Category Archives: tow truck

“What’s leaking from my car?”

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Nothing can make a car owner panic more than a puddle—or even a few spots—on the ground underneath their car. The good news is that those spots of fluid may mean nothing; the bad news is that fluid under your car can signal a major problem. The key to figuring out the difference between a non-issue and a major auto repair is getting down on your hands and knees and determining the color of the fluid (to make identifying the fluid easier, put a sheet of paper under the leak):

Clear = water. If you find water leaking after your AC is running, don’t worry. It’s normal to have water dripping under your car off of the AC condenser.

Yellow = coolant. Coolant leaks can mean any number of minor or major problems, from a leaking radiator, coolant pump or heater core. A major signal that your problem is your heater core: smelling a strange odor whenever your heater is on. If you suspect a coolant leak, schedule an appointment with your mechanic. Your car needs coolant for various functions and controlling the temperature of your engine; repairs need to be made. The cost of the bill depends on what the problem is.

Black = engine oil. Usually oil leaking is from a degrading gasket or seal, and should be checked by a mechanic so it doesn’t get worse. Even though an oil leak is a common car leak, it’s not normal for a car to lose oil. Remember, oil is vital to proper lubrication in your engine; make sure you ask your mechanic the next time you schedule an oil change appointment.

Reddish brown = power steering fluid. Ever notice how easy it is to turn the wheel of your car and turn it? That’s because of power steering fluid and the power steering pump. If you notice power steering fluid leaking, most likely the seals and O rings are starting to break down; if the leak persists, the whole system could fail. Make sure you talk to your mechanic about the leak at your next oil change.

Red or brown = transmission fluid. Your car uses transmission fluid to shift gears, so a long-term transmission fluid leak can cause transmission failure—a very costly auto repair. To keep your transmission shifting, and you on the road, make an appointment to have your transmission fluid flushed every 30-60,000 miles (or as low as 15,000 miles for workhorse vehicles) and all leaks of that thick red or grimy brown fluid fixed.

Clear or brown = brake fluid. As a general rule, please DON’T mess around with brakes or ignore failing brakes; they are crucial in preventing accidents and keeping you on the road safely. Leaking brake fluid can signal a major problem, and should be taken care of as soon as possible by scheduling an appointment with your mechanic. If your brake warning light comes on as well, pull over and call for a tow (920-261-8111). You need your brakes for stopping; don’t procrastinate or take chances when it comes to a brake fluid leak.

If you have any questions about the fluid under your car (such as “WHAT IS IT?”), schedule an appointment with your mechanic to diagnose the problem and get a quote for repairs. The mechanic can stop the leak, and fix any underlying problems that may affect you in the future. Best yet, they can give you peace of mind that the leaks are gone, and you won’t be stranded on the side of the road.

Summer Car Emergency Kit

prepare for battery failureEven the most trusty vehicle breaks down from time to time. In spite of your careful selection of the best tires for your car and regular maintenance appointments to keep your car running, your car can still break down. It can happen at any time, anywhere. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for sudden car breakdowns—especially when an unexpected part failure can leave you stranded on the side of the road in our hot Wisconsin temperatures.

If you have an existing car emergency kit that you packed during winter, you only need to make a few modifications to your car emergency kit. Summer is an ideal time to remove the snow boots and shovel and make sure that the remaining items are still in good working order and that any food items are still edible. If you’re a rookie to packing essential items in your car emergency kit, here’s the list of items to pack in your car emergency kit, with items specifically geared for being stranded during hot summer temps:

  • Flashlight. Make sure you test the flashlight from time to time, and that the batteries are still strong. You never know when you need a flashlight for car repairs, and you don’t want to be left in the dark.
  • Snacks & water. A hot Wisconsin summer day is not when you want to be trapped inside a steamy car waiting for the tow truck. Carry a few bottles of water along so you can stay hydrated when you’re waiting for help to arrive. A supply of water can also be helpful if your car needs coolant. If your coolant level is low enough that you need water in your car, make sure to schedule an appointment to find and repair your car’s coolant leak.
  • Jack and lug wrench. Most cars come with a jack and lug wrench for changing a tire, but some of the smaller, more compact car models do not. Make sure you have everything you need when you have a flat tire.
  • Jumper cables. Contrary to popular opinion, summer heat is a worst case scenario for car batteries. Carry a set of jumper cables all year long for those sudden car battery failures.
  • First aid kit. Always carry a small first aid kit with you for those just-in-case times, and make sure a pair of plastic gloves is included so you don’t come in contact with other people’s body fluids.
  • Gloves. A set of gloves comes in handy during hot and cold weather. During summer, a pair of gloves come in handy if, for example, you have to change a tire and the tire is hot to the touch.
  • Road flares/road hazard signs. Unfortunately, cars break down during the day light and at night. A set of road flares or road hazard signs can keep you safe during night time breakdowns or during late night emergency repairs.
  • Roadside assistance card or tow truck phone number. Don’t be left scrambling trying to find a phone number at the last minute. Program the Tire-rifik tow number (920-261-8111) into your cell phone so you can call a tow truck, and get your car’s issue diagnosed and repaired quickly so you can get back on the road—and out of the hot Wisconsin summer temperatures.

Car break down? Are you stranded on the side of the road?

engineIt happens to everyone, no matter what kind of car you own—Ford, Chevrolet, Lexus, Dodge, Toyota, Audi—an unexpected car break down. Your trusty Ford truck breaks down on the side of the road in a rural area outside of Watertown. Your Chevrolet commuter won’t start at work. Your Dodge farm truck won’t make it out to your Wisconsin field. Your Toyota has gone hundreds of thousands of miles, but won’t go one mile more. So what do you do?

Prepare. Ask a mechanic, family member or friend to show you how to change a tire and jump start a battery. Pack an emergency kit for the inevitable, and unexpected, car break down. Your kit should include everything you need, including necessary items:

  • Roadside assistance card or tow truck phone number. Don’t be left scrambling trying to find the number at the last minute. Program these numbers into your cell phone, and carry your card, and copies of your cards, at all times.
  • Flashlight. Make sure you test the flashlight from time to time, and that the batteries are still strong. You never know when you need a flashlight, and you don’t want to be left in the dark.
  • Blanket. Pack a warm, thick blanket that can keep you and your family warm when you are stranded.
  • Jack and lug wrench. Most cars come with a jack and lug wrench for changing a tire, but some of the smaller, more compact car models do not. Make sure you have everything you need when you have a flat tire.
  • Jumper cables. Be careful when jump starting a car, as there is risk to someone who doesn’t know what to do. Read instructions in our recent blog post, and use caution. Carry a set of jumper cables all year long, as summer is actually the worst time of year for weak car batteries.
  • Boots. Ever tried to shovel out your car with soaking wet shoes on? Not pleasant. Pack an old, waterproof pair of boots that you can use of an unexpected car break down.
  • Shovel. Be prepared for the inevitable snow that comes with our Wisconsin winter, and the winter driving that comes with it. A foldable or small shovel is handy for digging your car out of a full day of snow, or cleaning out around when your tires when you go off the road.
  • First aid kit. Wisconsin winters are slippery, and sometimes—any time of the year—people get sick. Always carry a small first aid kit with you for those just-in-case times, and make sure a pair of plastic gloves is included so you don’t come in contact with other people’s body fluids.

If a jump start is not getting your Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota or Lexus car going, call a tow truck at 920-261-8111. Have your trusty Ford, your Chevrolet commuter, your Dodge farm truck or your Toyota towed to a trusted mechanic, and listen to the advice he or she gives you. Remember, that advice is what keeps you on the road, and not stranded with an unexpected car break down.

Tips for Driving Safely In the Snow

20150201_102110Winter is here. Our famous winter weather is really picking up force, dumping snow across southeastern Wisconsin. If you’re one of thousands of Wisconsin residents that need to venture out into the white stuff, knowing how to drive safely in the snow can save you thousands of dollars in car repairs and days of inconvenience. So don’t panic next time the weatherman says, “snow.” Take a deep breath and use these tips for driving safely in the snow:

  • Have your vehicle checked before you brave through the snow. Even if your vehicle is well maintained, chances are your vehicle needs an inexpensive tune-up to get through our Wisconsin wintery roads.
  • Know the thickness of your brakes and tires. These are two of the most important systems in your car for winter driving. Extra traction and thick pads are vital when driving during the most challenging winter storms.
  • Always carry a cell phone and emergency kit. Be prepared for an emergency breakdown or to dig out. Never leave home without a cell phone, emergency kit, shovel, window scraper and winter gear.
  • Allow for extra traveling time. Slow and steady wins the race in snow.  Go as fast as conditions allow.
  • Double your normal stopping distance. Take your normal stopping distance and double it.  You’ll need extra space to stop when the roads are wet and slippery.
  • Never stop on a hill or on a sharp curve. Stopping in a blind spot for other motorists is a sure way to ask for trouble. If your vehicle can’t make it up a hill, take a detour so you can take a flatter route to your destination.
  • Don’t mash the gas. Avoid sudden accelerations as much as possible so you don’t fishtail or slide into the path of oncoming traffic or into the ditch.

If your car does venture off the road you need a tow, call Tire-rifik at 920-261-8111. We’ll tow you out, so you can be on your way—and ready to face the Wisconsin snow on the roads another day.

What to Do If Your Car Is In the Ditch

20150126_115203Found yourself in a precarious, unintentional off-the-road winter adventure? Even the most experienced and careful driver can end up in one of our Dodge or Jefferson County ditches during our Wisconsin winters. And though we’d all like to stay inside during our frequent snow falls, a lot of us don’t have that option. So what do you do when your car leaves the road during our dicey winter weather?

  1. Take a deep breath. Stay calm. Use the shovel your car emergency kit to try to dig your car out. If there is no way you’re going to be able to drive out of that ditch, proceed to step 2.
  2. Call Tire-rifik at 920-261-8111 for a tow truck. Figure out your exact location, and any landmarks that would help a tow truck driver find you. Then call Tire-rifik to get a tow truck to get you out of the ditch as soon as possible.
  3. Assess the damage. Don’t just assume that you can just drive away. Check your car over for damage—not just dents and dings, but ensure that no suspension parts are bent or broken, that your steering wheel stays straight when you try to drive straight and that there are no puddles under your car.
  4. If there is damage, don’t get it towed home. If you can’t fix your car yourself, tow the car to a local repair shop with mechanics you trust to minimize the cost of the tow.
  5. Call Tire-rifik and ask for a quote. Get a quote on the damage before you contact your insurance. If the cost of the repairs is less than your deductible, it doesn’t make sense to contact your insurance company. For example, if the repairs are $500 and you have a $1,000 deductible, you would pay the whole cost of the repair whether your insurance gets involved or not.
  6. Get your car repaired, and look into ways to stay out of the ditch. Once your car is repaired, look into snow tires for your car. While snow tires can’t help on icy roads, they can give you more traction during our frequent Wisconsin snow falls.

Schedule an appointment to get your battery checked so you don’t get stranded on the side of the road. These simple steps will get you back on the road—and keep you on the road—through our long Wisconsin winter.