Are you guilty of riding your brakes?

This is the top of our list for vehicle maintenance. Your brake system is complicated and the most important part as far as safety is concerned.

  • It’s always better to slow down with moderate pressure and the releasing the brake to cool, than “riding” them and getting them overheated. Don’t confuse this with pumping your brakes.
  • People are nervous about this and many don’t even know but when you are on steep grades, it is better to downshift your vehicle than ride the brakes. What this does is let your engine do some of the braking instead of your brakes. Take caution with this as it is only a safe solution on dry roads. Doing this on slick roads can cause your vehicle to slip and slide around.
  • Last, keeping your brakes clean. All brakes work better when kept clean the temperature down. Use a good wheel cleaner that you know is safe for your wheel finish. How often you clean your brakes, there really isn’t a standard. People who drive gravel roads will obviously have to clean their more than people driving primarily on pavement.
Signs of Trouble

No more brake pad left. There are two ways to tell if you are running out of brake pad.

1. You have to remove the wheel, sorry. This way you can see the forward end of the caliper. If it is down 1/4 to 1/8 of the pad, you better get them replaced.

2. You don’t feel like taking your wheel off and wait until the day you are driving along and, whoops, push your brakes and nothing happens. We would recommend option 1.


Why do I have to rotate my tires?

In short, rotating your tires will extend the life of your vehicle tires.

No matter how well the alignment is, it will never be perfect because of the forces from turning and if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive.
Not all vehicles require the same rotation sequence. You will have to look in the owners manual to learn the best pattern for your specific vehicle. Another thing to keep in mind is if your tires are directional, meaning that they are designed to run on the road in one direction only, there are additional challenges in rotating so your cost will be more.
So when should you rotate your tires? Again you will have to refer to your owners manual but when in doubt just plan to do it every time you have your oil changed. The most critical time is during the first 10,000 miles on the car.

Your Cars Cooling System

Common Problems with a Vehicles Cooling System
*never open your radiator when the engine is hot. It may seem like the solution when you see all that vapor rolling from it but the built up pressure in the system will cause the coolant to splash out and burn you.*
  • Broken Hose. Hoses wear out and can leak. Once the coolant has left the system it can no longer cool the engine and it overheats.
  • Broken Fan Belt. The water pump is driven by the engine through a belt. If the belt breaks the water pump can not turn and coolant will not be circulated through the engine. This will also lead to engine overheating.
  • Faulty Radiator Cap. The radiator cap is designed to hold a certain pressure in the coolant system. Most caps hold 8-12 psi. This pressure raises the point in which the coolant will boil and maintains a stable system. If your cap does not hold pressure, then the car could overheat on hot days since the system never becomes pressurized.
  • Water Pump Failure. Most commonly you will hear a screeching noise and will be able to see coolant leaking from the front of the pump or under the car. Early signs are small spots of coolant under the car after being parked overnight and a strong coolant odor while driving. This smell is pungent. It is not like gas or exhaust.
  • Head gasket seal. If there is large amounts of white smoke flowing out of your exhaust then the problem could be with the head gasket. The head gasket seals the cylinder head to the engine block and also seals the coolant passages. When this gasket fails to work properly, coolant can enter the cylinder and will be turned into vapor and the engine fires. Head gaskets most often fail after the engine has experienced an overheating situation. When super hot, the cylinder had can warp and allow the gasket to fail.
Preventative Maintenance of your car’s cooling system
  • Have all your belts and hoses checked regularly. A good time to do this is during your scheduled oil change.
  • Depending on what your cars maintenance schedule is, have the coolant changed every 2-3 years.
  • Inspect your radiator cap from time to time to see if you notice any deterioration. This can be a cheap fix just to check it and replace it for the $5 to $10.
  • Every 5 years have the coolant system flushed. The reason for this is that corrosion builds up in the system over time so you need to get that flushed out.
What to talk about with your mechanic
  • Let your mechanic know when your overheating problems occur. Don’t let them go because the longer you wait the more damage that can be done to your vehicle.
  • There is a big difference between overheating while you idle and while you are on the highway so make sure to note to yourself when it is happening so you can tell your mechanic.
  • Ask your mechanic if it’s worth changing the timing belt or chain while they are in replacing the water pump. Because it has to be removed anyway to get to the water pump it will save you in labor costs if you do it at the same time.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to call the service manager at Rapid Chevrolet. His name is Jim Cengel and his local number is 605-343-1282 ext 250 and the toll free number for the dealership is 800-343-1282. We hope this information has been helpful. If you have any questions you may find your answer on the website.