Car Repair Resources

You are here: Home » MoneyTalk » Additional Topics » Essential Car Repair Tips
Essential Car Repair Tips

Mechanics can be pricey, especially when it comes to tasks that could take a while. We try to do what we can to save some money, but what car repairs should you leave to the pros? While there are quite a few repairs that should be left to a professional, here are some car repairs you shouldn’t attempt by yourself:

  1. Changing a clutch
  2. Repairing or recharging air conditioner
  3. Replacing windshield
  4. Rebuilding a differential
  5. Body work

Changing a Clutch

While it’s not a complex or delicate repair, changing the clutch could require engine removal and a lot of heavy lifting. If you don’t have access to a car jack or engine jack, you will not be able to change the clutch yourself.

What is the Clutch?

A clutch connects the two shafts in your car that drive your car, so they can be locked together and spin at the same speed or decoupled and spun at different speeds. Since the engine is spinning all the time, you need a clutch to stop the car without killing the engine while disconnecting the wheels, so they can stop. The clutch allows you to smoothly engage a spinning engine to a non-spinning transmission by controlling the slippage between them.

Common Problems with the Clutch

The most common problem with the clutch is that the friction material on the disk wears down, kind of like the pads of a disc brake – it just wears down after a while. After the material is gone, the clutch will slip and eventually won’t transmit any power from the engine to the wheels.

Sometimes, the problem is a sticking clutch and not a slipping clutch, which can be caused by:

  • A broken or stretched clutch cable
  • Leaky or defective slave and/or master clutch cylinders
  • Air in the hydraulic line
  • Misadjusted linkage
  • Mismatched clutch components

Repair or Recharge an Air Conditioner

Not only is handling Freon dangerous, but the A/C system also involves very specific high pressures and lots of tubing with odd components. On top of all that, you need an understanding of the laws of thermodynamics.

What is Freon?

In order to function properly, your car’s air conditioning system must cool, dehumidify, and circulate the air inside your vehicle. These functions are all essential to properly work. When coolant leaks, the A/C will stop blowing. If your Freon or other cooling agent is low, you might have a leak. Freon is a harmful chemical if it comes in contact with your body or skin.

Common Problems with the A/C

Most problems that occur with an A/C develops over time, so noticing sudden issues is less common.

  • Moisture or debris that contaminates the air conditioner
  • Bacteria, fungi, and micro-organisms that contribute to “sick car syndrome”
  • Low refrigeration level due to dried out seals
  • Soiled condenser constricting air flow
  • Mechanical complications

Replacing a Windshield

Replacing your windshield involves too many components to try and do it yourself. With defrosters and other window electronics, not only can you damage the car, but it also takes a lot of training to handle a large piece of glass and adhesive.

Different Types of Windshield Additions

If you have a newer car that’s more high-tech than the basic model, you should check what sort of additives your windshield technology has. This could really affect whether or not you would want to see a professional, as well as the cost of replacing the windshield:

  • Rain sensor
  • Condensation Sensor
  • Heated
  • Heated Wiper Park Area
  • Solar-coated

Common Problems with a Windshield

The most common problem with a windshield that requires a replacement is that there’s a crack in it. While some small cracks can be replaced with a little patch work, a bigger crack will mean an entire windshield replacement. It’s illegal to drive with a cracked windshield, so the sooner it’s replaced the better. Other problems could be related to any of the technology connected to the windshield.

Rebuilding a Differential

Gears are already tricky in general, but differentials are an even touchy part to rebuild. If it’s even slightly off the contact patch, it will grind the teeth into nothing. That’s why the contact patch has to be exact down to the math.

What is a Differential

The differential splits the engine torque two ways which allows each output to spin at a different speed. There are open differentials, the clutch-type limited slip differential, a locking differential, and a Torsen differential.

Common Problems with the Differential

Diagnosing a problem with the differential can be a little tricky. There are many different noises coming from your engine, and you might not know what it means. Here are some common noises you might hear:

  • Whirring only when decelerating
  • A howl or whine during acceleration
  • Rumbling or whirring at speeds over 20 mph
  • Regular clunking every few feet
  • Banking or clunking on corners
  • Rumble while turning
  • Steady vibration that increases with speed
  • Clunking only when starting to move

Body Work

Body work is traditionally a hard job. It’s demanding, intolerant of any minor mistakes, and physically tasking. It takes skill to manipulate sheet metal, which is why we suggest you let the professionals take care of it.

Tips to Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

It’s not common to get different estimates ranging hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs. Here are some tips to pay attention to when choosing a trustworthy shop:

  • Pay attention to word-of-mouth
  • Consider the operations location and overhead
  • Get several estimates
  • Ask the right questions
  • Follow your intuition

What to Do If Your Car is Water Damaged

Whether you drove into a puddle or you recently suffered from a storm surge that flooded your neighborhood, dealing with a water damaged car is not something we’re all prepared for, and you might be wondering what to do if your car is water damaged. Depending on the type of water, the amount, and the duration, your car could be salvageable.

Flooding and Water Damaged Car Repairs

Most insurance companies will say it’s impossible to do repairs on a water damaged vehicle. They will write it off and say it’s time for a new car. Most flooding and water damage can result in a hydro-locked engine, short circuiting electronics, water-logged transmission, and mold, mildew, and rust.

When it comes down to it, the best way to separate vehicles that can be repaired and those that can’t is between the economical and uneconomical repairs.

Uneconomical Water Damaged Car

An uneconomical water damage car has usually sat for days after a storm or river has flooded. Sitting in water like that can damage the interior, electrical, and powertrain. If it’s salt water it’s sat in, the damage can be even worse. Some mechanics will say, at any level, the car is unfixable if it’s been sitting in salt water. The salt water leads to corrosion at a higher rate.

Economical Water Damaged Car

An economical water damage car repair possibility will depend on the extent of the flooding, the water type, the depth of water it was in, and the duration. If the car has been caught in a river or you drove through a puddle and the engine died, there could be a chance it’s repairable. Follow this checklist for your vehicle:

Vehicle Checklist

  1. Survey the potential damage. Make note of the depth of floodwaters your car is sitting in. Don’t start the engine while it’s in the water because it could lead to water in the engine – a costly fix.
  2. Act quickly. If it’s in salt water, that can be more damaging than fresh water because it will cause corrosion a lot faster. Dry out the vehicle as soon as you possibly can and contact the tow service to remove it out of the puddle or floodwater. Before you tow the vehicle, you may need to drain the oil, transmission fluid, and lube.
  3. Look under the hood. Looking underneath the hood can lead to clues as to where the damage has occurred and to what extensity. For this task, you might want to partner with a mechanic.
    • Check oil dipstick. If there are water droplets, that means a cylinder could be broken.
    • Remove broken cylinders and check for corroded spots.
    • Change oil and transmission fluid. Once the car is drivable and has driven several hundred miles, you should change the fluids.
  4. Clean the interior. If the water your car was sitting in was more than a few feet, you might have water on the inside of the vehicle.
    • Remove all moisture from inside the vehicle. Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck out any standing water inside the vehicle. To absorb any water soaked in the upholstery, use cloth towels. If possible, you might want to remove the seats and cushions, and use fans and dehumidifiers to accel the drying process.
  5. Check the fuel tank and line. You can use a store-bought siphon pump to remove some of the fuel. If you detect water, you will have to empty the tank completely.

Car Insurance & Water Damaged Car

If you are worried about not being covered by specific flood insurance like you might have for a home, there’s no need to stress. The insurance coverage you need to cover any damages caused by a flood is included in a comprehensive coverage plan.

Comprehensive Coverage Plan

Comprehensive coverage is an election, and it isn’t automatically included in auto insurance policy. A comprehensive coverage plan covers your vehicle if it is stolen, if a tree falls on it, or if it’s in a flood. Basically, it’s for damages that occur from a factor other than a vehicle accident. That damage will fall under your collision coverage.

If you’re financing your vehicle, you are most likely required to have both comprehensive and collision coverage since the car acts as collateral for your loan. It is to ensure that the item used for collateral is safe in case of something happening to it, and the bank doesn’t lose its money.

Claiming Flood Damage

If your car has suffered from flood damage, here are some tips to claim it with your insurance provider:

  • Call in the claim as soon as you can. Time is important when reporting a claim, and you should be contacting your insurance company or your insurance agent’s office. You want to have the claim process first, especially if the flood incident has happened to many around you.
  • Dry out the vehicle as soon as possible. The sooner you can, the better chance you have of avoiding a total loss. Contact the appropriate professionals to help you.
  • Use your insurance carrier’s preferred body shop. A major problem with flood-damaged vehicles is that there is a potential for further problems. Using the insurance provider’s shop guarantees that they are a working, trustworthy body shop. Check with your agent to see if the repairs you will need are guaranteed.

Oxidation on Headlights is Annoying, Can’t It Just Go Away?

Headlight oxidation can be really annoying to deal with. Ever since the switch to the plastic headlights, instead of glass, oxidation has been an issue with car drivers everywhere. Oxidation, is why you’ve seen either your own, or another driver’s, headlights looking really foggy. This fogginess is often caused by dirt on the roads, condensation, the UV light from the sun, and other atmospheric chemicals.

The problem with oxidation, is that it decreases visibility. It makes it really difficult to see the road ahead of you, especially if you are driving at night. A quick solution, would be to drive with your bright lights on; however, that is not a good experience for the drivers in front of you.

The best solution to the oxidation that occurs to your headlights, is to clean them as soon as you notice it is happening. You can clean your headlights yourself with a variety of products that you already have at home. Try any of the methods, before choosing to pay for an oxidation light repair. It will save you money. You will pay anywhere from $65-$150 for headlight restoration.

Household Cleaners that Can Clear Up Oxidation:

  • White vinegar

You will need warm water, vinegar, a spray bottle, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. In your spray bottle, add in three parts water, and one part white vinegar. Mix the solution up. Then start spraying it on your headlights, be sure to saturate it with the solution. Let it sit for two minutes. Use circular motions to rub away the solution. Repeat, if needed, to completely remove the fogginess on your headlights.

  • Baking soda

You will need rubber gloves, warm water, a small bucket or bowl, and the baking soda. Add 1/3 of the box of baking soda to the bowl/small bucket of warm water. Mix it until it turns into a paste. Wet the headlights with plain warm water. Then, with small circles, begin to rub the paste into your headlights. Continue to rub the paste into the headlight until you get the clearness you desire. It is important that you do not get any of this paste on your car’s paint job. When you are happy with your results, give your headlights a rinse with warm water, and let them air dry.

  • Dishwashing liquid

You will need warm water, a bucket, a sponge, and the dish washing liquid. Fill your bucket up with hot water and add in the dish washing liquid. Saturate the oxidized headlight with the soapy water, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then go in with your sponge, and in small circles, start scrubbing the oxidation off of your headlights.

  • Toothpaste

You will need toothpaste, rubber gloves, a cleaning cloth, and water. Put on your rubber gloves first to protect your hands from the mess. Wet the cleaning cloth slightly, then add the toothpaste to the cleaning cloth and begin applying to the oxidized headlight. Be sure to apply the toothpaste in small circles, and cover the entire headlight. Feel free to add more water and toothpaste as necessary. Once completed, allow the toothpaste to sit on the headlights for 5 minutes. While it is sitting rinse your cleaning cloth of the toothpaste. After the 5 minutes, rinse well with hot water and air dry. You may need to repeat the process twice.

  • Bug spray

Yes, bug spray. You will need a microfiber cleaning cloth, and the bug spray of course. Spray the bug spray onto your microfiber cleaning cloth. Work the bug spray into your foggy headlights, using small circular motions. The chemicals in the bug spray will help to remove the dirt from the headlights. You may need to use a little bit of water to remove any excess residue.

Whichever method you choose to clear up your oxidized headlights, will save you some money. However, if your headlights are beyond repair, you may have to replace them. If you notice your visibility is still decreased at night due to your headlights, that is a pretty good sign they need to be replaced. If after your first trial with one of the methods, you notice that the oxidation is on the inside, instead of the outside, you’ll surely need them replaced. Your local, professional mechanic will be able to find your headlights and replace them with new ones for you.

I know you’re thinking, well isn’t there a way to just prevent all of this? The short answer is simply, no. There is no real way to prevent oxidation from happening, it just does. You will find several ways to treat it, to clean it off, but not prevent it from happening altogether.

Is It Easy To Jumpstart My Car?

The answer is, yes. Everyone show know how to jumpstart a car. It is an important facet of driver safety, and should probably be getting taught in driver’s education classes all over the world. Knowing how to jump your car, yourself, can save you time and money.

If you’re like most people, and you aren’t technologically savvy, these steps may cause you some anxiety. Not to fear, it is highly unlikely, and practically impossible, that you will electrocute yourself while attempting to jumpstart your car. Now, there is a possibility that you will shock yourself, but it’s not anything that’ll result in your untimely death. There is, however, a possibility of causing the car battery to explode. So whatever you do, do not attach the black, negative cable to the negative terminal of your car, under any circumstances. Attaching that negative cable to your car will cause an explosion. This explosion will send battery acid and pieces of the battery flying into the air.

Tow truck companies make the majority of their money on people who do not know how to perform the basic things their car needs to keep driving: jumps and flat tires. A tow truck can charge anywhere between $35-$75 just to put it on the flatbed, but will then charge $2-$5 per mile to drop it off. Those miles will add up, depending on where your car stopped, and where your mechanic is located. Your best and cheapest option is to jumpstart your car yourself.

How Do I Jump Start My Car?

The only things you need to successfully jumpstart your car yourself is a pair of jumper cables and another car.

To safely jump your car, follow these steps:

  1. Position both cars so they are facing each other, but not touching.
  2. Make sure that both cars are turned off.
  3. Engage the parking brake on both cars.
  4. Open the hoods of both cars.
  5. Locate the batteries.
  6. Pull out your jumper cables.
  7. Attach one positive (red) cables to the positive terminal on your battery.
  8. Attach the other end of the positive (red) cable to the positive terminal on the other car.
  9. Attach one of the black cables to the negative terminal on the other car.
  10. Attach the other end of the black cable to a metal (unpainted) surface, away from the battery.
  11. Start the other car and let the engine run for a few minutes.
  12. Attempt to start your car.
  13. If it works, unhook the cables in the reverse order that they were connected, but do not turn off your engine.
  14. Drive or just let the car run for at least 30 minutes, to recharge your battery.

Why Do Car Batteries Need A Jump?

If your car won’t start the next time you attempt to drive it, you may need to replace your battery, because it should hold a charge. Most batteries have a lifespan of 4-6 years. If yours is past the 6 year mark, it’s safe to say you need to go ahead and replace it as soon as possible.

If the battery is in good health, but your car still isn’t starting properly, there may be another issue:

  • Starter connection
  • Battery corrosion
  • Old spark plugs
  • Cracked fuel pump
  • Alternator
  • Fuses
  • Ignition switch
  • Wheel lock
  • Ran out of gas
  • Frozen fuel line

This is a list of things to see your mechanic about. You should only allow a certified professional mechanic to do work on your car. It is probably more appealing to go the cheaper route and hire an alley mechanic to take care of your car problems; however, if something goes wrong, you will have a leg to stand on. Plus, you can trust that the person will actually know what they are doing, since they actually went to school for it. Professional mechanics are reliable, they will present you with all of the issues and allow you to make the best decision, and they consider the safety of you and your car.

What Should I Do After I Jump My Car?

Keep in mind that some mechanics will try to bombard you with more problems than you were prepared to handle, but an honest mechanic will tell you what is pertinent to your safety and what will get your car back up and running. It is best to know the basic information about your car, to avoid being swindled and told misinformation. If you allow an unlicensed mechanic to work on your vehicle, you run the risk of voiding the warranty on parts, and maybe even your entire vehicle.

When searching for a licensed mechanic, a great place to start is your car dealership. Most, car dealerships have service stations attached to them for your convenience. If you did not happen to buy your car from a dealership with a service center, you can use a search engine to find thousands of listings of professional mechanics in your area.

Knowing how to jumpstart your own car is an important skill to have, it can essentially save you time and money. It is important to always be safe and make good decisions while working under the hood of your car. If your car still won’t turn over after you have jumped it, take it to your local licensed mechanic, and figure out what the actual problem is.

How Can I Quickly Fix an Oil Spill?

Sometimes when you work on your car, or overlook a maintenance related check-up, you might accidentally spring an oil spill on your garage floor. An oil spill can leave a big, black spot in your garage or workspace, and it can look just plain ugly. When this happens, you will need to quickly fix it. Luckily, LoanMart is here to tell you how to do it.

Things You Will Need

When cleaning up an oil spill in your garage, driveway, auto shop, or wherever you may happen to be, you will need to act  fast. It is possible to clean up the entire spill, but there are some implements you will need in order to do so. Luckily, a lot of these items are pretty commonplace, and odds are you already have them on hand. These items include:

Clay based cat litter

·      1 brick

·      Bucket of water, as well as dish detergent

·      Scrubbing brush

·      Broom with dustpan

·      Airtight metal coffee can with a lid

·      Garden hose (optional)

How to Quickly Fix an Oil Spill

There is no time to lose when cleaning up an oil spill. You do not want the oil to set and leave a big black spot in your workspace. Luckily, if you act quickly enough, you can clean it all up before it leaves too much of a stain on your floor. Concrete is a porous material, meaning it has tiny holes in it that can absorb liquids, so unfortunately oil can make its way into concrete quickly. Though oil can get into concrete easily, it can also be easily extracted.

Step 1: Attack and Attract the Spilled Oil

You will want to get a hold of the items mentioned above in order to start cleaning up the spilled oil and remove the stain. To get the ball rolling:

The first thing you will want to do is grab the kitty litter and then spread it quickly and evenly all over the oil stain.

From there you should take the brick and grind the kitty litter into the stain.

If the spill or leak is still fresh, wait a moment until the kitty litter has absorbed the oil. If you are trying to get rid of an older oil stain, the kitty litter will need to be allowed to sit a few hours, possibly overnight.

Once you have let the kitty litter sit for an appropriate amount of time, sweep it up and place it into the metal coffee can. From there, check the household hazardous waste laws in your area to determine how you should dispose of the container. Your local trash collection service might come and pick it up, or you could end up having to bring it in to a local disposal center.

Step 2: Wet and Wash

After you have cleared up all of the oil soaked kitty litter, it is time to wash out the rest of the stain and get your concrete floor looking nice and spotless once again. This part of the oil stain removal process might get a little bit monotonous, but it will be well worth all of the time and effort in the long run. In order to finally be rid of the eye sore that has been the oil stain on your floor, you will need to:

·      Take a scrubbing brush and scrub the lightly stained area with soap and water.

·      Rinse the dirtied spot with a bucket of water or a garden hose.

·      Depending on how much of a stain is left, repeat the process as necessary to remove as much of the surface stain as you can.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

While cleaning up an oil leak might not be terribly difficult to do, it is still something that you will more than likely want to avoid doing. This is where the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes into play. A little prevention can prevent bigger problems.

Make sure to change your oil as often as necessary and to get your vehicle inspected from time to time to avoid springing any leaks. With steps like these, you can avoid a whole lot of time, money, and headaches.

Easy DIY Fixes to Your Car

When money is short, mechanics and fixing car problems can be expensive and costly. Figuring out what the easy DIY fixes to your car are can be a challenge. LoanMart came up with a list of the DIY fixes that you can handle to save big:

  • Replace brake pads
  • Change the battery
  • Change your oil
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Change a headlight/taillight
  • Replace windshield wipers
  • Replace air filter
  • Repair a chipped windshield

Easy DIY Fixes to Your Car to Save Money

If you’ve ever looked up the prices for the parts that need repaired on your car, you’ll realize that you are paying a majority of your money to the labor for a mechanic. In some cases, a repair truly needs a mechanic to fix it based on the severity. For easier tasks, a simple video can help you learn how to do it yourself.

Replace Brake Pads

Surprisingly, changing your own brake pads is a simple and inexpensive task that could normally cost you hundreds at the auto shop. You may think it’s hard because of how expensive it can be, but it’s actually a lot easier than they make it out to be.

You only need a few items –

  • Wheel lug wrench
  • Basic wrenches
  • Pliers
  • Jack and set of jack stands

New brake pads will only cost you about $20-$40, depending on the car make, model, and pad material. The industry average to have your brake pads by a mechanic is $250 per axle, so you can even see how much this DIY will save you in costs. To actually perform the DIY task, it’s rather basic. To do all four of your wheels, it should only take an hour, even if it is your first time performing the procedure.

  • Take off the wheel
  • Remove the hardware
  • Pull out the old pads
  • Push in the caliper piston
  • Install the new pads
  • Reinstall the hardware
  • Change the battery

Out of all the repairs, this easy DIY fix is by far the easiest one. Many people go to a shop to get this done, but in reality, this is a simple task that can be completed at home. The average price for a new battery can be about $80, but that will depend on your car’s make and model. Dealers could charge up to $200 for parts and labor to replace it. Another big save for a simple task.

All you need to replace it is a basic set of wrenches. The only important steps to remember when changing your battery:

  • Remove the negative (black) cable first
  • Replace the negative cable last
  • Change your oil

Where you go for your oil changes will depend on the cost. A typical lube place charges from $30-$70 while some can even go as high as $90-$100 for an expensive import. If you see any signs for $15 oil change deals, be cautious before going forward. Many of these places will wind up making up “major” repairs and costing you thousands of dollars. The best deal with an oil change is doing it yourself.

Buy a good quality oil filter and the best oil you can afford from a local auto retail store. Other than the jack and jack stands, you’ll need an oil filter wrench and drain pan. There are many videos online that can help you with oil changes on many different cars.

Replace Spark Plugs

While it is rare you will ever need to perform this task, it is one of the easiest repairs you can actually do yourself. Along with your regular tools, you’ll need a spark plug wrench (it’s not very expensive, and you’ll have it for the future). While the wrench can be $10 and a set of spark plugs $30, you’ll still be saving big time because you can pay over $300 to have your spark plugs repaired at the shop.

Change A Headlight/Taillight

Once one light isn’t working, it’s time to replace it and do it yourself. The average repair rate for a garage could be $100 per hour! You could spend only $25-$50 per bulb by doing it yourself. In order to get the correct bulb, bring the broken one to your store. The best advice when replacing a bulb yourself: do NOT touch the bulb glass with bare hands. Grease from your fingers will cause the bulb to burn out early.

Replace Windshield Wipers

This can be a waste of your time and money by going to a garage or dealership to have your wipers replaced. A set of wipers can cost $20-$40 on average, but a dealer will charge you one hour of labor which is about $100. It will take just a few minutes to replace the wipers and all the instructions on how to replace them come with the wipers.

Replace Air Filter

Another simple fix that mechanics and dealerships charge high prices for is replacing your air filter. On average, you can pay $100 for the labor plus $50 for the filter. When you go to a retail store, you should only have to pay between $15-$20, which could be higher depending the car you have. In most cases, you only have to:

  • Open the hood
  • Turn a few screws
  • Open the air filter housing
  • Swap out the old and new
  • Replace the screws

Simple, yet you save a lot of money doing it yourself.

Repair A Chipped Windshield

The task may sound intimidating, but it’s just one more procedure you can save money on. When looking online through sources like Amazon or eBay, you can find windshield repair kits for less than $15 and some as low as $8. If you go to a mechanic or dealer, it can cost you $75 just to repair a chip. When you receive your kit, it will give you instructions which are as follows:

  • Dig out any loose glass – pin provided
  • Thoroughly clean the area surrounding the chip
  • Stick a small device to the windshield – vacuum applies resin into crack

This can take you less than an hour to perform from the start of opening the package to the end result. Stop your crack from spreading before you have to replace the entire windshield, which could cost you about $500.

Pay for Fixes to Your Car

If you have a car problem or repair that can be so easily done as these 8 easy DIY fixes to your car, call LoanMart to help you fund your unexpected expense. LoanMart can help you pay for your repair with car title loans.

Brake Pads and How to Change Them

Car repairs can be expensive. Did you know that you can perform a lot of basic car maintenance yourself? You were probably already aware that you could perform oil changes at home, but did you know that you could also change your own brake pads? Keep reading for an overview of how to change your brake pads.

What are Brake Pads?

Brake pads are an essential part of your car’s braking system, sitting between the brake shoe and the drum.

What are the Different Types of Brake Pads?

There are three different types of brake pads. Take a look:

  • Organic: Originally, brake pads were made out of asbestos. These were replaced with organic brake pads, which you’ll find in 67% of new cars. Generally, organic brake pads are a mix of things like rubber, carbon compounds, Kevlar, etc. bound with resin. Because of the amount of heat and friction they create, they are great for people driving regular cars under regular conditions. They also are pretty quiet, and don’t stress the rotors too hard.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic brakes offer a number of advantages over organic brakes. They tend to be quieter, produce less dust and particles as they wear down, and operate effectively in a wider range of driving conditions. That said, they tend to be more expensive to manufacture, and they do not absorb heat well, increasing wear and tear on the vehicle. They are also unsuitable for extreme cold or racing.
  • Metallic: These brake pads are composed of 30% to 70% metal. They are preferred by high-performance car drivers due to their ability to function at the widest range of temperatures and conditions, though they are noisier. Because they don’t compress the way organic brakes do, you don’t need to push as hard either. On the downside, metallic brake pads also put more strain on the braking system.

When Should I Replace my Brake Pads?

Experts usually say that brake pads should last 30,000 to 35,000 miles. Though this varies depending on your driving style and driving conditions. There are a few ways you’ll know that your car’s brake pads are due for a change:

  • Indicator Light: Your dashboard may have a light that comes on when it’s time to change your brake pads. Your owner’s manual will be able to tell you.
  • Squealing or Screeching: This is frequently the first indicator that your brakes need to be changed. The high pitched noise is caused by a little piece of metal that gets exposed as your brake pads wear down.
  • Metallic Grinding or Growling: This could indicate that your disks and calipers are making contact. It’s critical to have your brakes examined as soon as possible to prevent extensive damage from occurring.

What do I need to Replace my Brake Pads?

You’ll need a few different things:

  • Owner’s Manual: This will provide you with important pieces of information like your car’s jack point, weight, rotor requirements, etc.
  • Floor Jack: Make sure it’s rated for at least 3/4s of your car’s weight
  • Jack Stands: These keep your car in the air once it’s been lifted. Use them in pairs.
  • Brake Tool: While you can adjust your brake caliper piston without the tool, it’s much easier with it.
  • New Brake Pads: To replace the old ones.
  • New Rotors: As necessary.
  • Brake Grease: You’ll need this for the pads, and between the pads and calipers.
  • Socket Wrench
  • Tire Iron

What are the Steps for Replacing my Brake Pads?

While the specifics of each car may be a bit different, the general process is the same:

  • Loosen the Lug Nuts: Just like if you were changing a tire.
  • Lift the Car: Use your owner’s manual as a guide for where a safe place to jack your car is located. If you’ve never used a jack, click here to learn how.
  • Put the Pair of Jack Stands in Place: Use a structural part of your car’s frame to place the jack stands. Then slowly lower your car onto the stands and remove the jack.
  • Remove your Rotor and Caliper Assembly: Using the socket wrench. Then slide the calipers off the rotor. Do not hang the calipers by the brake line. If the brake line snaps, the fix will get much more expensive.
  • Remove the Brake Pads from the Rotor: You’ll need to either slide or pop them off. Careful not to damage anything.
  • Install the New Brake Pad: Apply brake grease to the back of the pads. Then place the new pads in the same spot as the old pads.
  • Replace the Caliper Assembly: Place one of the used brake pads inside the caliper assembly against the large circular piston. Then, put the wide plastic part of the brake tool against the opposite side of the caliper. Rotate the handle of the brake tool so the piston compresses the piston back into the assembly and it is fully retracted.
  • Finishing Up: Ensure everything is tight and properly sealed. Put the lug nuts back on your car. Then, carefully put your car back on the jack and lower it to the ground. Then give your car a spin or two around the block at slow speeds to ensure there’s no squeaking or other problems.

Now that you know how to change your brake pads, you can save some money on car maintenance. As you’ve seen, it’s not hard. Nor does it require a lot of expensive tools.

Best Apps for Car Maintenance

It can be a real hassle keeping track of car maintenance, like when your oil is old or your timing belt needs to be changed. If you can’t stand keeping track of your car’s maintenance schedule, there may be an easier way. Did you know that there are plenty of apps out there designed to help make your life easier when it comes to your car? Keep reading to see some of the best.

  • Car Xpense Lite: $2.99 Many of the apps on the list are a bit dry in appearance, Car Xpense Lite not so! Additionally, you can create whatever subcategories you want to keep track of your car. You can keep track of whatever expenses, services, or maintenance repairs your car requires. You can even backup and restore data for multiple cars!
  • Car Maintenance and Fuel: Free This app has a great, clean look and helps you track expenses related to your car. It tracks things like fuel costs, insurance expenses, fuel efficiency, etc. You can even use it to track multiple vehicles.
  • Car Costs Complete: Free This is a great app for travelers. You can change from imperial to metric and back again. You can also change the currency used to express your expenses. All that in addition to tracking things like your fuel economy and distance traveled.
  • Car Problems and Repairs: Free This app helps you diagnose and deal with car problems. It has information on a wide variety of makes, from Audi, to Hyundai, to Peugeot, etc. Information is organized into a number of different categories and subcategories, frequently by symptom or system.
  • Vehicle Logbook: $3.99 This app sets itself apart from the other apps on the list due to the number of vehicles it can track. It can track up to 15 cars at once, and is able to sync with DropBox, so you don’t lose your data!
  • Car Minder Plus: Free Car Minder tracks all your maintenance needs and your fuel economy. It looks for potential developing issues by tracking your fuel efficiency, and it can save data for multiple cars. Finally, it retains your service history and cross-checks it against service warnings to let you know when you may need to bring your car in for servicing.
  • VehiCal: Free VehiCal offers many of the same features as the other apps on the list. It tracks your mileage and expenses. You can create customizable lists to track things like highway tolls, parking fees, etc. And, you can divide your expenses between business and personal expenses for the car, in the case of a mixed-use vehicle.
  • DIY Car Maintenance: Free While many apps on this list deal with tracking how your car is working and what maintenance you’ve preformed on it, this app actually contains step by step guides of how to perform the maintenance yourself. You can use this app to learn how to do things like change your oil, check your fluids, change a flat tire, etc. The instructions are accompanied by photos illustrating each step.
  • Just Drive: Free In addition to tracking maintenance for multiple vehicles, it can show you an interactive map of car services in your area, with user recommendations! Just Drive also includes a dashboard dictionary to translate all the symbols on your dash and show you what they mean. In addition to being extremely user-friendly, this app has a function that allows you to connect with other people who have the same kind of car as you!
  • AutoExp: $9.99 This is a full-fledged car maintenance app that lets you keep track of your car expenses, stress-free. It presents data in a visually-appealing fashion that ensures you never miss anything important. By reminding you of important maintenance milestones, it ensures that your car is always a strong performer. It also comes in a variety of languages!
  • Fuelio: Free This app is a great way to keep track of your fuel costs. It can tell you not only where the nearest gas stations are, but what they are charging for a fill up. Simply enter the number on the odometer and what your gas cost, and it will do the rest. One of the best things about this app is that you can store your data using DropBox or Google Drive. So, there’s no reason to worry about losing your data due to a phone issue.

So, there you have it. No matter what sort of car maintenance app you’re looking for, chances are that one of apps listed above will fit the bill. Whether you’re looking for something to track your fuel costs, maintenance schedules, or even step by step guides so you can do any maintenance yourself, there’s an app out there for you.

5 Ways to Handle a Flat Tire

Flat tires are a pain to deal with, especially considering how unexpected they are. To make sure you’re less stressed in this sort of situation, here are 5 ways to handle a flat tire when:

  1. The car is parked
  2. You’re driving
  3. You don’t have a spare
  4. You don’t have American Automobile Association (“AAA”)
  5. It’s a blowout

How to Handle a Flat Tire

There are important things to remember when it comes to owning a car, and one of those is making sure you have the necessary equipment in case you have an emergency like a flat tire. Flat tires can happen in many different situations, and it’s important to be prepared.

When the car is parked

Whether your car is parked in your driveway or you come back from an errand to find a flat tire, dealing with a flat tire when your car is already parked is a lot less stressful than when you’re driving.

  • The first thing to do is inspect the tire. Run your hands along the back and front of the tire to find any foreign objects like nails or staples. If there is no object, you could just be low on air.
  • If you find a puncture or hole, put on the spare tire and drive to a secure service center for repairs or patching. Driving on a spare for too long can damage the tire casing and integrity.

When You’re Driving

If you don’t hear the flapping from your tire, you’ll feel it. It will feel like your vehicle is being pulled to the side where the tire is flat, and it’ll feel like you can’t accelerate.

  • First, you’ll want to pull over. Get as far to the edge – hopefully a shoulder – as you can. You want to give a lot of space between you and passing cars.
  • Most importantly, don’t drive on it. Put on the spare and drive to the nearest service center to have it checked out. It’s important to always have your spare handy.

Without A Spare

In more recent years, some manufacturers have not been including a spare when you buy your car. It’s been a slow change, but if you notice it, you should go out and buy one. If you haven’t, you’ll want to be prepared in other ways.

  • Be prepared and have a tire repair kit ready for use. They usually come with tools like a sealant and air compressor, but these are only temporary solutions. You’ll want to head to a service center as soon as possible.
  • A reliable roadside assistance program can also help you out. Companies like AAA will send out assistance when you call them. So, as long as you have a cell phone, you can contact help.

When you don’t have AAA

If you don’t have AAA, there are many other ways to receive roadside assistance. Check with your insurance provider. They may offer you roadside assistance as part of your insurance plan, or you can add it on for a small additional fee. They will provide you with help when you have a flat tire and with emergency towing.

Even if you don’t have the plan with your insurance provider, you can always use your phone to call a local towing company. It might be a little pricey, but it’s one of the only solutions if you don’t have your spare tire or a roadside assistance program.

When it’s a blowout

Tire blowouts can be a scary and stressful situation. You’ll know when you have a tire blowout by three key sounds:

  1. Loud bang/boom
  2. Whooshing sound
  3. Flapping/flopping

You will also feel your vehicle slow down and pull strongly to one side. If it’s one of the front tires, you’ll feel the vibrating in the wheel and if it’s one of the back tires, you’ll feel it in the seats.

  • Keep a firm grip on the wheel and do not slam on your brakes.
  • Let your car slow down and pull safely to the side at a slow speed.
  • Activate your flashers and change your tire or call roadside assistance.

How to Change a Flat Tire

  1. Remove wheel cover – To remove the wheel cover, you can use a flathead.
  2. Loosen lug nuts slightly – You want to loosen them, but not take them off completely.
  3. Jack up vehicle – If you have a hydraulic jack, you’ll insert the handle and pump it up and down. For a scissor jack, take the wrench or rod, insert, and crank.
  4. Remove the flat tire – Take off the lug nuts by hand and pull the tire off toward you. To get it out of the way, roll it towards the back of your vehicle to keep away from cars passing by.
  5. Place the spare on – Lift the spare into place on the lug bolts and secure the lug nuts into place.
  6. Lower your vehicle – Turn the jack the opposite way to bring it back down. Tighten the lug nuts as much as possible.

Put wheel cover back on – Use your hands to place the wheel cover back on to avoid dents from a hammer or other tool.

Over 250,000 customers helped since 2002

Trusted by over 250,000 customers since 2002, we know how to do business the right way. Our US based customer service team is there for you seven days a week.

All loans will be serviced by LoanMart. See State Disclosures for additional information. LoanMart is currently not lending in California and does not make loans or credit.

1Loan approval is subject to meeting the lender's credit criteria, which may include providing acceptable property as collateral. Actual loan amount, term, and Annual Percentage Rate of the loan that a consumer qualifies for may vary by consumer. Loan proceeds are intended primarily for personal, family and household purposes. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. Consumers need to demonstrate ability to repay the loan.

2Based on consumers who received a loan from LoanMart from February 2002 to October 2018.

3Application processes could take five (5) minutes to complete. Upon completion, a conditional approval may be given pending review of documentation. Funding time is based on the time from final approval following receipt and review of all required documents and signing, prior to 2PM PST on a business day.

4To exercise the right to rescind, the consumer(s) must notify the lender in writing by midnight on the third calendar day from obtaining the loan. Within one business day from notice of rescission, the consumer(s) must return any monies received and fees paid on behalf of the consumer(s) by certified funds.

5Lenders recommend and encourage consumers to pay early and often and more in order to avoid additional finance charges.

If you are using a screen reader and are having problems using this website, please call 1-855-422-7412 for assistance.