Yearly Archives: 2022

Brake Components And What They Do

A close up of a car engineDescription automatically generated with low confidenceA car’s main job is to get you from point A to point B as quickly, safely and as comfortably as possible. Just as much as getting to your destination quickly is important, so is the ability to stop when you get there or if something gets in your way. You constantly must be mindful of all the things on the road: fellow drivers, people, animals and other dangers that may appear. That’s where your brakes come in. The brakes in your car are what allow the wheels on your car to stop whenever you hit the brake pedal. What many don’t know is how the brake system actually works nor about the different types of braking systems that exist.

Just like any machine the braking system in a car has multiple parts that allow this complicated system to function properly. Each of these parts play a role in making sure that you can slow and stop your car in any situation. What are these key components you speak of?

Brake Rotor/Disc

The brake rotor is what feels the pressure from the brakes on a disc braking car. Th discs are attached to the wheel and move with it. When you press your foot against the brake pedal, that causes the brake pads on your car to squeeze the disc and force wheels to halt.

Brake Pads

The brake pads are what apply the pressure onto the brake discs and cause them to slow down. Once you press on the brake pedal the pads will squeeze the discs, applying frictional force. Many times, when you hear a squeal or grinding sound that means that your brake pads need to be changed as brake pads slowly wear down over time. 

Brake Shoes

Brake shoes are not common or used at all in recent cars. They have the same role as the brake pads, however, work a bit differently. The brake shoes are attached to the axle inside a drum that can expand and contract. Once you press your brake the shoes will expand to slow down the car.

Brake Drums

The brake drums are what feel the friction from brake shoes. Overtime they’ll begin to wear down from the constant friction of the shoes. At which point, you’ll need to replace them similarly to brake pads.

Brake Caliper 

The brake caliper is what holds the brake pads close to the brake rotor. They’re often visible behind all 4 wheels of your car. There are pistons inside the brake caliper that contain oil and push the brake pads against the rotor.

Brake Booster

The brake booster does exactly what it sounds like, it boosts the brakes. Located between your brake pedal and the master cylinder, it uses air from a vacuum in the engine to increase the strength felt on the brakes when you press the brake pedal. However, since it needs vacuum to work, that means that you’ll have a hard time using them when the engine is off.

Master Cylinder

The master cylinder is the main bay for all the brake fluid to be distributed to each wheel. It’s located near the end of your brake pedals and is responsible for sending all the brake fluid and pressure from the brake booster to each wheel. This allows you to brake.

Wheel Cylinders

Cars use brake calipers to squeeze the brake pads against the rotor. However, brake drums use a different type of cylinder to stop your wheels. In this case, when receiving pressure from the master cylinder, they have two sides that will expand and press against the brake.

We are happy to check your vehicle to make sure that your brakes are in tip top shape.  Schedule your appointment today!

 

 

 

Fluid Break Down, What Happens, and Its Effects

   

 

 

 

Fluid Break Down, What Happens, and Its Effects

Cars are complex machines. Similar to humans, cars are a large system of interconnected parts. When one of those parts doesn't work it can mess up the system as a whole. Therefore, all of those parts need to be in pristine condition for the system to function.

Some of the most important components that can get overlooked in a car are your fluids. The fluids in your car typically include your power steering fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, differential fluid, and even your windshield washer fluid. After a certain amount of time, most of these fluids break down. This can cause premature damage to your vehicles components.

Lubricants and fluids in your car's components are the lifeblood of your vehicle. Clean fluids at the proper levels ensure that your car works properly. Maintaining fluids increases your vehicle's performance and safety. Regular maintenance of your car's fluids will help keep repair costs down.

Fluid Break Down

  • Engine Oil

Engine oil works as a lubricant for most of the parts in the engine, making sure all the parts work smoothly, without friction. Over time, heat and condensation from the engine breaks down the engine oil, which coats the engine components in contaminants and sludge. This can cause your lubricant to become thick and reduce its ability to be pumped/transfer heat and properly lubricate all components.

Since the oil is also used to keep the engine clean, many times it itself will become dirty. Additives like detergents, and dispersants bring dirt and contaminants which are filtered by your oil filter. Eventually, the oil filter will become clogged, and all the contaminants will be sent back through the engine, making the oil more like a thick contaminated smoothie. That's not good. Instead of lubricating your engine, this could cause engine damage, and make it more difficult for engine performance, taking in more gas, therefore increasing your gas bill.

  • Transmission Fluid

The main job of transmission fluid, put broadly, is to keep the transmission functioning optimally. Transmission fluid lubricates the gears in the transmission, dissipates heat, keeping normal fluid pressure, preventing rust, preventing oxidation, and conditioning the seals and gaskets. Over time, as the fluid is exposed to more and more heat, it breaks down quicker, and begins to produce debris that would typically break down the transmission fluid.

Fluid contamination can cause the transmission to overheat, decrease shifting quality, difficulty getting a gear to engage, and transmission slipping. Servicing this fluid on a regular basis will help the transmission last for as long as possible.

  • Coolant

Cars that use internal combustion engines burn gasoline to produce power allowing the car to drive forwards and backwards. However, many times there is energy leftover from that process which is converted into heat. Without regulation the engine can wear down, or, in the worst circumstances, components may begin to melt. Coolant acts as the cooling/antifreeze system for your engine, making sure all your engine components are staying at normal operating temperature.

Typically, coolant will break down over time into glycolic and formic acids as it is used to cool the engine. Over time, as it becomes more acidic, it also loses protection in freezing weather, which can cause corrosion in the radiator, water pump, thermostat, radiator cap, hoses and other parts of the cooling system. However, maintaining engine coolant on a service interval will help protect components and keep down high repair costs.

  • Brake Fluid

Whenever you press the brake pedal you're essentially forcing fluid pressure to brake components which allows you to control the stopping capability of your vehicle.

Brake fluids have an additive package which contains antioxidants, and corrosion inhibitors. The additive package will begin to break down from being used, and/or being exposed to heat and air produced by the braking system of your vehicle. Once this happens metal parts/rubber hoses in the braking system can corrode and fill the brake fluid with contaminants decreasing the quality of your braking performance.

  • Power Steering Fluid

The power steering fluid isn't purely oil. It has additives that work to maintain viscosity in the power steering system, holding the oil's integrity, and prevent foaming. Similarly to brake fluid, power steering fluid acts as a multiplier on your steering wheel making it easier for you to steer.

After being used for a certain amount of time the additives in the power steering fluid will begin to lessen in effectiveness, causing foaming, thinning the fluid, and wearing down the power steering system which can easily be avoided by getting a regular fluid exchange.

Take Care of Your Car!

All of these problems can easily be prevented by doing fluid exchanges on recommended service intervals. We are happy to do a fluid change service to make sure your vehicle is running smoothly. Schedule your appointment today to ensure your vehicle is in peak condition. Remember to stay safe!

Winter driving tips to remember!

Don’t idle your car first before driving it

The best thing to do to warm your car quickly during cold temperatures is to get in and drive. Most parts of modern engines can’t warm up just by idling.

Never pour boiling water on the windshield

You could actually break the windshield if you do. Glass cannot go from freezing to high temperatures quickly. If it does, it could shatter.

What to do—and NOT do—when you hydroplane or hit black ice

Hydroplaning occurs when your tires encounter more water than they can scatter so they lose direct contact with the road and your car skids or slides. You’re most likely to hydroplane during the first 10 minutes of rain or snow as oils and grease on the road mix with water and create extra slippery conditions. Still, hydroplaning can happen on wet roads at any point, so use caution. In cold weather conditions, you’re also at risk of hitting a patch of black ice, a transparent (read: invisible) coating of ice that forms during rainfall with temperatures at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Both experiences can be dangerous, but if you prepare ahead, you can avoid acting out of fear and instead take steps to continue safely on down the road:

  • Don’t accelerate or brake quickly because hydroplaning means you’ve lost traction with the road, and sudden changes in speed could cause you could spin out.
  • If you have front-wheel drive (with or without ABS and traction control) or rear-wheel drive with ABS and traction control, look for open space and plan to travel in that direction.
  • Accelerate just a little and steer gently – without sudden movements – in the direction of the open space.
  • If you have a rear-wheel drive without ABS or traction control, you should still head toward an open space, but instead of applying pressure to the accelerator, ease off it as you steer to the open space.

WINTER CHECKLIST FOR YOUR CAR

Check your coolant -

Make sure you have a true 50/50 mixture of distilled water and antifreeze to prevent the fluid from freezing in your radiator and make sure that your radiator cap is functioning correctly.

Check your battery -

The chemical reactions required to generate power in a car battery slow down in extremely cold temperatures, and your car requires more current from the battery to start the engine. To avoid a car that won’t start on a cold morning, run a battery load test to see if your battery has enough juice. Check battery cables and terminals for cracks and corrosion. 

Fill your wiper fluid -

Having enough wiper fluid is crucial to keeping your windshield free of ice, snow, salt, and mud. Make sure you use a premixed wiper fluid.  Do not use water or mix wiper fluid with water.

Replace your wiper blades -

Most blades are only good for six months to a year, so chances are you need new ones. While you’re at it, you might want to consider choosing a heavy-duty wiper blade specifically designed for winter conditions.

Inspect (and maybe replace) your tires -

Tires with worn treads are a serious hazard in winter conditions. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of snowfall, consider getting snow tires, which are made of softer rubber that remains flexible in colder temperatures, and have treads specially designed to keep their grip in snow and ice.

If you have all-season tires, check to make sure the tread is at least 5/32” for the best winter traction. If your tread is less than 3/32”, your tires will offer virtually zero traction in snow and be prone to hydroplaning in rain, and should be replaced regardless of the time of year.  Here’s an easy way to test your tread: insert a penny into a tread groove with Lincoln’s head pointing down. If no part of Lincoln’s head is covered, your tires need to be replaced. Flip the penny over and do the same test with the Lincoln Memorial facing down. If any part of the building is covered, your tires are ready to tackle winter weather. No matter whether your tires are new or older, make sure they’re properly inflated for winter conditions. Cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop at a rate of approximately 1 PSI per 10 degrees, so check your tire pressure regularly to make sure it stays at the level recommended by the manufacturer. The usual recommended tire pressure is 30-35 PSI depending on manufacturers recommendation, but check your owner’s manual for the exact number. And don’t forget to check your spare!

Change your oil -

Your engine needs lubrication to run, but cold weather thickens oil and reduces its ability to circulate through the engine, so make sure you have fresh oil to keep things running smoothly.

Check your belts and hoses -

Cold temperatures can weaken the belts and hoses that keep your engine running. Prepare for winter by checking all belts and hoses for cracks or signs of wear and tear, and replace them if needed.

Put together an emergency kit to carry in your car -

Be ready for the unexpected by equipping your car with emergency supplies including blankets, flares, reflective triangles, a jack, a first-aid kit, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, shovel, food, water, matches, tool kit, cell phone charger and kitty litter or sand for traction if you get stuck.

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