A Few "Key" Facts (Ignition Key Issues)

You expect your key to turn in your vehicle's ignition.  But sometimes it won't, and that's a problem, whether you're trying to start your vehicle or trying to leave it.    Several things can cause this.  One of the most common is that the steering column locking mechanism is stuck.  Locking steering columns are an anti-theft feature introduced in the 1970s.  If yours is sticking, try moving the steering wheel a little from side to side as you turn the key; sometimes it will release.    A key may also stick if the vehicle is in gear.  Most vehicles will only let you start in neutral or park.  If you have an automatic transmission vehicle, make sure it's in park. Move the shift lever through the gears and back into park to make sure. If the key still doesn't turn, you can try jiggling the shift lever as you turn the key.  Electrical and mechanical contacts sometimes don't line up properly, and a little ... read more

5 of the Best Car Scenes of All-Time in Movies/TV

5 of the Best Car Scenes of All-Time in Movies/TV

1. The Fast and The Furious (2001) This scene from one of the most popular movies had your heart racing and blood pumping while you felt like you were right there in the car. Dominic and Brian are drag racing towards a speeding train in ultimate fast and furious style. When missing the speeding train, Dom's car crashes into an oncoming truck, spinning him into the air and coming down with a crash. With the police on their way to the impact, Brian saves the day and helps Dom make a quick escape. 2. Italian Job (1969) Another impressive scene is the classic car chase from Italian Job. That six-minute-long chase scene is one of the greatest cinema moments viewed by many. The three Minis (Red, White, and Blue) race up some stairs and even buildings as they keep one step ahead of the police. 3. Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets (2002) This modern film has many magical moments. But that scene when Harry and Ron miss the Hogwarts Express was truly memorable. Especially when they jump i ... read more

Simple Answers from Carmasters Automotive in Norfolk: Transmission Service

Question My friend just had a very expensive transmission repair.  How can I avoid transmission trouble?   Answer Next to your engine, your transmission is the most expensive component in your vehicle – so you want to do all you can to avoid transmission repairs.   You may have noticed a trend of engines becoming more and more powerful in recent years.  At the same time, fuel economy has been improving in nearly every motor vehicle segment.  More power and better fuel economy have always been at odds.  Some of the improvement in fuel economy has been due to engine design, but most of the increases in fuel economy can be credited to advances in transmission technology. Every engine has a sweet spot in which it most efficiently makes power.  This is often referred to as the power band – the optimal engine speed (measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM).  The computers that control what gear your automatic transmission is in try ... read more

"What is Synthetic Oil, and Should I Use It?"

Question What is synthetic oil, and should I use it? Answer Regular oil, also called conventional oil, comes from dead dinosaurs.  Conventional oil molecules are long hydrocarbon chains of various lengths.  Imagine a bunch of pencils – some used and some brand new. Synthetic oil is often more highly refined petroleum-based oil.  The molecules are shorter and closer to the same length.  Think a bunch of those little golf pencils. Some synthetic oil is man-made.  The molecules are rounder and much more uniform.  Think marbles. So, you can see that as you progress from conventional oil to synthetic blends (a mixture of conventional and synthetic) to full synthetic oil, there will be less friction in your engine.  Less friction means less heat – so better lubrication and protection against wear.  Synthetic blends and full synthetics also cost more. Synthetic oil is more resistant to thermal breakdown so less sludge (which can clog ... read more

Viva la Differential At Carmasters Automotive

With front-wheel drive being so common in Norfolk these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Norfolk folks don't even have to think about it. And most rear-wheel drive vehicle differentials don't need to be serviced for a long time, so it's understandable that it's not something on most drivers' minds. So it's not uncommon for people in VA to not know they have a differential, let alone know that it needs service. To better understand what a differential does, think about a high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lin ... read more


Let's talk about your suspension – you know, the system that connects your wheels to your vehicle, controls your handling and delivers a good ride as you cruise around Norfolk, VA. Your suspension is critical for proper steering, stopping and stability. Hey, it's a rough world out there in VA – every time you hit a pothole, a bump or an object in the road, your suspension system has to absorb the impact and maintain control. As you can imagine, your suspension has a lot of joints and pivot points that allow your wheels to move up and down over bumps and to turn as you steer. These parts include ball joints, tie rod ends, the pitman, idler arms and the control arm bushing. They simply wear out over time. When a joint or other part is worn the suspension parts don't fit together as tightly as they should. Handling and steering has a loose feel and you may hear strange noises. Your tires will wear unevenly because they're bouncing down the Norfolk, VA, road ... read more

Clean Air For Your Engine Air Filters In Norfolk

We’ve all been in for an oil change and told that our engine air filter’s dirty.  Here’s what goes into the determination of when to change the filter:  First, your owner’s manual will have a recommendation of when to change the filter.  Second, a visual inspection may determine that your filter it is visibly dirty and needs to be changed.  So, between your owner’s manual and your technician’s inspection there’s really no guesswork involved. Now, most air filters don’t cost a lot to replace.  It’s just that we hate getting caught with an unexpected expense.  On the plus side, changing a dirty air filter can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change.  Think about a dirty furnace filter.  When it’s all clogged up, enough clean air can’t get through.  In your car, that means that your engine can’t get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel ... read more

MAF Sensor and Engine Air Filter

Today's Carmasters Automotive post focuses on the importance of protecting your mass air flow sensor or MAF. Air and fuel are mixed together to be burned in your engine. The amount is controlled by how hard you press on the accelerator or by external factors like climbing hills or hauling loads. Based on how much air you need – and how much is available – your engine management computer tells your fuel injection system how much fuel to send to your engine. But what if the computer is getting the wrong information about how much air is coming into your engine? Well, it would send the wrong amount of fuel and your engine performance would suffer. The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor measures the volume, temperature and density of the air flowing into your engine. With that information, the computer calculates how much oxygen is available to burn and adjusts the amount of fuel it sends. A dirty or damaged MAF sensor can give the wrong readings, hurt your fuel economy, damage th ... read more

Spring Car Maintenance Checklist

Spring Car Maintenance Checklist

Springtime is here in Norfolk, VA, and it is time for drivers to start transitioning from the cold Virginia weather to warmer weather. You may even want to think about setting aside some of your tax refund on some repairs and services that you've been putting off.  This past winter probably put a lot of strain on your vehicle's tires, brakes, battery, engine, and more. As a result, we've put together this Spring maintenance checklist to treat your car: Oil Change No matter what, the transition between seasons calls for an oil change. This will help your engine stay lubricated, cleaned, and properly maintained at stable temperatures. Tire Rotation & Pressure Check Another maintenance item that pairs well with your oil change is a tire rotation. It can be a major advantage to even out your tire wear after your rugged winter driving. Additionally, we can also help you check the pressure in your tires. Belts & Hoses Inspection Have a certified mechanic check ... read more

Shocks and Struts

Let's talk shocks and struts. Shock absorbers and struts last a long time for Norfolk drivers and wear out pretty slowly for most vehicles. They're easy to take for granted, but your shocks and struts do a very important job so you need to pay attention to them. They keep your tires on the road; and your tires are what connect your vehicle to the road and allow you to safely handle your car through turns, over bumps and even stop in time. When your shocks and struts are worn, your tires bounce excessively over bumps. Your vehicle will wallow through corners, your front-end will dive when you stop and your rear-end will squat when you accelerate. All this hurts your ability to control your vehicle. And your ride just isn't as comfortable. Worn shocks or struts cause excessive tire wear so Norfolk drivers will have to replace their tires sooner than they should. Worn shocks and struts also stress other suspension and steering parts, causing them to wear prematurely. Strut ... read more

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