Posts made in September, 2016

What Might Be Wrong With Your Car’s Brakes

When your car’s brakes are acting up, you want to repair them as soon as possible; otherwise, you may risk having the brakes fail altogether while on the road. If you put off brake repairs because you assume they’ll be too expensive, remember that your safety is at risk when you drive with bad brakes and that putting off repairs can result in more expensive fixes the longer you wait. Note a few things that might be wrong with your car’s brakes so you can know what you might expect by way of those eventual repair bills.

Shuddering or uneven stopping

If you apply the brake pedal and it seems to shudder and shake under your foot or you feel a shimmy from the wheels, this might actually mean that your car’s tyres need an alignment and balancing. If the wheels are not aligned, the brakes don’t grip them evenly and they shudder and shake. However, shuddering and uneven stopping can also be the fault of air in the brake lines. Air in the lines interrupts the flow of brake fluid, and brake fluid builds up pressure in the brakes. When fluid doesn’t flow evenly, that pressure is uneven; the wheels then shimmy slightly and the brake pedal may shudder. A mechanic can usually bleed the brake lines and refill them to address this.

Grinding and squealing

Grinding and squealing are common when your brake pads are worn down and need replacing, as you may hear metal-to-metal contact of the pads against the rotors. However, when the rotors are worn down, the pads need to squeeze too tight to grip that thin material and this causes them to squeal; the pads may be fine but the rotors need changing in this case. Also, when the car is low on brake fluid, the pads are not being lubricated and they may overheat as they squeeze the rotors, and this causes them to grind or squeal. 

Soft pedal 

A soft pedal means that you need to virtually stand on the brake pedal for it to “catch” and stop the car. This may be a problem with the pedal itself, but it might also mean that the car is low on brake fluid and not enough pressure is being built up in the brake lines, as mentioned above. Try pumping the pedal and note if it seems firmer; this forces more fluid into the lines and if this causes the brakes to “catch,” then you know the problem is not the pedal but more likely a leak in the brake lines.

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Unmistakable Signs It’s Time to Get Your Car to a Mechanic

Cars don’t need to outright fail when on the road to need an urgent repair; sometimes they can still run and you can still control them even after something has gone wrong under the hood, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to keep driving the car in these situations. This can make the repair even more complicated and costly and cause excess wear and tear on the car. Note a few unmistakable signs that it’s time to get your car to a mechanic and what you might be facing by way of repairs.

Oil

Your car’s engine might be greasy and grimy, but you should never see oil outside the engine or dripping onto your garage floor. You should also never overlook the smell of burning oil; in some cases, the oil may have gotten into the fuel tank so that it’s burning, or it may be that you have an oil leak and the oil is dripping onto the exhaust, causing it to burn. If you see or smell oil in any way, have your car checked for oil leaks right away.

Smoke

Some smoke might come out of the tailpipe of your car when you start it and it’s running cold, but it should never smoke anywhere else or at any other time. Don’t assume you can run an overly warm engine until it smokes and then allow it to cool down; that excess heat causes more wear and tear so the engine might just seize up. Smoke also may mean that you have a fluid leak and the fluid is dripping onto the exhaust, as mentioned above. This can mean you’re burning up your transmission, if it’s not an oil leak. Smoke coming from a tire can mean that the brake pads are slipping and grinding excessively, and they could fail. In all these cases, a mechanic should address the problem as quickly as possible.

Sounds

A squealing sound often means that the bearings in the tires are going bad; if you ignore these, you may not be able to turn your car. Grinding often means that brake pads are worn down and need replacing. A thumping sound might mean that you have a broken shock or spring and this puts added stress on the axles and tie rods, which connect the tires to the steering column. A whining noise when you start the car may mean that the starter or ignition is bad and is continuing to work even after the car has started; it can eventually fail altogether if you don’t get it repaired.

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