How Can I Tell If My Radiator Is Leaking?

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When the temperature gauge on your dashboard reads high or a temperature warning light comes on, you have a cooling system problem that may be caused by a leak — be it in the radiator itself or some other component.

First, make sure it’s coolant that’s leaking, not another fluid. (Coolant is often referred to as antifreeze, but technically coolant is a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.) You can easily check the coolant level in your see-through overflow tank. If it’s empty or low, the next step should be to check the coolant level in the radiator, but that should be done only when the engine is cool.

Once you know you’re losing coolant, the radiator is a good place to start. Some radiator leaks will be easy to spot — such as a puddle underneath the radiator — but others not so much. It’s best to check the radiator from every angle, not just from above, and pay particular attention to seams and the bottom. Corrosion inside the radiator or holes from road debris also can cause leaks.

Antifreeze comes in different colors — green, yellow and pinkish-red, for example — feels like slimy water and usually has a sweet smell. If you can’t see coolant dripping or seeping, look for rust, tracks or stains on the radiator. Those are telltale signs of where it has leaked.

If the radiator appears to be OK, the cooling system offers several possibilities for leaks, including the hoses from the radiator to the engine, the radiator cap, water pump, engine block, thermostat, overflow tank, heat exchanger (a small radiator that circulates hot coolant into the dashboard for cabin heating) and others. A blown gasket between the cylinder head and engine block is another possibility, allowing coolant inside the combustion chambers — a problem that must be addressed immediately by a mechanic.

If you can’t find a leak, have it checked by a professional. Coolant has a way of escaping only under pressure when the car is running — possibly in the form of steam, which may not leave a trace.

Are Your Brakes Trying to Tell You Something?

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If your brakes are trying to tell you something, you should pay attention. A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle control and operation and it should be checked immediately if you suspect any problems, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“While an annual brake inspection is a good way to ensure brake safety, motorists should not ignore signs that their brakes need attention,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

The Car Care Council reminds motorists to look for the following warning signs that their brakes need to be inspected:

  • Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
  • Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
  • Low Pedal: brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
  • Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
  • Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
  • Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
  • Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Because brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle, they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material. Be sure to avoid letting brakes get to the ‘metal-to-metal’ point as that can mean expensive rotor or drum replacement.

The Car Care Council offers a free custom service schedule and email reminder service to help car owners remember to have their brakes inspected and take better care of their vehicles. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help motorists drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

THE BLIND MAN WHO INVENTED CRUISE CONTROL

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While speed governing systems have been around on automobiles almost as long as they have existed (the first known one was installed on a Wilson-Pilcher car in 1900) and similar systems have been around long before that to control steam engines (as far back as the 17th century), the invention of the modern cruise control system is credited to inventor and Automotive Hall of Famer, Ralph Teetor- a man who couldn’t actually drive due to being completely blind.

The inspiration for the cruise control system struck Teetor while he was riding with his lawyer in the 1940s.  He noticed the lawyer had a tendency to slow down while talking and speed up while listening. This annoyed Teetor, who decided to come up with a device to control the speed of the car automatically. After several years of tinkering, in 1948 he filed his first patent for a device to accomplish just this. (US 2519859)

It took him almost another decade, and a few more patents filed improving his original device, to finally come up with a version that would be installed on a commercially sold vehicle. The first cars to boast the new technology were the 1958 models of the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor. By 1960, cruise control was a standard feature on all Cadillacs. The system worked by calculating ground speed based on driveshaft rotations. It then used a solenoid, as needed, to vary the position of the throttle cable.

Cruise control went by several names in the early days. It was initially called everything from “Speedostat,” to “Touchomatic” and “Auto-Pilot.” It was Chrysler who finally came up with the “cruise control” name. (Personally, I’d have preferred “Speedostat”…)  Different versions of the cruise control system were soon invented by various people, with the systems receiving a big boost in popularity thanks to the oil crisis of the 1970s and the savings in fuel a cruise control system can potentially have, depending on one’s driving habits. Today, the cruise control systems are still evolving, including beginning to incorporate some more advanced self-driving features such as automatic braking.

How to Protect Your Car’s Interior

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Try to add up the hours you spend in your car. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Commutes, errand runs and road trips can have you sitting in those bucket seats for hours on end, and during that time, you and your passengers are actually living in the interior. That means smudges on the windows, scratches on the dash and food in the seat crevices accumulate and leave you wondering what happened to the spotless interior you swear it had when you first bought the car.
A Quick Clean
Luckily, it’s not that difficult to keep a car’s cabin from looking a little too, well, lived in. First things first, get something to stuff your trash into. Just use a plastic bag or a container you don’t use around the house and throw it in the backseat. You can even affix a temporary hook to the door or seat to keep things even neater. Every once and awhile, take it out and relish in the fact that you haven’t spent an hour cleaning up. Keeping trash off the floor also preserves your carpets, which can get stained from any number of items.
The idea of taking a rag to your dash and leather seats is made easier if you have them on-hand. The key here is to just use a little bit of soapy water to wipe the surfaces of your car – some cleaning products contain alcohols that prematurely dry and age the materials by reducing the flexibility in the vinyl. Store a small spray bottle of your homemade cleaning fluid and a rag under your seat or in a storage bin for access when you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school or sitting in that crazy-long drive-through line. This will also come in handy when an emergency spill happens. Lastly, keep your car smelling like roses (or at least a laundromat) by adding dryer sheets under the seats.
Weather Resistant 
You can’t discount the impact weather has on your vehicle either. In summer, sandy feet can quickly make a mess of an interior, and dare we mention the destruction caused by mud and snow? If you spend a lot of time ducking in and out of the elements, you might want to grab some all-weather floor mats. They’re easy to clean and do a great job of keeping the muck in one place.
The sun’s rays can also wreak havoc on your car’s surfaces, causing vinyl to crack over time and materials to fade. A simple solution is to regularly put a sunshade on the windshield. They’re inexpensive and help to keep your interior looking new.
Saving money on repair work and cleaning comes more easily when you take the time to make preventative care a priority. Not only will these tricks make your car a nicer place to be, keeping grime out of your ride will cut down on large maintenance costs in the future and will help to retain its value over time.

 

When, Where, How and Why to Change Your Vehicle’s Oil

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The Car Care Council reminds motorists that basic vehicle maintenance is an easy, inexpensive way to prolong the life of vehicles and avoid costly repairs down the road.

“When thinking about vehicle maintenance, regular oil changes likely come to mind first,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “A quick review of the why, when, where and how of changing your vehicle’s oil is a good way to see the value of basic auto care.”

Why

Motor oil lubricates the moving parts in your engine, preventing wear by keeping the engine clean, removing contaminants and regulating engine temperature to prevent overheating. Neglecting to check and change your vehicle’s oil can lead to expensive repairs, including engine failure.

When

Check your vehicle owner’s manual; most will recommend changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, other factors such as harsh weather conditions, driving in stop-and-go traffic or on dusty/dirt roads, towing a trailer, driving at high speeds and the age of your vehicle can all bring down this time interval, making it a safe bet to have the oil checked at the lower end of the recommended interval.

Where

An oil change performed by a professional technician is a quick, low-cost vehicle service. When taking your car in for maintenance or repairs, be sure that the shop employs ASE-certified technicians. ASE certification means that the technicians take their training seriously and have passed tests to demonstrate their skills.

How

Do-it-yourselfers can access the Car Care Council’s website for an instructional video by DriverSide on how to change your vehicle’s oil.

To help drivers “be car care aware,” the Car Care Council has many free tools available at www.carcare.org, including a free 80-page Car Care Guide and a customized service schedule with email reminders to make it easy to follow a routine auto care program.


The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

Four Easy Ways to Go Green with Your Car

Looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly with your car? Motorists can help protect the environment by following four simple steps from the non-profit Car Care Council.

  1. Follow a vehicle service schedule including steps like checking engine performance, keeping tires properly inflated, replacing air filters regularly, changing oil regularly and checking your gas cap. Routine maintenance helps reduce emissions and fuel consumption, saving money at the pump.
  1. Keep your current vehicle longer and limit the number of new cars you buy over the course of a lifetime. Extending vehicle life is as simple as taking care of your vehicle properly. You’ll gain years of reliable service without monthly car payments and higher insurance rates.Recycle oil MM
  1. Recycle or properly dispose motor oil, tires, batteries, fluids and other vehicle components to help protect the planet when performing vehicle maintenance or repairs.
  1. Repower your engine when faced with serious engine trouble. A remanufactured/rebuilt engine can give your vehicle new life and make it more fuel efficient for about the cost of an average down payment on a new car.

“Being car care aware and performing basic vehicle maintenance go a long way toward protecting the environment and improving fuel economy,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The Car Care Council’s free customized service schedule and email reminder service makes it easy to stay on schedule and keep your car running efficiently.”

To help motorists “go green,” the Car Care Council’s newly redesigned Car Care Guide features fuel economy and environmental awareness tips to help motorists “go green.” Available in English and Spanish, the 80-page Car Care Guide uses easy-to-understand language rather than technical automotive jargon, fits easily in a glove box and can be ordered free-of-charge at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

To learn more about how auto care can protect the environment, visit the Car Care Council website at http://www.carcare.org/go-green/.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

I-CAR Repairability Technical Support

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The I-CAR Repairability Technical Support (RTS) team recently developed a new I-CAR 360° video on the 2017 BMW 7 Series. The video provides a 360° tour around the all new 7 Series. The video includes an overview of the vehicle structure, including the expanded use of mixed materials in order to make the vehicle more lightweight. This includes the use of extruded aluminum parts, such as the front lower rails, strut tower, and front of the rear rails. Adding to the decreased weight is the use of BMWs carbon core technology, which is installed with rivets and adhesive. The video also includes an overview of some of the advanced driver safety and convenience system options.