Articles:

QUIET TIME (Listening for Vehicle Problems)

Everybody's got friends like this.  You know, the kind who, the minute they get in their vehicle and turn the key, the sound system is deafening.  They just love to hear that music, sports, news… anything but the sound of the vehicle itself. And maybe you're that person, too.  Here's something to consider: your sound system might be drowning out some valuable clues that could help you diagnose problems with your vehicle, problems that need to be dealt with. So, turn down the volume and listen for these things: A clicking sound when you're braking or turning—You could be missing some parts in your braking system, or it could be damaged. That sound could also signal that components are just plain worn out. Rattling under the hood—If it sounds like metal clanking against metal, you could have something serious going on, maybe an overheating engine or your timing needs adjusting. That knocking sound could also be as simple as you've been using lower octan ... read more

"Current" Affairs (Blown Fuses)

You may be driving along and find that suddenly your radio stops working.  There are no numbers on the display.  Then when you get home, you notice the garage door opener doesn't do a thing when you press the button. Hmm, this was working just fine this morning.  Are the two problems somehow related?   No, your vehicle doesn't need an exorcism. This has all the signs of an electrical issue, and when you experience symptoms like those, you've probably blown a fuse.  Most vehicles have fuses just like most houses have circuit breakers (some houses still have fuses). They cut the power when it reaches a pre-determined threshold that could cause major damage if it was allowed to continue.  You might say fuses take one for the team. Most modern automotive fuses are plastic with a thin strip of metal in them designed to melt when a calibrated amount of power passes through.  The philosophy is it's better for an inexpensive fuse to be destroyed than your sou ... read more

STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT STEERING (Loose Steering)

Perhaps you've heard someone use the term "loose steering." And it's pretty much what it sounds like.  You turn the steering wheel and the vehicle's wheels don't seem to go exactly where you thought you were pointing them.  You have to constantly make steering adjustments.  Loose steering is sloppy steering, and it can be a safety hazard.  You need to be able to control your vehicle with pretty much the same precision as the way it was when it came off the assembly line.   If the steering in your vehicle is starting to feel loose and sloppy, there may be some significant suspension issues that need examining by a trained technician. How do you know if your vehicle needs to be looked at? Try turning the steering wheel and see how much play is in it.  One rule of thumb: if you can turn it the distance of a quarter and a dime placed side by side without seeing the outside wheels move, it's time to have it inspected by one of our technicians. Our PONTE'S ... read more

Categories:

Steering

For 4x4s (Maintenance of 4x4 Vehicles)

Some people love 4x4 vehicles, the true 4-wheel drive works of engineering like Jeeps and 4x4 pickups that allow you to seemingly go anywhere on the planet. You can climb up a 40-degree rock trail with some planning and skill (always careful to protect the environment, of course), or you can get through the deepest snow. But with that added capability comes additional complexity, drive-train components and other systems that less capable vehicles don't have.  And that is why when it comes to 4x4s, you have to maintain them a little differently from those vehicles that spend their lives on pavement.  Here are some of the key things to keep an eye on: Transfer case—This transfers power from the engine to the wheels.  A transfer case has fluid in it that needs to be changed at intervals recommended by the manufacturer.  Your service advisor will let you know how often that is and will keep track of your service dates.  You will need to make sure the transfe ... read more

Bad Vibes

Your vehicle has a way of letting you know when something's wrong. Consider a vibrating steering wheel. It certainly didn't do that when it was new, so that shake is trying to tell you something. There are a few things that can cause your steering wheel to vibrate as you drive down the road.  One of the most common is out-of-balance tires.  You may not only feel that wobble in your steering wheel, you might also feel it in the tires.  Sometimes it's not there when you're driving at lower speeds through residential areas, and sometimes it starts when you hit highway speeds.  So what is tire balance anyway?  Well, you have a rubber tire that fits around a metal wheel.  It should have the same weight all the way around.  If it doesn't, it will start getting the shakes.  Ever load your washing machine so that all the clothes are at one side of that drum that spins?  When it hits the spin cycle, it can throw that washer against the wall.  Th ... read more

Sniffing Out a Problem

Your parents probably taught you to have common sense. When it comes to your vehicle, common scents can also come in handy. Different smells may tell you about some conditions in your vehicle that need attention. For example, you know what rotten eggs smell like.  If you smell them around your vehicle, it means sulfur can't be far away. Here's a surprising fact: Gasoline has a little sulfur in it.  There's a device in your exhaust system that's supposed to convert it to something that doesn't pollute the atmosphere. That device is a catalytic converter.  If you are smelling rotten eggs, maybe your catalytic converter is wearing out.  But it could also be a problem with your fuel injectors.  Either way, something's rotten that should be repaired. Ever smell something sweet around your vehicle, maybe a little like pancake syrup? If you sniff out a little sweetness just when your engine is warming up or after you shut off your engine, you might be smelling some co ... read more

Categories:

Fluids

A Bright Idea

You've probably noticed how much easier it is to see when you're driving in the daytime as opposed to at night. It's one of the main reasons about half of all fatal vehicle accidents happen when it's dark. That's why it's important that your vehicle's headlights are in top condition and working the way they should.  That means that they're aimed correctly and producing the amount of light they are intended to produce. For many years, headlights were a standardized size and shape.  They were what is called a "sealed beam," and when you needed to replace one, it was pretty simple.  You just took the old one out and plugged a new one in.  But now there are hundreds of different types of lighting systems on vehicles, producing light with such illuminating technology as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), halogen bulbs, high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs and more.  Some vehicles have systems that turn your lights in the direction you turn your steering wheel so you can ... read more

Categories:

Headlamps

Wishy-Washy in Wilmington

Perhaps you've found yourself driving when something all of a sudden splashes on your windshield, obstructing your view. You know that sinking feeling when you try to turn on the windshield washers and no fluid comes out. Now you're blinded even more. What can you do? The best thing is to make sure your windshield washer fluid is always topped off and ready for these situations. You probably figure you'll grab a bottle of that blue stuff you see in the store. But is that really the right choice? One thing you know ISN'T the right choice is plain water. It can freeze when temperatures drop. Plus, when it's close to the freezing mark outside, spraying water on your windshield can freeze, turning it literally into frosted glass and blinding you suddenly. Water freezing in your vehicle's washer lines can also damage them. There are different types of windshield washer fluid made for different climates. Many have alcohol to prevent them from freezing; their label will usually tell you at wh ... read more

Not So Hot in Wilmington

When the weather turns cold, it's nice to crank up the furnace and enjoy the heat. But if your home's furnace doesn't work, it's not too comfortable. Same goes with your vehicle. When the heater's not working, things can get miserable. It could also signal some major problems, which we'll discuss later. A vehicle's heating system is fairly complicated. It's made up of several parts, including a blower motor/fan, a heater core and some mechanical and electrical components. In basic terms, a vehicle's engine warms up coolant which is then sent to the heater core (which is kind of like a small radiator) behind the dash. That blower motor sends cold air through the heater core which heats up the air. Voila! Heat. Diagnosing problems in this system takes a trained mechanic because of the different possible issues. Your heater core may need replacing; they are sometimes in tight spots and may be difficult to work on. Another possible problem could be a defective thermostat, which regulates h ... read more

Categories:

Cooling System

For Brakes' Sake (Brake Rotor Service in Wilmington)

Think of how much abuse your brakes take. Day in and day out, they stop your vehicle when it's going fast and when it's going slow. Maybe your vehicle has been vibrating when you brake, or maybe it seems like your stopping distance is a little bit longer than it used to be. Then it's time to get your brakes checked out. After all, you have to be able to stop if you want to be safe. Nearly all newer vehicles have disc brakes on the front, and many have that type of brake on all four wheels. That makes it likely you'll be getting disc brakes fixed at some time in your vehicle's lifetime. Knowing how disc brakes work is as easy as riding a bicycle. If your bike had hand brakes, you'll probably remember a mechanism that squeezed a couple of pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you applied the brakes. Disc brakes are similar; but instead of the bike wheel, there's a metal disc instead. If that disc is warped or has irregularities in it, it's going to vibrate. It used to be that roto ... read more

Categories:

Brake Service , Brakes
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