How Do I Change the Car Oil?

tune up kit Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsHow do I change the car oil? Here at Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs, we love to see car owners showing an interest in basic auto mechanics. One of the easiest things to learn to do by yourself is to change the motor oil. This is something that every vehicle needs fairly often. Even if you don’t plan on doing it by yourself, there’s no harm in knowing how to do it, just in case.

The Basics

Motor oil is needed by your engine to lubricate it’s moving parts. When your car has plenty of clean oil, it runs smoothly, uses less fuel and doesn’t overheat due to excessive friction between the engine parts. Over time, oil can break down, pick up dirt and turn into a thick sludge-like substance that does not efficiently lubricate the engine. If you change the car oil before it gets to this stage, you’ll ensure that it runs in top condition.

A regular oil change is one of the most important parts of vehicle maintenance. Your car’s manual will state how often the oil should be changed. At an auto shop, you may be able to get an oil change for between $30 and $55. A DIY oil change will probably cost you about $24, or closer to $35 if you also change the filter. In reality, you probably won’t end up saving a lot of money by changing the oil yourself, but it’s an excellent skill to have.

Gather Your Equipment

To change the car oil, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Jack and jack stands
  • Plastic sheet or cardboard to catch any spills
  • Safety goggles
  • Box end or open end wrench
  • Oil collection/recycle container
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Funnel
  • New oil filter
  • New oil
  • Rag 

Before You Change the Car Oil

It’s a good idea to collect all the required tools and materials together before you begin. Find a level and stable surface to jack up the car safely. Lay down some plastic sheeting, cardboard or plywood under the vehicle to avoid creating a mess with spilled oil. You may want to use a foam mat to get under the car.

If you have been driving the car in the previous hour or two, the engine oil will be extremely hot. Allow it to cool for at least a few hours before attempting to change it; otherwise, you can risk burning yourself badly. If the engine is completely cold, it’s helpful to start the vehicle and leave the engine running for five minutes. This will warm up any old, congealed oil and get flowing better.

Drain the Old Oil

The first step to change the car oil is draining out the old stuff. Look for an oil pan at the very bottom of your engine. You should see the drain plug at the bottom of the pan; it looks like an oversized bolt. Before touching the plug, position your oil container beneath it.

Using the box end wrench, loosen the drain plug. Remove the cap with one quick movement to avoid getting your hand covered in oil as it starts to drain out. Allow all the oil to drain into your container. You can get this oil recycled at most full-service gas stations and auto shops. Replace the drain plug and tighten it according to your vehicle’s torque specifications.

Remove the Old Oil Filter

Next, you have to remove the old oil filter. Using the oil filter wrench, crank the filter counterclockwise until it comes loose. Be aware that there will probably be some old oil held in the filter that can splash out. Make sure the rubber gasket comes away with the filter. If it is still stuck to the engine, you will have to peel it off.

Prepare and Install the New Oil Filter

Take your new filter and use some fresh oil to coat its rubber gasket before installing it. Fill the new oil filter about 2/3 of the way up with new oil. Now you can carefully hand-screw it clockwise into place. Remember to move it slowly to prevent the oil splashing out. There is no need to screw the new filter into place with a wrench, as this might overtighten it. Use your hand to get it as tight as you can; that will be sufficient.

Refill the Oil

Now it’s time to refill the engine with oil. Under the hood of your car, look for the oil fill cap. Open it up and place the funnel inside for easy pouring. Before you start to fill it up, check the owner’s manual for the oil capacity of the engine. You want to pour a little over 3/4 of this amount into the engine at first. If you are using single quart containers, it should be easy enough to measure it out, and the 5-quart containers will have markings on the side of the bottle to show you how much you are using.

Check the Oil Level

When you change the car oil, the reason you don’t add the full volume of oil at once is that there is always some old oil that remains trapped within the engine and tubes. If you don’t take this into account, you may accidentally overfill the engine and make a mess.

Use the dipstick to check the current level of oil in the engine. Remember to wipe off the oil before checking the level, as it may be still covered up to the level of the old oil. If the oil is below the lower mark, continue to add more little by little until it reaches the correct level. Remember to replace the oil fill cap.

Now you know the basics of how to change the car oil. While it’s not complicated, it does require some patience and advance preparation. If you are not sure about tinkering with the inner-workings of your car, there’s no need to worry. At Bowers Automotive, we can give you a great deal on a basic oil, lube and filter service. Whether you do it yourself or leave it to the professionals, the important thing is to make sure to change the oil at the recommended intervals.

What’s Wrong with My Exhaust System?

catalytic converter Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsIf you are currently wondering what’s wrong with my exhaust system, then it may be time to get in contact with Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs. Your car’s exhaust system plays a crucial role in routing combustion gases out of the engine and away from the cabin. It also helps to keep your car running quietly and efficiently while reducing the level of air polluting emissions produced by the vehicle. For some helpful tips on diagnosing a problem with your exhaust system, keep reading.

Loud Rumbling: If your car starts to make a rumbling noise while running, it is very likely that there is a problem with the muffler or a leak somewhere in the exhaust system. As soon as you begin to hear a change in the noise made by your exhaust, have it checked by a professional. Generally speaking, the longer you leave this problem to worsen and the louder the rumbling gets, the more complicated and expensive the repair job will be.

Catalytic Converter: A damaged catalytic converter will often produce a rattling sound when the car is stopped in traffic or parked. Catalytic converters contain precious metals that make up part of the filtration system which works to neutralize noxious gases. Due to the high value of these metals, it is reasonably common for catalytic converters to be stolen from vehicles. If your catalytic converter has been removed, you’ll notice a loud noise and obvious decrease in performance when the car is running.

Exhaust Leak: A new vibration felt through the seat of the car, the steering wheel or when you touch the pedals is a warning sign that may have you asking what’s wrong with my exhaust system? Usually, a leak in the exhaust system is to blame. Broken seals, disconnected components or damage to the tubing of your exhaust system can allow exhaust to escape in a location where it should not be present.

Vibration, noise and a change in engine efficiency are common symptoms of this kind of exhaust leak. If you notice that your car needs gas more often and the fuel is not lasting as long, get your car tested for an exhaust leak. If there is one, your engine will have to work harder to convert fuel into the same amount of energy. An exhaust leak will result in you burning through fuel faster than you usually would.

Your exhaust system’s tubing, catalytic converter, and muffler are all susceptible to damage, as well as standard wear and tear. Leaving them without attention from a professional mechanic will cause your vehicle to run loudly, inefficiently and produce toxic gases that are bad for the environment and human health.

As soon as you find yourself wondering what’s wrong with my exhaust system, just call the local experts at Bower’s Automotive in Colorado Springs. We perform a fast and accurate evaluation using modern diagnostic tools at our auto shop. Our team can then provide professional repairs to get you back on the road, as well as ongoing automotive maintenance to ensure your exhaust and all other systems are in proper working order. Give us a call to make an appointment.

How to Fix Transmission Problems

transmission Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsThis week at Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs, we are focusing on how to fix transmission problems. If you suspect there is an issue with your vehicle’s transmission, there is no need to panic. Transmission malfunctions are not always as complicated as most drivers think they are. Often, you can carry out some of the easy fixes for minor transmission problems on your own. Keep reading to learn which issues to tackle yourself and which require the attention of our qualified mechanics.

Transmission Fluid Leak

If you notice the fluid is lower than it should be when you check the dipstick, you probably have a transmission fluid leak. The seals at the driveshaft, transmission and input gasket should be checked without delay as these are the most likely locations for a leak. You can temporarily solve this problem with a bottle of Stop Leak, available from most service stations. If the leak continues, you will need to take the vehicle to an auto shop for inspection and to have it repaired. 

Transmission Overheating

If your vehicle is under strain pulling a heavy load, the transmission can overheat. It often happens when the transmission lines are clogged or if the fluid has become contaminated with dirt and metal particles. To solve this issue, completely drain and replace the transmission fluid, as well as clean the transmission filter. This requires you to open up the transmission, so this is only recommended if you are experienced and comfortable working on this part of the car. Just be sure to have your vehicle’s manual on hand.

Transmission Slipping

If you feel the gears slipping or resisting when you try to change them, usually either a fluid leak or a malfunctioning solenoid is to blame. A faulty solenoid needs to be opened and checked for a build-up of debris or obstruction. This is best done by a technician if you are inexperienced with basic auto mechanics. Solenoids and other components of the transmission system often have longer warranties than other car parts. You may be eligible for a replacement by your car dealership.

These are some of the most common issues that affect car transmission. It’s important to remember that taking good care of your transmission system and doing preventative maintenance will go a long way in saving you from having to fix transmission problems. And remember, never try shifting into ‘Reverse’ or ‘Park’ until the car has completely stopped moving. And always have the vehicle’s brake pedal pressed when shifting out of ‘Park.’

Checking your transmission fluid according to your manufacturer’s guidelines and taking your vehicle for regular maintenance checks will help avoid any unwanted surprises with the transmission. If you do experience a serious problem with your transmission or any component of your car, try to get it checked out without delay. At Bowers Automotive, we know how to fix transmission problems quickly, affordably and professionally. Call us today on 719-596-4818 for more information or to get a quote.

Understanding Your Car Alternator

Understanding Your Car Alternator Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsWhen it comes to understanding your car alternator, and everything else under the hood, it is best to consult the experts. Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs has been servicing vehicles since 1993. Our team offers friendly, efficient service at the right price. And helping customers understand their vehicles better is one of our passions. While many components of vehicles have modernized and changed over the past few decades, alternators have held their basic structure and function within your car. 

What Does the Alternator Do?

The purpose of your car’s alternator is to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, to produce an AC current that can be used to charge the battery. A standard car’s battery lasts for years and does not need to charge from an outside source. This is thanks to the alternator, which harnesses mechanical energy from the motor while the engine is running and turns it into an electric current capable of charging the battery of your car.

The battery needs to maintain a constant charge in order to be capable of turning on the lights, radio, heating systems, GPS and internal computers within your car. If you have ever found that your car’s battery is dead after not using the vehicle for an extended period, this is because the battery depends on a regularly running motor to remain charged.

How Does It Work?

Understanding your car alternator is a little complicated. It uses the principle of electromagnetic induction to produce electricity. This is when voltage is generated across a conductor by a changing magnetic field. The alternator is composed of an iron conductor with coils wound around it and a magnet that can be rotated inside the conductor. To create the changing magnetic field, the magnet must be physically rotated. Whenever the engine is running, the moving drive belt produces the force necessary to set the magnet rotating.

What Happens When the Alternator Malfunctions?

Some signs of a failing alternator include dimmed headlights, failing electrical components and difficulty starting the car’s ignition. A loosened belt could be the culprit, and the problem can be easily solved by having it tightened up.

If you notice that your battery fails to retain a charge, leaks or is completely dead, it may be time to replace the alternator. A good way to check for an alternator malfunction is to charge the battery from an external source. A loud grinding noise will be produced by the alternator if the bearings have started to go and need to be replaced.

At Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs, we have the latest in diagnostic tools and auto repair technology. We can take the guesswork out of understanding your car alternator by quickly identifying any malfunctions. We pride ourselves on delivering high-quality, reliable repair services. If you suspect any issues with your vehicle’s electrical system or mechanical parts, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. More often than not, the quicker we address the problem, the easier it is to fix!

Proper Car Maintenance for the New Year

proper car maintenance for the New Year Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsToday, Bower’s Automotive in Colorado Springs offers a short guide to proper car maintenance for the New Year. If you only keep one resolution for 2018, then be sure to make it count. Get out the calendar and mark the date for your next auto service, or even better, set a reminder on your phone. By keeping your car up to date with maintenance in the following areas, you can significantly lower the risk of road accidents and potential breakdowns.

Brakes Maintenance

Keeping the brakes in good condition is absolutely vital to your safety and a smooth driving experience. For high mileage vehicles or if you drive in heavy traffic, having the brakes checked once per year is a good idea. If you have noticed that putting pressure on the brakes causes a foul odor, a shaking in your steering wheel, squealing or grating noises, then it is may be time to change the brake pads.

Oil Change

Besides including this as proper car maintenance for the New Year, this is one of the most important car care items on the list. Now, how often to change the oil depends on the age and model of the vehicle. Generally, an oil change every 7,500 to 10,000 miles is sufficient, but if your car has an oil life monitor, you can rely on it to say when to change the oil. Between changes, use the dipstick to check if the oil is low or dirty on a regular basis.

Air Filters

The air filters can also be serviced every time you get an oil change. If you frequently drive near construction sites or in an area with a lot of dust, wind or sand, get the air filters checked more often to prevent too much build-up.

Tire Rotation and Alignment

A good rule of thumb is to get the tires checked each time you get an oil change. Tire rotation, balance, and alignment will prevent the tires from wearing out quickly and unevenly. Once per month, check the tread of the tires and the tire pressure. The optimal PSI range can be found in the owner’s handbook. Driving on underinflated tires reduces fuel efficiency and can increase the risk of damage.

Windshield Wipers

Wiper blades need to be replaced regularly in order to keep working efficiently. They should be replaced at least once per year and more often if you usually drive through heavy rain or snow.

Belts and Hoses

Have your mechanic check all belts, hoses and rubber seals regularly or during a tune-up. These parts can wear out easily and lead to significant damage if not replaced in time. Fluctuations in temperature and a high annual mileage will cause these to wear out faster.

Following this guide to proper car maintenance for the New Year will ensure your vehicle is in top condition throughout every season. Prevention is key when trying to avoid costly repairs and unexpected breakdowns. Taking your car to a qualified mechanic in Colorado Springs regularly will give you peace of mind on the road and a safer driving experience. Bowers Automotive offers a complete range of maintenance and repair services to all types of vehicles.

Signs You Need Car Engine Repair or a Rebuild

Bowers AutomotiveSigns You Need Car Engine Repair or a Rebuild Bowers Automotive Colorado Springs in Colorado Springs has put together a list of the most common signs you need car engine repair or a rebuild. Here at our auto shop, we receive plenty of customers with engine trouble, especially during the winter months. We know it’s all too common for drivers to put off visiting their local auto repair shop, even when their dashboard warning lights are flashing. And this often results in a complete breakdown of your car. This is not only inconvenient, but it also means that severe damage has been done to your engine and it may require a complete rebuild.

If your vehicle’s engine is struggling to perform, it will let you know. The important thing is to be able to recognize the signs of engine trouble and know the difference between a superficial issue and imminent engine failure. Check out the following symptoms and if you notice something similar happening to your car, do not ignore it. Nobody wants to be stuck without their vehicle. So, bring your car to the experts at Bowers Automotive if you notice any of the following signs you need car engine repair or a rebuild.

White Smoke

Thick white smoke billowing out of your tailpipe is caused by one thing only. Coolant and water leaking into the combustion chamber and mixing with the fuel to produce distinctive white smoke. If the coolant has made its way into the combustion chamber, it is usually due to one of three possible reasons: a blown head gasket, a cracked engine block or a damaged cylinder head. These problems can occur if the engine is running hot and can be costly to repair.

Check your engine oil dipstick for changes in color and consistency of the oil. A gooey consistency and brown color indicate that coolant has mixed with the engine oil. When the engine has cooled completely, you can check the level of coolant in the radiator. It will most likely be low, due to the fluid escaping into other areas of the engine. To determine exactly how extensive the damage to your engine is, a technician can remove the cylinder head to examine.

Black Smoke

Notice black smoke coming from your exhaust? There’s no need to panic just yet. Black smoke usually means your fuel to air ratio is unbalanced, or that your engine is running rich. There are precise mechanisms in your engine that control the amount of air entering the combustion chamber, keeping it in proportion to the amount of fuel and ensuring optimum combustion. If there is a malfunction, too little air is mixed with the fuel, and black smoke is the result. Targeted engine repair by a technician should resolve this problem quickly and easily.

Blue Smoke

If you see blue smoke coming from your vehicle, the most likely culprit is burning engine oil. Broken seals and general wear and tear can create gaps for engine oil to leak through. To find the location of the leak, your auto mechanic will need to check the top end of the engine where broken valves around the cylinder heads could be responsible.

It’s also possible that the bottom end of the engine could be where the issue lies. Worn piston rings that no longer seal properly could be allowing oil to enter the combustion chamber. If you notice blue smoke and low oil levels at the same time, it’s one of the signs you need car engine repair or a rebuild. You are probably burning considerable amounts of oil, and your problem can only get worse. If this problem is not dealt with quickly, you can be looking at paying for serious and extensive repairs of the engine.

Loud Noises

Harsh banging noises coming from your engine are an immediate warning sign that something is wrong. Usually, these sounds are coming from the bottom end of your engine where you have high-intensity movement by pistons and the crankshaft. A bearing failure at one of these points can initiate the loud knocking sound. Often this occurs at the piston wrist pins, where the connecting rods meet the corresponding pistons.

Hearing these noises should set the alarm bells ringing in your head immediately as they are common signs you need car engine repair or a rebuild. If you choose to keep driving, you will hear the engine clatter even more in response to acceleration or when climbing a hill. Forcing the car to keep going in that state will cause progressive mechanical damage and is a recipe for disaster. To avoid a complete engine rebuild, get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible and have the problem analyzed.

Loss of Power

Over the lifetime of your car, it can be expected to gradually lose power as general wear and tear takes its toll. This loss of power is usually imperceptible and happens over the course of many years. If you notice a marked difference in your vehicle’s power, this could indicate trouble in the engine. Do not ignore a loss of power, especially if other warning signs are present such as unusual noises or rough running. If the physical power of your engine is failing, you are probably dealing with a major component failure somewhere in the engine. Only a trained auto technician will be able to identify the source of the problem and take action to fix it.

Ignore these signs you need car engine repair or a rebuild at your own risk. Unlike other components of your vehicle, the engine cannot be ignored once it shows signs of failure. The block, pistons, and valves that make up your engine undergo substantial mechanical strain to be able to power your vehicle enough to move. If they continue to work with faulty bearings, broken seals, cracks or a lack of lubrication, the mechanical parts are going to be severely damaged within a short period of time.

Avoid the cost and inconvenience of a complete engine rebuild by taking your car to Bowers Automotive at the first sign of trouble. Our team can use advanced diagnostic tools to pinpoint the problem quickly and carry out a speedy repair.

What’s Causing You Check Engine Light?

what’s causing your check engine light Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsAt Bowers Automotive, we want to help you figure out what’s causing your check engine light to illuminate. Our team of auto mechanic specialists in Colorado Springs is ready to operate on your vehicle, no matter the year, make, or model. Here is a quick guide to help!

Just in case, you have never experienced a check engine light coming on and staying on your dashboard, it is best to take your vehicle in as soon as possible to auto repair experts.

Unfortunately, driving your car with a check engine light on can irreparably harm the engine or any number of parts in the vehicle. So, do your best to come in right way to see what’s causing your check engine light. We can provide the engine diagnostics necessary to diagnose and resolve the issue quickly.

With a check engine light, the bottom line is there is a problem with the vehicle’s emissions system. The sooner addressed, the better! Basically, the engine control unit and the onboard diagnostics system monitors a variety of parameters for performance. If these parameters are exceeded, there is a problem, and the check engine symbol lights up.

The number of things that could be the cause of a check engine light illuminating is very long. But the more common check engine light problems include:

  • Blown head gasket
  • Loose or cracked manifold or hoses
  • Faulty oxygen sensors
  • Deteriorating or pinched fuel injector o-rings
  • Old spark plugs or spark plug wires
  • Exhaust gas recirculation valves sticking
  • Faulty fuel injector
  • Wet engine
  • Loose gas cap

For starters, go ahead and make sure that your gas cap is tightly secured. This is an actual cause of the check engine light to come on, so if this is the only problem, you’re in luck! If the check engine light remains on after a minute, the absolute best thing to do is drive directly to your favorite auto mechanic shop for help. Here we can run a variety of diagnostics in order to find out the cause of the problem accurately.

Some check engine light problems are simple, easy, and inexpensive to repair, while others are more costly and require more time to provide the labor. Once we discover the issue, we will be able to check in with you about performing the repair and getting your vehicle back to you as soon as possible. Keep in mind, that the longer one waits after the check engine light has come on, the more potential damage is done. Avoid costlier repairs by coming in immediately after noticing the check engine light.

Our team at Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs is ready to take action and repair any problem with your vehicle. We know that you cannot be without it, so we provide consistent quality auto repair for every one of our clients. Come by and see us as soon as possible to find out what’s causing your check engine light to come on. We will find out the problem and get it fixed quickly and efficiently, so you can get back to your life!

Car Repair You Shouldn’t Put Off

Car Repair You Shouldn't Put Off Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsAt Bowers Automotive, we have 27 years of experience dealing with all of the car repair you shouldn’t put off. Our team is here to make your life better by helping you understand the basics of car maintenance and repair and how to keep yours running great for years. Proper care and maintenance based on these suggestions will increase the life expectancy of your vehicle and help it run smoother while doing so.

Engine Diagnostics

Your vehicle has an array of dashboard lights designed to communicate with the driver. If there is an issue, they will illuminate for a number of reasons, letting you know there is a problem that must be addressed. Anything from a check engine light to a tire air pressure warning light means that it is time to come in for a checkup. Do not ignore these lights! They are essential to keeping your vehicle from a major malfunction and will ultimately keep you and your family safe. So, do not hesitate to check in with our trusted auto repair technicians as soon as possible.

Brakes

Signs of wear and tear on your vehicle’s brakes include loud noises, grinding or high-pitched, as well as not stopping your car as quickly or easily as they should. A general rule of thumb is to change the brake pads every 25,000 miles, but there are many reasons why that number could be less. Due to driving conditions, amount of braking, road surfaces, and more, your car may need brakes sooner than later. No matter what, if you experience any of these signs, it’s a car repair you shouldn’t put off, ever.

Oil Change

On average, your vehicle will need an oil change every 3,000-7,000 miles. It all depends on how your unique vehicle runs and how much dirt and debris have collected. The lubrication effect of motor oil is essential for our cars, so it’s worth it to be on a consistent schedule for oil changes.

Tires

Get your tires rotated every 6000-8000 miles or every other oil change. This will ensure the most even wear possible on the tires, increasing their performance and life expectancy. Additionally, ensure that the tire pressure in your vehicle is at the optimum level. This too, contributes to better gas mileage and better wear of the tread of your tires. Check your tire pressure every month or so to make sure that you are getting the most miles out of them.

Windshields

As the main way to see where you are going while driving, our vehicle’s windshields are a crucial feature to take care of! If a chip or crack spreads enough, it can create a dangerous situation while driving, obstructing your vision. Avoid the chances of an accident by addressing windshield chips immediately or replacing the windshield entirely, if needed.

We can help keep you and your vehicle happy with complete automotive maintenance and repair services at Bowers Automotive. We always address the car repair you shouldn’t put off with knowledgeable and professional auto mechanic specialists. Come by today!

 

All About Your Car’s Braking System

All About Your Car's Braking System Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsAt Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs, we can help you understand all about your car’s braking system. Brakes are one of the most important components for vehicle control. If you experience a malfunction in your braking system, you will be unable to decelerate the vehicle and driving will become a dangerous and frightening experience. Keeping your brakes maintained is part of general vehicle upkeep. Our team of auto technicians offers repair and replacement of all types of brake systems.

How Do My Brakes Work?

The first step in understanding all about your car’s braking system is to know how it works. Depending on your car, you will either have traditional hydraulic brakes or regenerative brakes. All braking systems have some components in common. To activate the brakes, the driver applies pressure to the brake pedal with their foot. The force applied by the foot is transferred proportionally by hydraulics or electronically to the wheels of your vehicle. Most drivers will be more familiar with hydraulic braking systems that incorporate either disc brakes or drum brakes to generate friction.

Hydraulic Brakes

Hydraulic technology in basic terms is using the movement of liquid in confined spaces to transfer force. In a typical hydraulic braking system, the force applied to the brake pedal by the driver’s foot will cause a piston to slide into the master cylinder. The master cylinder converts non-hydraulic pressure into hydraulic pressure. It does so by pushing brake fluid along the brake lines and into one or more slave cylinders. In a vehicle usually, there will be four slave cylinders, one for each wheel.

Upon reaching the wheels of the car, the hydraulic pressure is converted back to mechanical pressure and used to apply friction to the moving wheels, slowing their rotation. By varying the diameter of the pistons pushed by the pressure of the liquid, the force can be multiplied many times. This is how a small force such as that of the driver’s foot on the pedal can be harnessed and converted by hydraulic pressure into a force large enough to apply the necessary friction to slow down the momentum of a moving car.

Disc or Drum?

If you want to know all about your car’s braking system, this is a key area. Your brakes work by creating friction between the brake pads and either a disc or drum. Disc brakes consist of a caliper clamp that is placed over the rotating disc attached to the wheel hub. When the brake is engaged, hydraulic pressure is converted into mechanical pressure in the caliper, and this closes onto the disc, applying pressure from both sides with the brake pads. Over time, both the rotary disc and the brake pads will wear down. Brake pads must be replaced regularly and the disc can either be resurfaced or completely replaced by a qualified auto technician, depending on the degree of wear.

Drum brakes are found on the rear wheels of some older vehicles, but they are no longer the industry standard. A drum brake consists of a hollow rotating drum attached to the wheel hub that is slowed down by pressure from brake shoes located inside the drum. A wheel cylinder converts hydraulic pressure into mechanical pressure, forcing the brake shoes outwards to push against the inner surface of the rotating drum. Brake shoes are covered in a hard-wearing friction material, similar to that of brake pads.

Regenerative Brakes

Even if you know all about your car’s braking system, you may not know that hybrid and fully electric cars us a new type of braking system in order to maximize efficiency. These vehicles use an electric motor to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy to power the wheels. When such a motor is run in reverse, it is possible for mechanical energy to be converted to electrical energy and stored in a battery for later use. An electronic brake controller monitors the speed of the wheels, and when the driver engages the brake, reverses the motor, slowing the rotation of the wheels and collecting otherwise wasted mechanical energy from the momentum of the vehicle.

The electronic sensors and brake controller are vital in the successful operation of this system. If the brake controller detects insufficient power in the motor to handle the torque exerted by the rotating wheels, it will engage backup friction brakes to complete the deceleration. Taking advantage of this energy to keep the electric battery charge means that hybrids will rely less on their combustion engines and fully electric cars will be able to complete longer journeys between charging. Brake technology, in general, is moving away from being dependent on mechanical components and towards a ‘brake by wire’ system.

Troubleshooting Your Brakes

Once you understand all about your car’s braking system, you’ll be able to detect tell-tale signs if all is not well with your braking system. If you experience any of the following, do not delay in taking your car to a qualified mechanic:

  • Brake pedal goes all the way to the floor. This is not normal, a lack of resistance from the brake pedal could indicate that you are leaking brake fluid.
  • The car takes longer than usual to stop. This problem could be a result of a fault in the hydraulics or the brake rotors and shouldn’t be ignored.
  • If the steering wheel or brake pedal shakes when you engage the brake, you may need to replace warped brake rotors.
  • Squealing or grinding noises. These noises are your brake pads telling you that they are worn down to their limit. If they are not replaced soon, your braking will be less effective, and you can damage the disc.
  • Dashboard ABS light is on. This can mean that you are low on brake fluid or that there is a leak somewhere in your brake lines.
  • The car pulls to one side when braking. Your brakes are worn unevenly or misaligned. They will need to be adjusted by a technician.

Now that you know all about your car’s braking system, you know what goes into keeping it well maintained. Remember that at Bower’s Automotive, we can service all types of brake systems, from drums and discs to ABS electronic systems. As soon as you hear or feel signs of brake wear or malfunction, drop into our auto shop on Ford Street in Colorado Springs. Our team can get you back out on the road again as soon as possible.

Winter is Coming, Is Your Car Heater Working?

Winter is Coming, Is Your Car Heater Working? Bowers Automotive, Colorado Springs, ColoradoWinter is coming, is your car heater working? At Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs, we recommend that you take the time to either thoroughly check your vehicle’s heating system or bring it to be serviced by our pros before the winter weather strikes. 

We’ve noticed that many of our customers experience more problems with their vehicles during the transition into the winter months. A sharp decrease in temperature can put a strain on your car’s battery, lower the tire pressure and even freeze windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze. One of the most frustrating battles waged by drivers in winter is the struggle with their car heater. 

Now, that winter is coming, is your car heater working? Let’s take a look at potential issues you may experience. We recommend you don’t wait until that first below freezing day to crank on the heating system, only to be sadly mistaken. Take the opportunity now to check the vehicle’s heater and see what happens. Usually, there are three possibilities: 

  1. The heater springs to life immediately with a strong gust of warm air
  2. Air comes out of the heating vent, but it is not hot
  3. No air is circulated, and the heater appears to be dead 

Even if your test results in option one, keep the car heater on for the rest of the journey and turn it on once per week until you start needing it. This will give you a good chance to notice any abnormalities in its function. If you experience possibility number two, it might indicate that you have a problem in the heating core component. Option number three indicates an apparently dead heater system and has a number of different potential causes. 

Fortunately, car heaters are relatively simple structures that have not changed much over time. Most issues can be fixed quickly by an auto mechanic. Now, if you’re a car enthusiast with basic mechanical and electrical skills, you may be able to handle the easier repair jobs yourself. 

The first thing to do is to narrow down the cause of your car heater failure

Air Circulating, but No Heat

When you can feel cold air pushed out of the vents, this shows that the blower motor of your heating system is working just fine, but there is likely an issue with the heating core. The heating core has a similar structure and function as a radiator. Extremely hot anti-freeze fluid is continually passed through the heating core, so that air blown over the core by the blower fan, is warmed up before it enters the cabin and raises the temperature. If you have air, but no heat, it is likely that the flow of antifreeze through the heating core is insufficient in volume or blocked. 

If your antifreeze level is too low, there may not be enough circulating to produce heat in the heating core. With a cool engine, you can check the level of coolant by opening the hood and looking at the coolant reservoir. If it does not reach the ‘full’ line, you can top it off, then start your engine again and check if the heating system works. Low antifreeze levels or antifreeze with an unusual color or smell shouldn’t be ignored. If you are regularly losing antifreeze, you probably have a leak in your system, or even worse, a blown head gasket

A blockage in the flow of antifreeze can be caused by a build-up of debris in the heater box, a stuck blend door, or a blocked valve. To diagnose exactly where the blockage has occurred, your auto technician will use a non-contact infrared thermometer to take the temperature at different spots along the heater core hoses where hot antifreeze leaves the engine and enters the heater core box. A point where the temperature of the hose drops dramatically is likely the site of the blockage. The tech will remove the blocked hose and either clean or replace it 

No Airflow and No Heat

If your heater produces neither airflow nor heat, you may have a bigger problem on your hands. No airflow means a problem with your blower motor. The possible reasons for this are many, but they include a blown fuse or other electrical problem, a build-up of dust and dirt in the motor causing it to malfunction, and a complete burnout of the motor. To access the blower motor, it may be necessary to remove part of the dash and open the heater box.

If you suspect a vehicle electrical problem is at fault, first, replace any potentially blown fuses, before looking at the relay switch and blower resistor. A blown fuse can often cause your whole heater system to shut down, and it is easy enough to fix. Just remember never to replace a blown fuse with a larger fuse. If your fuses continue to blow, this is an important warning sign that something is amiss in your electrical wiring.

If you experience trouble when attempting to diagnose the problem with your car’s heating system, there is no need to hesitate before bringing it to Bower’s Automotive in Colorado Springs. We can provide a complete diagnosis and repair service for your vehicle. Our team of certified mechanics will use the latest diagnostic tools to pinpoint the source of the problem quickly. Once the problem has been identified, we can work on carrying out the necessary repair work quickly and affordably.

In some cases, repairing the heater in your car is as easy as replacing a fuse or topping off your antifreeze. In other more complex cases, it is better to leave the vehicle with a professional and not risk causing any more damage by tinkering around with it. Now that winter is coming, is your car heater working? At Bowers Automotive, we are happy to give your vehicle a fall check-up and make sure all systems are ready to handle winter conditions. Contact us today to schedule your appointment or stop by the shop on Ford Street.