MasterTech is an ASE-certified technicians offer repair and maintenance services for all foreign and domestic cars, SUVs, vans, and light trucks. Visit our auto repair and car maintenance blog regularly for advice on how to keep your car running smoothly, and what to look for if you need service.
Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of a bad fuel pump is a good idea because it will allow you to act quickly at the first sign of trouble. If your fuel pump is malfunctioning, fuel won’t be adequately pumped from the gas tank to your vehicle’s engine. Obviously, that’s not good news for your car.
Symptoms of a Bad Fuel Pump
Here’s what to look out for:
1. A Drop in Gas Mileage
A drop in gas mileage is a sure sign that something is going wrong with your vehicle. Keeping track of how often you have to gas up is a good idea. In the case of a failing fuel pump, you will notice that you are going through more gas than usual because the relief valve in the pump is not opening, allowing too much gas to flow into the engine.
2. Surging Speeds as You’re Going Down the Road
In some cases, you’ll be driving down the road at an average speed, and suddenly the vehicle will gain speed and surge forward as if you pushed on the gas. Irregular resistance in the motor of your fuel pump is usually the cause.
3. Losing Power When Climbing Hills
When your vehicle is under stress from pulling a trailer or climbing up hills, you may notice a loss of power if your fuel pump is failing. This happens because the elements in your fuel pump are beginning to weaken, and the pump is having difficulty keeping up with the increased fuel demands of the car’s engine.
4. Check Your Fuel Pressure Gauge
Keep an eye your fuel pressure gauge because it will tell you how much gas is getting to the vehicle’s engine. Have someone else rev your car while you check the gauge. Refer to your owner’s manual to see how much pressure you should expect. If it’s too low, that’s a sure sign your fuel pump is failing.
5. Pay Attention to Your Temperature Gauge
Rising temperature is another indicator of a failing fuel pump. If your car gets hot and then stalls, that’s a clear symptom of a failing fuel pump.
6. Sputtering Engine
One of the key symptoms of a failing fuel pump when a vehicle’s engine sputters at highs speeds but then resumes functioning normally. The sputtering of the engine occurs because your fuel pump is unable to supply fuel consistently.
7. In The End, Your Car Won’t Start
If you choose to ignore the early symptoms of fuel pump failure, eventually your car will not start. Once the pump fails completely, the engine will not get any fuel, so the engine will crank but not start.
Fuel Pump Replacement Cost
It can cost anywhere from $260-$1009 to have your fuel pump replaced by a mechanic. The price will vary dramatically based on the type of car you have and the cost of the parts. You can save some money if you’re willing to do the work yourself, but this should only be attempted by someone with experience because the procedure is very complicated.
Your fuel pump is crucial to the performance of your vehicle, so you don’t want to risk making mistakes. If you do plan to do the work yourself, the pump itself will cost $50-$200 or more. Fuel pumps are made by several manufacturers, including Walbro, Carter, Holley, Inline, Airtex, and Delphi, so you will need to do your research to find the best deal on the correct fuel pump for your vehicle.
Fluctuations in power and increased fuel usage are two of the first signs you’ll notice if your fuel pump is going bad. Ignoring the symptoms of a failing fuel pump could leave you stranded, so it’s best to act quickly when you notice a problem. It’s best to see your mechanic at the first sign of trouble.
If you’re a little nervous about buying your first car, you’re not alone! The process of choosing the right car and getting a loan can be a bit daunting, especially if it’s your first time. These ten tips will answer all your biggest questions and help ensure a smooth transaction.
1. Start by Setting a Budget
Before you even start looking at cars, you need to figure out how much you can afford to spend. The best way to figure how much money you can afford for your new car is to create a budget that includes all of your monthly expenses, from rent and food to recreation and health insurance. Now, tally in your estimated fuel costs, car insurance, and maintenance. The amount that’s left over can be used for your monthly car payment.
2. Define Your Needs
Everyone has a dream car, but that convertible or sports car you’ve been eyeing might not be the best choice for your first car. What you really need is a car that will meet your day to day needs. Would a pickup or minivan be more practical for your job? How about a compact four-door? Don’t forget that sports cars are more expensive to insure, and pickups go through a lot of gas. Consider where you’ll be parking, too. Parking a pickup in the city could get quite expensive.
3. Prioritize Your Wants and Needs
It’s ok to have some wants, too, so a make a list of everything you want in your new car. Then, sit down and prioritize your needs and wants. Once you know what’s really important to you, the process of choosing a car will be much easier.
4. Research, Research, Research
Spend some time online researching the cars you’re interested in. Gas mileage is important, but take a look at average monthly maintenance and safety ratings too. If you know or see someone who has the same type of car your interested in, ask them how they like it. Gather as much information as you can before you even go into the dealership. Knowing your facts will help ensure that a fast-talking salesman doesn’t get the best of you.
5. Find a Reputable Dealer
Research the dealership just like you did the car. Spend a little time looking at reviews online and ask friends and relatives for recommendations. Consider sticking to a dealership that’s close to home so you can take some time to think about your decision before you make a purchase.
6. Always Go for a Test Drive
Even after you do all of your research, the test drive is still the most crucial part of selecting a car. There are so many variables that can make the vehicle comfortable or uncomfortable… everything from the layout of the dash to the wheel adjustment and the seat height to visibility needs to be experienced first-hand. Try to drive the car in a variety of conditions and speeds and spend at least half an hour behind the wheel. If the sales guy doesn’t want to give you 30 minutes, make an appointment when he has more time, or go to a different dealership. If you don’t know a lot about cars, you should also have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic.
7. Determine a Fair Purchase Price and Make an Offer
Up to this point, you’re still in the research phase. Now that you’ve narrowed down your choices and you know what you can afford, you need to figure out what a fair price is for the car you want. Many people use the Kelley Blue Book to determine how much a car is worth, but a credit union can also be an excellent resource. Once you’ve decided on a fair price, give yourself a little wiggle room and make an offer.
8. Weigh Your Financing Options
Although most dealerships will have finance reps that work with individual banks to get you a loan, you might be able to secure a better deal if you get your financing approved in advance. Speak with your personal credit union or bank ahead of time to see what kind of interest rate and financing they can offer you. You can still go with the dealer’s option later if it turns out to be a better choice but having funding in advance ensures that the dealer isn’t holding all the cards.
9. Getting Financed When You Don’t Have Credit History
Many first-time car buyers don’t have an established credit history. If this is true in your situation, you might have the best luck getting financed if you go to the bank where you have your checking and savings accounts. They will know you better than anyone else and can usually offer you the best rates.
10. Make a Down Payment
A down payment isn’t always required when you purchase a car, even for a first-time car buyer. However, making one can be very beneficial, mainly because you won’t have to borrow as much money. That means your monthly payment will be lower. According to experts at Bank of America, for every $1,000 you can apply as a down payment on your car, your monthly payment will be about $20 lower.
All this advice probably doesn’t make car buying sound like much fun, but it really can be. Spend some time in the research phase and really enjoy the process. After all, you only get to buy your first car once!
There are several things to consider when shopping for a new or used car. For many, the major negotiating point is usually the sticker price. But the price tag shouldn’t be your only consideration. Knowing how much money the vehicle is likely to cost in repairs and maintenance over time is also an essential factor. Obviously, not all trucks and cars are created equal, and you may be surprised to find that some vehicles cost a lot more to maintain than others. Here is our list of the 10 most high maintenance cars and trucks on the road to help you make an informed decision about which vehicle is right for you.
1. Acura TL
It probably won’t surprise you to find an Acura on our list of the highest maintenance vehicles. These cars are a luxury brand manufactured by Honda, and luxury often means more money up front and higher maintenance over time. That certainly holds true in this case! These vehicles have a high sticker price, and buyers of the Acura TL should expect to spend at least $1,000 per year just on maintenance. Sadly, many folks don’t find the Acura TL to be as sharp looking as some others models in this line, and when you add in the high maintenance costs, this car is definitely one to steer clear of.
2. Subaru Forester
Subaru has a lot of loyal followers, and the Forester is undoubtedly a favorite model in their lineup. The 2017 model was released with a new engine, but this SUV remains mostly unchanged from the earlier models that earned it so much popularity. Although this car is somewhat expensive to maintain, it still has a lot to offer and it’s worth considering if you find a good deal.
3. Mazda 6
There’s no question that the Mazda 6 is a sharp looking car, both inside and out. Mazda is a company that wants to make driving fun, and they’ve certainly succeeded by putting a 2.5-liter turbo engine in the 2018 model of the Mazda 6. Unfortunately, the Mazda 6 not only has the look of a premium car, but it also has the high price tag that goes along with it. Not only that, but Mazda 6 owners can plan on spending upwards of $1,200 every year on maintenance alone.
4. Dodge Ram 1500
If you are trying to make a choice between the Ford F-150 and the Dodge Ram 1500, you will probably find the two models very comparable. Although Dodge’s Ram 1500 is a little cheaper out of the gate than Ford F-150, you might also want to consider that fact that you’ll have to fork out another $1,330 per year in maintenance for Ram. In the long run, you would end up spending more for Ram 1500, but it’s still an awesome truck with just as many pluses as Ford’s F-150. In the end, the tiebreaker really comes down to personal preference… and the higher average maintenance cost of the 1500.
5. Dodge Grand Caravan
When you think of a family vehicle like the Dodge Grand Caravan, you might be expecting a more reasonable up-front price tag and lower maintenance cost, but that’s simply not the case with this mini-van. Every vehicle in the Dodge lineup has remained pretty much the same for the last seven years, and without any updates, this model remains mediocre when compared to the competition. Although Dodge has released some new vehicles in recent years, the future of Caravan doesn’t look too good, especially when you consider the high annual maintenance cost of a whopping $1,450.
6. Chevrolet Cobalt
Did you know that the Chevy Cobalt had the highest fatality rate among compact cars? With its poor safety ratings and millions of recalls, you gotta wonder if Chevy got anything right with this vehicle. Oh, and did we mention that annual maintenance costs for a new Cobalt averaged $1,540 every year? If you run into a deal on a used Cobalt, turn around and run the other way! No matter how cheap it is, it’s not worth your life or the crazy maintenance costs.
7. Mercedes-Benz E350
You can’t deny that Mercedes just screams luxury and status. The Mercedes E350 has better performance and fuel economy than most of the competition, but you’re going to pay a steep price for it. This vehicle is going to hit you hard with the sticker price, and then you can expect to pay out an additional $1,470 per year just to keep it on the road. Just how important is “status” to you?
8. Nissan Murano
Nissan’s Murano is a fantastic SUV that received a nomination for the North American Truck of the Year. This model is known for being an unbelievably comfortable ride, and the exterior is sharp, too. So, what’s the drawback? You’ll need to set back $1,470 each year to maintain a Murano. At twice the maintenance cost of most other models in Nissan’s lineup, that’s pretty steep.
9. BMW 328I
We’ve already talked about the high cost of a “status” car with the above-mentioned Mercedes E350. German made BMW 328I offers similar appeal for many folks. People love their BMWs because they are luxurious and handle like a dream, but they are extremely expensive right out of the gate. Unfortunately, this vehicle costs even more to maintain than the E350, at an average of $1,560 per year.
10. Chrysler Sebring
Rounding up our list of the neediest vehicles on the road is the Chrysler Sebring. Chryslers aren’t exactly known for reliability or performance, and this vehicle is no different. Sadly, there aren’t many good things to say about this car in the first place. To top it off, average annual maintenance for a Sebring is a shocking $1,710.
It’s important to consider maintenance cost as well as sticker price when you’re in the market for a new or used car. Doing your research ahead of time could save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run. After all, what good is a low car payment if you’re always forking out money for repairs?
Don’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking about preventing car theft. Taking steps to prevent auto theft will ensure your vehicle isn’t one of the cars stolen every 44 seconds in the United States. Unfortunately, even though about 50% of those vehicles are reunited with their owners, they have often been stripped down for parts or crashed during a joy ride. If you want to stop a criminal from taking off with your car, you need to know how to stop them in their tracks. Here are the top seven ways to prevent auto-theft.
1. Always Lock Your Car
Every time you park your car, even if you’re right in your own driveway, close the windows and lock the doors. This may seem like an obvious step to take, but it’s easy to get lazy about locking up when you’re in a hurry. Don’t be tempted to leave the windows cracked in the summer either. You’re just making it easier (and faster) for a thief to enter your car unnoticed. Always teach new drivers in your household to lock up the vehicle securely every time they park it.
2. Park Strategically
Parking strategically is a brilliant and effective way to prevent auto theft, and it won’t cost you a penny. Choose a well-lit area that’s close to the entrance of the building. If there are security cameras, that’s even better. Many people think that parking in a parking garage is the safest option, but they aren’t actually all that safe. If you must park in a parking garage, park your car as close to the attendant and the security cameras as you can.
3. Never Leave Valuables in Your Car
Leaving valuables in your vehicle is just asking for trouble. Leaving your iPad sitting on the seat of the car is sure to attract attention, and not in a good way! Thieves have even been known to break into cars to steal loose change. Once a thief is tempted to break into your car, he might decide to follow through and steal your car. Putting valuables in the trunk isn’t always the best idea either, because thieves often hang out in parking lots watching for just such an opportunity. If you know you’re going to be away from your car in a public place, consider leaving valuable items at home.
4. Use an Effective Anti-Theft Device
Not only could anti-theft device help to prevent your car from being stolen, but it could also get you a discount on your car insurance. These devices are very effective for deterring thieves because they’re usually looking for easy targets that can be entered quickly and quietly, without attracting attention. Steering wheel locks are ok if that’s all you can afford, but they can be easily defeated with a set of bolt cutters. The best anti-theft device is one that’s equipped with an immobilizer system that stops potential thieves from being able to hotwire your car. Auto theft rates are highest in Texas, California, and Florida, so if you live in one of these states, installing an anti-theft device on your vehicle would be an especially good idea.
5. Consider Utilizing a Tech-Based Auto Recovery Tool
No matter how cautious you are, the worst may still happen. If your car has an auto recovery tool installed, you may be able to recover your car before thieves have time to destroy it. One example of such a system is OnStar. This tool uses GPS technology to locate your vehicle, and then transmits the location to the police so the vehicle can be recovered. This system can also lock your car’s ignition remotely while working in cooperation with police to send a signal to your car that slows it down safely during a pursuit.
6. Never Leave Your Car Running
Many vehicle thefts can be prevented by taking common-sense precautions! Never leave your car running when you’re not in it, even in your own driveway. It’s tempting to let your car warm up on a frigid day, while you wait in your nice warm house. Unfortunately, as many as 1/3 of vehicle thefts occur close to home. Not only does leaving your car running serve as an open invitation for thieves, but it might also be illegal in your state. So, turn your car off any time you’re not behind the steering wheel.
7. Keep All of Your Car Keys in a Safe Place
Many folks like to hide a spare key somewhere on their vehicle, but this could be a huge mistake. Keep all of your car keys in a safe place, even your spares. It’s no different from hiding a spare key to your front door under the matt. Criminals know all about these hiding places, so resist the temptation. While it would be inconvenient to get locked out of your car, having your car stolen and destroyed by thieves would be a lot worse.
Don’t be a potential victim for car thieves. Following these seven tips will make your car a less appealing target and prevent thieves from hitting the road in your vehicle. Best of all, most of these ideas won’t cost a penny to implement!
Is premium gasoline really better than regular? Is it actually required for your vehicle, is it just recommended b the manufacturer? Read on to find out if you could be saving about $200 per year at the pump.
Is it necessary to use premium gas?
Take a look at your owner’s manual to find out what your car’s manufacturer recommends. Some vehicles will also have a sticker located on the inside of the fuel door that says what type of gas the vehicle needs for optimum performance. If your vehicle has a sticker that says, “Premium Fuel Only” and an octane rating, then premium fuel is recommended for your vehicle.
But, here’s the thing. Just because premium fuel is recommended, that doesn’t mean it’s absolutely necessary, or your car won’t run properly. It simply means that you should use premium fuel to achieve the best engine performance, the most horsepower, and the most torque your car’s engine can provide. So, is it really necessary? The short answer is no, but you’ll get the most out of your engine if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
What is the difference between regular gas and premium gas?
In the simplest of terms, premium gasoline is gasoline that has a higher octane than regular gas. When you use a lower octane fuel, it’s more likely that engine combustion will happen when it’s not supposed to. When you use the right octane level for your car, combustion should happen precisely when it’s supposed to.
A mistimed explosion in the engine is called an engine knock because it sounds like a knocking or pinging in the engine. Using gas with a higher octane makes engine knock much less likely. If you do notice a ping or knock once in a while, it’s not a big deal, but if your engine is knocking a lot, it could shorten our engine’s longevity.
If you have a newer vehicle, it may be equipped with a knock sensor that can actually change the spark plug’s timing to help eliminate engine knock. If premium fuel is recommended for your call, you can get away with using regular fuel, but your car may perform better with premium fuel.
When should you use premium gas?
If your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends premium gas but doesn’t state that it’s required, you may wish to test different grades of gasoline to see if it really affects your car’s performance enough to make it worth the extra expense. Drive your car until it’s under a quarter tank of gas and then fill it up with premium gas. Make notes about your gas mileage and your vehicle’s performance through two full tanks of premium gasoline. Then, repeat the process with regular gasoline. If you notice that your engine doesn’t run as smoothly, or your gas mileage suffers with regular gas, you should probably stick to premium.
You should also read your vehicle’s warranty carefully before you decide. In some cases, your warranty may become void if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to use premium gas. If that’s the case with your vehicle, you should definitely use only premium gas to avoid having to pay for costly repairs out of your own pocket.
Is premium gas better than regular gas?
It should be noted that switching to premium gasoline doesn’t always mean your car will perform better. Performance is also influenced by your car’s technology and several other factors. Premium gas doesn’t clean out your engine, either. Don’t put premium gas in a car that doesn’t need it and expect it to improve performance.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your vehicle and your wallet. If you do decide to ignore the manufacturer’s recommendations, be sure to pay close attention to how your vehicle is running and switch back to premium at the first sign of trouble.
It’s surprising how many people risk driving on flooded roads each year. Many who risk it require help from emergency crews, which puts them in danger as well. If you find yourself approaching an area where water is covering the roadway, you need to be extremely cautious, and whenever possible, turn around and find a different route. Never drive down a road if the water appears to be more than 6 inches deep, especially at night when it’s harder to see where you’re going.
Why is Driving on a Flooded Road so Dangerous?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, many drownings occur as a result of driving on flooded roads. Many people think that cars are too heavy to float away, but that’s just not the case. All it takes is six inches of standing water to make you lose control of your car, and many cars can be completely carried away by only two feet of water. If your car is small, water all it takes is 12 inches deep to move it.
Driving through standing water can also cause your engine to suck in water and stall, leaving you stranded. At the very least, you risk losing control and hitting a tree or some other object. In the worst-case scenario, the water may continue to rise, putting you or your passengers at risk of drowning. There could also be power lines in the water, which could cause electrocution.
Often, a driver will approach a water-covered roadway and think it’s shallow enough for them to get across, only to get part way through and discover the water is much deeper than they thought it was. Even if emergency crews are able to rescue you successfully, driving through flood waters could do significant damage to your vehicle. Try to have everything you need on hand when storms are approaching, so you’re not forced to drive in dangerous conditions.
Keeping Yourself and Your Vehicle Safer on Flooded Roads
Never drive through water that’s moving or is deeper than curb level. If you have no choice but to drive down a flooded roadway, here are some things you can do keep yourself safer and possibly prevent damage to your vehicle.
First of all, drive slowly. Don’t go over 25 to 35 miles per hour to avoid splashing water up under your vehicle and possibly onto its electronic components. If your engine has sucked in water, don’t try to restart it. Your injectors and spark plugs must be removed first to allow the water to drain out.
Even if you drive a 4×4 with a high-level air intake, it could still be washed away by rushing water. If you feel your vehicle losing its grip on the road, you may be starting to float. As crazy as it sounds, you should try opening the door to let some water into the vehicle to weigh it down so it can get a grip on the road again.
Once you’re all the way through the water, your brakes will be wet. Driving very slowly, test the brakes to see if they will stop the vehicle. You may need to tap the brakes gently several times to dry them off before they will begin working properly again.
A day or two after you have driven through water, you should have it checked over by a qualified technician. The intake manifold and differential fluid should be checked to make sure there’s no moisture in them. The belts should also be inspected, and the oil changed to prevent future issues. If there’s a pink tinge to your transmission fluid, it probably has water in it.
You should avoid driving through water whenever possible. If you are forced to drive through standing water for some reason, following these tips could keep you safer and possibly prevent damage to your vehicle.
Once you know the value, set your asking price a bit higher, but don’t go above the next thousand.
This keeps your price competitive without turning away prospective buyers. It also gives you room to negotiate. If you don’t want to settle, set your price AT value and list the price as “firm” when you advertise.
Collect the Paperwork Collecting everything you need upfront will save you stress at the last minute.
It’s inevitable that some components will begin to wear out. The good news is if you know what to watch out for you can avoid unexpected and usually expensive repairs. Here’s an overview of the signs to watch out for, and what you can do about them.
One of the first signs of rust will be bubbles forming in the paint, especially around the vehicle’s wheel wells and on the hood, trunk, or roof. Those bubbles could be red flags that a more serious problem is occurring under the surface of the paint.
The best course of action, in this case, is to have your repair shop evaluate the damage. You can patch your surface rust, but at some point, there may be a structural weakness that could jeopardize the safety of the vehicle.
If you are having trouble starting your car, or you are noticing that your vehicle’s engine is running rough or is misfiring, there’s a good chance your spark plugs need an immediate change.
You can replace the plugs yourself, but a special tool is required to make sure they’re gapped correctly. For newer cars, it might be better to have a certified mechanic handle it, but if your cart dates before 1990, you should be able to take care of it yourself.
Oil Leaks and Increased Oil Consumption
It is pretty standard for older cars to consume more oil, so it’s not a major red flag. However, if your car seems to be going through a lot of oil, there may be an oil leak.
If you suspect your vehicle is leaking oil, you should consider taking it to your mechanic right away. Since oil helps your engine dissipate heat, low oil levels can lead to other problems in your engine.
Failing radiators and thermostats are a ommon cause of overheating in older cars. If you notice that your car’s coolant level is low, it could be a signal of a leak in one of the hoses, the engine, or possibly even the radiator itself.
When the engine runs too hot, it can lead to damaged parts or complete engine failure. Keeping an eye on your older vehicle’s fluid levels is crucial for preventing severe issues that could be expensive to fix or leave you stranded on the side of the road.
Worn Out Struts and Shocks
If your car bounces up and down as you go down the street, it’s possible your struts and shocks are worn out. It could also be a sign that your tires are worn unevenly.
These issues should be addressed right away because they could lead to problems with handling, not to mention putting unnecessary wear on your tires. Changing struts and shocks is best handled by a certified mechanic.
If you start to notice that your windshield is always foggy, and you seem to be losing coolant, it could be a sign that your heater core is failing.
The heater core is located right under the dashboard, and even a tiny hole can cause interior fogging. If this problem goes unaddressed, it could result in an overheating engine, which could lead to engine damage.
You’ll want to have the heater core replaced as soon as possible to minimize future damage.
When you notice a red flag in your older vehicle, don’t ignore it. Have a professional mechanic check it out right away to avoid more expensive repairs in the future. And of course, nobody wants to end up stranded on the side of the road either!
While car care tasks are just part of life for any car owner, performing unnecessary maintenance or repairs can be costly. In some cases, it could actually do more harm than good.
On the other hand, needed regular maintenance can prevent major car problems. So, what’s necessary and what isn’t? Here’s a quick look at the top 10 car care myths to help you know the difference.
1. You should always use premium gasoline.
Premium just sounds better, right? Actually, in many cases, regular gas is better. High octane, premium gas is usually only recommended for high compression engines. It’s best to use the octane level that’s recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
2. Your tires should be replaced when you notice tread wear.
Actually, your tires should be replaced before you see noticeable wear. Once the tread is visibly worn, the tire won’t be able to grip wet or snowy roads like it should, and your risk of hydroplaning is dramatically increased. Your tires should always have at least 4/32-inch in tread depth for safety.
3. You should always have your car serviced at the dealership.
Many people believe that they must have their vehicle serviced at the dealership or their warranty will be voided, but that’s not the case. As long as the required work is done on schedule, you can go to any reputable shop. Just be sure to keep good records and hang on to your receipts so you can prove the maintenance was done.
4. Mechanics recommend unnecessary repairs.
While it’s true that not every mechanic is honest, most of them are. An honest mechanic is going to tell you about potential problems and offer recommendations.
If you doubt that a repair needs to be done, ask to see the damaged part for yourself. When the part is broken or worn out, you should be able to tell. You can always pull up a picture of the part on Google to see what it’s supposed to look like.
5. It’s always more expensive to go to the dealership.
While it may be true that the dealership is more expensive in some cases, it’s always better to shop around and do your research. Choose your repair shop based on their reputation and the price of the price of the needed repairs.
6. The proper PSI for your tire is printed right on the tire.
The PSI that’s printed on your tire is actually the maximum PSI that’s recommended for that particular tire. Always check your owner’s manual for the proper PSI for your vehicle, not the tire. Overinflated tires can be dangerous and might even make your car more difficult to control.
7. You must change your oil every 3,000 miles.
Don’t listen to those little stickers your quick oil change shop puts on your windshield. Most newer vehicles can go about 7,500 miles before they need an oil change. Check your owner’s manual and follow their recommendations. It’s not going to hurt your car to change the oil more often, but it is a waste of your hard-earned money.
8. It’s perfectly safe to wash your car with dish soap.
While using dish soap to wash your car once in a while probably isn’t a big deal, using it on a regular basis will damage the paint. You know how using harsh soap dries out your hands? That’s what happens to your paint when it’s washed with dish soap repeatedly. Stick to a car-friendly soap to extend the life of your vehicle’s paint.
9. You don’t need to use a tire pressure gauge.
Many folks think they can just look at their tires to tell if the air pressure is right, but that can be very dangerous. If your tire is underinflated, there’s a much higher risk of a blowout. In the case of over inflation, your vehicle may be hard to control.
Even if your car has a dash indicator to tell you when your pressure is low, they aren’t activated until the pressure reaches 25% below the recommended level. It’s best to add air before it gets that low. A pressure gauge will be more accurate, and they’re easy to use. When it comes to safety, why take a chance?
10. Your tire must be replaced entirely if you run over a nail.
Replacing a tire could cost you $100 or more. A reputable tire repair shop can patch a small puncture from a nail or something similar for about $20.
The best way to know what your car really needs is to read your owner’s manual. Following the service guidelines recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer will help you avoid unnecessary expenses and repairs.
So, your car is making a funny sound. Not the kind of funny anyone enjoys, but the kind that sends your mind racing. What IS that noise? Is it coming from the engine? Does it signify a real problem? Am I going to be stranded on the side of the road? And, most importantly, how much is it going to cost to make it go away? All important questions, for sure.
Identifying the noise is the first step in diagnosing your car’s issue. It could be a small matter like the knock caused from using the wrong type of gasoline. Then again, it could be a little squeak that ultimately means a damaged suspension system.
Of course, your mechanic can tell for certain what the problem is, but understanding the noise your car is making may help you know if it’s an expensive emergency or just an annoyance until you have the time to deal with it.
Here are 10 of the most common noises cars make and what they mean:
1. Backfiring or Popping
A backfire, or loud pop can happen when the combustion is not getting hot enough to burn the fuel. This could be the result of a bad spark plug, coil, or plug wire. Backfiring can also be combustion in the muffler or exhaust system, delayed timing, or a cracked distributor cap. Most backfires will be accompanied by other symptoms, like the Check Engine Light.
If your vehicle chirps when you accelerate, this usually signifies a loose or slipping belt. It could also mean a misaligned drive pulley for something like the water pump.
A sudden clanging, like a piece of metal in the clothes dryer, could mean a loose lug nut inside a hub cap due to a wheel that wasn’t fully tightened the last time it was removed. This noise signifies a safety issue – get to your mechanic as soon as possible.
There are two places you can hear a clunk. If the noise happens while braking, you could have a damaged or improperly mounted brake caliper. If the clunking is a rhythmic banging under the hood, this could be an indication of a serious problem with valves, rods, or pistons. This should be addressed immediately.
A grinding noise may signify your brake pads are worn out and metal is rubbing against metal. This critical issue could be affecting the efficiency of your braking system. However, if the sound you hear is more of a squealing than a grinding, you may simply need new brake pads. If you are hearing either of these sounds, make an appointment with your mechanic to get your brakes checked out.
6. Hissing / Sizzling
When you first shut off your engine, if you hear a hiss or a sizzle, it likely means something is leaking. Could be coolant or oil dripping onto something like the exhaust manifold, or it could be a leaky vacuum line. If it also smells hot, your engine may be overheating. This is not something to ignore.
7. Humming / Whirring
If you have noticed a low-pitch hum or whirr underneath your car, this sound could be caused by numerous things: a failing transmission, damaged wheel bearings, worn out universal joints, or the differential may need lubrication. The problem is, the sounds under a vehicle tend to reverberate and echo to the point that it’s impossible for you to determine the source.
If your car is making a popping noise, like the sound of finger-snapping when you turn a corner, it might be time to replace the CV (constant velocity) joints on your front axle.
9. Singing / Howling / Whining
These noises usually mean that your bearings aren’t working properly. These little metal balls help parts rotate smoother. If you notice the singing/whining when you turn, it’s probably the front wheel bearings. But if you notice a gradual, steady howl that continues to grow louder, this signifies rear-wheel bearings.
10. Tapping / Clicking
If you hear a tap or click in your engine, this may be the easiest noise to remedy of everything on the list. Check your oil level. Low oil can cause a loss of oil pressure in the engine’s system, resulting in the tapping noise.
Preventive maintenance is your best insurance against all the little bumps, clangs, squeaks and pops. But learning to pay attention to your automotive sounds, and dealing with them as soon as possible, will help keep costs down and keep your car running smoothly for a long time.