How Do I Know if I Have Shocks or Struts?

This is a great question—and one we get a lot at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions. Shocks and struts are both integral pieces of an automobile, so it’s never a bad idea to get a little more information on them. Hopefully this guide will help answer any questions you may have and help you determine if you have shocks or struts on your vehicle.

shock and struts near me why does my car bounce replacing shocks and struts

What’s the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?

Before we can decipher if your car has shocks or struts, we need to know what these components are. Both shocks and struts work as part of the suspension system, where they help to reduce bounce and oscillation.

While shocks and struts work similarly, they are different systems. Typically, this means your car will have one or the other. Although it is important to note, some vehicles have both: shocks in the front and struts in the rear or vice versa.

How Can I Tell Shock from Struts?

There are a number of reasons why you would want to know if your car has shocks or struts, but how can you tell? If you have your vehicles manual, you could always look in there at the suspension system section. If you don’t, the most sure-fire way is to check under the carriage.

Both shocks and suspensions will be located near the tires. Shocks will be vertical and resemble a pneumatic pump. Struts are horizontal and look to be just extensions of the wheels.

I Think Something Might Be Wrong With My Shocks or Struts

If you think your shocks or struts are damaged or are not functioning properly, then that’s something you need to have inspected. A malfunctioning shock or strut is not only bad for your car’s health, it’s dangerous. Your suspension keeps your carriage from sliding all around, and if malfunctioning, it could result in a serious accident.

Why Have A Professional Inspection?shocks and struts Frederick 21701 shocks and struts 21701 shocks and struts near me

As we said before, damaged struts or shocks are safety hazards. When it comes to safety and ensuring your vehicle is safe to drive, it’s always better to trust a professional mechanic, like the Frederick auto-maintenance specialists at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions. Don’t take the risk by doing it yourself or using an amateur mechanic, ensure your car’s, and your own safety, and hire a pro.

If you have any questions about your vehicle or think your shocks or struts may be malfunctioning, don’t hesitate to call Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions at (301-662-5100). We’d be happy to speak with you about any questions you may have, and hopefully will be able to help keep your car on the road!

The 50th Anniversary of Ken’s Automotive and Transmissions

50 Years in the Making

Ken's Automotive and Transmissions 50th Anniversary

Wow. We’ve been in business for 50 years! A lot can happen in 50 years—a lot can really change. But one thing that hasn’t changed, is our dedication to doing the job right, no matter what.

Here at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions, we have served the Frederick, MD community for 50 years, and we plan on serving it for many more to come!

Built from the Ground Up

Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions started from humble beginnings in 1968. Our founder, Ken Mead, started out without much, just a little repair shop. But through hard work and determination he built the business up and passed it along to his son, Mark Mead.

The transition between the owners was seamless, and the values which founded Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions were passed on to the next generation.

Way Back in 1968

With it being our 50th anniversary, we’ve been thinking a bit about the past. We’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic. The start of Ken’s wasn’t the only thing that happened in 1968. Here’s a bit of what else was happening, way back in 1968:

  • The average cost of gas was $0.34/gallon.
  • 50th anniversary of Kens Automotive and Transmissions in Frederick, MDThe Chevrolet Camaro cost $3,500.
  • The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Clean Air Act, and Vehicle Air Pollution and Control Act all go into effect in 1968.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
  • Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated after winning the California Democratic primary for the Presidential election.
  • Intel Corporation was founded. Today, Intel continues to lead in the technology world, developing processors used computers.
  • Tommie Smith and John Carlos took a stand at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. After winning the gold and bronze metals in the 200-meter dash, the athletes raised their fists and wore pins as symbols in support of African-American civil rights.
  • Former Vice President and Republican nominee Richard Nixon won the Presidential election.
  • The Beatles released The White Album, featuring experimental music recorded during a trip to India, the album immediately topped American album charts.
  • The Tet Offensive begins in Vietnam.
  • Apollo 8 was the first spaceship, with humans inside, to orbit the moon. The iconic “Earthrise” picture was taken during this mission.
Kens Auto 50th Anniversary

Keep on Looking Forward

No matter how much we like reminiscing on the past, we need to look forward as well. Here at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions, we plan on continuing our high level of service, and to continue satisfying our customers. If you have any questions about your car’s maintenance or feel your car might need a check-up, call us today at (301-662-5100).

What are Shocks?

What are Shocks and What Do They Do?

Shocks make your car drive smoother. Shocks, also know as shock absorbers, are an absolutely vital aspect of your vehicle’s continued functionality. Their sole job is to absorb the bumps and imperfections of the road so that your vehicle doesn’t rattle apart going down the road.

what are shocks and what do they do

Sure, you may feel it when you drive over a pothole. But, think about all the bumps, hills, and crevices you drive over each and every day. Why don’t you feel those to a larger extent? The answer is shock absorbers. These are an important part of your vehicle that help to ease your driving experience, making it more comfortable and safer in every respect.

Are you curious about how shock absorption works? Let your local Frederick auto mechanic explain.

What is a Shock Absorber?

When you drive over a pothole or something similar, it creates what is called kinetic energy. This energy travels into your vehicle. Without a way to absorb and disperse this energy, the ride would be incredibly uncomfortable, your tires could even lose contact with the road, and your vehicle would rattle itself apart.

How Do the Shocks on my Car Work?

A shock absorber works by using springs in conjunction with a hydraulic system. When your car hits a bump, hydraulic fluid is forced through tiny holes of the piston, which slows the piston and then slows your car’s spring movement. In essence, the shock absorber is absorbing kinetic energy and dispersing it so the impact on your vehicle is much less.

How To Tell if Your Shocks are Worn Too Thin

Now that you know how important shocks are, you’re probably wondering how to maintain them. Like any part of your vehicle, your shocks must be regularly inspected by your local auto service center. However, there are a few warning signs you’ll want to be aware of in case your shocks are experiencing an issue:

  • Mild gusts blow your car. If you need to correct your car’s trajectory during mild gusts, this could have to do with poor shock absorption. Worn out shocks will not be able to adequately absorb a mild gust quick enough so that you don’t notice.
  • Vibrating, rocking, and rattling. These noises while driving are signs your shocks aren’t functioning properly. Obviously, with any noise such as these it’s best to bring your vehicle into your local Frederick, MD auto repair specialist right away.
  • Uneven tire wear. If you replaced your tires all at the same time, and only one or two is wearing to a significant degree before the others, it’s possible you could be having an issue with your shocks. This is one reason to have your regular mechanic always replace your tires for you. Your mechanic can spot any abnormal wear on your tires and notify you of these concerns.

In short, your shocks are important, and require just as much attention as other aspects of your vehicle. If you suspect you are experiencing a problem with your vehicle’s shocks, head to your local Frederick, MD shock repair service. Here at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions, we have extensive experience in dealing with vehicle suspensions and shocks. Give us a call to schedule an appointment at 301-662-5100, today!

What Fluid is Leaking from my Car?

Are you noticing unusual spots that are appearing underneath your car where you park? Occasionally, this could be a sign that something is very wrong with your vehicle. In this case, it’s important to know exactly what fluids could be underneath your car, and you should be aware of how it can affect your driving. Unidentified car leaks can be benign, or very serious, which means that you need to know the difference in order to keep your car and yourself safe from harm.

Read on to learn more about the different types of fluids that could be leaking underneath your car, and whether or not you need to visit your local Frederick Auto Mechanic.

Coolant or Antifreeze

This liquid will be bright green in color, and indicates that your antifreeze, or coolant, is leaking. While this leak doesn’t necessarily mean that your car is impossible to drive, it is the liquid that keeps your engine from overheating. If you leave this leak unchecked, it could easily lead to your car smoking on the side of the road in an undrivable state. Coolant can also be extremely attractive to animals, and they will lap at the liquid without realizing that it is deadly to them.

Brake Fluid

This is a much more serious leak that means you should not be driving your car at all. Brake fluid is yellowish in color and has a relatively thick consistency. Your brake fluid is what lubricates your hydraulic brake system, which means that, if it is leaking, it could lead to brake failure. Brake failure is one of the most serious types of vehicle malfunction, and can be deadly. Have your car towed if you suspect it is leaking brake fluid.

Windshield Wiper Fluid

And, this fluid is why you should always check with a professional if you are unsure what kind of liquid is leaking underneath your car. Windshield wiper fluid is bluish in color, and might look like a serious leak at first glance. However, this usually just means that there is a minor tear or leak somewhere, and is not a serious problem. Getting it fixed means you’ll be able to use your windshield wiper fluid properly again. You don’t want to be caught without it!


This one is easy to identify. If your car is leaking gasoline, you’re going to smell it even when you aren’t driving the car. A leak underneath of your car will give off an odor that can be fairly obvious. However, it’s also possible you haven’t even noticed that your vehicle is leaking gasoline. The main issue that arises with leaky gas tanks is that you’re spending way too much money on pathetic mileage. It can drain away at your funds, making a quick trip to the mechanic well worth your time.

Wondering what kind of fluid is leaking underneath of your car and you can’t figure it out? Don’t worry! Ken’s Automotive and Transmission is here to help. As professional Frederick auto mechanics, we understand each and every fluid that could be leaking from your car. We’ll also know whether or not it is an immediate danger to you. Call today and keep yourself safe!

Why Are My Headlights Cloudy?

Have you noticed recently that your headlights are cloudy, hazy, or yellowed? You might have even tried to wipe them down, only to notice they seem to be fogged from the inside. Foggy headlights can severely reduce your visibility on the road, creating a dangerous situation. Here’s why your headlights get foggy and what you can do to fix it.

Why Do Headlights Get Cloudy?

Headlights went from being made of glass to being made of plastic, and that’s where our problem originates. Glass was resistant to fogging, but it was not nearly as strong as plastic. Plastic headlights are covered with a protective film that is meant to keep them from fogging, but this film only lasts for so many years before it begins to deteriorate. Without the film, the polycarbonate plastic begins to oxidize, leading to a foggy and hazy appearance.

What’s the Big Deal?

The big deal is that foggy headlights don’t put out enough light. This reduces your ability to see the road as well as be seen on the road by others. Foggy headlights reduce visibility so much that it is believed 9 out of 10 accidents at night are somehow related to headlight problems. This is why it is so desperately important to have not only working headlights, but clear headlights as well. If you want to avoid serious accidents on the road, it’s time to look into ways to get your headlights clear once more.

What Are Some Solutions?

There are plenty of DIY ways to clean your headlights such as cleaning kits or toothpaste—but these are only temporary solutions. However, the best option will be to have your lenses replaced for the longest lasting option. It might cost a little extra, but it gets the job done right and keeps your headlights sparkling for years. Not to mention you’ll be safer on the road than you would be if you were using toothpaste.

Visit Your Maryland Auto Mechanic!

If you’re in Frederick looking for a way to fix your cloudy headlight problem, Ken’s Automotive & Transmission is the right place for you. Here, you can get your headlight lenses replaced at a very competitive price. We can ensure quality service and even better customer service. Regardless of what state your headlights are in, we can do an inspection and make sure they’re working as well as they should be. We look forward to hearing from you—call us today and make an appointment!

Are You Ready for Winter Driving?

Regardless of how you feel about winter weather, no one wants to drive in it. Snow and ice might be beautiful, but they hold danger and peril for those on the road, and it takes some effort to combat it. Fighting against nasty driving conditions is no easy task. However, it can be done so long as you know a few tips and tricks.

Here are some helpful hints that will aid you when you must drive in wintry conditions.

Are You Ready for Winter Driving

Gas Tank

Keep your gas tank filled above halfway at all times. It might be tedious, but it can also save your life should you be introduced to a survival situation. If you are stranded in the snow, your car’s heat will be vital.

There’s also the possibility you’ll be stuck in unexpected traffic, and you won’t be able to fill up your tank when you need to. Therefore, keeping that tank filled above halfway will make a serious difference.

Keep a Winter Safety Kit

A winter safety kit is something you can keep in the trunk of your car so it’s available when you need it. The contents should include water, small snacks, kitty litter, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and whatever else you think might be helpful.

Additionally, ensure you always have a snow brush and scraper in your vehicle, as you never know when you might need it. If you don’t want to use sand or kitty litter to give you traction in a slippery situation, your car mats will work just as well.

Stick to Main Roads

If it’s possible, driving only on main roads can help to keep you safe. Getting stranded on a major parkway is not as life-threatening as being stranded down a dark country road. If you know that the main roads are going to extend your commute, give yourself more time to drive. Having more time also allows you to focus on safety.

When driving in poor conditions, you need more time to stop. Be sure there’s plenty of room between you and the person in front of you. Stay clear of trucks, as well. They have a much harder time coming to a stop, and rely on you to keep yourself safe.

Drive With Headlights

Even if it’s during the day, you should always drive with headlights on. It easily alerts other drivers of your presence. If the weather gets bad, and your headlights are off, you might not remember to flick them on, making you nearly invisible on the road. Headlights are vital in that they can shine through the snow and create a safer driving environment for everyone.

Is your car tuned up and ready for winter? Call Ken’s Automotive & Transmission today for a seasonal Frederick, MD car inspection. Having your car checked regularly is important. Don’t trust that process to anyone else. Ken’s Automotive & Transmission is waiting for your call!

How Tires Help with Traction in Snow

Just before it starts getting cold outside, you should be checking all of your tires to see if they need to be replaced. Why? Because ignoring something as important as traction is what will end up causing an accident.

It’s far too common to see accidents that were either caused or worsened due to a poor set of tires. This can be easily avoided. By having your tires inspected before wintertime, you can determine if you’re still driving safely. Read on see how tires help with traction in snow.

How Tires Help with Traction in Snow

Do You Have the Right Tires?

Sometimes, it’s not enough to have new tires that have barely been used. During the winter, you might need winter tires, especially if you’re going to do a lot of driving in the snow and ice. Even a daily commute will require special winter tires, as mornings can be the frostiest of all.

Keeping your tires up-to-date is important, but it’s equally as vital to ensure that your tires can handle whatever is thrown at them. Certain tries are more apt to driving in icy, snowy conditions—you can ask your local Frederick tire service center to see which tire is right for you and your specific situation.

All-Season Tires Are Not Winter Tires

Though all-season tires are great to have, they aren’t particularly useful in the snow or icy conditions. In fact, winter tires have far more elements to them that make them more efficient.

For instance, the ribs, grooves, spikes, and studs that lie along a winter tire’s surface give it the traction it needs to keep your car from sliding across the ice. On all-season tires, the rib design is very different, and isn’t designed for frequent icy driving.

Don’t Rely on Chains

Many people utilize snow chains for their tires during the winter when the conditions are particularly rough. Snow chains can be incredibly useful, and add another layer of protection to your car when driving in dangerous conditions. However, you shouldn’t rely on these chains to keep you safe.

You should still absolutely invest in winter tires that will help grip onto the ice and snow. With both of these in use, you should have no trouble at all gathering traction.

How Much do Tires Really Help?

Tires are a huge factor in what keeps you safe driving during the winter. Most of staying safe has to do with driving cautiously and rationally, regardless of the conditions. However, a car that is in-shape and completely equipped is always going to be safer.

With winter tires from your tire repair shop, you’ll rest assured knowing you’ve done everything you can to make your car a safer place. Don’t be afraid to give us a call at Ken’s Automotive and Transmissions if you have any questions regarding tires or winter driving.

Why Oil Changes are Necessary

You’ve probably heard you should change your oil every few months, or every 3,000 miles. In fact, your mechanic will usually put a little sticker on your windshield indicating when you should get your next oil change. It’s easy for many of us to ignore this mileage number, though. But it’s important we don’t ignore these stickers—oil changes are necessary.

While, a car can technically run for quite a few thousand miles past its recommended change number, you shouldn’t. In fact, you can drive a car until it dies without getting an oil change–but here’s why getting your oil changed is how you’re going to keep your vehicle for years to come, while giving yourself a pleasant driving experience.

Why Oil Changes are Necessary

Keeps Your Car Running For Years

Your vehicle can last for a very long time if it’s given proper care. Frequent oil changes have more of an impact on longevity than you might think, and it’s for a very simple reason. Dirty oil that builds up over time can clog components and cause an engine to work harder than it should. An engine constantly pushing itself to the limit is going to quickly wear out. This leaves you with a dead car that could have lasted you for many more miles. A year’s worth of oil changes at a local Frederick, MD auto mechanic averages under $200—much less than a new car.

Stops Engine From Overheating

These days, cars have advanced in technology—overheating engines are quite a rare problem, compared to twenty or thirty years ago. However, that doesn’t mean an overheated engine is impossible. Oil prevents excessive friction within the components of your vehicles. Friction creates a lot of dangerous heat leading to overheated engines. With dirty or low oil, these components won’t be able to function without creating vast amounts of friction, leading to an overheated engine.

Prevents a Dirty Engine

Cleaning your engine can be quite a pricey job. It’s something you’ll want to avoid at all costs, and the best way to avoid it is to have regular maintenance done to your vehicle. Oil changes are included in this. When an engine becomes clogged with dirty oil and buildup, cleaning it will be necessary. If you ignore oil changes, and continue to push your engine under extreme circumstances, you’ll end up with a disgusting engine and a lengthy repair bill.

Your engine works harder when the conditions are extreme. If you live somewhere with plenty of hills and mountains, your engine is pushing itself to the limit all the time. You’ll need more frequent oil changes, in this case. Extremely hot or cold weather is also something that should be considered, whether you’ve been driving during a heat wave, or you live in the tropics. Long drives can also wear on your engine. Add this into your mileage consideration, and determine with your Frederick, MD mechanic just how often you’ll need an oil change for your engine to stay healthy.

Ken’s Automotive & Transmission is here to provide your Frederick, MD oil change service!

Do you need an oil change? Drop by today and receive fantastic service by trained professionals—we’re here to work for you.

What Does an Alignment do for My Car?

Tire misalignments occur gradually for a variety of reasons. Bumping into a curb, bouncing over a pothole, or general wear and tear can cause your tires to whittle themselves out of proper alignment. The damage? The tread on your tires can wear down, you could be receiving less gas mileage, and it puts a dangerous strain on your steering capabilities. Do you need to have your tires aligned? Read on for some more information about alignments, and what they can do for your car.

What Does an Alignment do for My Car

What is an Alignment?

Your vehicle suspension connects the wheels to its body. This is what is being adjusted when you get your tires aligned. There is a misconception that the tires themselves are being moved, when the suspension is simply controlling where the tires are going to be coming into contact with the pavement. This is where wheel alignment comes into play.

How Do I Know I Need an Alignment?

There are several signs that will show you need a wheel alignment, but their appearance can be so gradual that you don’t notice them. Here’s a quick test–in a safe environment, drive in a straight line, and determine if the wheel is pulling heavily to one side or the other. When driving straight, letting go of the wheel should not cause the car to lean to either direction. Something more noticeable could be your steering wheel vibrating, or your tire tread wearing unevenly.

Why Do I Need a Professional?

Going to your trusted Frederick alignment service is the best way to solve your alignment issues. Firstly, this is because you’ll need a mechanic to properly fix your misalignment. This prevents costly complications, and relieves you of the headache of trying to DIY the project. It’s also just as important to continue visiting the same mechanic time and time again. This way, they’ll be able to tell you whether or not your tires are wearing unevenly, and they’ll also know the exact history of your car. Instead of needing to explain, they’ll have a record of past inspections.

Tire alignment is incredibly important; not only does it keep your tires safe, but it also keeps you safe! Without proper alignment, your tires will have much less life, costing you more in the long run in replacement tires. And, a proper alignment ensures that your steering is as accurate as possible, adding to safety.

Come visit us at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions for your alignment!

Are you in need of an alignment? Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions has you covered. We are your go-to Frederick tire service location, and have been since 1968. We’ve served happy customers over these past decades, working hard to solve problems as we guarantee satisfaction. If you need an alignment, or any other kind of automotive assistance, call us at 310-662-5100.

Why Do I Hear a Noise When I Brake?

If you hear a concerning noise whenever you brake, you may feel your heart sink with dread. There could be several reasons your brakes are making odd sounds—though not every situation is dire. Examining the sound carefully is an important part of keeping everything maintained and running smoothly. Read on to learn more about different brake noises, and see if your situation requires serious and urgent repairs.

Frederick, MD Brake Repair Service

Mild Concerns

Strange noises don’t always have to mean your car is completely falling apart. For instance, a rattling noise usually originates from heat expansion of your brake pads. Some brake pads can be installed without anti-rattle shims, making for an annoying noise every time you hit the brakes. This shouldn’t occur all the time though, so if it does, get your brakes checked out.

Squealing after a Frederick, MD brake service is also normal, and doesn’t indicate a poor job on your mechanic’s part. In fact, the squealing is a residue on the surface of the brakes which must wear off. It’s kind of like brand new shoes making a squeaking noise until they are fully worn-in. The sound should stop after a few days—if it does not, bring your vehicle back in to your mechanic.

If you hear a mix of grinding and squealing after a long rainstorm, this is a common noise which should go away after a few minutes. Excess rain on your brakes can cause the smallest amount of rust to form which will disappear and the problem should be solved.

Moderate Concerns

A squealing noise when coming to a stop commonly indicates your brake pads are failing and need to be replaced. This doesn’t have to be addressed immediately, but if you let this problem persist, it can have dire and dangerous consequences.

Brake fading is a condition that involves less braking power the more you press down on the pedal. It occurs whenever your brakes get overheated. You can help alleviate this problem by frequently pulling over to let the brakes cool, until you can get your car into your local Frederick, MD repair shop.

Extreme Concerns

The sound that should cause you the biggest concern is a loud grinding noise. This means the rotor disc is coming into contact with part of the caliper. The result can be extensive, expensive damage. Another possibility could be that an object is lodged in between your rotor and brakes. Regardless, any form of grinding needs to be looked at immediately by your local brake service in Frederick, MD to ensure your safety.

Worried about the noises your brakes are causing? Come to Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions!

Never ignore the warning signs your car is giving you. Even if you think your brake noises are mild and not a cause for concern, it’s possible this problem could be something drastic. Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions is the best place in Frederick to get your car checked out for any potential issues include brake services. Schedule an appointment online with us today, or call us at 301-662-5100.