Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is OBDII?

If you’ve had an emissions inspection done on your vehicle, or have ever had a check engine light come on, you’ve most likley heard the term “OBDII” before. But do you know what it means?

OBDII is an acronym for On-Board Diagnostics II. OBDII is a car’s self-diagnositc tool, it can perform basic diagnostics on itself and can give a broad idea on what is or isnt causing a problem. If you own a car that is model year 1996 or newer, you have OBDII. Though some vehicles from madel year 1995 have OBDII, it was not legally required.

What Can OBDII Do?

OBDII’s most common use is as a self-diagnostic tool. For example, whenever your check engine light comes on, OBDII also generates a code which shows why the light is on. For example, if you have a misfire, your check engine light would come on and OBDII would produce a code like P0300.

Are there Downsides to OBDII?

While in some areas OBDII can be very speific, in others it can be broad. For example, code P0300 means “Random or Multiple Misfires.” While this information is useful, it doesnt clarify why those random misfired happened, it only shows that misfires happened. OBDII is best used as a tool to “point you in the right direction” as compared to a definite diagnostic.

Why is OBDII Important?

While OBDII helps diagnose issues, like a misfire, OBDII also helps keep our air cleaner by monitoring emissions systems. OBDII is also what makes State Inspections possible. OBDII is also responsible for speeding up diagnostic times on engine related repairs.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Ready for a Winter Road Trip?

Once again, the holidays have arrived. Colder weather, lots of food, and, for some, road trips. While a road trip may seem like a fun adventure, having one in cold weather is a whole new ballgame. Before you head over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, ask yourself, “Is my car ready for a winter road trip?” If you aren’t sure, here are a few things to check before you leave.

1. Tires.

Tires are important in any season – after all, they do keep you glued to the road – but in winter tires have all new obsticals to overcome. Things like black ice, snow, and even heavy rain are all things you may see on your trip, and old tires are dangerous in these situations. 2/32″ is the legal minimum for tire tread, but if you are traveling somewhere that definitley is getting snow (Buffalo, for example) you should replace long before that.

2. Wipers.

Much like tires, wipers are also an all-season divice, but becomes much more useful in the winter. In areas where snow has fallen and things like mush and salt cover the road, your wipers will be in almost constant use. If your wipers are old, they may not wipe off melted snow or physical debris as well as new ones would.

3. Defrosters.

Even in a fairly mild winter climate like the Carolinas, windshields and mirrors are bound to freeze over or fog up. While it may not be necessary to have defrosters, they will save you lots of time keeping your windshield visible. If your car comes equipped with them, check them!

4. Washer fluid.

If you live in or are visiting somewhere that has temperatures are below freezing, water won’t be a good substitute for washer fluid. Most washer fluid is designed to freeze at a much lower temperature than water, and also is better at breaking up snow and salt on your windshield. Of all the things on this list, washer fluid is both the fastest and cheapest fix, so be sure to change your fluid!

5. Be prepared for emergencies.

Though you never want to break down, it is always best to be prepared in case you do. A winter emergency car pack should have things like blankets, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and warning markers. Portable phone charge-packs are also useful so your cellphone can stay on even when the car cannot.

6. Have your battery tested.

Cold weather is a dangerous time to have an old battery. Have your battery tested by a professional to see if the battery is healty enough to take on a long trip. If not, consider replacement.

7. Consider an oil change.

Consider how long the trip is, in miles, and compare to where you are in your oil’s life. If you think you’ll pass your vehicle’s “milage due” for an oil change, it may be best to do it before you leave.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is Winterizing My Car?

It’s getting colder out! Winter will soon be here, and you’re probably ready to bust out your favorite coat and make some nice hot coffee. But did you know your car needs some TLC to be ready for colder weather too? As colder weather approaches, it’s time to winterize your car.

 

Winterizing is the process of Inspecting and replacing parts and fluids to make sure your vehicle can handle the harsher weather. It is best to get this done in the fall, just before temperatures really start to fall, but it can be done at any point in the cold months. Listed below are some of the things that are done to winterize a car.

 

  1. Inspect the Battery.

Batteries don’t like cold, and things like low charge and corroded terminals only exacerbate the situation. Usually a quick clean of the battery is all that is necessary, but sometimes a battery needs to be recharged or replaced.

  1. Inspect the Oil.

Oil is the lifeblood of your car. While in extreme temperatures it may be necessary to switch to less-thick oil, it usually isn’t necessary in the fairly tame Carolina Piedmont winters. However, if your oil is old (around 5 months or older) it may warrant a change, and switching to synthetic isn’t a bad choice either.

  1. Inspect the Coolant.

Coolant is possibly the most important piece in this equation. Coolant (sometimes called antifreeze) should be inspected to assure that there is not water or grime in the system. While water can freeze at 32°F, coolant cannot. If your vehicle is using water instead of coolant, it is crucial it be replaced. Some coolants are designed for cold weather, but it may not be necessary to switch from regular coolant due to the fact that the Carolina Piedmont rarely goes below 20°F, but it may be useful for those who commute to the Appalachian Mountains.

  1. Inspect the Washer Fluid.

Washer Fluid is a great tool to help defrost a windshield. While most washer fluids are predesigned to not freeze at 32°F, some can and it is necessary to replace these fluids with cold-resistant ones. This is another example of a place where water won’t cut it as it freezes. It is worth noting that mixing coolant into the washer fluid is not recommended, as coolant can corrode paint and is dangerous to the natural wildlife as well as pets.

  1. Inspect tires.

Are your tires old? Is the tread at or below 2/32”? Is the wear uneven? If so, you should heavily consider replacing them. Tires with bad tread do poorly on black ice, which is common in this region of North Carolina. For the Carolina Piedmont snow tires and chains aren’t necessary, as the snowfall is usually less than an inch and only happens a few times a year. ALWAYS MAKE SURE TIRES ARE INFLATED PROPERLY FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE TRACTION IN COLD WEATHER!!!

  1. Pack an Emergency Kit.

Though this one is designed for cities with extreme cold and heavy snowfall, it’s still a great idea. Winter emergency kits usually have a flashlight, an ice scraper, a blanket, a warning/S.O.S light and non-perishable food.

  1. Inspect the Belts and Hoses.

Belts and hoses are notorious for snapping in cold weather. These should be inspected and replaced if they show signs of cracking or age.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is “Preventive Maintenance?”

If you’ve ever had your car in a shop, you’ve most likely heard the term “preventative maintenance” at some point. However, just what is preventative maintenance? To put it simply, preventative maintenance are jobs done to your car to prevent problems, as compared to regular service, which you do while the problem is occurring. Changing spark plugs, filters, and belts are kinds of preventative maintenance done  during factory-preset intervals. Even something as common as an oil change is technically preventative maintenance, because you don’t change your oil after it has turned to muck in your engine, you change it beforehand to prevent it from doing so.

When Should I do Preventative Maintenance?

Preventative maintenance is done either when the factory recommends it (this is usually listed in your owner’s manual) or when a technician spots something wearing a bit prematurely. For example, a timing belt is usually recommended to be changed at 90,000 miles, but it may be changed earlier if a professional notices cracks or other wear in the belt.

How Do I Know if I Actually Need What’s Recommended?

The best way to know is to ask your service provider to show you. Any reputable shop will gladly do this for you and take pride in making sure you understand fully what is needed.

Is Recommended Maintenance the Same for Every Car?

No. While there are many similar components in cars that may require maintenance, no two cars have the same preventative maintenance schedule. You should always check with your manual and automotive service provider to see what your car’s specific needs will be down the road.

 

To recap, preventative maintenance is a “catch-it-early” repair service. All cars have a preventative maintenance schedule, and it is always best to check to see what your car needs when. We hope this article helped!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – 3 Tips to Extend Tire Life

Tires are one of the most important pieces of your car – not just because they actually let your move, but because they are one of the most important safety tools your car has. As the increasing amount of research and development of tires sends prices up and up, many people are left wondering “How do I get my money’s worth out of my tires?” Believe it or not, there’s a lot of easy tips and tricks that can help you do just that.

 

  • Check your tire’s air pressure.

Over-inflated or under-inflated tires are one of the biggest reasons tires wear unevenly and prematurely. To prevent this from happening, check your tires at least once a month to see if the tire pressure is right. If you aren’t sure what the correct tire pressure is, check your car’s driver’s side door panel, there’s usually a sticker there indicating what the correct pressure your tires should be at. Tire gauges can be bought for as little as $2.00 both in stores and online.

Some forms of uneven tread wear.

  • Have your alignment checked.

A wheel alignment is an adjustment of your car’s basic suspension components. A bad alignment is usually most obvious when your steering wheel “pulls” to the left or right, but there are other things that an alignment can affect besides the direction your wheels what to go in. An alignment adjusts your car’s camber, or the angle at which your tire is pointing. If a wheel’s camber is off, a tire can wear unevenly on one specific side, causing the tires to need replacement. An alignment can be checked fairly easily by professionals and of you feel there may be an alignment problem, ask that it be checked the next time you head in for an oil change.

 

  • Rotate your tires.

Rotating the tires is the simple act of moving the rear wheels and tires to the front, and the front to the rear. This extends tread life because front tires wear quicker than rear ones due to the fact that front tires are the tires you steer with. By rotating at regular intervals, tire wear can be “evened out” among all four tires so the front two don’t have to be replaced before the rear two. Tire rotation is recommended every other oil change, or 6 months, whichever comes first.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Conventional Oil or Synthetic Oil?

Every time you head in for an oil change, one question you’ll usually hear is “Do you want conventional or synthetic oil?” Though this seems like a simple decision, this actually brings up more questions like “What kind should I use in my car?” or “Is the difference really worth the extra money?” Below we’ve listed some of the main differences between the oils and some useful information to help determine what kind is right for you.

Conventional Oil

Conventional Oil is the “traditional” motor oil. Conventional is derived from crude oil and has additives that help with heat tolerance and viscosity. When purchasing a “regular” oil change, this is the oil usually being used. It usually comes in a black bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Oil changes for conventional are usually recommended at 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first.

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic Oil is derived from crude oil and has additives just like Conventional, however this version of the oil is synthesized” – in other words, the oil is modified at the molecular level. It is also distilled. It usually comes in a silver bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Synthetic Oil Changes are usually recommended at 5,000 miles or 5 months, whichever comes first.

What Oil Should I Use?

There is no “wrong time” to use Synthetic over Conventional, because it is fact that Synthetic lasts longer and holds up better. However, this doesn’t mean Conventional is bad. Conventional is fine for cars that are daily drivers that have a “regular” commute (15 minutes or longer.) Synthetic is better for cars that drive in extreme temps (a New York winter or an Arizona Summer, for example) or make short trips commonly (conventional may not heat up enough in short trips.) Synthetic is also useful in dusty climates. Synthetic is sometimes recommended in the owner’s manual, in which case that oil should be used. Synthetic can also be useful in high milage cars, but is not necessary unless the manual requires it. In short, conventional is fine for the average daily driver, but synthetic will usually be the better option.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How Do I Keep Children Safe Around A Car?

The importance of keeping kids safe when around or in a car is a story we’ve all heard a thousand times. It may have even been covered in your driver’s education class. However, do you know exactly how to keep kids safe? Listed below are some tips and tricks on how.

  • Check Seat Belts – And Not Just For If They’re On.

The importance of wearing a seat belt is pretty well known, however, kids can suffer injuries in a wreck if their seatbelt wraps around their head. This can happen from a child being mischievous and wrapping it themselves, but can also happen by the child being strapped in wrong in the first place.

  • Backovers

Backovers are where a person is driven over by a car. This can happen with children because of how small they are and are hard to see (or sometimes impossible to see) in mirrors. According to the Motorist Assurance Program, 15,000 injuries are caused by backover crashes yearly. “Back-Up Cameras,” the cameras which are designed to display the rear view of a car when in reverse, usually cannot prevent these kinds of accidents because even they cannot see directly behind the rear wheels and bumper. The general rule of thumb is this – before driving off, walk around the car and check for anything or anyone.

  • Don’t Leave Kids in the Car

This is probably the most obvious of all the tips listed, but leaving children in the car still happens. Leaving a child in a car can cause heatstroke, which can be deadly. Heatstroke is still possible even on lukewarm spring days because as the sun beats down on the car, the temperature still rises just as it does in the summer. It is important to know cracking the windows is usually not enough to keep the car cool enough. Remember, no matter how short the trip, do not leave kids in the car – nothing is more important than their lives. This also applies to pets.

  • Lock the Car

Locking the doors is crucial for two reasons – the first is to prevent children from crawling into hot cars and locking themselves in the cabin or trunk, and also to prevent any injury by vehicle rollaway. (Rollaway is mostly an issue with manual transmission cars that don’t have a “park” feature, but can happen in automatics.)

  • Lock Your Power Windows

Power windows – any window controlled by a button or lever and not a hand crank – can cause injury to hands and fingers as well as cause strangling, because kids may stick their hands or heads out the window and then accidentally roll the window up on themselves. This is easily preventable by locking the windows so kids cannot play with them. (Power windows usually have a lock button on the driver’s side by the window master controls)

  • Keep Children in Car Seats As Recommended.

A large factor in injuries of children in cars is improper car seats, or lack thereof. The age and weight of a child usually determines what kind of seats they need.  Local laws also sometimes dictate this, so be sure to check for any.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How Do I Make My Wipers Last Longer?

Wiper blades are a key piece to any car and, in North Carolina, required by law on vehicles equipped with windshields. Wipers are a kind of car part that you don’t really think about if they’re good or not until you’re using them. With this in mind, how does one make a wiper “last?” Here are a few tips and tricks on how

  1. Treat Your Windshield

Things like Rain-X or similar products intended to make water and other fluids on windshields bead up are great for making wipers last longer as it makes the work a wiper has to do with each wipe a bit easier.

2. Glass Cleaner on the Rubber

Things like glass cleaner are a great way to clean film and other residue off your wiper’s rubber. Doing this with a towel is best, but paper towels are also ok.

3. Lift Your Blades When it Snows or is Freezing

When it snows or is freezing cold, your blades could freeze to the windshield. Preventing this from happening is great for your wipers.

4. Keep the Windshield Crack and Chip Free

Cracks, chips, and dings are one of the biggest reasons a wiper blade tears. should your windshield crack or chip, consider replacement.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Car

Warm weather is a sign of great times, cook outs, and road trips. For those if us who own pets, it just wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t bring them along for the ride! However, keeping our fuzzy friends safe should always be a priority. Below are some tips, tricks and other useful info.

 

  1. Protect the Eyes of Your Pet

Some pets like to stick their heads out the window when driving. That’s fun for the pet, but this can hurt your pet’s eyesight over time. Buying you pet goggles (sometimes called Doggles) are a great way to protect their eyes and let them have their fun.

2. Seatbelts, Good for You and Your Pet

Some pets are big enough for seatbelts. In events of a wreck, seatbelts can save a pet’s life just like a person. Modifications and adapters to make seatbelts work for your pet can be found online for as little as about $7.

3. Leaving Pets in Cars isn’t OK!

Leaving a pet in a vehicle that isn’t running with A/C (or heat in cold months) isn’t not only unsafe, but illegal.

In North Carolina specifically, law § 14-363.3 states:

“In order to protect the health and safety of an animal, any animal control officer,animal cruelty investigator appointed under G.S. 19A-45, law enforcement officer, firefighter, or rescue squad worker, who has probable cause to believe that an animal is confined in a motor vehicle under conditions that are likely to cause suffering, injury, or death to the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or under other endangering conditions, may enter the motor vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible for the animal.”

 

So, in other words, if the pet is in dangerous temperatures or doesn’t have enough air, it is legal for officers of the law to enter the vehicle to save the pet. Don’t let this be your pet!

 

The next time you bring your pet into the vehicle, just remember these tips, and you and your fuzzy friend will have a great (and safe) time!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Ready for Spring?

Finally, spring has sprung! The weather is warmer and our winter coats are back in the closet. Just like how we change our activities and wardrobes, our cars need some TLC for the warmer months too. Here are some basic tips and tricks on how to “springtomize” your car.

 

  1. Change your windshield washer fluid

In the winter months, you may have swapped out your washer fluid for a “winter wash” style of fluid. While that fluid is great for breaking down ice on your windshield, the formula isn’t intended for the warmer months. Consider switching to a regular washer fluid or a hot-weather-specific blend.

  1. Check the windshield wipers.

Your wipers put in overtime in cold months, helping remove ice and similar winter debris. Always check your wipers for tears or cuts and, if needed, replace.

  1. Get a sun shade

A sun shade isn’t so much a requirement as it is an accessory, but it’s useful nonetheless. Sun shades are big, tin foil looking covers that go under your windshield when you’re not driving. This is especially useful on cars painted dark colors, because it helps prevent your car from being ridiculously hot when parked outside.

  1. Have your A/C system checked.

Your A/C system has been sitting dormant now for a few months. Your coolant may be low/dirty and other systems used to cool your car may be running a little weak. It’s best to have your car serviced now in the spring so that when the hottest of the summer months roll around, you’re A/C is at peak performance.

  1. Check your tires.

Depending on how severe the weather was during the winter, your tires may have worn a bit quicker than expected. Check to make sure there aren’t any holes/leaks/bumps or uneven wear.

  1. Consider window tint

Similar to the sun shade, window tint works to keep some of the sunlight out of your car. This not only makes the windows darker but also helps it keep cool (and in some cases, provide UV protection.) Just remember that in North Carolina, 35% tint is the lowest you legally can go.

  1. Wash the car’s underbody.

There is no bad reason to wash your car’s underbody, but in areas like Mint Hill where salt was spread to prevent snow and black ice buildup, it is incredibly important. Salt left on the underbody of a car can cause the frame to rust, which is an extreme safety hazard, and lowers the overall value of your vehicle.

Now that the warmer months are here to stay, be sure to consider the tips above, and most importantly, have a safe and happy spring!

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