Aging Timing Belt Warning Signs

A rubber belt festooned with teeth, timing belts are designed to keep your vehicle’s crankshaft in sync with its camshaft and ensure that engine valves and pistons are operating in proper sequence. While relatively durable thanks to its typically nylon-reinforced innards, your timing belt will still need to be changed out every 90,000 miles or so.

Here are a few warning signs to look for when it comes to an aging timing belt:

Engine Won’t Turn Over. Timing belts need to be in good working order for your car to start. If your belt has been damaged, you will most likely hear the starter engage when you turn your key but the motor won’t ignite.

Engine Misfires. Worn-out timing belts will affect the fire rate of the engine they’re conducting. Older belts can slip along your engine’s camshaft and cause pistons to malfunction due to valves being out of sequence.

Ticking Noise. Since the timing belt is attached to the cam/crankshaft vis-à-vis a series of pulleys, when it starts to break down it can cause combustion issues as the cylinder head valves that transfer burnt fuel through the exhaust chamber are out of sync. This will result in an audible ticking sound that should definitely be considered a red flag for your timing belt.

Frontside Oil Leak. If your timing belt is cracked, motor oil could seep through its cover, which is held in place by nuts/bolts that can become loose over time. The gasket between your engine block and timing belt cover can also wear out if your engine overheats while the timing belt is failing.

If you are worried about your timing belt or have any questions at all about your vehicle, give us a call at 336-294-2137 or click HERE to schedule a service appointment to ensure your vehicle stays safe on the road this winter!

The Importance of Proper Wheel Alignment

If you want your car to handle properly then having properly-aligned wheels is of paramount importance.

Your vehicle’s suspension system connects the wheels to the body and helps provide a steady ride even along an uneven driving surface. Over time, your suspension will start to bend or warp after you’ve hit enough pot holes, curbs, etc. When this happens – and it will – your wheels will be misaligned which can cause your car to veer in a given direction which is obviously dangerous for you and your passengers.

Wheel alignment procedures will fix the shape of your suspension and ensure that your vehicle will steer straight again. Auto technicians have special calibration machines that straighten out your suspension and give your car back its proper handling feel.

A car’s “camber” is the angle of a wheel as it appears when the vehicle is being viewed from the front. Negative cambers (also known as “toe-ins”) occur when wheels are pointing towards one another, as if magnetized. Positive cambers occur when the top of a wheel leans out away from the body. While these phenomena can be tough to notice while you’re driving, wheels suffering from positive/negative camber effects can negatively impact steering performance and cause extra wear on tire treads.

Another issue misaligned tires can cause is subtle skidding along roads, which will reduce your tires’ lifespan significantly. This will also hurt your vehicle’s fuel efficiency as it will require more power to make turns which also adds to the safety concerns of wheel misalignment.

A quick and easy way to check your vehicle’s alignment is to simply drive on a straight, flat road. If you veer to the left or to the right, you most likely have misaligned wheels.

It is recommended that you get an alignment check at least once per year but if you think you have an issue sooner, be sure to get it checked ASAP. If you have any questions about wheel alignment or anything else related to your vehicle’s safety, give us a call at 336.294.2137 or click HERE to request a service appointment!

Computer On Board!

Cell phones, refrigerators, washing machines…virtually everything that we plug into an outlet these days comes equipped with its own computer. Why would our cars be any different?

All cars produced today come standard with at least one computer. Car computers aren’t the same as the personal computers and laptops we use to work and access the internet however. These are simpler machines that, while not quite as advanced, serve a crucial function – keeping you safe.

Your car’s main computer likely controls these systems:
● The engine’s emissions
● How the spark plugs operate
● The fuel injection system
● Sensors for oxygen, throttle position and engine temperature

More expensive cars include an additional set of computers, which may include one for each of these systems:
● Climate Control
● Anti-Lock Brakes
● Navigation
● Transmission
● Radio
● Cruise Control
● Air Bags

Each individual computer works the same way as the main computer in your car. They read information from sensors and send you an alert about any problem or potential problem in the form of an error code.

The computers in your car compile information from these systems and sensors and automatically change how the engine operates in response. Built-in computers can warn you about any current or future problems. The car’s computer scans the various components checking for issues and, when it discovers one, sends you a warning. It may also send a code to turn on one of various warning lights, or the check engine light.

Computers are integral components to how modern cars function, providing a safer, more efficient driving experience for today’s drivers. These computers will only become more and more advanced. Self-driving cars are already here, and will eventually be commonplace.

Our technicians have the most current technological tools available in the auto repair industry so they can read any code that your car’s computer is trying to communicate. Computers and technicians now work together to keep cars running smoothly, removing any possible guesswork that might’ve taken place in the past. Technicians take the information from your car’s computer and perform the necessary repairs. Your car performs better and you remain safe on the road – everyone wins. Thank you, technology!

To learn more about your vehicle’s computer/s or schedule your next appointment, stop by our auto-repair shop in Greensboro or call us at 336-294-2137.

Easy Steps For Jump Starting A Car

One of the absolute most frustrating things is to jump into your car and learn that you have a dead battery, exactly when you need to get going and on the road. Luckily there just a few items that you need and a few steps to follow to get your car up and running again.

Items Needed:

  • Jumper Cables
  • Vehicle Owner’s Manual
  • Additional Car With Functioning Battery
  • (You may also want to add work gloves to the list, but that is optional)

Before we go ahead and get started, make sure to check your owners manual first for any specific instructions on jump starting your vehicle. Different cars can have different electrical systems and some manufacturers may even advise against jump starting the car yourself.

Also, inspect the battery to make sure it is in good working condition, and isn’t frozen, leaking, cracked, damaged, etc. If this is the case, do not attempt to jump start your car. Take your car to a shop and have an ASE certified technician replace the battery.

Here are the steps to jump starting your car:

Step #1) Open the hood of the vehicle & inspect the battery as we discussed above. If need be, refer back to your owners manual to determine exactly where and how you can open your hood.

Step #2) Find the battery terminals and determine which terminal is positive and negative. Your battery should have two terminals, a positive, which can be indicated by a + sign and may be red, and a negative, indicated by a – sign and is black. These battery terminals may be convered by plastic covering the metal under it.

Step #3) Park the additional car next to the vehicle with the dead car, ensuring that the jumper cables can reach both batteries at the same time. Turn off the additional car you will be getting power from.

Step #4) Connect the jumper cables:

  • Connect the positive end of the jumper cable to the dead batteries positive terminal.
  • Connect the other end of the cable to the additional vehicles battery, first connecting the positive cable clamp to the positive terminal.
  • Connect the negative clamp on the cable to the same kind of negative terminal on the additional working battery and car.
  • Finally, connect the black (negative) cable clamp to some kind of metal surface on the engine block of the car with the dead battery. Look for some kind of nut or bolt that helps with the clamp on the cable.

Step #5) Double check all of your connections to make sure they are secure

Step #6) Start the additional vehicle and keep them connected for at least 3-5 minutes. Once you have done that, try to start your own car, with the jumper cables still connecting the vehicles. Try again after a few minutes if the first attempt at starting your car doesn’t work.

Step #7) Now that the car with the original dead battery is running, disconnect the cables in reverse order that you attached them, black cables first. Never let the cables touch each other while they are connected to any batter.

Step #8) Take the newly started car for a short drive to recharge your once dead battery.

If you do find that you have to keep jumping your battery, you may need a new one. Take your car in to a certified shop to have it inspected by an ASE technician. Contact us online or call us at to have your car inspected right away at 336.294.2137

Summer Vehicle Maintenance Tips

Before you begin a road trip this summer in or around North Carolina, you’ll want to make sure your car is in the best possible shape before venturing out. What starts out as a minor car problem can quickly become a nightmare after driving hundreds of miles. Even if you are not super car savvy, there are a few simple things can you can do to ensure your car is up for the challenge of the open road.

Read Your Vehicle Manual

While it may not be an exciting read, your car owner’s manual is one of your best sources of specific information regarding your car. You want to be aware of the maintenance schedule of how often certain parts should be replaced and services should be performed. Following this schedule can save you unneeded breakdowns and big repair bills. Furthermore, keeping a maintenance record of when and what you have done to your car can help remind you and stay on top of your car’s needs.

Change Your Car Engine Oil

Staying on top of your oil changes is one of the best things you can do to care for the longevity of your car. The recommendation of most cars is to have the oil changed every three months, or 3,000 miles. Most shops put a sticker on your windshield of when your car is due to be serviced again. While some shops will try to upsell you extra services at this time, knowing your car’s maintenance schedule will help you stay on top of what you really need done right away.

Check Car Fluid Levels

While you may not feel comfortable changing every fluid in your car, you don’t need to be a car expert to be able to check your fluid levels. Most fluids in your car can be checked by merely pulling out a dipstick to see if the fluid is near the FULL line. If it is low, simply fill it up.

Other fluids are in containers that can be visually inspected to see if the fluid levels are low. Your car’s manual will tell you what’s where, how to check it, and what levels are right. Most important in summer is your car’s engine coolant. Make sure this is topped off, especially before hitting the road for any summer driving during hot months.

Replace Your Windshield Wipers

If your wipers are starting to streak on your windshield, it is time to replace them. Getting caught in a rainstorm is a horrible time to remember that you didn’t change them yet. You can buy new wipers at any auto store or big box store, and the directions for how to change them out can be found either in your car manual or on the wiper box.

Check Your Tire Condition

Checking your tires’ inflation and wear before doing any long distance driving is important for both your safety and the upkeep of your car. Check the air pressure in each tire when your car is cold and compare it to what your car’s manual says is the appropriate pressure.

Also, give your tires a physical inspection for anything that jumps out. If the tread on your tires is worn, they likely need to be replaced. If the tread is unevenly worn from tire to tire, your car could need an alignment. Furthermore, if the tires are out of alignment, your car may pull to the right or left when you drive. Whether you need one tire replaced or all four, take your car to a trustworthy auto repair shop for replacement, rotation, or balancing. Correcting tire issues can mean better gas mileage and more savings.

If anything has been concerning you about how your car drives or is running, your safe bet before taking it out on a road trip is to have a reputable shop give your car a good once over. Foreign Accents has a reputation built over 40 years of excellent care. Ask us to inspect your vehicle before your hit the road for your next adventure. Contact Us or call us at 336.294.2137

Keeping it fresh! Cabin Air Filters

Most late-model cars and trucks have cabin air filters. The cabin air filter might not be on your radar for vehicle maintenance, but it does play an important role in your vehicle’s systems.

The cabin air filter cleans the air entering your vehicle that comes through the ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems. This special filter captures pollen, dust, and other airborne debris. Cleaner air is especially important for those who have allergies or respiratory challenges.

If it has been a while since the filter was last changed, you will see a lot of dirt, soot, leaves, dead insects, and lint trapped in the filter. If the “ick” factor isn’t enough of a reason to change, there are other problems with a dirty filter. A filter that is not performing will limit the efficiency and capacity of your heating and cooling systems, as well as put a strain on your fan motors when the air does not flow freely.

If you notice reduced air flow, lots of noise when you turn up the fan, or your vehicle smells, if might be time to replace the cabin air filter. Manufacturers recommend changing this filter between 12,ooo and 15,000 miles. However, this can vary depending on driving conditions and weather. During the spring, more pollen and allergens may mean you’ll want to replace the cabin air filter more frequently.

Before you attempt to do it yourself, keep in mind that cabin air filters are not always easy to access. Our technicians perform this change regularly and are aware of the delicate plastic trim and clips for proper removal and replacement.

If you are unsure whether you need to replace your cabin air filter, our technicians at Foreign Accents make it part of our inspection process to look, evaluate, and educate you on the status of these maintenance items.

To schedule your next maintenance or have your cabin air filter inspected, request an appointment online or call our Greensboro auto repair shop at 336.294.2137.

Maximize Your Tires’ Lifespan

Rain or shine, your vehicle’s tires have to work hard to keep you safe and in control on the roads in Greensboro. Changing seasons is a perfect reminder to check your tires for key warning signs to help you get the longest life for your vehicle’s tires.
Here are a few tips:

  1. Visual Check. Check the grooves of your tire to make sure there are no rocks or objects stuck in the tread. Make sure there is enough tread to handle road conditions in Greensboro (2/32” minimum, 4/32” for wet or slick conditions). Look for gouges, cuts, or bulges along the sidewalls of the tires. If there are any irregularities, bring your car or vehicle into our shop for an inspection. These can be signs of a problem that leave you at greater risk for a flat tire.
  2. Tire pressure. We recommend checking the tire pressure at least once per month. You can purchase an inexpensive, easy to use tire pressure gauge and check in your own garage or when you fill up at the gas station. Under inflated tires puts extra stress on the tire, while over inflation causes uneven wear and handling problems.
  3. Spare Tire. Don’t forget to check the spare! Perform the same visual inspection on the spare tire, and make sure it is properly inflated.
  4. Rotation. Rotating the tires helps to control the wear on the tread from normal driving and prevent irregular wear. Our auto and tire experts can inspect your tires and let you know if they need to be rotated.
  5. Alignment. Uneven tire wear may be a sign that you need an alignment. When you bring your vehicle in for an alignment inspection, our auto technicians will take precise measurements to ensure the tires are hitting the road at exactly the same angle and position.

Regular tire checks can help you maximize the life of your tires! In addition to checking your tires at home, bring your vehicle into Foreign Accents for a tire check with your next oil change or maintenance service. Request an appointment online or call 336.294.2137.

Warning Signs for Shocks and Struts

Why does your vehicle need shocks and struts?

These components are designed to make your ride more comfortable by keeping your tires on the road. Without them, your vehicle would bounce with every bump in the road. Shocks and struts allow you to remain in control with easier handling on uneven road surfaces.

Unlike other components (like filters or spark plugs), there is not a specific mileage interval when you need to replace the shocks and struts. But like every mechanical component, they will eventually wear down and need to be replaced.

Have your vehicle inspected by a professional auto repair shop, like Foreign Accents in Greensboro! Symptoms and warning signs of shocks and struts damage include:

  • Leaking. Oil and wet spots outside of the shocks and struts may be visible. Never ignore leaking fluid — doing so could turn a simple fix into an expensive repair!
  • Damage. Look for physical damage to the shocks and struts. A broken mount or dented housing could spell big trouble!
  • Handling. If your vehicle has been excessively bumpy or sways from side to side, that could be a sign of a problem. Other signs include the nose dipping when you brake and the suspension bottoming out in your driveway.

To test your shocks and struts at home, try the “bounce test.” Push down hard at each corner of your car. If it bounces back more than two times after you release the body, the shocks may need to be replaced. Bring your vehicle to Foreign Accents for a detailed inspection.

Replacing worn shocks and struts not only makes your driving more comfortable, it also can improve performance! Your vehicle will stop faster when braking, be more stable on wet and icy roads, improve gas mileage, and protect the life of your tires and suspension.

To schedule an inspection, including shocks and struts, call our auto repair shop in Greensboro at 336.294.2137 or request an appointment online.

New Year, New Habits that can Improve Your Car

As you consider your resolutions for the New Year, don’t forget your car! For most people, it’s the second most expensive investment they’ll ever make, and resolving to keep a few new habits can help protect that investment for years to come! Here are some easy ways to care for your car…

Learn to love your tire pressure gauge. Starting at just $5 for an analog version or $10 for digital, a tire pressure gauge might have the best cost-to-savings ratio of any tool you can own. After all, checking and correcting your tire pressure during each fill up at the gas station can not only mean improved MPG and savings at the pump, it can also ensure that your tires don’t wear out prematurely!

Do your spring cleaning more than once each year. Cleaning the clutter out of your car is more than just therapeutic — it also means reduced fuel costs as you reduce the weight your car has to cart around all day! If you make a point to clear out the junk weekly, you can save at the pump all year long.

Lighten up on the lead foot. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can assume that each 5mph you’re traveling over 50mph is like spending an extra $0.24 per gallon at the pump! Going 50 may not always be practical on the highway, but spending less time in the left lane can certainly add up to savings this year.

Car washes are more than just cosmetic. Washing your car regularly this year can protect the finish on your vehicle, helping to preserve its resale value down the road. But regular car washes aren’t just cosmetic. Washing your vehicle helps prevent rust from forming which could mean an early end for your vehicle. Washing also helps prevent corrosive build-up from forming on the rims of your tires that can lead to an incomplete seal, meaning low tire pressure, decreased MPG, premature wear, and even a flat tire at the worst possible time.

The surest way to catch problems on your vehicle while they are small and fixable instead of catastrophic, expensive, and inconvenient is with regular inspections by ASE-Certified Technicians. This year, if you resolve to have your oil changed every 3 months / 3,000 miles and have your car thoroughly inspected each time, you’re also resolving to protect your investment, save money and reduce your frustration in the new year!

To schedule your next vehicle maintenance service, request an appointment online or call our auto repair shop in Greensboro at 336.294.2137.

Drive Safely this Holiday Season

Happy Holidays! We hope you are fully enjoying this season, spending time with your family, and driving safely on the roads. Winter is here – the days are getting colder and shorter. Whether you’re commuting daily or planning a cross country road trip to visit family, here’s some advice to stay safe this winter:

Turn your headlights On – Winter days seem shorter with fewer hours of daylight. As the sun goes down earlier, it is very important to use your headlights! Even if you don’t usually have to think about turning them on for the drive home from work, you may need to adjust your habits for this season. Your lights help you to see and to be seen by other drivers.

Slow down – On slick winter roads, the biggest change for your vehicle is traction. Especially if you drive on snow or ice, your car won’t be able to grip the road as well requiring careful steering and braking. Check your tire pressure – a ten degree drop in temperature can drop PSI by as much as one pound. You can easily top off your tires yourself, or bring it in to us for a quick fill. Have your tires and brakes inspected to make sure they can handle the road conditions, and know your limits.

Check your emergency kit – You should always keep a basic emergency kit in your vehicle. Check to make sure the components are still gathered and in good condition (you may want to replace emergency food periodically). Add in winter layers, gloves, and other tools to keep you safe and warm in emergencies.

Use common sense – If the roads look treacherous, stay inside. Know your limits and those of your vehicle, and have a safety inspection performed before any long drives. When in doubt, SLOW DOWN or stay at home.

Our ASE Certified Technicians want to help you prepare your vehicle for winter roads in Greensboro – give us a call at 336.294.2137 if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.