exhaust system

How Your Vehicle’s Exhaust System Can Be Dangerous

Your Vehicle’s Exhaust System Can Be Dangerous

Is your muffler loud, or do you smell pungent fumes when you turn on your automobile? Your exhaust is an intricate part of your vehicle’s emissions system, and when it fails, it can be quite dangerous to you and those around you. This system is imperative for top engine performance.

Have you ever had a muffler get a hole in it, and people could hear you coming for miles down the road? It’s quite an embarrassing situation, but what’s even more sinister is how dangerous it is to leak harmful fumes into the atmosphere.

The lethal carbon monoxide fumes that come from this system can be overpowering. You must know the potential dangers of having a faulty exhaust system and why you should fit it right away.

Dangers of a Bad Exhaust System

You’re in line behind a car at your local fast-food restaurant that’s omitting toxic odors from the exhaust. You smell the fumes, and they’re overpowering your ability to breathe. You cough, choke and do anything to get fresh air into your cabin.

You’re experiencing carbon monoxide fumes, which can be deadly. Thankfully, you’ll only encounter them for a brief few moments in line, but long-term exposure can be catastrophic. Keeping your exhaust system in perfect working order affects you and those around you. Here are five things you’ll notice when you have a flawed exhaust system.

1. Poor Fuel Economy

When your exhaust system is damaged, your engine can’t work correctly. Thus, you will experience a reduction in your gas mileage, which affects your wallet. Paying more at the pump is something no one wants to do.

Many people think they don’t have the money to fix the exhaust, or they don’t want the downtime to mess with it. Sadly, not fixing it costs you more on your fuel economy.

2. Backfiring and Sputtering

When the exhaust system is lackluster, your engine may backfire, sputter, or lack power to drive correctly. It’s possible to stall out if the situation is bad enough. Since your engine needs proper oxygen to function, the buildup of toxins also affects this vital component.

This system provides backpressure that keeps the engine running correctly. You will notice the difference when this backpressure is reduced from a faulty system. It’s certainly a problem you can feel and smell.

3. Inability to Pass Emissions Testing

Currently, 48 counties in NC require emissions testing to renew your registration. Although, the state is moving towards making more counties require this test to renew. A simple hole in your muffler can keep you from getting your tags renewed, especially if you can’t pass this test.

Many people don’t know they can be fined when their exhaust has issues. While the fine isn’t astronomical, you can be ticketed for having an exhaust system that’s too loud.

4. Getting Sick

When your exhaust leaks, it’s omitting toxins into the air. However, these pollutants can make you very sick if you’re driving around town with the windows up. In fact, even if you roll your windows down, they will still impact you. Carbon monoxide is a killer; if the fumes are harmful enough, they can overcome you.

5. Check Engine Light Stays On

While it’s not dangerous when your check engine light is illuminated on your dash, it’s annoying. If your vehicle should develop another issues, this constant light may keep you from discovering the other problem. Your car’s computer can throw many codes; you might ignore them if you assume it’s just for your faulty exhaust.

This light is on because your car’s engine is having problems. Typically, we see codes between P0400-P0408 when it’s related to the exhaust system.

Exhaust Fumes Health Risks

According to a study by Iowa State University, all it takes is a 1.28% concentration of carbon monoxide to cause death. It would take three minutes to succumb to the fumes at this level.

Your car is built for a smooth, quiet ride, so your cabin is airtight. While that’s great for noise reduction, it’s troublesome, considering that exhaust fumes can build up quickly.

Anyone who’s experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning can experience the following:

● Respiratory distress
● Eye irritation
● Confusion
● Nausea
● Headaches
● Coughing and breathing trouble
● Coma or death

Seeing this list makes you think twice about that annoying hole in your muffler. While you keep thinking that you can go a little bit longer as it’s not too loud, it may be destroying your breathing abilities while driving.

Getting Your Exhaust Fixed

A delicate balance of oxygen and fuel is required to keep your car’s engine running smoothly. When the ratios are out of whack, it can cause your engine to malfunction. You’ll smell it when your vehicle has an exhaust leak, as it’s hard to ignore.

Sometimes you might smell an aroma of gas from the exhaust, while other times, it’s a smell that’s overwhelming but hard to describe. If you have any issues with your exhaust, it’s best to have a professional investigate the matter to ensure you’re safe. Please don’t put off such repairs because of time or money, as it’s costing you more in the long run.

Schedule an appointment today at Cloverdale Auto, and we can ensure your exhaust is safe.

Key Fob

Tips and Tricks for Utilizing Your Vehicle’s Key Fob

As cars become more advanced, push-button ignitions are replacing traditional keyed starters. You can power your vehicle without turning a switch using a key fob. Sure, like anything new; the fobs can be annoying, as you must replace the batteries and keep them within proximity of the vehicle.

The little box that hangs on your key ring is responsible for engaging your vehicle’s computer system. Even if you don’t push any buttons on the fob, it’s omitting a low-frequency signal to the mainframe of your automobile. You can start and stop the car with the touch of a button on your dash.

The fob allows you to open the doors or hatch, start the car, roll down windows, and adjust preferred settings. Gone are the days of fumbling through keys and getting scratches on the paint trying to gain entry.

Interesting Things You Can Do with Your Key Fob

Like most things in electronics, the key fob has evolved. Today’s fob can do way more than the first ones that hit the market. Yet, many people don’t realize all the power these little devices hold. Here are some of the key fob’s secret powers you need to understand to utilize them fully.

Access a Key Hidden

While keys are becoming obsolete in the automotive industry, they still have their place. What do you do when your electronic components are on the fritz and you need to get into your vehicle? The simple answer is that most fobs have a key hidden inside them for these moments.

Each car manufacturer is different, but most car companies put a key inside that can be accessed in an emergency. Knowing how to get to this inner key easily is advisable, as you’ll no doubt have to use it at least once.

Use It As a Personal Safety Device

Your key fob has a panic button that you can access in an emergency. Here’s something you probably didn’t know about; you can extend the fob range by using your body’s electricity. You only need to put the fob on your chin and hit the button you need.

You may want to unlock the door for your kid who ran ahead at the store. You can use your body’s electricity to extend the fob’s range. With the fob on your face, hit the unlock button. You can do this to lock, unlock, or use the panic button.

Sure, it probably doesn’t make much sense at first, but it becomes more apparent when you realize the electricity that runs through your body. Did you know some people have such a natural current that they can’t wear a watch? The electricity in their body messes with the timing.

Another indication is the old TV sets that used rabbit ear antennas. Whenever you touch the antenna, the picture becomes much clearer. It’s the electricity in your body that’s given it the boost.

Automatically Start Your Car

Automatic start is becoming a standard feature on many cars, as it sure comes in handy in the wintertime. Your fob is used to activate this perk, and you’ll wonder how you lived all those years without it. Don’t worry; no one can get in the car and drive it away. The fob must be inside the vehicle to start and drive the automobile. Additionally, it will shut down after 10-15 minutes of the warmup cycle.

Engage Auto Parking Features

You can do amazing things with the fob if you have a high-end vehicle like a Tesla. Using the summons feature, you can move the car back and forth with the touch of a button. Getting into and out of those tight spots when you don’t have someone else with you will no longer be a problem.

Dealing with a Dead Key Fob

One of the most significant issues with these new fobs is the battery. The more you use it, the more battery life you will take away from it. Replacing the batteries isn’t a big deal, but you must ensure you do it. If the fob isn’t acting as it should, you need to try replacing the batteries to ensure it’s this problem and not electrical.

How long will a battery last? The battery life depends heavily on the type of battery you buy and how much you use it. If you hit the fob 20 times a day every day, you can expect to get about 6-8 months’ worth of use from this battery. If you’re using it only a couple of times a day, it can last over a year or more.

A better battery is always worth the cost, as quality cells last longer. If you’re going through batteries quickly, it’s a sign there’s an issue. Even frugal varieties shouldn’t die too soon, as these are not low-draining devices.

Getting Help with Your Automobile

As technology continues to change, we’re constantly learning and evolving. While we can’t help you program a new fob to your car, as only a dealer can, we can help you sort out an electrical issue. Today’s technologically advanced vehicles are often more apt to have these types of problems.

The computer systems and more advanced wiring rival the ones in the cars of yesteryear. If you’ve put fresh batteries in your fob and are still having issues, it may be the electrical system. The team at Cloverdale Auto can help. Call us today for assistance.

Gadgets Every Driver Needs

8 Gadgets Every Driver Needs for Their Car

Gadgets Every Driver Needs

Do you need a holiday gift for someone special this year? Why not buy them a car gadget? Most people spend a lot of time behind the wheel of their vehicle, so buying them some devices to improve their ride is a must. There are a few hot gizmos on the market right now, as it’s the in-thing for drivers to accessorize.

Finding the Right Gadgets for Your Vehicle

While spending a ton of money on things you might use is effortless, you must ensure you need the item. Impulse buys can often be a mistake as they’re seldom used. It would help if you asked yourself a few questions before making a purchase, such as:

•Is this gadget something I will use?
•Am I getting good value for my money?
•Do I need this item, or is it purely a want?
•Will this gadget enhance my safety, or is it for pleasure?

By answering these four questions, you can make an informed decision. If you’re ready to buy, here are eight things that will make your life on the open road much easier.

1. Heated Ice Scraper

The weather here in the Tar Heel State doesn’t get as cold as in other states, but you will still have your fair share of window scraping. A heated scraper is a game changer for the early morning driver. Forget those large scrapers that give you a workout to remove the ice.

A heated scraper glides across your windows with ease. You can quickly remove any ice and be on your way. You can opt for a battery-powered one or get one that plugs into a USB port.

2. Emergency Auto Tool

Should you ever need to escape your vehicle quickly, you might need this gadget. It has a hammer that can break through the tough glass on your car and comes with a seat belt cutter. These devices also have flashlights and become emergency reflectors in an accident. They are small enough to fit in the glove box but are undoubtedly handy when you need help on the roadways.

3. Gel and Memory Foam Posterior Cushion

Back and neck pain is often aggravated by driving. Thankfully, grabbing a posterior cushion is the answer. Pillows with cooling gel can help when your back pain is unbearable, and the memory foam hugs every inch of your spine. It’s one gadget you should consider if you make frequent long trips.

4. Hands Free Devices

In North Carolina, no one under 18 can use a cell phone while driving. For adults, it’s no texting or emailing allowed. Just because it’s not illegal to talk on the phone doesn’t mean it’s safe. Many new cars are equipped with hands-free calling via Bluetooth, but not all vehicles have this feature.

Investing in a hands-free device is advisable. It allows you to focus on the road and not the phone. It takes a split second for you to have an accident, so it’s best to ensure you have no distractions. Plus, some areas have laws against cell phone use, so if you travel, you want to comply.

5. Wireless Diagnostic Code Reader

Cars have computer systems that indicate when there’s an issue. Everyone dreads seeing that check engine light illuminated on the dash. You need to know if it’s safe to drive and might need more time to go to your local mechanic. So, having a diagnostic code reader is the best choice.

These devices aren’t costly and can quickly tell you what’s going on with your vehicle. It can give you peace of mind and save on tow bills if you invest in this gadget.

6. Dash Cameras

If you’ve been on social media, you know how necessary a dashcam is nowadays. Not only can these devices help show proof in an accident, but they can protect you in court. You often need proof for all the little incidents on the roadway and having a dash cam is like a witness that provides an honest view of what happened.

7. GPS Tracker

Automobile thefts are up 41 % according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Having a GPS tracker on your car is brilliant. You can easily track your vehicle and help police find it should you be one of the unlucky ones who is a victim. Plus, if you have teenagers, it takes on a whole new level of importance.

8. USB Tire Inflator

You never know when the tire might need air. The cold weather can often mess with your PSI, but you need to be proactive. A tire inflator that can easily connect to your USB gives you the power to take care of the issue without a hassle.

Have you ever driven around trying to find a tire pump and didn’t have the correct change? This eliminates all those issues and can gets you enough air to get to the closest mechanic.

Gadgets Are No Substitution for a Mechanic

While you can buy inflators and scanning tools to make your life easier, nothing will replace the need for a skilled mechanic. At Cloverdale Auto, we help people with tire issues, engine overhauls, and everything in between. Your safety is our top concern. If you have a problem with your vehicle, give us a call at 336-331-3448.

Check Engine Codes

Common Check Engine Codes and When You Should Worry

Common Check Engine Codes

There’s nothing more ominous to a driver than the check engine light illuminated on the dash. Sometimes it comes on and goes back off before you can head to the mechanic, and other times it’s flashing that indicates you need service immediately.

Even the strongest person can’t help but feel a little anxiety when this light turns on, as the fear of the unknown can weigh heavy on the mind. The costs could be anywhere from a few dollars to thousands, and no one has time for their car to be out of commission in today’s busy world.

Learning the OBD II Codes

The computer in the car generates these codes. They help the mechanic quickly identify and fix the issue. It saves a lot of time and money on diagnostics when you can easily find out what’s wrong.

At Cloverdale Auto, we handle car troubles and engine codes daily, but we know that the public doesn’t have this knowledge. You can buy a machine at your local automotive store and scan it yourself, but you need to know what the codes mean. In most instances, you’ll still end up heading to your local mechanic for service.

Some codes are particular to a car manufacturer, but others will be universal. Codes are divided into four categories to help simplify things. They are as follows:

P: This code means something is amiss with the powertrain, such as the engine or transmission.

B: This code indicates that something is wrong with the vehicle’s body, such as the airbags, lights, or climate control.

C: A code that starts with C means something is amiss with the chassis. Your antilock brakes may be in trouble or the suspension system.

U: You will only see this code on vehicles after 2006. It means that the network is having communication issues. It could be the wiring or the modules, but it needs to be checked.

To further complicate matters, the second digit also has a significant meaning. Should the second number be a 1, this tells the mechanic that the vehicle likely needs further diagnostics. Things that won’t come up in these codes include low oil pressure, overheating, and a vehicle out of gas. These indicators have a separate gauge that helps to read them, so they don’t have a dedicated code.

Identifying Most Common Engine Codes

Most people recognize their car isn’t running quite right with or without the display of a check engine light. Here are some standard codes that you might observe and what they mean.

•P0411 – P0445

If you see any of these codes displayed, it means there’s an issue in the emissions control system or EVAP. Some of these codes are very benign, such as P0445. When we see this code displayed, we know that the most common culprit is a loose gas gap. However, if the P0442 comes up, it shows ups that there’s a vapor leak that could come from a faulty hose that’s cracked or loose, as well as a possible EVAP canister leak.

To diagnose these issues, we must pressurize the system and see where any leaks are present. If it’s something as simple as a gas cap, it will go off when we reset it or after so many times starting the engine. Other issues require a smoke generator to do the pressure test and find the problem.

•P0300 – P0305

Any code in this series indicates that the engine is misfiring. It can be something simple like a spark plug that’s fouling out, or it can be a vacuum leak. The computer has indicated an abnormality in the pace of the crankshaft while the engine is running. Sometimes, the fuel-to-oxygen ratio is off, or there’s a dirty fuel injector. It requires some diagnostic work, but we recognize that a P0301 is likely spark plugs that need to be changed, and so on.

•P0171 – P0174

Codes within this category are usually not so cut and dry to diagnose. It could indicate that the EGR valve is malfunctioning, or there’s a Mass Airflow sensor issue. Sadly, we often must do more investigation to find the diagnosis. Codes in this range mean the engine has a lean-running condition, and we need to pull out a more advanced scanning device to help uncover the mystery.

•P0420 – P0430

If the vehicle uses the OBD II standards, these codes often indicate a problem with the catalytic converter. We know that these codes usually mean costly repairs. It could be a 02 sensor, but it could mean something like a coolant leak.

Over time, the catalytic converter can become damaged. The damage can occur from an engine burning too much oil or a coolant leak somewhere within the system. This converter is essential to the vehicle as it eradicates toxic engine-exhaust pollutants from being released into the atmosphere. It’s illegal to drive without one, as it harms the environment.

•P0133 – P0141

The common culprit with these codes is a 02-sensor issue. The computer has indicated that the fuel metering needs to be adjusted, and it’s likely a failure from this sensor. The 02 Sensor will become worn out or carbon-fouled over time, so it causes the engine to misfire, much like a worn spark plug.

Getting Your Car Serviced

Seeing the check engine light is often scary, as you know it will likely mean a trip to the mechanic. However, at Cloverdale Auto, we try to get your vehicle in and out of service as soon as possible. We understand the inconvenience of a mechanical issue, so we strive to ensure our customers get fast and professional service at reasonable prices.

PSI and Tread Depth

Why Managing PSI and Tread Depth is Essential for a Safe Ride


Managing PSI and Tread Depth is Essential for a Safe Ride

As the weather changes here in the Winston-Salem area, you must check your tires. This area of the country gets an average of 45 inches of rain each year, which is seven inches more than the national average. Did you know that it takes your car 2-3 times longer to stop on wet roads than on dry ones?

Though we only get a few inches of snow in the region, the cooler temperatures and rain can cause nightmares for travelers. Your tires work with the brakes and road to use frictional force to stop the vehicle. Adding rain to the mix increases the stopping distance, which means you must be proactive and ensure your tires are in good shape.

Now, to further complicate things, if your tires don’t have the proper tread or air, they cannot grip the road as it needs to, and this adds to further delays in stopping.

Understanding Tire Tread

Your tires are at their best when they’re new. The tread starts to diminish as you run on them for a while. Rotating your tires is essential as the front tires do all the pulling in a front-wheel drive, and the back ones are just along for the ride.

There’s more wear and tear on the front tires. Rotating them ensures they’re evenly worn. Your tread depth is 8mm new but keeping the depth around 4.8mm for a used tire is recommended.

If the depth of your tire goes below 3mm, it’s time to replace them. A low tread means that your braking distance is longer, so if someone slams their brakes in front of you, it’s harder to stop. Additionally, having the appropriate tread keeps your car from hydroplaning and sliding when it’s raining outside.

The overall handling of your automobile is better when your tires have the proper tread. The tread is specifically designed to lead the water away from the tire, which helps you stop without sliding. Once those grooves wear out, the vehicle has a more challenging time stopping.

Understanding Tire Pressure

Every vehicle has a suggested tire pressure that helps it to run efficiently. Your tire pressure may seem just like a number, but it’s vital to many aspects of safety and a smooth ride. There are many things affected by incorrect pressure, and here are a few things to consider.

1. The Lifespan is Greatly Diminished

First, it will affect the lifespan if you don’t run your tires on the proper psi or pounds per square inch of air. Since tires are pretty expensive these days, you want to keep them rolling as long as possible. Here are some other things your tire pressure affects.

2. The Comfort of Your Ride

If your tire pressure is too high or too low, it will affect the ride. When it’s too high, less of the tire is meeting the road’s surface, so the ride will be bouncy and uncomfortable for passengers. If it’s too low, it can be bumpy due to more tire hitting the road. The psi recommended by the manufacturer is for optimal performance and comfort.

3. Gas Consumption Increases

When your tires aren’t properly inflated, they will develop a bulge in the middle, which means more rubber meets the road. This makes it harder for your car to go, and thus it requires more power. The more energy you use, the more gasoline your vehicle will consume.

Even if your tire’s psi is off by a mere one percent, it can have a three percent effect on your gas consumption. It probably doesn’t sound like a whole lot initially. However, if you consider that the average person drives 12,000 miles a year, this will cause an increase of $145 at the gas station.

Now, what if the tires were off by 2-3 psi? The amount of gas used would only grow. With gas prices constantly increasing, saving where you can is essential.

4. There are Numerous Safety Concerns

If your tire pressure is too low, there will be more friction because the tire is touching the ground more. All this friction means more heat and wear on the tires. Have you ever experienced a blowout?

You may have hit something on the road, but it might have been caused by your tires not being correctly inflated. See, the tread can separate under the intense heat from working harder and cause a blowout.

Final Thoughts on Tire Pressure and Tread

There are more than 250,000 people that call Winston-Salem home. When you consider how many folks are on the roads each day, it’s imperative to have a car that’s road worthy. When the colder season sets in, you want to ensure that your automobile is safe for you and those driving around you.

While this area doesn’t get much snow, we certainly get a lot of rain. Any moisture on the road slows your stop times and reduces visibility. It would help if your tire tread and pressure were according to manufacturer recommendations to ensure optimal performance.

If you need a tire inspection or to ensure that your tires are at the right psi, stop by and see us. We can quickly identify tire issues that can keep you from having an accident on NC’s busy highways.

Car is Running Hot

10 Reasons Why Your Car is Running Hot

When the temperature gauge on your automobile goes into the hot range, it’s a scary sight. The worst thing you can do is keep driving, hoping it will magically cool down without intervention. When an engine starts heading towards the red area on your gauge, it’s a cause for alarm, to let you know that your car is running hot.

Common Reasons Your Car is Running Hot

Many things can cause your engine to overheat. No one wants to pull over and deal with these issues, but if you don’t stop the car immediately, it can lead to total engine failure. Here are the most common reasons why your car is running hot.

1. Radiator Hose Leaks

A radiator hose leak is one of the most common reasons your engine will overheat. The hose can wear over time, or a clamp may have come loose. You may not see a leak, but you must look for evidence of one.

2. Low Coolant Level

Coolant does just what the name implies, as it cools the engine. The temperatures under the hood can get upwards of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and it will reach this temperature with the cooling system working.

You can see why you will have issues when the coolant level is too low. It’s not always just as easy as putting more coolant into the radiator, as you need to find the source of the leak. In most cases, a low coolant level is a sign of a big problem, and may be the cause of why your car is running hot.

3. Gasket Leaks

If you see steam or dripping coolant, then you could have a gasket leak. Three gaskets cause the most problems in your engine, and they are:

•Head Gasket
•Temperature Housing Gasket
•Water Pump Gasket

You can indicate a leak by looking for old stains or dripping. Sometimes the leak may be intermittent due to sludge in the lines. As the sludge moves around, the leak may stop for a while.

Consequently, as soon as it moves again, it will start all over. These are serious leakages, as they can lead to total engine failure.

4. Faulty Thermostat

Thermostats are inexpensive to replace and need to be replaced occasionally. It’s similar to the thermostat that controls the HVAC in your home. If you can’t adjust the temperature up or down, you will be miserable in your house.

Well, without this equipment working correctly, the engine will become too hot. The thermostat either gets stuck on open or close in most instances. This is one of the top causes of why your car is running hot, so it should be one of the first things checked.

5. Bad Water Pump

The average water pump will get anywhere from 60,000-90,000 miles. However, they can get a leak in a hose, or the internal fan can stop working at any time. Sometimes the pump will show signs of failure or leak before it goes out, but other times there will be no indication. These pumps go bad all the time, so it’s one of the things we check first, when your car is running hot.

6. AC Cooling Fan

Your AC system generates a lot of heat, as it’s removing warm air to replace it with cold. When the system engages, a fan turns on to help keep things cool. The fan can stop working for many reasons, including a simple fuse. The fan motor can also go bad, as well as a sensor.

7. Radiator Airflow Obstruction

The radiator sits in the front of your vehicle, so it picks up a lot of debris on the roadway. Occasionally, it’s good to clean out the fins to ensure it works properly. Things often get lodged between the grill and the radiator. An obstructed airflow can be the cause of why your car is running hot.

8. Cracked Head or Cylinder Wall

While there are some pretty benign things on this list, this one certainly isn’t one of them. When you have a cracked head or cylinder wall in your engine, it’s cause for alarm. The common signs of this are bubbles in the cooling system.

A compression test is the best way to identify this issue, as you must ensure the engine can hold compression. It can be a head gasket leaking, which is not always easy to find. When it comes to significant issues with your engine, you need to have a professional handle it.

9. Broken Fan Belts

Some automobiles have a belt-driven fan. These belts are rubber, so they can snap and break without warning. They also can squeal really loudly when they become worn, dirty, or misaligned. Check these often for wear and cracks, as they can leave you stranded should they break while driving.

10. Electrolysis

When electrical currents get into your cooling system, electrolysis occurs. This low current will corrode the metal inside your system, and it can cause the engine to overheat and may be the cause of why your car is running hot. Loose or corroded ground straps often cause it. This current will destroy your radiator, heater, and water pump, but a voltmeter can help diagnose the problem.

Final Thoughts on Why Your Car is Running Hot

While these are ten reasons your engine can overheat and may be the cause of why your car is running hot, it’s certainly not all of them. These are just the most common ones we encounter at Cloverdale Auto. When your thermostat starts rising on your car, it’s time to pull over.

Even if it doesn’t go into the red zone, it still indicates that there’s a problem. There are some simple things that you can fix yourself, but for most issues dealing with an overheating vehicle, you need to call us for service.

Multi-Point Inspection

Do You Need a Multi-Point Inspection?

Your car needs to be pampered, and there’s no way around spending a little money to keep it in good mechanical shape. One of the many things we offer our customers here at Cloverdale Auto is a multi-point inspection.

Checking numerous components in your vehicle to ensure they’re in top condition is imperative for the longevity of your car. Do you need an MPI? No, it’s not essential for the operation of your automobile, but these inspections help you stay on top of maintenance issues.

Understanding the Multi-Point Inspection

As a vehicle gets more miles on it, it’s only natural that parts wear and need to be replaced. You often don’t know something is wrong until it breaks. A multi-point inspection can keep you from paying tow bills and ensure you stay in the fast lane. Here are a few things we check in these inspections.

1. Filters

You have several filters in your car, and each one of the filters in your vehicle is essential. The oil filter is responsible for catching gasoline debris before entering your engine. If you ever get bad gas, you will know the importance of this filter, as it helps to protect your fuel pump.

The air filter catches any pollutants in the air before it enters your engine. This filter helps your engine to run better. Additionally, many people don’t realize that there’s a filter in their transmission, and inspection is vital. Changing out a clogged transmission or fuel filter can keep you from costly repairs down the road.

Lastly, a cabin filter helps keep the air inside your vehicle fresh. All these filters need to be replaced periodically.

2. Battery and Alternator Health

Your battery health is critical to the overall function of your vehicle. While they usually start acting up in the cold weather, we can quickly identify an issue by testing it. We will also test your alternator that works closely with the battery to keep things charged.

3. Exhaust

Most people notice exhaust issues when encountering a foul smell or a loud noise. We inspect the exhaust to ensure there’s no rust or other issues that will soon become a maintenance problem.

4. Belts and Hoses

There are numerous belts and hoses throughout the vehicle. The most common belts like the serpentine, drive, and timing belts all tend to break when driving down the road. While they might squeal before they snap, they don’t always give you such a courtesy.

Additionally, there are many hoses connecting your vehicle’s many components. We ensure there are no leaks that need attention.

5. Oil

How long has it been since your last oil change? Is the oil the right color without any milky residue in the cylinders? Your oil is the lifeline for your vehicle, and you want to ensure this vital fluid isn’t contaminated in any way.

7. Fluid Levels

We check the following fluids, windshield wiper, coolant, brake, power steering, and transmission. Keeping your fluids at the proper level is imperative for the safe operation of your vehicle.

8. Transmission Health

Once we’ve identified that your transmission filter is good and your fluid is a pinkish-red color and doesn’t smell burnt, we ensure that it’s shifting correctly. Transmissions are expensive to replace, so preventative maintenance matters most.

9. Engine Health

Is the engine running correctly? Are any burning smells coming from this vital component during the run time? Are there any leaks on the manifold from worn seals or cracks? Does it engage properly when you press the gas pedal? These are all things we look for to ensure engine health.

10. Gaskets and Seals

Gaskets and seals are made of rubber, and your seals may break down over time. One of the most common seals to fail is the valve gasket cover. This is the piece that keeps the spark plug cylinders dry.

When this piece fails, the oil will leak down onto the manifold, causing a horrible burning smell. A quick inspection of the gaskets and seals helps protect your vital fluids.

11. Brakes

Do your brakes engage with the right timing? Are the rotors in good health, or are they warped? How much is left on the brake pads? You need good brakes to drive in the Winston Salem area, so we want to ensure your brakes are in top shape.

12. Tie Rods, Ball Joints, Sway Bar End Links, and Struts

Your suspension system will help you get safely down life’s highways. Did you know that driving with a broken tie rod or ball joint can cause your vehicle to be uncontrollable? Your suspension system is not something you want to mess with, so we want to ensure everything is in working order.

Final Thoughts on the Multi-Point Inspection

Once the technician completes all the multi-point inspection sheet parts, they will give you a summary. Items that need prompt attention need to be fixed immediately. These items will likely cause a mechanical breakdown if not handled in a prompt manner.

There are other things that technicians will notate that will likely need to be addressed soon. These are things that aren’t critical, but they’re becoming worn. You might see comments like this about brake pads or tire tread. Some people don’t have these multi-point inspections, but others feel that an MPI is vital to stay on top of their automobile maintenance.

Whether you’re buying a used car, want to maintain yours, or need to ensure the health of a loved one’s automobile, we can help you. Call us today at 336-331-3448 to schedule your next multi-point inspection or service.

vehicle won't start

8 Common Reasons a Vehicle Won’t Start

Help! My Vehicle Won’t Start

One of the most common and frustrating things you can experience as a driver is that your vehicle won’t start. You’re already late, and you have 100 places you need to be, but you’re stranded. So, is there anything you can do that will prevent the need of an Uber to get you to your destination?

Common Reasons a Vehicle Won’t Start

There are numerous reasons why your vehicle won’t start, and it could be any one of them. Here are the most common issues we handle at Cloverdale Auto that keep your vehicle from turning over.

1. Battery Cables are Lose or Corroded

The battery provides the electricity needed for the automobile to turn over. It sends the charges that ignite the spark plugs and allows the engine to fire. Over time, your cables can become corroded with rust, and a simple cleaning may be all it needs to restore the connection.

Another issue is that battery cables can loosen from bumpy roads and time. It’s possible that your connection isn’t tight, and the engine is not getting the spark it needs to turn over. These are both simple fixes and one of the first places you should check if the vehicle won’t start.

Before cleaning the battery terminals, unhook them from the power supply. Since this is an electrical component, use extreme caution.

2. The Battery is Bad

Batteries last about 3-5 years on average, and you can almost always tell when one’s going bad as it starts to act up during the cooler months. When the temperatures change, a bad battery will fail to charge on those cold mornings. Another hallmark sign of a bad battery is you will hear a clicking noise when you try to start the car.

It’s got some power, but it’s not enough, and your vehicle won’t start. Replacing a battery is easy for some, and others need professional assistance. The worst thing you can do is keep charging it and hoping it will hold the charge, as eventually you will become stranded.

3. Alternator

Your battery may be fine, but your alternator could be prohibiting it from staying charged. These two components work together to keep your car running. The alternator will last anywhere from 40,000-100,000 miles. A sign that it’s your alternator causing the problems is when the lights dim and brighten while operating the vehicle.

If you have a strong battery and a weak alternator, you will get about 60 miles max before the entire vehicle dies. This should allow you to get it to our station for help. In most cases, your alternator warning light will appear on the dash.

4. Broken Timing Belt

Timing belts last around 60,000-100,000 miles. This is one belt that people almost always wait till it breaks to fix. It’s costly because it’s very challenging to access this belt, and many things need to be moved. It’s always better to do this service as a preventative measure rather than a mechanical breakdown.

There usually is no indication that the belt is worn other than a visual examination, but some will squeak a bit before they snap. When they break, they can cause additional damage to your engine. It’s costly to replace this belt because of how challenging it is to access it.

This repair could cost you anywhere from $500-$2,000 depending on the vehicle and what else it messes up when it blows.

5. Dead Key Fob Battery

The new cars start with key fobs, which adds a whole other element of issues. Since the fob is required for the vehicle to start, it can be something as simple as a low battery. Simply replace the battery in the key fob if the vehicle won’t start, and many times it will turn right over.

6. Clogged Fuel Filter

Just like your air filter, your fuel tank has a filter too. If this filter becomes clogged, it won’t allow fuel to pass from the tank to the spark plugs, which might be the cause of why your vehicle won’t start. The whole process is stopped because of a lack of fuel. In most instances, when you replace the fuel filter, you must replace the fuel pump, too, as it can cause them to blow. Fuel pumps are another expensive service item that we regularly handle.

7. Bad Spark Plug

Your vehicle has anywhere from 4 – 8 spark plugs, depending on the size of your engine. If just one of these plugs fouls out, it can keep your car from starting. It may try to turn over, but it won’t fire. This is a simple fix, if there’s nothing leaking into the cylinders, caused by something like a worn valve gasket cover.

8. The Starter

Lastly, the starter can wear down after time. The lifetime expectancy of this part is anywhere from 30,000-50,000 miles, but some will get even more. The starter will be making a clicking noise much like a bad battery, so it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. A bad battery will usually allow you to jump-start it, but a bad starter won’t jump, this may be the cause of why your vehicle won’t start.

Take Away on Vehicles Not Starting

It’s often hard to tell what issue your car is having if there’s no clear indication, like the clicking noise of a weak battery. Thankfully, we can help! Call us at 336-331-3448 for all your automotive needs or more information why your vehicle won’t start.

driving tips

9 Defensive Driving Tips For Summer

9 Defensive Driving Tips For Summer

The summer vacation season kicks off on Memorial Day weekend. Plenty of people will flood the streets in North Carolina going to and from the beaches and mountains. With the influx of traffic in this state, you want to be careful and use defensive driving. People don’t always follow the road rules, so you need to be extra cautious to protect your family.

Defensive Driving Tips

In football, you have defensive and offensive players. The best offense is a strong defense, and this works on the roadways too. Some folks don’t go the speed limit, don’t use turn signals, do improper lane changes, and run red lights.

Since these drivers are so irresponsible, you must be on guard. Defensive driving means that you’re ready for any dangerous situations that might come up. You’re always watching for the mistakes of others that could cause you to have an accident. Here are a few defensive driving tips you need to utilize.

Driving Tip 1. Keep Your Distance

Keep two car lengths distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Some say to keep 2-3 seconds between you two, but you can measure it out to at least two car lengths. Should the vehicle in front of you put on its brakes and you rear end them, you will likely be cited for unassured clear distance. Ensure there’s enough space keeps you out of harm’s way.

Driving Tip 2. Slow Down During Rain

Rain can be just as dangerous to drive in as snow and ice. People think they can still go at the same speed when the roads are wet, but it’s not wise. You should reduce about five mph during the rain, ensure your wipers are going, and headlights are on.

Driving Tip 3. Avoid Other’s Blind Spots

Each vehicle has a blind spot. If you get into these sections on the roadways, you increase your chances of getting hit. Become familiar with these blind spots on common vehicles, and make sure you stay out of these areas for your safety.

Driving Tip 4. Be Careful in Intersections

One fallacy people have is that a yellow light means to speed up. A yellow light is a warning to clear the intersection as the light is about to change. Many accidents happen when people try to hurry through the light to keep from waiting, so you must watch out for other drivers.

Another traffic light issue comes when the light turns green. Just because you have a green light doesn’t mean you can go. You must ensure the intersection is clear and no one is still trying to pass through. This often happens when people try to make a left-hand turn across traffic, and they would rather take it on a yellow or red. You can get into a major accident if you don’t look before you leap.

Driving Tip 5. Stay Focused and Alert

While it’s tempting to push yourself to go the extra mile, or you want to drive even though you’ve had little rest, it’s not a good idea. It would help if you were focused and alert while on the highways, so don’t drive when you’re sleepy.

Additionally, it’s not safe to eat, text, talk on the phone, or do other activities that can distract you from what’s going on around you. North Carolina has laws regarding cell phones. First, it’s illegal for anyone to text and drive. Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use their cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. A hands-free device is always best to keep your attention on the road.

Driving Tip 6. Properly Maintain Your Automobile

Did you know that many roadway accidents here in Winston Salem happen because of mechanical issues? If a car breaks down in the middle of the road, it causes other drivers to slam on their breaks to prevent hitting it. It’s not always possible to move a car to the berm for safety, which creates a big problem.

Part of driving defensively means having your automobile in top shape. Here at Cloverdale Auto Service, we ensure our customers get the highest quality of service to be safe on the roadways.

Driving Tip 7. Avoid Excessive Lane Changes

You need to make lane changes, especially when passing a tractor-trailer. However, excessive lane changes can cause an accident. You must never pass on the right, even if the left lane is blocked and moving slowly.

Driving Tip 8. Avoid Road Rage

You’re frustrated because you’re running late, your passengers are restless, and you just want to get to your destination. However, you should never take it out on the person who just cut you off on the freeway. Road rage is a dangerous game, and it can cost you heavily.

Just three months ago in the Lumberton area, a man shot a woman traveling from Pennsylvania because they engaged in road rage. People don’t always play nice on the roadways, so you must be careful and avoid such interactions.

Driving Tip 9. Always Assume the Worst About Other Drivers

One of the biggest problems on the roadways is assuming. You assume that the intersection will be cleared, the car beside you will stay in their lane, and everyone will drive safe. However, the worst thing you can do is expect everyone to do what they should, as this sets you up for trouble. When you assume anything, you let your guards down, which can cause an accident.

Final Thoughts on Defensive Driving

Keep your eyes on the road and put your phone in your pocket. Make sure your car is ready for the roads this summer by having an inspection and tune-up. Our highly skilled technicians give consistent automotive services to our valued customers so that you can be safe on the roadways.

blown head gasket

What Does It Mean When My Vehicle’s Blown a Head Gasket?

What Does It Mean When My Vehicle’s Blown a Head Gasket?

The average head gasket has a life expectancy of 200,000 miles, but they can blow on a new vehicle if there’s an engine issue. Once you receive the diagnostics of a “blown head gasket,” you might think the automobile isn’t worth repairing.

Clover Dale Auto Service gets a lot of calls from frantic customers about their car overheating, and the head gasket is one of the first things we consider. It’s an expensive repair. However, going through the diagnostic process is important, as some things can mimic this but be much simpler to repair. A compression test will usually be the key indicator as well as some visual signs.

Understanding the Function of the Head Gasket?

Your engine is an intricate machine, and two vital components are the block and cylinder heads. The gasket is a small seal that fits between the two, and it has a dual-fold purpose.

It’s located in the combustion chamber area, and it helps the engine maintain the combustion process so that it can run effectively. Your engine gets upwards of 105 degrees inside, while running at full capacity. Many fluids flow from the head to the block, which helps to lubricate, cool, and keep things running efficiently.

Your fuel, oil, and the coolant must stay in their chambers. If any of these substances mix, it will cause engine failure. Since everything is in very close quarters, seals are essential.

Why Does This Repair Cost So Much?

The gasket is made of high-performance materials to manage the temperatures and withstand the heat. Today, you can find them made of steel, copper, or composite materials.

One big question that everyone asks is why is it so expensive when a simple gasket blows? There are numerous gaskets on your automobile, and they are not costly to buy. How is this one so much different from others?

The problem with a blown head gasket is the labor involved in fixing it. Sure, the gasket itself isn’t overly expensive, but you must have the entire engine pulled to replace this damaged part. Additionally, our car diagnostic team may find other damage due to this faulty gasket.

Your engine block may crack under the intense heat, as the coolant can’t keep temperatures in the manageable range. The oil needs to be drained and refilled, spark plugs changed, pistons checked, and it’s a vast process to fix all the damage.

Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket

Your car may still run if you have a gasket leaking, but there will be some obvious signs. Here are some red flags that indicate your head gasket has failed.

1. Exhaust Leak

First, you might see coolant leaking from your exhaust. This means that your head gasket has failed on the outer portion, allowing water to leak beyond the engine.

2. White Smoke

The water can come inside your vehicle rather than flowing to the outside. If you see white smoke from the exhaust pipe, it’s telling you that coolant is passing into the combustion chamber’s hot area.

The steam sent out the tailpipe is glycol that’s been burned. It’s not uncommon for the engine to run relatively normally with this occurring, but when the coolant is gone, it will overheat.

3. Missing Coolant

Coolant has a sweet smell, and it’s hard to miss a leak. You may be losing coolant from your vehicle, but you have no idea where it’s going. If your gasket is just starting to fail, the fluid can make its way into the combustion chamber and burn off before hitting the ground.

So, you won’t see any coolant lying on the ground. Your sense of smell here is what’s key to identifying a problem. Checking your fluids often can indicate a problem before sitting along one of the NC highways.

4. Overheating

Your car will overheat when the coolant has leaked out or burnt away. Always pay attention to your thermostat gauge on the dash, and never drive a vehicle in the red zone, as you can do permanent damage.

5. Bubbles in the Radiator

If the gasket has failed, air can make its way into the cooling system, creating bubbles in your radiator or overflow. This is a severe issue as this air can develop pockets that prohibit the coolant from getting to the engine.

6. Milky, White Oil

You should be checking your oil frequently. If you ever see oil that’s not brown or black but more of a white, milky color, it’s cause for alarm. The coolant is mixing with your oil and causing it to be compromised. This mix indicates a leak that’s affecting the water/oil passages.

7. Poor Running Engine

The number one sign of a blown head gasket is when your engine is spitting and sputtering and won’t run right. It’s a sign that the gasket has wholly failed. The machine is struggling to keep the fuel burning cycle going because there’s not enough compression coming from the combustion chamber. It will have little to no power and idle very rough.

Final Thoughts on Blown Head Gaskets

If your car starts running hot at any time, pull it over and don’t drive. You may be able to prevent your head gasket from blowing, but preventative maintenance is the key. Also, make sure you keep your coolant full and check your oil levels frequently. If you see that you’re using more coolant than usual, it needs to be investigated.

At Clover Dale Auto Service, we know how important your vehicle is to your family. Our goal is to get your automobile fixed and back on the roads. Call us at the first sign of trouble so you’re not stranded on the Winston-Salem roadways in the scorching heat.

Cloverdale Auto Service