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We’ve all seen it. Someone stuck on the side of the road with their engine smoking. That’s what happens when your engine overheats. Chances are this was the result of a problem with the cooling system. In this article, we’ll talk about an essential part of auto maintenance: a coolant flush. We’ll also discuss why it’s so important and how often it needs to get done.
How does the cooling system work?
Your vehicle’s engine produces a lot of heat. The spark plugs light the fuel, propelling your vehicle forward. Without proper control of this heat, it has the power to destroy the entire engine. Since the cooling system keeps this heat under control, it’s one of the most important systems in your vehicle.
The cooling system spreads liquid coolant throughout your engine’s parts. This liquid coolant usually contains antifreeze and water. The cooling system also includes the following parts:
- Bypass system
- Freeze plugs
- Head gaskets
- Heater core
- Intake manifold gasket
- Pressure cap and reserve tank
- Radiator cooling fans
- Temperature sensor
- Water Pump
These components work together to manage the massive amount of heat your engine produces.
What is a coolant flush?
A coolant flush is a routine maintenance task that involves draining and replacing your engine’s liquid coolant. Before it’s flushed, a cleaner is poured in to help remove debris or rust stuck in the system. This old coolant gets flushed out and replaced.
Routine maintenance, like coolant flushes, extends the lifespan of your engine. It’s important to understand the difference between a topping off the coolant and a coolant flush. Topping off your fluids guarantees there’s enough for the system to operate. It can also dilute contaminated coolant. A coolant flush is much more effective because it completely removes coolant impurities.
Why is it important to get a coolant flush?
Your engine’s efficiency and performance depend on how well you take care of your vehicle. If your engine overheats, it could damage any part of the engine system, which could lead to a complete breakdown.
Scheduling a routine coolant flush is one of the biggest things you can do to prevent this from happening. Although antifreeze contains chemicals that prevent corrosion, it’s not effective forever. Over time, the thin tubes in your heater core and radiator could get clogged by debris in your coolant. A coolant flush removes these contaminants, keeping your system running at its best.
How often does it need to be done?
Some types of antifreeze will last for 5 years, or 150,000 miles. Other types need to be replaced every 30,000 miles, or every 2 years. In any case, it’s a good idea to look at your manual, which will give guidelines from the manufacturer. Our certified technicians can help you figure out a maintenance plan that’s best for your vehicle.
We suggest a complete cooling system check at least every other year. This inspection could involve the following:
- Engine fan test
- Internal leak test
- Pressure test to identify external leaks
- System power flush and coolant refill
- System pressure level check
- Thermostat check
- Visual inspection of all cooling system parts
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 Service Garage of Blaine a call today at (763) 792-4949.
Remember the Brake Fluid and How Often to Replace It
One of the most important fluids in your car is the brake fluid. However, it often gets
overlooked in automotive maintenance. Today, we’ll talk all about brake fluid and how it keeps
your engine in top condition. We’ll also discuss proper care and replacement for your vehicle’s
What is Brake Fluid, and why is it Important?
Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that circulates throughout your braking system and engine. Since
it’s non-compressible, it transmits power from your foot on the brake pedal to all four brakes.
This force is what causes your vehicle to stop. Without brake fluid, your brakes wouldn’t
function because there wouldn’t be any pressure in the braking system. This pressure is what’s
needed to stop your car.
Brake fluid is made to withstand the extreme heat that’s produced by the engine. It has to have a
high boiling point so it doesn’t vaporize. If this happens, your brakes will malfunction. Brake
fluid is also made to keep a constant viscosity, regardless of extreme heat and cold. This helps
guarantee that it properly travels throughout the braking system.
Supplemental chemicals are added to brake fluid to help prevent corrosion in the engine. Lots of
engine components contain metal, which eventually rusts. The anti-corrosive properties of brake
fluid help prevent this from happening.
Most brake fluids today are glycol-ether-based. This formula is hygroscopic, which means it can
absorb moisture from the atmosphere. This helps keep excess moisture out of your engine, but it
affects the makeup of the brake fluid. Too much water will decrease the brake fluid’s boiling
point. This can result in decreased stopping ability when the engine gets hot. Additionally,
moisture in the brake fluid will eventually lead to internal corrosion. To avoid these issues, it’s
necessary to get your brake fluid replaced periodically.
How often does brake fluid need to be changed?
How often your brake fluid needs to be changed depends on a few different factors. One of these
is the type of brake fluid your vehicle needs. Manufacturers will offer different guidelines on
this, and our licensed technicians can help you figure out what’s best for you. Most
professionals suggest getting your brake fluid flushed or replaced at least every one to two years.
It’s also smart to get the moisture content checked, especially if you live in a high-humidity area.
As brake fluid ages, its appearance changes. This can also indicate that it’s time for a fluid
change. New brake fluid is clear or light brown, but it gets dark and cloudy as it ages. This is
because it gradually gets polluted in the engine. Most shops can perform a brake fluid test when
you get your oil changed. This will give you a definite answer about the condition of your brake
Take a look at your brake fluid whenever you’re looking at your engine. Top it off if you see a
small decrease, as this is normal. However, if you’re regularly having issues with low fluid
levels, it could point to a more serious issue that needs repair.
Replacing your brake fluid helps maintain your engine and braking system, and it keeps you
safe. Do you need your brake fluid replaced or inspected? Our licensed technicians are happy to
help. Give Service Garage of Blaine a call today at (763) 792-4949. We look forward to hearing
The Importance of Transmission Fluid and How to Take Care of It
You probably already know how important it is to get your oil changed. But, what about the other fluids running through your vehicle? In this article, we’ll examine the importance of transmission fluid. We’ll also talk about some easy maintenance to keep your transmission fluid in top condition. Taking good care of your vehicle’s fluids can help increase its longevity.
What is transmission fluid, and why is it important?
The transmission has an important job. It shifts the vehicle into different gears, enabling you to reverse, park, or drive. This process involves a lot of hard work for the engine. Transmission fluid helps get this job done smoothly. Transmission fluid lubricates the metal parts inside a vehicle’s manual gearbox, preventing wear and damage. The transmission fluid also cools down transmission parts, making sure they don’t overheat.
Types of transmission fluid
There are different types of transmission fluids. Most of them fall into two categories: automatic transmission fluid and manual transmission fluid. Additionally, there are synthetic formulas and other specialty fluids.
Automatic transmission fluid is made for vehicles with automatic transmissions. Nowadays, lots of manual transmission vehicles also require automatic transmission fluid. Automatic transmission fluid helps with many engine functions, such as: Gear lubrication, Transmission cooling, Clutch operation, Valve body operation, Friction for the brake band, and Torque converter operation.
Manual transmission fluid is heavier than automatic transmission fluid. It’s typically only used in older, manual transmission vehicles. Modern vehicles typically require automatic transmission fluid. As a result, manual transmission fluid is much less common.
Synthetic transmission fluid is developed through a series of chemical reactions. Its formula makes it better at standing up to the high engine temperatures and less likely to break down. Traditional transmission fluid is made from crude oil so it can oxidize at high temperatures.
Different makes and models require different transmission fluids. To select the right transmission fluid for your vehicle, it’s best to consult your manufacturer, owner’s manual or a transmission expert.
How to check your transmission fluid
Examining the condition and level of your transmission fluid can provide a lot of information. First, look for the transmission dipstick, which is usually located underneath the hood in the engine compartment. It’s important to note that not all vehicles will have a dipstick. Lots of newer models have sealed transmissions that never need fluid replacement. If that’s the case, consult your owner’s manual for more information on maintenance for your vehicle.
If you have a dipstick, then you can check the fluid level. Take the dipstick out and wipe it clean. Then, slowly replace it and pull it back out. Doing so will show you the current fluid level against the marks on the dipstick. Low fluid could point to a leak somewhere in your engine. If you’re having this problem it’s a good idea to consult a licensed technician as soon as you can.
Once you’ve checked the fluid level, take a look at its coloring. Place the dipstick on a white paper towel and examine it. Healthy transmission fluid will be pinkish-red. If it has a brownish-red color, it should be replaced sometime soon. If the transmission fluid is dark brown or black, then you probably have a more serious problem on your hands. This usually points to an issue with the transmission’s internal parts that should be addressed immediately.
Checking on your transmission fluid and keeping it in good condition can help you save money down the road. Do you have questions about your transmission or transmission fluid? We have the answers. Give Service Garage of Blaine a call today at (763) 792-4949.
Compared to today’s cars, early autos had a serious lack of convenience and comfort. These days, we can control just about anything we need with the push of a button. How did we get so far? Today, we’re taking a close look at how automotive comfort has transformed over the years. Keep reading to learn more.
The early 1900s
The earliest form of the automobile was open-air, like a wagon. Unless you had great weather, you’d have to drive in all sorts of miserable weather and uncomfortable temperatures. This changed in 1910, with the invention of the first closed body car by Cadillac. Once this happened, automakers shifted their focus to automotive interiors. In addition, they started looking for ways to bring comfort to their passengers.
The 1910s saw a few important innovations. Cadillac’s 1912 Model Thirty had lighting, ignition, and an electronic self-starter. Scripps-Booth introduced power door locks in 1914. However, in 1929, the first car heater was offered by Ford. After that, all these developments opened the door for subsequent comfort improvements in cars.
To improve the ambience, automakers began installing radios in the late 1920s. Push button AM radios were standard features by the 1930s, and the first AM/FM car radio appeared in the 1950s. The 1966 Ford Mustang took things a step further with its 8-track player. However, these were later replaced by cassette players. For instance, CD players came about in the 1980s, and were popular for the next 15 to 20 years. Now cars can connect to your personal device to the car’s sound system to stream music. The way we listen to music has changed considerable even in the last few years.
One of the main innovations in automotive comfort is the ability to easily control the interior temperature. Back in 1940, Packard Motor Car Company paved the way with two important inventions: power windows and in-car air conditioners. These two features gave some control over the interior temperature. Cadillac went even further in 1960. They developed the first automatic climate control system. With the click of a button, drivers could set a preferred temperature. This concept was refined throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. In 1980, Cadillac created the first electronic climate control system. This is the basis for what we use today.
Aren’t heated seats amazing? We can all thank Cadillac for introducing them in 1966. Nowadays, lots of cars offer options for heated steering wheels and side panels. Besides heating, there have been a few other improvements in seat comfort. In 1998, Saab invented the first ventilated seats, which gave a cooling sensation. In the 2000s, Mercedes brought next-level luxury with their massaging seats. Therefore, with seating options more comfortable than your couch, automotive comfort has certainly come a long way.
Modern technology and human machine interfaces
Modern vehicles are equipped with smart interfaces that can integrate your personal devices. Human machine interface (HMI) technology allows for luxury and convenience in lots of ways, including:
- Interior temperature and seat comfort
- Wireless communication
- Internet and cloud connectivity
- Touch interfaces
- Advanced lighting and sound systems
HMI technology allows for convenience and comfort with the tap of a finger.
The transformation of automotive comfort is pretty incredible. Do you want to know more about your car’s interior features? Our experienced technicians at Service Garage of Blaine have answers. Give us a call today at (763) 792-4949. We look forward to hearing from you.
It’s that time of year again. The holidays and Thanksgiving are coming up, and you might be starting to think about your travel plans. With COVID-19,many people are considering driving instead of flying this year for Thanksgiving. Before hitting the road, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your car for the long journey ahead.
1. Listen to the brakes before Thanksgiving traveling
Anytime your brakes make strange noises, you should probably get them checked out. Oftentimes, these noises mean that you need your brake pads replaced. Your brake pads supply the necessary friction to stop your car. Over time, these wear out and need replacing. Brake pads usually last anywhere from 25,000 to 70,000 miles, depending on their material. It’s essential to take care of your brakes before hitting the road for Thanksgiving.
2. Fluids and filters
Before leaving, you also need to make sure your oil has been changed recently. If you’re not keeping up with this and you haven’t changed it in the last 3,000 miles or so, get this done before your trip. Additionally, top off any low fluids. This includes antifreeze, power steering fluid, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and transmission fluid.
If your filters haven’t been replaced recently, you’ll want to look into this as well. The cabin filter and the air filter in your engine affect engine performance, fuel economy, and air quality. New filters need to be put in each year.
3. Inspect the belts and hoses
Open your hood and examine your belts and hoses. When you push down on the belts, they shouldn’t have much give. If they seem slack, or if any teeth come loose, then you have an issue. Inspect the hoses for fraying or cracks, and be on the lookout for fluid leaks. Any of these problems require immediate attention, especially before you leave for the holidays.
4. Check the battery
Examine your battery. It should be corrosion-free and connected properly. If your battery is over 2 years old, it should be inspected annually. They typically last around 3 to 5 years, so you definitely want to take a look at it before heading out.
5. Inspect your tires before driving this Thanksgiving
If you’re taking a long car trip, good gas mileage is a must. That’s why the air pressure of your tires is so important. Underinflated tires cause you to waste gas. On the flipside, overinflated tires affect your ride quality. Having the wrong air pressure will undoubtedly shorten your tires’ lifespan. Make sure to check your tires before leaving, and again for every 1,000 miles you drive.
Additionally, your tires need to be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. This will help increase their lifespan since they wear down at different rates. Tires typically last for 25,000 to 50,000 miles. If you’re planning a long trip and your tires are somewhere in this range, it might be a good idea to replace them before leaving.
6. Check the electrical
Make sure all lighting is functioning properly before you leave. This includes the blinkers, taillights, and headlights. If you have a motorhome or a truck, inspect the electrical here as well.
Take care of your vehicle ahead of time, and it’ll be sure to take care of you while you’re traveling. It’s a good idea to bring your car in for an inspection a week before you plan to leave. That way, you’ll have time to address any major issues without delaying your trip.
Do you need a pre-travel inspection? Our experienced technicians at Service Garage of Blaine are here for you. Give us a call at (763) 792-4949 to schedule your appointment today.
A Brief History of Your Car’s Braking System and Master Cylinder
Have you ever thought about how much we rely on our brakes? The master cylinder, and other parts of the brake system are important. With the evolution of the automobile, our braking systems have gotten more and more complex. To appreciate how far we’ve come, let’s go back to the 1800s to find out how automotive braking systems started out.
Wooden block brakes
Over the years, cars have used many different types of brakes. The earliest system was made up of a lever and wooden blocks. The lever moved a block of wood against steel-rimmed wheels to bring them to a stop. Wooden block brakes were originally used on horse-drawn carriages and steam-driven automobiles. They could stop a vehicle going around 10 to 20 miles per hour.
Mechanical drum brakes
Since wooden block brakes couldn’t stop rubber wheels, cars needed a new brake system. In 1899, Gottlieb Daimler reasoned that if a cable-wrapped drum was anchored to the vehicle’s chassis, it could stop momentum. Louis Renault advanced this idea. In 1902, he developed the mechanical drum brake. This is considered to be the basis for the modern braking system. Because this system was external, it was exposed to natural elements and temperature fluctuations. As a result, these systems experienced a lot of wear and often malfunctioned.
Expanding internal shoe brakes
The internal shoe brake was the first brake system placed inside the vehicle’s frame. The system itself was made up of brake shoes, springs, and pistons. Pistons expanded the brake shoes until they rubbed the inside of the drum. This friction caused the wheels to slow down, stopping the car. This was a significant development in auto braking systems. By protecting the brakes, they were able to last much longer.
In 1918, Malcolm Loughead invented the first four-wheel hydraulic braking system. It used brake fluid to move force from the brake pedal to the brake shoe. Loughead’s system required much less effort to apply the brakes. By the late 1920s, nearly every vehicle adopted this system.
In the late 1890s, rubber tires replaced steel-rimmed wheels. As a result, wooden block brakes became obsolete. The disc brake was patented in 1902 by William Lanchester, but it didn’t become popular until the mid-20th century. At that time, the speed capabilities and weights of vehicles were increasing. As a result, hydraulic brakes became less effective at distributing heat. The Chrysler Imperial was the first model to incorporate disc brakes with hydraulic functions.
Anti-lock brakes are a safety feature made to prevent brakes from locking up when in use. When a lock is detected by speed sensors, hydraulic valves reduce the pressure of a brake on a single wheel. This prevents the vehicle from spinning. Anti-lock brakes modernized the way brakes function because they give the driver more control. The first anti-lock brakes were used on airplanes in the 1920s and ‘30s. They were developed for automobiles and improved on throughout the 1950s and ‘60s. By the 1970s, anti-lock brakes became more affordable and commonplace.
What does a master cylinder do?
What is a master cylinder, and how does it operate? Even though it’s an essential component of your car’s brake system, it often goes unrecognized. In this article, we’re discussing the history of the master cylinder and how they work. The master cylinder is a tube in your brake system that lets you move hydraulic force from one part of the system to another. The original force comes from your foot pushing down on the brake pedal. That force gets moved through it to your brake calipers. These clamp down on your rotors to stop your vehicle.
People who know a thing or two about cars will tell you that the heart of your car is the master cylinder. Like your heart pumps blood out through your arteries, the master cylinder pumps brake fluid out through brake lines.
How the Pistons work with the Master Cylinder
Pushing down on the brake causes the pushrod to enter one end of the master cylinder. Inside, there’s brake fluid, springs, and two pistons. Likewise, pistons operate like plungers. They move the brake fluid through it and out to the brake lines. The brake lines carry them to your four wheels. Springs push back against the force of the brake pedal. This is why your pedal returns to its normal position when you take your foot off of it. To make sure no air enters the master cylinder, there’s a reservoir of brake fluid above it.
Today’s master cylinders have two brake lines. In our metaphor, the brake lines are arteries, so they transport fluid out of the master cylinder. Each brake line leads to two wheels which are diagonally-opposed. This is done as a safety measure to make sure your brakes will still work, even if one of the brake lines has a leak. The two brake lines move the brake fluid into cylinders on the brake calipers. This force causes the caliper to clamp down on the rotor, stopping it from moving.
Who invented the master cylinder?
The first person to make a brake system using liquid pressure in cylinders and tubes was Malcolm Lougheed. He invented his hydraulic brake system in 1918. These were an improvement to mechanical brakes, because they required a lot less force to operate. However, this original hydraulic system tended to have lots of problems with leaking.
Chrysler improved on Lougheed’s original system, and renamed them Chrysler-Lockheed hydraulic brakes. These were used in their vehicles from 1924 all the way up to 1962. Car manufacturers all ended up converting to hydraulic braking systems by the 1940s.
Dual-Cylinder Master Cylinder
The dual-cylinder brake system was invented in 1960 by Wagner Electric. This system had a dual master cylinder so it could separate rear and front hydraulic lines. This meant that if one line leaked, the other one could still operate. In other words, your brakes wouldn’t die if there was a leak, because the other line could still operate. The federal government mandated the use of dual-braking master cylinders in 1967. It’s estimated that doing so prevents 40,000 accidents each year.
Now that you know a little more about your master cylinder, take some time to appreciate it. If you think you have a maintenance issue with your master cylinder, give us a call. Our experts at Service Garage of Blaine are here for you. Schedule your appointment today at (763) 792-4949.
7 Warning Signs that Indicate Brake Problems
It’s never a good idea to procrastinate when it comes to car maintenance. This is especially true with your brakes. Thankfully, our cars know how to let us know when there’s a problem. Today we’re looking at the top 7 symptoms of an unhealthy braking system.
1. Wobbling or vibration
If you notice wobbling when you step on the brakes or vibration in the steering wheel, you may have a brake problem. One reason this could be happening is an uneven rotor. As time passes, rotors develop variations. The tiniest change in disc thickness can cause wobbling when you hit the brakes.
It can also mean that the brake caliper isn’t releasing correctly. The caliper’s piston can get stuck from excess build-up or rust. This results in it not retracting all the way when you take your foot off the brake pedal. You’ll feel this as a wobbling or vibrating sensation when you brake.
2. Grinding sound from the brake pedal
Do you notice a grinding sound that you can feel in the brake pedal? This could be a minor problem, like a loose stone stuck in the caliper. But, it could also indicate a more serious issue, like worn down brake pads. If this is the case, the metal indicator could be scraping against the rotor, damaging it. If your brake shoe has a lot of rust around it, this could also cause a scraping noise.
3. Soft or spongy brake feel or leaking fluid
A spongy or soft brake pedal probably means there’s moisture or a leak in your system. Although this doesn’t happen too often, the pressurized hydraulic brake fluid can leak. If this happens, your brake pads might not have the power to clamp onto the rotors. If you’re experiencing this brake malfunction, seek help right away.
4. Brake light illuminated on the dashboard
A brake light is the most obvious sign of a problem with your brakes. This warning light gets triggered by your car’s diagnostics system for a variety of reasons. It can mean you’re due for an inspection, or it can indicate a malfunction with your braking system.
5. Squealing noise when braking
Your brake pad wear indicators are designed to let you know when the brake shoes or caliper pads are worn out. They’re made of metal, so they make a horrible squealing noise when they come in contact with the rotor. When you hear this, it’s time to schedule maintenance.
6. Burning smell while driving
If you notice a burning or chemical smell, pull over right away. This could mean you have overheated brakes and you’ll need to let them cool down. An overheated system means your brake fluid has possibly reached a boiling point. If this happens, you’ll experience brake failure.
7. Pulling to one side while braking
If your car keeps pulling to one side when you’re braking, it’s usually a sign of a problem with your front two brakes. It could be a worn out brake hose, a caliper issue, or a misaligned rotor. These issues cause one side of the brakes to work harder than the other side, causing your car to veer to one side.
The most important safety system in your vehicle is your brakes. If you experience any of these 7 symptoms of brake failure, give us a call right away. Service Garage of Blaine installs only the best brake components. Give us a call at (763) 792-4949 to schedule your appointment today.
Brake Replacement: Everything You Need to Know
Replacing your brakes can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Today we’re talking about what you need to know when it comes to replacing your car’s brake system. Having knowledge of this process will help you decide whether this is a job you can handle, or if you need to consult an expert.
Replacing the brakes is a time-consuming process. This is because diagnostics can reveal underlying issues with your brakes. Since everything is connected, one problem may affect another part of your brake system. Most auto mechanics follow a general process when it comes to this. Let’s talk about those steps.
Steps to replacing the brake system
Loosen the lugs: Once your emergency brakes are activated, use a lug wrench to turn the lug nuts counter-clockwise. Use the wrench to loosen the lug nuts, but don’t remove them completely. Raise the vehicle: Move the jack under the frame rail of the car. Put the jack stands underneath the car. When it’s stable and the weight can’t shift, remove the wheels. Slide out the caliper: Take the bolts off the caliper and slide the caliper out. If it doesn’t come out easily, use a flat head screwdriver to pry it out. To avoid straining the brake line, rest the caliper on the suspension.
Remove the caliper carrier: Detach the caliper carrier by removing the bolts that hold it in place. Then remove the rotor: Some vehicles have locating screws in the rotor. If your rotor has one, remove this first. Taking the rotor out might be challenging if there’s a build-up of rust or debris around it. Install new rotor: After removing rust from the hub with a wire brush, install the new rotor. Clear oily residue from the new rotor with a degreaser.
Assemble caliper carrier: Put the caliper carrier back on and replace the bolts. Compress the caliper: Compress the caliper’s piston until it lines up with the housing of the caliper. Make sure the cap isn’t on the reservoir, otherwise you could blow a line. Install caliper and brake pads: Once you’ve installed the pads in the caliper carrier, attach the caliper bolts. Once you’re sure the caliper can move without binding, tighten the bolts.
Re-attach the wheels: Attach the lugs by hand, and then use a torque wrench on them once the car is back on the ground. Repeat, pump, and break in: Repeat these steps on all your wheels. Then, pump your brake pedal about 3 times until you feel pressure. Once you’ve done this, you can break your system in. You may hear some squealing for the first several miles, but this is normal. Accelerate your vehicle and let it gradually slow down a few times. If everything sounds normal, you should be good to go.
Should I replace my own brakes?
Brake replacement isn’t an easy job. It takes time, as well as a thorough understanding of how your braking system works. Unless you have a lot of experience, it’s best to trust an expert to handle this job.
Do your brakes need to be replaced? Let our experienced technicians at Service Garage of Blaine help you out. Give us a call at (763) 792-4949 to schedule your appointment today.
The history of the check engine light is interesting. These days, it’s easy to overlook the car features we’re used to seeing. Consider the check engine light. Have you ever thought about how it came to be in history? If so, you’re in the right place. We’re covering the complete history of the check engine light, so stick around to learn something new.
History how exactly does the light work?
Before we dive in history, let’s review some basics. A check engine light is also known as a malfunction indicator lamp, or MIL. It’s a warning light run by your car’s computer system that tells when there’s an engine malfunction. The check engine light is a red or orange light that’s usually found on the dashboard. Sometimes it looks like an image of an engine, but other times it will appear as a phrase, like “SERVICE ENGINE SOON”. If the light is visible but not blinking, it indicates a non-urgent issue. If the light is blinking, it means there’s a more serious problem that needs immediate attention.
When the check engine light gets activated, the engine control unit saves a diagnostic trouble code (DTC). This code is read by a scan tool to identify the issue. An activated MIL can point to a wide range of vehicle issues, with some more serious than others.
History when the check engine light standardized?
In 1996, an on-board vehicle diagnostic system, known as OBD2, was invented. It became a requirement for all vehicles sold in the United States as part of a federal directive to reduce vehicle emissions. SinceallnewvehicleswereequippedwithOBD2technology,it resulted in a system of DTCs that were implemented across the board. This is the system we still use today that allows check engine lights to function the way they do. Because of this system, our skillful technicians at SVC Garage of Blaine can use scan tool technology to easily diagnose vehicle issues. The scan tool shows what DTC triggered the check engine light so we can resolve the issue right away.
How has the CEL evolved over time and History?
Before OBD2 and the DTC system that came with it, there wasn’t a centralized system for automobile issues. There were check engine lights dating back to the 1980s, but not in all vehicles. They only existed in vehicles with computerized engine controls. These check engine lights were more simple in comparison to what we have today. They could only detect vehicle issues specific to an automobile manufacturer. Because of this, it was a lot harder for auto technicians to detect the reason for a triggered check engine light.
The most primitive form of the check engine light was called an idiot light or warning light. These lights served as tell-tales. They only turned on when a major issue or breakdown was imminent. Unfortunately, they didn’t give any real warning of a vehicle fault. History shows the Hudson Motor Car Company was the first manufacturer to use the idiot light in cars. They began installing them sometime during the mid-1930s. As soon as check engine lights gained traction in the early 1980s, idiot lights were discontinued to avoid confusion between the two.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the 1930s. Today, knowledgeable auto technicians can detect vehicle issues in a flash. Oftentimes, check engine lights are triggered for minor issues. Resolving these issues can prevent you from having a bigger problem down the road, saving you time and money on vehicle repairs.
That wraps up our brief history of the check engine light. The next time you see that your car’s check engine light is on, just be glad you’re not living in the 1930s. Think of that check engine light as your car’s way of letting you know it needs a little love, and give us a call.
8 Reasons Your Car’s Check Engine Light is On and What You Need to Do About It
You’re cruising along with the windows rolled down when suddenly you notice your check engine light is on. Such a bummer. There are lots of reasons the CEL gets activated. Today, we’re talking about 8 of the most common causes and what you need to do when this happens.
1. Oxygen sensor
One way your car’s CEL can be triggered is a faulty oxygen sensor. This sensor detects how much oxygen is in the exhaust. When it’s not working properly, your car will use up more gas than it needs. If this issue goes unchecked, it could damage the catalytic converter, costing you thousands of dollars.
2. Loose or missing fuel cap
The CEL will also be activated by a loose or cracked fuel cap. The fuel cap keeps debris out of the gas tank and prevents vapors from leaking out. This is an easy and inexpensive repair, but don’t procrastinate. Not replacing it will lead to increased fuel emissions and poor fuel economy.
3. Catalytic converter
A clogged catalytic converter will also trigger the CEL. Your engine’s catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. Since this isn’t a part that needs regular maintenance, it’s indicative of another underlying issue. Unfortunately, replacing this part is expensive. Investing in routine maintenance will help you avoid a clogged catalytic converter, saving you time and money down the road.
4. Spark plugs and spark plug wires
The CEL will also turn on if there’s a problem with your spark plugs and wires. These parts light the fuel and air mixture in the engine. If the spark plugs or wires are old or faulty, you’ll have weakened engine performance and bad fuel economy. Thankfully, replacing spark plugs is a minor repair. But, if the issue isn’t resolved in time, it can lead to a clogged catalytic converter or damaged oxygen sensors.
5. MAF failure
Your car’s mass air flow (MAF) sensor measures how much air enters the engine. This tells your car how much fuel is needed for it to run properly. If there’s a malfunction, you’ll definitely see the CEL. A common cause for MAF failure is not changing out the air filter regularly. If an issue with the MAF sensor goes unchecked, it can affect other parts of the engine, leading to more serious repairs in the future.
Your car’s battery is essential to its operation. An undercharged or faulty battery will definitely trigger your vehicle’s CEL. Since today’s batteries don’t require maintenance and only need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years on average, this isn’t a common reason for the CEL.
7. Vacuum leak
A vacuum leak will also cause your car’s CEL to turn on. Typically, a vacuum leak happens because the rubber linings crack or get stretched out. If you have an issue with your car’s vacuum, chances are there’s another engine part that’s affected. That’s because the vacuum controls lots of things, including the heating and A/C vents, cruise control, exhaust, and brake booster.
8. EGR valve
An issue with your car’s EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve will also trigger your CEL. The EGR system takes a small amount of exhaust gases back into the engine intake. This lowers the combustion temperature. The EGR valve controls the gas flow from the exhaust manifold to the intake manifold. If the flow is more or less than normal, your car will let you know with the CEL.
There are lots of reasons your car’s CEL may be on, and it’s not always easy to see why. Luckily, our skilled technicians at Service Garage of Blaine are here to help. While it may be tempting to put off, it’s best practice to schedule an inspection as soon as you see the CEL. Give us a call at (763) 792-4949 to schedule your appointment today.
Your Check Engine Light is On – What Should You Do?
What steps should you take when you see that dreaded check engine light? As you know, it can point to a lot of different issues, both major and minor. Whatever you do, don’t just ignore it. Doing so could end up causing you bigger problems in the future. Today, we’ll talk about the steps you need to take when you see your car’s check engine light.
Should I keep driving?
When you see your check engine light, it’ll either be blinking or illuminated. If it’s illuminated, it indicates a problem that’s typically not an emergency. You should still get it checked out as soon as you can, but it’s not a major crisis. If the light is blinking, then you need to pull over right away. This means there’s a major engine malfunction that needs immediate attention. In any case, whenever you see the check engine light, examine your car for anything that indicates a dangerous problem. If you notice loss of power, hear strange noises, or see engine smoke, you may have a serious engine malfunction. If so, avoid driving your car if you can. Doing so can lead to more damage. If possible, get your vehicle towed to a nearby service provider for diagnostics.
Troubleshooting the check engine light
If there are no indications of an engine malfunction and if your check engine light isn’t blinking, you may be able to troubleshoot the issue. The first place to check is your fuel cap. A loose fuel cap can set off your car’s check engine light. Inspect your fuel cap for any cracks or damage and tighten it. This may turn the check engine light off, and you can be on your way.
Another spot to look at is your oil dipstick. Check to make sure it’s properly seated. You’ll also want to make sure that the oil fill cap is tightly secured. This is found on top of the engine valve cover. Taking these steps can also deactivate your check engine light. To get a better idea of what’s triggering your check engine light, you may want to invest in an OBD2 scanner. This handy tool can detect which diagnostic trouble code (DTC) activated your car’s check engine light. To read the DTC, you’ll have to connect the OBD2 scanner to the data link connector. This is typically located underneath the driver’s side dashboard.
You can pick up a high-quality OBD2 scanner for under $100. The DTC will point you in the direction of where the engine malfunction is coming from, but it won’t give you a lot of specific information. Using a scan tool can help you understand the severity of the problem. From here, you can decide to make the repair yourself, or bring your car in for professional diagnostics. Resist the urge to panic when you see your car’s check engine light. Stay relaxed and take note of the situation. Formulate a plan to troubleshoot. Seek help immediately if you have an urgent problem. If your problem is not urgent, make a plan for maintenance.
At Service Garage of Blaine, we can diagnose your vehicle issues fast to get you back in action in no time. Give us a call at (763) 792-4949, or schedule your appointment online today. Our experienced technicians are always here to help.
There is much more to notice than just the headlight bulbs burning out. As a matter of fact, the effectivity of your headlights can hamper due to the fog of the headlight lenses. Most people think headlight restoration won’t make much of a difference, but once you get the job done, you will feel an increase in visibility and brightness.
WHAT HEADLIGHT RESTORATION?
Most headlights are made with thick plastic that includes polycarbonates, not like the glass ones used in the old cars. The plastic lenses are more scratch and dent resistant as well as durable. But over time, the plastic gets exposed to UV rays, and the external layers begin breaking down. These changes cause the lenses to absorb blue light and releases a yellowish light. But fortunately, cleaning the foggy headlights is relatively simpler.
SIGNS THAT THE HEADLIGHTS NEED A RESTORATION
The signs that add up and make it essential for you to to get a headlight restoration done are:
- Poor nighttime visibility is one of the prominent signs to notice the issue.
- Another way to find out would be foggy headlights
- And finally, scuffed or scratched lenses are an indicator for you to do headlight restoration
LONG TERM ISSUES IF IGNORED
Such a crucial task cannot be left ignored. To avoid or delay a headlight restoration task would be like inviting trouble for yourselves and the passenger sitting next to you. To clean the headlights is somewhat an easy job and doesn’t take much of your time. However, most people ignore it because they believe it would take too much of their time, but that is not the case.
On average, it takes 10-20 minutes on each headlight. So it isn’t a bad idea, after all, to invest 30 minutes of your life and save yourself from major damages.
Now that you know the importance of getting the headlight restoration, you can hire a professional to check your headlights for you. Blaine Auto Online provides you with both experience and expertise to keep your vehicles in topnotch condition. And you can acquire these services right here in Blaine, MN.
There are a few warning signs you may notice when the brakes start to have issues with them. One of the most important parts of your car is your brakes. According to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, roughly 22% of the vehicular issues are caused due to brake failure, rather than the driver error. Driving safely is only half the battle – Having a well-maintained and proper functioning braking system is also crucial.
Different types of brakes
There are 5 common types of brakes used in cars: frictional, servo, electromagnetic, pumping, hydraulic, and servo. These brakes have different functions and are used in different types of cars. For instance, the electromagnetic brake system is commonly used in hybrid automobiles.
In order for you and others to be safe on the road, you need to check if your brakes are performing the right way. Here are 5 signs that show your brakes are going out.
1. Warning Lights Turns On
In some vehicles, there is an warning light that turns on when the brakes are worn out. This feature is more common in newer car models. If your brake light turns on, you need to consult a professional to take a look at the brake pads and get them replaced asap.
2. Vibrating Brake Pedal
The second sign your brakes might be wearing going out is the vibrating pedal while applying brakes. If you are finding it difficult to apply brakes with your current brake pedal, then that’s not normal. You need to get your braking system checked immediately to avoid any further damage to the car and prevent accidents.
3. Squealing or Squeaking Noise
This is one of the most common signs that indicate your brakes are functioning properly. However, the squeaky brake sound can be normal in some weather – having such sounds during all year long is not a good sign and indicates there might be a problem.
4. Grinding Noises
If you don’t get your brakes pads replaced even when they have completely worn off, you will most likely hear a grinding or metallic noise when applying brakes. This can severely damage your car rotors and cost you more money on the repairs.
5. Burning Smell
A burning smell coming from your brakes and wheels means you could have an overheated clutch or brakes. If you continue to drive your car, it could lead to total brake failure.
Front vs. Rear Brakes
Front brakes tend to wear down faster than rear brakes, in some cases twice as fast. The front brakes have a 75% contribution in stopping a car while the rear brakes ensure the car is aligned and doesn’t drift too much on the road.
We hope you now have a clear understanding of how to identify brake issues in your car. Remember, no compromise is bigger than the health and safety of your loved ones. If you are looking to change, install or fix a reliable braking system, drop by at Blaine Auto Online at Blaine, MN, for the best deals on the braking system today.
Brake repair for your vehicle is an important maintenance task to have done for it. The brakes in your vehicle basically comprise of a water-powered clip that eases back and stops the turn of the wheels. With normal investigations and upkeep, your stopping mechanism ought to stay solid and moderate without significant vehicle brake fix. In any case, if your brakes are screeching, granulating, or the vehicle shivers when you step on the brakes, they’ll need master consideration.
Signs of the brakes going out
Brake repair is needed if you notice issues with braking. Brake rotors are huge circles that sit within the wheels. At the point when you hit the brake pedal, the brake cushions embrace the rotors, easing back them and your vehicle. It would be best if you had rotors to be smooth and even in thickness. After some time and a great many wheel insurgencies, it’s typical for the rotor surface to get slight varieties. Rust can likewise, in some cases, create. During brake overhauling, the essence of the rotor is regularly trued to address these imperfections.
In case you’re encountering a delicate brake pedal, have an assistance specialist search for liquid spilling from the ace chamber or somewhere else in the slowing mechanism. The ace chamber is the unit that makes the force for your brakes. It has a supply like the one for your wiper liquid that contains brake liquid.
Brake Repair for the car
Front brake cushions and rotors will, in general, wear quicker than back brakes. Twice as quick now and again. In a vehicle, slowing down can prompt the nose jumping down in the front, which may expand controlling reaction. But, does it need to be a big deal having excessive wear and tear in the front?
Different types of brakes
- Plate brakes comprise a brake rotor that is appended straightforwardly to the wheel. Water driven weight from the ace chamber makes a caliper crush the brake cushions on either side of the rotor. The contact between the cushions and the rotor makes the vehicle moderate and stop.
- Drum brakes comprise a brake drum connected to within the wheel. At the point when the brake pedal agreements, water-powered weight squeezes two brake shoes against the brake drum. It makes rubbing and makes the vehicle moderate and stop.
- Crisis brakes, otherwise called stopping brakes, are an optional slowing mechanism that works autonomously of the administration brakes. While there is a wide range of sorts of crisis slows down, practically all crisis brakes fueled by links which precisely apply strain to the wheels. They are commonly used to keep a vehicle fixed while left, yet can likewise be utilized in crisis circumstances if the fixed brakes come up short.
- Electronically monitored slowing mechanisms (ABS) are found on most more current vehicles. If the fixed brakes are applied out of nowhere, ABS keeps the wheels from securing up request to shield the tires from sliding. This component is particularly helpful when driving on wet and tricky streets.
So, are you having brake problems in your car? Then, connect with Blaine Auto Online. Providing you with the service of best brake repairs right here in Blaine, MN. Keep your car brakes functioning at its maximum! Contact us now!
Customarily, auto mechanics recommend replacement of a vehicle’s air filters every 3,000-6,000 miles. Present-day air filters perform better and last longer. The two air filters present in your car, namely, the cabin air filter and the air intake filter present in the engine, can last 10,000-30,000 miles under the favorable driving conditions. But people need to be aware of the fact that these channels/filters, despite everything, need scheduled replacement.
Why should you replace an air filter?
It is easy to understand the relation between the AC system and a cabin filter. At the point when the cabin air filter is blocked with dust and debris, it can stop up the AC and heater. If your mechanic checks the AC or cooling without first evaluating the health of the cabin air filter, you could pay the expense of extra repairs. With any service for the air filter, it’s critical to change a faulty and dirty filter regularly. Simply cleaning the air filter and reinstalling it doesn’t protect your AC enough.
The impact of a dirty air filter on fuel economy
While a dirty filter can have adverse effects on the engine’s performance. It is reasonable, considering your vehicle can utilize more than 10,000 gallons of oxygen for each gallon of fuel consumed. Replacement of an old filter can go far towards expanding the vehicle’s productivity. In other words, changing a grimy filter can increase average gas mileage by 10%.
Reduction in airflow
A stopped up filter can diminish the volume of air that can go through. It implies air going through the AC eases back down, in this way decreasing the progression of air into the lodge of the vehicle. Car owners may need to turn up the fan settings on their climate control system to make up for the diminished wind stream, putting a strain on the AC as it attempts to blow more air into the lodge/cabin.
An exhausted cooling system with a reduction in the wind flow is less ready to keep a steady air temperature in the cabin. The air temperature increment brought about by a stopped up cabin filter might be progressive, contingent upon how the channel is obstructed, just as different factors, for example, the outside temperature and measure of daylight warming the air as it goes through the vehicle’s windows. At the point when the air temperature begins to rise, the forced air system basically can’t deliver enough cold air to cause a reduction in the temperature.
So, are you having air circulation problems in your car? Then give the Service Garage of Blaine or Blaine Tire & Auto a call. Providing you well-constructed cabin air filters right here in Blaine, MN. Keep your air clean and your ride cleaner! Contact us now!
Listen to this Article
Inspecting and having regular maintenance done for your vehicle is always important. This not only helps you to stay safe on the road, but it will help prolong the life of the vehicle. Following the recommended maintenance schedule will help determine when parts start to wear down. The owner’s manual will recommend when certain tasks should be performed. Also make sure to contact us, and we will be happy to advise you on a schedule for maintenance. This will help to have a safe and reliable vehicle as you drive this summer.
Inspecting the Wipers
Those in the Blaine and Lino Lakes area know how quickly weather can change. When driving, this will affect the windshield wipers the most. As they operate, make sure they clear the rain quickly and efficiently away from the windshield. If they do not, the visibility will decrease. Notice if the blades make any vibration or chatter noise as they go over the windshield. This can indicate that they are wearing down and a new set will be needed. Since wipers are inexpensive, it is always recommended to change them when they are no longer in ideal condition. If the vehicle has a rear wiper, that should be inspected and changed as well.
An overlooked part of the vehicle are the tires. They are important since they are the only part that makes direct contact with the road. Driving will start to cause extra wear and strain on the tires. If the vehicle is hard to maintain control of, especially on wet or slick roads, the tread wear should be inspected. As the tread wears down, the tires will lose grip and traction on the road. Checking the tread can be quick and easy, using just a penny. Place it upside down in the tread groove and if you see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tread has worn down. We can also check the tread of the tires and determine if a new set of tires would be needed.