Winter/Snow Tires vs. All-Season Tires

Stapleton Motors Snow Tires

Winter is fast approaching and one common concern among Colorado drivers is driving in our winter road conditions.  If you are like me, the winter months is the time that most Coloradans like to hit the slopes and that means a lot of winter driving.  Winter driving can cause a number of problems for the thousands of drivers on the road.  With all different kinds of driving conditions to deal with from wet roads, icy roads, snow packed, fluffy snow, black ice, to dirty and gravel filled roads, the winter driving months can be quite treacherous!  The advantage of using a winter/snow tire instead of an all-season can keep you in better control and increase your level of driving safety! Below is a list of advantages that winter tires can provide according to Goodyear Tires:

  • Winter tires can provide enhanced braking performance in snowy & icy conditions
  • These tires perform well in all types of winter conditions – snow, ice, sleet, slush, wet and even cold dry roads
  • Winter tires feature tread designs made specifically for ice, snow and other severe winter conditions
  • They have specially formulated tread rubber that stays flexible at low temperatures for better vehicle control
  • The aggressive tread on a winter tire reduces snow build up
  • Most drivers find that winter tires provide a sense of confidence and control in challenging winter weather conditions
Snow vs all-season tires

Notice the deeper bite pattern and the textured surface area on the snow tire which helps give better traction on snow and ice.

In comparison, all-season tires are great tires to drive in most conditions.  If you are looking to be a little more economical with your money and need a tire to get you through the entire year of seasonal changes, an all-season tire is the way to go!  All season tires offer versatile performance and are designed to perform in a variety of conditions including wet roads and light winter driving. All season tires are designed to offer a combination of benefits from summer and winter tires. The all-season tire is the jack-of-all trades but master of none in the tire world.  It will be “good enough” to get you through most driving conditions, but will not “perform” the best in those conditions. Here are the benefits of all-season Tires:

  • All-season tires are designed to help provide traction and grip in wet and snowy conditions
  • They are made to help provide stable handling and even treadwear in both wet and dry conditions
  • Although all-season tires offer traction in a variety of different weather conditions, winter tires surpass them when it comes to traction in snow and ice
Advertisements

Driver Beware! Potholes are out to get you!

Struts are located behind the wheels and absorb the bumps in the road.

 

Driving around the Denver Metro area can be a daunting task.  Because of our extreme changes in temperature, our roads tend to suffer an abnormal amount of wear an tear.  Each year, new potholes appear and each year the city tries their best to repair as many as they can before the summer hits. Unfortunately, a pothole can be your car’s worst enemy.  Potholes on a road’s surface can seriously damage a vehicle’s ride control system.

If you do drive over a pothole, it’s recommended that you have your car’s shocks or struts checked to make sure they aren’t damaged.

struts and shocks denver used cars

Struts (on the left) and Shocks (on the right) are important parts of your suspension system to keep up. Damage to these components can lead to unsafe driving and an uncomfortable ride.

Shocks and struts control how vehicles ride and handle. The struts and shocks act as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of a car’s springs. Contrary to popular belief, roads are not smooth and flat.  Due to changing climate, earth conditions, and construction obstacles, road bumps are literally everywhere.  The springs on the struts and shocks are there to absorb all of the millions of inconsistencies of road conditions; without them, the vehicle would continually bounce and bound down the road, making driving extremely difficult.

Strutdrawing

Struts are located behind the wheels and absorb the bumps from the road.

Shocks and struts also control spring and suspension movement to keep the tires in contact with the road. This affects steering, stability and braking. A broken shock or strut could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle and create driving dangers. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs that your vehicle’s shocks or struts may need to be replaced. Here are a few indicators that you may have a suspension issue that needs attention:

  • If you feel your vehicle sway on turns.
  • When accelerating, the rear of the vehicle squats or noticeably dips down in the back.
  • On a winding, rough road you notice that the vehicle bounces or slides sideways.
  • The front-end of the vehicle dives when braking.
  • You feel the vehicle “bottoms out” or thumps on bumps.
  • You can see that the vehicle sits lower in the front or rear.
  • The vehicle is leaking or has signs of physical damage, such as rusting or dents.
  • You feel a loss of directional control during sudden stops of the vehicle.

There are many components that can affect a vehicle’s handling. If you experience any of the above conditions, it is a good idea to have your vehicle’s suspension system inspected by a mechanic. Remember, your car can only perform as good as the parts that are on it.  Without good suspension, you run the risk of poor performance, dangerous driving control, and potentially disastrous results. Make sure you keep your vehicle safe for you and those around you!

Stopping problems? Give me a brake!

There are two main functions of your automobile: Moving forward and stopping.  Often times, car maintenance revolves around those parts that keep us moving forward.  From the engine, to the drive axel, and even the oil and cooling system are used to keep our vehicles operating and moving us in the right direction, but one area that can get overlooks is the breaking system.  Breaks are composed of the break pads, the break lines, and the rotors or drums.  Brake drums and brake rotors are not parts to take chances with. Take good care of them with quality brake rotors, brake drums and related accessories. Brake rotors and brake drums are important parts of a car’s breaking system and if there are problems with wear you could face an enormous problem if not taken care of. brakes and rotors used cars denver

Brake rotors work in tandem with your brake pads to slow and stop your vehicle. Each time you step on your brake pedal, the brake pads compress the rotors with thousands of pounds of stopping power. The material in the brake pads will eventually wear down the rotors. To stay on top of this, you should inspect your disc brake rotors every 15,000 miles. Symptoms like squealing, a low or spongy brake pedal, wheel grab, or pulling to one side or the other while braking are all warning signs not to be ignored.

Another sign that it’s time to replace your brake rotors is if the brake pedal pulsates on light braking. Squealing or scraping may also indicate brake trouble.  Most break rotors are visible by removing the tires or with some rims, you can see right through to the rotors to see if there is wear and tear.  When a rotor wares down you may see grooves in the rotor, or even a misshape to the surface area of the rotor.  Not every rotor is going to wear the same way, so if you are unsure, make sure to have a mechanic take a look to see if your rotors need to be repaired or replaced.

Breaks and rotors denver used cars

The grooves can indicate a worn down rotor.

All brake rotors have a minimum safe thickness. Once the rotors wear beyond this minimum thickness, they cannot disperse the heat produced by repeated braking. If you have a warped or worn brake rotor, your vehicle will take longer to stop. Even with regular replacement of the linings, some additional service is typically required over the long haul. The surfaces of drums and discs wear unevenly in normal use and eventually need to be re-machined or replaced to work properly.

Similar to brake rotors, drum brakes work in tandem with brake shoes and can be found in the rear of some vehicles. While inspecting brakes rotors and drums, also look for signs of leaking brake fluid. Dark or damp brake dust can mean wheel cylinder or axle seal failure.

drum brake used cars denver

Drum brakes are shaped differently.  The pad pushes out towards a rotating housing to stop the vehicle.

Remember – never reinstall worn brake components of any kind. Buy quality replacement brake drums and brake rotors when you need replacement.

Car Parts – What is a CV Joint?

CV JointAll front-wheel drive cars have Constant Velocity joints or CV joints on both ends of the drive shafts (half shafts).
The inner CV joints connect the drive shafts to the transmission, while the outer joint connects the drive shafts to the wheels. CV joints can also be found of many rear wheel drive and all wheel drive vehicles as well.

What does it do?
The CV joints are needed to transfer the torque from the transmission to the drive wheels at a constant speed, while accommodating the up-and-down motion of the suspension. In front-wheel drive cars, CV joints deliver the torque to the front wheels during turns.

Where is it located?
The CV joints are located under the vehicle, connecting the wheel to the transmission.  This can be seen in the illustration below. Although every car is a little different, this is one part that is pretty much the same in every vehicle.

cv location

CV-joint problems

CV Joint boot looks OK

This is what a normal CV-Joint should look like.

Because there are moving parts in a CV-joint, normal wear and tear is going to happen.  When problems occur, the evidence is usually quite easy to see.  A CV joint is packed with a special grease and sealed tight with the rubber or plastic boot, that is held in place with two clamps. When there is damage to the rubber or plastic boot, a service technician should easily detect it. Unless there is damage to the boot, the CV-joint typically does not need to be replaced.  Many times you can see an intact CV-Joint on a car with 200,000 miles and still have the original part.  Most damage to CV-Joints occur when a vehicle is subject to rough roads, impact with debris, or a little off-roading.  When the boot gets cracked or damaged, the grease inside will ooze out which will cause the CV-joint to wear down faster and eventually fail due to lack of lubrication and corrosion. Usually outer CV-joint boots break first, as they have to endure more movement than the inner ones.

cvjointdiagram

Signs of a damaged CV-joint boot or worn CV joint

Broken CV boot

Grease coming out of a small crack or tear is the early sign of the CV joint boot failing. If the damage is bigger, you might see dark grease splattered on the inside of the wheel rim and around the area inside of the drive wheel like in the photo. If you continue to drive on a worn out CV-Joint, the joint will eventually fail and the car will be non-drivable.  Although a worn CV-Joint can last for a little while, it is best advised to replace it as soon as possible.  How can you tell if you CV-Joint is failing or damaged without getting under your vehicle? The most common symptom of a badly-worn outer CV joint is a clicking or popping noise when turning. Usually the noise gets louder when accelerating in turns. One of the symptoms of a failed inner CV-joint is shudder or side-to-side shake during acceleration. Another indicator of a worn-out inner CV joint may also cause clunking when shifting from Drive to Reverse.

Fix or Replace?

Although it is cheaper to just fix the boot on a CV-Joint, the added cost to replace the whole  joint and axel may not cost much more than  just the boot itself because of the labor time involved.  Most repair facilities will recommend that you just replace the whole thing. This will ensure that all the parts are working and there isn’t anything that is missed when just repairing the boot.

The best new accessory for road side emergencies: Multi-Function portable jump box!

Mini Portable Jump Box

So often we are running around in our cars and we never think about being stranded.  A dead or weakly charged battery is one of the most common culprits to leaving us in such a pinch.  Sure, a set of cables is a good thing to carry in your car, but what happens when there is nobody around to give you a jump?  The answer: A portable jump box!

With advances in battery technology now you can get a portable charger that easily can fit in your glove box or truck without taking up too much space.  Light weight, portable, and easy to use, a micro charging device is the new “necessary” when it comes to keeping you on the road.

All-in-one charging device

In addition to jumping your car battery, a micro charge is equipped to supply power to a number of other devices such as cell phones, ipads, notebooks, laptop computers, cameras and more!  And, with the addition of a multi-mode LED light you will have an easy-to-use flashlight, SOS signal, or flashing strobe to help you overcome any need to find your way in the dark.

Micro Charge power supply accessory kitEverything you need is contained in the Micro Charge accessory kit.

  • 12V vehicle jump starter
  • Portable charging for various brands of digital products, such as: Apple iPhone/iPod/iPad (30-pin and Lightning), Android cell phones and tablets, PDAs, PC tablets, camera, and more!
  • Supports mobile charging for various brands of laptops
  • Multi-mode LED light: bright flashlight, SOS distress signal, flashing strobe signal
  • Strong battery capacity, compact size, quality design and construction

These units are also perfect for people who enjoy camping, wilderness exploration, boating, road trips, foreign travel, and anywhere where small device power is needed!

Get your car Summer-Ready!

denver used cars summer heatSummer is just around the corner, so here are a few tips to get your car ready for the summer heat and de-winterize your vehicle!

Summer is a great time to give your car a little annual love. While driving in winter conditions, your car can really take a beating! With summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to give your car a check-up to make sure everything is working properly. Check your owner’s manual to see what regular maintenance should be performed. You have two options: take your car in to a reputable repair shop to get all the fluids checked and have a general inspection performed, or you can do a little homework and do it yourself! Learning how to check and change your fluids can help you recognize potential problems and also save you money in the long run! Either way, you want to make sure that your car is ready to take on the summer heat and run problem free when you are having fun in the sun! Here are a few things you will want to pay attention to.

  • Check all the fluids.
    1. Fluids like coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and washer fluid should all be checked. If you have a rear differential, it may be a good time to have the fluid changed out after working through the tough winter roads. Fluids keep all those moving parts moving flawlessly, so making sure the fluid is performing the way it is supposed to will keep your car running smoothly.
  • Check your tire pressure.
    1. Tire pressure can naturally deflate due to a drop in temperature. This is normal in the winter and often times your tire pressure will not be at an optimal pressure when the temperature starts to heat up. Take the time to check your tire pressure and the recommended PSI. Better tire pressure will increase fuel economy and could help avoid a potential blow out.
  • Keep the interior cool.
    1. Although a sun shade can reflect a bit of heat, the interior can really get worn down in the heat. Always look for a shaded spot to park, or if you have a little bit of money ($100-$200) you can get your windows tinted. The internal temperature can reach levels as high as 140 degrees and that kind of heat can damage interior leather and/or plastics over time.   Although cracking a window or two can help expel some heat, I wouldn’t recommend it in public parking areas.

4)      Check the air filter(s). Air filters keep a lot of the gunk out of your engine as well as the cabin. Air filters can easily be replaced and are relatively cheap to purchase at your local auto parts store.   Most oil change facilities will try to sell you on replacing the air filter for a hefty penny, but in most cars it is a very easy part to replace. Learning how to replace this on your own will save you money for years down the road!   Another, air filter to consider replacing is the cabin-air filter. This filters air that is coming into the interior part of your car. With the changing of seasons, the air outside can change drastically with different pollens, dust and other debris. Instead of reaching for the Flonase, try freshening up your drive with clean air!

Expect the Unexpected – Things to Carry in Your Car for Emergencies

roadside-emergency-kitExpect the unexpected.  Isn’t that something you always hear? It is a good idea to be prepared for an unexpected event when it comes to driving.  Whether you are on a long road trip or if you are just puttsing around town, having tools and emergency supplies in your vehicle will help should you have trouble. The hope is that you’ll never need to use these items, but if you do, they can be both timesavers and lifesavers.

Items to Carry in Your Vehicle

  • Spare tire
  • Jack and lug wrench
  • Jumper cables
  • Cell phone charger
  • List of emergency phone numbers
  • Flare or reflectors
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Help or distress sign
  • Maps or GPS device
  • Small tool set
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Jug of clean water
  • First aid kit

Winter Items to Carry in Your Vehicle

  • Snow brush/scraper
  • Sand, cat litter or traction mats
  • Tire chains
  • High-energy food
  • Warm Clothing
  • Blankets