Auto Parts and Systems
Auto parts and systems are the building blocks that come together to make automobiles function. Understanding how auto parts work together to form automotive systems allows drivers to confidently discuss automotive problems with their mechanics
At Vidal Auto Service we diagnose mechanical auto problems can save you time and money on your vehicle. In this section, get familiar with the inner workings of your car and learn how to tell what may be wrong with it. We guarantee the best work.
A/C component repairs
If your A/C problem originates from a lack of refrigerant due to a minor leak, it will cost significantly less than component repairs. If your air conditioning trouble originates from anything other than a simple leak, there's a wide range of possible costs and repairs. Something as small as an O-ring for a hose may cost as little as $2, but replacing any major component such as condenser, compressor or evaporator can easily start at $1,000 and rise quickly.
While the parts themselves are costly, the labor required can dictate higher prices on some A/C repairs. Disassembling complex interior pieces such as the dashboard may be necessary for some A/C repairs, which can take even the most experienced many hours to do.
Symptoms of failing air conditioning components can include loud screeching that's continuous or upon starting the vehicle, coupled with loss of cooling output. Other symptoms, such as rattling or poor air flow from the vents, can help indicate the difference between a major repair like an A/C compressor, or a minor one like a bad blower fan. Problems attributed to the vehicle’s air conditioning itself can often turn out to be the air distribution system, which includes the vents and a blower motor for the fan.
Tips to keep your car cool
Turning on your air conditioning isn't the only way to keep your car cool during hot weather. Use these tips to help cut down on high temperatures and uncomfortable conditions in your car:
1. Use a sunshade or window visor. This tried-and-true method of keeping your car cool should be your go-to option to counteract hot interior temperatures throughout the summer. Put up a sunshade or window visor every time you exit your car for more than a few minutes. Keep it even cooler for long periods by putting a sunshade in your rear window as well.
2. Use a dash cover. A fabric or upholstered dash cover can go a long way toward making your car's interior more comfortable. You won't feel as overwhelmed by the heat if you don't have to touch hot vinyl surfaces. Dash covers also protect sensitive vinyl from sun damage that can cause cracking and fading.
3. Cover your steering wheel with a hand towel. Even if you use a sunshade, it's a good idea to cover your steering wheel with a small towel. This will help to keep the contact temperature of your steering wheel down.
4. Park in a shady area. Whenever possible, park in a shady area. If you're going to be somewhere for an extended period of time, it's worth it to walk a bit farther in order to park in the shade. You'll be happy to enter a not-so-hot car when you return from your day out.
5. Keep your precious possessions out of the sun. Any tapes, CDs or delicate items that you keep in your car should be stored out of the path of direct sunlight. Try storing your tape and CD cases underneath the seat. You can also throw a blanket over your precious possessions. If you can't find a place in your car that will conceal heat-sensitive goods, consider placing them in the trunk.
6. Park in a garage when possible. Whenever possible, park in a garage. Your car will be out of direct sunlight and will have the benefit of near-constant shade. Even a warm garage beats being parked in the sun all day.
7. Keep windows slightly cracked. While it's not a good idea to leave your windows all the way open, it is a good idea to leave them slightly cracked. Check to be sure that you can't fit your arm through the crack in your window. Even a small crack will promote ventilation and help to keep your car cool.
8. Purchase a solar-powered fan. Paired with cracked windows, a solar-powered fan can make your car feel downright pleasant during even the hottest summer days. These simple fans work to expel hot air from your car. By creating constant air circulation, they lower your car's overall temperature.
9. Throw blankets over your seats. If your car features vinyl or leather seats, you know just how hot these materials can become when exposed to sunlight and high temperatures. To keep car seats cool, throw blankets over them. When you return to the car, you can place the blankets on the floorboards or toss them in the trunk. Keeping your seats cool will make your car more pleasant on hot summer days.
TOP 5 SINGS OF ENGINE PROBLEMS
We've all done it: While sitting in traffic, maybe at a red light, you listen. Is that a whirring sound? What is that whirring sound? Where is it coming from? Is it from my car? Is it in the engine? Please don't let it be in the engine. It's just the air conditioner. Or maybe it's not even my car. The car in the next lane looks like a real clunker. I bet it's that car.
Repeat with any sound, any smell, any weird feeling you get while driving. Car jerking around? They need to pave this road. Engine smells funny? That's because this whole town smells. Check engine light come on? It's probably a loose gas cap. And of course, if you hear something strange, turn up the radio and drown it out.
Because otherwise, these things can give you a panic attack. With every sound, smell, and insistent light on the dashboard, here are a few of the scariest signs of engine trouble, the likely causes. And yes, they almost all require immediate attention -- but there's no need to panic.
You fire up the engine and the dashboard lights up like carnival. This is the car's computer checking everything out. One by one, each of the lights turns off and you're ready to drive.
If they don't turn off, though, that's bad. Either very bad or slightly bad, depending on which light remains lit. These lights are connected to sensors that monitor everything your car does. If something seems out of whack, the computer will use these lights to tell you what it is. It can't use its words; it's not KITT, you know.
The lights you'll probably want to pay the most attention to are:
Check Oil/Oil Level Low
Oil Pressure Low
The "Check Engine" lamp is perhaps the most troubling of lights because it could mean so many different things, from "you didn't screw the gas cap on tightly enough" to "look out for pistons flying through the hood and into the stratosphere." The easiest way to find out what this light is telling you is to hook your vehicle up to a scan tool. This diagnostic tool looks a little like an oversized calculator and plugs into a communication port inside the car. After you instruct it to perform the scan, it "speaks" with your car's computers to find out exactly what's prompting the light to turn on.
You can purchase your own tool from an auto parts store for less than $100, but then what? You're probably not going to put on your coveralls and crawl under the hood yourself. Instead, visit a service station, where a technician will use the scan tool to identify the trouble but if your car is popping and locking, that's a pretty strong sign of engine trouble. It could be due to fouled spark plugs, clogged fuel lines or fuel filter, the main computer reading the driving situation wrong, or many, many other issues.
The last thing you want is for your vehicle to take its own sweet time accelerating, or to give out entirely, as you're merging onto a busy highway with other vehicles barreling down behind you. Likewise, high revving at idle or acceleration that's out of your control are situations you should have a qualified technician investigate and repair as soon as possible. Preventive maintenance, including regular oil changes and belt replacements at recommended intervals help to keep you out of the danger zone.
5 Signs That You Need Your Brakes Checked
Having a certified mechanic periodically check your brakes ensures that your auto is safe to drive.
When you're driving along the highway on a sunny day with your windows down and your radio volume up, it's easy to forget that you're in a massive chunk of steel and glass hurtling through space at 60-plus miles per hour (97-plus kilometers per hour). At that speed, if you suddenly needed to stop, your vehicle could take approximately the length of a football field (100 yards or 91 meters) to come to a standstill -- and that's only if you've kept one of the most critical safety systems in your car well maintained: your brakes.
Brakes may not be the sexiest part of a car, but they're certainly one of the most crucial. Paying attention to the warning signs that indicate a need for service can mean the difference between life and death on the Of course, there are some obvious signs that your brakes need servicing, such as the brake light appearing on your car's dashboard or the feeling that your vehicle is taking longer to stop than it should. In either of these cases, you should visit your local mechanic for a brake check as soon as possible. But do you know what the other signs are that could indicate an ailing brake system? Here, we deliver five that just may help you put the brakes on a serious accident in the future
1. Temperamental Pedal
Resurfacing rotors can smooth any unevenly-worn areas that make your brakes grab immediately.
In addition to thrumming, your brake pedal can give you other indications that your car's braking system might need examining.
A mushy pedal, one that goes practically to the floor before engaging the brakes, could indicate worn pads or a problem with the hydraulic system, such as air in the line, an air leak or a brake fluid leak. To check for a fluid leak, put an old white sheet or piece of light cardboard under the car overnight. In the morning, examine any fluid that collects. Brake fluid will be practically clear and the consistency of cooking oil.
If you've ever had to execute an emergency stop in a car with antilock brakes, then you're familiar with the type of rapid brake-pedal pulsing that comes from the quick grabs the system applies to the rotor to slow the car. However, if your brake pedal pulses in this way under normal braking circumstances, you could have a problem.
Generally, a vibrating brake pedal indicates warped rotors. Their uneven surfaces will thrum against the brake pads, and you'll feel the feedback through the brake pedal.
Rotors usually only warp when they're under extreme stress for an extended period. The friction-generated heat caused by driving down steep mountainsides or by stopping frequently while towing something heavy, for example, can cause the metal of the rotors to change shape.
If you haven't stressed your brakes recently, but you still feel vibration in the pedal, you may have misaligned wheels. In either case, it's best to see a mechanic for diagnosis
Has your car ever felt like it has a mind of its own? As if it wants to make right- or left-hand turns while driving or braking?
If so, this could indicate a problem with the braking system. The cause of this pulling might be a stuck caliper. Because such a scenario would cause friction on one wheel and not the others, your car can pull to the side where the caliper is stuck.
Two other brake-related scenarios that could cause a car to pull would be a collapsed brake hose that would cause your calipers to move unevenly when applying the brakes, or uneven brake pads, which would also apply different amounts of pressure to different wheels.
Pulling, however, doesn't always indicate a problem with the brakes. The cause could also come from unevenly inflated or worn tires, poor alignment or a problem with your vehicle's suspension. This is why, if your car begins to pull, you'll want to pull it into the nearest mechanic's shop for a full workup.
4. Strange Sounds
Brakes pads come equipped with a wear indicator that squeals when your pads need replacing.
Your mom always told you that blasting music in the car wasn't good for your ears. Well, it's not good for your brakes either.
That's because one of the warning signs that your brakes need servicing can come from a small indicator in your braking system that emits a high-pitched squeal when your pads need replacing. And, while this sound is loud enough to be heard even when the windows are up, it might be tough to hear with Lady Gaga blaring from the stereo.
In addition to the squeal from the sensor, you'll also want to listen for a harsh grinding sound. This means that you've gone completely through your brake pads and now, when you apply the brakes, the metal of the calipers is grinding against the metal of your rotors. Not only is this an ineffective way to stop your car, chances are good that you'll also damage your rotors, thus turning a relatively easy and inexpensive pad job into a more costly rotor resurfacing or replacement ordeal.
5. Worn Pads
First, a few words on how your brakes work.
Most cars use what are known as disc brakes. These function in much the same way as brakes on a ten-speed bicycle. A hydraulic system filled with brake fluid triggers a set of padded clamps known as calipers, causing them to squeeze together on a disc known as the rotor. The friction that occurs between the pads and rotor eventually stops the car.
Over time, as you can imagine, the pads will begin to wear thin, which means they'll become less effective at slowing and stopping your car.
Fortunately, checking the thickness of your brake pads -- those that squeeze down on the calipers -- is a straightforward procedure. All you need to do is look between the spokes of your wheel to spot the shiny metal rotor inside. When you find it, look around the outer edge where you'll see the metal caliper. Between the caliper and rotor, you'll see the pad. You'll have to estimate, but generally, your pads should be at least one-quarter of an inch thick. If they're any thinner than that, it's a good idea to get them changed.
If your car wheel isn't designed in such a way that you can see through the spokes, you'll have to remove the tire to see the rotor and pads. In either case, while you're looking, it's also a good idea to inspect the rotor itself. It should be relatively smooth. If you see any deep grooves or pits, it might also be time to replace that, as well.
HOW DO I KNOW WENT MY TIRES NEED TO BE REPLACED?
Improves your car's handling, braking ability and ride quality. Yet despite these benefits, more than a quarter of all passenger vehicles on U.S. roads have significantly underinflated tires, illustrating just how little attention our tires receive. Over time that neglect, along with normal wear and tear, can lead to tires unsafe for the road. But before we learn how to decide if your tires should be replaced.
1.Too Much Vibration
Too much vibration is almost always a sign that something is not quite right.
A certain amount of vibration is inevitable when driving, especially on poorly paved roads, but if you've been driving for a while, you probably know how much vibration feels right and how much means that something's going wrong. There can be any of a number of causes for the vibration -- maybe your tires are misaligned or unbalanced, or your shock absorbers are starting to go. But it could also indicate that there's some sort of internal problem in the tire itself. Even if the tire isn't the root cause of the vibration, the vibration could damage the tire and pretty soon you'll have a problem. So if your car has a bad case of the shimmy-shimmy shakes, especially if you notice this when you aren't driving on bad roads, take it to the mechanic right away to have it checked out. Too much vibration is almost always a sign that something is wrong.
2. Bulges and Blisters on the Tire
A bulge or a blister on your tire could lead to a blowout.
Sometimes the outer surface of the tire begins to weaken. The result can be a bulge or blister that extends outward from the rest of the surface. This is similar to an aneurysm in one of your blood vessels and you know that if your doctor tells you that you have an aneurysm, you'd better get to the hospital as quickly as you can before you blow out an artery. It's the same with your tire. This weak spot can cause a sudden blow out, and if you don't put the car in the hospital (or service center, as the case may be) before this happens, it may end up putting you in the hospital when the tire blows out on the freeway. So keep your eye on those tire bulges and blisters.
3. Cracks in the Sidewall
Cracked and weathered sidewalls are a bad sign, too.
Not all problems with the tires are going to be in the tread. They can also appear in the sidewall. Fortunately, it's easy to do a visual check of sidewall problems. Look for tracks or cuts in the sidewall -- grooves that are distinct enough to be visible to the naked eye. This could be a sign that your tire is developing a leak (or worse, that it's nearly ready to blow out). This is definitely something you want to avoid. So if the cracks in the sidewall are starting to look serious, get that car to a repair shop at the next opportunity and start talking about getting them replaced. Better safe than sorry, as they say.
4. The Tread Wear Indicator Bar
Evidence of flat rubber bars running perpendicular to the direction of the tread indicate you need new tires.
Newer tires have a convenience that older tires lacked. They have tread wear indicator bars built into the tires themselves. These bars, invisible or barely visible when the tires are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down. They appear as flat rubber bars running perpendicular to the direction of the tread itself. If more than one or two of these are visible on a tire, the tread is getting low. This should be particularly obvious in the wet tracks that your tires leave after you drive through a puddle. Use the penny test described on the previous page to double check the depth, but if the bars are starting to appear on any or all of your tires, it's once again time to check with your mechanic or local tire dealer to see about getting your current tires replaced.
5. Tread Depth
How much tread depth do you have left? It'll only cost you a penny to find out.
The tread on your tires should never fall below 1/16 of an inch (1.6 millimeters) in depth. If you regularly drive on slick, wet surfaces, you'd be even better off with twice that much. You can buy a gauge to measure the tread depth the way the professionals do, but there's an old trick that will give you a rough idea of how much tread depth you have left and it won't cost you more than a penny.
In fact, it requires a penny. Take a Lincoln-head penny, the kind you find in your change every day, and insert Abe's head (head-down) into the tread. If Lincoln's entire head remains visible, you don't have enough tread. Take your car into the mechanic and ask about getting a new set of tires.