So you come out to start your car one morning and the Check Engine light on the dashboard comes on…and doesn’t go back off again. You can’t really notice any difference in the way the car runs and drives, but it’s on anyway.
What does it mean?
Since the late 80s, most engine functions have been controlled by a central drivetrain computer. This includes emissions controls, fuel metering and delivery, ignition timing, shift points and many other elements of drivability and performance. The drivetrain computer relies on information from a chain of sensors that monitor exhaust composition, camshaft position, throttle position and many other factors.
The voltage readings from any of these sensors are supposed to fall within a certain range. When ...[more]
1. For performance and handling, the trend has long been toward fatter tires with a bigger footprint. That’s starting to change, though. Skinnier tires mean lower rolling resistance and better fuel economy, as well as a smaller aerodynamic profile. While fatter tires do handle better, tire engineers are making up the difference by designing skinny tires with a stickier tread formulation for traction and cornering ability.
2. Static electricity used to be a real concern for vehicles; if you’re old enough, you may remember seeing station wagons with a “ground strap” dragging along the pavement. It’s become a concern again, with newer tread compounds cutting back on the amount of carbon black in newer tires. The solution? Many tires are now designed with an “antenna strip” ...[more]
It can be a lot of work and attention to detail to get your car really clean…especially if it’s pretty dirty to start with…but here are some ideas for truly thorough cleaning that you may not have thought of!
--A cheap foam paintbrush can get into crevices (like A/C vents) that might be impossible otherwise. As you loosen up dust from these spots, keep a vacuum cleaner nozzle at work in your other hand to suck up the dust and prevent it from settling other places.
--A soft-bristled brush is perfect for cleaning around radio knobs and other buttons.
--While you’re cleaning, don’t forget to locate your cabin air filter and replace it. A dirty cabin air filter can lead to a lot of odd smells and stinks. Check your owner’s manual; cabin a ...[more]
We know that a lot of drivers are working pretty hard to make a dollar go farther and that the outlay for a full set of four tires – even inexpensive tires – can be considerable. That’s why we run across drivers pretty often who ask if it’s okay to just replace a pair of tires, then buy the other pair when they can afford them.
The answer is…yes, but…
You’ll really need to pay attention to the size of the set of tires that you’ve already got and go with that exact same size of tires for your new pair. Having mismatched sizes of tires on your vehicle can result in squirrelly and unpredictable handling and ride quality. If your existing tires are all-season, go with all-season tires. If they’re winter tires, go with winter tires. Ideal ...[more]
Yeah, yeah…your vehicle’s fairly new and you take care of it, and you’ve even got a membership in AAA. That doesn’t mean that your chances of ending up in a tight spot are zero. It’s just common sense to be prepared with a trouble bag in your car. Here’s a pretty good rundown of things you should keep in a car emergency kit:
Fully charged cell phone: You may want to consider a cheap prepaid “burner phone” with a long battery life and keep it strictly in the car. If nothing else, at least keep a charged-up power bank on hand.
First-aid kit: At a bare minimum, a first-aid kit should include gauze pads and bandage tape, aspirins, antiseptic wipes, scissors, antiseptic cream or ointment, Band-Aids, rub ...[more]
So your vehicle’s been sitting for a while…you get in it, start the engine and pull out of the driveway when you notice a hard, rough (but very regular) vibration that only gets worse with speed. It doesn’t feel like it’s coming from the driveline or suspension – so what is it?
It could be that the tires have developed flat spots.
With the weight of the vehicle pressing down on the tires for long periods, a section of the rubber and belts can become softer (or harder) than the rest of the tire. This can be exacerbated by cold weather, or just by parking on a cold concrete floor.
Low-profile tires with short sidewalls can be more prone to flat-spotting, as can tires with an H or higher speed rating. In most cases, you can j ...[more]