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Common Brake Noises & How to Fix Them

When you press on the brakes, you trust that your car will stop. While regular brake maintenance and inspections go a long way toward keeping you and your passengers safe, braking systems can still experience problems between your visits to the auto service center. Keep your ears alert for these brake noises that indicate a need to fix the issue right away.

Listen For Thumping Sounds

People tend to forget that their car has brake drums on the back that can also wear out. When they are in good condition, you should not hear any noises coming from the rear brakes. However, drum brakes that are going out tend to make a thumping sound that comes from the back of your vehicle. When this happens, the drum may need to be replaced. Thumping sounds that come from the front of your vehicle could also indicate issues with the rotors there as well such as the accumulation of rust that prevents the brakes from working properly.

Check Out Scraping Sounds

At times, vehicles pick up rocks that can become lodged between the rotor and the backing plate. This is especially common if you drive on dirt roads or use an off-road vehicle on harsh terrain. Rocks stuck against the rotor create a scraping sound that is similar to a hard object being dragged against metal. Fortunately, this is usually a quick fix since certified auto repair mechanics can simply remove the rock and check to make sure that there is not any other damage.

Respond to Squeals

There are two main reasons why brakes squeal. If your brakes start squealing immediately after having them serviced, then new or inferior pads could cause this. Typically, new pads will stop squealing shortly after a few drives if they are made from quality materials. The other reason why brakes squeal is usually caused by the brake pads reaching the end of their life. Brake pads have wear indicators that cause them to squeal once they are worn down enough. When older brakes start to squeal, take the car in for ABS brake repair to replace the pads and protect the other parts of the braking system.

Address Grinding Noises

Grinding brakes are never good to hear. Usually, this means that the brake pads have worn down so far that the metal is now coming in contact with the rotors. When metal grinds on metal, the components quickly break down, and you could find yourself in an emergency situation where your car’s brakes stop working completely. At the first sound of grinding, immediately stop driving your vehicle, and arrange for a tow to the repair shop. Not only does this protect you from a serious accident, but you might be able to preserve the rotors if you address the issue fast enough.

A quality brake system should last for many miles before you have a problem. Yet, you must always be alert for signs of wear that indicate a developing brake issue that must be addressed. Now that you know these four warning sounds, be sure to listen carefully as you drive so that you can take action if a problem with the brakes arises.

How Often Should You Get an Oil Change and Tune Up?

An oil change and tune up is a critical part of your car maintenance plan. Yet, opinions can sometimes vary regarding how often these need to be done. While older cars often required frequent oil changes, newer models can sometimes go quite a few miles between tune ups. You can use this guide to help you determine the appropriate oil change schedule for your vehicle.

Watch the Mileage

For years, mechanics recommended oil changes for cars to occur about every 3,000 miles. Now, modern engines and lubricants allow you to drive for longer between oil changes. Since the recommendations for scheduling oil changes can vary significantly from one type of car to another, it is best to check your owner’s manual to find out when you need to schedule a visit to the auto service center.

Consider Your Driving Habits

As a general rule, your car may need more frequent tune ups if you drive in extreme conditions. For instance, towing large boats or trailers behind your vehicle generates higher levels of heat in the engine that cause the oil to get old faster. Off-road vehicles, those that operate in extremely cold or hot climates, and commercial trucks are all vehicles that may need to be tuned up on a more regular basis. Always let your mechanic know about your driving habits so that they can adjust your vehicle maintenance schedule accordingly.

Check the Fluid Level

For the most part, the oil should remain at about the same level between changes. However, you may find that it begins to go down if other parts of your engine begin to wear out. Periodically check the oil level to make sure that there is not a leak in the system that requires repair. You can also assess the color of the oil during this check. If it is dark or looks like sludge, then your car is due for an oil change right away.

Pay Attention to the Dash

Modern cars have computerized systems that include dashboard warning lights that let you know when something is wrong. Today, most cars have two lights that pertain to the oil. The first one simply lets you know when our car has hit the right amount of miles for an oil change. The other signifies a drop in oil pressure, which could be a sign of a serious problem. Since driving your car with little to no oil has serious consequences for the engine, you should avoid driving the vehicle until it is repaired if the low pressure warning light comes on.

Note How Your Vehicle Drives

A car that has bad oil may begin to sputter or make noises as you drive. You may also notice a need for a tune up if the car misfires or the engine fails to turnover during the initial start up. Since a tune up can include services such as changing the spark plugs and sensors, your car may give off warning signs as the time gets close to schedule these repairs.

Keeping up with your car’s maintenance needs prevents more serious issues from developing, and your car relies on oil to keep the engine cool and all of the metal parts moving smoothly. Work with your mechanic to create the ideal schedule for maintenance for your vehicle, and set up a system such as an alarm on your calendar so that you know when to schedule the next tune up.

What Should You Do if Your Car Breaks Down on the Highway

A roadside breakdown on a highway is an emergency situation that every driver fears. While you should always do your best to avoid a breakdown by keeping up with routine maintenance, the truth is that all it takes is one broken hose or flat tire to leave you stuck on the side of the road. If a breakdown happens, then don’t panic. You can follow these steps to stay safe while you wait for the towing and recovery service.

Find a Safe Place to Park

In most cases, you should have enough time to get your car to the side of the road. At the first sign of trouble, turn on the hazard flashers and maneuver your car to a safe place to park. If possible, try to stay with the flow of traffic until you have made it to the shoulder. Ideally, the parking space should be located in an area that is easily accessible to the recovery truck.

Stay in Your Vehicle

Once you park your car, avoid the temptation to get out of the vehicle. Unfortunately, other drivers may not realize that you are pulled over on the side of the road or slick conditions could cause them to run into you. You are safest in your car with the seatbelt fastened and the doors locked, so try to remain in this position until the tow crew arrives. If you must get out of your vehicle such as to put out an engine fire, then exit through the door that is the furthest away from the road.

Alert Others to Your Distress

Your next step is to increase the visibility of your car to other drivers on the road. Keep the hazard flashers on, and turn on the interior dome light to make it easier to see your car. You can also use items from your roadside emergency kit to increase visibility. For instance, flares or reflectors can be placed on the street around your vehicle so that other drivers notice your presence.

Avoid Accepting Help From Strangers

The world is full of kind people, and you may discover that other drivers stop to offer their assistance. While this is always a sweet gesture, you must keep in mind that your safety is a priority. If you must speak to someone who stops, then roll your window down just enough to communicate. Then, let them know that you have already called for help to be on the way. This also ensures that only a reputable auto repair company works on your car so that a well-meaning person does not create bigger problems with a faulty repair.

Call for Professional Assistance

The highway is not a safe place to perform major car repairs. For this reason, it is always best to arrange for a towing and recovery service to transport your car to the repair shop. There, proper repairs can be made so that you can avoid having another roadside catastrophe happen.

The realization that your car is breaking down is enough to send anyone into a panic. Fortunately, you now know exactly how to handle every driver’s worst nightmare. By staying calm, keeping safe and calling for help, you can quickly get your car back into good operating condition.

Brake Maintenance Tips for Semis

When you drive a semi, you know the importance of trusting the braking system to stop on command. Yet, long hours on the road, combined with frequent stops can put significant stress on the brakes. Since your truck’s braking system is your first line of defense against a potentially deadly accident, this is one maintenance area that you never want to overlook. Make sure to follow these brake maintenance tips for semis to ensure that you never wind up with a runaway truck.

 

Follow the Recommended Schedule

Unfortunately, there is no universal rule for when you should have the brakes inspected, and the recommended schedule for brake maintenance can vary even among the same truck makes and models. This is because multiple factors such as the frequency of stops, amount of inclines you encounter, and the distance you drive on a regular basis can all increase the amount of strain placed on the braking system. When you take your rig in for ABS brake repair, talk to the technician about your driving habits to develop a personalized schedule that keeps your semi’s brakes in top condition. Although most trucks should have their brakes inspected with each oil change, yours may need care sooner.

 

Watch Out for Corrosion

Brakes are especially susceptible to corrosion, and road crews often use chemical preparations to remove ice and snow during the winter. While this does help to keep the roads safer, the chemicals used in deicer can work their way into the braking system. Over time, this can wreak havoc on the rotors and some of the newer preparations can get into the brake shoe table and the lining. Ideally, you should rinse the bottom of your rig with water to remove the majority of the deicer. Then, make sure to have your auto repair company check for corrosion during your brake services.

 

Perform Pre-Trip Inspections

To get your CDL, you were required to demonstrate your ability to perform a thorough pre-trip inspection. However, long-term drivers have a tendency to forget essential checks before they get behind the wheel. Make sure that your pre-trip check includes inspecting the brake hoses for cracks, and the liners to make sure that it is the appropriate thickness. During your inspection, you should also make sure that the slack adjustors are properly lubricated, and that the application pressure falls within acceptable levels. While the pre-trip inspection process is tedious, it can reveal a wealth of information about the truck’s safety on the road. At the first sign of a problem, make sure to arrange for prompt certified auto repair services to prevent accidents.

 

As a truck driver, you have a responsibility to make sure that your rig is always up to the highest level of safety standards. Set up regular brake maintenance visits and keep an eye on the system in between repairs so that your truck is always road-ready.

How to Stay Safe on the Road During Inclement Weather

Inclement weather in New Jersey can range from a rapidly moving squall to major snowstorms. While you might not be able to do much about the weather, you do have control over how you drive and take care of your vehicle. Use these tips to stay safe on the road no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

Maintain the Brakes

Quality brakes make a difference for being able to stop properly in slick conditions. Unfortunately, winter weather can contribute to brake problems by causing corrosion. Watch for signs that your brakes are having issues such as making squealing or grinding sounds, or vibrations when you try to stop. If you suspect an issue is developing, then search for a brake service near me so that they are repaired or replaced before the next storm.

Keep the Tires in Good Condition

In addition to the brakes, your tires play a role in helping you maintain control of the vehicle on slick roads. Choose tires that are designed for the driving conditions. In some cases, it may be necessary to switch to all-season or snow tires if you live in an area that gets hit with freezing precipitation. Then, have the tires inspected, aligned, and rotated at your nearby auto service center.

Choose the Safest Route

Today, drivers benefit from GPS technology that allows you to check for alternate routes during times of inclement weather. Always check the weather and traffic reports before you head out for a drive. Then, assess your current route, and check for alternatives if your intended path contains hazardous conditions. Not only does this save you time, but you may also avoid potential accidents.

Take It Slow

After years of driving in bad weather, it is easy to get overly confident about your skills. However, even racecar drivers know to slow down when the road conditions become dangerous. Always follow the recommended speed limit in good weather, and be prepared to slow down by as much as half in icy conditions. In some cases, you may need to reduce the speed even more if you find that visibility is hindered by falling precipitation.

Leave Space Between Vehicles

On a slick road, your car will require more time to stop, even when the brakes are in good condition. Therefore, you will want to leave more room than usual between you and the car in front of you. This also protects you from having an accident if the driver in front stops suddenly. Remember that you should never slam on the brakes in ice or snow. Instead, gently apply pressure, and try to brake long before you actually need to stop.

Carry an Emergency Kit

At times, you may still find it necessary to call for a tow if you get stuck in snow or someone else hits your car. When this happens, it helps to have supplies on hand to keep you safe during an emergency. Keep an emergency kit in your car with things such as a raincoat to keep you dry in bad weather. Then, check to make sure your kit has safety supplies such as flares to increase your visibility.

When you can’t stay home, knowing how to stay safe on the road in inclement weather is critical. By caring for your car and adjusting your driving habits, you can look forward to arriving at your destination safely.

The Ultimate Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

Proper maintenance of your vehicle not only helps to get the most mileage out of it, but it is also one of the most effective ways to avoid a dreaded breakdown on the side of the road. While the maintenance requirements for your specific vehicle may vary, you should be aware of the most common tasks that are required for the majority of cars and trucks on the roads. Read through this list and make sure to take your car in for a tune-up if you notice that it is in need of professional maintenance.

Check the Oil and Coolant Levels

The fluids in your car play an essential role in temperature regulation and help to lubricate moving parts. Begin by checking the oil and coolant levels regularly to make sure that the proper amount of fluids is in the engine to keep everything running smoothly. While you can expect some fluid loss over time, you should be concerned if you notice a drastically low level, since this could indicate a leak in your system. Make sure to mention this when you take your car in for its regular oil change and tune up.

Get the Brakes Inspected

The brakes on your car are subjected to tremendous pressure every time you tap the pedal. While high-quality brake pads and rotors can last for many miles, you must schedule regular brake inspections to make sure that they are in top condition. Between servicing, keep an eye out for warning signs of wear such as squeals when you brake or a pedal that has more give than it normally would.

Assess the Safety Features

At some point, almost every driver has noticed someone driving with a taillight out, and failing lights put you at risk for an accident. Face your car toward a solid wall such as the garage door, and turn on the headlights to see if you can detect them working. You can also recruit a partner to watch as you tap the brake lights and use the turn signals to make sure that they are working properly.

Give the Tires a Lookover

The tires on your car help to maintain traction on slippery surfaces, and they must be properly inflated to keep your car steering properly. Check the tire pressure every time that you stop for gas, and inspect the entire set at least once a month. Keep in mind that your spare tire should be included in this inspection so that it is always ready in case of an emergency.

Find Out About Long-Term Maintenance Needs

While oil changes and tire inflations occur often enough that you should not forget them, there are other maintenance needs that happen after a certain number of months or miles pass by. When you take your car into the auto service center, ask about what maintenance tasks are coming up so that you can plan accordingly. For example, four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles have a transfer case that requires the fluid to be filled and replaced periodically.

Although car maintenance might not be your favorite thing to do, it is critical to stay on top of the tasks that keep your vehicle running and protect your safety on the road. When you are strapped on time, just bring your vehicle in for a professional check up so that you never have to worry about an essential task going undone.

Heavy Duty Towing: How to Stay Safe on the Road

Whether you drive a big rig or a garbage collection truck, you know that there is tremendous responsibility when you get behind the wheel of a heavy duty vehicle. Naturally, proper training goes a long way toward helping you stay safe on the road, but you must also implement other strategies to keep you and the other drivers on the road safe once you become a professional truck driver. While our crew has heavy recovery equipment that can pull your truck out of any situation, we prefer for you to avoid needing a tow by using these tips to increase your safety on the road.

Do a Pre-Drive Safety Checklist

Safety checks are tedious and time-consuming, but they are also one of the most effective ways to increase safety. Always start your trips by checking to make sure that the fluids are at the appropriate levels and that there are not any torn hoses or frayed wires that could leave you stranded. Your pre-trip safety inspection should also include a check of the tires and brakes to make sure that your truck is in top condition for preventing accidents.

Stay Alert

As you know, it only takes a split second of being distracted to cause a serious accident. Establish a regular sleep schedule, and avoid driving when you are fatigued. Try to avoid relying on caffeine and sugar to keep you awake since these tend to cause your energy levels to quickly fade after the initial burst of energy. Once you are on the road, always try to look ahead for signs of potential problems so you have time to avoid them. Giving yourself enough time to stop long before you have to swerve to miss an obstacle helps you avoid roll-over accidents.

Adjust to Changing Road Conditions

Construction worksites, foul weather, and severe traffic can all occur seemingly out of nowhere, and each of these events places you at greater risk for needing heavy duty towing and recovery services. Make sure to adjust your speed as you hit these types of road hazards, and always leave generous amounts of space between your truck and the other vehicles. If necessary, pull over to the side of the road and assess the situation if proceeding onward seems dangerous.

Use Technology

Truck drivers are fortunate to have new technology available that reduces the risk of accidents. Check out new gadgets such as GPS systems for truckers that alert you of changes ahead such as impending traffic. Many of these devices even provide you with alternate routes that allow you to make good time without speeding, and you can also use these to plan your route since many devices even tell you what lane to get into for an upcoming turn.

With these tips in mind, you will hopefully avoid most roadside emergencies. However, you should always know how to handle the unexpected events such as a blown out tire by finding a safe place to stop while you wait for our heavy towing services. By making safety a priority, you can look forward to spending many years enjoying your career as a heavy duty truck driver.

The Most Common Car Maintenance Mistakes

Car maintenance is one of those things that some people enjoy more than others. While some people love tinkering beneath the hood and can be seen detailing their vehicle every weekend, others prefer to avoid even thinking about checking the oil. Unfortunately, overlooking car maintenance tasks is one of the main causes for requiring our auto repair and towing services. Make sure that you avoid these common car maintenance mistakes so that you never spend time waiting by the side of the road for a tow.

Forgetting to Check the Fluids

This is one task that you should be able to handle yourself, and it only takes a few seconds to see if the oil, coolant and brake fluid are all at the appropriate levels. Simply pop the hood, and check the reservoirs to make sure that the fluids fall within the proper lines. If you find this task difficult, then just ask the technician about it during your car’s next oil change and tune up. This way, you can avoid serious problems such as your car overheating due to a lack of coolant.

Overlooking the Tires

A quality set of tires will take you many miles, but you must keep them maintained to prevent blowouts and flats. Make it a habit to check out your tires before you get in your vehicle, and check the tire pressure every time you fill up the gas. The tires should also be rotated regularly to promote more even wear. Typically, this should be done every 5,000 miles or so, which makes it ideal to do when you arrange for your car’s oil change and tune up.

Failing to Notice Brake Problems

Drivers tend to understand that their car’s braking system is an essential safety component. However, this is one part of your car that tends to be overlooked until there is a major issue such as the brakes completely going out. Avoid getting into an accident by making regular brake inspections and maintenance a priority. During a professional inspection, the pads and rotors are checked for signs of wear, and the entire system is checked for leaks. Between these critical inspections, you should also keep an eye out for signs of brake problems that require ABS brake repair such as grinding noises or your car pulling to one side whenever you apply pressure to the pedals.

Skipping Recommended Procedures

Every vehicle type and model is different, which means that the schedule that you used for maintaining your old car might not work on your new one. Fortunately, every vehicle should come stocked with an owner’s manual that outlines how often you need to do things such as change the oil and replace the belts. Always read this manual, and follow the recommended schedule to ensure that your car is always in top condition for getting you where you want to go safely.

A little maintenance now is all it takes to prevent you from being stranded on the side of the road. By knowing how to check the basic features of your car and follow the recommended schedule for replacing components, you can look forward to driving your car for many miles with confidence that it can go the distance.

Winter Driving Tips for Drivers in New Jersey

Driving in New Jersey gets a little stressful in the winter months when it sometimes feels as though the snow will never stop falling. While it is best to stay home when the weather is hazardous, it simply isn’t always possible to avoid driving when snow continues for weeks. Fortunately, a little practice and common sense goes a long way toward helping you stay safe on the roads, and these tips will provide you with greater confidence when you must drive in the snow.

Keep Your Car Maintained

The safety features on your car become even more important in winter weather. Make sure that the windshield wipers are in good condition to keep your view clear, and inspect the brakes to see if you need to arrange for car repair. Once you know the safety features are ready to go, take it one step further by making sure that your car’s tires and the battery are ready for the colder temperatures so that you don’t get stranded.

Adjust Your Speed

One of the most effective things you can do to avoid an accident in slick conditions is to simply slow down. When snow covers the ground, you may need to reduce your speed down from the recommended limit by as much as half. Try to plan to leave early enough that you are not pressured to rush and drive faster than is safe given the current road conditions.

Use Caution When Stopping

At our auto service center, we perform a variety of services such as rotor replacement that keep your brakes in good working condition. However, you must also know how to use your brakes correctly to avoid potential skids and spin-outs. Never slam on your brakes. Instead, apply firm, steady pressure with your foot on the pedal until your car stops. It is also best to avoid stopping on a hill if the road is covered in ice.

Know How to Get Unstuck

Sticking to plowed roads is the best way to avoid dealing with a stuck vehicle. Yet, you should also know how to get your car out of a snowdrift or past an ice patch if you can’t avoid driving into one. Carry kitty litter or sand in your car to use to generate traction on slick surfaces, and always remember to avoid spinning your tires since this tends to make you get stuck worse.

Leave Extra Room

In winter weather, one of the biggest hazards on the road is other drivers. Try to give yourself plenty of room on the road so that you have time to react if the car in front of you spins out or comes to a sudden stop. If people drive too fast for your comfort, then stay in the slow lane and turn on your hazards to alert other drivers that you are not going the full speed limit.

Keep safe this winter season by adding a few safety strategies to your normal driving routine. While it does take time to learn how to drive in snow or icy conditions, you will feel like a pro in no time with a little practice and careful car maintenance.

What Everyone Should Have in Their Winter Car Kits

New Jersey is known for its frigid winter weather that can quickly turn a minor car problem into an emergency situation. For this reason, we always recommend that every driver have a winter kit stored in their car that has everything needed to handle an unexpected event on the road. As you prepare to drive through the snow this season, use this guide to make sure your kit is fully stocked with winter gear.

A Small Shovel

Few things are worse than getting stuck in the snow, but this is possible if you swerve to avoid an accident or misjudge the lack of traction on a road. Your car kit should have a small shovel; you can easily find compact ones that fit in the back of any car. If you get stuck in a drift, simply use the shovel to dig the snow away from the tires so that you have a path allowing the tires to grip the pavement.

Traction Materials

In some instances, you might need to do more than just dig your way out, and this commonly occurs when your tires hit ice. Keep some type of material in your car that you can use to create more traction. A bag of sand, kitty litter, or small pebbles are all great materials that can be used to create traction.

Jumper Cables

When you take your car in for a complete oil change and tune up, be sure to ask our technicians about the condition of your car’s battery. During the winter, fluctuating temperatures can cause the battery fluid to get low enough that it no longer works properly. Once you know your car battery is in good condition, be sure to throw some jumper cables in the kit just in case you or someone else leaves the lights on.

Tire Changing Equipment

A flat tire is unsafe to drive on in any weather, but it is especially dangerous to try to maneuver your vehicle on slick roads with a bad tire. Make sure that your kit is equipped with a jack, wrench, and a strong set of gloves to keep your hands warm as you work. If there’s space, a portable air compressor is another item to add to your kit that can get you to safety if one of your tires gets low.

Warm Clothing and a Blanket

You should also be prepared to stay safe if you must wait on the side of the road for a member of our car repair company to come help. Add a warm coat, gloves, and hat to the kit for each member of your family, and consider adding snow boots and a waterproof jacket in case you must be outside in winter weather for any length of time.

Winter weather creates serious hazards on the road, and plummeting temperatures can escalate minor car problems, such as a cracked hose, into serious issues. Make it a habit to check your winter kit periodically to replace any items that are needed, and you will always be prepared to handle any roads