Why is My Car Engine Overheating?

Why Is My Car Engine Overheating?

One of the scariest things for any driver is an engine overheating in the middle of nowhere or somewhere you just do not feel safe. Unfortunately, this is a common situation. But it is one you can avoid with proper maintenance and the knowledge of what to do when this happens to you. Below, the auto mechanic experts of Cloverdale Auto give some advice and answers to that question of, “Why is my car engine overheating?”

Why is My Car Engine Running Hot?

Car engine overheating occurs for many reasons. Usually, it means something has gone wrong with your cooling system. That system is supposed to help heat leave the engine compartment. Often, the cause is a cooling system leak, broken water pump, clogged coolant hose or faulty radiator fan.

Regardless of why it is happening, you should not ignore your car engine overheating. If you do, your engine can suffer permanent damage.

Signs of a Car Engine Overheating

You can avoid the risk of permanent engine damage by taking steps to cool your engine before it overheats. But this means you must know the signs of overheating, first. These signs include:

  • Steam coming from beneath your car hood
  • A spiking engine temperature gauge on your dash panel
  • Strange, sweet-smelling odor coming from your engine

When you see these signs, take your vehicle to your trusted auto repair shop in Winston-Salem, NC, Cloverdale Auto. First, take the appropriate measures, below, to ensure the situation cools down.

What to Do When You Notice Your Car Engine Overheating

When you notice your car engine overheating, take the following steps:

1. Turn off the A/C and turn on the heater.

This may sound counterintuitive. But you should immediately turn off the air conditioning in your overheating car and turn on the heat.

Doing so takes the strain of A/C off your engine and pulls heat away from it, into the passenger compartment. This gives you time before it fully overheats, so you can pull the vehicle into a safe location. Although you will feel uncomfortable with the heater on, this is much easier than having to pay a big repair bill.

2. Pull over into a safe place.

When you pull your car over into a safe place, turn it off. Let the engine cool down for a minimum of 15 minutes. While doing so, watch the temperature gauge to ensure it moves to a normal temperature range.

As you wait for your engine to cool, call a tow truck, roadside assistance or a friend for help. You will need your vehicle towed to Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem, so our trusted auto mechanics can find and fix the problem.

3. Check the coolant and add more, if you have some with you.

If your coolant level reads as low, add some more fluid to protect your engine. This will prevent your car engine overheating until you can get the vehicle to Cloverdale Auto. But this will not work if your coolant hose is clogged or your car has a broken radiator fan or faulty water pump. If you need to find your coolant reservoir tank, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

4. Restart your engine.

If pulling over prevented your car engine overheating and you have taken the appropriate steps above, you may not need a tow. Carefully restart your engine and drive it to Cloverdale Auto in Winston Salem. Closely watch the temperature gauge to ensure it does not go into the red zone again. If it starts rising, pull over and let your engine cool.

DO NOT Do These Things for Car Engine Overheating

There are several key things to avoid when you notice your car engine overheating.

1. Don’t panic.

Never speed up or swerve through traffic when you notice your car engine overheating. You should also avoid slamming on your brakes.

2. Don’t keep going.

If you notice your car engine overheating but keep the motor running, you are not doing it any good. Trying to reach your destination can only make the damage much worse. Use your phone to call your destination and tell them you will be a little late.

3. Don’t immediately open your hood.

Seeing the steam rising from under your hood may urge you to open it. Instead, allow the engine to cool before taking a look. Otherwise, you can suffer steam burns or other injuries. Wait until the engine temperature gauge reads normal before opening the hood.

4. Don’t keep driving your vehicle without getting it checked out.

Car engine overheating occurs because a problem exists. This problem will not go away without the help of a skilled auto mechanic. It will only get worse. Drive your vehicle or have it towed to Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem for a quick diagnosis and repair estimate.

How to Prevent Your Car Engine Overheating

To prevent your car engine overheating, have routine maintenance performed on your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This maintenance includes having regular coolant flushes and exchanges performed by certified auto mechanics. Also keep up with radiator maintenance and routine inspections to find these problems before they get worse.

Have routine radiator maintenance, coolant flush and fluid exchange performed at Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem, NC now. Schedule your visit to avoid being stranded on the side of the road. Call us at 336-331-3448 for an appointment.

What Does It Mean When My Check Engine Light Comes On?

What Does It Mean When My Check Engine Light Comes On?

There are a multitude of reasons why your check engine light might turn on. You cannot know the reason, simply by looking at the light. But the common thread in these possible causes is that you need to visit your local Winston-Salem, NC auto repair shop. An auto mechanic will perform a diagnostic test to determine why the check engine light turned on. They will advise you of the appropriate solutions so they can fix your vehicle and get you back on the road in no time.

What the Check Engine Light Means

There are a variety of meanings behind your service engine warning. Below are the four scenarios typically experienced by drivers.

1. The light turns on in certain conditions or is flickering.

You may notice that your check engine light turns on in stop-and-go traffic, but turns off on the freeway. This indicates that your mechanical problem only takes place in stop-and-go or city driving scenarios. If the light flickers inconsistently and then turns off, you are experiencing intermittent engine problems. Drive your vehicle to your Winston-Salem, NC auto repair shop for diagnostic service.

2. The check engine light is steady.

If the light turns on and remains steadily lit, but you notice no performance issues, you probably have a fault in the emission control system. The light turns on and your vehicle’s computer allows operation only in lower gears. Many auto mechanics refer to this as “limp home mode.” Drive your vehicle to your auto repair shop in Winston-Salem as soon as possible.

3. The service light is on and you notice vehicle performance issues.

If your check engine light stays on and your car does not run as well as it should, your emission control and engine management system has a problem. This means that something is wrong with a component required to run your vehicle. You should not drive it at all as it risks unpredictably stalling or stopping. Instead, pull over to a safe area and have your vehicle towed to Cloverdale Auto Service.

4. The check engine light steadily blinks.

Unlike a flicker that comes and goes with vehicle operation, a steadily blinking check engine light flashes once or twice per second without changing its pattern. Or, it possibly only flashes this way when you accelerate. This is a serious issue and means you risk catastrophic failure of your emission control system. Your engine is misfiring to the degree that it is damaging your catalytic converter. This could start a fire under the vehicle, so you need to immediately pull over and have your vehicle towed to Cloverdale Auto Service.

What Are the Most Common Reasons for the Check Engine Light to Illuminate?

The check engine light commonly turns on for one of the following reasons:

  • Catalytic converter issue
  • Gas cap is loose
  • Mass airflow sensor failure
  • Oxygen sensor is faulty
  • Spark plugs or plug wires need replacement

Cloverdale Auto Provides Diagnostic Service

Cloverdale Auto Service in Winston-Salem, NC provides routine auto maintenance and auto repair services, including diagnostic service when your service light turns on. If this important warning light illuminates on your dash display, drive your vehicle carefully or have it towed to our auto repair shop. You can call us for an appointment and more information about whether it is safe to drive your vehicle, too. Call us at 336-331-3448.

5 Signs You Need Coolant System Service

5 Signs You Need Coolant System Service

Cloverdale Auto Service, a female-owned auto repair shop in Winston-Salem, NC. Our expert mechanics provide coolant system service for most all makes of cars, trucks, & SUVs. But how can you know when it is time to take your car, truck or SUV to Cloverdale Auto for this service?

The 5 Top Signs You Need Auto Coolant System Service:

  • Temperature gauge reads hot

  • Overheating

  • Rust or discoloration around the radiator

  • Low coolant levels

  • Coolant leak

Your Coolant System Temperature Gauge Reads Hot

Do not rely only on your temperature warning light to indicate you need coolant system service. If your coolant level is too low, this light may not work. The same is true if your radiator switch or cooling fan are not working properly.

A dashboard temperature gauge that reads hot means your vehicle’s coolant is too low or the thermostat, itself, is defective. You should not keep running your engine if it is too hot. Instead, pull your car over in a safe place, such as a parking lot. Turn off the air conditioner and engine to allow the engine to cool.

If you are in the middle of traffic and cannot pull over, when traffic pauses you can put your car in neutral or park to gently rev the engine. This moves coolant through the system for cooling. But do not apply your brakes. Doing so just intensifies the heat from friction.

Never add water or coolant to a hot radiator. This will crack your engine and create even bigger problems. Wait until the coolant system is cool to the touch. Then, protect your hand with a rag and open the radiator cap away from your body or face. You should never lean over toward the engine compartment to do this.

Schedule an appointment with Cloverdale Auto Service for expert coolant system service.

Coolant System Overheating

An overheating vehicle typically creates billows of steam beneath the engine hood. A fire can even start. If you see flames, walk a safe distance from your vehicle to call 911. Do so urgently to prevent an engine blow-up. But never open the hood or radiator cap until they are cool to the touch. Otherwise, you face potential steam burns or liquid burns.

If your vehicle is not drivable, call for tow service to Cloverdale Auto. Our ASE-certified mechanics can find the cause of the problem and get your coolant system serviced to get your vehicle safely back on the road.

Many manufacturers recommend getting your car or truck’s radiator flushed at regular intervals. This helps to extend the life of your engine cooling system. Thus helping to reduce the chances of needing radiator replacement or repair. Check your factory service manual for details for your particular make/model of vehicle.

Rust or Discoloration

If you notice rust or discoloration on any of the coolant system components such as the radiator, thermostat housing, water pump, radiator hoses clamps, or engine parts around it, this is a clear indication that you have a leak. This leak may be coming from any part of the coolant system, including any of the connecting hoses. The discoloration occurs when fluid squirts from the leaking area during engine operation. The fluid lands on hot engine parts erodes them. Cloverdale’s expert mechanics will find the source of the leak and provide efficient coolant system service.

Low Coolant Levels

It is best to keep some coolant in the trunk of your car for times when you experience a low coolant level. You can also review your auto manufacturer’s manual for more information about maintaining appropriate coolant levels. Of course, it is easy to bring your car into Cloverdale Auto Service for routine tune-ups and fluid changes, during which our mechanics refill your coolant level.

Coolant Leak

If you notice a bright green, pink, orange or yellow puddle beneath your car on the driveway or parking spot, this is a coolant fluid leak. You need this fluid in your car to keep it from freezing in the winter or overheating in the summer. Cloverdale Auto’s mechanics will find the source of your coolant leak as part of coolant system repair. We will also refill the coolant level to get you safely back on the road.

Do not wait until your vehicle shows signs of problems. Schedule a tune-up or coolant system repair and maintenance service at Cloverdale Auto Service at 2020 Cloverdale Avenue in Winston-Salem, NC. Call us today at 336-331-3448.

european auto repair

Is European Auto Repair Different from Domestic?

european auto repairIf you currently own or want to buy a European vehicle, you likely have concerns about the cost of European auto repair in Winston-Salem. Although Euro imports and domestics are similar in many ways, these two types of vehicles certainly have their differences. Imports typically have unique aspects to their systems, parts quality and mechanic training. These differences often translate to differing costs at the auto repair shop. In fact, many buyers stay away from Audis, VWs, Mercedes and BMWs because they fear steep maintenance and repair bills.

European Auto Repair Can Cost More

If you buy an Audi, Mercedes, VW or BMW, you can expect to sometimes pay more for European auto repair and maintenance than for domestic vehicles. This is because German automakers focus on making vehicles with higher engineering precision than American automakers. American manufacturers focus more on utility, reliability and economy.

It is not that one type of vehicle is better than the other. German imports just have unique attributes that make them less economical in some ways. For example, parts for BMWs, VWs, Mercedes and Audis are known for being higher quality than parts for other types of automobiles. With this quality comes a higher price tag, whether for repair, maintenance or OEM parts.

Historically, European auto repair cost more because these cars were designed to last longer than Japanese or American vehicles. This has changed in recent years. But up until the 2000s, BMWs, VWs, Mercedes and Audis were known for lasting longer than most other brands, given you regularly maintained your vehicle. But now that American vehicles also last more than 150,000 miles, the quality gap has tightened. As a result, European auto repair costs are now closer to the costs of American auto repair.

Transmission Service of European Auto Repair

European auto repair more regularly requires specialized knowledge of manual transmissions than American auto repair. In Europe, most vehicles operate with a clutch and stick shift. But in America, we drive mostly automatic transmission vehicles.

This means that your European auto repair shop must have advanced knowledge of standard transmissions and clutch repair. While not all Audis, VWs, Mercedes and BMWs in the U.S. are manual, many drivers still enjoy the feeling of standard transmissions. If you have a manual vehicle, regular clutch repair is very important. If your auto repair shop does not routinely service these types of vehicles, they are not your best bet for quality maintenance and repair. Instead, you need an auto shop with the knowledge and experience to properly fix your European car.

European Auto Repair for German Suspension

Steering and suspension on your German vehicle is more intricate than for American vehicles. This makes suspension parts and service a bit more expensive than domestic owners experience. But when you drive your Euro import, you certainly enjoy the exhilarating feeling of greater control on curves and around corners. This enjoyment makes the experience worth the cost for most BMW, VW, Mercedes and Audi owners.

High performance requires routine maintenance. This is certainly true with a European auto suspension system. They require more care from experienced European auto repair mechanics due to their higher-level calibration.

Specialized Training for European Import Mechanics

Mechanics who specialize in European auto repair require specialized training. This training is more expensive than for domestic vehicles. As a result, your Euro vehicle repair can cost more than your neighbor’s domestic car repair, even at the same repair shop.

You can save some money by taking your BMW, VW, Mercedes or Audi to an auto repair shop that provides maintenance and repair services for domestics and specific types of imports. Generalists like these have the right training and are better able to keep repair costs lower. For example, Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem, North Carolina repairs domestics like Jeeps and Chevys, but also fixes German automobiles. We have mechanics trained in the precision calibration of Euro imports, as well as the nuances of domestics.

European Auto Repair Winston-Salem Trusts

Owners of German automobiles in Winston-Salem trust Cloverdale Auto for their maintenance and repair needs. Our highly trained mechanics specialize in domestics and European imports. Euro imports we service include:

Through our focused care, you can keep your domestic or import vehicle running for hundreds of thousands of miles. Schedule your auto repair or maintenance at Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem by calling 336-331-3448.

synthetic oil vs conventional oil

Which is better for your car? Synthetic Oil vs Conventional Oil

synthetic oil vs conventional oilWhen your Winston-Salem, North Carolina auto mechanic performs an oil change on your car, truck or SUV, do you choose synthetic oil? Yes, this oil cost many times more than conventional oil. But the price is not the full story. With all that synthetic motor oil can do for your vehicle, is it worth the higher cost? So, synthetic oil vs conventional oil?

What is synthetic oil?

Synthetic oil is a man-made alternative to conventional oil, made from two types of oil and powder additives. The oils include a base fluid and a carrier fluid for even additive distribution. Like conventional, synthetic is made from refined oil pumped from deep within the Earth. It is the refining process that makes these two lubricants different. Both fluids serve the very important purpose of reducing friction in your car’s engine, also reducing sludge and improving performance.

Synthetic lubricant has been used in automobile and jet engines since 1929. It provides many advantages, including less friction, reduced deposits, better functioning in extreme weather, fewer impurities and boosted protection with engine-cleaning capabilities. Synthetics also improve fuel economy.

What are the different types of synthetic oil?

Full synthetic oil is the highest quality of synthetic oil. However, without uniform standards in place to grade these fluids, the term is more or less just a marketing catchphrase.

A synthetic blend, also called semi-refined oil, is the next grade down from full synthetic quality. Semi-synthetic blend is a mix of conventional oil with synthetic. This means that you benefit from the synthetic attributes, such as higher refinement and engine-cleaning additives. But with traditional oil in the mix, you also get the impurities. Because they are not fully synthetic, the cost is also lower.

To decide which oil to use in your vehicle, you must weigh that cost with the oil’s benefits. Your options include:

  • Synthetic oil
  • Semi-synthetic oil (synthetic blends)
  • Conventional oil

Synthetic blends provide some benefits over conventional oil while being cheaper that fully synthetic. But full synthetic oil provides the highest quality and performance of the three types.

How often do you need to change synthetic oil?

Although it costs more, synthetic oil requires fewer changes than conventional oil or synthetic blends.

Typical oil change intervals include:

  • Conventional oil: Twice yearly or every 7500 miles
  • Synthetic oil: Once yearly or every 10,000 to 15,000 miles

Older or antique vehicles may need their conventional oil changed more frequently, such as every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. New vehicles often require fewer oil changes. Your auto mechanic is your best guide in scheduling this service.

Synthetic Oil vs Conventional Oil

You can tell a difference in how your vehicle runs with synthetic oil vs conventional oil. The used oil is also much more sludgy and thicker when you use conventional, even after the same amount of use.

Synthetic oil helps your vehicle perform better by protecting the engine through reduced friction. Synthetic oil additives clean your engine and burns cleaner because of fewer impurities. At the same time, when considering synthetic oil vs conventional oil, the former is less likely than conventional to thicken and form deposits.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that synthetic oil helps engines perform 47 percent better than conventional oil. You have to change synthetic less often and provide your vehicle with what it needs to run its best.

Benefits of synthetic oil vs conventional oil include:

  • Fewer emissions
  • Better fuel economy and oil economy
  • Fewer oil changes
  • Improved engine protection
  • Reduced wear from lower friction
  • Reduced engine drag and engine repairs
  • Better protection in all weather
  • More predictable oil quality
  • Quicker engine starts
  • Better cleaning of engine sludge and deposits

Schedule Your Oil Change Service in Winston-Salem, NC Today

As you can see from the above list of benefits of synthetic oil vs conventional oil, it is worth the higher price over conventional oil. To find out more about your vehicle’s lubrication needs and which oil to choose for your engine, schedule your next oil change service with Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem, NC. Call us at 336-331-3448 to set your appointment today.

car heater

Why does my car heater have a bad smell?

car heaterEvery vehicle runs on energy and produces heat. They also operate using a variety of fluids, gasoline, mechanical parts and an electric system. In other words, chances are good that your car, truck or SUV will emit some bad odors from time to time. This time of year, people turn on their car heater for the first time in months. To their surprise, many are hit with a bad smell when they expect clean, warm air.

Many things create bad odors in your vehicle. Let’s look at eight of these bad smells and what they possibly mean, starting with your car heater.

My Car Heater Creates a Bad Smell

If your heater creates a bad odor, it can mean any of several problems exist. A burning leaf odor coming from the car heater is most common. So why is your heater producing this burning smell?

Dirty Vents

Your car heater’s bad smell could relate to dirty vents. In fact, you should have your car’s comfort system inspected and serviced on a regular basis, such as when you get a tune-up. This vent system gets dirty, typically accumulating debris, dust, leaves, pine needles and dirt. You may not notice any of this buildup until you turn on the heater and expect warmth, but receive what smells like the air from a brush fire. Take your vehicle into Cloverdale Auto for an inspection and service.

Debris in the Engine

A burning bad smell coming through your car heater can also mean you have debris built up on the engine. When leaves, pine needles and other debris get caught under the hood, they toast from the warmth. Then, when you turn on the heater, this characteristic odor comes through the heating vents. If you sense this smell, pull over to a safe parking area and open the car’s hood. Be careful clearing away any debris from hot elements.

Bad Heater Core

When your car heater core ages, it may require replacement. Signs of problems with this part include a burning smell from the heating vents, foggy windows and overheating engine. A regular comfort system check involves service for the heater core, making this maintenance critical. Otherwise, you can face between $600 and $900 in early replacement costs.

Other Bad Smells Detectable through Your Car Heater

Other bad odors possibly detectable through your car heater include:

  • Sulfur or rotten eggs
  • Hot oil
  • Syrup
  • Burned carpet
  • Burned rubber
  • Gasoline
  • Mustiness

The sulfur or rotten egg bad smell from your car heater can signal problems with your catalytic converter. The odor of hot oil often points to a leaky crankshaft or leaky valve cover. With this smell you can sometimes find oil on the pavement where you park or smoke coming from your exhaust pipe.

A sweet, syrupy smell often signals a leaking radiator, hose or heating system. The rich smell comes from ethylene glycol in coolant dripping on hot engine parts. Not as sweet is the smell of burning carpet, which can relate to worn brakes or a dragging brake. Burning rubber is equally unsweet in odor, pointing to loose hoses or belts.

Sometimes when refueling your vehicle, you spill gasoline. This often causes a gasoline odor to enter your vehicle. But coming through your car heater, this bad smell can mean you have a vent hose or fuel injection line leak.

Finally, smelling a mustiness creeping in through your car heater vents can tell you that there is mold or mildew growth in your air conditioner evaporator. Besides the bad odor, this can trigger headaches, itchy eyes, sneezing, breathing problems and other symptoms of allergies or sensitivities.

Inspection, Maintenance and Repair for All Car Heater Problems

Winter is certainly not the time to have a non-working heater or one that creates a bad odor. Besides being irritating, this odor can signal much bigger problems you need to repair before they grow worse. In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Cloverdale Auto Service provides inspection to find the source of your heater’s bad smell. We also provide routine service and repairs to get your vehicle back on the road in top form. Call us today at 336-331-3448 to schedule your car heater inspection and maintenance.

tune up

Vehicle Parts Often Changed during a Tune Up

Your vehicle needs a tune up on a regular basis to keep it running properly. This simple routine checkup at your auto repair shop also helps you avoid costlier problems down the road. But what parts typically need replacing during a tune-up?

Below, we look at these parts and why it is good to replace them.

Spark Plugs

tune upSpark plugs are critical for starting your engine. This makes it important to periodically replace them during a tune up.

Over time, the spark plugs’ electrodes wear down. Being worn increases the distance voltage must travel to create the spark. When the ignition system must produce increased voltage, you risk the spark plugs misfiring and your vehicle not starting. Dust and other deposits can also build up on the spark plugs, interfering with the voltage, too.

When replacing these parts, your auto mechanic can install long-life spark plugs. These last longer, even up to 100,000 miles for typical driving conditions. Although they cost more up front due to being made with gold-palladium alloy or platinum, they can save you time and money in the long run.

Rotor Cap or Distributor Cap

The rotor cap or distributor cap passes voltage from the ignition coils to the engine’s cylinders. This ignites the fuel. A worn cap no longer correctly passes the voltage as it should, causing your engine to not start. You need to have this part replaced at every tune up, since it wears down quickly.

Filters and Valves

Your vehicle has multiple filters and valves. These require replacement from time-to-time during a tune up. Your auto mechanic should pay attention to the fuel filter, air filter and breather filter. He or she should also check the PCV valve, wires attached to the spark plugs, belts, hoses and other easily worn down parts.

Oxygen Sensors

The oxygen sensors in your vehicle play a major role in your engine’s fuel control feedback loop. They measure your exhaust’s unburned oxygen levels and send this information to your car’s computer. The computer uses the data to adjust the fuel mix to manage vehicle emissions.

When your car’s oxygen sensor shorts out, emission levels rise. This triggers the check engine light to turn on in many cases. But sometimes this warning system fails and you do not know the part has failed.

Oxygen sensors can fail for a number of reasons. For example, debris entering the exhaust can obstruct the sensor. Or this part just wears out over time. A tune up is the perfect time for your mechanic to check the sensors for proper functioning and replace them when needed.

Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained through Tune Ups

Many people put off getting their vehicle tuned up, sometimes to avoid the cost. But the price of this maintenance is low, particularly when you consider how much a part breakdown or being stranded can cost. Take your vehicle to Cloverdale Auto Service in Winston Salem, NC to keep it running its best. Call us at 336-331-3448 to schedule your tune up today.

Replace Your Car Battery

Hints that You Need to Replace Your Car Battery

Today’s cars, trucks, and SUVs rely on many electrical components for driveability, comfort and safety. These components strain the electrical system and battery. So, how do you know when you need to replace your car battery before it dies?

Your Car Battery Powers Many Car Parts

Replace Your Car BatteryCan you name all of the electrical parts of your car? Likely not. In fact, the average auto repair mechanic might even struggle to name all of these battery-operated parts.

Some of the electrical parts on your vehicle include:

  • Electrical seats
  • Power windows
  • Power locks
  • Sun Roof
  • Outlets for cell phones
  • Seat heaters
  • Computers and DVD players
  • Navigation systems
  • Stereo systems
  • Transmission computers
  • Stability control
  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Sensors
  • Traction control
  • Security systems

All of these systems, controls and components run off of the car battery. They run the battery down, while extreme weather can also deplete it’s energy resources.

In reality, you will need to replace your car battery at some point, if you keep your car for several years or more. Normal use, corrosion or a leak can cause the battery to not hold a charge anymore. With so much relying on your vehicle’s electric power, how do you known when you need to replace your car battery?

Key Signs You Need to Replace Your Car Battery

The best time to replace your car battery is before it dies, leaving your car stranded. Below are some key signs you need to replace your car battery as soon as possible:

Check Engine Light Is On

When the check engine light illuminates, it is signalling that your car has a problem. Although the light can turn on because of any number of issues, it can mean you need to replace your car battery. Take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for diagnostics and battery testing.

Corroded Connectors

If your battery has white, flaky residue on its metal parts, this usually points to corrosion. When the positive and negative terminals corrode on the top of the battery, this causes voltage problems. As a result, your car struggles to start.

Engine Starts Slowly

A slow-starting engine is a potential sign of a dying battery. When battery parts wear out, they do not operate well. This makes it harder to create a charge for the starter, making engine turnover slower.

Something Smells Rotten Under the Hood

When you pop the hood of your car, do you smell rotten eggs? This odor can indicate a leaking battery. This type of gas leak typically occurs when the battery has a short or suffers damage.

A Misshapen Battery Case

Extreme temperatures – whether hot or cold – can lead to internal changes within the battery case. These changes cause the case to swell, sometimes cracking. If you notice your battery is misshapen, you can bet it is not working as it should.

Dim Lights or Other Electrical Issues

When you need to replace your car battery, it is usually losing its charge. With a weak charge, electrical components of your vehicle do not operate on full power. As a result, you notice changes in how the radio, seat heaters, phone chargers and other electrical parts work. You may also notice your vehicle’s lights do not stay lit or alternate between fully lit and dim.

Old Battery

You need to replace your car battery every three to five years. But bear in mind that many factors can affect how long your battery lasts. These factors include your driving habits, the vehicle’s electronic demands and climate. To keep yourself safe from sudden battery failure and getting stranded, get your battery’s performance tested regularly after it is three years old.

Battery Service at Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem

Cloverdale Auto Service in Winston-Salem, North Carolina provides battery testing and replacement along with a wide range of other auto repair services. If you think you might need to replace your car battery, call us to schedule testing at 336-331-3448.

Auto Maintenance Checklist

Road Trip Auto Maintenance Checklist

Road Trip Auto Maintenance Checklist

Road trips are so much fun, whether you go alone or with a car full of loved ones. However, even a last-minute trip requires some advanced planning for safety and comfort of everyone on board. This planning involves a bit of auto maintenance to ensure your car runs as it should. But even this maintenance is quick and easy when you know what your vehicle needs. Below is an auto maintenance checklist for your next road trip.

Check the Oil and Fluids

 Auto Maintenance ChecklistYou need to change your car, truck or SUV’s oil once every three months or 3,000 miles as part of routine auto maintenance. If your road trip will take you across many miles in North Carolina or out of state, you should probably get your oil changed before leaving. Driving for long periods of time taxes your car more than a typical daily driving pattern. So, you want to give it the fluid it needs to perform its best and keep it from overheating.

Test Your Lights

Before driving anywhere, you need to ensure your lights are all working as they should. Check your low beam headlights, high beams, blinkers in the front and back and brake lights. You will need your lights when driving at night, in inclement weather and as you try to find your way in new places.

Check the Air and Heating

The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable in summer heat or winter cold while on your adventure. Have your air conditioner and heater maintained, including refrigerant levels. Some of the checks your auto technician performs as part of this auto maintenance include:

  • Visual inspection of belts, caps, hoses, cooling fans, radiator, clamps, water pump and radiator
  • Combustion leak test
  • Oil and transmission fluid check to find potential coolant leak in the engine
  • Radiator cap pressure test
  • UV tracer dye injection to find leaks

Change the Air Filter

To improve engine performance, reduce emissions and get more miles to each gallon of gas, have your air filter changed. This routine auto maintenance is important every 12,000 miles for most vehicles. A dirty air filter limits airflow to the engine, which can cause poor performance. Clean air filters keep your engine clean.

Check Your Tires

Look in your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s ideal tire pressure. You can also find this information on a sticker on the driver’s side door. Of course, the easiest method of having your tires checked is requesting this service when you take your car into a shop for regular auto maintenance.

Let the shop know you are headed out on a road trip and need to understand the condition of your tires. They will look for tears and bulges in the tire sidewalls. If the tread is low or there are other problems, they may recommend you have them changed. Otherwise, if they need air to achieve the ideal pressure, the technician will do this for you. Do not forget to ask them to check your spare tire, too.

Speaking of the spare tire, ensure you have all of the necessary tools for a tire change. Look for your jack and the lug wrench. Other helpful tools include a flashlight, gloves, hand wipes and a towel or blanket on which to kneel, if necessary. It is smart to have a 12″ x 12″ square piece of plywood stored with your spare tire, in case you have to change a flat tire on soft shoulder.

Also consider having a road flare or reflective triangle, in case your vehicle breaks down and blocks the roadway. Some people also like to have a rain poncho in the vehicle, too.

Check Your Brakes

You should never neglect your brakes before a road trip. Take your vehicle to a skilled auto technician and have them perform routine brake checks and required maintenance. They will examine the brake pads and rotors and ensure the whole system works as it should.

Test Wipers and Refill Wiper Fluid

On any road trip, your windshield is going to get dirty. Not only do you face a range of weather conditions, but you will also encounter dust, agricultural debris, road dirt and bugs. The last thing you want is to run out of windshield wiper fluid with so many things potentially clouding your view. Also check your wiper blades and replace them if needed.

Complete Auto Maintenance for Your Road Trip in Winston-Salem, NC

When you feel ready to hit the highway for adventure, auto maintenance is the first priority. The experienced auto technicians at Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem will get your car, truck, or SUV in top shape to ensure your road trip goes smoothly. Call us at (336) 331-3448 to schedule your service today. We hope this Auto Maintenance Checklist has helped you and prepared you for your next road trip!

A Good Mechanic

What Makes a Great Auto Mechanic?

When it comes to owning and maintaining a car, truck, or SUV, there is one thing you should never underestimate. That is the value of knowing and visiting a trustworthy auto mechanic. But what makes a great auto mechanic and where can you find one to trust in Winston-Salem, NC? Below are the top seven skills your great Winston-Salem auto mechanic must possess.

Customer Service Skills

A Good MechanicA good auto mechanic can find what is wrong with your vehicle and repair those problems. They can also help you avoid these problems in the first place through quality diagnostics and ongoing service. But a great auto mechanic does this while also providing excellent customer care. You need one you can trust who helps you understand the needs of your car.

Diagnostic Skills

When something goes wrong with your vehicle, it disrupts your life. You have to spend time without a vehicle, or at the very least, awaiting repairs before getting your car back. Meanwhile, you still need to get to work, transport the kids to their activities, and handle your personal needs. A great auto mechanic efficiently and correctly uses diagnostics to find your car’s problem to get you back in the driver’s seat.

Work Ethic

A great auto mechanic enjoys the work they do, even when juggling multiple customer vehicles at once. They possess excellent problem-solving and multi-tasking skills to get repairs done.


A good mechanic has hours upon hours of classroom education. But a great auto mechanic has this education plus years of hands-on experience. After all, vehicle systems are constantly changing. A mechanic who works on a wide variety of makes and models gain greater exposure to diverse challenges and what works to solve them. They also build confidence through a lengthy history of education, self-guided study and just getting under the hood.

Problem Solving Skills

Deductive reasoning also called problem-solving skills, helps a great auto mechanic find your vehicle’s issues quickly. It is critical that they are able to deduce where a problem begins and the other parts it affects. These skills also come in handy when working with unhappy customers to resolve conflicts and provide honest, reliable information.

Technical Knowledge

Knowing what tools you need for a particular job helps a good mechanic. But having knowledge about the latest technologies defines a great one. This technology constantly evolves, so you need a mechanic who keeps up with the changes.

Diverse Automotive Knowledge

No one can predict which make or model will come into an automotive repair shop on a given day. This makes it particularly important that your auto mechanic has a diverse knowledge base about automobiles. They must know a lot about electrical systems, computers, air conditioning and heating, fuel systems and transmissions, to start. They must also know as much as possible about the tools available to them for making repairs. Finally, it is key for a great auto mechanic to know where to go for reliable, updated information.

Finding Great Auto Mechanics with All Seven Skills in Winston-Salem

Cloverdale Auto is a locally-owned automotive repair business in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For years now, local residents and visitors alike have grown to trust our excellent auto mechanics for the services we provide. When you bring your car, truck, or SUV into our Cloverdale Avenue location, you can trust you will receive the quality service you deserve, too.

Services provided at Cloverdale Auto include:

  • Brake repair
  • Check engine light
  • Engine repair
  • Oil change service
  • Bus repair
  • Transmission repair
  • Hybrid repair
  • Radiator repair

Is your vehicle not running as it should? Or is it time for routine maintenance performed by a great auto mechanic? Bring your car, truck, or SUV into Cloverdale Auto for expert diagnostics, service, repairs and parts replacement today. Schedule your visit by calling 336-331-3448.

Cloverdale Auto Service