Everything You Need To Know About Brakes In One Article

While we like to focus on the gas pedal-with things like 0-60 times, fuel efficiency, etc-your brakes are just as important during your trips to the store and cruising on the highway. That means you definitely should not ignore potential signs of brake issues.

We’ve teamed up with the experts at Advance Auto Parts to give you a rundown of everything you need to know about brakes: what type of break is best, different types of brake pad replacement, as well as when to take your brakes in for service.

Brake issues to look out for

There are a few tell-tale signs that something is wrong:

  • A brake pedal that feels “mushy”
  • A “check brakes” or “check brake fluid” warning light
  • A brake pedal that goes all the way to the floor when pressed
  • A grinding noise when braking
  • Squeaking sounds when braking
  • Vibrations when braking

Overall, there are many potential problems when you experience these symptoms. But if you are experiencing the “mushy” brakes or have a brake pedal going all the way down to the floor, you may have: a leak in the brake system, low brake fluid levels, dirty brake fluid, or air in the brake fluid. If you do have a leak, make sure you get it fixed as soon as possible.

Brake noises

Grinding and clunking noises – may indicate missing or loose hardware, or even damaged or missing parts in the suspension system

Brakes that squeak or squeal – usually need new brake pads. In fact, engineers design brake pads to squeal at the end of their lifecycle. This is called a “wear indicator” and means the brake pads are about to wear out completely. With worn-out pads, the brakes will damage the rest of the system by grinding metal against metal. If you experience vibrations when braking, it may mean:

  • Bad brake pads (see above)
  • A bad brake disc
  • Worn out front suspension

Drums, brake pads, or rotors?

When getting your brakes fixed, the mechanic may mention drums or rotors. This is dependent on one of two types of brake systems:

Drum brakes: the brake shoes come in contact with the drum to slow the car

Disc brakes: where the brake pads and shoes come in contact with a rotor to slow the car down

Drums and rotors wear down the same as brake pads and shoes. When a mechanic puts on new pads or shoes, there must be a smooth and even surface for them to grip or the brakes will not function properly. Luckily, the drums and rotors may not require complete replacement. Drums and rotors can be “turned” or resurfaced if they are not badly worn. And resurfacing the drums or rotors is a common practice and is safe when done according to the specifications.

Let your budget and your driving expectations help you make this decision. And, know that the higher-priced brake pads will just about always offer better performance through better stopping power, longer pad life, lower noise and less dust.

Drivers should never ignore brake issues and should address them as soon as they come up. Plus, mechanics can typically perform most brake repairs the same day.

DIY Car Tips

You can save time and money with easy DIY auto maintenance tips and they are simple. Find out how to lower your car maintenance costs by doing some easy tasks.

Vehicles are a big investment for families – usually the second highest valued item in a household after the home itself. While the purchase price for cars, trucks and SUVs keeps going up, the cost of maintenance is holding steady or even dropping for most vehicles. Better materials, sophisticated computers and other advances increase reliability and allow less frequent oil changes, tune-ups and other service.

Owners can do some of the work themselves to lower maintenance costs even further. Anyone interested in saving money and increasing pride of ownership by doing their own work can spend just a few minutes and accomplish the following four maintenance tasks easily, without any expensive tools or training.

* Cabin Air Filter Replacement

The air conditioner is cranked up on those hot summer days. The cabin air filter keeps the air blowing through the heat and air conditioning ventilation system clean, and it should be replaced at least once a year. But in areas of the country where there is a lot of pollen or dust – from dirt roads, construction projects or even arid conditions – it’s a good idea to replace this filter more frequently.

Check your owner’s manual to see if there is information on replacing the cabin air filter.

* Headlamps And Tail Lights

When a headlamp or tail light burns out, you may be surprised to discover how easy it is to replace these bulbs. For most vehicles, installation of headlamps is from the engine compartment. Just unplug the electrical connector on the back of the bulb, unscrew the large plastic ring that holds the bulb in place and pull the bulb out. Because headlamps are usually halogen lights, be sure to wear gloves or use a cloth to avoid getting fingerprints on the bulb. Oils from your hands can shorten the life of the bulb.

Tail lights are similar – usually you can gain access through the trunk of the vehicle underneath the trim material.

* Wiper Blades

Trying to see the road through a streaky window is almost as bad as trying to see the road in a heavy rain shower. The quality of the blade purchased will determine how long the blade will last and how well it will perform in clearing the windshield of rain.

Higher quality blades tend to cost more, but drivers will appreciate the durability and clarity they provide.

* Engine Air Filter

These air filters keep the oxygen supplied to the engine’s combustion chambers free of dirt and other contaminants. Clean air is needed to optimize the engine’s performance and extend its life. Manufacturers recommend replacing an engine air filter every 12,000 miles driven.- However, it will also depend on the car’s model and how dusty the environment is. This filter is typically located under the hood in a large, rectangular, plastic air filter housing. Remove the four bolts or clips around the edges and then lift the dirty filter out.

These maintenance tasks are ongoing, but they become even easier with repetition. DIYers save money and time when they handle them at home.

 

How To Make Your Car Last For 10 Years

What keeps any car going is preventive maintenance. Just like your yearly physical at the doctor’s office keeps you in shape, regular preventive car care can help you get more miles out of your vehicle.

Car manufacturers provide recommendations on when to complete maintenance tasks. For instance, most experts recommend checking battery fluid levels four times a year, and an engine’s timing belt should be replaced within 100,000 miles. Find out what your car’s manufacturer recommends and stick to it. Spending a little now can save you from a big expense, and hassle, later on.

Check and replace fluids

There is no type of automotive fluid that lasts forever. Checking and replacing fluids can help keep your vehicle on the road longer as a well-oiled machine. Consider that engine oil usually needs to be changed every 5,000 miles, or every six months; engine coolant needs to be checked twice a year and flushed and replaced as necessary; and transmission fluid needs to be flushed every two years or 30,000 miles.

One that is most consistently overlooked is brake fluid. Brake fluid attracts and absorbs moisture, and over time, it can do a lot of damage to the internal parts of your anti-lock braking system. It should be flushed every two years regardless of mileage. And, don’t forget to flush the power steering and change the differential lubricant, as well.

Slow down and lose the lead foot

Driving gently may help reduce the wear and tear on your car. This means slowing down for bumps or potholes, taking corners at a reasonable speed and avoiding putting your foot to the floor. Driving hard puts more stress and strain on your car’s components. According to the US Department of Energy, it takes 73 percent more horsepower to cruise at 60 mph, and a whopping 159 percent more at 70 mph, than it does at 50 mph. This means your engine is working that much harder and wearing down that much more quickly if you continue to speed.

Also, slowing down may keep your repair costs lower. Increasing your average speed from 50 mph to 60 mph increases maintenance costs by 38 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Increase your speed to 70 mph, and you’ve added 80 percent more in repair costs.

There are also fuel consumption implications: each mile per hour you travel over 50 mph will cause a 1.5 percent increase on fuel consumption, the Department of Energy says. Speed just 10 mph over 50 and you’re wasting 15 percent more gas. That’s several dollars more each time you have to fill up!

Do your homework and buy a reliable car

Overall, cars are getting more reliable, but there is still a wide range of reliability from company to company, model to model, and even between different model years of the same vehicle. When you’re shopping for a new or previously owned car, choose one with a proven track record of reliability. Also, be sure to choose a car company that’s going to be around for a while, with a good reputation for supplying parts.

There are many sources that provide this information, such as Kelley Blue Book. So if you’re really interested in getting the most out of your car, choose a reliable model to begin with–not just one that looks good.

Consider an extended warranty

Even by following these four steps perfectly, your car is, unfortunately, not built to last forever. Parts break or wear out, seemingly at the worst possible time. One way to protect yourself from this inevitable circumstance is to invest in an extended warranty for your vehicle. An extended warranty can help ensure that your vehicle is always in the best mechanical condition and can help you avoid expensive repair bills.

How To Prepare Your Car For Winter With These Simple Tips

Regular maintenance

Now’s the time to get your car up to speed on all of its regular maintenance. That means taking care of any fluids that may have been neglected while you were out enjoying the summer sun or going in for that 60,000-mile tune-up if you’re due. Check, change and/or top off your oil, coolant, and brake and transmission fluid as needed. In the case of your oil or automatic transmission, make sure you get a high-quality filter, too. It may seem like overkill to take care of all of your fluids at once, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Take a look at the car’s brakes too. Are your rotors warped or cracked? Do they have deep grooves or are the pads worn close to their minimum clearance? Your vehicle will be experiencing harsher conditions soon, so nip any potential problems in the bud now. Make sure all your lights are working properly to ensure good visibility. New bulbs only cost a few dollars and are easy to install yourself or have installed when getting your vehicle serviced. The same goes for windshield wipers. If your blades are more than six months old, odds are it’s time to swap them out for new ones. And don’t forget to fill the washer fluid reservoir with freeze-resistant wiper fluid.

Check your tires

Go ahead and have your tires rotated and inspected. The last thing you need in cold, wet weather is to be driving on bald or dry-rotted tires. Err on the side of caution and replace any tires that are too worn.

We’d recommend looking into snow (or winter) tires, depending on your location and the length of time you’ll be spending in the snow. Winter tires are made with special low-temperature-resilient rubber compounds and have deep treads that grip unplowed snow and ice. Even the best all-season tires have compounds that get more brittle as the temperature drops, and when that happens, the tires tend to grip less. The winter tire compound remains pliable when temperatures are low, retaining grip and keeping the car’s safety systems, like all-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes, functioning properly.

At this time, also make sure your spare tire has enough air in it. Once everything looks good, take a look at your tire pressure. With everything up to spec, you’ll get better gas mileage and your vehicle will handle and stop better.

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Protect the interior

You can’t discount the impact weather can have on the interior of your vehicle either. If you’re going to spend a lot of time ducking in and out of the elements, you might want to grab some all-weather floor mats. They’re easy to clean and do a great job of keeping the muck in one place. Making sure your windows are clean will also improve visibility and reduce the likelihood of steamy glass.

Maintain the coolant system

Our most important tip is to take the time to get your car’s coolant system checked. Extreme temperatures and harsh conditions can easily knock it out if it’s not up to snuff. If any part of the system comes up with a shaky bill of health, swap the parts for new ones. That means having your car’s radiator pressure tested and the hoses examined for cracks or bulges. Most shops can quickly test radiators without the hassle of removing them from the vehicle.

If you can’t remember the last time your water pump was replaced, or your pump has more miles on it than what the manufacturer recommends, it’s time for a new one. While you’re at it, go for a new thermostat as well—you’ll save money on labor getting these two done at once.

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Even if everything under the hood comes up good to go, replacing your engine’s coolant is cheap insurance against extreme temperatures. Over time, antifreeze can actually generate a weak electrical current, which can then cause oxidation and eventually failure inside of your coolant system. You’ll want at least a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to provide protection against below-zero temperatures. Keeping everything fresh inside will put less stress on your vehicle’s hardware and save you serious money in the long run.

Stock your car

Stranded by the side of the road can be dangerous in the best of conditions, but when sub-zero temperatures or bad weather is involved, it can be downright deadly. Carrying these supplies may save your life:

  • Blanket
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Chains
  • First-aid kit
  • Small knife
  • Flares
  • A couple energy bars
  • Water gloves
  • Small shovel
  • Waterproof matches
  • Ice scraper
  • A bag of sand or kitty litter to help provide traction if your car is stuck in the snow

A little preparation goes a long way to keep your car running smoothly during the winter months. Not only will the right tools and maintenance protect you and your car from the elements, but they will also keep you safe.

Teen Have A Learners Permit? How To Get Them Insured

Do you have a driver with a learner’s permit in the household? A learner’s permit is an exciting time in a teenagers life and often a very scary one for the parents. It is not only important to teach the laws of the road to a young driver, but it is also to make certain he or she is properly.

Car Insurance Follows the Car

The car in which a driver with a learner’s permit drives definitely needs to be insured.

Car insurance follows the car, not the driver. If the car is insured, and the driver is not excluded, the driver should be covered. If the insurance company which insures the car finds out about the permitted driver causing an accident, it is likely the driver will need to be added to the policy or excluded going forward.

What is an Excluded Driver?

Excluded drivers are not covered on the car insurance policy. In order for a driver to be excluded the named insured who is often the owner of the vehicle needs to sign a form indicating and agreeing that the said driver is excluded. If the driver does drive the vehicle and is in an accident, the car insurance policy will not provide any coverage.

Call Your Car Insurance Agent or Carrier

Car insurance is not something you should be guessing about or making assumptions about. Looking online for the answer to this question is not going to give you the solid factual answer you need.

Calling your agent and being forthcoming with your situation is the best way to get the best insurance coverage available. Trying to hide young driver’s or other issues which you know could negatively affect your policy premiums can cause you a lot of problems in the future. Remember the purpose of car insurance is to provide coverage (hopefully the coverage you thought you bought) for damages after a loss.

Paying a lower rate only to wind up with zero coverage is not going to help anyone.

Not All Insurance Carriers Are the Same

  • Most insurance carriers want you to have the permit driver listed on the car insurance policy as a permitted driver. Often a driver with a permit will have a cheaper rate than a newly licensed driver. Often if you have one vehicle and two drivers the permitted driver can be a secondary driver instead of a primary driver. A permitted driver may not cost you as much as you might think.
  • Some insurance carriers do not even have the ability to list a permit driver as a driver. A valid drivers license may be required. The permitted driver will be automatically covered under the policy of his or her parent.
  • Most insurance carriers list dependents in the household on the car insurance policy, even babies. This helps the insurance company keep track of upcoming drivers. The insurance company will notify you when your teenager is getting close to driving age and require he or she be added to the policy as a driver.

Save Money on Young Drivers

Well, truthfully all young drivers cost quite a bit to insure. Their inexperience has been proven to lead to claims. The best cost savings options are the good student discountand not letting them have their own vehicle.

It is a great option to have more vehicles than drivers. In this situation, most insurance carriers make it a possibility to have a young driver as a secondary driver which can save a whole lot of money. Knowing a permitted driver has total access to a vehicle definitely, comes with a higher price tag. Having your teen get their first job and pay their own way when it comes to car insurance can alleviate the financial burden.