Your senses are a great tool to begin pinpointing your car problems to help your technician diagnose the repair. Understanding the problem will help our experts fix the problem and get you back into your vehicle faster. Here are some ways to use your eyes, nose, and ears to begin troubleshooting car issues.
School is in! Now that the summer is winding down, it’s time to give Regina drivers a POP QUIZ! Take a quick quiz to see if you can still pass your Driver’s Test. Rules change and have been changing frequently over the past decade with new changes to the Graduated Licence Program for new drivers and introducing roundabouts. See how well you would do on a driver’s test today! (PS. These questions should be super easy.)
10 Maintenance Tips
Car maintenance is not about waiting for your dashboard to light up, your brakes to squeal, and your power steering pump to fail. Conscientious car maintenance is about being proactive and preventing those things from happening. But that requires you to practice a number of good habits. Here are some great car maintenance tips that you should try to keep in mind all the time!
Dashboard lights allow your car to speak to you. Some symbols are intuitive, and others are… less intuitive. Responsible drivers pay attention to the lights on their dash and act immediately when their car warns them about potential faults. However, many drivers ignore each dashboard light as if it was a McAfee software update reminder. Here are a few of the most common (and serious) dashboard symbols and what they signify.
As a disclaimer, this is a general guide that applies to most vehicles. However, your vehicle may use a slightly different design, or have a unique way of calling service items to your attention. Always consult your owner’s manual. It details all the symbols that appear on your dashboard and how to interpret them.
Dashboard Light Colour
It may seem obvious, but many people don’t realise that colour is an important part of interpreting dash warning signs. In general, green
and blue lights are used to indicate that a system is active or working. Yellow symbols indicate that something requires your attention and likely needs to be serviced soon. Finally, red symbols indicate that there is a serious problem and your vehicle is in need of immediate attention.
If you see the oil can symbol on its own, it means your oil pressure is low. You may have an adequate amount of oil, but there could be a problemwith
your bearings or oil pump. But if you see a wavy line beneath the symbol, it simply means the oil level is low. Wait, why is your oil level low? When is the last time you got an oil change? Or is there an ignored oil slick in the middle of your garage? I’m not mad, but I am disappointed.
This symbol, which looks like a thermometer in water, refers to your engine’s temperature. If the symbol is red, it means your engine is too hot. Obviously, you should pull over and turn off the engine immediately to prevent serious damage. If the same dashboard light is blue it means that the coolant temperature is too low. This is probably less serious than the alternative, but you should still bring your vehicle in for service.
This symbol is part of your tire pressure monitoring system. If you see the symbol, one of your tires is at least 25% below its ideal air pressure. If you see that symbol while you’re driving, pull over and check your air pressure. Your tire may be actively leaking. If not, you’re still at risk of a blowout, and having four tires is kind of important.
Although, you should keep in mind that temperature fluctuations change air pressure. So, if you’re moving from the cold outdoors to a heated garage, the system may detect the change in pressure. In this situation it’s a good idea to check your tires, anyway. Their ideal pressure can be found on the sidewall of your tire or in the owner’s manual.
If you see the battery warning symbol you either have a depleted battery or a faulty alternator. Either problem will cause your vehicle to stop running in the near future. Fortunately, both are straightforward fixes. If you don’t know how to diagnose the difference between battery and alternator problems on your own, bring your vehicle in for service immediately.
Despite looking like a daisy with an exclamation point, this dashboard light is a pretty serious indicator. If you see this symbol, your vehicle’s computer has detected a problem with your powertrain. Of course, the powertrain is a complicated system that contains a number of parts, so it’s difficult to pin down exactly what the symbol is referring to. But, considering the system that moves your vehicle forward is pretty important, any issue should be taken seriously. Bring your vehicle in for service immediately.
Brake Pads: Brake Fluid:
These symbols refer to two of the most common brake problems. The first dashboard light, a circle surrounded by some curved dashes, refers to your brake pads. When the system detects that your brake pads have limited remaining life, it will trigger this warning symbol. Your brake pads are the friction material that presses against the brake rotor to bring your vehicle to a stop. Letting your brake pads wear completely will severely affect stopping distance. And, you’ll have metal on metal contact that will destroy your rotors and cost you more money.
The second symbol, a brake with some wavy liquid at the bottom, indicates that you have low brake fluid. Brake fluid transmits your foot pressure to the to the calipers in order to stop your car. If you didn’t have brake fluid your lines, you simply wouldn’t stop. Your system may be using a greater volume of brake fluid if your pads are worn out. Or you may have a leak somewhere in the brake system. Either warrants immediate service.
These are only a few of the many symbols that inevitably will pop up on your vehicle’s dash. It’s not necessary to memorise them all, but it is important to take them all seriously. Timely and preventative maintenance always saves you money down the road.
These days, affordable, mass-market cars are coming equipped with hi-fi stereos. Bang & Olufsen, Bose, and B&O Play systems are all available straight from the factory. Combined with advanced noise cancellation technology, you can hear some pretty sweet sounds in your vehicle. But today we’re not talking about listening to The Beatles’ white album while cruising the highway. We’re talking about the sounds you don’t want to hear in your car – screeching, squealing, groaning, and hissing. Here are some common mechanical sounds and what they might mean.
Let’s start with one of the most obvious car noises. When you press the brake pedal, the friction material on your brake pad is pushed down against the brake rotor. The friction slows your wheels and brings your vehicle to a stop. But over time, the friction material on your brakes wears away.
Fortunately, most brake pads have a wear indicator (a spring and metal pad) that creates a squeal or screeching sound when you need to replace them. If you only hear the screech for the first few stops on a cold morning, that’s probably just the rust (it’s normal and can accumulate overnight when damp or cold) being worn away and you shouldn’t worry. But if you hear the screech every time you brake in all conditions, you probably need to replace your pads.
If, instead of a screech, you hear a harsh grinding sound when you apply the brakes, chances are you’ve already allowed the brake pads to wear completely. Now, there’s nothing to separate the metal caliper from the the steel rotors. Metal on metal contact is obviously bad for your rotors. If you drive that way for a while, your rotors may require replacement which is far more costly than a simple set of pads. You may also hear brake grinding if your brakes were installed improperly.
If you hear a knocking or pinging sound coming from your engine, usually at acceleration, there is one primary culprit. Knocking usually occurs when the fuel/air mixture in your combustion chamber is burning unevenly. This can damage the cylinder wall and the piston. If you hear this sound make sure you’re using fuel with the amount of octane recommended in your owner’s manual. If that doesn’t solve the problem, visit Capital GMC Service to check for:
- Faulty ignition timing
- Defective or incorrect spark plugs
- Carbon deposits
Have you noticed a squealing sound coming from your engine bay? Is it more common on cold mornings, and does it subside as your engine warms? Rubber belts are used to connect a number of components in your car. The serpentine or drive belt is connected to a number of systems like the alternator and power steering pump. The timing belt is more important. It synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft. In the simplest terms, if the timing belt breaks, your car won’t run.
If any of the belts in your car are poorly connected or simply get old and crack, they may start to squeal. The sound is pretty hard to misconstrue. Bring your vehicle to Capital GMC Service for inspection immediately, and we’ll assess them problem. Belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, and having it done before a belt breaks or slips off can save you from being stranded.
These are just a few diagnoses to common car noises. However, even the most experienced ear has its limits. Sometimes the subtle difference between a squeal and a squeak can separate very different problems with your car. My point is, if your car is making an unusual or unpleasant sound, you should have it inspected immediately. Just book an appointment at Capital GMC Service, and we’ll get to the bottom of the mechanical issue so you can get back to enjoying your Bose audio system.
It may not look like it, but spring is nearly here. And now that it’s not -30 °C, you can stand under the hood of your car for more than 30 seconds without suffering frostbite. It’s a good time to inspect your vehicle and see if the winter weather has forced any spring maintenance.
Do not wait too long to remove your winter tires. Winter tires are made of soft rubber that remains pliable in extreme cold. But when temperatures warm up, the rubber gets even softer and becomes susceptible to premature wear. But when is the right time to switch your tires?
You should put your three-season tires back on when the temperature is around seven degrees. That is usually early April, but I don’t want to come back and edit this post when global warming further erodes our average temperatures, so let’s say late March.
If you need new tires for the season, Capital GMC Service can help. We’ve got a massive selection of name-brand tires in all sizes. Use our tire finder to help find the perfect set. You should also consider using Capital GMC’s tire storage service. Our facility is temperature-controlled and low-priced. You don’t have to worry about hauling your tires out of storage, we’ll have them waiting for you when you bring your vehicle in.
Filters & Fluids
Spring is also a good time to make sure that your vehicle isn’t running short on important fluids. With an owner’s manual and moderate savvy you can check your washer fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and coolant. If you let any of these fluids run low, you can put yourself, and your vehicle, in unnecessary danger. If you bring your vehicle for an oil change at Capital GMC Service, we’ll make sure to check your fluid levels as part of our inspection.
Over time, driving in any conditions can affect your vehicle’s alignment. And driving on ice and through snowdrifts can make those problems arise even more quickly. An improper wheel alignment causes imbalanced tire wear and will “pull” your vehicle to one side of the road, which is obviously dangerous.
Experts recommend you check your wheel alignment at least once a year, so spring maintenance is the perfect time. Book an appointment and we’ll make sure your vehicle is perfectly aligned. Better yet, bundle your wheel alignment with the rest of your routine maintenance like a spring safety inspection, tire service, or oil change.
Do your wipers squeak, drag, skip, or leave huge streaks? It’s probably time to replace them. In fact, you probably should have replaced them before or during winter, but oh well. This is a pretty easy piece of maintenance you can do by yourself. If you’re shopping for wipers on your own, just make sure you measure them beforehand.
Did your battery die during the winter even though you were running your vehicle regularly? If it’s over three years old and it’s required a boost, you should think about replacing it. Bring your vehicle to Capital GMC Service and we’ll test your battery and show how much longer it can be safely be used before being replaced. Next season, you’ll be at less of a risk of being stranded.
When shopping for the perfect new car, there are a few ways to budget. A naive buyer may only consider the monthly payments. This strategy is bad for a number of reasons. Most importantly, thinking only about monthly payments makes it more likely you get locked into a long-term loan with payments that don’t keep up with depreciation. Slightly more shrewd buyers will consider the purchase price (the amount it would take to buy the vehicle outright with cash) plus the cost of borrowing (the amount of interest you’ll pay on your loan). The most savvy buyer will consider each of these things, but she’ll also consider the cost to own.
The Cost to Own
If you’re sticking to a budget, you should know exactly how much your car is costing you. Obviously, the first thing you’ll consider is your monthly payment, but that’s only one element. You should also consider insurance and registration, the cost of fuel, depreciation, and maintenance. Once you add all these costs together, you’ll have a better sense of how much it costs to own a vehicle.
This is the easiest part to calculate. Most dealerships advertise the monthly and biweekly payments up front. Just make sure that the number you’re given includes tax and you’re comfortable with the term of the loan. But you also need to make sure that the payment alone doesn’t exhaust your budget, because there are more expenses to consider.
Insurance and Registration
Saskatchewan has some of the highest insurance rates in Canada. Frequent accidents, thefts, and lawsuits significantly influence the price of insurance. In 2014, the average rate in Saskatchewan was $1,050 per annum or $88monthly. However, rates have climbed slightly for most vehicles in 2017.
Unlike other places, Saskatchewan does not consider your age and gender when determining your insurance rates. SGI does, however, consider your vehicle (it’s likelihood of being stolen, it’s overall value, et c…) and your safe driving record. So, if you drive a new, expensive vehicle and have a history of accidents or traffic violations, expect to pay more than the average.
Of course, you also need to calculate the cost of fuel. But that can be a little tricky because the amount you’re spending on gasoline (or diesel) depends on the price, which is volatile. It also depends on your driving habits and vehicle. If we take an average gas price $1.08, average yearly distance (15,000 kms), and average vehicle fuel economy (10.7L/100KM in 2015), we get $1,733.4.
Depreciation is a bit more difficult to fit into a monthly budget because it’s not a fixed cost. The rate of a depreciation is highest at the moment you take possession of your car, and decreases rapidly thereafter. But depreciation in the first three years of new vehicle ownership will cost you more than registration, insurance, gas, or repairs. So, it’s important to estimate the cost in your cost-to-own analysis
Maintenance also plays a part in your cost-to-own calculations. New vehicle warranties usually cover important powertrain issues, but you may be charged for other repairs. Oil changes and tire issues can add up if you don’t budget for them. Some experts say you should add $1,500 per car to your yearly budget for maintenance.
Cost to Own
A vehicle purchase is a major decision, and Capital GMC Buick Cadillac wants you to make the right one. And doing a cost-to-own calculation is a great way to make that easy. This handy tool from CAA will even do all of the math for you. Most importantly, being Canada’s #1 New and Used GM Retailer means that we have vehicles (and prices!) for everyone. Finding the perfect one is as easy as visiting our lot or browsing our inventory online.
Air Filter & Cabin Air Filter Care
Vehicle owners often neglect timely air filter replacement. And that’s partly understandable. Things like your oil, belts, tires, and transmission seem like greater priorities. And the difference between regular air and clean air is negligible, right? Wrong! Your air filter (and your cabin air filter) is an important component in your engine. And, replacing it at the appropriate time is an important part of your vehicle’s routine maintenance.
What Does Your Air Filter Do?
An air filter… filters the air. Combustion engines need air to work properly for the same reason a campfire needs oxygen. No oxygen equals no combustion. And you need to remember that our air is less than 20% oxygen. That means, But even ostensibly clean air has contaminants and debris in it. And driving through smoke or swirling dirt will only compound the issue. The air filter blocks harmful particulates from entering your engine, and keeps it clean.
Not only does clean air keep your engine running more smoothly, it protects it. Allowing debris into the combustion chamber can have disastrous effects that reduce the lifespan of your engine overall. So, like with all routine maintenance, make sure you stick to your manufacturer’s maintenance plan, and listen to the advice of the service team at Capital GMC Buick Cadillac.
Diagnosing an Expired Air Filter
The easiest way to tell if you should replace your air filter is to look at it yourself. They’re usually easily accessible – you likely won’t even have to unscrew anything. Just consult your owner’s manual for your air filter’s exact location. If the filter is covered in dirt and dust, then you should probably replace it.
Another less obvious sign that you should replace your filter is diminished throttle response and sluggish acceleration. If your filter is clogged, it will prevent an adequate amount of oxygen from reaching the combustion chamber, and your performance will suffer. Replacing an old, dirty air filter can improve your vehicle’s acceleration by roughly 11%.
Cabin Air Filters
Cabin air filters are important, too. They have nothing to do with your engine, but they do support the healthy operation of your lungs. If you don’t want to breathe in the dirt and smoke that you’re driving through, you should replace your cabin filter roughly every 25,000 kms or one year. Although, your owner’s manual may have slightly different directions. And, if you drive on dirt roads, or somewhere with poor air quality, you’ll probably need to change it more often.
Unfortunately, cabin air filters are a bit more difficult to replace. In many cars, you’ll actually have to remove the glove compartment to access it. While this isn’t prohibitively difficult, it is a bit of a hassle. Usually it’s just easier to let the professionals at Capital GMC Buick Cadillac Service take of it for you.
Hit the link below to book an appointment for filter service, or any other maintenance and repair needs!