Category Archives: brake noise

5 Signs You Need New Brakes on Your Car

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worn brake pades & rotorsEvery car has a different braking system for stopping—a different set up with brake pads, calipers, rotors, drums, etc. No matter what kind of braking system your car uses, the one key thing you need to know about your car’s braking system is that it’s important—really, really important. That’s why you shouldn’t mess around when your car shows signs that it’s time to schedule an appointment and get those brake pads, rotors or any other part of your braking system replaced:

  1. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet. If the squeak doesn’t go away, your brake pads are wearing down and are letting you know it by squealing. The squealing sound is actually a warning indicator built in by the manufacturer just to let you know that it’s time to get them replaced. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.
  2. Grinding or growling. A grinding noise that goes away when you press the brakes signals trouble. If your brakes are grinding, the pads are worn all the way down, meaning that metal is rubbing on metal. Said simply, you have no more brake pad to stop your car. Don’t hesitate. Contact your mechanic and set up an appointment as soon as possible.
  3. It takes longer to stop. Are your brakes not as responsive as they used to be? Does it seem like it took longer to stop? If your car is not stopping quickly, your pedal goes to the floor or feels softer than it used to, schedule an appointment to get your brakes checked.
  4. Your car pulls to one side. If your car pulls to one side when braking, this does not mean your brakes are necessarily the culprit. There are other car problems, such as a vehicle that needs an alignment, which could be the cause. Schedule an appointment with your mechanic to get a diagnosis and a cure. A car in need of brakes or an alignment is a car that needs attention.
  5. A pulsating brake pedal. Does your brake pedal vibrate when you touch it? Are you getting a weird pulsating sensation from your brake pedal? Contact your mechanic to find out if your brake rotors are warped and need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast amount of mileage or time that you can use to determine when you need to get your brakes replaced. The life of your brakes is dependent upon driving style and road conditions. Be vigilant. When your car gives you any of these signals or leaks brake fluid, schedule an appointment. If your brake warning light comes on, CALL FOR A TOW. Do not drive your car to the mechanic. You don’t want your brakes to fail, and jeopardize your safety, and the safety of your passengers or end up in a ditch. Your car brakes are that important.

Spring Car Maintenance

engineWinter is hard on a car. That’s why it’s your job as a responsible car owner to take spring as an opportunity to get your car inspected and ready for the next hard season for your car, summer (yes, it will come someday Wisconsin, be patient). Spring is the time to get your faithful tires checked after a hard winter of driving, your car aligned after sliding into a pole, and to get other important components of your car checked, corrected and ready for summer:

Alignment. Hard winter driving can knock your car’s alignment off, causing your tires to wear unevenly and need replacement prematurely. If your car pulls to the left or right, your steering wheel does not stay straight when driving or your tires wear unevenly, your car needs an alignment. A car with alignment issues wears through tires faster and has more costs due to undue wear on suspension parts.

Tire wear. Have an experienced mechanic check your tires to see that they wear evenly, and the amount of tread wear left. If the tire wear is low, your tires need to be replaced. If your tires are wearing unevenly, your car needs an alignment to prevent future breakdowns from undue wear on suspension parts.

Battery. Believe it or not, the Wisconsin heat is harder on batteries than winter cold. If your batteries are low from hard starts during winter, or shows one of these other signs of a dying battery, the summer heat is about to leave you stranded from a low battery.

Brakes. If your brakes are making any of these noises, it’s time to replace the pads or rotors that you need to safely stop. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet, but just as often your brakes are worn and in need of replacement. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.

Air filter. A clogged air filter can affect the performance of your car. While an air filter is not something that needs to be necessarily replaced at every spring car maintenance check (though it may need to depending on your driving conditions), an air filter should be inspected regularly.

Don’t forget to check your windshield wipers and headlights so you have optimal visibility. Call or email for an appointment today to have a mechanic inspect those two key parts of your car, and get the rest of your spring car maintenance done before Wisconsin’s spring showers and summer thunderstorms hit. Remember, April showers may bring May flowers, and also car breakdowns and accidents if you car doesn’t get the annual spring car maintenance and inspections it needs.

Regular Car Maintenance You Shouldn’t Ignore

engineIt’s easy to ignore regular car maintenance. When life gets busy, and schedules get hectic, finding the time for regular car maintenance gets tricky. When it seems like you don’t have time, factor in the inconvenience later when your car breaks down because you didn’t take the time for regular car maintenance. Regular car maintenance is essential to staying on the road, and staying out of the ditch. Regular car maintenance like:

  1. Oil changes. An engine without regular oil changes is an engine that costs their owner thousands of dollars over the life of the car. The cost of regular oil changes and time spent saves car owners money and inconvenience when your car breaks down. Ask your car mechanic how often you need an oil change, as the amount of miles can vary depending on the type of oil.
  2. Get your tires checked and rotated. Regular rotation of your tires ensures that tires wear evenly, and can even prevent surprise flat tires. An inspection of your tires can also find holes that allow air to leak slowly.
  3. Brake inspections. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet. If the squeak doesn’t go away, or if the noise is a grinding noise, your vehicle needs attention. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.
  4. Replace your spark plugs. True story: a friend of ours delayed having the spark plugs replaced on her truck, leading to a $1,000 bill to replace the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter had plugged up because of faulty spark plugs. The moral of the story is to ask your mechanic when it’s time to replace those spark plugs, and follow through with the repair sooner than $1,000 later (or worse).
  5. Ditching that disgusting air filter. We won’t tell you how disgusting your air filter can get, but we can tell you that part of your regular car maintenance should include replacing or cleaning that gross air filter. A dirty air filter can choke your engine of air, causing performance issues and damage over the life of your car.

Don’t forget to regularly replace your windshield wipers and headlights—two parts of your car vital for proper vision when driving. The good news is that you don’t need to shoulder the task of regular car maintenance alone. Take your car to your trusted car mechanic or shop so they can keep records of your car’s regular car maintenance, and make recommendations based on those records. At the end of the day, don’t take the task of regular car maintenance lightly—so you don’t end up with heavy costs and inconvenient car repairs later.

Don’t Ignore those Common Car Sounds & Noises: Thumps, Bumps & Clunks

engineYou don’t want anyone to drive your baby, but if you can’t hear those common car noises (the thunks, clunk and bumps!) it’s time to let someone else take the wheel. Fact is, those common car noises can cost you thousands of dollars if not repaired quickly. A small “clunk” from the front of your car can cost you thousands of dollars in suspension parts if you don’t get your car to the shop, not to mention the inconvenience of waiting for your car and finding rides while your car gets fixed.

Let’s face it: we Wisconsinites need our cars, and we need our cars quick. So if you want to keep your cars going, minimize time in the shop, and save money, it’s time to turn down the radio and listen for these common car noises:

  • Thumps, clicks or clunks in the front. Ball joints, CV joints and other suspension parts are most commonly the problem—and problems that can get bigger fast. When broken, suspension parts have a tendency to damage other parts because they rub or knock against each other. The result: more than one part that needs to be repaired, a longer repair appointment and a bigger bill.
  • Squealing from around your tires. It sounds like a howling cat. Or a squeaking bird. Or a grinding wheel. Could it be…your brakes? It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet. If the squeak doesn’t go away, or if the noise is a grinding noise, your vehicle needs attention. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck. Don’t let your pads wear too low either.  If you wait too long to replace your pads and they get too thin, they can damage the rotors and cost you more.
  • Squealing from under your hood. While there are a lot of culprits that could be the problem, the most common problem is a worn serpentine belt. Schedule an appointment and have the technician check for fraying or damage to this important belt, which charges your battery, is vital for circulating coolant and runs your car’s accessories. A car with a broken serpentine belt is a car heading for disaster—for the driver and their pocketbook. Not only is the car hard to steer with a broken belt, but the engine is on the road to overheating—and thousands of dollars of repairs. Compare that cost versus the low cost of replacement, usually a $100 dollars or less, and you’re clearly saving a mountain of money by getting your car into the auto shop early.
  • Rough starting noise. You’ve probably heard it before: the rar-rar-rar that your car makes when you turn the key. If your car doesn’t start up right away, schedule an appointment to get your car battery check. It may be dying—and there are three clear signs that you can look for. In this case, a dying battery is not going to cost you more money in repairs, but it does cost you money when you are stranded and can’t get to work.

If you hear (or don’t hear) any of these noises, don’t procrastinate. Make an appointment to get that car problem checked right away, before it causes more problems (and costs more money).

5 Parts of Your Car to Have Inspected Before Driving to Grandma’s

winterize_watertownThe holidays are here, and you’re headed to Grandma’s for a mouth-watering holiday dinner. You packed your emergency winter kit, a snow shovel, and a bag of salt for traction. You even invested in snow tires. You feel like you can handle any winter driving emergency. But is your car ready for the long trip?

Even if you keep your car in tip-top shape, chances are your car needs a bit of “tuning” by an auto mechanic to make sure it’s ready to traverse our Midwestern snowy roads. This short check-up is affordable, and ensures that the major systems of your car are ready for winter driving:

  1. Brakes. Winter driving involves extensive stopping, and you don’t want your brakes to go out when you need them the most. Have your brakes inspected to make sure you have enough pad thickness for confident stopping, and your brakes are engaging evenly.
  2. Tires. If you’ve decided snow tires are right for you, contact a mechanic about mounting the new tires. If you’re keeping your existing all-season tires on the car, have a mechanic check the tread wear indicators (one of the signs you need new tires), or check them yourself. When you put a penny in the tread of your tires, you shouldn’t be able to see all of Lincoln’s head. If you can, it’s time for new tires that can battle through the snow.
  3. Battery (and battery connections). Don’t know why winter is so hard on batteries? Read our recent blog post, and have your battery tested by a mechanic. An experienced mechanic can also inspect your battery connections and clean off any corrosion or rust.
  4. Headlights. You need to be able to see the road, right? Headlights are inexpensive and essential for every Wisconsin driver.
  5. Windshield wipers. Don’t make Grandma worry about you because you went into the ditch due to poor visibility. Windshield wipers make a big difference when you need to clean off all the snow piling up on your windshield.

As long as you have your car in the shop, have your mechanic also check your fluid levels and radiator fluid. You’ll need a full tank of windshield washer so you can have a clean windshield on your trip. And with the freezing temperatures, you don’t want a radiator full of water to freeze and causes an expensive repair.

Don’t procrastinate about getting your car into the shop for a winter tune up. Make an appointment as soon as possible. Wisconsin auto repair shops are busy this time of year, preparing cars for upcoming holiday travel and winter driving. Your car appreciates the check-up, and your family will appreciate not worrying about whether your car can make the holiday drive.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Those Squealing Brakes

brake_repair_watertownYou’re driving down the street. In anticipation of a stop sign, you start to press your brake pedal down. Suddenly, you hear it.

What?? What in the world was that???

It sounded like a howling cat. Or a squeaking bird. Or a grinding wheel.

Could it be…your brakes?

Take your vehicle into a local repair shop to find out. Most repair shops offer free estimates and inspections before they start working on your car. A technician can determine the wear of pads and rotors, and recommend replacement if needed. Brake rotors do not need to be changed as often as pads.

It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet.  If the squeak doesn’t go away, or if the noise is a grinding noise, your vehicle needs attention. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.

Don’t let your pads wear too low either.  If you wait too long to replace your pads and they get too thin, they can damage the rotors. Replacing rotors is a more costly repair.

If you know well in advance (before they start making noise) it’s time to change your brake pads, watch for specials or discounts at your local repair shop. Don’t wait until it’s too late, and that squealing, squeaking or grinding turns into a safety hazard. Your health, the health of those around you and costly auto body repairs are the ultimate reason to get your brakes checked, and brake pads replaced, on a regular basis.