Importance of Checking Your Headlights and Wipers

Importance of Checking Your Headlights and Wipers

During your holiday travels make sure you always check at least two items before you go:  headlights and wipers.  Super easy to check but can be a nightmare if they aren’t working.  You don’t want to be driving at night and not be seen by other drivers.  Or not be able to see!!

Headlights

If you have an older car, the headlights could be giving you far less visibility then you think.  Over time the plastic on the headlights can get clouded and scratched.  Even more so in Lake Havasu City, AZ where the sun is brutal to plastic.  The plastic can become so yellowed that they might emit only 20% from when you first bought the car.

“Driving at night with headlights that produce only 20 percent of the light they did when new, which is already subpar, is a risk drivers shouldn’t take,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, “especially when there are convenient and inexpensive solutions that can dramatically improve lighting performance.”

 

AAAs findings reinforce the idea that car owners should routinely check the coating on their headlights and, if necessary, get them restored. Make sure that your lights are properly maintained and aimed.  A mis-aimed headlight can blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

Headlights are items that require inspection and replacement when they are worn out.  Your car or truck’s lighting system provides visibility for night driving.  As well as, signals and alerts other drivers and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing nonfunctioning lights, you’ll also want to check out lights that are dimming or rapidly blinking.   Maintaining your car is about safety.  Making sure everything is in proper working order before you need it.

Wipers

In order to maintain clear visibility while driving, the wiper system keeps excessive water, snow, and dirt from building up on the windshield. There are a lot of reasons why your wiper blades need to be replaced.  Contributing factors can be the frequency of use, the material of the blades, and the typical weather.  Sunshine is again an enemy of the wiper blade, deteriorated them more quickly.  Here in the desert, although they may not get used very much, the wiper blades should still get replaced annually because the sun eats away at the rubber. Also, don’t forget to check the rear window wiper blade too!

Keeping your vehicle’s lights cared for and periodically replace the wiper blades will ensure a safer ride. In fact, some state laws require the headlights to be on with the wipers.  By keeping both properly maintained you’ll never have to worry about your vision or others seeing you.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Repair is here to help.  Call to make an appointment so we can get your headlights and wipers ready for that winter trip! (928) 505-3535

Be an expert with your car maintenance this winter!

Car wheel in the snow in winter

Car Tips for Winter Car Maintenance

 

Winter car maintenance is what is needed if you are headed out to Flagstaff or California to do some skiing or just to let the family play in the snow?  Britton’s would like to share some expert car care tips from Consumer Reports that will help dramatically and keep you and your family safe.

One of the first things to consider when preparing your car for winter road conditions is your tires.  Tire pressure, tire rotation, and of course tire condition are all pertinent to a safe trip.  Cold winter temperatures can under-inflate tires, putting you at risk for a blowout.  Always check your owner’s manual or the driver’s side door well for the recommended PSI.  You will want to check your tire pressure when your car is cold because the heat and friction from driving might cause an inaccurate reading.

Another car maintenance tip for the winter is to always clear the snow and ice off your vehicle’s hood, roof, and windows before you drive.  “Your visibility will improve dramatically, and other drivers won’t have to dodge clumps of snow or ice that can become airborne as you speed down the highway,” says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.

The safest car trips require patience and preparation. Drive carefully and set out early.  This will help your trip and your driving goes more smoothly.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Repair is here to help.  Call to make an appointment so we can get your off-road vehicle ready for that desert trip! (928) 505-3535

What is That Car Warning Light Telling You?

photo of auto warning lights on dashboard all lit up

Your car is telling you something.

What is that warning light that just popped up on the dashboard?  And where did you put your car manual last time you cleaned out the glove compartment?  We’re going to list a few of the top dashboard lights that should be taken care of as soon as possible at an auto repair shop.

First, let’s explore how these lights go on.  Most cars these days have a monitoring system that will tell you of a problem.  The auto communicates these issues by lighting up one of the little symbols on the dash.  This warning helps to give a heads up your car becomes unsafe for the road and before any significant damage can happen.  The light is telling you to take a look at something like the oil level or to get your car repair sooner than later.

The not-so-bad, the bad, and the oh, no!

Brake system warning light in car dashboard. illustration. Close up

 

 

 

Parking brake light.  Check to be sure you didn’t leave your parking brake on.  If you didn’t, then this might mean something a bit more serious is going on.  If the light continues to stay on, then go to your auto repair mechanic to rule out that it’s not something wrong.  You always want to have a healthy and happy brake system.

 

A 3D render of an extreme closeup of an illuminated high temperature dashboard light on a car dashboard panel background

 

 

Coolant temperature light.  Coolant is an absolute must for your engine to function.  Without it, your engine will run hot, and that is not where you want things to be.  Nasty things can happen from a hot engine, like a blown head gasket.  However, it could also be-be a malfunctioning thermometer or a small leak.  Whichever the case, you will want to get your auto repaired and checked out by a certified mechanic right away.  If you don’t know how to check your coolant fluid, talk to your mechanic, and he/she can help.

 

closeup of a Check Engine Light In Car Dashboard lit up

 

Oil pressure light.  Your engine needs oil to keep it running correctly.  Without the oil, your car will overheat, and, again, horrible things will happen.  (remember what we said about lack of coolant.  It’s the same thing with oil.  Oil needs enough pressure to moved around keep the engine lubricated. Without enough lubrication, your engine will overheat, parts will wear and break, and you’ll need a new motor.  Call your mechanic get this checked out right away.

So there we have some of the top lights you’ll want to take care of right away.

From car repair to everyday maintenance, our complete automotive specialists will help you keep your vehicle in tiptop shape. We offer reliable auto care at good rates. Call or make an appointment online today to inquire about our maintenance service plans.

Tips for Winter Driving

Tips for Winter Driving

Driving in a winter wonderland

Welcome to a new year and for many of our friends in the southern US states, welcome to winter driving. Or those of us who live in the desert and decide to take a trip to the mountains to frolic in the snow. We understand severe winter weather can be frightening and dangerous. There are some excellent rules for automobile travel that we’ve gathered up for you here, as well as how to deal with several winter road emergencies.

First of all, you want always to make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by an auto repair shop. Most important are the tires (will snow tires be necessary?) and brakes. Make sure your tires are inflated correctly, and all your fluids are full, especially the antifreeze. Another tip is always to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times to avoid gas line freeze-up.

Once you and your mechanic are satisfied with the condition of your car, there are a few items you should pack in case of an emergency.
Include a charged cell phone and don’t forget to have the number of your roadside assistance added. It’s a good idea to pack a bag of supplies to keep in the car when the snow starts to fall. These should include food and water, warm clothing or a blanket, a flashlight, jumper cables, a shovel, an ice scraper or deicing fluid, and some gritty sand or cat litter.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather.  Sleet and ice are at the top of the list of weather to avoid driving in.

Drive only if it’s necessary

Yes, you’ve heard it from the meteorologist often not to go out do any severe winter driving unless it’s necessary. And it is said for good reason! Simply put, if you don’t go out then the chances of being stranded or in an accident drop to zero.

Most importantly, if your vehicle becomes disabled, STAY with your car. Rescuers can locate you more easily, and it will provide shelter from the elements. Do not get out and travel on your own in a severe storm. The chance of you losing sight of your car is very high, and you will become lost.

To help your car stick out from the snow, you can tie something very bright or shiny to your antenna or drape it to the top of your car. This will help searchers overhead to see you better. At night turn on your dome light or put a flashlight on top of the car to make it easier to be identified amongst the dark ground.

Also, if there’s snow accumulation around your car while it’s on, you will need to make sure the exhaust pipe has plenty of room to blow air out. If there’s snow packed into it the carbon monoxide that should be going out will instead enter the passenger compartment.

Tips for driving in severe winter weather

First, ask yourself if the trip is necessary.  If you must go out here are some tips from AAA’s Winter Driving Tips.

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly!  Note: It takes longer to slow down when ice is present.
  • Drive slowly.  You’ll need more space to stop, and the slower speeds will provide the distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. Slow down just enough to keep moving forward until a traffic light changes.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas just starts your wheels spinning on snow-covered roads. As you reach the crest of the hill, slow down and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop when going up a hill. Try starting out from a flat road and building momentum to get up the hill.  It’s already difficult getting up a hill when there’s ice but if you have to stop it’s gonna be tricky.
  • What to do in a skid on ice.  Correcting a skid on ice can be tricky. Here’s a great link to a detailed description that can help.  Click here.  Three highlights: don’t hit your brakes, turn into the slide and don’t overcorrect.  Panicking and overcorrecting may send the car into an unrecoverable spin.

Here at Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Service, we specialize in complete auto repair care with our ASE certified mechanics. We work on most automotive vehicles domestic and import, all the while providing competitive pricing and answers for your questions. (928) 505-3535

The Difference Between Tire Balance and Wheel Alignment

photo of Mechanic doing tire balance

Tire Balance Vs. Wheel Alignment

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Repair would like to run thru the differences between tire balance and wheel alignment. First of all, to balance a tire is entirely different than aligning a vehicle.  These two services deal with two very different automotive ailments.  There is sometimes a misunderstanding between balancing tires and aligning the front end of a car (aka. wheel alignment.)

In a nutshell, here’s how to tell one from the other regarding symptoms.  Continuing vibrations in areas of the vehicle at high speeds indicates the need for wheel balancing.  A car that keeps pulling to one side when driven on a straight, flat road, suggests the need for wheel alignment.

Tire Balance

First of all, balancing is the process of inspecting the wheels for the presence of an imbalance in the weight distribution of a rotating wheel.  The sure sign of your tires being out of balance is a shake or vibration between 60 and 70 miles per hour. (Shaking in the steering wheel and seat of the vehicle are the top complaints of customers that need to balance their tires.) The mechanic mounts the tire on a machine which spins the tire at a very high speed of 100 to 500 rpm. The test will determine the heavy spots on the tire and balances them out.

There are many reasons tires can get out of balance.  The unbalance is due to many factors, such as wear and tear on your front-end parts (ball joints, control arm bushings, tie rods, etc.), the roads you drive on (potholes), and braking hard (causing flat spots). Even some “economy” tires may come with poor construction. Consequently, tires begin to take on a different shape than how they started.

Also of note, tires don’t need to be re-balanced under normal circumstances unless your auto shows signs of any of the shaking or vibrations. Most customers prefer to balance their tires with tire rotations or oil changes.

The main signs of an imbalanced tire or tires are:

  • Vibration
  • Uneven wear
  • Increased fuel usage
  • Suspension issues
  • Tire/wheel runout
  • Vehicle sensors (ABS, brake control module).

Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment is the process of adjusting the position or of the tires according to the manufacturer’s specification. The purpose is to position the wheels of the vehicle so that the tires are perpendicular to the road and are parallel to one another. This service prevents uneven wearing of tires and increases their life. The mechanic will check on the positioning of steering and suspension components.

In conclusion, we recommended that you check your vehicle for damaged parts before getting an alignment. If this is the case the worn out parts must be repaired or replaced.

Here at Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Service, we specialize in complete auto repair care with our ASE certified mechanics. We work on most automotive vehicles domestic and import, all the while providing competitive pricing and answers to your questions. (928) 505-3535

What is an Auto Repair Mechanic?

Mechanic looking under a car

Your Auto Mechanic is Really a Technician in Disguise

A good auto repair mechanic (or technician) is a person that can work on a wide variety of automobile makes and models.  The mechanic can have a broad range of knowledge on a vehicle or even just within a specific area.  For instance, air conditioning or transmissions.  In auto technology there has been a lot of advancement and the knowledge has evolved from mechanical to more electronic.  The education needed for the technology of auto repair is constant now because vehicles today possess sophisticated computer systems that can change every year.

Auto repair mechanic’s central role when repairing cars is to diagnose the problem quickly and accurately. Often, mechanics must quote prices for their customers before starting work or after inspection by partially disassembling the vehicle to find the problem. Their job may involve the repair of a specific part or the replacement of one or more components as assemblies.

The complicated nature of auto technology has created a need for sophisticated diagnostic computers.  Each technician must understand and know how to operate these programs. Most dealerships and independent shops currently provide these technical workstations for their mechanics.  Without these tools, auto mechanics would be unable to repair or diagnose a vehicle.

Here at Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Service, we specialize in complete auto repair care with our ASE certified mechanics. We work on most automotive vehicles domestic and import, all the while providing competitive pricing and answers for your questions. (928) 505-3535

Road Trip? Here’s what you need to know!

Winter Holiday Travel Tips

Your winter holiday travel is right around the corner.  If you are planning on hitting the road and getting out of town there are a few things you should do to be safe.  Whether you do your own maintenance or depend on the pros, fall service lets you undo the wear and tear of the desert’s extreme summer conditions.

Here are some areas to focus on according to the National Institute for Auto Service Excellent (ASE)

The Basics of Winter Maintenance

First of all, read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.  This will give you what you need to know about oil changes, tire pressure, and a timeline for your car or trucks maintenance schedule.

Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice buildup. Stock up on windshield washer solvent you’ll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.

You may also want to put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Furthermore, a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture from forming.  So, keep that tank full!

Of course, you will want your heater and defroster in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.  Make sure you test it out before leaving.

More Advanced Maintenance (when to call in an expert)

In addition, you will want to take care of any driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) A good repair shop can correct any problems you may have. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters air, fuel, PCV, etc.

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles or so) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips or driving in extreme weather like we have here in Lake Havasu City.

The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.

The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. However, you can do some routine care:  Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Repair is here to help!  Call to make an appointment so we can get your vehicle ready for that Christmas trip to Grandma’s house! (928) 505-3535