How Your Car’s A/C works

All across North America, a climate change occurs every year. The cooler spring temperatures give way to warmer weather. In some areas this lasts two months, and in others it can last six months or longer. It’s called summer. With summer comes heat. Heat can make your car unbearable to drive, which is why air conditioning was introduced by Packard in 1939. Beginning in luxury cars and now expanding into almost every vehicle produced, air conditioning has been cooling drivers and passengers for decades. What does air conditioning do? Air conditioning has two main purposes: Cools the air entering the passenger compartmentRemoves the moisture from the air so it feels more comfortable inside the vehicle. In many makes, air conditioning cycles automatically when the defrost setting is chosen. It pulls the humidity from the windshield to improve your visibility. Often cold air is not required when the defrost setting is selected, which is why it is important to know that air conditioning functions even when the heat is selected on the heater control. How does air conditioning work? Air conditioning systems operate in much the same manner from manufacturer to manufacturer. All makes have some common components: CompressorCondenserExpansion valve or orifice tubeReceiver, drier, or accumulatorEvaporator The air conditioning system is pressurized by a gas known as refrigerant. Each vehicle specifies how much refrigerant is used to fill the system, and is usually three or four pounds at most in passenger vehicles. The compressor does just that: it compresses the refrigerant from a gaseous state into a fluid. the fluid is cycled through a refrigerant line. Because it is under...

Spring Car Care Tips

All across the country, winter is winding down. With more sun and rising temperatures comes an entirely different strategy for car care. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Here are six simple tips to help you care for your vehicle as winter makes way for spring. Wash and Wax A good, thorough wash and wax is the most important thing to do with your car once the winter is over. Winter driving can cause a huge amount of road grime, debris and — worst of all — salt to build up on your car. You want to make sure those items are long gone before spring starts. Allowing debris and grime to build up on your car can affect its paint and finish, while allowing salt to build up can lead to rust and other serious problems. Clean the Inside, Too Nobody wants to spend time cleaning out their car during a cold winter day. That’s why spring is the perfect time to clean your car’s interior, so spend a day doing some spring cleaning. Remove and throw away all the interior papers, trash and other items that have accrued over the winter. Not only will you have a clean car, but your spring cleaning can be done when it’s more temperate and comfortable outside — especially important if you have to vacuum your carpets and seats.   Check Your Tire Pressures Tire pressure is especially important in the spring. As air temperatures get cooler during the winter, tire pressures decrease, which probably caused you to fill up your tires during the winter months. But as air gets warmer again...

Tesla Growth Continues…

Tesla recorded a $139 million profit for the last quarter of 2018, smaller than the $311 million quarterly profit before it, but ended 2018 down nearly $1 billion, the automaker told investors Wednesday. “Last year was the most challenging year in Tesla history, but also the most successful,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said. Revenues for 2018 nearly doubled the year before it, boosted by Model 3 deliveries in the U.S. The Tesla Model 3 sold well among luxury cars, outpacing rivals from BMW and others as one of the top-selling luxury sedans available last year. Tesla reported that it would continue to ramp up Model 3 deliveries worldwide, including Europe and Asia, while U.S. deliveries may decrease slightly in the first three months of 2019. In March, the company has a $920 million debt payment but the company reported nearly $3.7 billion of cash on hand and said it could “comfortably” make the payment. Musk told investors that he was cautiously optimistic that the automaker could turn a profit in the first three months of 2019—and could turn a profit for every quarter thereafter. The fourth-quarter profit was the first time the company turned a consecutive quarterly profit in its history. A new Gigafactory in Shanghai is expected to eventually produce up to 3,000 Model 3s per week by the middle of 2020. Tesla says that both it and its existing Fremont factory, together, could produce up to 10,000 Model 3s each week. “The factory is going to go like lightning,” Musk said. Musk told investors that the Model 3 Standard Range could be ready for sale by the...

5 Tips for Driving on Ice

Winter driving brings plenty of challenges, but perhaps the most difficult to deal with is driving on ice. If freezing rain is in the forecast, your best bet is to stay home and wait for the roads to clear. However, if you have to head out, follow these tips to safely drive in icy conditions. Understanding Black Ice Contrary to its name, black ice isn’t actually black. It forms when a thin layer of ice contains very few air bubbles, making it completely transparent. Because the ice is transparent, it takes on whatever color is under it. In the case of a road, it looks black like the asphalt and is nearly impossible to see. Because black ice is practically invisible, it’s very dangerous on the road. Black ice tends to form in the evening and the morning. If you see a patch of roadway ahead of you that looks shiny while the rest of the road looks dull, it could be black ice. Slow Down If temperatures are around freezing, you know there’s a chance for ice. Therefore, you should always reduce your speed. If you’re sliding or fishtailing, you’re driving too fast for the conditions. If you find yourself driving on black ice, take your foot off the accelerator and don’t hit the brakes or make any sudden movements. The idea is to keep the steering wheel straight and let the car travel over the ice. Black ice is usually patchy, so you’ll likely hit clear pavement in just a few feet. Steer Into the Slide If you’re on ice and feel the back end of your...

Brake Problem Symptoms

Why is it important to get my brakes inspected at the first sign of a symptom? When your car starts creating abnormal sounds, feelings or smells, start investigating the issue sooner rather than letting the condition worsen. Waiting will only lead to more expensive parts wearing out and requiring replacement. For example, rotors start to warp and become damaged when completely worn brake pads and shoes exceed their lifespan, shortening the life of healthy parts due to the metal on metal grinding that occurs. What sounds, noises, and sensations indicate I need brake repairs? Pay attention. Sounds, smells and sensations signal brake problems: Screeching, grinding, squealing, rubbing, and other eardrum-piercing noises are common indicators that your brake pads & shoes require inspection. This should be addressed before worn pads cause damage to other parts, which could result in more expensive repairs. Vibration and pulsation in the pedal or your steering wheel. If this is a familiar feeling, your brake system is telling you something. Wait any longer, and your rotors might get warped from the metal on metal rubbing, potentially costing you a lot more in repair. Stop in as soon as possible if you are experiencing this unpleasant problem. Pressing down farther to complete braking functions. This symptom is not as prevalent as it used to be, but if you’re pressing down farther than usual on your brake pedal to stop your car, requiring more pressure and time to perform the same stopping function, you have entered the first stage and sign of brake pad wear. Don’t play around with your brake pedal, you can only press so far before you’re...

Car Issues That Can Get You Stopped By The Police

Many drivers may feel that they don’t have the time or money to address vehicle repairs immediately, but beware that ignoring some repairs can get you pulled over and even ticketed, says the Car Care Council. “Ignoring certain vehicle repairs may seem to save money in the short term but can lead to extra costs, such as fines or ‘fix-it’ tickets, if these problems are not taken care of when they arise,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “In some jurisdictions, car owners may even lose their license for certain violations. A few dollars spent on simple vehicle repairs can help avoid trouble with the law.” While a vehicle is in operation, traffic laws require that certain equipment is properly installed and functioning correctly, including brakes, headlights, turn signals, mirrors, windshields and safety belts, to name a few. The Car Care Council recommends that drivers address these repairs right away as they present public safety concerns that can earn drivers a traffic ticket on top of a repair bill. • Non-functioning turn signals and headlights or taillights that are cracked or broken. Most states require vehicles to have functioning turn signals as well as two functioning headlights and taillights. Taillights must illuminate red; if a taillight is cracked, it can give off a white light, which is also typically a traffic violation. • Cracked windshield. If a windshield is cracked, discolored or tinted in a way that obstructs vision, drivers may get ticketed and fined. In some states, vehicle modifications, such as tinted windows, are prohibited. • License plates are unreadable. If the license plate light is...

The Dreaded Check Engine Light…what it means.

When the check engine light appears on your dashboard, your first question is probably “How serious is this?” And then, “How do I fix it — and how much will it cost?” The check engine light is “your car’s way of trying to talk to you,” says Kristin Brocoff, spokesperson for CarMD, which provides information and products to diagnose car issues. But the problem could be as minor as a loose gas cap, or more serious, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, explains Michael Calkins, manager of technical services for AAA. Here’s what you should know about the check engine light and the possible problems it might indicate.   What the check engine light means Sensors in your engine monitor the operation of its various systems and connect to what’s called the On-Board Diagnostic II (OBD-II) system. (Note that pre-1996 cars have an older version of the diagnostic system.) When something isn’t functioning properly, the check engine light appears to alert you. A blinking or flashing check engine light indicates a more serious problem. Engine lights may differ from one carmaker to the next. The light is either orange, yellow or red and is the outline of a car’s engine, sometimes along with the words “check engine.” There are two types of warnings. Check engine light on: If the symbol appears and stays on steadily, it could be a wide range of problems. It should be taken to a repair garage soon, Calkins says. Check engine light flashing: If the symbol is blinking or flashing, this is a more serious problem. In these cases, Calkins says, you should pull over at a safe location, shut...

NHTSA’s Message Regarding the Takata Airbag Recall

Overview Tens of millions of vehicles with Takata air bags are under recall. Long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause these air bags to explode when deployed. Such explosions have caused injuries and deaths. NHTSA urges vehicle owners to take a few simple steps to protect themselves and others from this very serious threat to safety.   CONTACT YOUR CAR’S MANUFACTURER   TAKATA CONTACT INFORMATION Roughly 37 million vehicles equipped with 50 million defective Takata air bags are under recall because these air bags can explode when deployed, causing serious injury or even death. All vehicle owners should: Check for Recalls using your vehicle identification number (VIN). Get the Fix by calling your local dealer; it will be repaired for free. Sign Up for Recall Alerts about any future recall affecting your vehicle. Consumers should also be aware of two critically important details about this recall: The Danger of “Alpha” Air Bags: Certain 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles, 2006 Ford Ranger, and Mazda B-Series trucks are at a far higher risk for an air bag explosion that could injure or kill vehicle occupants. These are referred to as “Alpha” air bags. These vehicles can and should be repaired immediately. Additional details are available here. Additional Vehicles Will Be Recalled: Additional air bags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected air bags to around 65-70 million. These vehicles do not currently appear affected by this recall using a VIN search. Sign up for Recall Alerts and make sure the address on your registration is current to be sure you’re notified of this or any other future recall....

Car Care Basics

  Car Maintenance Tip #1: Watch the Oil Did you know that many vehicles today don’t really need an oil change every 3,000 miles? Many of the newer ones can go 7,500 miles before they really need a new filter. However, how many of us regularly check our oil? If I asked you how many quarts of oil were left in your car at this very moment, how many of you would have any idea? In fact, some of you might not even know how many quarts of oil your car can hold. Oil is the lifeblood of your motor. If you unknowingly let the oil drain out of your car, your engine will soon be destroyed, leaving you on the side of the road with a very large repair bill coming at you in your near future. Car Maintenance Tip #2: Check Your Transmission Fluid Another important part of our car is the transmission. If the transmission begins to break down, we may lose the ability to shift our car into reverse. Soon, all of the gears begin to go out, which means that we won’t be able to get anywhere without getting out of our car and walking. It’s incredibly important to check your transmission fluid, both to make sure that you have enough, and to be certain it’s clean. If you see metal shavings in your fluid, or if it’s a dark cloudy color, you should take it into your mechanic immediately for a flush. If you do not, you’ll likely lose your gears and need to pay for a new transmission. This can cost you anywhere from...

Your car’s AC system

So here we are, in the heart of the summer! Everything is green, birds are singing! It’s the time of the year you find out if your AC works or not in your car. There’s nothing worse on the first hot day than pushing that button or set- ting the temp to low, and all you get is warm air… Ugh! Your AC isn’t working. You have a few options. First, it needs to be diagnosed. It could be an electrical issue. It could also be you’re low or out of refrigerant. It could also be operator error (yes it happens). Your car’s AC system is designed to prevent the AC compressor from coming on if the AC charge is low. This protects the components of the system. If the air coming out isn’t cold enough to cool your car down, you may just be low on refrigerant. In my experience, most cars need AC service every four to five years. So here are some solutions. Many of us have seen the little cylinders of refrigerant at the local auto parts store. You can shoot a can of that in your system and it may work! My suggestion is not to take this route. Your AC system is designed for a specific quantity of gas. When it is properly recharged, the system is pulled into a deep vacuum. This removes all the remaining gas, oxygen, and any moisture that may have settled in the system. Also, when the system is in a deep vacuum the technician holds it there for a duration to check for leaks. It may be...