were to be an issue with any one of these areas of the system, then you wouldn’t get the assistance of the power steering to make turning the wheel easier.

Top 5 Common Causes
It is important to understand the main causes of a hard to turn steering wheel. Below are the top 5 causes which you can investigate as soon as you notice that your steering wheel is getting more difficult to turn.

1) Bad Steering Rack – The steering rack is made up of the pinion and rack. A series of U-joints and shafts keep the steering rack attached to the steering wheel. The steering rack will eventually become worn out and damaged from simply using your vehicle. You will know when this happens if your steering wheel is only stiff after you’ve started your vehicle. As the engine stays on longer, the steering rack will get hotter which causes the lubricant to settle in more. Therefore, the steering wheel may become less stiff as the car continues to run. But still, get the rack replaced before the problem escalates.

2) Broken Serpentine Belt – One of the most common causes of steering wheel stiffness is when the serpentine belt is damaged or cracked. This belt is constantly being used when you drive the vehicle so over time, it gets worn down pretty quickly. Then it will become loose which is when the stiffness in the steering wheel will begin. If you don’t replace the belt soon, it will break altogether and then you won’t be able to move the steering wheel at all. It is better to replace the belt before this happens.

3) Leaky Fluid – Perhaps the top cause of a stiff steering wheel is when you don’t have enough power steering fluid in the system. Usually, this occurs if the fluid is leaking from the pressurized hose area. Sometimes the hose will get cracked or simply become loose, causing the fluid to leak out. Since this fluid is needed to pressurize the system and lubricate the pump, you will have a stiff steering wheel if there isn’t enough fluid to perform these tasks in the system.

4) Pump Failure – The pump of the power steering system is what produces the amount of pressure needed to allow you to smoothly turn the steering wheel. If this pump were to stop working, then it will become more difficult to turn the steering wheel. Normally, in these situations, the pump won’t prevent the steering wheel from moving completely. You will still be able to turn it, but it will require a lot more force on your end.

5) Thick Fluid – The power steering fluid can become thicker over time. If you don’t change your fluid regularly, then it will become too thick to lubricate the system. This will cause more stiffness in the steering as you try to turn at low speeds. Therefore, you need to drain this old fluid out and replace it with entirely new fluid.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Top 5 Best Engine Oil for High Mileage Cars

If the mileage on your car is high, then your engine is probably very worn at this point. There could be all kinds of issues building up in your engine. The biggest issue is gaps forming in between the engine’s components. Also, gaskets and seals will begin to crack over time and cause oil to leak.

Then you’ll have oil sludge building up within the engine and causing it to malfunction in all sorts of ways.



So, what can you do about this? Well, you can take preventive measures by using better motor oil in your engine. This needs to be a special kind of motor oil that is made for high mileage vehicles. The oil will contain additives which can help older engines stay lubricated better and ensure that their seals are protected. Most importantly, the oil will reduce the chances of oil sludge buildups in the engine. As a result, your engine’s lifespan will be extended and you can get much more miles out of your vehicle. It should even perform better too.

The Top 5 Engine Oils for High Mileage Cars
Below are the top 5 engine oils for high mileage cars.

1. Mobile 1 High Mileage Oil

This a synthetic motor oil blend which is formulated to keep high mileage engines alive for as long as possible. The oil is more resistant to higher temperatures and has a less chance of causing leakage. Most engines have rubber seals which prevent oil from leaking. The only thing is these seals tend to shrink and break off after a while. The Mobile 1 High Mileage Oil has a lot more seal conditioner solution in it for protecting these rubber seals in the engine and preventing them from breaking apart.

2. Mobile 1 Super High Mileage Oil

This is a “super” version of the previous Mobile 1 oil listed. The Mobile 1 Super High Mileage Oil is formulated to protect your high mileage engine while it must operate under tougher driving conditions. The oil helps the engine reduce its overall wear and protects it from oil sludge buildup with its seal conditioner solution. Most importantly, it reduces the amount of oil consumed by the engine which greatly helps extend its lifespan.

3. Amsoil Extended Life Synthetic Motor Oil

A lot of car owners like Amsoil Extended Life Synthetic Motor Oil because it not only gives them protection against oil sludge buildup, but they can also go longer in between oil changes as well. Meanwhile, your engine’s performance will be enhanced and its lifespan will be extended.

4. Castrol GTX High Mileage 20W-50

This particular motor oil is a blend of traditional motor oil and a series of special additives to make it more suitable for high mileage engines. With this oil in your engine, you will have fewer leaks, reduced oil sludge, and a longer life for your engine.

5. Pennzoil High Mileage Vehicle Oil

Another great high mileage motor oil. This Pennzoil oil has additives to enhance the performance of the engine and to keep the rubber seals strong so they don’t leak oil. You can purchase a 6-quart pack of this oil on Amazon for $61.25.

How Many Miles is High Mileage?
If a car engine has over 75,000 miles on it, then it is considered to be a high mileage engine. This is around the time when most people would want to trade in their vehicle for a new one and then take on new car payments. You can avoid this situation for yourself by just changing your car’s motor oil regularly with one of these high mileage motor oil products. Most car manufacturers recommend that you change your vehicle’s oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Just follow whatever your car’s manufacturer recommends.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Understanding the Different Types of Oil Filters

The motor oil that you put into your engine, along with its additives, works to absorb and hold organic and inorganic contaminants. Organic contaminants can include bacteria, bugs, and oxidized oil. Inorganic impurities can include metallic particles, wearing off the components of the engine, and dust. Thus, motor oil helps to helps to protect the engine, and improve its efficiency and performance.



However, to prolong the life of your engine and provide better performance, car manufacturers also install oil filters that clean the oil before directing it to vital moving parts of the engine.

Types of filter media
Oil filters have different media, or membranes, inside them that filter out and clear the contaminants of the motor oil as it circulates.

Cellulose filter media: Typically, disposable oil filters have cellulose filter media. This media can hold back particles 8 to 10 microns in size and can clean up to 40% of the motor oil. It is advisable to have your mechanic check/replace them at every 3,000 miles.

Synthetic filter media: Higher quality oil filters use synthetic media. This media is effective in removing 50% of the particles in sizes ranging from 20 to 40 microns, and 24% of particles in the 8 to 10 micron range. These oil filters should be checked/replaced every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.

Microglass filter media: Most high-end oil filters include an extremely fine metal media or microglass. This microglass mesh is made with fibers that are 10 times finer than cellulose fibers. They also present far less of a restriction to the flow of motor oil and only need to be checked/replaced ever 2 to 5 years or 10,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Types of oil filters
There is a wide range of oil filters in the market and the type of engine in your car; its size and manufacturing company dictate the kind of oil filter it uses.

Primary oil filters: Most car engine manufacturers install primary oil filters. These oil filters, also known as full flow filters, filter 100% of the motor oil. Since it is essential for these oil filters to work efficiently in order to keep the engine lubricated, they have lower flow restrictions. In colder temperatures, motor oil thickens, and a restrictive oil filter can result in damage to the engine. Thus, primary oil filters allow smaller particles of contaminants to pass through them. Manufacturers also install a fail-safe bypass valve in case the membrane of the filter becomes too clogged. If the filter becomes clogged and does not allow motor oil to reach the engine, a specific pressure system will redirect the motor oil around the membrane to the engine so it continues to lubricate it.

Secondary oil filters: In addition to the primary oil filters, some manufacturers also install secondary oil filters. These oil filters work on a small portion or about 1% to 10% of the motor oil and clean it before routing it back to the engine. They work independently of the primary oil filters and help by removing additional contaminants. As a result, you need to replace the motor oil less frequently. Even if your vehicle does not have a secondary oil filter, you can choose to install one after purchase. These oil filters are also called bypass filters. However, it is important to remember that they are completely distinct from the bypass valve.

Conventional oil filters: These oil filters are a form of secondary filters and use basic cellulose membranes. Since they filter out smaller contaminants, they need replacing more frequently.

Thermal chamber oil filters: These oil filters work in two ways. They filter the motor oil to remove impurities and in addition, raise its temperature so that certain contaminants in the motor oil burn off or get destroyed. In a way, these oil filters work to refine the oil, but to do so, they need to consume electricity. This is why they can reduce the fuel efficiency of your car.

Spinner filters: Also called centrifugal oil filters, these filters use a spinning motion to trap and hold motor oil contaminants. Typically, these oil filters have two sections, a housing chamber and membrane. When the media gets clogged, you only need to replace it while the housing chamber remains usable. The base gasket is an important component of a spinner filter. It works to prevent motor oil from leaking, but is not very durable. If your car uses a spinner filter, have your mechanic check the base gasket, at least once every three months or 3,000 miles.

Magnetic oil filters: These oil filters work to remove the metallic impurities from the motor oil and are ineffective on dust. You do not need to replace this oil filter; simply cleaning it periodically should keep it functional.

Keep in mind
It is always advisable to use the oil filter that your Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) recommends. Also, follow the instructions carefully on the frequency of oil filter maintenance or replacement. These instructions are typically based on the conditions in which you regularly drive and the mileage.

If you drive in dusty conditions very often, you might want to have your oil filter checked more frequently.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

How Filters Keep Your Car Clean Under the Hood

Your car has three different types of filters that work to keep the contaminants, debris, and impurities out of the fuel system, engine air supply system and car cabin air supply. They are the oil filter, air filter, and cabin air filter, respectively. If any of these filters is not functioning optimally, you will soon see that your car is not running, as it should. Thus, it is advisable to have your mechanic check them at regular intervals as recommended by the car manufacturer. Also, make sure you have them cleaned or replaced when they show clogging.



Air filter
What the air filter does: The air filter protects your engine from organic and inorganic debris that may enter it. These can be bugs, dirt, road debris, water or any other impurities the car might pick up on the road. The air filter also ensures that your engine gets the oxygen-rich air supply it needs to efficiently burn fuel and give you the maximum mileage per gallon of gasoline.

Symptoms of wear or clogging: If the air filter does not clean effectively, the engine has to work harder to burn fuel. Not only does it consume more fuel, but it also does not burn it completely. As a result, unburnt fuel makes its way out of the exhaust resulting in a black sooty smoke and even flames. You’ll also notice lower horsepower and acceleration, and lower fuel efficiency along with coughing sounds from the car engine. You might also have trouble starting up the engine because of sooty deposits on the spark plug.

When to change the air filter: It is advisable to replace the air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or once in 12 months. However, if you live in a rural area or drive in dusty roads frequently, you might want to have it replaced every 6,000 miles.

Cabin air filter
What the cabin air filter does: The cabin air filter keeps the air inside the car cabin clean. It filters out dirt, dust, pollen, allergens, smoke, soot, mold spores, and other contaminants and prevents them from entering through the air-conditioning and heating vents.

Symptoms of wear or clogging: If the cabin air filter is not performing properly, you’ll notice a musty odor in the car and low pressure air flow from the car cabin vents. This is because of unfiltered air circulating in the cabin. You might also notice that the air-conditioning or heating is not very effective. A clogged car cabin air filter will result in your engine diverting power towards it and you’ll notice a lower horsepower.

When to change the cabin air filter: Consult the owner’s manual for directions on when to change the cabin air filter. Most manufacturers recommend that you change it every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or once in 12 months. Depending on the conditions in which you typically drive, you could have your mechanic check the cabin air filter every six months.

Fuel filter
What the fuel filter does: Essentially, the fuel filter works to protect your engine and keep it working. It cleans and filters the motor oil to remove the contaminants and metal shavings it gathers while circulating around the engine. An efficient fuel air filter can help prolong the time frame between motor oil changes. Most fuel filters come with a bypass valve that allows the motor oil to flow around the filter if it is too clogged and does not allow the free flow of oil.

Symptoms of wear or clogging: A worn out or clogged fuel filter will cause the engine to work harder to pump oil. This will result in lower fuel economy and slower acceleration. An insufficient motor oil supply can also cause friction in the engine’s vital parts, and overheating. Thus, your engine could stop functioning and the car could come to a complete halt.

When to change the fuel filter: The frequency with which you need to have the fuel filter replaced can depend on the conditions in which you drive and the kind of filter media or the membranes inside the fuel filter. Oil filters with cellulose media need replacing every 3,000 miles while those with synthetic media could need a change at every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Oil filters with microglass media remain effective up to 10,000 miles. As an added precaution, have your mechanic check the fuel filter for clogging every time you take the car for maintenance.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

How to Clean and Restore Headlights

Even owners who regularly clean and maintain their vehicles are not immune to wear on their headlights. As the vast majority of headlights are made of plastic, they require different care than other exterior surfaces of your car. Plastic headlights are especially prone to scratching and discoloration and will otherwise deteriorate more quickly than the rest of your car. This is why knowledge of proper cleaning techniques for headlights is important for keeping vehicles in tip-top condition.



Note: Glass headlights are susceptible to their own unique problems. If your headlights are made of glass (which is most often seen on vintage models) you should leave anything beyond a standard washing to a professional because there is a risk of causing further issues without the proper knowledge and tools.
Taking proper care of your headlights is much more than cosmetic, as damaged lights also present a serious safety issue. Even dirty headlights, an easily remedied problem, greatly reduce night-time visibility for drivers and also increase the glare seen by others on the road. The worse the headlight damage, the great the incidence of accidents occurring from poor visibility.

There is more than one method to restoring headlights to like-new condition, so you need to visually assess your headlights' appearance, first with the headlights off and again with them on, because the degree and angle of illumination can affect what damage is visible.

It is also advisable to do a quick cleaning with soapy water and a sponge or cloth, followed by a rinse, before inspecting your headlights to ensure you don't confuse dirt with more serious damage. Once clean, look for stubborn grit and grime, a hazy appearance, yellowing on plastic, and obvious cracks or peeling. The types of problems you note will determine how you should clean or restore them.

Part 1 of 4: Standard wash
A standard wash is just as it sounds. You can opt to wash your entire vehicle or just the headlights. This method removes surface dirt and particles that can mar the appearance of your lights and the amount of illumination they provide during night driving.

Materials Needed


  • Bucket
  • Mild detergent
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Warm water

Step 1: Prepare a soapy water bucket. Prepare a soapy mix in a bucket or similar container using warm water and a mild detergent like dish soap.

Step 2: Begin washing your headlights. Soak a soft cloth or sponge in the mix, then gently rub away grit and grime from the surface of your headlights.

Step 3: Rinse the car. Rinse with plain water and allow to air dry.

Part 2 of 4: Comprehensive cleaning
Materials Needed


  • Painter's masking tape
  • Polishing compound
  • Soft cloths
  • Water

If you observed hazing or yellowing on your headlights during your inspection, there is likely some corruption of the polycarbonate lens. This requires a more comprehensive cleaning, using a specialized cleaning product, known as a plastic polishing compound, to repair.

Polishing compounds are generally inexpensive and are virtually the same across brands. They all contain a fine abrasive that sloughs away imperfections on plastic surfaces without leaving scratches behind, much like a very fine sandpaper. In the case of yellowing, the further action of sanding your headlights' surface may be necessary if a more detailed cleaning does not fix the issue.

Step 1: Block off the surrounding area with tape. Tape off the areas surrounding your headlights because the polishing compound can damage paint and other surfaces (such as chrome).

Step 2: Polish your headlights. Put a dab of polishing compound on your cloth, then firmly rub the cloth in small circles on your headlights. Take your time and add compound as needed - this will likely take 10 minutes per headlight.

Step 3: Wipe and rinse excess compound. Once you have thoroughly polished your headlights, wipe any excess compound off with a clean cloth, then rinse with water. If this has not corrected the problem for yellowed lights, sanding will be necessary.

Part 3 of 4: Sanding

For moderate damage to the polycarbonate lens of plastic headlights, which results in a yellow tinge, sanding out the abrasions that cause this appearance will be necessary to achieve a like-new look. While this is something possible to do at home with kits containing the necessary materials available at most auto parts stores, you may want to ask a professional to help with this more difficult and time-consuming procedure.

Materials Needed


  • Painter's masking tape
  • Paste car wax (optional)
  • Polishing compound
  • Sandpaper (1000-, 1500-, 2000-, 2500-, up to 3000-grit)
  • Soft cloths
  • Water (cool)

Step 1: Protect surrounding surfaces with tape. As with a comprehensive cleaning, you will want to protect the other surfaces on your vehicle with painter's masking tape.

Step 2: Polish your headlights. Use the polishing compound on a soft cloth in a circular motion on your headlights, as described above.

Step 3: Start sanding the headlights. Beginning with your roughest grade of sandpaper (1000-grit), soak it in cool water for approximately ten minutes.

Firmly rub it in a straight, back-and-forth motion across the entire surface of each headlight.

Tip: Be sure to keep the surfaces wet throughout the procedure by periodically dipping the sandpaper in your water.

Step 4: Continue to sand from roughest to smoothest grit. Repeat this process using each sandpaper grade from roughest to smoothest until you have finished with the 3000-grit paper.

Step 5: Rinse off the headlights and let dry. Rinse all of the polishing compound off of your headlights with plain water and allow to air dry or gently dry with a clean, soft cloth.

Step 6: Apply car wax. To protect your headlights against further damage from the elements, you can then apply a standard car wax to their surfaces with a clean cloth, using circular movements.


  • Afterwards, wipe your lights with another clean cloth.

Part 4 of 4: Professional resurfacing or replacement
If your headlights have cracks or peeling, it is possible to reduce the damage using the sanding method described above. This will not, however, completely restore them to pristine condition. Cracks and peels indicate serious damage to the polycarbonate lens of your headlights, and this will require professional resurfacing (at the bare minimum) to achieve a like-new look. For more extreme damage, replacement may be your only option.

The cost of resurfacing headlights can vary greatly, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. If there is any doubt as to whether the condition of your lights merits professional resurfacing or replacement, contact one of our certified mechanics for advice.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

How to Detect an Odometer Fraud

When you buy a vehicle, one of the influencing factors is how many miles are on the odometer. That simple number can give a good indication of several items including:


  • An indication of upcoming maintenance and repairs
  • How well the vehicle was looked after
  • If warranty is still applicable on the car
  • The life expectancy of the vehicle
  • The value of the car

Rolling back an odometer is done with the intention to defraud a purchaser. It gives the appearance of a less-used vehicle with more life left in it and fewer repairs on the horizon than it actually true.

Before digital odometers were introduced a few decades ago, it was a real concern whether an odometer had been tampered with.Inside the odometer, there were small plastic gears that could be disassembled and re-positioned so the value on the odometer was significantly reduced. Other times, the speedometer cable could be disconnected and run in reverse on a power drill to count the miles backwards.

Auto manufacturers combated this problem by creating safeguards in the odometer. On some, if the numbers were tampered with, it would be nearly impossible to make the numbers line up straight again, making it clear the odometer was rolled back. On others, the speedometer cable was designed to count the miles up whether the cable was turned in the forward or reverse direction. And finally, odometers were almost completely changed to digital readouts, which were thought to be foolproof.

With advances in technology, access to information is astounding. The process to roll back the odometer on cars equipped with digital readouts is available with a simple Google search and the tools needed to complete it are readily available online or at an auto parts store.

Detecting odometer fraud on modern vehicles with a digital odometer is more difficult but a few simple checks can assist you in detecting a potential rollback.

Method 1 of 4: Analyze the vehicle usage
Step 1: Consider the year of the vehicle and the current mileage.


  • An average vehicle in North America accumulates approximately 12,000 miles per year.
  • If the mileage is substantially less than 12,000 miles per year, there may be cause for concern.

Step 2: Consider the seller’s habits.


  • If the vehicle appears to be a business vehicle with decals or signs yet the mileage is abnormally low, it may have had its odometer tampered with.
  • If the seller is elderly as opposed to a busy parent or businessperson, it may be understandable that the mileage is not as high as average.


Method 2 of 4: Check the vehicle’s condition
Not every vehicle that has a rough interior and low miles is a case of a rolled-back odometer. Sometimes it is simply a case of the interior being neglected, but combined with other issues may be cause for concern.

Step 1: Check for abnormal wear on the brake and gas pedals.

  • The brake pedal sees the most amount of force and wear almost all the time. If the mileage on the car is low - less than 60,000 miles, for example - and the brake pedal’s rubber pad is nearly worn through, it can indicate a potential issue.
  • If the previous drivers drove in stop-and-go traffic predominantly, pedal wear will not be a clear indication of tampering.

Step 2: Check the carpets and seats for excessive wear.

  • Vehicle mats and carpets are quite durable and take tens of thousands of miles before they display wear.
  • If there are “heel spots” on the driver’s side floor mat or carpet yet the odometer seems too low for such wear, consider the possibility that the odometer has been tampered with.

Step 3: Check the body of the vehicle.
  • If there seems to be more paint fade or body damage than you’d come to expect from the year and mileage on the car yet the odometer is low, think about the possibility that the odometer has been rolled back.

Step 4: Check the tread depth on the tires.

  • Insert a penny into the sipes or lines in the tire with Lincoln’s head pointed downwards.
  • If the top of Lincoln’s head is exposed, there is less than 2/32nds of an inch left of tire tread.
  • That measurement is consistent of tires on a passenger vehicle with 40-60,000 miles on the odometer.
  • If the tires are original, worn down to 2/32nds, and the odometer is less than 30,000 miles, it may be possible the odometer has been tampered with.
Method 3 of 4: Check the paperwork

Step 1: Check the service history documentation.

Ask the seller for their maintenance records. Each receipt should have the mileage and date in it.

Follow the service history to see if the current mileage makes sense according to the seller’s previous track record of usage.

Take note of unusual gaps in dates or mileage which may be consistent with odometer tampering, or it may also indicate another alarming issue of poor maintenance habits.

Step 2: Ask to see the original Certificate of Title.

If the seller has a photocopy on hand, request to see the original title. Compare the recorded mileage on the title with the current odometer reading to see if there are irregularities.

If all that is available is a photocopy, make sure the mileage reading is clearly legible and the font is consistent with the rest of the document.

Out-of-state sales or new certificates of title can indicate a condition known as title-washing, where branded titles or odometer discrepancies are masked due to slight differences in state titling requirements.

Step 3: Check for an odometer replacement sticker.

If the odometer was faulty and replaced at some point in the vehicle’s history, it is legally required that the odometer reading be recorded on a decal that is displayed on the vehicle.

The decal may be installed on the driver’s door pillar, on the instrument cluster, in the glove box, or another visible spot.

A decal has to be used if the new odometer that was installed could not be set to the previous mileage on the faulty odometer.

Method 4 of 4: Have a mechanic inspect the car
It can be difficult to determine if the odometer has actually been rolled back or not. Sometimes your senses tell you that something doesn’t seem quite right but you can’t identify what exactly is setting that feeling off.

If you suspect the odometer has been rolled back or want to confirm that the condition of the car is in line with the odometer, request to have a mechanic perform a pre-purchase inspection, which AutoFactorNG would be happy to do for you.

If the seller refuses to allow a mechanic to look over the car, it is a telltale sign that there is something amiss about the transaction. Whether the odometer has been rolled back or there is some other shady business happening, you should be confident in your decision to walk away from the purchase.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

5 Signs Your Car Isn't Shifting Correctly

Improper shifting is a sign of car transmission problems. The solution might be simple or complex, but get it inspected to avoid expensive repairs.



If your car is not shifting properly, you could end up with very expensive transmission repairs. So, how do you know if your car isn’t shifting the way it should? Watch for these signs to avoid serious transmission trouble.

Warning light comes on: A warning light alone doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a shifting problem, but if you notice it along with any of the symptoms that follow, you should get it checked out.

Car is shifting hard: The car feels as if it’s reluctant to shift gears the way it usually does, or isn’t shifting smoothly. You might notice a clunking or thudding sound when the car shifts gears, or has difficulty reaching the proper speed.

Gear changes for no reason: If you’re driving a manual transmission in a certain gear, and the car suddenly changes gear with no action on your part, or if it suddenly slides into neutral in an automatic, you have a shifting problem. You might notice a whining sound or a change in the usual sound from your engine when this happens.

Fluid leak: If you’re having trouble shifting, it could be something as simple as a transmission fluid leak. Usually, transmission fluid shouldn’t leak, and if you see a puddle of fluid under your car, that can be a sign of a clogged filter or a loose plug. Transmission fluid is clear red, and has a slightly sweet smell.

Delayed engagement: Your car waits for a bit before going into drive and moving forward. You’ve pushed the clutch pedal down, brought it up to the point where the gears should engage and move your car forward, but there’s a pause before the vehicle moves. Even if you rev the engine, there’s still a delay.

Any indication that your car is not shifting properly should be dealt with immediately. You might have a simple issue that can be repaired inexpensively, but if you wait too long you could end up with serious transmission trouble and have to pay to repair or even replace your transmission. Be sure to contact a mechanic to check your transmission fluid and other parts of the transmission system as soon as you experience any shifting problems.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

5 Commonly Overlooked Vehicle Maintenance Items

Brake fluid, auto transmission fluid, and coolant flushes, as well as cabin filter changes and valve adjustments, are all important services.

Maintenance light

Without a doubt, the best way to maintain your car is to follow the manufacturer's suggested service schedule, but some people opt not to for various reasons, cost often being one of them: scheduled maintenance services can certainly be expensive. Generally when people think of routine maintenance for their vehicle, they only think of things like oil changes and air filters, so they see the rest of the maintenance service as an unnecessary expense. Unfortunately, looking at it this way means a number of important services never get performed. If you choose to maintain your car differently than the manufacturer recommends, make sure these five otherwise forgotten services get completed.

1. Brake fluid flush
Brake fluid flush

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it attracts and absorbs moisture. Even in a sealed brake system, the brake fluid can absorb moisture from the surrounding environment, resulting in lowered boiling temperature of brake fluid, and introduces the possibility of rust and corrosion in the hydraulic brake system. Most manufacturers specify different intervals for brake fluid flushes. If your manufacturer doesn’t specify, or they specify more than several years between services, then we recommend having it done every three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

2. Automatic transmission fluid flush
Transmission fluid draining
In order to make their vehicles seem low maintenance, automotive manufacturers began selling cars with “lifetime transmission fluid” that never needed to be changed. If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Modern transmissions work harder than their predecessors and in tighter engine compartments with less ventilation, so their fluid still degrades over time. Cars with “lifetime transmission fluid” often experience an increased rate of transmission failures after 100,000 miles. If you want your transmission to go the distance, it’s suggested that you change the transmission fluid every 60,000 miles, give or take a few thousand miles.

3. Coolant flush
Coolant draining

Just like automatic transmission fluid, coolant is often sold as another “lifetime fluid.” Once again, this is not entirely true. The coolant degrades over time with normal use, and the ph balance becomes less than ideal, which can cause the coolant to damage parts of the cooling system or engine. A good interval is to change the coolant every 40,000-60,000 miles. This should help keep the coolant ph level at a proper balance, which should keep your cooling system healthy.

4. Cabin air filter
Cabin air filter change

The cabin air filter is responsible for filtering the air coming into the passenger compartment from outside the vehicle. Some vehicles use a simple particulate filter, which removes dust and pollen from the air; some use an activated charcoal filter which removes the same dust and pollen, but can also remove smells and pollutants. Replacement of these filters is usually inexpensive, and can greatly improve the quality of the air you’re breathing in the car, making them a worthwhile investment.

5. Valve adjustments

Valve adjustment

Despite most newer cars using automatically adjusting hydraulic valve lifters, there are still a large number of vehicles on the road that use mechanical valve lifters. These lifters require occasional clearance checks, and adjustments if necessary. Best case scenario: running valves too tight or too loose can cause reduced power and efficiency. Worst case scenario: the engine can suffer severe damage, such as a burned valve.

Although this list is not completely inclusive of all the services that are normally skipped over when they should be performed, it is a list of some of the most commonly overlooked services that can have a big impact on how your vehicle performs. It’s also a reminder to ensure these services are done on your vehicle should you choose to follow an alternative maintenance schedule or plan. Though of course, the best way to maintain your vehicle is still to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.