Monthly Archives: May 2016

Check the Pad Life Of The Cars Tips

When you apply the brakes to stop the vehicle, the brake pads are the friction material that gets pressed against the discs that spin along with the wheels. Eventually they wear down and need to be replaced. How many years or miles before that happens depends on where and how you drive, as well as on the type of pads.

The pads are mounted in calipers that have an inspection hole on top that lets you check the thickness of the pads on both sides of the disc, also called the rotor. On some vehicles that have aluminum-alloy wheels, you can check the outer pads with the wheels on, but in most cases you will have to jack up the car and remove the wheels to look at the pads on both sides.

Mechanics use different guidelines for determining when pads should be replaced. New pads range from about 3/8 of an inch to 1/2 inch in thickness when new, depending on the vehicle. Some shops recommend replacing the pads when they’re down to about 1/4 inch, others say 1/8 or when only 20 to 25 percent of the original thickness is left. The danger of letting the thickness get too low is that once the pads are worn away, the metal backing plate on which they were mounted will be squeezed against the rotor, usually damaging the rotor beyond repair.

Many mechanics measure pads the old-fashioned way — with a ruler — or they use tools designed for measuring pad thickness. Another way to check is to have new, exact replacement pads available for comparison.

Because brakes are such an important safety feature, pad thickness shouldn’t be the only concern. A repair shop also will measure the thickness of rotors and whether they and the pads are evenly worn. Uneven pad wear can be caused by sticking caliper slides or pins; the calipers might need cleaning, lubricating or replacement. In any of those cases, replacing the pads alone won’t solve all the problems.

The advantages of synthetic oil for your car

If your car’s owner’s manual says it does, you do.

For many consumers, whether to spend extra money for synthetic oil for an oil change is a difficult question to answer.

Manufacturers of synthetic oil promise more miles and better performance when compared with conventional motor oil, but it comes at a higher cost — sometimes twice as much per oil change. Is it worth the extra money?

Typically, high-performance vehicles will be more likely to require synthetic oil, as will vehicles that have a turbocharged or supercharged engine. However, if your vehicle does not require synthetic oil, the choice is trickier – and there is no clear answer.

Synthetic oil generally resists breaking down for longer than conventional motor oil (typically 7,500 miles to 10,000 miles, sometimes up to 15,000 miles, as opposed to 3,000 miles to 7,500 miles for conventional oil). That makes the extra cost a wash, if you have half the number of oil changes, but each one costs you twice as much. Other touted benefits include cleaner engines, better flow in cold temperatures, better protection when it’s hot outside and better performance with turbocharged engines.

There are also synthetic blends. As the name implies, these are blends of synthetic and conventional oils. They straddle a middle ground — they cost more than conventional oils but less than full synthetics, and are said to last longer than conventional oils but not quite as long as synthetics — but again, that’s a hard number to pin down since manufacturers are vague with their claims. An independent testing lab we spoke with said that synthetics often didn’t perform much better than conventional oils do.

Still, older engines may benefit from synthetics because it is less likely to form sludge.

If your car doesn’t require synthetic oil you should perform a cost/benefit analysis, but that can be difficult to do due to vague claims made by manufacturers. There may be no reason to spend more on synthetic oil, except for peace of mind.

Tips to Changes Oil For Your Car

download (4)Oil change intervals vary by manufacturer and engines, so consult your owner’s manual or maintenance schedule to see how often to change the oil in your vehicle and what type of oil to use. You may be surprised. We were surprised to learn that a Camry’s 2.5-liter engine requires 0W-20 synthetic oil, for instance. Manufacturers suggest you change oil more often for “severe” driving conditions, such as frequent trailer towing, extensive stop-and-go driving or idling in traffic, driving in extreme heat or cold, or frequent short-distance driving in which the engine doesn’t reach full operating temperature.

How do I know when it’s time for an oil change?
Time and mileage intervals vary by vehicle manufacturer and whether an engine requires synthetic oil (which is meant to last longer). Use the guidelines in your owner’s manual, including whether most of your driving qualifies as happening in “severe” conditions, such as frequent short trips and stop-and-go driving. Under those conditions, you should change the oil more frequently.

How often should I replace my oil?
You should change the oil at least as often as is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer (the information is in your owner’s manual). These days, that’s every 7,500 to 10,000 miles on many vehicles. Many mechanics recommend doing it more often, such as every 5,000 to 6,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first. If you do mainly short trips and/or stop-and-go driving, you should change the oil more often. How about every 3,000 miles? Though that’s overkill, it can’t hurt, and it might extend the life of your engine.

Why do I need to change my oil?
Oil is the lifeblood of an engine; it lubricates and cleans moving parts and performs a vital cooling function as it circulates. Over time and repeated exposure to cold starts, short trips and engine heat, oil gets dirty, becomes thicker and loses its ability to prevent sludge and deposits from forming. Mechanics often say that changing the oil is the best preventive medicine for extending engine life.

How much should I pay?
The cost of repairs can depend on where you are as much as it does on what you need fixed. To get an estimate for your repair, go to our estimator, plug in your car’s year, make and model information, add your ZIP code, and choose the repair you need. We’ll give you a range for what your repairs should cost in your area.

Manual Transmissions For Repair

Manual transmissions are usually cheaper to maintain and repair than automatics because the latter are far more complex and have more parts and functions that can fail, but it may depend on your driving style.

An automatic has hundreds of mechanical, hydraulic and electronic helpers that have to work in harmony to shift gears smoothly for you. In contrast, a manual transmission is mostly mechanical gears that rely on the driver to engage the clutch and shift when needed.

The cost of replacing automatic transmission fluid generally ranges from about $100 to $200, depending on the vehicle and who is doing the work. Manual transmissions also require periodic fluid changes, but the cost tends to be about half of that.

Transmission repair costs vary widely based on the vehicle and what it needs. Repairing a leak might cost a few hundred dollars or less, but tearing apart a transmission to find the cause of problems can be much more expensive. That is why many repair shops recommend replacing a transmission instead of trying to fix internal problems — especially in the case of newer continuously variable and dual-clutch automatics, because parts are more difficult to come by and there’s less repair know-how when compared with conventional automatics.

Transmission replacement costs also vary widely, but manual transmissions typically are cheaper, falling into a rough range of $1,500 to $3,000 for non-luxury vehicles. Automatics are more expensive, with a range of roughly $2,000 to $4,000 for a remanufactured transmission for most vehicles from mainstream brands. CVTs lean toward the higher side of the estimate: One shop estimated that replacing a CVT on a Nissan Sentra would cost $4,000 versus $2,500 for replacing a six-speed automatic on a Chevrolet Cruze. For a luxury vehicle, a new transmission can cost closer to $10,000.

Here’s something else to keep in mind on cost: Some automatic and manual transmission parts are covered by the manufacturer’s powertrain warranty, which on many vehicles lasts for 60,000 miles and on some as long as 100,000. The clutch for a manual transmission, though, is considered a “wear” item and is generally covered for only 12,000 miles. Clutches and related parts also usually are excluded from extra-cost service contracts (or extended warranties).

If you burn through clutches rapidly because of your driving style, you could shell out more for repairs than you would with an automatic. Likewise, if your foot-hand coordination isn’t great, you frequently could grind gears or chip gear teeth with a manual transmission, and over time that will take a toll.

Automatic transmissions also can be damaged by abuse, but they are less susceptible to wear caused by individual driving styles. Most people put them in Drive and just drive, and they seldom even think about the transmission. Thanks to computer control and other advances, modern automatics are more durable than ever, even when driven enthusiastically.