All tires sold in the US must have a DOT (Department of
Transportation) number stamped on the sidewall. Most people pay no
attention to this and are just happy to have tires with descent
safe tread on their cars, but there is very important information
contained in this number. The plant that made them, size,
manufacture and brand are coded in the first grouping of numbers. Most
important to the consumer is the
last four digits of the number that identify the date of
manufacture. Take note the the complete DOT number normally 10-12
digits is only engraved on one side of the tire, the other side will be
lacking date coding. Why is it so important to know the date? Because
tires age out and must be replaced based not only on wear but their age
as well. Depending on the source you look at recommended age required
replacement ranges 6-10 years. Dry rotted and cracked tread and
sidewalls are one sign a tire is starting to age out. There is no
federal law requiring tire replacement at a specified age, but most
shops will refuse to mount a tire that is 10 or more years old and will
start to recommend your tires be replaced if there are signs of dry
rotting or they are 6 plus years old. The environment and care tires
are subjected to also will influence their useful life span, I have
replaced tires less than three years old due to sever dry rotting.
Remember to check the date code on new tires you are purchasing because they may have been on the rack at the tire store for years
before they are ever sold. Always purchase tires with the latest
date code possible. Have your tires checked regularly at oil change time
for condition issues of any kind and replace them before they leave you
stranded or cause a more serious problem.
Is it time to buy an electric car?
Many people think electric cars are the future of the automotive industry. There is no doubt they have come a long way in the last ten years. The first modern era electrics were not much of advancement over the ones sold 100 years ago, low range, low performance and very expensive to purchase. Tesla changed all that and proved electrics can out perform their ice (internal combustion engine) counterparts in almost every way and be very desirable at the same time.
New NJ inspection rules
Are you a vehicle owner in the state of NJ? New Jersey no longer checks
basic safety items during the biennial inspection of passenger
vehicles. Vehicles that are from MY 1995 and older with a gross vehicle weight
of less than 8500 lbs. now are no long required to be inspected at all. It is
now up to you as the vehicle owner to properly maintain all of your safety and
emission components on your car. This is a quote directly from the NJ MVC
One question that comes up repeatedly in the car repair business is “ Do
you think it’s time for a new car?” This question usually comes up just after
someone has spent a good chunk of money on a large repair and now is faced with
another looming expensive repair. The thought of continuously dumping money
into an older car month after month gets people thinking a new car payment may
be less in the long run and I would have a new car with no issues and a
warrantee. With proper maintenance and repairs when needed almost any car can
be kept on the road for many many years. So what would be the killer failure
that would render your car up for replacement? One thought comes to mind and
that is rust. Any rust that compromises the overall structure of the vehicle
will make it unsafe to drive and much less safe in a crash as the structure will
not protect the passengers as the engineers intended. Rust repair when done
correctly is very expensive and can quickly overtake the value of the car
itself. Replacement or rebuilds of large components like the engine and
transmission can also be very expensive. The bottom line here is what works
best for you financially. Remember to always do all of the service at the
intervals mapped out in your owner’s manual to get the longest life possible out
of you vehicle in the first place. Never put off servicing main safety items
like tires, brakes and suspension. It doesn’t make much sense to compromise
your safety on the road to save a few bucks. One of the main advantages to
going with a new or newer model vehicles is advanced design. Newer cars are
cleaner, safer and more efficient with every passing model year, interior
comfort and convenience has also improved vastly over the past few years. On
the other hand there is always a certain amount of pride in ownership of an
older car that you maintained and cared for decades, some even consider an old
car part of the family. So what’s it going to be? New or stick with the old
car? , it’s up to you.
Now through July 15th get up to a $70 prepaid Visa Card with the purchase of 4 qualifying Cooper tires. Give us a call today for a quote on a set of Cooper tires for your car.
Overlooked affordable collector cars
Do you want to get into the collector car hobby and have limited funds?
There are plenty of currently undesirable or overlooked future collector cars
out there that can be had for a bargain basement price now. Think about today's most sought after collector cars like big block muscle cars and exotic sports
cars, there was a time when these were just used cars that sold in the
classifieds of your local paper barley notice. There is really no sure fire way
of determining what cars will shoot up in value in the future, but a few basic
rules seem to apply historically.
I don’t normally do product reviews here, but when I find something that
works well form me in the shop environment I feel I should pass along that
information. In the shop keeping my hands, tools, customers cars and just about
anything I touch clean is very important. Lately I have been using Monk
Mechanics Hand Cleaner 3-D Textured Towels. They come in one of those plastic
containers that you can pull up and rip off a single towel when needed. The
towel itself has sort of honeycomb texture to it and is very durable, its also
moist with a pleasant scented cleaner.
Common automotive repair complaints.
Today we will touch upon some common complaints that will have the customer
bring the car in for repairs and their most likely causes. These are the types of
complaints that many times have the customer trying to imitate the noise when
explaining what they want check, this can be quit entertaining at
times. Remember a complete inspection of your car will be needed to verify the
exact cause of your complaint. This list is just intended to give some insight
on the common causes of these problems.
Some overlooked general maintenance
1. Brake flush. Your brake system is one of the most important safety
features of your car, but also has one of the most overlook maintenance items on
the car. The brake fluid itself. Everyone knows to periodically have the brakes
check for wear, but did you know the brake fluid must be changed too. All non
silicone brake fluids like DOT 3 & 4 are hydroscopic and absorbed moisture.
Over time this will lower the boiling point and effectiveness of the fluid.
Basic no start checks
Before you throw in the towel and call AAA or your best friend that knows
all about cars, take the time to do a few basic checks on your no start car. Who
knows you may get it running, you will gain some insight on what's wrong at the
very least. First we can break down the no start complaint into two
categories. First is the engine that cranks normally and doesn’t start and then
there is the turn the key and nothing happens no start.
Lets start with the turn the key and nothing happens situation. When you
turn the key and attempt to start the engine do all the dash lights come on for
their normal bulb check? If not the battery may be completely dead or you have a
bad connection at the battery. A good place to start looking is making sure
there was nothing left on that would have drained the battery since you last
used the car. Headlights left on, dome light on due to a door not closed all of
the way, glove box light, anything obvious. Next give the battery cables a
little twist to make sure they are tightly connected to the battery terminals.
If they are loose tighten them up and give it another try. Still nothing? now
it’s time to get an idea of what the battery voltage actually is. If you have a
volt meter its time to break it out. A fully charged battery will have about
12.6 volts on a static no load test. If the voltage is low you may just want to
charge the battery or jump start it at this point. No voltmeter available, try
turning on the headlights and see if they illuminate at their normal brightness,
if they do your battery probably has close to 12.6 volts. If they are dim its
time to recharge or jump start. If your car starts now make sure the charging
voltage is good. Once the jumper cables are removed or the battery charger is
disconnected and the car is running you should have around 13.5-14 volts at
idle. 12.6 or less would indicate your charging system is not functioning and
the car is not going to stay running for long without it.
The battery charge or jump still yielded a no start condition, you may have
a starter or wiring problem. Don’t overlook the stupid things, like is the car
in park or neutral, clutch pushed down all the way? Anything that will cause the
neutral safety switch to prevent the engine from cranking. Don’t laugh, I have
seen cars towed in for things like this on more than one occasion.
Now lets take a look at the car that cranks normally, but will not fire up.
All gas spark ignition engines need three basic things to run, fuel/air,
ignition and compression. Start from the easiest position first, the driver’s
seat. Turn the key to the on position and look and listen. You should hear the
fuel pump prime for a few seconds and shut off. You should see the check engine
light come on during the bulb check. Now crank the engine. Does the engine crank
faster than normal? Your looking for clues to the problem here. If the engine
cranks faster than normal you may have a compression problem. A broken timing
belt will cause this. Can’t hear the fuel pump prime? could be an electrical
problem to the pump or more commonly a failed pump. If you have a helper try
banging on the bottom of the fuel tank as your helper cranks the engine. This
will sometime bring a stuck electric fuel pump to life temporarily. Keep in mind
this only works on in tank pumps. If it fires up, you need to replace the pump.
If you don’t see the check engine light come on during cranking you may have a
power problem to the computer. Now its time to get a little dirty if you want to
keep going. If you can access a spark plug lead you can check for spark. Pull
the lead off of a spark plug and hold the end of the lead to a good safe ground
like the engine block. You want to have the metal part of the lead about a half
inch from the ground. A good ignition system will jump this gap easily with a
nice bright spark when your helper cranks the engine. Be careful that you are
not a better ground than the one you chose or you will find out what 30 thousand
volts feels like as it shoots through you, it wont kill you, but it will wake
you up! If you have good spark and still no start you can add some fuel to the
intake to see if it will fire on that. Again be careful here, you want to try
and diagnose the problem, not burn the car and you to the ground. Pull off the
duct going to the throttle. Spray a little carburetor cleaner in there, you may
want to open the throttle a little so it gets into the intake. Give it a crank
now, if it sputters to life you can be pretty sure it’s a fuel problem.
Depending on the make and model of your car there can be many different
causes of lost fuel or spark. I’m not trying to give the fix for the problem
here, just some direction to narrow down the cause of your no start condition.
Your mechanical ability and tools available will be the determining factor in
how far you will take your diagnoses and when you will give AAA a call for the
tow to the shop. Also never overlook the basics. Is there fuel in the tank? is
there an alarm system installed that is killing the ignition? Sometimes a no
start is a minor problem, give it a look before you send out that SOS, you may
surprise yourself and get back on the road quickly and save a few bucks in the