MAKING THE (OCTANE) GRADE
When most drivers in Kansas fill up the gas tank, they probably select the cheapest price, paying little or no attention to the octane number. While cost is typically a major concern when purchasing gas, the lowest and cheapest octane can sometimes be the wrong choice.
What do the numbers on the gas pump mean and when does it matter anyway? Most people are aware that there are three grades of fuel offered at most gas stations, but what are the differences? The numbers on the pumps (85, 87, 92, for example) are the octane ratings. Each fuel is rated on how much it can be compressed within the engine before igniting. This means that gasoline with a higher octane can tolerate more pressure than a lower octane fuel can.
In a normal car’s engine, the cylinders combine and compress air and gas. After gas is compressed, a spark plug uses an electric spark to light the fuel. This is the process of combustion and it’s the driving force powering your car.
If, after filling up your tank, you notice any type of knocking sound coming from the engine, you may be using the wrong octane level. Combustion that’s not happening as it should be inside the cylinders is referred to as “knock” or “ping,” and can mean big problems for your engine. Knocking can occur as a result of gassing up with the wrong octane level. If you are concerned that this knocking sound is coming from your engine, it’s important to bring your vehicle to certified technicians at an auto repair shop as soon as possible.
Is there ever a circumstance in which using a high-octane level will help your car run better? The truth is that if your car requires fuel with an octane rating of 87, and you treat it to 92, you won’t really notice any improvement in the way your car runs. Speed and performance are determined by how the engine is constructed, not by the fuel you give it.
So, what’s the most important thing to remember regarding which octane to use? Use the rating that is recommended in your car manual and don’t waiver from it. Your car’s manufacturer has done all the necessary research and has calculated the exact octane rating your car needs.
Regular and preventative maintenance like frequent oil changes, flushing your cooling system, and keeping the fuel injector clean are also important factors in ensuring your vehicle’s health and will ensure your engine runs smoothly for years to come. Be sure to get in touch with our auto experts with any questions you may have on the best fuel for your vehicle’s make/model as well as to set up a regular maintenance schedule.
How to Deal with a Flat Tire
Let’s face it – flat tires happen. No matter how careful you may be, any car can succumb to an unexpected flat. But you can be prepared! Car manufacturers have made the tire change process simple so that virtually anyone can do it. And with our guide, you can be confident in your ability to change a flat tire!
Before you head out for a long drive, or even your regular commute, check your spare tire. Flat tires can’t be replaced with flat spares! You can also look at your tires – if you see any worn spots or skimpy tread, invest in new tires. You can even stop by our shop for a full inspection before any big road trips!
But even the most prepared drivers can encounter unexpected flats – not to fear! With this guide, you will be able to change your flat tire in 5 easy steps:
1. Find a safe spot to pull over. Look for a flat spot with a wide shoulder, the fewer cars the better. If you are on the interstate, taking the next exit is usually best if your car is able. Pull over as far onto the shoulder of the road as possible. Avoid parking on a curve where oncoming traffic can’t see you, or hills where jacking up your car can be dangerous. Turn on your hazard lights and set your parking brake!
2. Loosen the lug nuts. Most cars come equipped with a spare tire, simple jack, and lug wrench, so start by gathering these tools from your trunk. A flashlight, gloves, towel or tarp can also be helpful. Start by using the wrench to loosen the lug nuts. You may need to remove the hubcap or plastic covers to access the lug nuts. Do not remove them all the way at this step, but simply loosen. If you lift the vehicle before loosening the lug nuts, the tire will spin when you try to remove them.
3. Lift the vehicle with the jack. Make sure you place the jack in the appropriate place under the car. Some vehicles have marked areas behind each tire – check your owner’s manual for the specific location for your vehicle. Once you place the jack in the right spot, start lifting the car until it is about 6 inches off the ground.
4. Place the spare tire. Finish removing the lug nuts from the tire (make sure you keep them in a safe place so you don’t lose any!) and remove the flat tire by pulling straight towards you. Line up the spare tire with the lug nut posts and push it all the way onto the wheel base. Put on the lug nuts and hand-tighten them so that the spare will stay on the car when you lower the jack.
5. Lower and tighten. Use the jack to bring the car back to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts on the spare tire diagonally – tighten one lug nut about half way, then move to the opposite diagonally (across the wheel) and tighten half way, then finish tightening both nuts. Continue using this method to tighten the rest of the lug nuts. This helps to ensure that the tire is on evenly and won’t wobble as you drive.
Remember, spare tires aren’t meant to be driven on as far or as fast as normal tires. Drive carefully and head towards our shop to get your tire fixed or a new, full-sized tire put on right away.
Keeping your tires properly inflated and making sure they have a good amount of tread can help avoid the pain and expense of changing and possibly replacing a flat tire.
Air Conditioning System Failure Warning Signs
With hot temperatures abounding in Kansas this summer, it’s definitely the worst possible time for you to experience air conditioning system problems.
Your air conditioning system should be included as part of your regular preventative maintenance plan and inspected on a regular basis. If you notice any of the following issues with your a/c system between inspections, you should have a mechanic inspect it ASAP:
– The air being emitted isn’t as cold as it used to be
– A funny smell is coming from the vents
– The air conditioner’s drive belts, compressor, or blower are nosier than usual
– A rhythmic clicking noise is coming from under the hood when you turn on the AC or defroster
– The defroster no longer defrosts the windshield effectively
– Water is resting on the floor of the passenger compartment
– The cooling fan keeps cycling on and off
If you are noticing any of these symptoms, it’s time for an air conditioning repair service. It should also be noted—if your vehicle was serviced prior to 1992— that the Freon refrigerant used to cool your car, CFC-12, is no longer used in a/c units because it contributes to the breakdown of the ozone layer. R-134a, the new refrigerant, can be used in older vehicles by converting the a/c to take the new refrigerant.
If you want to avoid paying big bucks to fix your whole air conditioning unit, you must service it as you would any other part of your vehicle rather than waiting until it breaks or has problems. Luckily, the auto experts here at Myers Automotive can help you avoid expensive and uncomfortable breakdowns in your a/c system with an a/c inspection.
Click HERE to schedule an appointment with our ASE-certified technicians if you’re concerned about your air condition system or any other component in your vehicle!
Wax or Polish, Which is Best for Your Car Exterior?
It is extremely important to keep the exterior of your car in good shape, and vehicle wax and polish products are some of the best ways to protect it and keep it looking great. However, there are subtle differences between the two and more to it to decide which is better for your car exterior.
Waxing a Car
The primary purpose to wax a car’s exterior is to add a layer of protection from air pollution, harmful UV rays from the sun, and corrosion, among other things. The act of applying the wax adds that protective barrier between those harmful elements of the environment and the vehicle’s finish.
Your wax can either be synthetic or natural. While natural waxes are made from caranauba and can offer protection and shine, synthetic waxes to last longer than natural ones.
Particularly important is that you need to wash your car thoroughly before waxing it. While it will seal out external environmental hazards, anything already on the exterior of the car and still underneath it can damage the paint underneath.
Polishing A Car
The purpose behind polishing a car it to give it a smooth, beautiful surface and get rid of defects or imperfections on the paint or clear coat. It can get rid of a lot of pollutants and damaging materials that regular washing will not, while at the same time, help repair small scrapes or damage to your paint.
As before, there are two main types of car polish, chemicals and abrasives. Chemicals help clean the exterior of the vehicle while abrasives help fix imperfections in the paint or clear coat.
So… Which is the best for a car?
Since they both serve different purposes, it is recommended to do both. Always clean your vehicle first and fix any major damage before you apply a wax and polish. Always wax after polishing, as the polish can remove the wax and negate any of it’s benefits.
If you have any further questions about your car exterior or anything else related to your vehicle, be sure to get in touch with our ASE-certified technicians!
Improve Your Gas Mileage This Summer
Summer will soon be arriving in Kansas and while we’re all enjoying the warm weather and being outdoors, the hottest season of the year can also wreak havoc on your vehicle’s gas mileage. Here are a few tips on how to avoid racking up extra fuel costs by improving your vehicle’s MPG performance when you’re on the road this summer:
Check Your Air Filter. Driving around with a dirty air filter can affect fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent.
Check Your Tire Pressure. When your tires aren’t properly inflated, your engine has to work a bit harder and your MPGs are affected by as much as 3.3%.
Lighten Up. Having an extra 100 pounds of cargo in your trunk – softball gear, golf clubs, etc. – can reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by 1-2%.
Slow Down. This is especially true for road trips – if you go 60mph instead of 70mph on the highway, you’ll use less gas and possibly avoid an expensive speeding ticket!
Keep it in Cruise! Accelerating less frequently means you’re burning less fuel so, when possible, activate your vehicle’s cruise control feature.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle’s gas mileage or its general health, be sure to get in touch with our ASE-certified technicians – we’re dedicated to keeping you safely on the road year-round!
At Myers Automotive, we warranty all of our work to give you peace of mind on every repair – 24 months, 24,000 miles on both parts AND labor nationwide! We hope you’ll never need to use that warranty, but in the event a part breaks, it’s good to know you have somebody who will take care of your family, no matter where you are. From headlight to taillights and everything between, no job is to big or too small for Myers Automotive. We service all makes and models of Domestic and Import vehicles with ASE-Certified technicians, quality parts, and state-of-the-art tools and equipment.
Be Car Care Aware About: Air Filters
With National Car Care Month taking place in April, it’s as good a time as any to learn more about certain vehicle components, including your air filter! Here are some facts about air filters to consider this month:
• Much controversy surrounds how often an air filter should actually be replaced…
• Some repair facilities will try and get you to buy one with every oil change,
• While some have believe that it rarely needs changing
• NEITHER of these are correct!
• Changing the filter too frequently adds NO extra benefit, while not changing it at all can CAUSE problems.
• You can see in your owner’s manual EXACTLY how often they recommend that you change it,
• OR you can have a repair facility that you TRUST examine it and give you their EXPERT opinion.
• A good rule of thumb is to replace it every 10,000 miles or every 3rd or 4th oil change,
• But if you drive in dusty or smoggy conditions then it will require replacement more frequently
• Based upon past numbers, on average 16% of vehicles have had a dirty air filter in need of replacement
• It is a good idea to have your vehicle fully inspected TWICE a year, once for summer and once for winter, by a reputable shop.
If you have any questions about air filters or any other component in your vehicle, be sure to contact us to schedule an appointment with our ASE-certified technicians!
Distractions to Avoid for Safe Driving
Preventative maintenance is important for keeping your vehicle safely on the road, but just as important is safe driving practices!
Every day, about 100 people die in car crashes, and 90% of all crashes are caused by driver error. Being distracted behind the wheel is dangerous, to yourself, your vehicle, and others. So put down that tube of lipstick and lock up your cell phone.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the top 10 distractions to drivers are:
1. Cell phones – Wireless devices are the number one culprit for distracted driving. Over 25% of all crashes involve cell phone use. From phone calls to texts, smart phones to tablets, these devices are a hazard.
2. Passengers – Talking to or interacting with passengers can pull your focus, especially young children. Ask your passengers to respect your role and help you concentrate on the roads.
3. Internal distractions – Looking for a CD, reaching for food, retrieving a fallen object… there are many things inside your car that take your focus away from the road ahead.
4. Adjusting controls – Reprogramming radio stations, tinkering with dashboard settings, getting the A/C just right… try to set up the accessories and controls inside your vehicle before you head out.
5. Personal Hygiene – If you’re running late, it’s tempting to finish getting ready in the car. But applying make-up, using an electric razor for a last minute shave, and checking your refection in the mirror can be dangerous.
6. Food – Eating at the wheel, from opening a can of soda, unwrapping a burger, fishing for fries in the bag, to bringing the food to your mouth takes at least one hand off the steering wheel.
7. External distractions – From bill boards to pedestrians, you can be just as distracted outside of the car. Save the people watching for when you’re in the passenger seat.
8. Talking – Boredom in the car can lead you to sing along with the radio or talk to yourself. Just don’t become your concentration’s own worst enemy.
9. Smoking – Rolling down windows to fix your nicotine craving can be dangerous, by occupying one hand from lighting the cigarette to tossing the butt.
10. Daydreaming – Not paying attention to the roads ahead is risky. It takes only two seconds of distraction for an accident to occur.
All of us at Myers Automotive are committed to your safety on the roads in Kansas. Avoid multitasking behind the wheel and put away all distractions before you hit the road to ensure safe driving.
When it comes to keeping your vehicle running smoothly and safely, come to our shop for your preventative maintenance services. Drop by anytime, or click HERE to schedule your next appointment.
CHECK YOUR HEADLIGHTS
During the winter months here in Kansas, the days are short and snowstorms aren’t uncommon. As such, visibility is a constant issue for Sunflower State drivers at this time of year and your headlights become more important than ever.
While checking your vehicle’s headlights may not be at or even near the top of your list of maintenance priorities while you’re dealing with the elements this winter, there are some things you can look out for to ensure you’re better able to see the road between now and the changeover of daylight savings.
A major threat to your headlights’ health is a process known as “oxidation”. Simply by being exposed to daylight and fresh air, lights will begin to cloud over and appear more yellowish. This process can be expedited by the chemicals spread on our roads to combat ice as well as damage from hail, rocks, water vapor, etc.
Most of the time, the oxidation process is gradual, meaning you won’t realize your lights are becoming weaker until they’re foggy and cloudy, limiting your ability to clearly see oncoming traffic or road hazards. The other lights in your vehicle (brake, turn signal, etc.) can also suffer from oxidation over time.
Luckily, remedying cloudy headlights is a relatively simple procedure. If you, or a mechanic, remove the portion of your lens that is affected by oxidation and perform a thorough polishing of the area, you can reduce the level of visual impediment your headlights are suffering from. Certain specialty products can make this task both easier and more effective.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle’s headlights or any of its other components, be sure to get in touch with our ASE-certified technicians by clicking HERE.
The exhaust system in your vehicle is probably one of those things you don’t think about – or even notice – until something goes wrong.
If your engine was 100% efficient, it would combust every ounce of fuel it’s supplied with and turn all of its gas into power. But since no engine is perfect, leftover fuel is left behind in the form of exhaust.
Your vehicle’s exhaust system is made up of a catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, muffler and pipes – all designed to move the waste from your engine out of the vehicle. Each component in the system has a specific job and is designed to safely rid dangerous chemicals and fumes from your engine:
Exhaust Manifold – This component connects to the engine and begins the flow of exhaust through the pipes and system components.
Catalytic Converter – Exhaust is, in simplest terms, pollution. The catalytic converter burns off and removes up to 90 percent of the toxins in your engine’s exhaust.
Muffler – The muffler and resonator address engine sound. Most work to reduce the noise to keep your car running as quietly as possible.
Pipes – Once it’s traveled through the above components, exhaust journeys through remaining pipes to exit the vehicle. This process cools the fumes as well.
Much like every other system in your vehicle, the pipes and exhaust components endure wear and tear over time. The severe chemicals in the exhaust itself can potentially harm the interior of a vehicle while road debris and corrosion can cause damage to its exterior.
Loose connections or corrosion can sometimes create leaks in your vehicle’s exhaust system. If do you have a leak, you’ll likely know right away from warning signs like loud cracking noises or distinct odor emanation.
Be sure to contact our team of ASE-certified technicians by clicking HERE if you notice any issues with your exhaust system or if you have any other questions/concerns regarding your vehicle’s health!