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Fluids are the lifeblood of your vehicle. They are designed to cool the system, minimize friction, lubricate and perform many other jobs. It is important to educate yourself about the various fluids your vehicle needs to function properly.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid travels through the braking system when you push the brake pedal. The job of the fluid is to suspend contaminates and build pressure used to stop the vehicle. As brake fluid ages it allows contaminates to settle at the low points in the system, like the calipers and wheel cylinders. This can cause failures in the braking system.

Brake fluid is hydroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. This moisture causes rust in the brake components, specifically the brake lines. Having a brake fluid exchange every three years, or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first, is the best prevention for failures in the system as well as getting the best amount of life from the wearable brake pads, rotors, drums and shoes. Fluid is always cheaper than parts so if you are performing fluid exchanges you will drastically lower your vehicle’s repair budget.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is designed to create the “power” in power steering. Pressure is generated from the power steering pump pushing pistons mounted to the rack and pinion. This pressure assists in turning the wheels. This system can generate well over 1,000 PSI.

Many newer vehicles have electric steering. For the vehicles that have power steering fluid it is extremely cost effective to service the fluid every 3 years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. The fluid is what lubricates and provides the ability to turn your vehicle.

Differential Fluid

Differential fluid is vital for lubrication of the internal gears of the differential. Some vehicles don’t have differentials, but any rear wheel drive, four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle will have at least one differential. In front wheel drive cars, the differential is typically incorporated into the transmission.

The purpose of the differential is to spin the axles, ultimately spinning the wheels. Without the differential being properly lubricated, itcan lock up. A locked-up differential will not allow the vehicle to move.,

For proper servicing of a differential we recommend the fluid to be exchanged every 3 years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. The differential typically has between 1-3 quarts of fluid.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid lubricates, transmits power from the engine to the transmission, keeps the internal components cool, suspends contaminates and more. This fluid travels throughout a vechile’s most vital components, including the transmission, lines, cooler, torque converter, etc. Over time, the fluid breaks down, not allowing it to cool as well as new fluid. It also becomes contaminated with worn bits of the transmission.

Having the transmission fluid exchanged is vital to its’ longevity. We recommend this service every 30,000 – 60,000 miles. Some manufacturers recommend transmission fluid exchanges every 100,000 miles and some even have lifetime fluid. We have found the lower mileage intervals to be much more cost-effective long term.

Transfer Case Fluid

Transfer case is a special component that is only found on four wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. The purpose of the transfer case is to transfer power from one axle to another. The fluid keeps the internal gears cool and lubricated.

As the fluid ages it begins to lose its ability to cool the components and suspend contaminates. As the contaminates settle they sit at the low points, which, in the case of the transfer case, are the seals. This causes leaks and much more expensive repairs.

We recommend a transfer case fluid exchange every 30,000 miles.

Coolant

Coolant, commonly referred to as antifreeze, is a vital fluid for your vehicle’s engine. It keeps the engine cool, lubricates the system and minimizes corrosion. As the coolant loses its strength, the engine will increase in temperature, the coolant will build up with brown sludge, and the engine will have to work considerably harder. The vehicle’s heating system can be negatively affected by sludge, which can clog the heater core. This can be a major problem.

Coolant cycles through engine, radiator, heater core, hoses and other components. As it cycles it is cooled by the radiator. If the coolant is not able to be cooled properly because it has lost its strength, it can cause the vehicle to overheat. The regular maintenance of coolant is extremely important because it affects very expensive components within the vehicle.

We recommend having the coolant system flushed and cleaned every 3-years or 30,000, whichever comes first. The replacement of coolant is time sensitive so if you only drive 5,000 miles a year, for example, it is much cheaper to flush the coolant more often than have major repair expenses. Heater core flushes are normally only necessary because of a lack of regular maintenance on the coolant system.

The post Vehicle Fluids: What You Need to Know appeared first on Carz R Us.

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Have you ever gone to replace your furnace filter and it was completely disgusting? Take that image, add mold and mildew to it, and now picture breathing directly through that filter. That is what you are doing when you don’t replace your cabin air filter regularly.

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The cabin air filter, typically located behind the glove box, is designed to clean the air that comes from the engine compartment into the cab of the vehicle. It cleans pollen and other allergens from the air. The area where the filter is located can gather moisture, causing mildew & mold. On average, people spend almost 6 hours per week in their vehicle. If that filter becomes moldy and dirty it can be a direct cause of you and your family getting sick.

Some vehicles do not have a cabin air filter, but it is best to check and be sure. It is best to check the location where the filter should be located to confirm if the vehicle has a cabin air filter. Some vehicles have a location for the filter but do not come with one from the factory. It is possible to add a filter to the location, which is a very good idea if you live in an area that is very dusty, travel a lot through different climates, have allergies, etc.

Below are some key items to keep in mind about the cabin air filter:

  • Confirm your vehicle has a cabin air filter
  • Replace the cabin air filter every 15,000 miles or once per year
  • Use an inexpensive filter
  • Do not replace based on the filter being dirty; replace it time/mileage based
  • Replace at the same time as the engine air filter (replace in pairs)

Remember, the goal of maintenance is to replace a component before it is past its’ useful life. When replacing a furnace filter, if it is dirty it has already started making your furnace work way harder to filter and push the air through the system. Your vehicle works the same in that if a component is past its’ useful life the vehicle is working way harder to operate. Keep an eye on your cabin air filter and inspect it often. If you park under a tree, live in a dusty climate, or have other environmental elements where you live that could make the filter get dirty faster you will want to replace it earlier.

Many people feel they are recommended to replace their filters EVERY time they take their vehicle in for service. Recommendations for this; find a shop you trust and go there for all your repairs and maintenance. It is easy to stop by the quick lube because you are in a hurry or go from shop to shop because of a special. The issue with this is that no one ever gets to know your vehicle. Therefore, mileage-based recommendations are either never performed because you, the client, feels like the shop is “just trying to sell you things” or they are performed more than needed because the shop doesn’t know if you have replaced them. When you go to the same shop they will be able to make better recommendations because they know the history of the vehicle, what you use the vehicle for, your family’s needs, etc.

The other way to know that your filters are being replaced at the right time is to go by the 1-year or 15,000-mile replacement. Honestly, you should not need to keep track of when your vehicle needs service so finding a shop you trust is key. There are too many services to keep track of between filters, fluids, spark plugs, alignment, shocks, struts, etc. that you want a shop giving you a maintenance plan. The maintenance should be simple and predicable, helping you create a budget to keep your vehicle in top condition in the most cost-effective manner possible.

We hope this helps you know and understand more about your cabin air filter as well as maintenance in general. Please reach out to us with any questions.

Give us a call at (815) 877-4277 if you suspect you may have an issue related to this post.  We are committed to keeping you, as well as your family, safe while on the road!

The post Cabin air filter. What are you breathing? appeared first on Carz R Us.

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Who is checking the bulbs on your vehicle?

When your vehicle goes into a shop are they checking everything? We hear stories all the time about people getting pulled over for a bulb that wasn’t working; often they didn’t even know the bulb was out. Those bulbs include:

  • Headlight
  • Turn signal
  • Running light
  • Brake light
  • License plate light
  • Fog light
  • Hazard lights
  • Tail light
  • Interior driving lamps
Whose job is it to check these bulbs?

It is always the driver’s responsibility to have working lights. However, it is quite challenging to check your brake lights while you are driving. So, how does Carz R’ Us handle this? We check your bulbs every time the vehicle comes in for service and send you pictures in our Digital Vehicle Health Inspection showing you any bulbs that are not working properly. You can then make an informed decision about a replacement.

The reason we check all the bulbs on your vehicle is to help you avoid potential safety concerns as well as any fines that may be assessed. If a brake light doesn’t work, or, worse yet, all the brake lights don’t work, this can be a direct cause of an accident. This may be some sort of electrical issue or just normal wear and tear, but if you have the knowledge and ability to fix it you could save someone’s life.

Do bulbs give indications that they are not working?

Some bulbs give you signs they are not working like when the turn signal flashes very quickly on the side that the bulb is out. However, it doesn’t indicate front or rear. Some vehicles will have indications on the dash telling you a bulb is out, but that is only certain makes and models. For the most part this just needs to be handled the old fashion way; check them and make sure they work. If you are not sure what bulbs should be on and when they should be on this can be tricky.

Is this a do-it-yourself project?

This completely depends on your abilities and the vehicle on which you will be working. Some bulbs are very easy to change, but some require the entire bumper cover, wheel well, or other components to be removed from the car. If you have the tools and knowledge to tackle these do so, but many people don’t want to mess with this labor intensive of a job. If you are going to take on a project like this remember a couple tips: don’t touch the bulb with your fingers (use a cloth or something that will not damage the bulb when touching it) and worse case it is not just a bulb what are your plans?

It may be very easy to replace a bulb, but sometimes it is something electrical shorting out the bulb. If you are not comfortable handling this, you may not want to start the project. If you do decide to take on the project and it requires a significant amount of parts to be removed, we strongly urge you to consider “do I want to do this all over again when another bulb burns out?” If the answer is no, then replace all the bulbs in that assembly.

Give us a call at (815) 877-4277 if you suspect you may have an issue related to this post.  We are committed to keeping you, as well as your family, safe while on the road!

The post Headlights. Ever get pulled over for a burned out bulb? appeared first on Carz R Us.

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Ever had a pair of jeans that are too big? When you wear those jeans, you use a belt to hold them in place. That belt you wear with your outfit is not much different than the belt for your car. The belt on your car is used to drive (spin) many different components. Just like the belt you wear has holes to keep it at the proper tension, a car has a tensioner to keep it in place and tight. Older cars had adjustable belts, but the newer vehicles use a hydraulic or spring-loaded tensioner.

Reasons you may consider replacing your belt

  • It has begun to stretch and is not holding tension
  • Age: it is old, dry, cracked and/or brittle
  • It is making noise
  • It has chunks missing, cuts or any other visual sign of wear
  • It has had a fluid leak onto it

Types of belts on your car

  • Serpentine belt (vehicle has only 1 belt that drives everything)
  • Air conditioning belt
  • Power steering belt
  • Water pump belt
  • Alternator belt
  • Timing belt

Some vehicles have only one belt that drives all belt driven components such as the power steering pump, alternator, air conditioning compressor, water pump, etc. Other vehicles may have several belts that drive two or three components. These are called exterior drive belts. They should be replaced based on age or miles driven, whichever comes first. We recommend the exterior belts to be replaced every 7 years or 100,000 miles, but weather conditions and other factors can shorten their lifespan. For example, if a vehicle has an oil leak that is dripping on the belt it needs to be replaced. Any fluid leaking onto a belt ruins the strength of that belt. If a belt must be removed to replace a component it is a good idea to replace the belt at the same time to save on labor costs.

The other type of belt is the timing belt. Timing belts are located behind the timing cover and not visible in a normal vehicle inspection. They are replaced based on age and/or mileage like your exterior belts. The major difference is that they are not visible. This means they can be wearing badly, becoming loose or any other issue and no one will know. If a timing belt slips off, snaps or in any way stop spinning the engine the vehicle can have a catastrophic failure. We recommend replacing timing belts slightly earlier than the manufacturer recommended mileage to help ensure this does not happen.

The purpose of a belt is to drive (spin or rotate to create power) a component of the vehicle. Each belt drives a different component(s), but the main purpose of them is the same. If a belt stops spinning due to any reason (tension breaks, pulley breaks, etc.) the vehicle can lose power, overheat, or cause much worse problems. If you see a belt not attached do NOT drive the vehicle. This is a case you want to have the vehicle towed to avoid incurring any unnecessary expenses.

Give us a call at (815) 877-4277 if you suspect you may have an issue related to this post.  We are committed to keeping you, as well as your family, safe while on the road!

The post Belt. Do you need a new one for your car? appeared first on Carz R Us.

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Carz R’ Us Blog by Carz R Us Admin - 9M ago

There are two types of brakes for today’s cars and light trucks – disc brakes and drum brakes. Your vehicle may have one or both types of brakes, with disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the rear. While they are being used less and less, drum brakes are still found on vehicles and will need servicing or replacement at some point. The main difference between the two brake systems is that drum brake shoes expand outward and disc brake pads contract to stop the vehicle.

Drum brake systems, which pre-date disc brakes, use the following wheel brake components:

  1. Wheel Cylinder – When you press the brake pedal, the wheel cylinder pistons expand to press the brake shoes outward onto the rotating drum to stop the vehicle.
  2. Brake Drum- The brake drum is spun by the axle or wheel hub. In newer vehicles, drum brakes are typically on the rear axle, but older vehicles will have drum brakes on both axles.
  3. Brake Shoe – Brake shoes have a friction material lining so when the brake pedal is applied, the brake shoes are forced by hydraulic wheel cylinders against the inner surface of a rotating brake drum, allowing the vehicle to slow down and stop. Friction lining may be made from the organic, semi-metallic or ceramic material.
  4. Brake Hardware – New brake hardware will increase the lifespan and improve the performance of your drum brakes, restoring the brakes to like-new performance. The hardware contains springs, clips, adjusters and other components.

A common issue with drum brake systems is “leaking” wheel cylinders. This happens when the brake fluid pushes past the seal in the cylinder, soaking the brake components. The fluid ruins the components, therefore they must be replaced if this happens.

Cleaning and adjusting a drum brake system is considered a regular, preventative maintenance service – recommend approximately every 40,000 miles. If the brake pedal starts to travel more than it used to, this may be a sign system is in need of adjustments.

Drums can go out of round. If this happens, you will feel a pulsation in the brake pedal and/or steering wheel. The drum can be resurfaced to correct this if the drum is thick enough. If not, it will need to be replaced.

Whether your vehicle uses drum brakes, disc brakes, or both, Carz R’ Us is your source for the highest quality brake parts and service. We also offer a 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty. View our Drum Brakes video to learn more, or call and schedule your appointment today.

Give us a call at (815) 877-4277 if you suspect you may have an issue related to this post.  We are committed to keeping you, as well as your family, safe while on the road!

The post Drum Brakes appeared first on Carz R Us.

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Carz R’ Us Blog by Carz R Us Admin - 9M ago

A terrible feeling is to know you “should” have replaced your cars battery, but didn’t. Image being stuck somewhere waiting on a tow truck because your vehicle doesn’t start, it is super cold, the kids in the back are extremely hungry and you’re late for an appointment. This is typically when your vehicle decides not to start. The big question is “how long should the battery in your car last?”

This is a great question and the true answer is “it depends”. A simple rule would be to replace your battery every four to five years. If you are in a climate that has extreme temps error on the earlier side. If you are someone that likes to roll the dice you can wait longer. However, if you are someone that depends on their vehicle and can’t afford delays replace your battery every four years.

Sometimes a vehicle will show signs that it is in need of replacing, however, sometimes they will go from working fine to not starting your vehicle. Some signs you may notice that can be from a week battery are:

  • Vehicle turns over slow
  • Lights start to dim (interior and/or exterior)
  • Modules (computers) can shut down such as your navigation or other auxiliary items not required to drive
  • Dash indicator lights (example check engine light) come on
  • Vehicle goes into “safe” mode or “reduced power” mode

If you notice any of the signs listed above bring your vehicle into a local repair shop. Knowing some common issues with batteries and making sure your repair shop is checking them can assist with your battery lasting longer as well as helping to ensure proper operation. First, the battery cable ends must be tight. Many times these loosen over time due to the vibrations of the vehicle and, left unchecked, can cause your vehicle to be towed. The battery hold down is designed to minimize the vibrations. If this is missing make sure it is replaced to help avoid this issue.

A second issue is corrosion on the cable ends and battery posts. This is only an issue on under hood batteries that have top posts. If your battery is this style make sure it is properly cleaned annually. One great service is to have battery protector pads installed, which deflect the battery acid fumes when they escape the top of the battery. This prevents the corrosion for about a year and help extends battery life.

Believe it or not, batteries have many different locations on a vehicle. If the battery is not under the hood there will be jump posts under the hood. These can easily be mistaken for the battery location and when the battery is tested from this location the tests are very inaccurate. We recommend replaced batteries that are in other locations than under the hood based on age and not a battery test. Some of the locations for batteries are:

  • Under the hood top or side post (side post batteries do not corrode)
  • Trunk
  • Wheel well
  • Under the seat
  • Under the floor board

Another huge factor in the life span of a battery is avoiding the battery being drained to have no charge. When the battery goes down this far it significantly affects the life of the battery and may never charge properly again.

For any questions on your battery or starting charging system give us a call. Carz R’ Us is your source for the highest quality batteries and service. We sell Interstate Batteries, which have a minimum warranty of 24 months free replacement and 60 months prorated. View our Battery video to learn more, or call and schedule your appointment today.

Give us a call at (815) 877-4277 if you suspect you may have an issue related to this post.  We are committed to keeping you, as well as your family, safe while on the road!

The post Battery Cables and Ends appeared first on Carz R Us.

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Carz R’ Us Blog by Carz R Us Admin - 9M ago

What are Ball Joints?

Virtually every car has them: ball joints, a steel bearing stud and socket that connects your vehicle’s control arm and spindle, similar to a person’s hip joint.

Most ball joints have rubber boots that keep dirt and debris from penetrating the vehicle’s internal components. When a ball joint starts to lose its strength, it will typically make noise and will become loose. If the ball joint completely let’s go, the wheel of your automobile will flip sideways. Loose ball joints may make a clicking, popping or snapping sound when hitting bumps and/or turning the wheel, indicating that immediate service and repair is needed.

What are Control Arms?

A control arm is a hinged suspension component that attaches the chassis to the suspension (spindle, hub, etc.) that carries the wheel. The control arm contains a ball joint as well as bushings and a slightly curved or, often times, wishbone-shaped component. Replacing the entire control arm versus just the ball joint offers better value and long-term repair since the bushings in the control arm are replaced at the same time. These bushings wear over time as they are rubber, so replacing the entire control arm saves future budget. Sometimes the ball joints are not able to be pressed out of the control arm in order to replace them, requiring the entire control arm to be replaced.

Some vehicles have only a lower control arm and some vehicles have upper and lower control arms.

Inspecting Ball Joints and Control Arms

To inspect ball joints, a technician will put your vehicle on a lift and push the wheel back and forth to see if it moves. The tire should be completely tight to the vehicle and no noise be present when pushing on the wheel. If there is any movement or noise there is a loose component. A trained technician needs to determine what is causing the symptom as multiple components can cause these same symptoms. The more the ball joints loosen, the greater chance that the tires will show signs of uneven wear. Like ball joints, control arms will wear over time.

If you believe you have a worn out or failing control arms or ball joints or any noise that you may be hearing, let Carz R’ Us provide a vehicle inspection to diagnose the problem. We’ll provide the best options for maintenance and repair so you can get your vehicle back on the road, keeping you and your passengers safe.

Give us a call at (815) 877-4277 if you suspect you may have an issue related to this post.  We are committed to keeping you, as well as your family, safe while on the road!

The post Ball Joints and Control Arms appeared first on Carz R Us.

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Carz R’ Us Blog by Carz R Us Admin - 9M ago

Carz R’ Us has been seeing an increase of drive shaft issues coming through the shop lately that our clients are unaware of, which is why our courtesy inspections are important during every service that we provide. Recently, we had a Saturn Vue come into our shop for an oil change. During our courtesy inspection, we noticed that the drive shaft was extremely loose, causing a potential hazard on the road.

So, what exactly is a drive shaft? The drive shaft sometimes referred to as a propeller shaft, is a hollow steel component underneath the vehicle that transmits torque and rotation from the engine to the wheels. They are most commonly found on vehicles that have rear-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive. The drive shaft consists of a few components, such as tube shafts, yokes, and U-joints. These components are illustrated in the diagram at the top of the post.

The most common symptoms of a drive shaft problem include vibrations and noises coming from underneath the car. Some of the noises it may make include scraping, rattling, or even a clunking sound. If the vehicle has any of those symptoms, take it to an auto repair shop immediately. We have included a link to our YouTube video below of the Saturn Vue that had a very loose drive shaft. Fixing this issue is critical and Carz R’ Us is committed to making sure all of our clients are back on the road safely. On average, a drive shaft lasts approximately 75,000 miles so it should be checked regularly.

LOOSE DRIVE SHAFT ON A SATURN VUE - YouTube

Give us a call at (815) 877-4277 if you suspect you may have an issue related to this post.  We are committed to keeping you, as well as your family, safe while on the road!

The post Drive Shaft Basics: 101 appeared first on Carz R Us.

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