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Why a Bumper-to-Bumper Inspection Could be the Best Decision for your Car

bumper-to-bumper

Get a bumper-to-bumper inspection done for your car. People have been following lockdown rules for a year and it has taken a toll on a lot of them. Fortunately, as things are getting better, governments are easing the lockdown regulations, giving people an opportunity to get out. As you would expect, everybody is pouncing in this opportunity. Planning to catch up with people, shopping, traveling, and a variety of other outdoor activities. No matter where you are planning to go, one thing is for certain – you will need your car.

Since most people’s cars have been parked for weeks or months, it would be safe to say that they are not in excellent condition. There is a good chance that your car is also not in the best of shape, and it is important that you get it ready for short and long distance traveling.

What is Bumper-to-Bumper Inspection?

Contrary to popular belief, a bumper-to-bumper inspection is vastly different from a regular inspection. Unlike regular car inspection, bumper to bumper inspection takes more time and is more “hands on.” What’s more, this type of inspection is very detailed and should be conducted every three to five thousand miles. This is based on your driving habits and type of vehicle. Now that you know what a bumper-to-bumper inspection is, let us go ahead and discuss the various benefits it offers.

Attention to Detail

While there is nothing wrong with scheduling regular vehicle checks for your car, a bumper-to bumper inspection is remarkably more superior. This is because the technicians check your car with great attention to detail and fix any faults they will come across. As mentioned earlier, bumper to bumper checks take a great deal of time. So, if you want your car to be fault free and in tremendous running condition, opting for this inspection would be a wise choice.

Your Car Won’t Give Up on You Unexpectedly

The last thing anybody wants is their car to give up on them on the middle of the road. Believe it or not, this happens more frequently than you would imagine and causes drivers a lot of inconvenience. One of the best ways to steer clear from this issue is to schedule a bumper-to-bumper maintenance. By choosing a reliable auto repair service, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your car will run smoothly and will not give up on you on the middle of the road.

Minimizes Maintenance Cost

Sure, you may be paying a decent amount of money for your bumper-to-bumper maintenance, but it will significantly reduce maintenance costs down the line. This is because it will identify your car’s faults and damages before they happen, allowing the technicians to fix the issues before things get worse.

Driving on Ice and some Life Saving Tips

 Some of the most hazardous driving conditions you’ll face are snowy road conditions. The slippery surface makes it very difficult to gain traction, so it could be life-saving knowledge to know how to drive on ice. Today, while driving in icy weather, we are going to look at 5 things you need to remember.

Leave Earlier & Take Your Time

Taking your time and going slower than you would usually is the best advice you can take while driving in icy weather. Before you depart, you can consider taking some extra time so you can take your time while still arriving on time at your destination. Driving slowly will reduce the risk of getting into an accident significantly. Not to add, if you do happen to lose track and hit something, this would also minimize the amount of damage your vehicle will get.

Using Your Brakes Wisely

Although brakes are commonly used to help stabilize your vehicle and bring you to a stop in and out of emergency situations, if used improperly on ice, they may do more harm than good. Slamming on your brakes will bring your vehicle into an uncontrollable skid in icy conditions. What you want to do is drive slowly enough to allow your car’s weight to bring your vehicle to a halt if necessary. Slowly pump your brakes to stop locking up your tires if you need to use your brakes on ice.

How To Steer Out Of A Skid

Skidding refers to losing control of your car on ice and slipping without traction around the ice. A number of drivers freeze up or overcorrect during a skid, causing them to spin out of control. To get out of a skid safely, you’ll want to slowly turn into the skid and pump your brakes slowly to try to prevent traction. Slowly shift your steering wheel back into place to drive out of your skid as you feel your car recover traction and start to straighten out. This does not necessarily mean finishing in the same direction, often simply reducing the amount of skidding you would have done if you overcorrected or froze up.

Keeping An Eye On Changing Temperatures

Icy driving conditions arise when, due to a drop in temperature, water on the road freezes. A perfect way to stay on top of changing road conditions is to watch the outdoor temperatures. A smart way to decide where you may need to check for ice patches on the road is to use an in-car monitor showing outdoor temperatures. In order to see what you can expect, you can simply check the temperature changes before leaving the house if your car does not have this feature.

Do Snow Tires Work On Icy Roads?

Many people assume that in icy road conditions, winter tires and winter tires can help, similar to how they help on snow-packed highways. The response here is not that no additional traction on ice is applied. Icy roads are too slippery to make a difference to snow tires and tire chains, but if you already have them on your winter driving car, they will probably not hurt.

 

Why do tires Lose Air and How a Tire Pressure Monitoring System Could Be Useful

Maintaining the right tire pressure is critical for every car owner. The last thing you want is getting a deflated tire in the middle of nowhere. So, it would be best if you checked your tires on a regular basis to ensure they remain in excellent condition. Doing so will help you steer clear from inconveniences and may even save you some money. That said, you may have noticed that tires tend to lose pressure when you least expect them to.

You may have pumped air into your tires a few days ago, but found out that they are deflating within a couple of days. In some cases, you may even notice PSI drops at night, even if it was okay earlier in the day. In most cases, the decrease of tire pressure or PSI does not necessarily mean that you have punctured tires. There could be plenty of other things instead. So without further ado, let us discuss some of the main reasons why tires tend to lose air out of the blue.

Impact Breaks

You’d be surprised to learn that merely hitting a brake out of the blue can deflate your tires. Taking extra care when maneuvering your car or parking it could do you a world of good. When parking your vehicle, ensure you don’t hit your tires to the cement. Why? Because this habit often leads to drivers hitting impact brakes, which can reduce your tire’s lifespan.

Changes in the Temperature affect Tire Pressure

You may have noticed a little bit of difference in the PSI during cold and sunny days. This is because temperature plays a massive role in the behavior of air molecules. For instance, if you expose your tire to too much heat or drive in it for a very long period, there is a chance the air molecules could cause it to expand. On the other hand, molecules tend to become compressed during colder weather, lowering the PSI at night.

Altitude

Driving in high altitude often leads to increased tire pressure. Once of the main reasons behind it is the air present inside your tire and the atmospheric pressure outside it. The pressure tends to drop when a vehicle is on higher areas because the altitude is quite low. Whenever gas molecules are trapped inside, they tend to move around constantly, and collide with each other. This process, after a long period, deflates your tires.

How a Tire Pressure Monitoring System Can Help You

Checking your tire pressure on an ongoing basis is important. Many people leave tire maintenance for too late, only to find out that their tires are beyond repair. It would be best if you took advantage of an auto tire pressure monitoring system to keep your tire pressure in check, filling it with air whenever necessary. A TPMS is a vastly better option than various other pressure checking instruments as it is highly accurate and will notify you whenever your tire has low pressure.

Driving in winter – Hazards You Should be Cautious of

drivingDiminished visibility and poor traction are arguably the two main problems drivers face during winter. However, there are some other hazards that you should also be aware of as they can be equally dangerous, if not more. Let us discuss these dangers below.

Slippery Roads

As you would expect, driving on snowy or icy roads can be quite difficult. So much so, that you need to increase your stopping distance by about ten to twelve times. Despite that however, there are hundreds of car collisions during winter. When driving on slippery roads, consider slowing your vehicle down to make sure you can stop it with maximum safety. You’d be surprised to learn that temperatures can have a massive impact on stopping and starting. It affects your traction and braking distance, increasing the probability of collisions.

Terrible Traction

Not being able to pull your car away from an icy road, driving upwards on slippery hills etc can be quite aggravating for drivers. Not only does it leads to delays, but also causes your tires to burn in a shorter period. You will require high quality tire treads to improve your vehicle’s traction on slippery roads. It would also help if you slow down, no matter how much of a rush you are in. Doing so will ensure prevent your wheels from spinning and prevent accidents.

Getting stuck in deep snow is also a common problem drivers face during winter. A good trick to prevent this issue would be to keep moving your wheels from one side to the other for pushing debris and snow away. Moving your car back and forth five or six feet prior to shutting down could also be helpful. Also, avoid using a heavy foot on your accelerator – keep it light and gentle instead.

Reduced Visibility when Driving

While there are plenty of tricks to avoid hazards that occur during winter, sometimes seeing them can be difficult. Snowfall, hail, fog and too much wind can reduce a driver’s visibility and result in terrible crashes. Things get worse if you are driving with unclean rear view mirrors, windshield and windows. Consider wiping off the tail lights, brake, turn signals and headlights to ensure others can see you. This may specially prove to be handy during heavy storms. Sure, it may be time consuming but it’s a lifesaver.

Also, run your defroster and heater a few minutes prior to your drive. This will help you steer clear from the fogging that makes your windshield all blurry. Clean your wiper’s arms and blades thoroughly to ensure you can wipe the windshield whenever you please.

 

Being aware of the hazards discussed in this piece will significantly improve your safety. However, you should also prepare your car for winter seasons a month or two before the season arrives. Consider showing your car to an established auto repair service, making sure they fix any pre-existing problems in your car and get it ready for snowy days.

 

 

Cold Weather and its Impact on Car Batteries

cold weatherEverything in a vehicle is dependent on the battery inside it. The average life of a battery is around four to five years. If you have been a car owner for a long time, you may have noticed that starting it during the normal weather does not require much effort. However, the extreme weather make it very difficult to start your engine – it is the time when most car batteries tend to fail.

You would be surprised to learn that thousands of people experience battery failure in the middle of the road, which often results in unpleasant events. Many drivers find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, requiring roadside assistance patrols.

Temperature and Battery Performance

Traditional lead acid batteries contain lead plates submersed in electrolyte liquid, creating an electro chemical reacting that produces charge for the battery terminals. This chemical greatly benefits from heat as it accelerates its activity while speeding up internal corrosion. This also reduces the battery’s lifespan.

This phenomenon is especially true in batteries capable of reaching high internal temperatures repeatedly. Once the heat changes the capacity, you cannot restore it. However, just like heat triggers chemical reactions, colder temperatures do the opposite and slow things down. It is the main reason why most batteries tend to become slow and sluggish during the winter.

When temperatures are extreme, batteries lose their ability to offer an adequate amount of power for starting and running a car. In most cases, the rating used for automotive batteries is CCA, which is short for cold cranking amperage. This is essentially the quantity of current batteries can provide for thirty seconds at temperatures lower than 18 degree centigrade without any drops to cut off voltages.

Lead acid batteries, if fully charged, are capable of surviving up to 50 degrees centigrade. However, a battery may freeze at temperatures below -1 C if its state of charge is on the lower side. So, whenever the water in a battery cools up and freezes, it damages the cells, causing irreparable damage in the process.

Signs that Show Your Battery is Getting Weak

If you notice the following signs, there is a huge chance that your car’s battery is becoming weak:

– Dim lights are often an indicator of weak battery

– If you notice a sulfur-like smell, your battery may require repair or replacement

– If the engine is taking too much time to start, there is a chance that your battery doesn’t have enough power

– Your vehicle’s battery could be weak if its engine light is on

Prioritize Car Battery Maintenance in Cold Weather

Whether it’s the summer or the winter, prioritizing your car battery’s maintenance is a must. There are several telltale signs that indicate whether your vehicle’s battery is facing issues. Sluggish sounds are arguably the biggest indicator of something wrong with your battery and should be taken very seriously. If you notice these sounds, do not assume that you need to replace your battery. In some cases, getting a professional to service it could get it back in running condition.

Is your car battery not performing like it’s supposed to? If yes, it may have some wiring problem or other issues. Whatever the case, Blaine Auto Care is here to help. Get in touch with us and schedule an appointment and our professionals will get your battery up and running in no time!

 

 

 

 

Coolant Flush and Everything You Need to Know About It

Coolant Flush

Chances are you’ve seen a vehicle stuck on the side of the road with smoke coming out of it. That’s the result of an overheated engine, which is usually caused by a problem with the coolant. In this article, we’ll discuss what a coolant flush is, and why it’s so important for the health of your vehicle.

How does the cooling system work?

Your engine’s spark plugs ignite the fuel, which is how your vehicle has the power to accelerate. This ignition creates a large amount of heat. If the heat isn’t kept under control, it can destroy the entire engine. That’s where the cooling system comes in. Its job is to control the heat in your engine.

The cooling system circulates a liquid coolant throughout the engine components. The coolant is typically a mixture of antifreeze and water. The entire system also includes the following parts:

  1. Radiator
  2. Radiator cooling fans
  3. Pressure cap and reserve tank
  4. Water pump
  5. Hoses
  6. Thermostat
  7. Temperature sensor
  8. Freeze plugs
  9. Bypass system
  10. Heater core
  11. Intake manifold gaskets
  12. Head gaskets

These parts work together to keep the heat in your engine under control.

What is a coolant flush?

A coolant flush involves draining out your old coolant and replacing it. Before this is done, a cleaner is added to the cooling system. This cleaner eliminates rust or debris that’s trapped in your system. Then, the system is flushed out and new coolant is added. A conditioner is also added, which helps protect against corrosion.

A coolant flush helps extend the life of the cooling system. Since the new coolant is clean, it’s more efficient than your old coolant. A coolant flush is different from simply topping off the coolant. Topping off your fluids ensures you have enough circulating throughout your engine. On the other hand, a flush removes harmful contaminants and replaces your fluid with fresh cooling fluid.

Why is it important to get my coolant flushed?

Proper maintenance of the cooling system is essential to your engine’s performance. An overheating engine could affect any of your engine’s components, ultimately causing a total malfunction.

The most important thing you can do to prevent an overheating engine is a routine coolant flush. Here’s why. Antifreeze contains chemicals that work to prevent corrosion. However, these chemicals become less effective over time. Eventually, corrosion will clog the thin tubes in the radiator and heater core. This causes overheating in your engine. Replacing your antifreeze flushes out excess debris, and this keeps your system running as smoothly as possible.

How often does it need to be done?

As with most auto maintenance, it’s best to consult your manual for manufacturer-specific information. Some antifreeze will last for 150,000 miles, or 5 years before needing replacement. Other types of antifreeze need to be replaced every 2 years, or every 30,000 miles. Our licensed technicians can help you figure out exactly how often your vehicle needs a coolant flush.

We recommend an inspection of your cooling system at least once every two years. This should consist of:

  1. Visual inspection of all cooling system parts
  2. System power flush and coolant refill
  3. Thermostat check
  4. System pressure level check
  5. A pressure test to identify external leaks
  6. Internal leak test
  7. Engine fan test

Take good care of your engine’s cooling system with regularly scheduled maintenance. Doing so will help ensure the overall health of your engine and vehicle. Do you need to schedule a coolant flush? Give Blaine Auto Care & Transmission a call today at (763) 755-7255.

 

 

Brake Fluid 101: The Importance of Brake Fluid and Brake Fluid Maintenance

Brake fluid is one of the most essential fluids in your vehicle. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most ignored. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of brake fluid, as well as everything you need to know about changing your brake fluid. Stick around to learn more.

What is brake fluid, and why is it important?

Brake fluid is a non-compressible, hydraulic fluid that runs throughout your braking system. It transfers force from your foot on the brake pedal to the front and rear brake calipers. This force is what brings your vehicle to a stop. Simply put, your brakes won’t work without brake fluid. If there’s no fluid, there isn’t any pressure. That means there would be no force to stop your car.

Since the engine is so hot, brake fluid is designed to withstand extreme temperatures. The brake fluid must have a high boiling point so it doesn’t vaporize. If the brake fluid vaporizes, your brakes will fail. Brake fluid is also designed to maintain a constant viscosity in extreme heat and cold. This ensures that it travels throughout the intricate braking system as it’s supposed to.

Brake fluid contains additives to protect the engine from corrosion. It helps protect the metal that’s inside engine parts like the cylinders, calipers, and ABS control valves. It also lubricates movable engine parts and removes moisture from the system.

These days, most brake fluids are glycol-ether-based. This type of fluid is hygroscopic, meaning that it pulls moisture from the atmosphere. Over time, this moisture can affect your braking system in several ways. Too much water in the brake system lowers the boiling point of the fluid. This can diminish stopping ability when engine heat increases. Additionally, moisture can cause internal corrosion over long periods. This is why it’s so important to get your brake fluid replaced regularly.

How often does brake fluid need to be changed?

Depending on the type of brake fluid you use, the change interval differs. On top of that, different manufacturers provide varying guidelines. Most professionals recommend getting your brake fluid flushed or replaced every one to two years. Additionally, it’s a good idea to get your brake fluid’s moisture content checked periodically. This is especially true if you live in a high-humidity climate.

A visual inspection can also let you know when it’s time for a brake fluid change. Brake fluid is typically clear or light brown. As it ages, it darkens and becomes murky from contamination. It’s a good idea to request a brake fluid test when you get your oil changed. This is a quick and easy way to know for sure whether your brake fluid is in good shape. It’s also smart to check your brake fluid whenever you take a look at the other fluids in your engine. It’s normal to see a small decrease in the reservoir, which can easily be topped off. But, if you’re seeing this often, it could point to a bigger problem with your braking system.

 

Replacing your brake fluid when needed ensures you and your passengers are safe. Do you need your brake fluid inspected or replaced? Our certified technicians can help. Give Blaine Auto Care & Transmission a call today at (763) 755-7255, or ​schedule your appointment online​.

 

Transmission Fluid: Why It’s Important and How to Take Care of It

Maintaining your transmission fluid is an important piece of auto maintenance. However, it’s often overlooked. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the role transmission fluid plays. We’ll also discuss steps you can take for proper care and maintenance of your transmission fluid. Doing so can help increase the lifespan of your vehicle.

What is transmission fluid, and why is it important?

The transmission is responsible for shifting your vehicle into different gears, such as drive, reverse, and park. Shifting gears is hard work for your car. Transmission fluid lubricates the metal parts and bearings inside a vehicle’s manual gearbox. It prevents them from grinding down as they move. Transmission fluid also helps regulate the transmission temperature, seeing that it doesn’t get too hot. With an automatic transmission, the fluid also provides friction and hydraulic pressure. This ensures the internal transmission parts operate.

Types of transmission fluid

There are several different transmission fluids, which generally fall into two categories. These are automatic transmission fluid and manual transmission fluid. In addition to these, there are also specialty fluids and synthetic formulas, which we’ll discuss as well.

As the name suggests, automatic transmission fluid is designed for cars with automatic transmissions. Many modern vehicles with manual transmissions also require automatic transmission fluid. It helps facilitate several engine functions, including: Transmission cooling, Gear lubrication, Valve body operation, Clutch operation, Torque converter operation, and Friction for the brake band. Manual transmission fluid is most commonly used in older vehicles with manual transmissions. Since the fluid is heavier, it’s never used in vehicles with automatic transmissions. Most modern cars with manual transmissions require automatic transmission fluid.

Synthetic transmission fluid is created through a series of chemical reactions. Its formula makes it more capable of withstanding high engine temperatures, and it’s less likely to break down. If you’re not sure what’s best for your transmission, it’s a good idea to consult your owner’s manual or a licensed technician.

How to check your transmission fluid

A visual inspection can give you lots of insight into the condition of your vehicle’s transmission. You can do this by examining the level and condition of your transmission fluid. The first step is locating the transmission dipstick. It’s typically found underneath the hood, in the engine compartment. If you can’t find the transmission dipstick, don’t worry. Lots of modern vehicles have transmissions that are completely sealed. That means they never require fluid replacement. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific information on maintenance for your transmission.

If you do see a transmission dipstick, then you need to check the level. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Then, replace it slowly and pull it back out. Once you’ve done this, you can check the fluid level against the marks on the dipstick. Low fluid could indicate a leak somewhere in your system. If you notice that you’re using up a lot of transmission fluid, it’s best to contact a professional right away.

Checking the Condition

After checking the level of your transmission fluid, you also need to examine its condition. Lay the dipstick on a white paper towel to get a look at the color of the fluid. Healthy transmission fluid has a pinkish-red color. If it’s getting to the point of needing replacement, it’ll be more of a brownish-red. If the fluid is dark brown or black, it indicates a more serious problem with your transmission’s internal components. This is usually the result of not servicing your vehicle at the recommended intervals.

The transmission is one of the most expensive parts to repair. Keeping your transmission fluid in prime condition can save you some serious money down the road. Do you have questions about your vehicle’s transmission or transmission fluid? Our experts are here to help. Give ​Blaine Auto Care & Transmission a call today at (763) 755-7255.

The Evolution of Automotive Comfort

evolution

It’s no surprise that early automobiles lacked comfort and convenience. Nowadays, our cars have so many features that are easy to take for granted. How did we get to this point? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the evolution and transformation of automotive comfort over the years.

The early 1900s

The earliest automobiles were open-air vehicles. This made driving extremely uncomfortable, unless you happened to have perfect weather. Everything changed in 1910, when Cadillac developed the first closed body car. At this point, manufacturers started focusing on interior comfort. They began looking for ways to make the driving experience as enjoyable as possible. The 1910s saw several innovations that improved the driving experience. In 1912, Cadillac released the Model Thirty, which featured an electronic self-starter, lighting, and ignition. In 1914, power door locks were introduced on Scripps-Booth vehicles. 1929 saw the first car heater, on the Ford Model A. These developments all paved the way for future improvements in automotive comfort.

Music innovations

Starting in the late 1920s, automakers began installing radios in their vehicles. By the 1930s, push button AM radios were standard. The first AM/FM car radios appeared in the 1950s. The first 8-track player came in the 1966 Ford Mustang. These were eventually replaced by cassette players, which had improved quality. The first in-car CD players came about in the 1980s, and remained popular throughout the ‘90s and 2000s. These days, we have the luxury of compact digital storage media. Early car drivers never dreamed of listening to music the way we can today.

Evolution of Climate control

Controlling the interior temperature of cars is one of the most significant comfort innovations. In 1940, Packard Motor Car Company developed power windows ​and in-car air conditioners. Both features gave people more control over their car’s climate. In the 1960s, Cadillac took this a step further by developing the first automatic climate control system. This allowed drivers to set a preferred temperature with the click of a button. Over time, automakers refined this system through various models. In 1980, Cadillac introduced the first fully electronic, automatic climate control system. This is the basis for what we still use today.

Seat improvements

The first car to introduce heated seats was the 1966 Cadillac DeVille. These days, many cars offer a heated steering wheel and even heated paneling. There have been other seat comfort improvements besides heating. The first ventilated seats came in the Saab 9-5 in 1998, offering a cooling sensation. Massaging seats are a popular luxury feature, thanks to their introduction by Mercedes in the 2000s.

Modern technology and human machine interfaces

These days, smart interfaces can integrate personal devices. Human machine interface (HMI) technology offers convenience and luxury with the following features:

  1. Interior temperature and seat comfort
  2. GPS
  3. Touch interfaces
  4. Wireless communication
  5. Internet and cloud connectivity
  6. Advanced lighting and sound systems

In many ways, HMI technology makes your car into an extension to your home or office, providing comfort and convenience with the tap of a screen.

 

Evolution of automotive comfort has come a long way from the open-air vehicles of the early 1900s. Take a look around your car and appreciate what you have. Do you have questions about your car’s interior features? Our experienced technicians at Blaine Auto Care & Transmission have answers. Give us a call today at (763) 755-7255, or ​schedule your appointment online​.

Making Sure Your Car is Ready for Thanksgiving Travel in 2020

Thanksgiving

As the holidays just around the corner, you’re probably starting to think about travel plans. With COVID-19 concerns, car travel is much more popular this year. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of car care tips to make sure your holiday travel is as smooth as possible.

1. Check the battery

Look at the battery to ensure it’s securely connected and free of corrosion. Car batteries typically last 3 to 5 years, and it’s recommended to have them checked every year once they’re over 2 years old. You don’t want any issues with your car battery while you’re out on the road.

2. Listen to the brakes

If your brakes are making odd noises, you’ll want to get them inspected by a professional. Squealing brakes is often a sign that your brake pads need to be replaced. Brake pads provide the friction that’s needed to stop your vehicle. Eventually, they get too thin and wear out. Depending on their material, brake pads typically last anywhere from 25,000 to 70,000 miles. Replacing them will get rid of the squealing noise and ensure a safer road trip.

3. Inspect your tires before traveling this Thanksgiving

Everyone needs good gas mileage, especially on a road trip. That’s why air pressure is so important. If your tires are underinflated, you’ll waste gas. If they’re overinflated, it’ll affect your ride quality. The wrong air pressure can also shorten the lifespan of your tires. Check your tires before you leave, and again for every 1,000 miles you travel.

Since tires wear at different rates, they should be rotated periodically. Get them rotated at least every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Most tires last anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 miles. If your tires’ lifespan is close to this, replace them before any long-distance travel.

4. Refill fluids and replace filters before driving on Thanksgiving

Before leaving, you’ll want to top off any low fluids. This includes power steering fluid, antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and windshield fluid. You also need to make sure you’re keeping up with your oil changes. If you’re not sure and you haven’t changed your oil in the last 3,000 miles, then you should definitely change it before your trip.

Your engine’s air filter and the cabin filter should be replaced annually, or every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. These filters affect fuel economy, engine performance, and air quality. Switch these out before hitting the road.

5. Check the electrical

Make sure all your vehicle’s lights are working. This includes headlights, taillights, and blinkers. If you’re driving a larger vehicle like a truck or motor home, confirm all electrical is in good shape.

6. Inspect the belts and hoses

Press down on the belts to check that they’re tight. If they hang slack, or if any teeth come loose when you press on the belt, then you have a problem. When you examine your hoses, look for any cracking or fraying. Additionally, keep your eyes open for any fluid leaks. If you see problems with any of these things, you’ll need to get your car serviced before your trip.

The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year. Ensuring your vehicle is prepared can make all the difference in preventing the unexpected. Do you have questions about prepping your car for holiday travel? Our experienced technicians at Blaine Auto Care & Transmission have answers. Give us a call today at (763) 755-7255, or schedule your appointment online​.

Master Cylinders: The Heart of Your Car’s Brake System

cylinder

The Evolution of Your Car’s Braking System

Have you ever stopped to appreciate your car’s brakes? As cars have become more complex, braking systems have evolved as well. To understand how far we’ve come, let’s go back in time and look at how these systems began.

Wooden block brakes

Automobiles have used many different braking systems. The earliest of these was wooden block brakes. As the name suggests, it consisted of wooden blocks and a lever. The lever pushed a block of wood against the steel-rimmed wheels to screech them to a halt. This system was first used in steam-driven automobiles and horse-drawn carriages. Wooden block brakes could stop vehicles traveling at a speed of around 10 to 20 miles per hour. Once rubber tires were introduced in the late 1890s, they replaced steel-rimmed wheels. As a result, wooden block brakes no longer worked.

Mechanical drum brakes

Automobiles needed a new brake system to stop rubber tires. In 1899, an engineer named Gottlieb DAimler theorized that if a cable-wrapped drum was anchored to the chassis, it could stop momentum. This idea was furthered by Louis Renault, who developed the mechanical drum brake in 1902. Renault’s system is widely regarded as the basis for the modern vehicle braking system.

Expanding internal shoe brakes

Renault’s brakes were external. This meant they were exposed to temperature fluctuations and were vulnerable to elements such as dust and water. Because of this, these systems needed repairs often. The expanding internal shoe brake was the first system inside the vehicle’s frame. It was housed in a metal drum attached to the wheel. To stop the vehicle, pistons expanded the brake shoes and caused them to rub the inside of the drum. This friction resulted in the wheels slowing down, bringing the car to a stop.

Hydraulic brakes

Braking systems required the application of a lot of force to stop a vehicle. The next innovation in brakes addressed this issue. In 1918, Malcolm Loughead invented a four-wheel hydraulic braking system. Loughead’s brakes used fluid to transport force from the pedal to the brake shoe. Compared to its predecessors, this system needed much less effort to apply the brakes. By the late 1920s, many vehicles had hydraulic braking systems.

Disc brakes

In the mid-20th century, vehicle weights and their speed capabilities were rapidly increasing. Hydraulic braking systems were becoming less effective at distributing heat. Because of this, cars started integrating disc brakes with hydraulic functions. William Lanchester patented the disc brake back in 1902, but they weren’t widely used until this point.

Anti-lock brakes

Anti-lock brakes are a safety feature that stop brakes from locking up while they’re being used. Speed sensors detect a lock, and hydraulic valves reduce the pressure of a brake on one wheel. This prevents the vehicle from spinning. Anti-lock brakes were first used in the 1920s and ‘30s in airplanes. Throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, they were developed for cars. By the 1970s, anti-lock braking systems became more common and affordable. Anti-lock brakes modernized braking systems by giving drivers more control. It now comes as a standard safety feature in all vehicles.

What does the master cylinder actually do? It’s one of the most unappreciated car parts,but it’s a key component to your brake system. Today we’re talking about where they came from and how they work.

What is a master cylinder and how does it work?

The master cylinder lets you move force from one part of your hydraulic brake system to another. ​This force comes from your foot pushing on the brake pedal.This helps move that force into your brake calipers, which clamp down on your rotors to stop your car.

Car enthusiasts will tell you that the master cylinder is the heart of your car. It pumps brake fluid through your brake lines. These brake lines carry the fluid to your car’s wheels. In our metaphor, think of your brake fluid as blood, and your brake lines as arteries. For instance, like your heart pumps blood out through your arteries, your master cylinder pumps brake fluid through your brake lines.

Applying the Brakes and how the cylinder works

When you press down on your brake, it pushes a rod into one end of a sealed master cylinder. Inside of it, there is fluid, two pistons, and springs. The pistons work like plungers. In addition, they push the brake fluid to move it through the cylinder and out through the brake lines. However, the springs push against the force of the brake pedal to return it to its starting position when it’s released. Above the master cylinder is a reservoir that stores enough brake fluid to keep air from entering the master cylinder.

The master cylinder has two brake lines. They carry the brake fluid out of the master cylinder. Each exit leads to two diagonal wheels. This is a safety feature to ensure your brakes operate if one brake line malfunctions. The brake lines carry the fluid into slave cylinders, which are located on the brake calipers. After that, the force in the slave cylinders causes the caliper to clamp down onto the rotor. For instance this is how pressure is carried from your foot, through it, and to your brakes to stop your vehicle.

A brief history of the Master Cylinder and Brakes

Hydraulic brakes were invented in 1918 by a man named Malcolm Lougheed. He was the first to use cylinders and tubes to send liquid pressure against brake shoes. This pushed them against the drums. Chrysler made improvements on these brakes, and re-named them Chrysler-Lockheed hydraulic brakes. However, these were used from 1924 all the way up to 1962. Some automakers continued using mechanical brakes, but they all eventually converted to hydraulic braking systems.

In 1960, Wagner Electric invented a dual-cylinder brake system. This system had a dual master cylinder and separate front and rear hydraulic lines. If one circuit leaked, the other line could still be able to operate. That way, your brakes wouldn’t malfunction if there was a leak. In 1967, the federal government mandated the use of dual-braking master cylinders. This system is reported to have prevented tens of thousands of accidents each year.

 

7 Warning Signs of Brake Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

Getting your brakes serviced is one of those chores you can’t put off. Luckily, your vehicle is very good at letting you know when there’s a problem. Today we’re discussing 7 warning signs that indicate your brakes need maintenance.

1. Wobbling or vibration

Do you feel a vibration in the steering wheel or wobbling when you apply the brakes? This is one of the most common indicators of a brake problem. It could be the result of an uneven rotor. It’s normal for rotors to develop variations over time. The smallest changes in disc thickness can result in a wobbly feeling when you apply the brakes.

Vibration or wobbling can also suggest that the brake caliper isn’t detaching properly. Over time, the piston in the caliper can get sticky from rust or debris build-up. As a result, it might not completely retract when you lift your foot off the pedal. This creates a wobbling sensation when you brake.

2. Squealing noise when braking

If you hear a horrible, metallic squealing noise when you hit the brakes, it’s probably the brake padwearindicators. They’redesignedtoletyouknowwhenthebrakeshoesorcaliperpadsare worn out and need to be replaced.

3. Grinding sound from the brake pedal

Do your brakes make a grinding sound that you can feel in the pedal? This could be something that’s easily resolved, like a loose rock caught in the caliper. It could also mean that your brake pads are worn down and the metal is damaging the rotor. Additionally, if there’s not enough lubrication, the brake shoe could develop rust build-up, which will make a scraping noise.

4. Burning smell while driving

A burning chemical odor could mean you have overheated brakes. If this is the case, pull over immediately and allow the brakes to cool down. If you don’t pull over, your brake fluid could reach a boiling point, which can cause brake failure.

5. Soft or spongy brake feel or leaking fluid

If your brake pedal feels soft or spongy, it means there’s moisture in the braking system. Your brakes depend on pressurized hydraulic fluid, and this can sometimes leak. If this is the case, your system may not have enough power to clamp the brake pads onto the rotors. If you’re experiencing this, schedule maintenance right away.

6. Pulling to one side while braking

Veering to one side is another common sign of brake problems. It usually means there’s an issue with one of the front two brakes. It could be a misaligned rotor, a worn out brake hose, or a caliper problem. This results in one side of the brakes working stronger than the other side.

7. Brake light illuminated on the dashboard

The most obvious indicator of a brake problem is the brake light appearing on your dashboard. This warning light can indicate it’s time for an inspection, but it can also alert you of more serious problems.

Your brakes are one of the most important safety components in your vehicle. If you notice any of these 7 warning signs, it’s time to schedule maintenance immediately. ​Blaine Auto Care & Transmission installs only the best brake components. ​Give us a call today at (763) 755-7255, or schedule your appointment online​.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Brake Replacement

What all is involved in replacing your vehicle’s brakes? As it turns out, it’s not exactly a straightforward process. It can easily become much more involved than anticipated. Today we’re covering everything you need to know about replacing the brake system in your car. Understanding this process will help you know what to expect when you bring your vehicle in for maintenance.

Steps to replacing the brake system

Replacing automotive brakes is a complicated job. This is because diagnostics often reveal in-depth problems that need fixing. Even so, there’s a general process that most auto mechanics follow when it comes to brake repair. Let’s go through those steps.

Loosen the lugs​: With your emergency brakes activated, put a lug wrench on one of the lug nuts and turn it counter-clockwise. Remember that you’re not removing it altogether. Use the wrench to loosen the lug enough for you to remove it with your fingers. Raise the vehicle​: Place the jack underneath the car’s frame rail. Place jack stands underneath the car to rest it on. As soon as you’re sure the weight can’t shift, you can remove the wheels. Slide out the caliper​: Remove the bolts from the caliper. Once you do this, you should be able to slide the caliper out. If it’s stuck, you can pry it out with a flat head screwdriver. Rest the caliper on the suspension so it doesn’t strain the brake line.

Removing the rest

Remove the caliper carrier​: Remove the bolts that secure the caliper carrier. Remove the rotor: When taking out the rotor, check for a locating screw. This will need to come out before the rotor can be removed. This step may be difficult if you have an older car with rust built up. Install new rotor​: Use a wire brush to remove any rust from the hub. This will help prevent corrosion. When installing, use a degreaser to wipe off any oily residue from the new rotor.

Assemble caliper carrier​: Replace the bolts and replace the caliper carrier. Compress the caliper​: Flatten the caliper’s piston until it’s aligned with the housing of the caliper. You can use a c-clamp and an old brake pad to help with this. Additionally, make sure the cap is off the brake reservoir so you don’t blow a line. Install caliper and brake pads​: After installing the pads in the caliper carrier, loosely fasten the caliper bolts. Make sure the caliper moves without binding. Then, tighten the bolts.

Re-attach the wheels​: Fasten the lugs manually, and then tighten with a torque wrench once the car is back on the ground. Repeat, pump, and break in: Repeat steps 1 through 10 on the rest of your wheels. Then, pump your brakes until you feel pressure. This should take about 3 pumps on the brake pedal. After that, break your system in. It’s normal to hear squealing for the first few miles. Accelerate and let your car gradually decelerate. Do this a few times and listen for any strange noises.

Should I replace my own brakes?

Taking on brake replacement by yourself is not easy. There are lots of variables that could make the job more complex. If you don’t have the background knowledge to properly diagnose and repair brake system issues, it’s best to trust a professional.

Do your brakes need to be replaced? Let our experienced technicians at Blaine Auto Care & Transmission help you out. Give us a call today at (763) 755-7255, or ​schedule your appointment online​. We look forward to seeing you soon.

A Complete History of the “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” Light

history

Nowadays, there’s so much history about cars that we take for granted. For instance, the check engine light. Maybe you’ve never given it much thought, but aren’t you a little curious about how it came to be? Today, we’re covering the complete history of this handy invention, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

History of how the check engine light work?

A check engine light is sometimes called a malfunction indicator lamp, or MIL for short. It’s a computerized warning light that indicates an engine malfunction. Typically found on the instrument panel, it’s the red or orange light that lets you know if there’s a problem. It either looks like a picture of an engine, or will sometimes read as a phrase such as “SERVICE ENGINE SOON”. If the light is blinking, it indicates an imminent problem, and you need to get help right away. When the MIL lights up, the engine control unit saves a fault code that’s read by a scan tool to diagnose the issue. An activated MIL indicates a variety of vehicle issues with a wide range of severity.

When was the check engine light standardized in History?

The check engine light as we know it didn’t appear in vehicles until 1996. It came with the second generation of on-board vehicle diagnostics, known as OBD2. Starting in 1996, OBD2 became a requirement for all cars sold in the United States as part of a federal mandate to lower vehicle emissions. O​BD2 technology resulted in the development of a standardized system of fault codes. Because of this system, our experienced technicians at Blaine Autocare can use scan tool technology on any vehicle built in 1996 or later. This allows us to easily see why your check engine light is activated.

The History and How has the check engine light evolved over time?

Back in the early 1980s, check engine lights were only in vehicles with computerized engine controls. This was before the regulations that came with OBD2 technology. These early diagnostic systems were quite basic in comparison to what we have today. Instead of being standardized, they were only capable of monitoring manufacturer-specific automobile issues. As a result, it was much harder for auto technicians to figure out what activated the check engine light. Back then, scan tool technology wouldn’t work with two different vehicle models, even if both vehicles had the same issue.

 

The most rudimentary form of the check engine light was called an idiot light (no joke), or warning light. Through history, these binary lights only activated when a major issue or breakdown was about to occur. They provided no advance warning or detection of a vehicle fault. The first manufacturer to use them was the Hudson Motor Car Company. They started putting these warning lights in their cars sometime during the mid-1930s. When check engine lights became popular through history in the 1980s, idiot lights were discontinued to avoid confusion.

 

Luckily, we’ve come a long way since then in history. These days, experienced technicians can diagnose any vehicle issue in no time. Since today’s check engine lights are activated for a variety of reasons both large and small, they often detect vehicle issues early on. This saves you time and money on repairs in the long run.

Well, there you have it. Everything you didn’t realize you wanted to know about your car’s check engine light and the history of it. The next time your car’s check engine light is triggered, just be thankful it’s not an idiot light. Think of it as your car’s way of letting you know it needs a little TLC, and give us a call.

 

8 Reasons Your Car’s Check Engine Light is On and What You Need to Do About It

As you’re driving, you look down at your dashboard and notice that the check engine light (CEL) appeared. You hate to see it. The truth is, the CEL can be triggered by any number of engine problems. Today we’ll discuss 8 reasons why your CEL is on and what to do about it.

1. Loose or missing fuel cap

One of the most common causes for the CEL is a loose or cracked fuel cap. The fuel cap keeps vapors from leaking out of your vehicle. If this seal is faulty, your CEL will turn on. Luckily, this is a relatively minor repair. Putting this off will result in poor fuel economy and increased emissions.

2. Oxygen sensor

Another reason you may be seeing the CEL is the oxygen sensor. This sensor determines the amount of oxygen present in the exhaust. It allows your engine to perform at maximum efficiency by adjusting the amount of fuel. A faulty oxygen sensor will cause your car to use up more gas than it needs. Delaying this repair could damage your catalytic converter, costing you thousands of dollars.

3. Spark plugs and spark plug wires

Old or faulty spark plugs and spark plug wires can also activate the CEL. Your spark plugs and wires are what ignite the air and fuel mixture in your car’s engine. This produces power and makes your engine turn. If these aren’t working correctly, it can weaken engine performance and lead to poor fuel economy. Luckily, spark plugs are inexpensive and easy to replace. Putting this off can clog the catalytic converter or damage the oxygen sensors.

4. CEL & Catalytic converter

Your CEL may turn on because of a clogged catalytic converter. Since this part doesn’t need routine maintenance, it usually indicates another underlying problem. Unfortunately, this isn’t a cheap fix. Routine maintenance and repairs can prevent a clogged catalytic converter, saving you time and money in the long run.

5. Battery

A faulty or undercharged car battery will lead to low voltage, which may cause your CEL to turn on. Modern batteries are maintenance-free and last around 5 to 7 years. While this isn’t a common reason for the CEL, it’s still possible.

6. MAF failure

The mass air flow (MAF) sensor can also trigger your car’s CEL. The MAF sensor measures the exact amount of air that enters the engine. This tells your car how much fuel it needs for it to run smoothly and efficiently. One of the most common reasons for an MAF problem is not changing your air filters. If it’s not resolved in a timely manner, MAF failure can damage lots of other engine parts.

7. EGR valve

The exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) system lowers the combustion temperature. It does this by rerouting a small amount of exhaust gases back into the engine intake. It controls the flow of gases from the exhaust manifold to the intake manifold. If the EGR flow is more or less than expected, it’ll activate your car’s CEL. EGR valves don’t need regular maintenance but they can get clogged by carbon build-up.

8. Vacuum leak

Your car’s vacuum is connected to several different parts, including the cruise control, heating and A/C vents, exhaust, and brake booster. The vacuum is a set of rubber hose lines. A vacuum leak happens when the rubber stretches out or cracks. When this happens, it triggers the CEL.

As you can see, your car’s CEL could indicate any number of engine issues, some of which have other underlying causes. Although it’s probably not something you want to deal with, routine maintenance will save you from bigger headaches down the road. Our skilled technicians at Blaine Auto Care are always here to help. Give us a call at (763) 755-7255, or stop on by today.

 

 

What Should You Do If Your Check Engine Light Comes On?

So, your check engine light is on. Now what? The check engine light can indicate any number of problems, from simple to serious. Resist the temptation to ignore this warning. Doing so could end up costing you more down the road. Keep reading to find out what steps you need to take if your car’s check engine light is on.

Should I continue driving?

If the check engine light is triggered, it’ll appear in one of two ways. When you have a major problem that needs immediate attention, you’ll see a blinking check engine light. If this is the case, pull over immediately. A check engine light that’s not blinking but is illuminated indicates a problem that usually isn’t an emergency. However, you still need to address it as soon as you can.

Regardless of how your check engine light is displaying, you should always inspect your vehicle for signs of a serious problem. For example, abnormal noises, engine smoke, and loss of power are all signs that you may have a serious issue on your hands. If that’s the case, avoid driving your car if possible. This can cause further damage to your vehicle. Instead, get it towed to a service provider for a comprehensive inspection.

Troubleshooting the check engine light

If you don’t notice anything urgent and if your check engine light isn’t blinking, there’s a few steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue. The first thing you want to check is your gas cap. Believe it or not, a loose gas cap can trigger your car’s check engine light. If you tighten the gas cap and your check engine light turns off, then you may be in the clear.

Another place to check is the oil dipstick. Make sure this is properly seated. Also make sure that the oil fill cap, which is on top of the engine valve cover, is secured tight. These can also activate the check engine light. Another option you have for troubleshooting your car’s check engine light is to use an OBD2 scanner. This tool can read the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) that set off your check engine light. To retrieve this code, you need to connect your OBD2 scanner to the data link connector. This is usually found underneath the dashboard on the driver’s side.

There are lots of good OBD2 scanners that cost under $100. While it won’t give you specific information on your engine malfunction, the DTC can give you an idea of where the problem might be coming from. This can help you decide whether to make the repair yourself, or to seek help from a professional. When you see your check engine light, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Make an informed plan to resolve the problem systematically. If it’s an urgent matter, seek help right away. If the check engine light isn’t blinking, make a logical plan for troubleshooting.

Our experienced technicians at Blaine Auto Care & Transmission can diagnose and resolve any vehicle issue to get you back on the road in no time. Give us a call at (763) 755-7255, or schedule your appointment online​ today. We’re always here to help.

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