The thermostat is an important part of your cooling system. Your vehicle’s thermostat performs a similar function to the thermostat in your home. At home, you set your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature range. When your home gets too hot, the air conditioning kicks on and when it gets too cool, the heater turns on. Now your engine also has an optimal temperature range: warm enough to run efficiently and not so hot as to cause engine damage. Your vehicle’s thermostat is a valve between the engine and the radiator. When you first start a cold engine, the valve (thermostat) is closed, allowing the coolant surrounding the engine to warm up to the proper operating temperature. As the coolant gets hotter, the thermostat opens, allowing coolant to flow through to the radiator to be cooled. The thermostat opens and closes to keep the engine within a certain temperature range. Now thermostats are rated for a specific temperature depending on the engine – not a ... read more

Looking Down The Road In Norfolk: Wiper Blades

It’s said that 90% of our driving decisions are based on visual information.  Our wiper blades play an important role in this.  A dirty or streaked windshield can catch the glare of the sun or on-coming headlights and make it nearly impossible to see. Most of us deal with our wiper blades from a failure perspective.  We address them when they no longer function.  Instead, we should think about wipers blades as an important safety system that we should maintain, rather than repair. And don’t think that your wiper blades will last longer because you don’t use them very often.  Hey, they live outside in the harsh sun and freezing cold – ice and wind.  They just dry out and crack over time. Experts recommend that we change our wiper blades twice a year, in the spring and fall.  That way you have functional blades for those spring showers and winter storms.  And consider a windshield treatment to help repeal water and make i ... read more

Carmasters Automotive Technician Training

Your car’s so important to your life: when it breaks down, you need it back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time.  If you’ve ever check into some of the training technicians receive, you may be surprised at how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. Our engines are more and more powerful, fuel efficient and reliable.  This is all due to engineering.  But the advances come at the price of simplicity.  Modern cars are so much more complex from a mechanical and electronics standpoint that it makes your head spin.  Vehicles have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well.  We take all this sophistication for granted – but somebody must fix it when it breaks. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technician and the service center as well.  In addition to the training, t ... read more

5 Signs of Bad Ball Joints

5 Signs of Bad Ball Joints

Ball joints are an indispensable part of the vehicle suspension system. They are responsible for keeping your driving experience smooth and comfortable. Read on to learn the basics of ball joints and what signs they may display when they go bad. Similar to a ball-in-socket joint that connects your leg to your hip bone, a car’s ball joint is similar. It is the connecting point between the wheels and tires and the suspension system that is housed inside a metal casing that is filled with lubricant. They help turn your wheels whenever you twist and turn your steering wheel. Signs of Worn Ball Joints Ball joints typically last a very long time, up to the life of the vehicle in fact. However, damage and wear and tear can cause them to stop working prematurely. If you regularly operate your automobile on rough terrains, your car is at a higher risk of ball joint damage. Below are some of the major signs that indicate something is wrong with your car’s ball joints:  Clun ... read more

Simple Answers from Carmasters Automotive in Norfolk : Severe Service

Simple Answers from Carmasters Automotive in Norfolk : Severe Service

Question: What is a severe service maintenance schedule?Carmasters Automotive Answer: When I was a kid in Norfolk, Sunday meant having a bath, getting dressed for church and then hanging up my Sunday clothes soon as we got home. Mom didn't have to wash those clothes but once a month or so.  Now, Saturdays were another story entirely: catching lizards, splash contests in mud puddles and crawling through the brush with GI Joe. Those clothes went straight into the laundry basket. My Sunday clothes – easy use. My Saturday clothes – hard use. They required a different laundry schedule. Severe service maintenance schedules are kind of like that for Norfolk drivers. “Normal” driving has a regular schedule; “hard” driving has a severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe schedule. Most ow ... read more

5 Gas Saving Tips for Norfolk Drivers

5 Gas Saving Tips for Norfolk Drivers

If you own a gas-powered vehicle, you must know that gas has been costly this year. It has been a bigger priority now than ever to try to keep your vehicle as efficient as possible. If not for the sake of your wallet, then at least consider the positive impacts on the environment. We thought we’d share some of our favorite fuel-saving tips: Remember to Tighten Gas Caps – You might not think that this has any effect on your vehicle’s efficiency, but the gas lid is oh-so-important. If this cap is loose, damaged, or missing, it can cause a leak. Additionally, your check engine light may come on to alert you of the issue. Inflate Your Tires to Proper PSI – You might notice your tires’ psi dropping as the cooler weather causes the air in your tires to contract. It would help if you corrected your tire pressure because driving with underinflated tires puts your vehicle at risk of danger, leads to premature tire wear, and caus ... read more

Forced Induction

Most Norfolk residents associate turbochargers and superchargers with hot rods and racing. However, the number of everyday cars and trucks coming to Norfolk from the factory with chargers is growing every year. Here's why. You need three elements for combustion: fuel, oxygen and ignition (spark plug in gasoline engines and compression in diesels). Superchargers and turbochargers deal with the oxygen part of the formula. In the normally aspirated engines Norfolk residents are familiar with, air is just drawn in from the outside by vacuum pressure created as the engine runs. Turbochargers and superchargers compress the air that goes into the engine's combustion chamber, forcing in more oxygen. This forced charge of air allows an engine to make more power than a similarly-sized, normally aspirated engine. So today we have small 4-cylinder turbocharged engines on Norfolk streets making more power than a full-sized V8 did 20 years ago – and getting far better fuel econo ... read more

No Two Are Alike (Variations in Vehicle Repair Costs)

You've just taken your vehicle in to figure out why the air conditioning isn't working.  You remember a friend of yours just had to get a new evaporator, and your service advisor has told you it's the same part that needs to be replaced in your vehicle.  But when you hear the estimated price for yours, it's different than your friend's.  How can that be? The reason is that no two repairs—and no two vehicles—are alike.  Let's take the evaporator for example.  In one vehicle, the part may be fairly easy for the technician to access.  In the other, it requires that the entire dashboard to be removed.  Because of the way a particular unit is designed, the shop may also require special tools.  The parts for your vehicle may cost more or less than for your friend's.  Parts for newer vehicles and foreign nameplates can cost considerably more than parts for older or domestic vehicles.  So now you can se ... read more

Why Do They Call it a Dashboard? (Instrumental Panel Warning Lights)

Ever wonder where they came up with the term "dashboard" for that part of your vehicle that sits behind the steering wheel? That name began back before cars were even invented.  People used to travel by horse and buggy, and streets weren't as well built as they are today.  On a muddy road (which was sometimes just a couple of ruts alongside a field), it wasn't unusual for those inside the buggy to have mud and stones "dashed" (knocked, thrown, or hurled) in their direction.  So those who built carriages began installing a board to protect them.  That became known as the dashboard. The word carriage got shortened to car, and the dashboard is sometimes shortened to dash.  Today, the dashboard sits behind and below the windshield that houses various controls and instruments. In addition to the speedometer, tachometer, and gas gauge, there are warning lights you need to pay attention to on your dashboard and instrument panel. (You may ... read more

Simple Answers from Carmasters Automotive for Norfolk: Cooling System

Question My engine never overheats.  Why should I get a cooling system service? Answer That’s a good question to ask, because if you don’t have the full answer you may end up in trouble.  It seems that, if your engine is running at the proper temperature then everything must be OK.  But the fact is that engine overheating is the most common cause of mechanical failure.  So how do you get from everything is just fine to suddenly overheating and potential engine damage? Truth is, it is not a sudden process, but it is an invisible one.  Your engine coolant circulates through your engine where it absorbs heat and then flows through the radiator where it is cooled – and then back to the engine again.  If the coolant can flow freely – and there are no leaks – then the coolant can do its job.  This is the point where you must look deeper. The cooling system is a harsh environment: very hot, with several reactive materials l ... read more

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