Repair Articles

How To Check And Fill Your Fluids

How To Check And Fill Your Fluids

Everybody that owns a vehicle should know how to check and fill their vehicle’s fluids. There are a few major fluid levels to check on most vehicles. By checking the fluids in your vehicle regularly you can help to save yourself from costly auto repairs.

Lets start with the windshield washer fluid: Have you ever noticed when you use your windshield washer that the fluid is blue? The fluid solution is a combination of solvents with a detergent. The solution may also contain antifreeze. It’s pretty simple to fill and if you have a funnel it can make it even easier to fill. The washer fluid reservoir is under the hood. If you can not locate where the reservoir is, check your owners manual it should show you how to find it. After you have located the reservoir just fill it to the top.

The next thing you want to check is the brake fluid. This pretty easy to check also because most vehicles will have a level mark on the reservoir and as long as the brake fluid is to the level line it’s good. This way you do not have to open the cap that is on the master cylinder.

If you look and see that the fluid is not at the level line just open the cap on the master cylinder and put enough fluid into the reservoir to reach the level line. Be careful with brake fluid because it will eat the paint of your car if is spilled and left on the paint. Always keep a nice clean rag with you when filling the brake reservoir. If you don’t have any brake fluid go to you local auto store and pick some up and make sure it’s for an automobile. If you are not sure ask the guy behind the counter.

Let’s move on to the power steering fluid. Before you check the power steering fluid make sure that the vehicle engine has been warmed up or as some would say to the proper operating temperature. Power steering fluid looks red and most of the time you can check it by simply un-screwing the cap right from the pump itself. The cap usually has a small dip stick attached to it. The dip stick will have a fill line on it. Use a funnel and pour the fluid in slowly so you don’t over-fill. Sometimes the reservoir is not attached to the pump but has a separate reservoir.

When checking the engine coolant, “CAUTION” is the firt rule of thumb. Never, ever open a radiator cap when the engine is hot. This is a great way to get burned. There is a lot of pressure that builds up when the engine is hot.

You can check the fluid by looking at the level line on the over flow reservoir. If it needs coolant just un-screw the cap from the over flow reservoir or bottle and fill to the level line.

Again never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot. That is one of the reasons why there is an over flow reservoir. If your vehicle, for some reason, does not have an over flow then wait until the engine cools down before you open the radiator cap.

To check the transmission fluid the vehicle needs to be in park or neutral with the brake on. The vehicle also needs to be running. You also want the engine warmed up before you check the fluid. To check the fluid, locate the dip stick which will most likely be towards the back of the engine on the passenger side.

With the engine running pull out the dip stick and wipe it off with a rag, then stick it back into the tube were you just pulled it from. Make sure you push the stick all the way down. Now pull the dip stick out and look on the stick for the level lin. If you need fluid add a little at a time and fill to the level line. Before you push the dip stick back down the tube be sure to wipe it off each time in order to will get a proper reading. Use a funnel when filling with fluid.

Note: If you have a manual transmission you need to get under the vehicle and remove a plug. Check the owner’s manual before you attempt checking the fluid. With transmission fluid you may be better off to let your mechanic check this. Checking it once a year should be fine unless you start hearing noises coming from the transmission.

Last but certainly not least is the engine oil. This is also checked with a dip stick and it is usually found towards the front of the engine on the passenger side. It should have the word “oil” on it. To check the oil turn the engine off and wait a few minutes to let the fluid drain into the oil pan so you can get a good reading on the dip stick. Another good time to check the oil is before you start the engine.

When you pull out the dip stick wipe it clean and look for a minimum and maximum level marking on the dip stick. Then put the dip stick into the tube push it all the way down. Wait a second and pull the stick back out and look and see where the oil level is on the stick. If the oil is at the minimum mark add a quart of oil. If it’s at the maximum you are good to go. If it’s in the middle you can add a half a quart. Use a funnel when putting oil into your vehicle.

You should check the oil at least once a month but preferably once every two weeks.

By taking the time to do these simple checks you can save yourself a lot of money. Checking the fluid and filling them properly now and not waiting until something goes wrong is a lot less painful for your pocket book when it comes to auto repairs.

Car Maintenance VS Car Negligence

Car Maintenance VS Car Negligence

With the increasing cost of car repairs and the hefty fees charged by your local mechanic, it’s easy to just ignore problems you’re starting to experience with your car. Many drivers do not pay attention to the signs that their car is telling them unless they experience a real trouble. However, you must know that car repair negligence has its price.

Car problems often start small, than grow bigger as you neglect them.

Failing to address the problems in your vehicle early on will result in more costly problems later on, such as:

• Serious damage: because you have been ignoring that puddle of fluid that you see under your car that could be an oil leak, and ignoring it won’t make it better. When a car loses it’s oil which is the blood line of the vehicle it will cause major problems that could easily cost you thousands of dollars in motor repairs or motor replacement.

• Accidents: If you’ve been hearing your brakes squeal every time you step on the brake pedal to stop, that’s a good sign that the brake pads are already worn-out. If you don’t take action and don’t replace the pads, you may experience brake failure that may lead to a serious accidents or death.

• More expenses: Smaller problems will always turn into bigger problems any time you ignore problems with your vehicle. Your car is one thing you should not skimp on. You rely on it to keep you safe when driving it, so don’t ignore things that are happening with your vehicle or you may one day find yourself facing a bigger expense due to neglect.

How To Save On Car Repair and Maintenance

While you may think that you’re stuck with huge expenses on your car, you’ll be glad to know that this isn’t so.

There are a lot of ways by which you can save on your vehicle, Here are a few.

1.) Perform Routine Maintenance and Inspection. Always, follow the routine maintenance schedule of your car, no matter how busy you are. Check the level of your car fluids regularly. Check the air pressure in your tires, check for proper tire wear, and try to keep your vehicle clean.

2.) Learn some maintenance basics of your vehicle so that you can do some of the checks yourself like how to check the oil, or the water in your radiator, even learn how to check your tires’ air pressure. You would be surprised that just doing these simple things can save you money down the road.

3.) Look around for a local family owned car service shop, not a brand name shop. A family owned shop will treat you better and you will get better service and better prices.

Delayed Auto Repairs Cost More

Delayed Auto Repairs Cost More

Your car is an important part of your life. Sometimes we don’t realize how important until it stops working. Here in Harford County, Maryland it is hard to get anywhere without a vehicle. Hi, my name is Bob Hines. I’m the owner of Forest Hill Car Care with my partner Dave Quante. Between the both of us we have over 80 years of experience in car repair. That’s a lot of years taking care of vehicles. We understand how important it is to find a good and honest mechanic that will take care of your vehicle without taking advantage of you.

Here at Forest Hill Car Care we give you “Peace Of Mind”. You want someone to look after you? You Got It!!

If you need a simple oil change or need major engine work we will be there for you. If you need a car inspected bring it in – we are Certified State Inspectors. We will make sure that the car is safe for you to drive. If you have problems with emissions we are also Certified in Emissions.

The best way to take care of your car is to bring it in for an oil change. While we are doing the oil change we will take a look at your brake system, balls joints, exhaust system and other import things. It’s better for you to get those items checked so you really don’t have to worry about them. But you do have to bring it in for first time so we can look at it.

With today’s economy many people are putting off necessary maintenance on their vehicles. They are also delaying necessary repairs. Unfortunately that is leading to them to spending even more money for more serious repairs. It saddens us to tell people that they have a major repair bill knowing that if they had brought their car in sooner it could have been repaired for much less.

Delaying necessary car repairs really does cost more in the long run. A small needed repair on your vehicle that is delayed can turn into a major repair bill in a very short time.

Some times it’s hard to trust someone with your vehicle that you don’t know and I can understand that. Would you rather trust someone that says we can do an oil change in 10 minutes for you or would you rather have someone that is very experienced and will take the time needed plus look over your car for you and let you know what he finds?

Don’t think that when we look over you car we are going to try to sell you on something else. We are only looking out for you and letting you know if there are any problems that you may or may not want to take care of or plan to have done. It’s your vehicle and we want you to be well-informed/

If you have any questions about your car we would be glad to talk to you about them. It’s important that you understand what your car needs and we will explain anything to you in terms you can understand.

You are very important to us here at Forest Hill Car Care. Take the time to come out and see us at 2403 Rocks Road Forest Hill, Md 21050 or call us at 410-838-3116.

You can even just stop by to meet us. Ask for Bob, I’m friendly and I look forward to meeting you.

Worn Out Windshield Wiper Blades Cause Blurry Windshield

Worn Out Windshield Wiper Blades Cause Blurry Windshield

Windshield wiper blades wear down and completely stop performing after time. Imagine driving during a sudden torrential downpour or through a foggy day with windshield wipers whose blades will not clear your windshield.

Harford County Maryland has experienced a lot of sever weather recently. Recently Hurricane Irene pounded the area with rain and winds. The winds blew debris off trees onto windshields while people are driving and your wiper blades had to remove the debris. Following Irene, Tropical Storm Lee hit us with its remnants and caused heavy rains throughout the area.

Both storms should remind us to make sure we have wipers on our vehicles that are in proper operating condition. It is easy to ignore the warning signs of failing wiper blades; that is until you are in a hard rain and need them even more. Not having properly operating blades can endanger you, your passengers and other people on the road.

Since the blades are made of rubber the sun can cause the blades to degrade over time. A lot of use can diminish their effectiveness. And wiping away storm debris can damage the blades. If your blades are showing any indication of wear, now is the time to replace them.

To start off, you should first purchase a complete set of windshield wiper blades that are the proper size for your vehicle. At Forest Hill Car Care we can help you get the proper wiper blades for you car

Many people have a hard time figuring out how to install new windshield wiper blades.  We can install your blades for you quickly and have you back on the road in record time. You won’t have to mess with doing the installation yourself.

If you do want to do the installation follow the directions on the blades or in your owner’s manual. Here are some basic instructions: Pull the wiper arm away from the windshield and make sure that it is not resting on your car’s windshield anymore. Then, you can start removing the old wiper blade from the arm. For some windshield wipers you simply push on a tab and pull the blade off. However, there are some wipers that require you to lift a tab with a small screwdriver to get the blade loose.

When you have removed the old blade, you can now put the new blade on the arm. Make sure that you put it on correctly. The blades should be securely attached to the wiper arm. If not, it could fly off once you are cruising down the streets. If you are satisfied that the blade has been successfully replaced, you can now put the windshield wiper arm back to its old position against the windshield. You can test the blade by using the windshield washer. Sometimes additional adjustment is need to made sure the entire length of the blade is in full contact with the windshield.

Automobile Brakes Slowing Your Way to Safety

Automobile Brakes Slowing Your Way to Safety

An automobile’s brake system has been continually refined and redefined for over a century. If a person steps on the brake pedal what actually happens is that he is actually pushing against the plunger found in the master cylinder.

Just imagine speeding down the highway. Just imagine the sun on your face and the wind on your hair. Just imagine the feeling of being one with your car and the road as well. Feels great, doesn’t it? This time, imagine trying to slow down your descent and finding out that your brakes do not work. Now that would be a great misfortune.

The modern automotive brake system has become extremely independent, dependable, indispensable, and very efficient. All these are due to the experiences of drivers and innovations of automobile experts.

The brake system of an automobile generally consists of disk brakes. They are mounted and installed in the front and rear ends of the automobile. The disk brakes, or also known as drum brakes, installed in the rear is connected by a system of tubes and hoses. These then link the brake at each wheel and connect them to the master cylinder. If a person looks more closely into an automobile’s brake system, he would be able to discover that there are other systems that are connected to this system. These other systems include the parking brakes, the power brake booster, and the anti-lock system.

When a person steps on the brake pedal what actually happens is that he or she is actually pushing against the plunger found in the master cylinder. In doing this, it forces the hydraulic oil or brake fluid to go through a series of tubes and hoses to the braking unit at each wheel. The concept behind this is that hydraulic fluid, or any other kind of fluid, cannot be compressed. By pushing the fluid through the pipe, this produces the same action and reaction of like pushing a steel bar through a pipe.

However, the main difference between the hydraulic fluid and a steel bar is that the hydraulic fluid has the capacity to be directed through many twists and turns on its way to its destination while a steel bar has no capacity to do so. When releasing the brakes, after going through its maze, the fluid arrives back to its original location and state so that it can be used once again. What is essential, though, is to keep the liquid free from air bubbles. If there are air bubbles in the liquid this actually slows down and reduces the vehicle’s braking system’s efficiency. If this actually happens, the entire braking system must undergo a bleeding where the air can be removed. Each wheel cylinder and caliper has “bleeder screws” that facilitate the release of any air in the fluid.

Obviously brakes are an important part of safe driving. In today’s world of driving being able to stop your vehicle as quickly as possible is critical to your safety, the safety of your passengers and the safety of others. There are many symptoms that you should have checked out by an experienced auto mechanic: if it seems that the vehicle does not stop as quickly as it used to, if you feel a change in the way the pedal feels when you apply the brakes, if you feel the car pull to one side when you apply the brakes, when you feel the anti-lock brakes activate when they shouldn’t or if the ABS light is on in your vehicle.

If you live in Harford County Maryland – Forest Hill, Bel Air, Fallston – feel free to bring your vehicle to Forest Hill Car Care for a free brake check.

Start Saving Money At The Gas Pump

Start Saving Money At The Gas Pump

With the rising cost of gas prices…and no end in sight…everyone wants to save as much money at the gas pump as they possibly can.  You may not be able to control the price of gas but you can change certain habits and follow some basic guidelines to help you save as much money as possible.

Rising gas and oil prices each year mean that the average driver, who travels approximately 15,000 miles each year in a car that gets about 20 miles to the gallon, will pay more at the end of the year for his gas costs.

Every time that the price of gas goes up at the fuel pump by 10 cents the cost of the average drivers gas consumption will rise by about $75 over a year.

Only 15 percent of the fuel that you put into your car gets used and the rest of the energy is lost for many reasons.  It is important to maintain your car and have an understanding of how your vehicle operates.

If this information is foreign to you, you may consider taking a basic mechanics course to gain some knowledge.

The more that you understand about the way that your vehicle runs, and what it takes to properly maintain it, the more success you will have when it comes to understanding what steps to take to start saving money.

If only 15 percent of the fuel that you pay for gets used that means that you need to be absolutely certain that the condition in which your car is running is as efficient as it can be.

In addition to a mechanics course you may be able to find fuel saving tips that are available through a small mini-course at your local college.

You can try to shop around in your local area for the cheapest gas that you can find but you shouldn’t go too far out of your way to try and get that best price unless you’re already traveling in that direction anyway.

Once you start driving around looking for the gas pump that can beat the one in your neighborhood you start to increase the amount of money that you spend on your driving expenses.

Since your goal is to save money you would be defeating the purpose by driving around for too long.  Studies done by the AAA indicate that it will cost you approximately 51.7 cents per mile to drive your car this year.

Keep in mind that the IRS will only allow a deduction of 36 cents per mile so driving too far to get the cheapest gas isn’t always cost efficient.

While you are driving to a location that you would normally be going anyway you can of course keep your eyes open for the cheapest gas.

Things To Avoid If Possible

Things To Avoid If Possible When Trying To Reduce Gas Costs

Try to avoid “topping off” at the gas pumps.  When you purchase just a bit of gas at the gas station the pump doesn’t have enough time to really activate, resulting in short bursts of fuel that may short change you from the amount of gas that you are purchasing.

The best time to replenish your gas tank is when you have half a tank or less left in your vehicle, or when you find a gas price that you just can’t afford to miss.

Try not to drive your car when the gas gauge is on empty.

You may think that you using very little gas when your car is on empty, but you are in fact using more gas because your vehicle is running less efficiently as it tries to accelerate and decelerate in a normal fashion.

Keep your gas level above the quarter tank mark if at all possible.

You should never purchase gasohol for your car since it contains only two-thirds of the energy of gasoline.

This means that you would need to buy much more gasohol to go the same distance on a tank of gasoline.

Gasohol is a mixture of ethanol (alcohol made from grain) and gas, and is used by some farmers to help cut the amount of pollution in the air.

Even if you are traveling and it seems like the only fuel choice for miles is gasohol try to avoid buying this type of adapted fuel.

When a gas station has its underground tanks filled, the particles at the bottom of the tank are stirred up.

These particles can become mixed in with the gas that you are putting into your car, which can lead to efficiency problems.  The particles can clog your fuel filter, causing your car to stall and start with some difficulty.

If the gas station that you have decided to stop at has the lowest gas price in your area you may want to think about taking the time to come back at a later time rather than stopping at the next gas station that is offering a higher price for gas.

Save Money By Keeping An Eye On Your Gas Consumption

Save Money By Keeping An Eye On Your Gas Consumption

The more aware you are of the amount of fuel that you use the more you can do to try to reduce your gas costs.

If you notice that your gas efficiency is decreasing it could be an indicating factor that your car needs servicing. Make weekly comparisons with your fuel log that you keep in you car to see how much your gas consumption is going up and your mileage per gallon is going down. If you are finding that you are constantly seeing less and less performance from your car and spending more for gas at the fuel pump then you’ll know that you need to take action so that you can start seeing a savings in your gas economy rather than a constant deficit.

Try to buy your gas from a gas station that is consistently busy and therefore has its underground tanks filled on a regular basis. Gas stations that are slow will have gas that has been sitting in underground tanks for longer periods of time, leading to gas contamination. This contamination can mean that the gas you are purchasing is less powerful than fresh gas and will decrease your fuel economy.

Try to time your visits to busier gas stations at those busy times but make sure that you’re not in a rush to get anywhere. If you’re late for an appointment you may find yourself giving up in frustration if you have to wait to purchase your gas and then find yourself moving over to a gas station that has a higher gas cost for the day. When you have finished filling up your gas tank try turning the nozzle of the hose a full 180 degrees. This will drain a bit more gas into your tank; in some cases up to an entire half cup that would otherwise be a bonus to the next gas customer. Once you get into the habit of turning the hose you’ll find yourself doing it without thinking. That extra half cup that you get each time that you fill your gas tank can add up to a lot of extra gas at the end of the year that you never have known about.

For most cars these days, buying higher octane gas is a waste of your money. Regular unleaded has approximately 87 octane already and is fine for your vehicle. By avoiding buying high octane gas you’ll be saving a large amount of money over a period of time. High octane gas is always more expensive at the gas pumps so the next time that you feel guilty for filling up your SUV with regular gas you can be assured that no harm will come to your vehicle.

Octane is simply a measurement of how difficult it is to ignite the gas in your car and has nothing to do with the quality of the gas. If you are experiencing engine pings, rattles, or knocks you can switch to high octane gas.

However, you shouldn’t be experiencing any of those knocks and rattles if you are keeping your vehicle maintained and making sure that you don’t miss those scheduled maintenance checkups. If you are driving a new model car you definitely shouldn’t be hearing any pings or rattles and if you are you should take your vehicle to a mechanic.

Keeping Your Car Well Tuned

Keeping Your Car Well Tuned

One of the best things that you can do is to keep your vehicle as well tuned as you possibly can. This means taking note of those regularly scheduled maintenance checkups that you so often ignore.

Studies indicate that a car with an engine that is poorly tuned will increase the amount of fuel consumption from 10 to 20 percent.

Information found at  www.fueleconomy.gov/ shows that when you tune up a car that is due for a checkup or one that has emissions problems, you can increase the gas mileage by up to 4.1 percent.

Pay attention to the signals that your car is giving you.  When the red message light on your dashboard lights up letting you know that it’s time to “check your gauges” make sure that you have your car looked at as soon as you can.

If you are uncertain when the last time was that you had your car serviced you may be able to contact the mechanic that last did the work for you.

If they keep accurate records your mechanic will be able to give you a date for your last maintenance visit and help you schedule a new one at the same time.

Change the oil in your car on a regular basis.  When you keep the oil in your car clean you reduce the wear that is caused by friction in the moving parts of your car’s engine.

Keeping track of your last oil change will save you money at the gas pump and increase your fuel consumption.

Make sure that you are using the right grade of oil that is required by your car or truck.  Oil grades are measured in viscosity, which determines how much the oil can resist flow.  Grades of oil include:

  • 0W (this is the thinnest) (“W” stands for winter)
  • 5W to 25W
  • 20 to 60 (60 is the thickest)

Check with the owner’s manual that comes with your car for more information about the grade of oil that is required by your car.

Make sure that you use the right grade of oil to ensure that your car runs as smoothly as it should in all types of weather.

If you find that you are always running out of oil when you need it you can buy car oil in bulk at stores such as Costco so that you always have oil available for your vehicle.

Forest Hill Car Care can help you with an oil change or a full tuneup.

Use GasBuddy and Multitask Your Shopping Expeditions

Use GasBuddy and Multitask Your Shopping Expeditions

If you know of a certain gas station that consistently sells lower priced gas and it’s out of your way you might want to consider making a weekly or bi-weekly journey to this destination.

This way you can take a day to get gas, buy your groceries, and take a walk in the park within a different area of the city where you live. In effect, what you are doing is multitasking and saving money on your fuel costs at the same time.

One of the ways that you can save money at the gas pump is by using a gasoline credit card. When you have a gas card you’ll be able to get 5 or 10 percent rebate back on the purchase of your gas. This can amount to as much as $75 to $300 each year. If you have multiple drivers in your family you’ll want to make sure that every car driving person carries a gasoline credit card with them so that you can take advantage of multiple gas sales.

Many gasoline companies are joining up with other retailers to give you numerous savings at the gas pump.
You’ll be able to not only save on your gas purchase, but you’ll be able to earn points towards your next purchase with participating retailers.

Gasoline becomes denser in colder temperatures. Gas pumps are set to measure the volume of the fuel that you pump and not the density. This means that if you fill up your gas tank in the cooler morning temperatures, or in the colder evening hours, that you’ll be getting better gas price economy. Try to fill up your gas tank later in the evening to avoid the rush of day hours.

Using the Internet to find the lowest gas prices is a great way to have all the information that you need before getting into your car to fuel up. There are several sites on the Internet that will help you find the cheapest gas in your area. One of these sites is GasBuddy. GasBuddy has all the information for both the United States and Canada to help you find the lowest gas price on the day that you are filling up your gas tank.

GasBuddy has over 170 websites that it uses to get you the recent best prices. The price of gas is always changing so having the latest information is going to save you money over a period of time. There are times that the price of gas will vary by up to 20 percent within a short radius so it’s important to you to stay current with the lowest price of gas.

The information provided by GasBuddy is quite comprehensive. For example, after indicating that you live in Maryland you are directed to sites for different areas.

Choosing Baltimore, MD gives you the following information: (1) lowest price in the last 24 hours, (2) gas station name and address, and (3) time the last price was posted.

When you use GasBuddy you’ll be able to save that much more each time you buy gas for your vehicle.