Overheating is the most common cause of vehicle breakdowns and internal engine damage. As the heat rises in Omaha over the summer, our shop sees more and more people coming in after breakdowns due to cooling system failure. But there is an easy answer!
A cooling system flush can keep your engine running smooth and cool even on the hottest days. Regularly changing your coolant, aka antifreeze, can prevent larger problems for your cooling system and engine and keep your family safe on the road!
What is the Cooling System?
The engine runs best at a high temperature, so the cooling system helps it to heat up quickly then keep the engine at a regular, constant temperature without overheating as it runs. It accomplishes this by transferring heat into the air with the help of coolant, or antifreeze, and the other components of the cooling system.
In most cars, the cooling system works by circulating radiator fluid (the mixture of coolant and water) through parts and pipes in the engine to absorb the heat and cool the engine. A radiator at the end of the system captures and transfers the heat from the fluid into the air.
But my coolant still looks clear, why should I change it?
New coolant usually appears a bright green or a bright red color, as in the picture below. As the coolant runs through the engine, rust and contaminants caused by oxidation and corrosion mix in with the fluid. Unfortunately, when you look under the hood to check your fluid, it may still appear clean and clear even though these contaminants rest under the surface, unseen and threatening the life of your engine.
This video from Monday Morning Mechanic shows the striking visual of these hidden contaminants, and the threats they pose.
How often should I flush my coolant?
Most manufacturers recommend that you change the radiator fluid (the mixture of antifreeze coolant and water) every 24,000 to 36,000 miles or 24 to 36 months. Depending on your driving habits, you may need to flush your coolant more often – we recommend every 1-2 years.
Be leery of “extended life” coolants that tout 100,000 mile lifespans – even these can accumulate rust and contaminants that threaten your engine life. These impurities could add up and cause bigger problems before you reach the 100,000 mile check. Even with “extended life” fluids, you should have these coolants checked frequently.
What happens if I don’t?
Failing to change your coolant can take as much as 100,000 miles off the life of your engine, in addition to big problems and expensive repairs.
Coolant flows through your entire engine, leaving behind contaminants. They can collect on the radiator, inside the water pump or thermostat, getting stuck and preventing the components from working appropriately. Plastic components, like the water pump, can wear and break apart. If the water pump breaks, the system won’t be able to move the water and coolant through the engine. Hoses can also react to contaminants, becoming swollen and rusty on the inside even as they appear normal on the outside. With excess heat, belts that control the cooling system and steering will start cracking, eventually breaking and disabling the systems (imagine a steering belt break, not being able to control your vehicle!).
Bottom line – contaminated coolant can lead to cooling system failure, causing your engine to overheat and break down, leaving you stranded on the road!
We assume your family’s safety is at the top of your priority list, so having your coolant flushed or even just checked while it’s still scorching outside, and before it gets cold, should be as well. Avoid expensive engine breakdowns by having your coolant flushed before problems arise. Call us at 402-896-5800 or stop by our shop.
This month, our team of ASE-Certified technicians is taking a break from preventive maintenance and auto repair tips to bring you some ice scraper life hacks. Life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill or novelty method to increase productivity.
As an Omaha driver, an ice scraper is your best friend in the winter. Snowfall and freezing temperatures bombard your windshield, diminishing your visibility with ice but, after a few scrapes, you’re ready for the road.
But have you ever been without an ice scraper? Whether yours broke or you lent it to a friend, facing an ice covered windshield without a scraper is enough reason to get back in bed and call it a day.
If you find your car covered in snow or ice and you don’t have an ice scraper readily available, try these tricks to clear your windshield and mirrors:
Plastic card- Often times, a thin layer of ice can easily be removed with a plastic card from your wallet or purse. Hold onto a used gift card, and you’ll have an ice scraper on you at all times. Don’t use valuable credit cards or IDs though since the ice may cause damage to the card.
Spatula- If you have any extra spatulas in your kitchen, you have an ice scraper. A stiff plastic one should do the trick.
CDs-Do you still listen to that summer mix you made 15 years ago? If so, put the music on your computer and use the CD to clear your windshield! This method works best for a thick layer of ice.
Get creative! – Desperate times call for desperate measures. From hard plastic cups to hangers, or pretty much anything with a thin plastic edge, it’s easy to find a makeshift ice scraper.
The moral of the story is to be prepared this winter. Having a reliable ice scraper on you at all times will keep you on schedule when the frost and ice try to slow you down. A quick stop to our shop for a winter inspection will also help you avoid any untimely breakdowns that the harsh winter weather may cause.
For any other automotive questions, be sure to call us at (402) 896-5800 so our ASE-Certified technicians can help you out. As a car service facility in Omaha, we hope you’ll trust us with all your automotive needs!
Whether you were just cut off on the highway or reacting to an abrupt animal crossing, there comes a time where you may need to slam on your brakes in order to avoid an accident. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) were designed to be your best friend in these situations. ABS prevents skidding to enable you to keep control of your vehicle until you can stop safely. ABS also prevents tire damage since it doesn’t lock the wheels during a stop thus shortening the stopping distance of your car.
Types of ABS Systems
There are two types of ABS. Vans and some light trucks have a two-wheel anti-lock braking system on the back tires. During a stop, the vehicle will continue to move in a straight line even though the two front wheels may lock up.
A four-wheel anti-lock braking system can be found on other light trucks and most cars. It is easier to maintain your steering with ABS because it will prevent all four wheels from locking up. This way you can have control over your vehicle during an emergency stop and stay out of harm’s way.
How ABS Works
If a vehicle is equipped with ABS, it will have a microprocessor called an anti-lock brake computer located inside the vehicle. This microprocessor will monitor the speed of each wheel using its speed sensor. When braking, the system will trigger electronic solenoids to release hydraulic pressure to each wheel much faster than manually pumping a set of ordinary brakes. You can feel the pulsating of this process when completing a high-speed stop. It is important to NEVER pump an anti-lock braking system in this situation and keep firm pressure on the brake pedal.
Unfortunately, ABS cannot prevent all skids and, in certain situations, it does not shorten the stopping distance of your vehicle. High speeds, sharp turns and slamming on the brakes can still send a vehicle with ABS into a skid. Since anti-lock braking systems will always prevent the wheels from locking, cars with ordinary braking systems will find it easier to stop on roads with loose gravel or snow as it forms a wedge in front of a locked wheel.
If you see an amber “anti-lock” light on your dashboard, this means your ABS is not working properly. You will still have an ordinary braking system, but it is advised that you bring your car to our certified mechanicsso they can get your ABS working properly again. The technicians at our Omaha location can help you with all your auto repair needs. Call us today to make your next appointment!
Being stranded with a dead battery on the side of the road is no fun—especially in Omaha. As an auto repair shop, we recommend having a pair of jumper cables handy at all times so your battery can get charged back up again if it dies. Check out this clip explaining how to use a pair of jumper cables safely and effectively: