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What is Suspension Repair and Why Do You Need It?

Your vehicle is one of your most important assets, and regular maintenance helps to preserve its value and ensure your safety. The suspension system on your vehicle plays a major role in how your vehicle operates and handles, and regular inspections of its components should be a normal part of your car’s routine maintenance plans. Similar to most car problems, repairing an issue while it is small is the best way to avoid a potentially dangerous breakdown. To get you started, you can use this guide to understand more about the importance of suspension repair and how to know when you really need it.

Main Components of a Suspension System

Suspension systems are complex, and they contain many parts. However, there are six main components of the suspension system that connect your car’s body to the wheels and regulate the amount of bouncing that occurs as you drive down the road. The springs on the suspension system help to absorb energy that occurs from driving over bumps and potholes in the road. There are also the struts and shock absorbers, which help to counteract the oscillations of the spring. These components tend to need replacement the most often on a vehicle, and failing to repair them leads to dangerous issues with braking and handling due to improper weight transfers between the different sides of the car. The roll bars, ball joints and spindles are the final three main components, and each of these should be inspected regularly when you visit our auto repair company.

Signs of a Suspension Problem

When the suspension system is having problems, you may notice issues as you drive. For instance, your car may bottom out when you drive over minor bumps, or it will continue bouncing long after what you would expect when driving over a pothole. You may also notice the front end of your vehicle dipping downward when you brake, which indicates a potentially dangerous situation.

You may also be able to visibly sight a suspension problem. For instance, a car with a bad suspension component in only one area may be lower on that part of the vehicle. A quick way to test your shocks is to push down on each corner of your vehicle and see if it continues to bounce after you release your hand. If it does, then you may need to seek certified auto repair services to replace the shocks.

Tips to Preserve Your Vehicle’s Suspension System

You can do your part to preserve your vehicle’s suspension system by using caution as you drive over bumps and potholes. Maintaining the tires also helps to reduce the wear and tear on the suspension system since properly inflated tires help to balance your vehicle. Finally, be aware of your car’s recommendations for maintenance. While the springs should be checked after an accident, they typically last the life of a vehicle unless you drive on rough terrain. However, most shocks and struts need to be changed between 50,000 to 75,000 miles, if not sooner.

When you love a smooth ride, keeping the suspension system in proper condition is critical for eliminating unsafe movements of your vehicle during your drives. Always be alert for signs that a component may be going out so that we can give it a check and make the necessary recommendations for repairs that preserve your safety.

5 Questions You Should Ask Any Commercial Towing Service

Your commercial fleet is a valuable part of your business, and you need to know that you have a reliable towing crew available to help you out during times of need. While your business should already have strict standards in place regarding vehicle maintenance, all it takes is for a traffic accident or a faulty vehicle part to cause a member of your team to be stranded. When you first reach out to a commercial tower, you should ask these questions to make sure that they have the expertise and equipment necessary to handle any emergency.

How Do You Hire and Train Your Crew?

When your drivers call for a tow, you want to know that they are met by a professional that knows how to take care of a commercial vehicle. Although tow truck drivers are required by law to obtain a commercial driver’s license, the training practices can vary among different companies. We only hire highly qualified technicians who then undergo continuous training to maintain certification.

Do You Have the Equipment to Tow Oversized and Heavy Vehicles?

Your commercial fleet may contain large or heavy weight vehicles that require special equipment to tow properly. Make sure to find out if the company has heavy duty recovery trucks on their fleet such as a 40 ton rotator and 25 ton wrecker. This ensures that you can trust that the crew can get your commercial vehicles out of even the stickiest situations.

How Do You Care for Exotic and Valuable Vehicles?

Depending upon your line of business, your fleet may also include exotic vehicles. Since many exotic vehicles have low profiles, special care must be taken to protect the undercarriage of the vehicle during a tow. You should also be able to trust that your exotic vehicle will arrive at the destination without sustaining any more damage than what has already occurred. When you ask this question, you should hear that the company has flat bed tow trucks and an experienced crew that understands the value of the vehicle.

Do You Provide 24-Hour Service?

When your business runs around the clock, you never know when trouble may hit. Every driver on your team should have a way to contact the tow service any time of the day or night. This not only protects the safety of your drivers, but it also means that you can get to work on repairing your vehicle faster than if you had to let it sit overnight.

What Happens After I Arrange for a Tow?

A reputable tow company will instantly dispatch a member of their crew as soon as they get the details regarding your incident. However, you may also need to know that the services do not end after the vehicle is picked up. For instance, your company may be liable for cleaning up any hazardous materials that end up on the road during a rollover event. Find out if the tow company provides additional services such as hazmat cleanups and auto repairs to set up a full-service arrangement that keeps your business operations running smoothly.

When you manage a commercial fleet, you need to know that you have the right company ready to help tow vehicles in an emergency. Now that you know the right questions to ask, you can rest assured that roadside emergencies are addressed fast and with competence.

What A Smoking Engine Means

One of the most dreaded car problems is the discovery that smoke is coming from the engine. While seeing smoke is never a good sign, the issues that cause it can range from something as simple as a mild oil leak, to serious fuel combustion problems. If you have a smoking engine on your hands, then use this guide to determine the source of the problem and get it back to running properly again.

Consider the Location

The smoke from an engine may begin to come from under the hood, or you may see it flowing out of the tailpipe. In most cases, smoke coming from under the hood indicates a leak. For instance, oil or power steering fluid leaking onto the hot engine will cause it to smoke. Often, this will also create a noticeable burning odor that you may smell in the car’s cabin or when you stand outside of the vehicle. Smoke that comes from under the hood can also indicate that the engine is overheating, which is considered an automobile emergency.

Note the Color of the Smoke

When smoke flows out of the tailpipe, the color gives valuable clues as to what is causing the problem. For example, blue smoke is a sign that oil is mixing with fuel somewhere in the combustion chamber, which requires a trip to the service center for professional repair. While white smoke that goes away may just be condensation, you should be concerned if it lingers since this could mean that you have a blown head gasket or antifreeze leak in your car. Grey smoke could signal trouble with the transmission, and ignoring this could begin to affect your vehicle’s performance

Assess the Overall Functioning of the Vehicle

If you detect smoke coming from the engine, then you should also do a quick check of the general functioning of the vehicle. For example, oil leaks often start out slowly, and you may have already noticed oil spots on the ground where you park. Alternatively, your dashboard warning lights may indicate that fluids are low or that the temperature of the engine is beginning to ride. With transmission problems, you may find it hard to get your vehicle to change gears, or it may seem to lack power. Fuel mixture issues could cause problems at start up, or the engine may die when the car is idling. Take note of any other issues that you have noticed with your vehicle and mention them to the mechanic when you bring your car in for services.

Avoid Causing More Damage

Large amounts of smoke combined with other signs of a problem such as a rising temperature indicate that your car is at serious risk of catastrophic engine failure. Unfortunately, continuing to drive your vehicle when it is overheating could lead to a cracked engine head that requires a full replacement. Learn what to do when your car overheats or has another serious problem so that you can prevent more damage from occurring.

A smoking engine may cause you to fear that your vehicle is beyond repair, yet there are often many things that can be done to save your car if you address the issue early on. Always watch for signs that your car is struggling, and bring it in for an assessment as soon as you notice any type of smoke.

Auto Service Centers Vs. Dealerships

A quality auto technician is your first line of defense against major vehicle breakdowns, and you need to know that the company in charge of the repairs prioritizes your safety. When it comes to finding a place to perform auto maintenance and repairs, you may find yourself wondering what is the difference between a service center and a dealership. Although both places work on cars and trucks, understanding these differences helps you make the right choice for your auto care needs.

Training and Experience

You should always expect that the person who works on your car has achieved certification in the field of auto repair. However, the training and experience technicians receive varies according to their employment history, as well as the company’s standards. Dealerships are known for staffing mechanics that specialize in a specific make of car. While their expertise does have a few benefits, you can also expect higher labor costs to help cover their specialized training. At your local service center, technicians often have similar training and experience that comes with working with a variety of different vehicles, and some technicians start their own shops after gaining experience at a dealer.

Communication and Trust

When you take your car to a dealer, you are typically guided through the process of your auto repair by a service advisor who never actually works on your car. Having a go-between often makes it harder to understand exactly what type of work needs to be done, and some service advisors work on commission, which lowers your level of trust when they recommend a part. Auto service centers encourage direct communication with the technicians who work on your car that allows you to develop a personal relationship so that you always know exactly what your car needs.

Location and Hours

Car maintenance and repair needs often arise with little warning, which means that you may not want to drive to another city just to get the work done. Alternatively, you may not be able to get to the shop until the weekend. Dealers are known for only being open Monday through Friday, and you’ll often find that there are only a few in a large area. Your local service center, however, may offer weekend hours and be right up the road so that you can save time on your repairs.

Part Options and Prices

A dealership is required to offer only Original Equipment (OE) parts that adhere to the manufacturer’s standards for quality. Service centers are able to offer aftermarket parts that meet similar quality standards, yet these parts are usually less expensive compared to OE parts. Although some car enthusiasts or owners of specialty makes may need OE parts, you may prefer the cost savings offered by using aftermarket partson your car.

Once you understand the difference between a service center and a dealership, it becomes much easier to make the right choice for your car repairs. As you schedule your first repair, keep in mind that consistency allows you to develop the personal relationship that helps you get the most out of every auto service.

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.