Know Your Car, Save Money

February 12th, 2019 by

You’re riding along, cruising down the highway on a clear, sunny day when out of the blue a little light on the dashboard catches your eye.

The light is one you can’t remember having seen before. You start to wonder if perhaps you’ve just somehow missed it. Is it a tire pressure indicator light? Or maybe there’s a feature that lets you know that the gas tank lid is open? What if the whole engine is about to seize?

Come to think of it… do you know what any of your warning lights really mean?

COMMON DASH LIGHTS

Check Engine

For one reason or another your car’s computer has registered a diagnostic code and most likely needs professional troubleshooting. According to Auto Zone, there are five common reasons your check-engine light will come on:

Your Oxygen (O2) Sensor needs to be replaced

Your oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in your vehicle’s exhaust system.

What happens if I don’t replace it?

  • Your engine will burn more fuel than needed
  • You will lose fuel economy, and get less miles per gallon
  • Faulty sensor(s) can cause damage to your spark plugs and catalytic converter

Gas cap is loose, damaged or missing

Your gas cap seals the fuel system and helps maintain pressure within the fuel tank. It also prevents gasoline fumes (hydrocarbons) from being released into the atmosphere while you aren’t driving the car.

What happens if you don’t replace it?

  • You can lose fuel through evaporation
  • You may take more trips to the gas pump

A bad catalytic converter

Your catalytic converter helps protect our environment by converting harmful carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Damage usually occurs due to neglected maintenance.

What happens if you don’t replace it?

  • Your vehicle will not pass an emissions test
  • You will experience reduced performance and fuel economy
  • Your car may run at a higher temperature

It’s time to replace your Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

Your mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine to determine how much fuel is needed to run your engine efficiently.

What happens if you don’t replace it?

  • Faulty sensors can cause damage to spark plugs, O2 sensors or catalytic converter
  • You will experience reduced performance and fuel economy

Your vehicle needs new Spark Plugs or Plug Wires

Your spark plugs ignite the air/fuel mixture in the combustion chamber of your vehicle. The spark plug wires deliver the spark from the ignition coil to the spark plugs.

What happens if you don’t replace it?

  • You will experience poor performance (reduced power, engine missing) and reduced fuel economy
  • Worn plugs and plug wires can cause clogged catalytic converter or damage to ignition coils and O2 sensors

 

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

This light indicates that the TPMS has found a tire with low air pressure (or there could be sensor malfunction). There’s a chance you may see this light come on during cold weather. If you remember grade-school science class, air molecules bounce off of one another at a higher rate at warmer temperatures thus raising pressure. Colder weather slows the molecules. When this light comes on, check your tire pressure and if needed, put in air. Many gas stations have free air pumps that include a tire pressure gauge, but it’s a good idea to buy your own gauge, learn how to use it, and keep it in your glove box.

 

Coolant Temp Warning

Although antifreeze’s name may seem to imply that it helps stop an engine from freezing, it actually keeps your engine from overheating. Antifreeze contains lubricants and anti-corrosion agents to keep components like your radiator properly lubricated and free from corrosion. Without antifreeze the radiator can cause your engine to overheat, leaving you with an undriveable vehicle and an expensive repair. Antifreeze is part of the overall system that also includes the fan and radiator cap. Problems with either of these also may trigger the warning light. Get to a service station as soon as possible!

 

Transmission Temperature

Transmission fluid is a lubricant that makes shifting gears — whether in a manual or automatic — easier. If your transmission fluid is hotter than normal, something is amiss with your transmission fluid level or engine coolant. Don’t grind your gears! Get to a service station as soon as possible.

 

Brake System

When this warning light comes on there’s one of three possible conditions: the parking brake is on; there’s a problem with the braking system/brake fluid is low; or the anti-lock braking system has a problem. First make sure the parking brake is fully released. Second, check the brake fluid — a hydraulic fluid that is used in converting force into pressure and thus amplifying braking force. A problem with the ABS will require professional diagnostics and servicing.

 

Battery Alert

Your car’s battery is what cranks the engine. If this light comes on the battery voltage level is below normal level and the vehicle’s charging system — battery, starter, alternator or another component — is not functioning properly. If your battery is more than 4 years old, then it should to be tested. Look for any loose cables or corroded battery terminals. A loose or worn accessory drive belt can make a squealing noise. A clicking or grinding noise when you turn the key is a good indicator that your starter is bad. A dead battery, one that won’t stay charged, or headlamps and interior lights that appear dim can indicate that your alternator is bad. In many cars, replacing a battery is not excessively difficult, but batteries are heavy, can be pricey, and should be handled with care. When your battery is replaced by a professional, your old battery will be properly disposed of as well.

 

BASIC CAR CARE

As cars have gotten more advanced and so many systems have become computerized, many people have stepped away from performing their own basic car care. At Mount Airy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat, we are happy to take care of all your service needs. However, we know that there may come a time that you need to be able to help yourself.

We recommend that all drivers learn how to put on their vehicle’s spare tire. While the concept is the same, vehicles have varying equipment, tire sizes, and techniques. To change a tire you’ll need:

  • Spare tire
  • Jack
  • Socket wrench
  • Gloves (to keep your hands free of sludge and debris)

 

The basic steps to changing a flat are as follows:

  1. Use your jack to raise your vehicle on the side where your flat tire is located (driver’s or passenger’s, front or back). Your vehicle should be high enough to allow clearance between the ground and a fully-inflated tire.
  2. Most wheels have screws and bolts that hold them on. Unscrew each bolt with your socket wrench until your wheel can pop off. Remember righty-tighty, lefty-loosey!
  3. Don’t lose your bolts. Keep them in a safe place such as your pocket.
  4. Remove the wheel with the flat tire. It will be heavy! Place it in the trunk. Put the spare tire on.
  5. Using the bolts you removed earlier, secure the spare tire being sure to tighten the bolts well.
  6. Gently lower your jack so that your car is now even with the ground. Remove the jack.
  7. Drive at a reduced speed to a service station that can do tire repair or replacement. Do not drive for extended periods on a spare tire!

 

Be sure to read your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specifics about where to find the jack, where to place it on the vehicle, and whether you have a full-sized or “donut” spare.

Reading the owner’s manual will also help you learn about your car in other ways. It’s always a good idea to know how to check the oil and replace the windshield wipers.

And once you’ve learned more about your vehicle, see if you can correctly tell whether the following statements from Mobil’s car care quiz are true or false:

  1. You can tell if a tire needs or has too much air just by looking at it.
  2. Changing the oil and filter can help an engine last longer.
  3. If an air filter looks clean, then it doesn’t need to be replaced.
  4. A good coat of car wax can help keep paint looking good.
  5. Brake fluid lasts forever.
  6. If engine coolant is bright green, then it’s still performing well for your cooling system.
  7. When working on a car or truck, it’s a good idea to tighten nuts and bolts as much as possible.
  8. It takes more fuel to stop and start an engine than it does to leave it running.
  9. You should follow the tire pressure number listed on your tire’s sidewall when inflating tires.
  10. Putting premium gas in the tank will provide a premium in performance.

How did you answer? Let’s check to see whether you’re right!

1. You can tell if a tire needs or has too much air just by looking at it.

FALSE:A tire can be as much as 10 pounds per square inch (psi) low on air pressure and not show any outward signs.

 

2. Changing the oil and filter can help an engine last longer.

TRUE: While changing the oil too frequently is not required, the difference between an engine that lasts for the life of a vehicle and one that wears out too early is based on following the vehicle manufacturer’s oil and filter maintenance schedule.

 

3. If an air filter looks clean, then it doesn’t need to be replaced.

FALSE: An air filter traps dirt and junk so small that it cannot be seen. Even if an air filter looks clean, it can still be clogged with crud.

 

4. A good coat of car wax can help keep paint looking good.

TRUE: A thin layer of wax protects against all types of things that can harm paint. The type of car wax you use is not as important as simply completing the task of applying wax to your vehicle

 

5. Brake fluid lasts forever.

FALSE: Brake fluid should be clear and transparent. Cloudy brake fluid means it’s time for a change.

 

6. If engine coolant is bright green, then it’s still performing well for your cooling system.

FALSE: Chemicals in engine coolant can become corrosive. Coolant that looks fresh can actually be causing unseen and expensive cooling system damage.

 

7. When working on a car or truck, it’s a good idea to tighten nuts and bolts as much as possible.

FALSE: Almost every fastener that can be tightened on a modern motor vehicle is designed for tightening to a specific torque. Use a torque wrench to get it right.

 

8. It takes more fuel to stop and start an engine than it does to leave it running.

FALSE: This may have been true in the olden days of carbureted engines, but modern fuel injection systems have put a permanent end to this myth.

 

9. You should follow the tire pressure number listed on your tire’s sidewall when inflating tires.

FALSE: Tire pressure runs with the vehicle itself, not the tires it rolls on. Always inflate tires to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

 

10. Putting premium gas in the tank will provide a premium in performance.

FALSE: Unless the engine under the hood was designed and built to take advantage of the extra octane in premium fuel, there is no point in paying the extra money per gallon.

 

KEEP YOUR CAR SERVICED WITH US

At Mount Airy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat, you can rest assured that we carefully inspect your vehicle every time you bring it in for service. Your safety is important to us! Whether you’re due now or making plans for when you hit significant miles, visit us online or call to ask about our service specials. Our service department is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Come see us soon!

Posted in Chrysler, Fiat, Jeep, RAM Trucks