List of titles in Polly's Blog:
ANTIFREEZE CAN MURDER YOUR ENGINE
Over time, antifreeze turns into acid. Acid dissolves metal. Your engine, radiator and heater are all made of metal. This will cause coolant to leak out of your vehicle. Low coolant will cause an engine to overheat. Today's engines are fragile and on overheat can murder your engine.
First things first. What's the difference between antifreeze and coolant? Nothing! In the winter, we tend to think of the fluid in the radiator as antifreeze. In the summer we like to call it coolant. 100% antifreeze should never be used. It has to be mixed with water to be effective. A little known fact: Pure antifreeze will freeze somewhere around 10 degrees above zero, but when mixed with some water, it won't freeze until about 70 degrees BELOW ZERO! For most climates, half water and half antifreeze make an ideal coolant. It will not freeze until it gets colder than 35 degrees BELOW ZERO.
But you say it never gets that cold. Antifreeze has four important properties.
- It lowers the freezing point of water
- It raises the boiling point of water
- It improves the ability of water to remove the heat
- It has chemicals to prevent corrosion.
But antifreeze breaks down chemically over time and becomes acid. There are chemicals in the antifreeze to neutralize the acid that forms (sort of like Rolaids for your radiator). But when that chemical is used up, the antifreeze turns acidic.
The amount of acidity (or alkalinity, the opposite of acidity) can be measured. This measurement is called pH. The LOWER the number, the more acidic the antifreeze is. Pure water measures 7. But a test result of 7 does not mean the antifreeze is okay. Testing is only so accurate. A measurement of 7 could reasonably be anywhere between 7 1/2 and 6 1/2. Because acidic antifreeze causes costly damage and because a cooling system flush and refill is so inexpensive, we recommend changing antifreeze as soon as the pH test drops to 7.
With this emphasis on testing, you are probably are thinking “Testing! Nobody does that.” Wrong. Every time we check a vehicle with a cooling system problem and every time we perform our Premium Preventative Maintenance oil change service, we test the coolant pH. This will help prevent engine overheating that can murder your engine.
This is just another reason you should bring your vehicle to Clearview Tire and Auto Service, our car and light truck repair shop on North Main Street in Hopkinsville, Kentucky for the best cooling system service anywhere. And if you would like a FREE coolant pH test, come to Cleaview and just mention this blog. That's another reason so many people say “TAKE IT TO CLEARVIEW!” See our Coupon page for discount coupons.
A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO BUYING TIRES
I've found that many ladies are reluctant to ask about tires. They tell me that they don't know anything about the subject.
Ladies, you know more about buying tires than most men! You see, tires are just like buying shoes for yourself. A man goes into a shoe store, points to the shoe and asks for his size. But a woman considers a lot more that just size.
Let's start here. When you need tires for your vehicle, check the driver's door or door jam for the tire information sticker. It has lots of information you need. Let's say that printed on the sticker is 225/60R16V. Here's what that means:
Think of 225 as the shoe length, 60 as the width and 16 as the heel size. Okay, so far so good. But here are the things that men don't get:
COLOR: Of course, tires are black but the sides of some tires are not completely black. Besides black wall, some tires come in wide white wall, regular white wall, pin stripe white wall, gold and white stripes, solid white letters or white letters with a black inside (called outlined white letters). Occasionally, you can find tires decorated with red or blue stripes!
MATERIAL: The upper part of shoes can be leather, plastic, and fabric. I've seen shoes with the uppers made of mostly metal! Tires have strings of material (called cord) imbedded in the rubber for strength. There's nylon, rayon, polyester, Kevlar (the material in bulletproof vests) and even steel.
SOLE: Shoe soles can be made of leather, rubber, plastic and even paper. Like shoes, the tread (the part of the tire that touches the road), is made of different materials. Sure, all tires are rubber but there are many different types of rubber. Some wear like iron but have little traction. Others wear quickly but grip the road tenaciously. Technology has brought us new forms of rubber that get a bit sticky on wet pavement and, just like special rubber soled shoes, these materials help to prevent slipping.
SOLE SURFACE: Keep in mind that the bottoms of the soles aren't always smooth. Running shoes have a pattern for improved grip and cushion where dress shoes are smooth on the bottom. Some shoes have special soles for rock-climbing. All tires (with the minor exception of those made specifically for drag racing) have a pattern molded in. This is called the tread pattern. Tire tread patterns come in an endless number of designs. Just like the bottom of soles, some designs are better on dry pavement, others better on loose surfaces like gravel or soil, a few would excel on snow and ice. And, yes, there are even special tread designs that excel at climbing rocks! Look at a few tires. I'll bet you'll be able to figure out which tread designs would be quieter than others and which ones would be better on loose material rather than pavement.
BUDGET: Can you afford Gucci or does Pay-less fit your wallet better? Or how about something in between. When shopping for tires, you'll quickly see that a little more money buys a much better tire.
If you've been paying attention, you noticed that there is one little thing I left out… that letter “V” in my size example that I gave in the beginning. That letter is properly called the speed rating… but it's a lot more complicated than that. By law, tires must not fall apart at the maximum speed that your vehicle can attain. (Of course, only an idiot would drive that fast!) But, to keep the “higher speed” tires from flying apart (exploding from the centrifugal force) they have to have stronger and stiffer sides.
As best as I've been able to figure out, vehicles that require stiffer tires have softer springs, otherwise every crack in the road would jar your kidneys. Putting a soft tire on a vehicle with a soft suspension system is a recipe for disaster. If you had to swerve suddenly to avoid an accident, you're liable to loose control. If the accident investigation shows that the wrong tires were installed on your vehicle, you'll get sued, your insurance company will get sued, the manufacturer of the car will get sued, the maker of the tire will get sued, and I'll get sued. You can be sure that we won't sell you the wrong tires because we don't want to be sued!
So you see, ladies, buying tires is the same as picking out a pair of shoes. And if you think we know tires, ask us for a recommendation. Unlike the shoe store, we carry Gucci, Pay-less and everything in between all in one place.
So, when your vehicle needs new tires, come to Clearview Tire and Auto Service, our car, light truck repair shop and tire store in Hopkinsville for the area's largest selection of tires. That's another reason so many people say “TAKE IT TO CLEARVIEW!”
PREVENTING BRAKE REPAIRS WITH BRAKE FLUID SERVICE
Brakes get hot. VERY HOT! Thus, brake fluid has a very high boiling point… over 400 degrees.
But brake fluid likes to absorb moisture from the humidity in the air. Over time, the brake fluid becomes contaminated with more and more water. The water lowers the boiling point of the brake fluid and causes the brake parts to corrode and rust on the inside. This accumulation of crud inside the master cylinder, brake calipers and wheel cylinders can cause brakes to stick on and can cause fluid to leak out. Brakes that stick on can catch the vehicle on fire. Brake fluid that leaks out WILL cause the brakes to stop working.
To help prevent these problems, brake fluid should be changed periodically. Bring you vehicle to our car and light truck repair shop in Hopkinsville and our technician can test you brake fluid for water content and inspect the condition of the fluid looking for discoloration cause by the crud in the fluid.
At Clearview, we always test and inspect the brake fluid during our Premium Preventative Maintenance Oil Change Service and during any brake service. Or, if you want us the test and inspect the brake fluid, just ask. We are happy to do it and no cost or obligation. Just mention this blog. That's another reason so many people say “TAKE IT TO CLEARVIEW!” See our Coupon page for discount coupons.
ADDING FREON TO YOUR AIR CONDITIONER
For an air conditioner to work correctly, it must have the right amount of Freon… not too little and not too much. If fact, with some vehicles the difference between too little and too much is as little as one ounce!
Freon is measured by weight. That is a little confusing because Freon is a gas. We'll, it is and it isn't. Under pressure Freon will turn into a liquid (condense). (That‘s why air conditioners have compressors.) When the pressure is removed, the liquid will actually boil and turn into a gas. It's the boiling (turning into a gas) that causes the cooling. The reason is a story for another day.
Now the problem is that we can look up the specification and find out how much Freon belongs in an air conditioning system but there is no way to know how much Freon is currently in the system. If we don't know how much Freon is in the system, we have no way of knowing how much Freon to add.
Of course you can buy one of those inexpensive air conditioning charging kits at the parts store, add some Freon and see what happens. But if you add too much Freon, liquid Freon can be sucked into the compressor. The moment liquid Freon is sucked into the compressor, bye-bye compressor and bye-bye many hundreds of dollars!
There is only one safe, correct way to add Freon to you air conditioner. The Freon must be removed by pumping it under pressure into a special container. By weighing the container before and after, we'll know how much Freon was removed and you get credit for it. Next, we put a vacuum pump on the system and suck it down to a very strong vacuum. There are technical reasons that this MUST be done which I won't get into here but if you‘re interested, you can Google it. With the system totally empty, the exact amount of Freon can be pumped into the system. This eliminates all of the risk and insures that the air conditioning will produce the maximum amount of cold air.
If you want your vehicle's air conditioner to work at its best without risk of damaging the compressor, bring your vehicle to Clearview in Hopkinsville for our expert Air Conditioning Service. This is one more reason that so many people say “TAKE IT TO CLEARVIEW!” Get a discount coupon on our Coupon page.
WHAT IS A "CHECK ENGINE" LIGHT?
Some vehicles have a light that says “Check Engine”. Others have a light that says “Service Engine Soon”. And some have a light that looks like a cartoon drawing of an engine. They all mean the same thing. Something is wrong. It needs to be properly diagnosed and corrected.
You may know that your vehicle is run by a computer. The main job of the computer is to figure out how much gasoline to feed the engine. It does this by reading information from sensors and controlling motors and valves.
You probably heard of an oxygen sensor. That's just one of many sensors. There's even a sensor that tells the computer how hard you're stepping on the gas!
You've heard of fuel injectors. Fuel injectors are just electric valves that the computer opens to let the gas spray into the air that is being sucked into the engine. It's not much different from the valve that lets the water into a washing machine, just more accurate.
What Turns on the Light?
The computer is programmed to tell when a sensor isn't talking, when a sensor is stuttering or when a sensor isn't making any sense. It also knows when a motor or valve isn't responding correctly and when the results it gets from the engine are just plain wrong!
When the computer finds a problem, it does two things. First, it stores a message in its memory telling the technician where the problem is. It doesn't tell him what's wrong. It just says the problem is over here, not over there. Second, the computer turns on the light. The light is just like the flag on a mailbox that says there's mail for the technician. If you turn off the light without fixing the problem, the light will just come back on.
Driving with the light on
What's wrong with driving with the check engine light on? When the computer detects another problem and then another, the light doesn't get any brighter. It's like the boy who called “WOLF”! When the wolf came, nobody believed him.
Have you had the light checked and they said that there's nothing wrong? BULL! If there was nothing wrong, the light would be off! Did they say it was just a sensor not working correctly? If the sensor wasn't needed, the engineers wouldn't have put it on the vehicle in the first place!
The Parts Store “Free” Scan
Going to the auto parts store for a “Free Scan” is no help whatsoever. They may be able to tell you the code but they can't tell you what's wrong. At best, they may be able to give you a list of possible causes. It takes a technician to figure out what's really wrong. Remember that the job of the parts store clerk is to sell you parts.
A Proper Diagnosis and Repair
Here's what we do. First we test drive it, then we do a visual inspection to look for obvious problems like disconnected connecters and mouse-eaten wires. Then we hook up a computer to your vehicle's computer. This allows us to see the information coming from the sensors, see what the computer is doing with that information and see what messages are stored in the computer. In some cases, our computer is able to send commands to your vehicle's computer so we can quickly test certain functions. Sometimes, to pinpoint the problem, other tests are needed. The result is that your vehicle will be properly repaired and the warning light will be off.
When the Check Engine light or Service Engine Soon light comes on, bring your vehicle to Clearview Tire and Auto Service on North Main Street in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and get your vehicle proper diagnosed and repaired. That's another reason so many people say “TAKE IT TO CLEARVIEW!” See our Coupon page for discount coupons.
THE IMPROTANCE OF WHEEL ALIGNMENT
A wheel alignment is also called a front end alignment. If the vehicle is not aligned properly, the vehicle may steer to one side (pull). Or it may drive like it does not want to go where you point it (wander). In extreme cases, the vehicle will waddle from side-to-side (hunt).
In the simplest of terms, a wheel alignment consists of adjusting the mechanical parts of a vehicle's steering and suspension system so that the wheels roll straight and stand up straight when the steering wheel is pointing straight. Ok. That's easy to understand. But why does a vehicle that is out of alignment chew up tires so quickly?
To correct alignment requires very fine adjustments. Here's where it gets interesting. (This explanation does take a little bit of math, and for that, I apologize. But the math is very simple and I think you'll have no trouble following it.) Here goes.
Look at a clock. Not the digital type but the old style with hands. Look at the minute hand. It makes a complete circle every sixty minutes (one hour). I'm sure you remember that a full circle is 360 degrees. That means in one minute, the minute hand moves 6 degrees. (6 degrees per minute times 60 minutes equals 360 degrees.) Watch the minute hand for 3 seconds. See how little it moves. (It moves about ¼ of a degree in 3 seconds.) The difference between a good alignment and a butchered job is the amount that the minute hand moves in LESS THAN 3 SECONDS!
But why does such a small amount result in chewed up tires? Consider the alignment setting called “Toe”. (Think pigeon toed versus splay-footed.) Toe is usually measured in inches but can be converted to degrees. If the toe is off, the tires are not pointed straight down the road. That forces the tires to slide sideways a little tiny bit as the vehicle goes down the road. If the toe is off by just 1/32nd of an inch (about 0.1 degrees), for every 10,000 miles traveled, the tires had to slide sideways EIGHT MILES!
At Clearview Tire and Auto Service, we use German-made computerized alignment equipment that measures the alignment 1/100th of a degree. Bring your vehicle to Clearview Tire and Auto Service on North Main Street in Hopkinsville, Kentucky for the best alignment anywhere. That's another reason so many people say “TAKE IT TO CLEARVIEW!” See our Coupon page for discount coupons.
OUR THOUGHTS ON OIL CHANGE REMINDER LIGHTS
Many vehicles now have a gizmo that tells you when it's time to change the oil. Some vehicles have a light. Others display a message.
Why have manufacturers put this on their vehicles? Did they do this out of the goodness in their hearts? Or to save you money? I think not.
Then, why? That gizmo is on your vehicle for one thing and one thing only; to make sure your engine gets past the warranty period. After that, you're on your own!
Is that what you want… for your engine to just get past the warranty? Of course not! You want your engine to get past the warranty period PLUS A QUARTER-MILLION MILES.
Recently, we've seen vehicles with less than 90,000 miles that have worn out engines. How can you prevent that from happening to your engine? Change to motor oil and filter more frequently. The American Petroleum Institute still recommends changing motor oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST.
Look at it this way. At Clearview Tire and Auto Service, a typical oil change is around $25, tax included. Let's say that you change the oil just one extra time a year. Over ten years you'll spend an extra $250. An engine can cost $5,000 or more. It's a no-brainer. That's another reason so many people say “TAKE IT TO CLEARVIEW!” See our Coupon page for discount coupons.
9 WAYS TO MAKE WINTER DRIVING EASIER
Winter's hard. Make life on the road easier with these inventions.
Cold weather and vehicle performance aren't necessarily the best of friends. “Every mile is two in winter.” That quote is attributed to the English poet George Herbert. Even though he wasn't referring to driving an SUV with heated leather seats, his philosophy still applies today. Winters can be hard, cold, long, and dark.
One of the problems with winter is that things tend to stop working. Whether it's an aging, cracked serpentine belt on your vehicle or the sticky lock on your home's front door, things just tend to break more often in winter's unforgiving cold. This is particularly true if the mechanical system or component is in an already weakened state due to age, wear, or neglect.
Luckily, there are solutions that make our lives easier during the winter – even if you're only in a cold climate for the weekend. While you've probably heard of several, if not all of the solutions below, if you're not already using them or planning to you, may want to reconsider before the snow flies and the temperature falls. Winter's hard. Why make it harder?
Here are nine inventions that make winter more tolerable for you and your vehicle.
1. Windshield Deicer
Car windows tend to frost over when exposed to winter elements. You can sit and wait for your car to warm up enough to defrost the windows or you scrape the ice from your windows. Or you can you can fill your windshield washer tank with deicer. A few squirts on a frosted windshield and the ice-melting chemical formula instantly clears your windshield.
2. Vehicle or Windshield Cover
If you really want to save some time and energy this winter, prevent the elements from ever collecting on your vehicle – use a cover. There are two types: formfitting fabric car covers that go over the entire vehicle and smaller window covers for just the windshield. Car covers are water-resistant and breathable. Simply pull the cover off and the frost or snow comes off with it, leaving you with a clean windshield and vehicle instead of brushing off snow and scraping ice. As a bonus, you can use it in summer to protect from damaging UV rays.
3. Winter blades
Keeping windshields and sight lines clear is so important and so difficult in winter. Winter blades, with a more rugged metal construction than standard blades, don't twist or break under snow and ice loads. The rubber wiping element is fully enclosed in a rubber boot or cover that prevents ice and snow from building up on the wiper blade itself. The result is a clear window for increased safety.
4. Custom-Molded Floor Mats
Snow, water, and even some salt will collect on your shoes this winter, and one of the first places that mess is going to be deposited is on your vehicle's carpet. Prevent carpet staining and damage with custom-molded floor mats. These mats differ from your standard floor mat in that they feature a lip around the mat's edge that prevents muck and water from rolling off the mat onto the carpet. And because they are designed to fit your vehicle's interior exactly, they cover and protect the maximum amount of floor space possible.
As the name implies, this chemical and water mixture courses throughout your vehicle's engine, hoses, and radiator and prevents the engine from freezing in winter and overheating in summer, which is why it's also called coolant. It's not optional if you want a functioning vehicle. And it's not enough just to have the proper level of antifreeze. You must have the right strength and concentration to protect your vehicle below the coldest expected temperature. Check your vehicle manufacturer recommendations if you're not sure.
6. Gas Line Antifreeze
Gas doesn't freeze, so why do we need gas line antifreeze? Because there's often water in gas tanks and lines, which will most certainly freeze. Whether the gas was contaminated at the gas station or by condensation in your vehicle's gas tank, water in gas isn't good, particularly in winter when the water freezes and prevents fuel from flowing. Gas line antifreezes remove moisture, prevent gas line freeze ups, and clean fuel injectors and carburetors.
7. Snow Tires
Ranking right up there with visibility, traction is one of drivers' top winter driving concerns. Even if your vehicle has traction control or four-wheel drive, you still won't have the traction you need with worn or summer tires. Most modern tires are rated as “all-season” and include an M+S designation on the tire sidewall indicating they're designed to perform well in mud and snow. Performing “well,” however, can be a big difference when compared to performing “great” in snow. Snow tires are designed specifically to deliver traction in snow, both because of their tread pattern and depth, as well as softer rubber compounds used in building the tire. So if you live in an area where you expect to receive a lot of snow, snow tires can deliver an added advantage.
8. Tire Chains
Today's tire chains or snow chains for passenger vehicles are compact and lightweight, making them convenient to store in the trunk and easy to install in just minutes, without having to jack up the vehicle or use tools. Their appeal is the significant improvement they deliver in traction and control on snow-covered roads. You can't just slap any old set of chains on your vehicle, however. They're designed specifically to fit specific tire sizes and for certain vehicle weights, so grab the right one for your vehicle.
9. Windshield and Headlight Treatments
The grimy mixture of snow, salt, and dirt that gets flung onto your windshield and headlights by the vehicle in front of you is both annoying and dangerous when it reduces visibility. Treat the exterior of your windshield and headlights with a product that's designed to help water and road grime flow off the windshield, improving visibility and making snow and ice removal easier too. Rain-X is a good one. In a pinch, you can apply and remove standard vehicle wax to these surfaces to achieve a similar effect.
No matter what you think of winter, it's not difficult to make the season less stressful on both driver and vehicle thanks to these life-saving – or just timesaving – inventions. Don't forget to prepare for unexpected events by carrying an emergency kit
around. And of course, take your car to your trusted technician for some important winter-related maintenance items