Signs You Need a Tune-Up

Modern automobiles are highly-sophisticated feats of engineering that would seem like vehicles in a science fiction story to drivers a half-century ago. Despite significant advancements in design and technology, cars still need to be tended to regularly and have the occasional tune-up performed in order to ensure optimum mechanical performance.

But how do you know when to have a tune-up performed on your vehicle?

As a rule of thumb, you should have your vehicle’s oil changed every 3,000 miles while your other fluids and filters should be serviced every 30,000 miles or so. Whenever you get service of any kind, it’s a good idea to have a quick inspection performed to make sure the various components in your engine are functioning at a good level.

An extensive, bumper-to-bumper vehicle inspection and computerized mechanical diagnosis should typically be conducted at least once per year and, ideally, every six months. If you’ve lost track of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, here are a few signs it’s time to head to a mechanic for a tune-up:

Increased Fuel Consumption.
If you notice you’re filling the gas tank up more often than usual, your engine is working harder than it was designed to and you should head to a garage for an inspection since there are any number of mechanical reasons for your fuel efficiency to go down.

Knocking/Pinging Sounds.
If you can hear either of these distinct noises emanating from your engine, especially during acceleration, your vehicle definitely needs to be tended to in the near future. There’s a chance this noise is being caused by using the wrong grade of gas but if you make the proper adjustment and still hear knocking or pinging, head to a garage ASAP.

Hard Starting.
If it takes you a few tries to get your car started, that’s usually a sign there’s something off in your engine. The ignition process being disrupted in any way is typically a key indicator that you’re due for a tune-up.

If you have any questions regarding your vehicle’s health, be sure to give our ASE-certified technicians a call at 336-294-2137 – we’re here to keep you safely on the Greensboro roads year-round!

Brake Failure Warning Signs

brake failure

One of the most frightening scenarios that a driver can encounter comes when you suddenly slam on your brakes and they’re unresponsive… To help you avoid this precarious situation, here are a few brake failure warning signs that indicate your system is very likely in need of service:

Vibrations: If when you go to put your foot on the brake pedal and that pedal vibrates or you feel a shaking of it, that is a clear indicator that your rotors on your car may be warped.

Squealing: This may be a bit harder to monitor, as you will likely need to have your windows down, and both your air conditioning and your radio off in order to hear this. The squealing noise coming from your brakes when you use them usually is a sign that you need to have them checked out by a professional. However, it’s not uncommon to hear brakes squealing after a rain storm or car wash.

Grinding: When you push on your brake pedal and you hear a deep grinding, this is a clear indicator that your brake pads are damaged or worn beyond safety limits and need to be replaced quickly.

ABS Light On: There are several reasons that your ABS light may come on at odd times, including: metal particles in the brake system, or complete brake system failing.

Pedal Touching Floor: One potential problem with your brake system is that it may start to lose fluid and fluid pressure, allowing you to push the brake pedal all the way to the floor. This is a possible indicator of a leak in your brake system.

Grabbing: While you are driving and if you ever feel your vehicle pull to one side or another when you apply your brakes, this may be an indicator of your car’s brake lining wearing unevenly or in need of a complete flush of the brake fluids.

If you notice any of the above warning signs, be sure to give our ASE-certified technicians a call at 336-294-2137 to set up an appointment at our shop on West Market Street.

Fluid Flush Frequency

fluid

While they might not be the first thing that come to mind when you think about vehicle maintenance, your car’s fluids are literally its lifeblood and they are a vital component of its health.

Vehicle fluids perform a variety of functions that keep your engine running at an optimal level. You should monitor your car’s fluid levels closely and, in some cases, perform regular flushes in order to keep your vehicle safely on the road between tune-ups.

– Motor Oil is responsible for lubricating all of your engine’s moving parts and will need to be replaced every three months or 3,000 miles. If you don’t change your oil regularly it will thicken and your engine will not be able to function properly.

– Brake Fluid amplifies the force with which your vehicle stops, transferring force into pressure in your hydraulic braking system. Depending on its chemical composition, brake fluid should typically be flushed every year or two.

– Coolant & Antifreeze keep your engine running at the proper temperature. By transferring heat via a process known as convection, engine coolant prevents overheating or freezing from occurring in your vehicle. These fluids tend to vary in terms of composition, so it’s best to check with your preferred brand’s manufacturer for a changeout timetable.

– Transmission Fluid performs the task of making sure that your transmission is properly lubricated, which is critical to your car’s health. Like engine coolant, there are several different types of transmission fluid so its flushing schedule will be dependent upon the manufacturer.

Other fluids that can be found in your vehicle include power steering fluid, washer fluid and refrigerant, all of which will need to be changed out regularly as part of your preventative maintenance schedule. If you have any questions regarding your vehicle’s fluids are you need to schedule an appointment for a flush, give us a call at 336-294-2137 or swing by our shop on West Market Street!

The Value of Tire Rotation

tire rotation

When tire rotation is performed regularly, their lifespans can be extended by up to 20 percent. Not only will this save you money on replacement tires but rotating your tires also cuts down on your gas money. For uniform tire wear, it is suggested that a vehicle’s tires are rotated every 6,000 miles as part of your vehicle’s preventative maintenance schedule.

There are many factors that can cause wear to tires. Weight distribution is one of the biggest factors. On front-wheel drive cars, the stress of steering, braking and the weight from the engine and axle can quickly cause deterioration. Incorrect tire pressure and uneven alignment are also major factors. If your front tires gain more wear than your back tires, it may cause some safety concerns for the control of your vehicle. Bringing your car to our certified technicians regularly can ensure your tires are rotated properly and keep you safely on the road.

Rotating your tires will also do many things for your overall driving experience. If you can control the distribution of weight among your tires, they will wear evenly and offer a smoother ride. This will allow you the best possible gas mileage as your tires get older. A simple tire rotation will also make your vehicle brake more evenly which will give you a shorter stopping distance.

Some car owners who neglect regular tire rotations will find themselves purchasing two front tires when the wear becomes too much and, shortly after, buying two rear tires when needed. If they wear evenly, you can scoop up all four tires at one time and save yourself the hassle and cost of purchasing them separately.

If you notice uneven wear in your tires, our ASE-certified technicians will be happy to take a look and rotate them for you. Give us a call at 334-294-2137 if you have any questions about your tires or any other vehicle component!

Check your Headlights this Fall

headlights

In addition to offering drivers no shortage of challenges when it comes to weather-related conditions, the seasons known as FALL and WINTER also make things tough by making general visibility tough by greatly increasing the amount of darkness Guilford County residents are forced to deal with.

Once Daylight Savings ends, night seems to come immediately at the end of the workday and the only time you get to see the sun is on weekends. Driving in darkness so often means your headlights become one of your car’s most important tools.

In addition to helping you navigate roads, headlights also serve the important function of making your presence known to other drivers. While most newer cars are equipped with automatic lights that drivers don’t tend to worry about activating, you should still regularly check to make sure they’re operating properly.

The easiest way to check to see if your lights are operating properly is simply to pull into a closed area like a garage and look for a reflection or other indicator of proper exterior lumination. Your turn signals should be inspected as well. If any bulbs on either system is burnt out, you need to get it replaced ASAP.

In the event that your headlights appear dim or weak, it probably just means they need to be cleaned.

Dirt, grime, snow/ice, etc. accumulate on your car’s exterior at a faster rate in fall and winter than in other seasons so you will need to clean your headlights more often during these months. You should also, as a rule of thumb, request your auto technician perform a quick headlight cleaning whenever you bring your vehicle in for a tuneup or inspection.

If your headlights are acting up even with a new bulb and freshly-polished lens, there could be something wrong with your electrical system and you should bring your vehicle into our shop for a full diagnostic. To schedule your next inspection, click HERE or call our team at 336.294.2137

Oil Loss Prevention

Many vehicles will experience oil loss at some point. Usually it is through small drips and minor leaks that can be prevented, but in some cases oil leaks require immediate attention from an ASE-Certified Technician.

An improperly sealed drain bolt is the most common cause of leaks. When having an oil change in Greensboro performed, your oil pan is first drained. The drain is resealed, usually with a new washer around the drain bolt. Cheap oil change services may not include a new washer, which can potentially result in new leaks emerging after the change. If a leak appears after the change and continues after a day or two of normal driving, you may need a new washer.

Small oil leaks are also common in older cars. Often the seals wear or are misshapen due to the mechanical movements and drastic changes in temperature that are common with a combustion engine. While replacing the seals may not be economical, it is very important to check oil levels frequently.

In the worst scenario, oil loss may be sudden and dramatic. Many vehicles have warning lights that indicate a loss of oil pressure. In this case, it is imperative that the vehicle is stopped and turned off immediately. Friction from oil loss will destroy internal engine components and may ruin the engine completely.

Abnormal oil loss without any prior indication such as oil stains or an oily engine may indicate a much deeper problem. It might be an indication that the vehicle is burning oil. Oil may seep past the pistons and into the combustion chamber or it may leak through a broken head gasket. These are both very serious problems that may result in a loss of power and reduced fuel efficiency.

If you think you might be losing oil, bring your vehicle in to Foreign Accents at your earliest convenience and we can assess the issue and determine the best solution for fixing it.

A well-sealed oil system is crucial to keeping your vehicle on the road – call us at (336) 294-2137 if you have any questions or concerns about yours!

Car Waxing vs. Polishing

Car polish and wax are among many products used to protect your vehicle and keep it looking its best. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception among car owners about these products and what they are used for. So what is the difference between a wax and a polish? And what’s right for your car?

Polish

A polish is used to give your vehicle a smooth, shiny surface. The primary purpose of polish is to remove imperfections from your vehicle’s paint or clear coat. Polish can clean off contaminants such as grease, dirt, and rust that normal washing cannot remove. It is also used to fix small scratches, scrapes, or swirls from the finish.

There are two primary types of car polish: chemical polishes and abrasive polishes. Chemical polishes are used to clean the exterior, removing rust, grease, and stains that normal washing cannot remove. Abrasive polishes are used to fix imperfections in your car’s paint job or clear coat and smooth out small scratches or scrapes. These polishes range from coarse to fine, with finer polishes ideal for detail work.

Polishes typically come in creams, sprays, or liquids and contain solvents to remove impurities (grease, rust). Polishing your vehicle fixes small imperfections in the finish and allows the paint to shine through. However, most polishes do not provide protection for your car’s finish.

Wax

Waxing is used to create a protective barrier on your vehicle. UV rays, pollution, dust, moisture, and corrosion can all harm your car’s paint and clear coat. Wax acts as a barrier between your car’s finish and the environment. Wax also can create the glossy look that many vehicle owners love.

Car waxes come in two varieties: natural or synthetic. Natural car waxes are usually made from caranauba wax and have great protection and shine. While both types of wax serve the same functions, synthetic waxes can last longer than natural wax.

You should always wash your car before applying wax. Wax acts as a paint sealant and will seal any dirt, grease, or rust to your car. Wax can provide protection from moisture, corrosion, and oxidation from the outside, but anything on your car when you apply the wax can still cause damage. If you find any damage after washing your car, you should use a polish to resolve any issues before waxing.

What is right for your car?

Because waxing and polishing your car serve different purposes, it is a good idea to do both. If you notice any problems with your car’s finish, you should get them fixed prior to waxing or polishing. Speedy action will help prevent scratches and nicks from causing further oxidation (rust) and damage.

Wash your car first before polishing or waxing. As you wash, you can inspect your car for any imperfections, rust, or scratches. Polish your vehicle as needed, anytime you find imperfections in the finish or when you want extra shine for your paint job. Always wax after polishing, since polish can remove the wax from your vehicle. Typically, cars should be waxed every 3 or 4 months. Follow the instructions for any products you use for the best results.

Both polish and wax can fix and protect your vehicle’s finish and your investment! If you have any questions about polishing or waxing your vehicle, call us at 336.294.2137 or stop by our shop!

Keeping your Parked Car Cool

Summer is officially here, and while that means road trips, family vacations, and spending time outdoors, it also means hot cars and sticky seats. Your vehicle spends more time parked than running, which means it spends a lot of time in the hot summer sun.

Before you get hit by a muggy wave of hot air, here are five tips for keeping your vehicle cool while it’s parked in Guilford County this summer:

Use a sun shade. When you’ll leave your vehicle parked for more than a few minutes, put up a window cover or sun shade. The shade will reflect away sunlight, keep the interior cool, and protect the dashboard from damage from sun exposure.

Cover leather seats. Leather and vinyl seats can get very hot in the sun and be very uncomfortable against exposed skin. To keep your seats comfortable, cover them with a blanket or towel when you park your vehicle.

Crack the windows. A little air flow can make a big difference. Don’t leave the windows all the way down – an inch or two is enough to provide ventilation.

Park in the shade. If there is a covered parking garage or a space protected by the shade from a tree, snag one of those parking spots. Shade can account for a temperature difference of up to 10 degrees and keep your vehicle cooler out of the direct sun.

Don’t hurry. When you get back to the car, open the door and let the hot air escape for a few seconds before you climb inside.

Do you have other tips for keeping your car cool in the summer? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Make sure your vehicle can keep you and your passengers cool on the road too. If your air conditioning is struggling to match the heat, bring your car into Foreign Accents for a vehicle air conditioning inspection. Our experienced technicians will test the A/C in your car to make sure it is in the best condition to keep your car cool this summer.

If you have questions about your vehicle or the air conditioning, call our team at 336.294.2137!

What To Do When Your Car Overheats

As temperatures heat up, so do our car’s engines. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make sure climbing temperatures don’t permanently harm your car.

The following are easy steps to take if your car overheats:

First, always carry an extra bottle of coolant and a jug of water in your car. Usually cars overheat due to low coolant so topping it off can often fix this problem. If that doesn’t work, water can also temporarily do the trick.

If the temperature gauge goes into the red area, or a notification light comes on, immediately turn off your A/C system as the A/C puts a lot of strain on your engine. If the temperature gauge doesn’t go down, turn your heater up all the way. It may be brutal for a few miles, but transferring that heat away from your engine may save its life.

If these steps fail, pull over as soon as possible and turn off your engine. Open your hood from the driver’s seat, if you can, to allow more heat to escape the engine compartment, but never risk opening it by hand until the engine has completely cooled down, which takes at least 30 minutes.

Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant tank. If it is empty or there is a puddle or drip under the car, you may have a coolant tank leak.

If you do have leak, place a cloth over the radiator cap to protect your hand and carefully unscrew it, tipping it away from you as it opens. Refill the COOLED radiator with spare coolant or water as to not crack the engine block due to sudden temperature change. Most cars require a 50:50 mix of coolant and water so don’t drive indefinitely with nothing but water in the coolant tank. If there is no leak and the coolant tank is full, the problem is likely electrical or mechanical, and you’ll need to call a reputable auto repair shop to tow your car.

Cars can overheat no matter what age they are. Keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, storing extra bottles of water and coolant, and knowing what to do are your best tools in the event your car overheats. Avoiding your car turning into a volcano on your next summer road trip will help ensure your vacation is a good one.

Spring Tire Check

Spring weather can create unpredictable road conditions on the roads in North Carolina. Before you hit the roads this month, take a few minutes to perform a quick tire check and make sure your vehicle’s tires are ready for any condition!

1. Check the tire pressure once per month. Temperature swings can affect the tire pressure by 1 PSI for every 10 degree change. Check the manufacturer owner’s guide for the correct inflation – it isn’t always the same as the pressure listed on the tire.

2. Check tire grooves for tread and objects. Rocks, nails, and other objects can become stuck in the tread as you drive, so remove any and look for damage. In rainy conditions, your tires need at least 4/32” of tread to prevent hydroplaning. To check your tread, insert a quarter in the groove upside down. If you can see Washington’s head, your tread is too low! It may be time to replace your tires.

3. Check the sidewalls. A quick visual inspection may be able to spot potential hazards with your tires. Watch for thinning patches, especially uneven wear, that may put you at increased risk for a blow out on the roads. Cuts, bulges, and irregularities can indicate a serious problem.

4. Check the spare. Even though it’s hidden in the trunk of your vehicle, don’t forget the spare tire! The last thing we want to happen is to be stranded on the side of the road after a blow out because the spare is flat too!

5. Check the alignment, balance, and rotation. Irregular wear of the tires can be a sign for a probably with the alignment or balance of your wheels. It also means your tires will need replaced sooner! Checking your tires regularly will help you spot issues early, but make sure to include alignment inspections as part of your routine car care.

Stop by Foreign Accents for an alignment and balance check. Our technicians can quickly determine if your tires need to be rotated or need an alignment. By keeping your tires in precise alignment so that they hit the road in the exact same way for all four tires, our technicians can help ensure that you maximize the life of your tires – meaning more comfortable drives, higher fuel efficiency, and saving money!

To have our technicians inspect your tires or for advice about the warning signs to look for at home, call our team at 336.294.2137 or stop by our shop on West Market Street in Greensboro!