Articles:

What's Shakin' with my Brakin'? (Brake Rotor Service)

If you feel your vehicle vibrating when you’re braking, or if you don't stop in as short a distance as you used to, it may be time to have your brakes checked. All newer vehicles have disc brakes in the front, and more manufacturers are using disc brakes all around (instead of an older technology called drum brakes), so there's a pretty good chance at some point you'll find yourself facing a disc brake repair when yours begin to wear out. Before we go any farther, here's how disc brakes work.  If you've ever had a bicycle with hand brakes, you know there is a caliper that pushes pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you squeeze the brake handle.  Disc brakes are similar, but there's a metal disc (called a brake rotor) there instead of the bike wheel's rim. In disc brakes, the vibration you feel when you are stopping is often because the surface of the rotor is not flat, or the rotors have an uneven thickness. Sometimes, the rotors ca ... read more

How Long Will My Brakes Last? (Brake Maintenance)

If you feel a slight shudder or vibration coming through your brake pedal when you stop, it could be a sign you need some brake work done. That gets you thinking, how long should my brakes last anyway? It depends on a lot of factors.  But for discussion's sake, let's talk about the components that wear out most often, the pads and rotors. One factor is how you drive.  If you drive on highways a lot, you won't use your brakes as much as, say, someone who lives in the city and is in the middle of a lot of stop-and-go traffic. Do you drive a lot in the mountains? Do you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads? Those driving habits will all wear down your pads and rotors more quickly than someone who doesn't put that extra friction on their brake components. Do you love jackrabbit starts and squealing stops?  That will wear out your brakes more quickly than smoother driving habits.  Do you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle? In that case, you may have reg ... read more

Choosing the Right Washer Fluid

During the colder weather months, drivers find themselves using more windshield washer fluid. Street surfaces are generally sloppier and can kick up snow, salt, mud and grime that require washer fluid to help out your windshield wipers. You might be tempted just to pick up the cheapest blue fluid you can find, but sometimes that's not the wisest choice. You probably already know that pure water isn’t a great idea.  It can freeze in cold weather and potentially damage the lines in your vehicle that carry the fluid. Plus, spraying water on your windshield in freezing temperatures can result in a layer of blinding ice that will obstruct your view. Different windshield washer fluids are made for different climates.  Many will contain alcohol to prevent them from freezing.  The label will usually tell you the lowest temperature at which they'll work properly.  Some will also have a detergent in them to clean off the contaminants that dirty up your windsh ... read more

5 Signs of a Dying Car Battery

5 Signs of a Dying Car Battery

When your car battery starts acting up, it can be a sign of battery problems. Here are 5 signs your battery is dying: A Slow-Starting Engine If you've noticed that your car takes longer than usual to start up, it might be time for a new battery. The battery is the power source for the starter motor, so if it is not working, the engine will not start. Dim Lights or Headlights Are Slow To Turn On If your car dome light doesn't brighten at all, or if it looks dim when you turn the key, it could be a sign of a dying battery. Likewise, if your headlights are slow to pop on after starting the engine, this can be another indicator of trouble. Battery Is More Than Three Years Old batteries are the most common cause of car problems, so measure how old yours are. If you have a standard wet cell car battery, like you would find in most cars, trucks, and SUVs from the last few decades, there will be a sticker on top with a code printed. You can find out exactly how old your battery i ... read more

The Heat is On (Hot Weather Vehicle Concerns)

When the weather gets hot, some of the components of your vehicle are pushed to the limit.  Here are a few things to watch out for as the mercury climbs higher: Your vehicle's air conditioning (A/C) system.  You might notice it's blowing only hot air, even though when you last had it on in the fall, it was working fine.  All sorts of things can fail in an air conditioning system, from the blower motor to the condenser, a worn compressor, or simply a refrigerant leak.  A/C diagnosis and repair requires a trained technician.   Tires.  Heat is hard on tires.  Rubber breaks down in sunlight and hot weather.  Tire pressure climbs as the temperature climbs. A trained technician will check your pressure, tread depth, cupping and other uneven wear, and track down the cause. It may be time for some new ones.   Cooling system.  It only makes sense that summer breakdowns are often caused by the vehicle overheating.  Have us check ... read more

Fuel Filter

The function of a fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory.  It filters your fuel.  The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere in between the fuel tank and the engine.  Both gas and diesel vehicles use fuel filters. There’s not a lot of dirt in the fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out.  The problem gets worse the older your vehicle becomes.  That’s because dirt, rust and contaminates will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank.  After a car is five years or older, it can have a fair amount of sediment built up.  That just means that the fuel filter must work harder as your car ages.  It’ll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often. A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration.  That’s because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough can’t ... read more

Steamed Up (Vapor Coming Out of Vents)

Sometimes you may notice a little steam or vapor coming out of your vehicle's vents when running the air conditioning or heater.  Is this something about which you need to worry?   The answer is it may or may not be troublesome. Sometimes it can be caused by water accumulating in the vent system after it condenses.  That water can wind up at the bottom of a vent, and when you turn on the blower motor, it can cause what looks like steam or vapor to come out of the vents.    It may go away on its own when the system dries out after you've run the fan for a while.  Of course, moisture sitting around for more than a short time in a hot vehicle is the perfect breeding ground for mold to develop, and you don’t want your vehicle to smell like musty mold.   Sometimes the moisture can build up because a drain is clogged.  A technician can clean that out and get things draining again.   If the vapor coming out of the vents has a swee ... read more

Wheel Alignment Service At Carmasters Automotive In Norfolk

When all of a vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard in Norfolk or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday VA driving can cause your vehicle wheels to be out of alignment. This can lead to expensive premature tire and suspension wear. Here are some alignment basics from Carmasters Automotive: The first angle is called toe: Do the wheels point in towards each other or away from each other at the front of the tire? The next angle is called camber: Do the wheels tip in or out at the top? And finally, there is castor. Castor measures the angle where the front axles attach to the vehicle. The ideal alignment for your vehicle was designed by its engineers. Carmasters Automotive alignment service starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension to see if anything ... read more

Air Conditioning Service at Carmasters Automotive

Most people don’t service their air conditioning until after it fails.  Maintaining your air conditioning system means that you always have enough refrigerant to properly do the job.  Small leaks in the air conditioning system allow the refrigerant to escape and the system can’t cool the air as well. Along with the refrigerant, a special oil circulates in the system.  The oil lubricates air conditioning components and keeps the seals resilient.  Low refrigerant and lubricating oil mean that the air conditioning parts will wear out prematurely, and we all know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. Air conditioning service starts with a visual inspection of the components for signs of damage or leaks.  The compressor is driven by a belt from the engine, most often the serpentine belt, so it’s inspected for cracks or wear. The air conditioning compressor and other components are checked for proper operation.  Then comes the leak te ... read more

Radiator Fans at Carmasters Automotive

Norfolk residents who are old enough have probably heard the term “fan belt”. Back in the day the radiator fan in your vehicle was turned by a belt driven by the engine. There are still belt driven fans, although most are now driven by the serpentine belt. But most Norfolk vehicles now have electric fans that draw fresh air across the radiator to cool it. As coolant/antifreeze circulates in the cooling system it captures heat from the engine and flows into the radiator. Air cools the radiator and the coolant in it before it sends it back into the engine to pick up some more heat. Now your engine has an ideal temperature range in which it is most efficient: it shouldn't be too hot or too cool. The electric radiator fans help maintain the ideal temperature. A switch mounted in a cooling system passage checks the temperature of the coolant. If the coolant is at the low end of the range, the switch turns off the fan motor. When the coolant rises to a certain temperat ... read more

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