Inspect Brakes Regularly

Brakes

 

When you own a vehicle, it is important to keep it properly maintained. This requires several maintenance inspections to your car based on mileage, or what type of vehicle you have. Bringing the vehicle in for an inspection will help keep it working efficiently and in the best condition. This can include looking at several parts and components of the vehicle. It can be the tires, brakes, fluid levels, as well as other parts. If there is a sign of an issue, make sure to bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it for you.

Parts of the Brakes

The brake system is important to check the brake pads, brake rotors, and brake fluid for the vehicle. Over time, the brake pads can start to deteriorate and wear down. As the brake pads wear, you may notice noises that come from it. This occurs when metal is wearing against metal on the brake system. Over time there can be more damage and scratching that may occur with the brake pads and rotors. When the brake rotors wear down, you may also hear noises. Make sure to bring the vehicle in so we can inspect it for you.

Brake Pedal

If you feel the brake pedal push to the floor either easier or more difficult, the brakes could be going out. Spongy feelings for the brake pedal can mean that there is a delay when the brakes are applied. This can become a serious issue if you need to slam on the brakes suddenly. A pedal that is too hard will also result in poor response of the brakes as well. You may also notice a vibration when applying the brakes, as this could be a sign of not enough brake fluid in the vehicle. Any of these issues should be a reason to schedule an appointment with us so we can inspect it.

Maintenance Inspections improve the Car

Maintenance

 

Your vehicle is important for you and your family. The car you own is what you will need to rely on to get you to and from your destinations. If the vehicle is not properly maintained, then there will be issues that may start to form with it. We will be able to inspect the various parts and components of the vehicle to ensure that it will always work as efficiently as it needs to. Without maintenance, severe problems can occur and it will end up costing you more in the long run. If you notice any issues with the vehicle between visits, you will want to schedule an appointment with us as soon as you can.

Check the Vehicle

The parts that should be inspected include the tires, windshield wipers, and looking under the hood. Belts and hoses can be easily overlooked unless there is an issue. If you notice an odd smell or leak from under your vehicle, always make sure to have it inspected. This is the best way to tell if there is an issue with your vehicle. It may be a quick and easy fix, or it might be something more serious that will require more time and attention. Since most do not notice an issue with the belts or hoses until they fail, it is always important to have them inspected.

Don’t forget the Tires

Tires are another part that should be inspected. You will want to make sure they are free of any damage or puncture marks on them. If you notice a bulge, bring the vehicle in so we can inspect that tire for you. When an issue is left and ignored, it will only end up costing you more. This includes time and money in the long run. You also run the risk of the tire failing and it needing to be replaced unexpectedly.

Regular Summer Inspections

summer

Summer Care

The summer months are important for the maintenance of your vehicle. You will want to make sure to follow the recommended schedule for regular maintenance. We can advise you on the schedule, and you can also look it up in the owner’s manual. These schedules are important to follow because they will keep your vehicle working the best they can. If there is an issue with your vehicle, having maintenance done will help notice the issue. Always be aware that things can occur randomly, so if you notice something out of the norm with your vehicle, bring it in as soon as you can.

Tires

The tires should be inspected on a regular basis year round. They should be inflated properly. If you notice the air going out often, there could be damage. We can inspect and repair the tire when you bring it in. Some instances may require a new tire to be purchased. We can inspect all the tires of the vehicle, and even the spare tire. This is important because you may have to rely on the spare in the case of an emergency. The tires should also be aligned properly. If it feels like poor handling, the alignment could be off for your vehicle. You will also be able to feel is sway too.

Lights in the summer

The lights will also need to be checked. Headlights and taillights are important for others to see you. Remember, if it is raining or you have the windshield wipers on, make sure that you have the lights on too. As it gets darker, the lights will become more important. You will also want to take time and inspect the blinkers on your vehicle as well. If you notice any issues with the lights or blinkers, bring the vehicle in. We can inspect them and see if they need to be cleaned or even replaced.

Tire Care is Always Important

Tire care

 

The tires will need to have proper maintenance done on a regular basis to help ensure they are in the best condition possible. If the tires are in poor condition, then there will be issues that happen. When the tires are in poor condition, they will wear out sooner than they typically should. This results in more time, money, and stress being spent on them.

Tire Care Inspections

Part of keeping the tires maintained is by bringing the vehicle in for routine maintenance inspections. This way we can check all parts of the vehicle, as well as all components. If there is an issue we will fix it before something more serious occurs. When driving, always be aware of anything out of the norm with the vehicle, and what you are doing when it happens. This can help us locate what the problem is and why it would be doing it. Having the problem resolved will help you to have a safer and more reliable vehicle as well.

Rotation

The tires will need to follow a tire rotation schedule. This will help make sure that each tire wears evenly on both sides. It will also have the tires wear at the same pace. When tires are rotated, this helps to move them around incase one side of your car seems to make one tire wear sooner. We can also advise you on when the tires should be rotated and looked at.

Alignment

An alignment will also make sure the tires are able to rotate correctly as you drive. If there is a problem, it will end up costing you more in the long run to have them repaired or replaced. Any little issue with the tires should be looked at as soon as possible to help prevent the problem from becoming worse in time. This way you can have a safer car when you travel.

Benefits of Regular Maintenance

maintenance

Check the tires during maintenance inspections

 

 

Your vehicle is an important part of everyday life. You will want to keep it working as efficiently as possible, and as long as you can. This should include brining the vehicle in for regular maintenance inspections and checks. By doing so, we can inspect the vehicle to ensure the parts and components are wearing as they should be. If they are not, we can fix and repair it quickly for you. Anytime there is an issue you notice, make sure to contact us and we can look at it. By noticing the issue at the first sign, you can help to save time, money, and stress in the long run. If you ignore the issue, it will get worse over time.

 

Tire Maintenance

Always make sure to check each tire on a regular basis. By doing so, you can ensure they are in the best condition and properly inflated for the vehicle. If you are not sure how full the tires should be, check the inside doorjamb of the driver’s door. You can also bring the vehicle in and we can advise you on what the proper air pressure should be for it. By having the tires properly inflated, they will save on the fuel efficiency as well. Also check the condition of the tires to ensure there are not any cracks or bulges. Tires that start to show signs of damage are more likely to go out unexpectedly.

Remember the Spare

Also you will want to remember to check the spare tire. Check that the air pressure is at the correct amount on the spare tire for your vehicle. Since you need to use the spare incase a regular tire goes out, you will want it to be in the best condition possible. Also check the overall structure of the spare tire. It should be free of cracks, damage, and anything that might be out of the norm with it. If you notice an issue, you can bring it in so we can check it. Sometimes, it may be best in the long run to invest in a new spare tire that would be reliable to drive on.

Having Windshield Wipers in the Best Condition

wiper condition

Check the windshield wipers

 

When you have a car, you will want the parts to be working in the most efficient condition possible. This includes having the wipers checked regularly, and changed twice a year. Wiper condition is important to the safety and visibility.  We can also look at the windshield wipers when you bring your vehicle in for regular maintenance or repairs. If you are not sure how often to have your vehicle inspected, make sure to contact us. We can then advise you on how often regular maintenance inspections should be done.

Chips and Cracks

Never ignore a chip or crack on the windshield. What looks like a small nick can lead to the entire windshield breaking. This can also increase the chance of a costly repair bill when you need to fix it. Damaged glass can also cut the rubber on the wiper blades. This will cause streaking and poor visibility. If there is an issue with the windshield, it can cause bad visibility, as well as risking the safety in the long run. It is important to have the windshield replaced when you notice any issues with it, or even with the windshield wipers.

Windshield Wiper Issues

If the windshield wipers are streaking, make sure to have them replaced. This is caused by dry rubber that has hardened and cracked. Streaking can also be caused by tree sap, road tar and other foreign substances on the blade rubber. You may also notice a chattering noise coming from them. The chattering sound the blade makes as it passes across the windshield is caused by the curve in the rubber that some wiper blades develop while they are not being used. Worn rubber on the blades can also be an issue. The general rounding of the wiping edge caused by age can indicate that new blades are needed.

 

Transmission Issues for your Car

transmisson

Check the transmission under the hood

Maintaining the transmission is important. The fluid for it is bright red in color, clear and smells somewhat sweet if everything is working correctly. If this is what you find on your driveway, then all that needs to be fixed is the hole. If the fluid is dark or has a burnt smell then it’s time to get the fluid changed.

Check the fluid

To see if there is low fluid, take your car for a short drive to warm it up and then lift the hood and read the dipstick. Unlike motor oil, transmission fluid is not burned off or consumed by a car so if the level is low then there is a leak somewhere that must be patched. It is recommended to top up the fluid anyway even if the leak still exists to make sure there is enough fluid for the transmission to function properly until you get it fixed.

Running smooth

A car is supposed to run smoothly and without any shaking, or jerking, and without grinding sounds. These all suggest that there is a problem with the gears. Manual transmissions commonly indicate problems by making a grinding noise or feeling when you shift into a gear. If the grinding occurs after engaging the clutch and shifting, this can be sign that the clutch may need to be replaced or adjusted.

Automatic transmissions act a little differently. Instead of making a grinding noise, you will likely feel it take some time to get into gear at first instead of the typical smooth transitions. As the problem gets worse, the transitions into the next gear become more jarring and involve more shaking.

Odd odors

Any burning smell coming from your car is a cause for concern. Overheating transmission fluid is one of the causes of a burning smell. Transmission fluid helps keep the parts lubricated and cooled so that they don’t get worn out and damaged. If the fluid breaks down, the system runs too hot. This results in increased friction and corrosive activity as well as the build up of additional sludge and debris. If this is not taken care of, the transmission will eventually damage itself enough to break down completely.

Brake Repair Signs

brake repair signs

Fixing the brakes

Brake repair signs are important to notice. You may start to notice when a repair would be needed. An uneven rotor surface may also cause the rotor to hit one of the brake pads as it spins, causing some of the pad material to transfer onto the rotor in that spot. Then you’ll feel shaking when braking, as the pad hits that bump in the rotor.

Another possible cause of rough braking is the brake caliper not releasing properly. The job of a brake caliper is to squeeze the brake pads against your brake rotors, which slows your vehicle down. It’s the motion of the piston inside the caliper unit that causes this contact. Due to wear from heat or road debris, the piston can get sticky. It may not retract the pads back into the full off position when you let up on the brake pedal.

Another cause of bumpy braking could be damage to your brake components from improper wheel lug nut installation. Any time tires are removed, it’s crucial for the lug nuts to be put back on in the right order, evenly, at just the right tightness, or torque.

Leaking Fluid

If you are experiencing a soft brake pedal, look for fluid leaking from the master cylinder or elsewhere in the brake system. The master cylinder is the unit that creates the power for your brakes. It has a reservoir like the one for your wiper fluid that contains brake fluid. When you apply the brakes, this fluid is pushed through thin piping, creating hydraulic pressure. If fluid is leaking from this system, there may not be enough power to force the brake pads to clamp hard to the rotors.

Spongy or Soft Brake Pedal

If you notice a difference in the resistance in the brake pedal, there could be an issue. It may include the pedal feeling softer sinking all the way to the floor mat when you press on it. There could also be air or moisture in the braking system or a problem with the master cylinder.

 

Issues of a Head Gasket

head gasket

A technician inspecting the engine

Maintaining your vehicle is important. A head gasket leaking external would cause coolant to come from below the intake or exhaust manifold and often only happens when the engine is completely warmed up.  If there is no other cooling passages or hoses near the head gasket you may be able to positively identify the leak as a head gasket leak. Make sure to contact us so we can inspect your vehicle.

White smoke

Most head gasket leaks are internal to the engine allowing coolant to flow into the combustion chamber on every intake stroke.  When this happens to coolant burns and evaporates with the combustion process and appears as white smoke coming from the tailpipe.  This smoke can be differentiated from moisture during a cold start by a sweet smell. It will continue even when the engine is warm.  If the leak in the head gasket is large this white smoke can often be excessive and billow from the tailpipe.

Bubbles in the Radiator

Besides allowing coolant into the combustion chamber, an internal head gasket leak allows exhaust gases into the coolant.  This can cause bubbles to be in the radiator or coolant reservoir making the coolant look like it’s boiling even when it’s cold.  The bubbles are exhaust gases that force their way into the cooling system during the combustion process.

Overheating Engine

If you’ve got a blown head gasket, your engine usually will overheat after longer drives.  This happens both due to the lack of coolant as your engine consumes it. It is also the efficient combustion process, the excess heat from the exhaust in the coolant and the inability of your vehicle’s radiator to cool the dirty coolant.  If your engine overheats it can cause lots of problems.  The biggest concern is the expansion of metal components past what they were designed for. This can cause cracks and warping.  Also, it can permanently damage seals and gaskets cause other leaks in your engine. If you notice an issue, make sure to contact us so we can inspect it for you.

 

 

A Tire Rotation is Important

tire rotation

A technician removes lug nuts to perform a tire rotation

Tire rotation is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can do. Not only do tire rotations help your tires last longer, but it also helps other parts as well. When we take off the tires to rotate them, we also have access to the brakes. We can inspect the brake system to ensure it is efficient and working properly as well.

Why a tire rotation is needed

The reason a tire rotation is needed is so that they can even out wear. Front and rear tires carry different loads on most vehicles. Front tires carry a slightly heavier load and tend to wear faster than rear tires. The front right tire wears faster than the front left tire. This is because we tend to take left turns faster than we take right turns. In front-wheel drive vehicles, the front tires wear out almost twice as fast as the rear tires.

When wear is equally spread out over all four tires, you can go farther with the same set. That means fewer tire changes over the life of your car. Plus, uneven tires can decrease your fuel efficiency. Keep them properly rotated and you can expect to make fewer pit stops at the gas station.

General Maintenance

You don’t need a significant investment of time or money, either. Many drivers have their tires rotated during an oil change. Depending on where you go, having both done at once can sometimes lead to a discounted price.

Contact us if you have questions

Knowing when to rotate the tires can be easy to find out. Start with your owner’s manual. The manufacturer will likely offer guidelines for your specific make and model. If your manual is missing, consider rotating your tires every 5,000 miles, the tire rotation frequency that’s generally recommended. You can also bring in your vehicle and we can inspect it for you.

If you do not rotate the tires, you could be decreasing your safety. Uneven tire wear can lead to poor handling, making a flat tire or full on tire failure more likely to occur. If you have any questions when your tires should be rotated, make sure to contact us and we can inspect them for you.

The Suspension of your Vehicle

suspension

Automobile Suspension

The suspension system is something that is often taken for granted. However, after supporting several tons of metal year after year, eventually the shocks will wear out and suspension repair will be necessary. Some people mistakenly believe the suspension is mainly about having a smooth ride, and therefore these repairs aren’t as important as other maintenance issues like oil changes or brakes. A bad suspension can greatly affect your ability to control the vehicle, especially when stopping or turning, so it’s in your best interest not to ignore this part of your auto care. There are also some signs you can notice when you are driving your vehicle.

 

 

Poor Handling

Most people can tell their shocks or struts are wearing out when they begin to feel every bump in the road, or when every bump causes the vehicle body to bounce. A rough ride is an obvious sign that your vehicle’s suspension needs work. With a failing suspension system, you’ll often feel the vehicle drift or pull when you’re turning. This basically means the shocks are no longer keeping the vehicle body stable against the centrifugal force of a turn, increasing your risk of a rollover. When the shocks are worn out, you’re likely to feel the vehicle body lurching forward and downward nose-first when you apply the brakes firmly. This can actually affect your ability to stop the car quickly.

Poor Tires

Take a look at your tires. If you notice the tread is wearing down unevenly on your tires, bring it in. Also if you notice balding spots, this is often a symptom that the suspension isn’t holding the car evenly. This will result in putting uneven amounts of pressure on the tires. If you notice any issues with the tires, it can result in issues. The first issue being a problem with the suspension. Make sure to bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it for you.

 

Avoiding Potholes this Spring

potholes

 

Hitting potholes can puncture your tire or bend or crack your wheel. It can damage your tire’s sidewall or the belts. Even a smallish impact may knock your vehicle out of alignment. The potential problems are more than just tire-based. A pothole strike can result in broken shocks or struts, dents or cracks in the body, or harm to other suspension or engine parts. It is important to get your vehicle checked after hitting a pothole. The same should be done if you hit debris or a large object. Some damage will be obvious, like a flat tire, while some may not be visible.

Damage from hitting a pothole

A tire can be damaged by puncture marks present. You may also notice a slow leak from a bent rim. If you see a bulge on the tire sidewall, it is the tread has separated. You may also notice your vehicle pulls to the left or right when you are driving straight. Your wheels are probably out of alignment. Another issue is any vibration in the steering, seat, or floor. This is a symptom of imbalanced tires. You may notice unusual noises, that only happen when you drive. If you come to a stop and the noise goes away, it could be from the tires.

Potholes forming

Potholes will form inevitably. They are formed by extreme cold, heat, and rain. Excess water under roadways increase more cracks in the road over time. If you notice puddles on the road, make sure to try and avoid them. At the very least, be cautious.

Damage from Potholes

Unless the hole is relatively large or you’re going really fast, the pothole strike probably won’t puncture your tire, or damage part of your suspension or engine. But bent wheel rims, internal tire damage, alignment problems, body damage, and shocks and struts issues are common. The steering can get out of alignment when hitting even the smallest of potholes.

Always drive on tires that are properly inflated and in good condition. This will give you the best chance of absorbing the impact safely. Also remember to slow down when you are on an unfamiliar or rough road, and avoid distracted driving. Be alert to what’s ahead, and make sure you keep enough distance between you and the vehicle in front so you can see what is coming.

Know what traffic is around you. Swerving to avoid a pothole can be dangerous at highway speed. Use good judgment and always be conscious of those around you. Recognize that though you miss the first pothole, there may be another ahead.

 

Brake repair signs to not ignore

brake repair

It is one of those routine maintenance tasks you cannot ignore. Brake parts need to be regularly serviced and sometimes replaced to work properly. Your vehicle will usually give some clear signs that your brakes are in need of some repair. Since the brakes are one of the most important safety components in your vehicle, you will need to fix them as soon as possible.

Light indicators

When one of the red or yellow brake indicators on your dashboard lights up it may mean you are just due for an inspection. It could also be your vehicle’s smart electronics alerting you to a problem. A parking brake on could also cause the light to go on. Be sure it is fully released to confirm that’s not the issue. If you start hearing a high-pitched noise that stops when you apply the brakes, it is likely the sound of the brake pad wear indicators. They’re made of steel so they make this sound when they start contacting the rotor. When this happens, they are alerting you that the brake pads have worn out and need to be replaced before damage is done to the rotor.

Grinding feeling

Grinding that you also feel in the pedal could mean a number of things. There could just be some gravel or a rock caught in the caliper unit, which can be easily fixed. If you have gone longer without a brake inspection, the brake pads may be worn through, and you are hearing metal on metal that could be creating grooves in the brake rotor. Grinding could also be an indicator of lack of lubrication in vehicles with rear drum brakes.

Poor steering wheel

Shaking in the steering wheel or vibration when you apply the brakes may be the result of an uneven rotor. Brake rotors are big discs that sit inside of the wheels. When you hit the brake pedal, the brake pads hug the rotors, slowing them and your vehicle. You want rotors to be smooth and completely even in thickness. Over time and thousands of wheel revolutions, it is normal for the rotor surface to get slight variations. Rust can also sometimes develop.

If you’re experiencing a soft brake pedal, look for fluid leaking from the master cylinder or elsewhere in the brake system. The master cylinder is the unit that creates the power for your brakes. It has a reservoir like the one for your wiper fluid that contains brake fluid. When you apply the brakes, this fluid is pushed through thin piping, creating hydraulic pressure. If fluid is leaking, there may not be enough power to force the brake pads to clamp hard to the rotors. No matter what issue you notice, make sure to bring the vehicle in so we can inspect it for you.

Checking the Tires this Winter

tires

 

The tires will needed to be inspected regularly. In the winter, tires can lose inflation more often. If you notice an issue when driving, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as you can. This can help prevent a much larger issue from forming in the long run. If an issue is ignored, it can result in a costly repair bill when it comes time to repair it. If you are unsure on the tire condition, bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it for you.

Checking the tread

 

The first things that should be checked on the tires is the tread wear. If the tread is uneven, it is an indication that the tires are not rotating as they should. The tread should be worn the same around the entire tire. If you notice that the tread is not even, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as possible. The same is also true if you notice any flat spots or large areas of worn tread. By bringing the vehicle in, we can inspect the tires to make sure they are aligned and positioned correctly.

Air pressure for your tires

Air pressure is important because a tire that is over inflated or under inflated will not rotate as efficiently as it otherwise should. If the tire is under inflated, it can cause the vehicle to have poor fuel efficiency. It may also increase the chance of it blowing out. If the tire is over inflated, it is more likely to pick up any sharp objects in the road. It will also cause bumpy rides when you are driving. This is because the tires will have less contact with the road.

Dashboard warning lights

Between regular inspections, also be aware if the dashboard warning light comes on for them. This can indicate that the tires have low air pressure. If they are under inflated more often, it can be caused by a leak. They will typically lose air pressure during the colder temperatures in the winter, so you will want to make sure you inspect them if you notice the light illuminating.

Why Winter is Hard on your Vehicle

winter care

 

Your vehicle will need winter care to ensure the reliability of it. Winter is hard on both your car and the tires. As the air in your tires gets colder, it contracts and has less pressure. Tires correspondingly become under inflated. Check your tire pressure more often than you normally would. It is recommended doing so once a week. You might think a little deflation provides better traction, but doing so can cause uneven or unsafe tread wear.

Check the battery

Winter is especially hard on batteries. If your car won’t start in the extreme cold, one of the most likely problems is that the battery is dead. This is an easy fix by using jumper cables and they are not hard to use. But to avoid a dead battery altogether, keep the connections clean, tight, and free of corrosion. It also recommends replacing batteries that are more than three years old.

Oil inspections

As it gets colder, oil gets thicker. At about 20 degrees below zero, the oil gets so thick that the engine’s oil pump struggles even to pick it up and circulate it. It is recommended to switch to low-viscosity oil in the winter. Don’t forget to read your owner’s manual, as the manufacturer may specify an oil weight for cold-weather operation.

Other issues

If your car has liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, such as for infotainment, you may notice that they become a bit sluggish when the car has been sitting in extreme cold. That’s because, just like the engine’s oil and the battery’s electrolyte, molecules in liquid crystals slow down when the temperatures drop. In vehicles where this is an issue, there is not much you can do beyond waiting for the car to warm up. Installing an engine-block heater will help speed things along. If you notice an issue with your vehicle, it is always best to have it inspected as soon as possible. This will help you to ensure the efficiency when you need to drive this winter.

Service Area

Minneapolis
St. Paul
Inver Grove Heights
Eagan
Cottage Grove
Woodbury
Mendota Heights
Maplewood

Contact Info

651.455.1604
1095 Highway 110
Inver Grove Heights,
MN 55077

Working Hours

Monday-Thursday: 7a.m. – 6p.m.
Friday: 7a.m. – 5p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED