8 Signs You Need Your Brakes Checked

  • By Discount Tire Centers
  • 15 Sep, 2017

As one of the most fundamental parts of your vehicle, when your brake system becomes compromised, every drive you take can be a risk.

Brake Check at Discount Tire Centers Location near you

Understanding when to seek brake care can extend the life of your brake system and vehicle, as well as protect you and your passengers while on the road. In this blog, we list eight signs that you should schedule a brake service .

1. Abnormal Sounds

Any abnormal brake noise can indicate a serious issue with the system. Common noises include grinding, squealing or thumping. A routine brake check can identify the source of the sound and address the problem before it poses a safety hazard.

You can find an overview of the reasons your brakes may make a specific sound in our previous blog  on brakes making noises.

2. Brake Fluid Leaks

If you notice a puddle that looks similar to motor oil but appears oily and more yellow than brown, the liquid may be brake fluid. Your vehicle must maintain an adequate fluid level in order to stop appropriately.

While most of the signs on this list indicate progressive brake system problems that require service as soon as possible, a brake fluid leak is an emergency. Do not attempt to drive a car without adequate brake fluid. Have the vehicle towed instead.

3. Decreased Resistance

As you drive your vehicle over time, you become accustomed to the way the components feel, from the shape of the steering wheel to the resistance of the brake pedal. If you notice a change in how hard you need to press the pedal to brake, schedule an inspection.

In many cases, resistance changes provide an early warning of fluid leaks or of air leaks in the brake hose. This issue may make your pedal feel squishy or quick to sink to the floor.

4. Increased Stopping Distance

One of the most obvious signs that your brakes are struggling to bring your vehicle to a complete stop is an increase in the distance you need to stop. You may find yourself inadvertently driving farther into intersections or having close calls in traffic.

You may struggle to stop when your brake pads become too worn down. Have a brake expert replace the pads and check the brake line to ensure that you're protected from the risk of fender benders.

5. Pedal Vibration or Pulsing

Sometimes when the sensation of depressing the brake pedal changes without affecting the resistance. In these situations, you're most likely to notice vibrations or pulses when pushing the pedal down.

Typically, these interval sensations result from a problem with the brake rotors. When the rotors become bent, damaged or warped, the brake pads don't have a smooth surface to push against, which creates the vibration.

6. Poor Handling

When you have healthy brakes, you should not notice any changes to your vehicle direction when you start to come to a stop. However, brake problems can cause sudden pulls to one side or the other when you apply your brakes.

This change in handling can make your car more difficult to control, therefore making it less safe to drive. Generally, this issue requires a brake line or fluid replacement to resolve since the pulling occurs when the linings sustain uneven wear or the fluid picks up too much foreign matter.

7. Rubber Odors

Burning rubber is perhaps one of the most distinct and alarming smells you may notice when driving. If you catch a whiff of burning rubber when you use your brakes in normal traffic situations, the system may have significant damage.

Specifically, your brakes may be worn down to the point that they cannot effectively create friction without eating into the rubber pads. The pads may need to be replaced. In some situations, your mechanic may recommend switching to a higher quality brake pad material to avoid similar issues in the future.

8. Vehicle Vibration

In addition to the brake pedal vibrations we discussed in section five, brake issues can make other components of your vehicle shake. You may notice that your wheel or even your entire car trembles.

If this issue stems from a brake issue like a worn rotor, you will most likely feel the vibration only when applying the brakes. If you notice vibrations at other times, you should have the issue evaluated, but it's more likely to come from misalignment or another problem.

In addition to bringing your vehicle in when you notice these signs of brake issues, you should also follow brake care recommendations from your mechanic and vehicle manufacturer. For example, most manufacturers recommend replacing your brake fluid every two years or 30,000 miles and your pads every 20,000 to 60,000 miles.

For expert brake services and intuitive car care advice to ensure your vehicle stays safe and comfortable, visit the Discount Tire and Service Centers location nearest you.

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By Discount Tire Centers 15 Sep, 2017

Understanding when to seek brake care can extend the life of your brake system and vehicle, as well as protect you and your passengers while on the road. In this blog, we list eight signs that you should schedule a brake service .

1. Abnormal Sounds

Any abnormal brake noise can indicate a serious issue with the system. Common noises include grinding, squealing or thumping. A routine brake check can identify the source of the sound and address the problem before it poses a safety hazard.

You can find an overview of the reasons your brakes may make a specific sound in our previous blog  on brakes making noises.

2. Brake Fluid Leaks

If you notice a puddle that looks similar to motor oil but appears oily and more yellow than brown, the liquid may be brake fluid. Your vehicle must maintain an adequate fluid level in order to stop appropriately.

While most of the signs on this list indicate progressive brake system problems that require service as soon as possible, a brake fluid leak is an emergency. Do not attempt to drive a car without adequate brake fluid. Have the vehicle towed instead.

3. Decreased Resistance

As you drive your vehicle over time, you become accustomed to the way the components feel, from the shape of the steering wheel to the resistance of the brake pedal. If you notice a change in how hard you need to press the pedal to brake, schedule an inspection.

In many cases, resistance changes provide an early warning of fluid leaks or of air leaks in the brake hose. This issue may make your pedal feel squishy or quick to sink to the floor.

4. Increased Stopping Distance

One of the most obvious signs that your brakes are struggling to bring your vehicle to a complete stop is an increase in the distance you need to stop. You may find yourself inadvertently driving farther into intersections or having close calls in traffic.

You may struggle to stop when your brake pads become too worn down. Have a brake expert replace the pads and check the brake line to ensure that you're protected from the risk of fender benders.

5. Pedal Vibration or Pulsing

Sometimes when the sensation of depressing the brake pedal changes without affecting the resistance. In these situations, you're most likely to notice vibrations or pulses when pushing the pedal down.

Typically, these interval sensations result from a problem with the brake rotors. When the rotors become bent, damaged or warped, the brake pads don't have a smooth surface to push against, which creates the vibration.

6. Poor Handling

When you have healthy brakes, you should not notice any changes to your vehicle direction when you start to come to a stop. However, brake problems can cause sudden pulls to one side or the other when you apply your brakes.

This change in handling can make your car more difficult to control, therefore making it less safe to drive. Generally, this issue requires a brake line or fluid replacement to resolve since the pulling occurs when the linings sustain uneven wear or the fluid picks up too much foreign matter.

7. Rubber Odors

Burning rubber is perhaps one of the most distinct and alarming smells you may notice when driving. If you catch a whiff of burning rubber when you use your brakes in normal traffic situations, the system may have significant damage.

Specifically, your brakes may be worn down to the point that they cannot effectively create friction without eating into the rubber pads. The pads may need to be replaced. In some situations, your mechanic may recommend switching to a higher quality brake pad material to avoid similar issues in the future.

8. Vehicle Vibration

In addition to the brake pedal vibrations we discussed in section five, brake issues can make other components of your vehicle shake. You may notice that your wheel or even your entire car trembles.

If this issue stems from a brake issue like a worn rotor, you will most likely feel the vibration only when applying the brakes. If you notice vibrations at other times, you should have the issue evaluated, but it's more likely to come from misalignment or another problem.

In addition to bringing your vehicle in when you notice these signs of brake issues, you should also follow brake care recommendations from your mechanic and vehicle manufacturer. For example, most manufacturers recommend replacing your brake fluid every two years or 30,000 miles and your pads every 20,000 to 60,000 miles.

For expert brake services and intuitive car care advice to ensure your vehicle stays safe and comfortable, visit the Discount Tire and Service Centers location nearest you.
By Discount Tire Centers 01 Sep, 2017

Problems with the complex mechanical system that makes your car run should be left up to the experts who trained for years to diagnose and fix issues with various vehicular systems. However, to keep your car running smoothly year after year, you do need to know how to perform basic maintenance. One area of car maintenance where you can take a more active role is dealing with the various fluids your car requires.

The fluids perform a variety of important tasks, ranging from protecting the engine to cleaning the windshield. Because they are subjected to a wide range of temperatures and considerable force, these fluids must be resilient and long-lasting. Read through this blog to learn more about the fluids your car needs, why they matter, and how to maintain them.

1. Brake Fluid

Brake fluid amplifies the pressure placed on the brakes, allowing your car to stop quickly. The key to brake fluid is its incompressibility. The incompressibility means that the volume of the brake fluid remains constant so you don't need to slam on your brakes to get the car to slow down.

Brake fluid isn't supposed to lose volume or run out. However, over time, the quality of the fluid can degrade, weakening it and putting unnecessary pressure on the braking system. If you notice that you need to exert more and more force on the brakes to get the car to slow down, you likely need to check for one of the following problems:

  • Conversion to gas. While brake fluid has a high boiling point, moisture can enter the fluid and cause it to change to gas, which is compressible. You'll need to flush out and replace the brake fluid, which some experts recommend doing about once every two years.
  • Low fluid. You shouldn't need to refill the fluid if the system is in good shape. If you check the fluid reservoir and the fluid is below the fill line, have a mechanic inspect the entire braking system. It's likely that your brake pads or disc brakes have worn down.
  • Air in the brake lines. Occasionally, air bubbles appear in the brake lines, displacing the fluid. To fix the problem, you'll need to drain all four brake lines until you remove all the air bubbles, then refill the reservoir.

Ask your mechanic for assistance dealing with any of these issues. He or she can show you the correct way to maintain the brake fluid for your particular car.

2. Engine Oil

Engine, or motor, oil serves as a lubricant to protect the engine's moving parts and to keep it from overheating. If the parts were to contact each other directly, the friction would quickly cause the parts to wear down, generate too much heat, and slow down, leading to wasted fuel and excessive inefficiency.

You likely already know the importance of changing your oil at regular intervals, although the time between changes depends on your vehicle, your driving habits, and the oil you use. Synthetic oil, for example, tends to last longer than conventional oil, and driving regularly keeps your oil in better shape since it isn't just sitting in the engine.

Over time, engine oil collects particulates from the engine, causing the fluid to become dark and gritty. These particles can clog the engine. Engine oil also can run out as the engine uses it up. Make sure to check the oil on a regular basis to monitor the fluid levels and the quality of the oil. If the levels are low but the quality looks good, top it off. If the levels are low and the oil is black and dirty, flush it out and replace it with fresh oil.

3. Power Steering Fluid

Like brake fluid, hydraulic power steering fluid connects the pressure you place on the steering wheel to the rest of the steering system, which then moves the car. It serves as a cushion to protect the moving parts of the steering system and as a conduit so you don't need to use excessive force to turn the car.

Over time, the seals and other components of the steering system can break down, causing contaminants to enter the fluid. If not maintained, the fluid can start to degrade or disappear, making the steering system work harder and burn itself out. Your system may also have a leak, so you should check the fluid levels on a regular basis and receive professional maintenance.

Checking the fluid levels in your car on your own will give you a better idea of what possible issues your vehicle may be experiencing. If you notice any problems in the three types of fluid mentioned above, visit Discount Tire and Service Centers. Our experienced mechanics can examine the system and provide additional details about your car's needs.

By Discount Tire Centers 28 Aug, 2017

Whether you inherited your family's old minivan or you just purchased a new car for the first – or fifth - time, you know that a car is both an investment and a commodity. And you want to protect this modern-day convenience as much as possible.

You drive carefully so that your car doesn't get damaged while you drive around. You even pay for insurance coverage to safeguard your vehicle in the event of an accident.

But do you make any efforts to keep your car in good condition? If not, now's the time to start. Below, we've listed several car care tips you can use to keep your car in excellent condition. Read through these tips so you know what you can do to further protect your car and keep using it for years.

1. Check the Car's Vital Components and Fluids

You know that if any car parts are damaged or broken, your car can't run properly. Likewise, you understand that your car's engine needs certain levels of fluids to make each component work well.

Briefly inspect the following parts and fluid levels in your car:

  • Air conditioner
  • Antifreeze
  • Battery
  • Belts
  • Brake fluid
  • Brakes
  • Filters
  • Hoses
  • Oil
  • Power steering fluid
  • Refrigerant for A/C
  • Tire treads
  • Windshield wipers
  • Wiper fluid

You should also check each tire's air pressure and fill it up if necessary.

Note that checking many of these fluid levels and components may be difficult if you don't know what to look for. The best way to accurately inspect your car's parts and fluids is to take your car to a mechanic for a quick inspection and fluid top-off. You should also schedule regular tune-ups to ensure your car's engine and transmission work well.

2. Inspect the Glass for Damage

The windows in your car serve two primary purposes: to let you see around you and to protect you as you drive. But when the glass is too damaged, it can't fulfill those functions.

Starting at your front windshield and slowly moving around your car, inspect your glass for the following kinds of damage:

  • Breaks
  • Chips
  • Cracks
  • Holes
  • Scratches

If you do find any damage, take your car to a glass repair shop or your auto shop and have the damage fixed. You may also want to call your insurance company to see if your policy will pay for any of these repairs.

3. Find Out If Your Vehicle Has Been Recalled

Recently, thousands of cars have been recalled because of malfunctioning parts. If your car has been recalled, the manufacturer will send you a notice in the mail telling you what the problem is and where you can go to fix the issue free of charge. Sometimes, these notices can be delivered late, and you may not be aware of a recall in a timely manner.

You can look up recalls by VIN numbers  to determine if your car has been recalled. Or, you can call the manufacturer or a local dealership that sells your vehicle's make. If a recall notice has been issued for your car, follow the instructions listed in a mailed notice or those given to you by the dealership or manufacturer.

4. Wash Your Car

Dirt and grime make your car look dusty and unappealing. Tree sap makes your car feel sticky, and it can damage the paint on the body. To make your car look clean and sparkling, wash it regularly. Run your car through the automatic wash at your gas station next time you fill up the tank, or give it a thorough cleaning with a hose and rag at home.

5. Apply a Fresh Coat of Wax

Once you've washed your car, keep it cleaner for longer – and protect the paint job from damage – by applying a fresh coat of wax. The wax also makes your car look sleek as well.

6. Clean the Interior

Even if you've taken great care of your car's exterior, your vehicle's overall value can drop significantly if the interior is in poor shape. Take time to clean the inside and keep your car spick and span. Vacuum the floors and fabric seats a few times a month. If you have leather seats, wipe them down with leather-safe wet wipes.

You should also use wet wipes or dusters to clean the center console, dashboard, and any other parts inside your car.

Throw away all trash and invest in a small container or bag you can use to dispose of garbage in the future.

7. Protect Your Car From the Sun

The sun not only causes the paint on the outside of your car to fade, but it also damages the fabric or material of your seats. Park in shaded areas or parking garages whenever you can, and use sunshades to block out the sun.

 Use these 7 tips to maintain your car and keep it drivable for you and your family members. When you need more extensive care to keep your car running properly, visit Discount Tire and Service Centers. Our mechanics will take a look at your vehicle and determine what problems need fixing so your car runs smoothly and seamlessly.

Want more information to further care for your vehicle outside of our shop? Let us know. We'll happily answer any questions you have so you can confidently drive a well-maintained, safe vehicle.

By Discount Tire Centers 18 Aug, 2017

One of the most fundamental maintenance measures any motor vehicle needs to run smoothly is a regular oil change schedule. However, because oil changes  are fairly straightforward and usually are not needed for months at a time, some drivers may put off or forget this task.

Additionally, your vehicle may need more frequent oil changes as it ages, increases in mileage, or drives in more extreme climates. Because the need for oil changes can become different over time, you may wait too long between changes, even if you're right on schedule.

So how do you know if it's been too long since your last oil change? In this blog, we list nine warning signs that you should bring your vehicle into an auto shop to refresh the oil.

1. Excess Vehicle Exhaust

Modern vehicles generally do not release visible exhaust from their tailpipes, so if you see what looks like smoke trailing behind your vehicle, the change can indicate a serious issue. Commonly, excess exhaust indicates that the motor oil has become too old to function properly.

Exhaust changes can also point to engine problems like cracked gaskets, so be sure to have this symptom checked out as soon as possible.

2. Falling Oil Level

Topping off your oil occasionally can help extend the period of time between oil changes. However, if your oil level seems to fall quickly and constantly, your oil system has likely developed a problem.

In this situation, you may need additional repairs on top of an oil change.

3. Increased Engine Noise

Motor oil lubricates your engine so that all the parts work together smoothly. When the oil becomes thin, old, or poorly textured, you might hear the issue every time you drive.

When driving with bad oil quality, your engine may make a knocking sound while the vehicle is in motion. Oil issues can also cause other noises, like ticking, which we'll discuss in the last section.

4. Irregular Oil Texture

All oil becomes darker as it runs through engines, sometimes almost immediately, so color isn't always a reliable indicator that you need an oil change. However, over time, oil can pick up small particles of grime that make the liquid gritty.

When you check your oil levels, check the consistency as well. If your oil seems to have a lot of grit in it, you may need to replace it.

5. Low Oil Level

While you can top off between oil changes, you should pay attention to the level you find the reservoir at. If it's been too long since your last oil change, the oil levels may read well below the minimum.

If you notice this low of an oil level, have your car serviced right away. Driving with extremely low oil levels can cause permanent engine damage and increase your risk of stalling or breaking down, especially in warm weather.

6. More Mileage Than Usual

If you recently returned from a long road trip or a long-distance business trip, you may need to take your car in for an oil change right away.

Any time you put significantly more miles on your car than you usually would, you should anticipate needing an oil change sooner than usual as well.

7. Persistent Check Engine Light

The "check engine" light on your dash can come on for a number of mechanical reasons. If your car doesn't have an oil change light or if your oil situation is extreme, this is the light you'll see.

A mechanic can read the signal of the light and help you determine if you need an oil change to resolve the issue.

8. Shaking While Idling

The high level of friction present in your engine when the oil needs to be changes can affect your ride quality. Specifically, when your car is idling, you may feel abnormal vibrations or shaking motions.

Avoid idling as much as possible until you can have your oil changed.

9. Ticking Sounds When Starting

When you start your vehicle, the engine immediately begins circulating oil. If the motor oil has an improper texture, this task may take more time and effort than it should.

In this situation, you may hear a ticking noise while your engine warms up. This noise comes from valves working to move the oil effectively.

If you notice any combination of the warning signs listed above, schedule an oil change as soon as possible to prevent damage to your vehicle's engine. When you come in for an oil change, discuss the needs of your vehicle with a technician to ensure that your next oil change happens right on time.

Whenever you need an oil change, bring your vehicle to the Discount Tire & Service Centers location nearest you. Our technicians offer efficient, cost-effective oil changes using the best products in the industry.
By Discount Tire Centers 11 Aug, 2017

If you're traveling through the desert for work, camping, or a weekend in Vegas, take some precautions before you head out of town. You may think your car is in great shape, but the desert is no place to learn that your vehicle actually needs work.

Plan ahead when traveling across desert areas. Follow the four tips below to enjoy your desert journey with less chance of a breakdown.

1. Know the Limitations of Your Ride

Every component in your vehicle has its limits. Your tires will only last so long before they begin to wear. Your oil, brake fluid and transmission fluid only last so long before the reservoirs need to be checked or flushed. If it's been a while since you've had your vehicle inspected or serviced, have your mechanic check the following areas before your desert outing:

  • Tire wear
  • Brakes
  • All fluids
  • Air-conditioning coolant
  • Fans, belts, and hoses
  • Battery and ignition system
  • Air, oil, and fuel filters
  • Windshield wipers
  • Lights

When your battery, tires, and air conditioning are in good shape, you travel more comfortably. You also have a lower chance of suffering a breakdown or dealing with a non-starting vehicle.

Know the limits of your gas tank, too. How far will it take you through the desert before you need a fill-up? Map out the locations of gas stations before you head out of town. Don't take another driver's word for the potential location of desert fuel stops, but double-check the hours of operation at each location for yourself.

2. Pay Special Attention to the Tires

If your tires are reaching the end of their useful life, order a new set before your desert trip. Hot pavement and highway surfaces put a lot of strain on tires. It's not the direct heat that hurts the tire but the fact that the interior pressure of a tire increases when the exterior of the tire is heated.

For each 10-degree increase in roadway temperature, expect a one-pound increase in tire pressure. You may start out your desert trip with tires that are perfectly inflated, then check the pressure a few hours later, and the tire is way over the recommended pressure.

Don't make the mistake of letting air out of the tires at that point. If your tires were at the correct pressure when you began the trip, under-inflating the tires will do more harm than good.

Both under- and over-inflated tires are at greater risk of having a blowout. An over-inflated tire may burst when heat over pressurizes the tire. An under-inflated tire makes more sidewall contact with a hot road surface, leading to increased risk of cracks, weak spots and tears.

Stay alert for debris from other drivers' tires. Summertime is when there may be many pieces of shredded tires scattered across highways. Keep your eyes on the road to avoid hitting all types of debris.

3. Know How to Handle Sudden Rains

When it rains in the desert, the highways are suddenly slick. Old vehicle oil in the asphalt or tar rises to the surface of the wet roadway. Slow down and take it easy when it's raining. Your tires can't grip the road as easily, and you have decreased visibility, which is a recipe for a wreck.

Experts recommend following the tire tracks of the car ahead of you on a rainy road. This can keep you from sliding or hydroplaning. If you begin to hydroplane or skid, don't panic or slam on brakes.

If you hydroplane, firmly grab the steering wheel and gently brake until you slow down. If you begin to skid, steer in the direction your car is skidding and gently brake. Your brakes may feel as if they're pumping or vibrating, but that's okay. Your brake sensors are adapting to the road conditions to help your brakes work more efficiently.

Avoid any sudden wheel turns, acceleration or stops when on wet roads. Never, ever drive through standing water on a road. As little as 18 inches of water can pick up your car and cause it to float down a flooded creek or river.

4. Notify Loved Ones and Stock Up on Survival Supplies

Let someone know when you'll be traveling through the desert, what your route is and how they can reach you in the event of an emergency. Check with websites or state highway officials to learn about any delays or road closures along your planned desert route. Your phone should be fully charged before you head out for your desert travel. Remember to bring your phone charger along for the return trip.

You never want to get caught in the desert without supplies. Pack the car with plenty of water, snacks, necessary medications, and safety gear. Flares, a first-aid kit, and auto-repair tools are also handy in a jam.

Remember when you had your mechanic check your tires? Hopefully, the spare tire was checked, too, because it should be loaded in your trunk with a jack and a tire iron in case you get a flat.

If you have a more serious breakdown on a desert highway, stay with your car. Don't attempt to walk for help. Raise your car's hood and light any flares you may have if it's after dark.

Contact Discount Tire & Service Centers  today to schedule a complete inspection of your vehicle. We help you prepare for safe and comfortable desert, coastal, and highway travel.
By Discount Tire Centers 04 Aug, 2017

Southern California is known across the world for its beautiful, sunny summer days. Our warm weather makes it possible to soak up the sun, head to the beach, or hike to mountain peaks. And to participate in most of the area's activities, you need reliable transportation.

But, on extremely hot days, your car may experience heat-related performance issues. These problems may prevent you from reaching your desired destination, especially if your car is not well maintained.

If you want to make sure hot temperatures don't ruin your summer fun, review our list of heat-related car problems below. You'll discover which problems might affect your car and how to avoid those issues altogether.

1. Beware of Tire Blowouts

Be honest: how often do you check your tire pressure? You should be checking it at least once a month, but many drivers don't pull out the pressure gauge unless they have a reason to, such as seeing a dashboard light turn on or hitting an object while driving.

In hot weather, tire pressure matters even more than under normal weather conditions. Your tires heat up when you drive, and that combined with the extra heat from the pavement can make it hard for them to do their job if they aren’t properly inflated.

To keep your tires speeding safely across California roads, check your tire pressure monthly. Always check tire pressure when tires have been resting a while. You may get a less accurate reading if you check pressure after a drive. While you check the pressure, also evaluate your tire wear. If the tires look bald or uneven, replace them with safe, new models.

2. Treat Your Battery Right

Hot temperatures may cause your battery fluid to evaporate faster than normal. When this occurs, the internal components become more likely to corrode. Plus, the combination of summer heat and typical vibrations caused by driving can break down your battery at an accelerated pace.

You can perform a few simple tasks to reduce your chance of battery trouble in the heat:

  • Ensure that your battery is mounted securely to minimize vibration-induced damage.
  • Clean the battery of any corrosion, particularly around the terminals.
  • Ask a mechanic to test your battery and determine how much life it has left.

Also, always carry jumper cables in your vehicle so you can revive your battery in a pinch.

3. Rely on A/C for More Than Comfort

In Southern California, a working automobile air conditioner seems like a necessity, not a luxury. But if your car's air conditioner goes on the fritz a lot, you may try to just live with it. Not the best idea. When your car spews out cool air despite the hot weather, you and your passengers stay comfortable. You can also avoid fatigue and stay safe while driving.

In addition, air conditioning problems may be related to other car issues, such as a low refrigerant level. You may even need to replace the air filter to improve the climate control system's efficiency. If your air conditioner doesn't work, ask a mechanic to evaluate it and recommend a repair.

4. Protect Your Gas Tank

Gas prices are no joke, and Southern California drivers pay more per gallon than most other vehicle owners in the country. If your wallet feels the burn every time you pump gas, you may not like learning that hot temperatures can cause some gas in your tank to evaporate.

While you can't entirely prevent this from happening, you can do a few things to make it happen less. Try the following:

  • Park your car in the shade so your car stays cool.
  • Twist the cap on as tight as you can after each fill up.
  • Buy gas early in the morning or later at night when temperatures are cooler.

Also, keep your eye out for gas leaks on your driveway or your typical parking spot. Ask a mechanic to check your fuel line if you notice any drips.

5. Get Your Engine a Checkup

No matter what the weather is doing, your car's engine heats up anytime you turn the key and start the ignition. So when that heat meets hot air outside, your engine's cooling system has to work overtime to keep your engine in a safe temperature zone.

Like any other car fluid, engine coolant needs a top-off from time to time. And for many vehicles, a full engine flush is recommended every five years or every 50,000 miles (whichever occurs first). During an engine flush, a mechanic will replace all the coolant in your car and clean out gunk that accumulates in the engine. Check with your mechanic to see if your vehicle is eligible for a flush.

Don't Get Stuck in the Heat

Car problems are annoying at any time, but they can be the worst when you find yourself stranded on a 100- degree day. Use the tips above to reduce your chances of experiencing a heat-related car problem. Remember to bring your car to Discount Tire and Service Centers for regular maintenance as part of those efforts.
By Discount Tire Centers 04 Aug, 2017

The California heat definitely keeps you on your toes. But luckily, you've found the best way to combat the varying temperatures: air conditioning. You love how cool your home and workplace feel, but you absolutely cherish your car's cooling system. Your car's A/C provides you with the perfect relief as you run errands, drive to and from work, or travel to a friend's house on scorching hot days.

But how well do you manage the heat when your car's air conditioner stops working? Chances are not very well.

While you might want to just tolerate the heat instead of addressing the problem, you should know that a small issue with your car's cooling system could also indicate problems with other parts of your vehicle.

Below, you'll find several common air conditioner issues and the other problems associated with them. Read on to discover what you should look out for and what you can do to keep your vehicle in good repair.

Which Common Issues You May Encounter

To determine if your air conditioner is malfunctioning, look out for the following issues.

Hot Air Blows From the Vents

When you turn your air conditioner on, you expect to feel cold air blowing from the vents. If, however, you feel warm or hot air, the cooling system may not be working correctly.

Let your A/C run for a few minutes to see if the air will cool down. Sometimes, the high temperatures outdoors require your car's cooling system to work a little harder and longer to cool down. If the air still feels hot after a few minutes, some part in the system isn't working as it should.

No Air Comes Out of the Vents

Likewise, you also expect some kind of air to come out of your car's vents. If you turn on your air conditioner and no air blows out, you should take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.

Low Air Pressure

Depending on which settings you prefer, your car's cooling system should blow air out at a certain level. If, however, you turn the system on and you only feel a small trickle of air, you could have a more serious issue at hand.

Try turning the system to its maximum settings. If the air pressure is still low after you take this step, visit an automotive expert.

Metallic Clicking

You likely recognize all the sounds your vehicle makes as you drive it around every day. However, you don't want to hear a metallic clicking noise coming from your vents or under the hood. If you do hear this sound, don't wait to get your car inspected.

Musty Smell From the Vents

When air blows from your vents, it should smell cool, clean, and crisp. If you regularly notice any odors that smell like must or mildew, your air conditioner isn't working as well as it could.

What Issues These Signs Indicate

As previously mentioned, the signs listed above could indicate more serious issues with your vehicle. The following problems are a few that could cause your car's A/C – or your car itself – to stop working properly.

Refrigerant Leak

To cool down your vehicle properly, your car's air conditioner uses a refrigerant to lower the air temperature. That refrigerant flows through a small tube. If that tube has a hole or crack in it, the refrigerant will leak through the opening and evaporate into the air. As a result, you won't have cold air when you turn the A/C on.

Damaged or Worn-Down Compressor

The compressor also circulates the refrigerant through your car. Over time, the part can wear down or sustain damage. If it isn't in good condition, it can't regulate the refrigerant and cool down the air that goes into your car.

Electrical System Issues

Even though your car runs on gas or diesel fuel, it still requires electrical components to function at full capacity. These components include fuses, pressure switches, and relays. If any of these parts is broken, your air conditioner won't work. Likewise, other parts of your car, like the radio and lights, won't work if the electrical system has failed.

Freezing

If excess moisture and air remain in your cooling system, different parts of your car could literally freeze. You can turn off your cooling system to let these components thaw, but this solution is only a temporary fix. Without a proper flush, the system will keep freezing and prevent your A/C from working.

Dirty Filters

Like all cooling and heating systems, your car uses a few filters to make the air clean and breathable. When it gets too dirty and clogged, you may notice the musty or mildew smells mentioned above. Dirty filters also put more strain on the cooling system and your car, so replace them frequently to keep your vehicle in good condition.

Who You Can Trust to Fix Your Car's A/C

If you notice any of the signs listed above, take your car into the trusted mechanics at Discount Tire and Service Centers. We service all kinds of vehicles, and we have the skill and knowledge necessary to address and repair your specific cooling problem.

Let us make any necessary adjustments to your car so you can enjoy cool air in your vehicle all day long.
By Discount Tire Centers 06 Jul, 2017

Whether you live in an area with all four seasons or in perpetually sunny Southern California, spring is a crucial time for car maintenance. Not only does spring maintenance help your vehicle recover from winter driving, but these tasks also prepare your car for the hot summer road ahead.

In this blog, we list eight fundamental maintenance measures your car will most likely need this spring.

1. Change Vehicle Filters

Spring provides the perfect opportunity to change out your vehicle filters. Dusty wind storms can leave your cabin air filter obstructed. Have these filters cleaned or replaced during the spring so that both your interior and engine cooling systems are ready for summer.

You may need a mechanic to complete these tasks since many automotive filters are located in hard-to-reach places like the area behind the glove compartment.

2. Check Tire Pressure

Temperature fluctuations, especially cold spells, can have a significant impact on tire pressure. If your vehicle doesn't have an automatic pressure sensor, you could start your summer off driving on low tires. Gauge the pressure and adjust as needed to avoid the wear and tear of improper tire pressure.

You may also need to have your tires rotated or your alignment tested to maintain good vehicle handling.

3. Have the Battery Tested

Like your tires, your car battery is vulnerable to temperature changes. As the weather warms up, your battery won't have to work as hard to power your vehicle. However, the decrease in battery strain won't matter if the battery was weakened during the winter.

Have the battery tested, especially if you live in or visited a cold area recently. If necessary, replace the battery right away to avoid issues during the coming year.

4. Have the Coolant Exchanged

During the winter, your engine probably didn't generate as much heat as it will during upcoming warm weather drives. In summertime heat, your coolant system is your vehicle's first defense against the damage and inconvenience of overheating.

Schedule a coolant system service  this spring at a trusted auto shop such as Discount Tire & Service Centers.

5. Replace Windshield Wipers

Winter and spring can both manifest with high levels of precipitation. The sleet or fog of winter can cause irreparable damage to your windshield wipers, leaving them incapable of keeping your windshield clear in spring showers.

Check both your front and rear wipers for signs of damage, such as pitted or warped rubber. Replace the wipers if necessary.

6. Schedule a Brake Inspection

Most drivers spend more time on the road during the summer. If you're planning on taking day trips or a vacation, it's smart to have your brakes checked. This step is particularly crucial if your winter travels took you anywhere where snow melt was used since salt can corrode your brakes.

If you have noticed any brake problems, such as a fluid leak or unresponsive pedal, have your car towed to the mechanics to ensure your safety.

7. Spring Clean the Interior

While the cleanliness of your car's interior may not affect how the vehicle drives, it can affect how you drive. As you spring clean your home, take time to clear out and freshen up your car's interior.

It's particularly important to remove any food waste or scented items that could attract pests during the summer. Additionally, eliminate any lightweight loose objects, like grocery bags, that could be distracting if they came loose while driving with the windows rolled down.

8. Wash and Wax

Depending on the climate you live in and frequently drive to, your car can collect a lot of grime over the winter. Certain substances, like airborne pollution, can cause corrosion if left sitting on your car's undercarriage or paint.

Wash your vehicle thoroughly and apply a layer of automotive wax to protect your paint job. Waxing can prevent tree sap, bird droppings, and other common spring hazards from scratching, corroding, or etching the paint. Waxing is more important if you park outside more often than you park in a garage.

In addition to the general maintenance measures listed above, take care of any issues you've been putting off. This proactive spring upkeep ensures that your car can safely transport you wherever you go during the summer, whether you're taking your usual commute or road tripping to a dream vacation destination.
By Discount Tire Centers 15 Jun, 2017

You come out of your home to start your day, car keys already in your hand. But as you approach your vehicle, you notice an odd puddle underneath it that doesn't appear to be precipitation.

In a moment like the one just described, the unexpected puddle can be surprising and a little scary. To the average driver, a leak just looks like one problem: a major car repair.

In reality, vehicle leaks can occur for a number of reasons. The first step to determining the severity of the leak is identifying the liquid. In this blog, we list seven common vehicle fluids that may leak from your car and their individual characteristics.

1. Antifreeze

Antifreeze or coolant helps regulate engine temperature when you drive. If your engine becomes too hot, especially if you drive an older model vehicle, a puddle may form under the car as it cools off.

Antifreeze is the most common vehicle fluid leak and usually isn't serious, but you should take your car in if the leak happens more than once. Antifreeze is brightly colored, usually green or orange. If you notice a green or orangeish leak, keep your pets away from the car since antifreeze smells appealing but is highly toxic if ingested.

2. Battery Acid

If your battery casing becomes damaged, the battery may break and begin to leak acid. These leaks will usually appear under the front end of the car since that's where the battery is commonly located.

Battery acid has a distinct sulfur smell that you may mistake for rotten eggs. If you find a leak with this odor, do not touch the liquid or get any on your clothes since battery acid is highly caustic. Your battery will most likely need to be replaced.

3. Brake Fluid

Modern vehicle brakes use hydraulics to bring your car to a stop. Like any hydraulic system, your brakes need an adequate fluid level to function. Brake fluid leaks tend to happen less often than most leaks on this list, but can be far more dangerous since a leak could lead to sudden loss of brakes while driving.

Brake fluid looks oily and yellowish in color. If you see a puddle with these characteristics, have your car towed to the mechanic because, if the culprit is a brake fluid leak, the vehicle is not safe to drive.

4. Differential Fluid

Differential fluid or gear oil lubricates the moving parts in your car's axles. When differential fluid leaks occur, they tend to drip continuously, so you may hear and see the problem immediately.

Differential fluid leaks can appear in either axle, but are more likely to occur in the rear axle. This fluid is thick, dark yellow to black, and smelly. The fluid may smell like a truck stop or mechanic's garage.

5. Fuel

Whether your vehicle runs on gasoline or diesel, it's possible for leaks to develop in the fuel tank. If the leak appears near the back of the car, your gas tank is probably leaking. If the fluid puddles near the front of the car, you may have a faulty fuel pump.

These leaks are among the easiest to identify because the liquid will smell like gasoline no matter how long it sits. Fuel-related problems can lead to a lot of wasted money on gas or diesel, but almost never result in combustion accidents despite their scary scent.

6. Motor Oil

Motor oil may seep out of your engine as you drive, especially if your vehicle has a large number of miles on it. If you notice that oil has escaped the engine block while your car was parked, do not attempt to drive the vehicle since it may not have enough oil pressure to run properly.

The color of a motor oil leak depends on when your last oil change was. If you recently changed your oil, the fluid will look light yellow or amber. If your car is almost due or overdue for an oil change, the liquid will appear dark brown or black and have particles floating in it.

7. Water

If the fluid coming from your car looks like water, it most likely is. This water is generally the result of condensation in your cooling system. If you recently turned on the air conditioner in your car, there probably isn't actually a leak, just excess moisture.

If the amount of water coming from your car seems abnormal, have a mechanic look at the cooling system during your next routine service.

If you notice a fluid leak, take action immediately. Some leaks can lead to serious problems for your car and major safety hazards for you and your passengers.

To reduce the risk of fluid leak development, stay on top of routine car maintenance, including oil changes  and fluid exchange services. To schedule your next service, contact the Discount Tire & Service Centers location nearest you.

By Discount Tire Centers 15 May, 2017

Getting a flat tire is something every driver dreads, but you might not be able to avoid it forever. According to one estimate, there are 220 million flat tires every year.

Fortunately, following the right steps can help you minimize the impact of a flat tire. You can even lower your risk of getting one in the first place.

Here are several important steps you can take both before and after getting a flat tire.

Before the Flat Tire

You shouldn't wait until your tires are in terrible shape to prepare for a flat tire. Have a plan in place now for what you'll do if you get a flat tire. Make sure you have a spare tire and the necessary tools to change your tire. You'll need a lug wrench, jack, wheel wedges, gloves, and a flashlight.

The first time you get a flat tire shouldn't be the first time you've ever changed a tire. Practice changing your tire at home in your driveway so you're prepared to change your tires in a more dangerous scenario.

Basic prevention tips can help you avoid getting a flat tire. Check the tire pressure frequently and make sure it matches your tires' recommended pressure requirements. Also, inspect your tires regularly for cuts, bubbles, cracks, punctures, and other damage. These problems should be fixed immediately by an auto mechanic.

Remember that front tires wear down faster than back tires. After all, front tires bear more weight and handle more stress from steering and braking. Getting your tires rotated can help you maintain even wear on all four tires. Your owner's manual will give you a good idea of how often to get your tires rotated, but a general recommendation is to rotate them every six months.

Even with rotation, tires wear down over time and actually come with an expiration date. Getting new tires when necessary can help you avoid a flat tire. Most tires can last up to 60,000 miles, but you might need to replace them earlier. Look at the wear bar on your tire, which is positioned in the middle of your tire tread. If the wear bar is even with the tire tread, your tires have worn down significantly and you should replace your tires.

Also, pay attention to warning signs that your tire might blow out. If your car vibrates while you drive it, there might be a problem with the tires. A hissing sound from your tires is a sign of a leak that could cause a flat tire. If you notice these signs, bring your car to a tire specialist right away.

After the Flat Tire

You'll notice you have a flat tire if you hear a grinding or groaning sound coming from your car. Your car might start slowing down, and your car's steering will feel off. Continuing to drive with a flat tire not only damages your car but it also compromises your safety and the safety of other drivers.

When you get a flat tire, turn on your emergency lights and slow down. Pull over as soon as you see an open stretch of road away from traffic. You don't want to change your tire too close to oncoming traffic.

Now, follow these steps to change your tire:

  1. Position the wheel wedges to prevent your car from rolling. Place them behind the back tires if you're changing a front tire. Place them in front of the front tires if you're changing a back tire.
  2. If you have one, remove the wheel cover or hubcap from your flat tire.
  3. Loosen the lug nuts on your flat tire by turning them counterclockwise with the lug wrench.
  4. Use the jack to lift the flat tire about six inches.
  5. Remove the lug nuts.
  6. Hold onto the tire and pull it toward you to remove it.
  7. Insert the spare tire by aligning the tire rim with the lug bolts.
  8. Replace the lug nuts and turn them clockwise until they are tight.
  9. Lower your car until the tire returns to the ground (but doesn't yet support the car's full weight).
  10. Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench.
  11. Lower your car completely and remove the jack.
  12. Make sure your spare tire has adequate tire pressure before you drive.

Remember that your spare tire is not a permanent tire, and it can handle only about seventy miles of driving. Thus, you'll need to take your car to a tire shop right away to select a new tire. When you take your car to the shop, ask the mechanic to check your other tires for signs of wear.

Follow these tips to prevent flat tires and to resolve a flat tire problem if it does occur. If you need new tires, visit Discount Tire & Service Centers . We'll help you select the right tires for your vehicle.

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