Maintenance

Summertime Vehicle Maintenance

Whether you’re about to head up to the mountains, on a lengthy road trip vacation or just around the corner for some ice cream, driving in the summertime can present a set of unique challenges for your vehicle. Intense sunlight, oppressive heat, etc. can take its toll on your car, meaning the more on top of your maintenance you are the better prepared you’ll be to handle whatever challenges you might face while cruising around in Alabama this summer.


Here are three easy ways to help maintain your car this summer driving season under these conditions.


Bring your car into Melton Automotive for an inspection
Certain parts and systems of your car take just a little more maintenance during the summer than what is normally required throughout the rest of the year. Bringing your car in to have it checked out by an ASE-certified technician is extremely important.


Your battery in particular can be affected as fluid inside the battery can evaporate, eventually causing it to stop working altogether. It’s important that you get your battery testes as part of your summer maintenance checkup.


The cooling system is also susceptible to summertime wear. Having a mechanic take a look at the hoses and seals for cracks and wear and tear are critical. Furthermore, you may want to a cooling system flush performed and your fluids changed out.


Pay attention to and maintain your tires
Over the course of a hot summer, your tires endure a fair amount of wear and tear. While this may decrease the lifetime of a tire in the long-term, it can also put you or your loved ones at risk for a tire blowout on the road in the short-term.


It’s important to have your tires rotated and to have a mechanic check for indications of unusual wear and tear, especially with increased driving during the summer months in warmer temperatures than normal.


In addition, hot weather can cause the pressure in your tires to increase. Check your tire pressure periodically, ensuring that it’s filled correctly and according to the manufacturer’s technical specifications.


Don’t forget about the exterior
The summer heat and sun can also take its toll on the exterior of your car as well. Regular washing of your vehicle will remove unsightly bird droppings, unwanted tree sap, etc. and help protect the paint of the car.


Of higher importance is your windshield wipers and their condition. Rain storms during this time of year can be particularly violent and it’s critical to have your wipers in good condition.


Keeping these maintenance tips in mind will not only help you enjoy your summer months, but keep your car in proper shape for the rest of the year as well!

brake failure

Brake Failure Indicators

One of the scariest scenarios that can happen to a driver is brake failure. You do NOT want to be driving down a steep hill and all-of-a-sudden lose your ability to stop.
  
As such, if you’re a car owner you should always be on the lookout for signs of brake failure, including the following:
  
Vibrations
If you put your foot on your brake pedal and it starts to vibrate or shake, your rotors are most likely warped, and you should head to a mechanic ASAP.
  
Squealing of Brakes
This warning sign can potentially be missed if you drive with your windows up, a/c on and stereo blaring, so try to make a point to roll your windows down and switch off your air/music every once and a while. The squealing can also be soft at first but the louder it gets, the worse shape your brakes are in. Be sure that the squealing is persistent though since sometimes a noise similar to mild squealing can come about after a rain storm or carwash.
  
Grinding Brakes
When you push on your brake pedal and you hear a deep grinding, this is a clear indicator that your brake pads are damaged or worn beyond safety limits and need to be replaced quickly.
  
ABS Light On
There are several reasons that your ABS light may come on at odd times, including having metal particles in the brake system or complete brake system failing. Either way, this is an obvious indicator that something is wrong.
  
Brake Pedal Touching Floor
One potential problem with your brake system is that it may start to lose fluid and fluid pressure, allowing you to push the brake pedal all the way to the floor. This is a possible indicator of a leak in your brake system.
  
Brakes Grabbing
While you are driving and if you ever feel your vehicle pull to one side or another when you apply your brakes, this may be an indicator of your car’s brake lining wearing unevenly or in need of a complete flush of the brake fluids.
  
If any of these brake failure indicators sound familiar, click HERE give us a call at (205) 663-6088 and schedule an appointment with our ASE-certified technicians!

tire inflation

The Importance of Proper Tire Inflation

What supports the weight of your vehicle? If you answered your tires, you are wrong. It’s the air pressure inside the tires that supports the weight. This is why proper tire inflation is so important.
  
The correct tire pressure can help you save money on fuel because over- or underinflated tires can cause your engine to work harder. It’s hard to say which is worse, over- or underinflated tires as both can cause serious problems.
  
Underinflated tires. Underinflated tires will have you driving on the sidewalls. The sidewall part of the tire is normally thinner than the part of the tire you drive on – that being the tread. If you are driving on an underinflated tire, a puncture could easily rupture the sidewall and result in a tire blowout. Underinflated tires increase the area of the tire you are driving on and can result in the sidewalls wearing out, since you are now driving on them. Also, fuel mileage can be reduced by one MPG or more.
  
Overinflated tires. Overinflated tires will cause uneven wear on the tread as all the wear is concentrated in the center. An overinflated tire is stiff and unyielding and the size of its footprint on the road is reduced. If weather conditions are less than optimal, you are reducing the amount of control you are exercising over your car. Overinflated tires cannot isolate road irregularities (potholes or debris) as well and will result in a harsher ride.
  
Best Practices. You cannot set tire pressure and forget about it. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month and before starting on any long trip. You need to make sure the ravages of time, changes in ambient temperature or a small tread puncture have not caused it to change.
  
The recommended tire pressure is the vehicle’s recommended cold tire pressure. Tire pressure should be checked when the vehicle is cold, let’s say in the morning before you drive more than a few miles or before rising ambient temperatures. Checking your tire pressure is a very simple process and takes only one instrument. You can buy a tire gauge at any auto parts store, big- box store, or online. A good gauge will cost anywhere from $5 to $15.
  
Use the tire pressure recommended by your car’s manufacturer, not the “max pressure” numerals found on the tire sidewall. By using the recommended pressure, you will get the best combination of performance, ride comfort, tire life, and fuel economy.
  
If you have any questions about tire inflation or anything else related to your vehicle’s health, be sure to give us a call at 205-663-6088. If you suspect any issues with your vehicle, please come into Melton Automotive and have our trained ASE-certified technicians take a look!

oil loss

Oil Loss Prevention

The vast majority of vehicles on the road today will experience some form of oil loss at some point during their lifespan. More often than not, it’s just usually minor dripping and smaller leaks that are preventable but, sometimes, more significant oil leaks occur which require the attention of an experienced mechanic.
  
Most commonly, improperly-sealed drain bolts are the cause of a small oil leak. When having an oil change performed, your oil pan is drained and then resealed, often with a new washer being fastened around the drain bolt. Cheap “quickie lube” oil change services may not include a new washer, which may result in new leaks after the service is performed. If you notice a leak shortly after having an oil change done and it persists for a couple of days, there’s a good chance you could need a new washer.
  
Small oil leaks are also common in older vehicles because of mechanical motion as well as dramatic temperature fluctuations that occur within combustion engines. Frequently checking oil levels is important. If the oil stains pavement, kitty litter or crushed drywall will absorb the oil.
  
In a worst-case scenario, oil loss will seemingly come out of nowhere. Most modern vehicles come equipped with tools that notify drivers when oil pressure drops, usually in the form of a light or computer-based alert. When you receive a notification like this, you should stop driving ASAP since friction from oil loss can damage vital motor components and potentially lead to engine failure.
  
Abnormal oil loss without any indication such as oil stains or an oily engine may indicate a much deeper problem. This could be a signal that oil is being burnt internally or possibly seeping past the pistons into the combustion chamber. A broken head gasket could also be in pay. These problems are quite serious and will lead to reduced fuel efficiency as well as power loss issues for your vehicle.
  
If you think you might be losing oil, bring your vehicle to an ASE-Certified Technician who will diagnose the problem and will offer solutions based on the nature and severity of the oil leak. If you have any questions/concerns about oil loss or anything else related to your vehicle, swing by our shop in Alabaster or give us a shout at 205-663-6088!
  
  
  

car battery

Is It Time For A New Car Battery?

Car batteries are one of the most important components of a vehicle’s engine. It must provide the electricity to start your car and power your accessories. Without a working battery, you’re going nowhere. But how do you know when it’s time for a new car battery?

You should always have an one of our certified technicians take a look at the battery as part of a thorough vehicle inspections. Heat, cold, and temperature swings can affect the battery’s performance, so check your battery at the change of seasons.

Watch for warning signs, including:
-Age
-Leaks
-Fraying cables
-Corrosion on the terminals
-Trouble starting your vehicle

An average car battery usually has a lifespan of 3-5 years. Keep track of the age of your battery and have it tested more frequently as it gets older. We recommend keeping the vehicle’s maintenance records for all services, including purchasing a new battery. Our technicians will also keep track of the maintenance schedule for your vehicle.

Between routine inspections, periodically check the battery yourself at home. Look for fraying cables, corrosion, and white or green powdery substance on the battery itself. Battery acid is very corrosive. If you find evidence of a leak, including the powder-like corrosion at the terminals, bring your vehicle and battery into Melton Automotive.

Our technicians will inspect your battery to determine if the corrosion can be cleaned and the leak fixed. If the damage is severe enough, your vehicle may be due for a new battery.

Even young batteries can be damaged in the summer heat we’ll be getting soon here in Alabaster. Don’t be left high and dry on the side of the road. Keeping track of your battery’s age, watching for warning signs, and regular inspections can help you ensure your vehicle has the power it needs to keep you safe on the roads in Shelby County.

maintenance

Don’t Neglect Your Vehicle This Fall!

It’s a frequently-seen sight when you are on the road today: a car on the side of the road. When you see this it’s more than likely that the car has broken down, leaving the car owner stranded waiting for a tow truck to come and take it to a shop… They probably wish they’d kept up with their vehicle maintenance schedule!
  
Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more common for motorists to hold off on what would should be considered routing maintenance for their cars. While this may save you time/money and seem harmless in the short term, over time this can cause serious trouble with your vehicle. Eventually, seemingly insignificant things like general maintenance on your spark plugs, batteries and fluids add up and can mean the difference between breaking down on your way home from work or getting home hassle-free. Simply because an issue isn’t blatantly obvious doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be taken care of on a specific timetable.
  
Often, problems with your car don’t give any warning ahead of time but just pop up when regular maintenance goes unattended. The vast majority of breakdowns can be avoided easily and at a low cost if routine inspections and tune-ups are conducted. It’s important to keep in mind that these inspections are nominally-priced compared to what a towing bill will be, not to mention the financial-cost of major repairs and the time-cost of being without your vehicle for an extended period.
  
If you are able to keep up on your car maintenance schedule, your vehicle will be healthy and thus more likely to go breakdown-free, saving you time/money in the long-term and keeping you and your family safe on the roads! Be sure to call us at 205-663-6088 or click HERE to set up a maintenance schedule for your car at your earliest convenience.


  

steering wheel

Steering Wheel Shakes

In an ideal world, when you hit the road in your vehicle the surface you’re driving on is even and smooth and you cruise along without any issues whatsoever. Unfortunately, roads are rarely perfectly smooth and even when they are, you can still have issues steering and navigating the terrain you’re driving on.
  
The components in your vehicle all wear out and will need to be replaced at some point. Several components are connected to your steering wheel, which means that when you feel shaking of any degree there could be several possible reasons for it.
  
Here are a few reasons why your steering wheel might be vibrating while you’re driving:
  
Brakes.
If your steering wheel is shaking violently whenever you stop or slow down, there’s a good chance that your rotors are worn out or warped and you should have your brake system inspected immediately.
  
Engine.
If you have an issue with your engine that causes vibrations to emanate, you’ll probably feel the tremors throughout your vehicle, but the steering wheel will feel them the most. Fuel delivery and air induction are two of the potential issues that can lead to engine vibrations.
  
Axle.
If your car has been in a fender bender or been involved with an impact of any kind lately, there is a decent chance your axle has been affected and might be bent. When you’re driving with a damaged axle, your steering wheel will shake more violently the faster you go but there will be vibrations no matter what your speed is. If your steering wheel is jerking to the left or right, your driveshaft is most likely damaged and you should have your vehicle towed to a garage ASAP.
  
Tires.
Given that your steering wheel is responsible for telling your wheels which direction to go, when your tires are improperly configured you’re liable to feel it while you’re steering. If your tires aren’t properly inflated or if they have bald spots, worn out tread, etc., your steering will be affected and you should have your tires changed or rotated in the near future.
  
Other components that could affect your steering if they’re damaged in any way include wheel bearings, tie rods and ball joints. If you have any concerns about your vehicle’s health or safety, be sure to give us a call at 205-663-6088 or get in touch with us online – our ASE-certified technicians can answer any questions you might have!

tire maintenance

Keep Your Tires in Good Shape

When it comes to vehicle safety, tires are at or near the top of the Importance List. What many car owners don’t realize however, is that tires require regular maintenance in order to maintain their integrity and keep your vehicle safely on the road. With that in mind, are a few quick tire maintenance tips for your consideration:
  
Rotating/Balancing. Your front and rear tires perform different functions regardless of what wheel-drive your vehicle is and rotating them regularly is imperative to avoiding wear and tear. The American Automobile Association recommends this be done every 6,000 miles or so.
  
Alignment. Your vehicle’s suspension will become warped if your wheels are misaligned which can lead to serious problems for your car and adversely affect your tires’ lifespan; AAA recommends you get your wheels aligned every 12,000 miles or anytime you feel your steering veering to one side or another.
  
Proper Inflation. If your tires have too much air in them they can bulge which will lead to the sides wearing out quickly. If your tires aren’t inflated enough, they will sag which will also lead to rapid disintegration. Be sure to keep your tires at the factory-recommended PSI levels in order to get the most out of them long-term.
  
As always, if you have any questions about tire maintenance or anything else relating to your vehicle’s health be sure to give us a call at (205) 663-6088 or click HERE to schedule an appointment with our ASE-certified technicians!
  
  
  
  

timing belt

The Importance of the Timing Belt

Like every other component in your vehicle, your timing belt will ultimately wear out and need to be replaced. Waiting until yours is broken to get a new one can highly problematic though; avoiding this scenario is definitely something you want to avoid.
  
The majority manufacturers recommend that your timing belt be changed out every 95,000 miles or so. Waiting until you reach this mileage mark isn’t advisable though, and being proactive in replacing your timing belt can actually save you a fair amount of money.
  
Comprised of rubber and high-tension fibers as well as various dense polymers, timing belts are responsible for synchronizing of your crank/camshaft(s) to ensure that your engine’s valves open/close in the proper intervals during the intake/exhaust stroke process. When your timing belt breaks, this causes the engine to shut down – sometimes immediately.
  
The two most common reasons for timing belts to fail are age/miles and the seizure of your vehicle’s water pump. If your water pump seizes, key gears turning which creates a force that breaks your belt. Cooling system failure, which can stem from not flushing your coolant regularly, is a primary instigator of this problem.
  
Stripped teeth are also a cause of timing belt failure as having a smooth section on the belt results in drive clog slippage. If your belt isn’t connected properly or if its tension isn’t properly calibrated, it will wear out faster than normal. Foreign rubbing against your timing belt can also lead to premature failure.
  
If you think you need to have a belt replaced or if you have any questions/concerns whatsoever about any other component in your vehicle, be sure to give our ASE-certified technicians a call at 205-663-6088 or schedule an appointment with us online. We’re here to help the drivers of Alabaster stay safely on the road year-round!
  
  
  

tires

Time for New Tires?

Trying to figure out when the right time to change your vehicle’s tires can be tough. You obviously don’t want to wait too long and drive around with a dangerously low amount of tread on your tires but you don’t want to get them changed too early either since it can be an expensive undertaking.
  
Thankfully, there’s an extremely simple way to determine what stage of their life cycle your tires have reached.
  
The official recommendation from auto experts is that 1/16 of an inch is the minimum amount of tread you want to have on your tires for them to be safe. How do you measure this though?
  
The answer is simple – grab a penny!
  
Insert the copper coin into your tire’s tread with President Lincoln’s head facing towards you. If Honest Abe’s noggin is completely visible, that means it’s time for you to get some new tires.
  
Be sure you conduct this test on different sections of your tire. In the event that your vehicle’s alignment is off at all or if a regular rotation schedule hasn’t been followed, your tires will wear out unevenly and there could be bald spots on one or more tires.
  
If you’re a bit on the cautious side, you’ll probably want to change your tires out when their tread is between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch thick. If you get too close to the 1/16 limit, bad road/weather conditions could become tough to negotiate.
  
For checking this threshold, the process is equally as simple – grab a quarter! The gap between George Washington’s head and a quarter’s edge is 1/8 of an inch so if you can see all of our first president’s cranium in its entirety, the clock is ticking on your tires’ life cycle.
  
To get the most out of your tires, we recommend making sure they’re properly inflated all times, rotate regularly and stay on top of your alignment schedule. If you have any further questions about your vehicle’s health, be sure to give our ASE-certified technicians a call at 205-663-6088 or schedule an appointment online!