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.

Why Does My Car Pull to the Right?

Car repairs are expensive and stressful. It can be difficult to estimate how much a repair might cost when you don’t know what the problem is.

This is especially true when the problem doesn’t have an obvious cause. A great example is discovering your vehicle is pulling to the right while driving. Why is your vehicle pulling to the right? There are a lot of possible causes for this, some more severe than others.

Why Does My Car Pull to the Right

There’s no way to diagnose a problem with 100% certainty before bringing your vehicle to a Frederick, MD auto mechanic, but you can narrow down the possibilities by looking at some of the things that can cause this particular problem

Tire Alignment

The most commonly culprit is your vehicle’s wheel alignment. When your vehicle is properly aligned, it is at optimal performance. Poorly maintained roads and hitting the curb can throw your vehicle’s alignment off. This can cause your vehicle to pull to one side, and can also cause uneven wear on your tires. One way to check wheel alignment is to very briefly let go of the steering wheel. If the vehicle starts to pull once your hands are off the wheel, then the cause is likely the alignment.

Uneven Tread Wear

Uneven wear or low tire pressure can also cause a vehicle to pull to the right. If you don’t regularly have your wheels rotated, the wear on your tires might start to become uneven, which can, in turn, cause your vehicle to pull to one side.

Low Tire Pressure

Low tire pressure can also be a contributing factor. Be sure to check your tire’s pressure and have your wheels rotated. If after taking these steps your vehicle still pulls to one side, then the problem likely lies elsewhere.

Faulty Tire Conicity

If the tires on your vehicle are new, the problem might be conicity.

Wheel conicity is a defect in the tire caused by faulty manufacturing. This happens when the belts under a tire’s tread aren’t perfectly aligned, causing it to inflate into a cone-like shape. New tires are usually where this problem can be found, though uneven tire wear can also cause conicity.

It’s important to be aware of how your vehicle is functioning. If your vehicle is pulling to one side, pay attention to when it happens. Does it only pull when you brake or accelerate, or does it pull to that side all the time? Being aware of these kinds of details can help your Frederick, MD mechanic identify the cause, which in turn helps you figure out what to expect when you bring your vehicle in for repair.

Manual vs. Automatic Transmissions

In today’s vehicles there are two main types of transmissions: manual and automatic. We’d like to take some time to discuss some of the pros and cons of either transmission type as well as address some common misconceptions.

manual transmissions vs. automatic transmissions

Myths about Manual Transmissions

Manual transmissions are certainly fun to drive, but they have some common misconceptions associated with them we’d like to address.

  • First, manuals don’t really get better gas mileage anymore; as technology has progressed, computers are starting to become more efficient than humans at shifting. The newest automatics are much more fuel efficient than the older models.
  • Second, manuals don’t save as much money in the long run as they used to. Automatics have come a long way and are now lasting the lifetime of the vehicle as opposed to a manual which will most likely need a clutch replacement once or twice.
  • Third, we’re starting to see features historically reserved for manuals showing up in automatic transmissions. This means, the argument that manuals offer more controls is starting to hold less weight as newer automatics are offering shifting controls.

Pros and Cons of Manual Transmissions

So, with some of the common myths of manual transmissions set aside, it’s time to cover the true pros and cons of manual transmissions.

Pros of a Manual Transmission:

  • Easier to repair because they are a simpler design.
  • Cheaper purchase price.
  • More fun to drive, but that’s quite subjective.

Cons of a Manual Transmission:

  • Not ideal for high-traffic situations or city driving which requires constant shifting.
  • Less popular which means less people can drive your car if needed; this also makes it a more cumbersome resale process.

Pros and Cons of an Automatic Transmission

What about automatic transmissions? Here are the pros and cons associated with a vehicle which uses an automatic transmission.

Pros of an Automatic Transmission:

  • Easier to drive and learn to drive.
  • Much more comfortable to drive in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Safer to drive as there are only 2 pedals and you can keep both hands on the wheel.

Cons of an Automatic Transmission:

  • More expensive repair.
  • Higher up-front cost.

At the end of the day, the choice you make with regards to the type of transmission you would like for your next vehicle should be based on your own preference. The differences above are so minute that in reality no one choice is truly better.

For more information on the pros and cons of manual or automotive transmission, get in touch with your local Frederick, MD transmission repair shop today.

Why is My Car’s Air Conditioning Not Working?

Automotive air conditioning units are great in the summer time—not only can they filter pollen, allergens, and bacteria from the air, but they ensure your car remains cool. With many moving parts, however, it’s common for air conditioning units to break down.

Frederick, MD vehicle air conditioning repair

Top 4 Reasons Why Automotive Air Conditioning Fails

If your vehicle’s A/C system is in need of repair, don’t wait until the hottest day of the year to see a Frederick, MD mechanic for the fix. If your air conditioning is not working, one of these four problems may be the culprit.

1. Electrical Issues

An electrical failure in your vehicle is a likely cause of air conditioning problems. Acid buildup from a battery, for instance, can damage your a/c system’s compressor. This is the heart of your air conditioning system, and it typically lasts at least 15 years. Electrical problems might permanently damage the compressor, or electricity might not be reaching the air conditioner in the first place.

Electrical issues can range from corrosion to blown fuses. Corrosion occurs when wires and electrical parts remain exposed to the elements. Water and dirt will corrode these wires and result in electrical issues in your air conditioner. Blown fuses will mean that a surge has taken place—the fuse will have blown, but the rest of the wiring and appliances will remain untouched.

2. Refrigerant Problems

It is possible for a car’s refrigerant lines to develop cracks and holes over time, resulting in the refrigerant escaping and leaking. No refrigerant, no cooling. In addition, over time the refrigerant levels can become so low that the compressor is forced to work harder when it pumps the substance through the system. This strain can become increasingly worse, eventually resulting in the compressor breaking.

3. Corroded or Dirty Coils

When coils become dirty, with minerals and grime building up on their surfaces, serious condenser problems can manifest. The a/c unit becomes unable to properly expel heat from the system, meaning it will have to work harder than normal to change the temperature inside your car. As the temperature and pressure gets higher, the compressor will begin to overheat. Over a short period of time, the air conditioning system will simply fail.

4. Presence of Contaminants

If moisture, debris, soot, or even acids enter an air conditioning system, they can cause damage. Cars can pick up small debris and contaminants over many years, particularly if windows are left open while the air conditioning is running. These contaminants can cause a system to overheat and fail.

Make Sure Your Car’s A/C Works This Summer!

Don’t be caught out on the road in a heat wave and no A/C. Keeping your car’s air conditioning system properly maintained could make the difference between a pleasant trip or a nightmare.

If you’re experiencing any automotive air conditioning problems, don’t try to fix them yourself. Trust the experts at Ken’s Automotive & Transmission in Frederick, MD to diagnose and repair your car’s air conditioning system.

Tune Ups are Important

Tune ups are a great help in maintaining your car!

Want a car to last longer? Want more fuel mileage? Then you are at the right place. Our ASE technicians will help keep your vehicle on the road.

Read further to find out how tune ups are important!

A TUNE UP CAN HELP YOUR CAR:

  • It can extend the life of your car.
  • Helps with your fuel economy.
  • Reduce the cost of car repairs.
  • Improve engine performance.
  • May help prevent break downs on the road.

A tune up is as important as an oil change. Regular oil changes and tune ups will make a difference the life of your car.

TUNE UP MAY INCLUDE:

  • Replacing fuel filters.
  • Replacing air filters.
  • Inspecting or replacing PCV valve.
  • Fuel induction service.
  • Replacing oxygen sensor.
  • Inspecting distributor cap.
  • Replacing spark plugs.
  • Replacing spark plug wires.

A dirty fuel filter and a dirty air filter will most likely, reduce your fuel economy about 20 percent. Maintaining tune ups and using quality fuel are a great way to increase your fuel mileage.

Is your car stalling? When I hit my gas pedal my car runs rough. Why is it hard to get my car started? While these are probably symptoms of a needed tune up there could be other issues.

Check your manufacturer manual for suggested tune up maintenance. While new cars today can drive anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 miles before needing a tune up.

As with any car maintenance frequency, it seems like, it will probably depend greatly, on how you drive your vehicle. Driving your vehicle in a safe manner and keeping it maintained with tune ups,

oil changes, tire rotations and other maintenance items, will most definitely help your vehicle stay safe and last longer.

In conclusion, with car prices and fuel prices the way they are today, tune ups are important.

 

 

 

 

 

Car Maintenance Saves Money

Car maintenance saves money for you and your family.

Why is car maintenance important? It is a  question we get asked often.

How can I save money on car repairs?

Or maybe, why are car repairs are so expensive?

My answer, by keeping up with your car maintenance items you can save hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars on auto repairs.

Did you know, cars that are not maintained can be dangerous, to you and others. Poorly maintained vehicles cause hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year in car accidents. Poor car maintenance is also is reason for those pesky failed emissions tests, engine repairs or engine replacement.  A poorly maintained vehicle will also reduce the life span of your vehicles longevity. I often hear people complain that as soon as they made their last car payment they have to buy a new car. In most cases, this is  likely due to poor car maintenance.

What car maintenance items do I need to do? Here are a few car maintenance items but not all, to to get you on the right path….

OIL CHANGES

First place to begin is with an Oil Change! Oil Changes can be the most effective cost saving car maintenance item that you can do for yourself and your car. By keeping your oil changes up to date and consistent you can help prevent engine damage, a clogged filter, and dirt from entering your engine. Oil changes help keep your engine lubricated to prevent friction and help keep your engine running clean, safe and efficiently.

BRAKES

Keeping your brake pads and brake fluids clean with a brake flush will go a long way in saving money. Changing your brake pads and brake fluid will help keep debris and erosion out of your brake lines and will help your brake rotors last longer and most of us know….. that brake rotors can be expensive!

WIPER BLADES

I hate it when it starts to rain and my wipers do nothing but smear dirt, grime and dead bugs across my windshield. This is usually when I discover I am out of wiper fluid. Never fails! Keeping your wiper blades clean and replacing regularly can increase visibility thus preventing accidents.

AIR FILTERS

Gas is so expensive these days sometimes it seems like you are always pulling into the gas station and filling your car up, again.  Your air filter, when clean and maintained, can help increase mileage and save gas! Simple and inexpensive to do. In fact, replacing the air filter is something anyone can do on their own!

FLUIDS

Have your fluids checked at every oil change. Make sure all fluids are full and clean. Dirty brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant fluid, power steering fluid, differential fluid, transfer case fluid can all cause your car to break down, run rough, cost money in fuel, and that is right…. you guessed it, high auto repair costs.

Do yourself and your vehicle a favor. Keep up with those manufactured recommended auto maintenance items. It will help you have longer life from your vehicle. Help save money on expensive auto repairs and more importantly help keep you and your loved safe. And remember, Car Maintenance Saves Money!

 

 

Get More Life Out Of Your Tires

Simple Steps You Can Take To Get More Life Out Of Your Tires

We tend to view our car’s tires as non-perishable items. The reality is, however, they are perishable, wearing just a bit every day. Each day we travel, we are leaving a bit of our tire’s rubber on the roads. Let’s face it; tires are pretty expensive so you want to get the most you can out of them. Here are some tips to help you get longer wear from your tires.

Inspect Your Tires Regularly

One of the easiest steps you can take, to keep your tires around longer, is to inspect them regularly. A good
time to do this is when you wash your vehicle or when you are getting a fill-up. Check the tires closely, looking for unusual signs of wear or foreign objects that may become lodged in them. There are multiple potential causes for unusual wear and your auto shop can help determine the cause. Remember, it’s hard to know if you have a developing tire problem if you don’t look. Make inspecting your tires part of a regular routine.

Keep Your Tires Properly InflatedTires

Tire gauges are an inexpensive tool that can help your tires last longer. Keep tires inflated to proper manufacturer suggested levels of pressure. Keep in mind, that your tires’ PSI is listed as a maximum. Over pressurizing your tires can cause as much wear as having them under-pressurized. There is a bonus to keeping your tires properly inflated; improved gas mileage.

Rotate Your Tires and Keep them Balanced

Tires should be rotated and balanced at least every 1,000 miles. Because front tires tend to wear out faster than rear tires, rotating them helps them wear more evenly. Keeping them in balance can prevent vibration and also prevent excessive and unnecessary wear. The good news is that most tire shops will rotate and balance your tires at no charge if you purchased them there. Many car owners overlook this relatively simple but important process.

Use a Tire Protectant

Using a tire protectant can keep tires from prematurely cracking due to ultraviolet rays of the sun and extreme temperatures. Tire protectants are inexpensive and will help the looks of your car. Apply protectant after each washing.  This is especially important if your car will be sitting in one place for a long period of time or if you regularly park your car outside for an extended period of time.

Keep Your Tires Aligned

While many people believe that tires will only get out of alignment when hitting a curb or potholes, the reality is everyday driving can gradually get tires out of line. This is why it is a good idea to have your alignment checked at least once a year. Misalignment of tires is one of the major causes of tire wear. 

Monitor Your Driving Habits

One of the ways you can improve the lifespan of your tires is by paying attention to how you drive. Slow down when you are driving on rough roads and for potholes. Avoid excessive acceleration and braking. Don’t take corners, while driving, fast. Your tires are in a daily battle between concrete and asphalt. Don’t give the roads any unnecessary advantage.

You can improve the life of your tires appreciably with a little TLC. At Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions, we have made car care our life’s work. We offer a full range of auto services including tires, wheel alignments, and tire rotation and balancing. We are proud to serve the Frederick, MD area and would be pleased to be your Total Car Care Center. Let us help you get the most out of your tires at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions.

 

6 Ways to Tell if It’s Time to Replace Shocks and Struts

Do you need to replace shocks and struts on your vehicle? How can you tell? Your car’s shock absorbers are designed to limit the amount of suspension movement by dampening spring oscillations. Struts similarly reinforce the the active components of the suspension to the same end, which means that struts and shocks are what keep you from hitting your head on the ceiling of the car every time you hit a bump and from vibrating while traveling down rough roads. Because of the interconnectedness of your car’s system, problems tend to be contagious. Here are several signs that your car might need shock and strut replacements. Noticing these signs right away can prevent further damage to your car.

When to Replace Shocks and Struts on Your Vehicle

Bumpy Rides

suspensionBecause the primary goal of struts and shocks is to prevent the amount of suspension movement, the most telling sign that you need to have them checked is if you are experiencing a bumpy ride. Your car is designed to comfortably withstand a certain amount of movement, so if you experience bumpiness or shakiness while driving, your shocks and struts are most likely to blame.

Steering Problems

One of the first signs people notice when their car needs new shocks or struts is poor steering response. The steering wheel will often become stiff and hard to turn, and their may be unusual noises when turning wheel. In addition to these problems, you may find that your car sways or leans on turns or when changing from one lane to the other.

Braking Issues

When struts are worn or damaged, the vehicle will often compensate in other ways. You may notice a “nose-diving” sensation as well as instability while braking. If you feel a lurch forward while braking, you’ll need to have your struts and shocks checked out by a mechanic.

Visually Damaged Struts

Replace Shocks and StrutsWhile often strut damage is better felt than seen, you might notice visibly dented or damaged struts or shocks. In addition to this physical damage, fluid leaks among struts and shocks are common when a car needs replacements. Mounts and bushings can also become corroded, damaged, or worn as time goes on.

Tires

If your tires show unusual wear patterns it may be time to replace your shocks and struts. Suspension damage can cause cupping in tires, which is when cups or scalloped dips develop around the edge of the tread. Cupped tires can be incredibly dangerous, so it’s important to look into having your tires rotated or replaced at the same time you replace your shocks.

Mileage

mileageDepending on vehicle and driving conditions, many cars require shock and strut replacements sometime after the fifty thousand mile marker. Instead of waiting to notice problems, you might consider having your suspension checked once you reach the fifty thousand mile mark, or every fifty thousand miles on most vehicles.

Whether you’re noticing problems or nearing the mileage checkpoint, maintaining shocks and struts can prevent long-term damage to your car. Because everything in the car is connected, a problem with the suspension can lead to other problems. Suspension problems can also be particularly rough on tires, which can become dangerous and expensive to replace.

Source:
http://www.pepboys.com/lp_monroe_shocks_struts_sept2012/
http://blog.nwautos.com/2009/05/cupped_tires_are_real_–_and_a_real_danger.html

Tips For Choosing the Best Tire for Your Car

What You Need To Know About the Different Types of Seasonal Tires 

Although many tires manufactured today will give you 50,000 miles or more before needing replacement, chances are good that you’ll be buying new tires at least once during the lifetime of your car. With thousands of models from dozens of makers in stock, how do you choose the best tire for your vehicle and for the climate in which you live?

All-Season Tires

Dependable and suitable for almost any road and weather condition, all-season tires are the standard choice for most cars sold in the U.S. For those of us who live in areas with dramatic weather swings, this might be the only tire that we can leave on year-round because they can handle dry, wet, mud, and snow-covered roads.

All-season tires offer drivers good year-round traction in rainy and light snowy seasons, long tread life, and a comfortable ride. You sacrifice the precise handling and grip delivered by performance tires, but they are a good option for moderate climates and driving conditions. All-seasons are available in many models and sizes to accommodate a wide variety of car and trucks.

Snow and Winter Tires

Winter/snow tires are designed to give you superior grip in snow and extremely cold temperatures below car tires44 degrees Fahrenheit. These narrow tires feature plentiful grooves that help the tread cut through snow to improve traction. A softer rubber construction keeps the tire from hardening when the temperatures plummet, giving a more reliable grip in rain and snow. The tread on snow tires wears faster than on all-seasons, but the peace of mind that comes with maximal traction while navigating hills and turns and fast braking when driving through sleet, ice, and snow makes these tires essential in many states.

Summer Tires

Summer tires offer the best road-hugging traction during hot and humid weather, thanks to the flexible rubber compounds used, the orbital grooves, and complex directional tread patterns. The shallow tread on these tires provides good performance on wet surfaces by shedding water and resisting hydroplaning. Summer tires:

  • Offer increased responsiveness when cornering and braking
  • Are designed for speed and agility
  • Make popular choices for use on sports-oriented, high-performance vehicles

 

Performance Tires

Once limited to exotic sports cars, today performance tires are available for almost every type of car, truck, and SUV. You’ll also find them designed for specific weather conditions, such as snow and cold, and even in off-road models. Designed for “enthusiastic” drivers with an eye for style, the shallow and wide tread on performance tires, stiff sidewalls, and soft rubber give them a higher speed rating than standard all-season tires.

Drivers choose high-performance tires because they offer better handling, cornering, and stability at high speeds, along with more responsive braking and excellent traction. While the ride is rougher and the wear faster on these tires, the trade-off is the ability to react quickly and stop on a dime.

Off-Road Tires

Able to power through snow, mud, sand, rock, and gravel, off-road tires feature the most aggressive tread design available to take on the most challenging off-road conditions. The large lugs and deep voids allow these tires to bite through difficult terrain for maximum traction. The puncture-resistant construction and reinforced sidewalls stand up to the abuse that off-roading promises, although the ride is bumpy and noisy.

All-Terrain Tires

Like off-road tires, all-terrain tires are usually found on trucks and SUVs. They offer the superior grip and open-tread design of an off-road tire, coupled with the handling and traction capabilities of a road tire. These tires perform well on any road surface, although the ride is a bit noisier than street tires, and the softer rubber means a shorter tread life.

https://www.pepboys.com/tire_type/http://www.woodwheaton.com/parts/tires/types-of-tires/
http://www.bridgestonetire.com/tread-and-trend/drivers-ed/summer-tires-vs-all-season-tires
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/tires/buying-guide.htm?pn=3