The Smell of Danger (What Causes Gasoline Odors)

A driver recently noticed that her garage had begun to smell like gasoline after she parked her vehicle inside. Her Check Engine light had also just come on. This was something she'd never experienced before. So, she called up her NAPA Service Advisor and asked what was causing it. The answer, of course, is that many things can cause a sitting vehicle to smell like gasoline fumes. But it can sometimes be tricky to track down the source, so here are a few things you can look for that may help your NAPA AutoCare Center technician pinpoint the origin of the odor. Gasoline odors can be caused by a leak somewhere in the fuel system, meaning gasoline can be dripping out. Some possibilities? It could be a break in a fuel line. You could have a leaky fuel-injection line or injector. There's a vent for your fuel tank that may also leak. The fuel filler neck can wear out and fail. One thing you should look for is to see if there are any puddles of gasoline on the floor of your garage ... read more

Growling that Grates

A driver who uses his or her ears has a leg up on those who don't.  In addition to noises helping you be aware of traffic, they can give you clues to potential problems in your vehicle.  One noise to pay attention to is growling. Growling is a universally recognizable noise; you know it when you hear it.  In a vehicle, it's usually the sound of metal contacting metal, and not in a good way.  So, what is your vehicle telling you if you hear growling when you are turning your steering wheel? There are a few possibilities.  One is the mechanical linkage that helps your steering wheel turn your wheels and tires.  That system frequently has a hydraulic system that makes turning the steering wheel easier for you.  That can be a source of growling sounds as well.  A NAPA AutoCare technician can check your power steering fluid to see if it's at the correct level and still in good shape.  There are a few things that can go wrong with y ... read more

Deciphering The Menu Board At Norfolk Service Centers : Part 2

You may not be familiar with all the items on your service center’s menu board so here is a quick description of some of the typical services that might be listed.  Remember, the board is there for reference; speak to your Service Adviser about other possible needs or services. Fuel system cleaning:  Over time, the fuel system gets gum and varnish built up.  A fuel system cleaning gets rid of that and cleans out the fuel injectors.  Saves gas, by the way. Headlamp replacement: Halogen and standard headlamps gradually fade.  When one burns out, replace both so they’ll have the same brightness.  Also, if your headlamp lenses are yellowed or cloudy, you can have them professionally restored to like new condition. Inspections: People get inspections for many reasons.  Maybe they’re going on a trip or just want to make sure their vehicle’s ready for summer or winter.  Maybe they just bought a used car and want to g ... read more


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

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