Automotive FAQs 101
Why do Brakes Squeal or Squeak?
Brake squeal is the result of a high-pitched vibration of the brake pads and caused by poor insulation. This vibration occurs because the pads are not properly insulated from the caliper or secured to the caliper. Brake pads come from the factory with anti-rattle clips, pad insulator shims, and sometimes a silicone backing that literally glues the pad to the caliper to keep the pads secure and to prevent rattle or vibration.
Sometimes brake squeal is the result of the composition of the brake pads being too hard. These hard, smooth surfaces rub against each other, resulting in a "nails screeching across a blackboard" type of syndrome. If this is the case, we recommend replacing the brake pads and resurfacing the brake rotors.
When brake squeal is evident, our technicians start with ensuring that the pads are properly secured and insulated to the brake caliper, and the anti rattle clips are installed to stop pad rattle. Additionally, our technicians will make sure the rotors were properly resurfaced for pad break-in.
What is the difference between "Outside" and "Recirculation" settings on your car's Air Conditioning system?
"Outside" setting means that fresh outside air is being fed into the vehicle's cabin along with the climate-controlled air that the HVAC system is feeding into the cabin. "Recirculation" means that the air being fed into the vehicle's cabin through the HVAC system is being recirculated without adding fresh outside air.
How does my car Battery stay charged?
Automotive charging systems keep your car's battery charged at all times. The battery provides the heavy cranking amperage necessary to crank the starter motor to start the car. After the car has been started, the charging system provides a steady feed of voltage and amperage to keep the battery in perfect health for the next time you have to start the car or use an electrical device inside the car.
Why do car mufflers "smoke" on cold mornings?
The "white smoke" you see coming out of the tailpipe in the morning is the result of condensation buildup in the exhaust system. When the hot air of the exhaust from the engine meets with the cold air inside the exhaust system, a cloud forms, resulting in the white smoke you see coming from the exhaust.
Here are a few things you may notice the first time you use antilock brakes:
- When the pedal is applied and ABS is activated, the pedal may feel harder than usual; this is normal.
- The pedal may seem to ratchet or pulsate (vibrate), or there could be a combination of these sensations; this is also normal.
- Finally, you may hear a noise that sounds like a motorboat engine; this is the hydraulic control unit operating; again, this is normal.
When driving a car with ABS brakes, remember to:
- Maintain the same safe stopping distance from the vehicle ahead as with conventional brakes. ABS will not make the vehicle "stop on a dime."
- Do not pump the brake. Just apply firm, constant pressure and let ABS do the work for you. You may feel a slight vibration or hear noise as the hydraulic control unit functions. Be ready to push the pedal further if it travels closer to the floor.
How much water does it take before my car will hydroplane?
Hydroplaning or aquaplaning is a phenomenon that occurs when a layer of water builds between the footprint of the rubber tires of the vehicle and the road surface. When this happens, the vehicle cannot respond to control efforts such as steering and braking.
According to laboratory tests, hydroplaning occurs on a wet road surface at speeds of 50MPH or higher. The deeper the water, the worse it becomes.
Three main factors that contribute to hydroplaning:
- Vehicle Speed: As speed increases, wet traction is reduced, and thus the chance of hydroplaning increases.
- Tire-Tread Depth: The more shallow the depth, the less the tires are able to resist hydroplaning.
- Water Depth: The deeper the water, the sooner the tires will lose traction.