Function

Catalytic converters remove harmful elements from automotive exhaust by forcing the fumes to pass over metallic catalysts, including platinum, rhodium and palladium, which neutralize the toxins and transform them into relatively safe components. The entire casing of the converter is constructed of stainless steel. All of these expensive metals make a catalytic converter a costly piece of equipment.

Cars with Dual Exhaust

While most production cars have only one catalytic converter, some do come with two. Cars with dual exhaust often have two catalytic converters — one for each set of pipes running from the headers to the rear of the vehicle.

Cars with Two In-Line Catalytic Converters

Newer high-end vehicles are now coming equipped with two catalytic converters as part of an even more stringent emissions program. The first converter breaks down the exhaust as normal, while the second acts both as a filter for tiny particles and a pump which releases a chemical mixture that further reduces any harmful gases which may have escaped the first converter.

What Are Potential Issues With a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters often last for 10 years or more, but they can become contaminated, clogged, overheated or physically damaged — leading to sluggish engine performance and, eventually, engine shutdown.

One potential contaminant is leaded gas, which can destroy the catalysts, although it is rarely found in the U.S. Others contaminants include engine coolant, which can leak into the combustion system because of a faulty cylinder head gasket, and engine oil. Those fluids can clog a catalytic converter so that exhaust gases are restricted from passing through. Car engines are like athletes in that they require lots of oxygen. If the exhaust flow is restricted, it means less air can get into the engine and performance suffers. If the engine responds sluggishly or quits after running for a while, a clogged converter could be to blame.

Catalytic converters can overheat because of excessive amounts of unburned gas caused by a misfiring spark plug or a leaky exhaust valve. In addition, a failed oxygen sensor can cause overheating.

On many vehicles, the “cat” is located under the vehicle, and like other parts of the exhaust system, it can also be damaged by road debris or by running over a curb.

Catalytic Converter Maintenance

Among the symptoms of a bad catalytic converter are:

  • Sluggish engine performance
  • Reduced acceleration
  • Dark exhaust smoke
  • The smell of sulfur or rotten eggs from the exhaust
  • Excessive heat under the vehicle

Some of those symptoms can also be caused by other parts of the emissions system, so it’s important for a mechanic to diagnose when it’s time to replace your catalytic converter.

Following your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule can help delay this moment as long as possible — often 10 years or more. Keeping your exhaust, emissions and combustion systems in good shape will minimize the risk of your catalytic converter failing before its time.

Stop by Sierra Car Care today for your catalytic converter and exhaust system repair needs.

When compared to other components in your car, belts and hoses have one of the shortest life spans. These items are constantly exposed to engine heat, vehicle vibrations, and harmful chemicals, which all have the potential to cause cracks and leaks.

Some symptoms to be aware of for belts and hoses nearing failure include squeaking, screeching, or grinding noises that begin when starting your engine or appear during vehicle operation. It’s worth noting that grinding sounds near belts are usually associated with a bad pulley bearing rather than the belt itself, as the pulley bearing may freeze up and ultimately lead to a belt replacement.

Other symptoms of a bad belt or hose include loss of power, leaking coolant or other fluids, illuminated dashboard lights, rising steam from the engine, and air conditioning failure. While routine maintenance of belts and hoses is always important, summertime is an especially important season to keep an eye under the hood due to increased temperatures, which will accelerate deterioration of the rubber components.

Belts Subject to Regular Maintenance

  • Heater Hose Replacement
  • Radiator Hose Replacement
  • Serpentine Belt Replacement
  • Timing Belt Replacement

Since belts and hoses can be difficult to inspect visually, be sure to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for scheduled maintenance.

Give us a call at (775) 525-2420 or contact Sierra Car Care and Tire Center if you have questions regarding belts and hoses or any other auto repair Reno, NV services.

Your brakes use friction to stop your moving vehicle, and friction generates heat. Unfortunately, overuse or aggressive braking habits can lead to your brakes overheating. How do you know if excess heat has your brakes smelling like they’re burning?

Brakes Causing a Smell after Replacement

The source of the smell is typically the brake pads. Explaining what’s happening is very difficult because you are treading on very complicated chemistry that is further politicized by the friction material manufacturers. The term and concept that you want to avoid at all costs using is “burning off.” This is inaccurate and may cause the customer to become alarmed. Yes, there is heat involved when the bad smell is produced, but it is not oxidation or burning.

What Causes the Burning Brake Smell in Newly Replaced Pads?

What is really happening is polymerization, or curing. This is a chemical process where smaller units are combined into larger and more stable units. It is like making an omelet. When heat is applied to the eggs, the omelet is formed. But, in the case of the friction material, the yoke and whites are the resins that hold the pad together.

The heat of braking causes the resins to polymerize and form stronger bonds. This is a good thing. The bad thing about this is when the resins polymerize, they create by-products in the form of gases that do not smell pleasant.

Most importantly, the smell is not a bad thing in the majority of cases for new pads.

If the pad is heated too quickly or outside a certain heat range, the friction material could lose strength. Its is best to heat the new brake pads in a controlled manner. The gases given off can cause brake fade, but if the pad is broken-in correctly, the gases do not pose a problem and brake fade conditions can be minimized in the future.

What to Do About a Burning Smell from Your Brakes

Stop and smell the roses — not your brakes. Unless you’ve just had braking components replaced, a burning smell from your car brakes could indicate a problem. Schedule a quick brake check at your local Sierra Car Care and Tire Center today. Don’t compromise your safety on the road or let small issues turn into more significant repairs later.

Bad brakes display warning signs for impending brake maintenance. For example, if your brakes squeal or grind when in use, then your brake pads may be worn and require replacements. If your vehicle pulls to one side when braking, then this may point to worn brakes, a malfunctioning caliper, or low brake fluid in the brake lines. If your brake pedal presses down too easily—also known as “spongy” brakes—then this may be an indication of too much air in the hydraulic brake lines.

Sometimes, your vehicle’s electronic diagnostic system will alert you to a potential brake issue by a service indicator light on the dashboard. While these are only some of the most common signs of potential problems with your vehicle’s brake system, noticing these signs of faulty brakes and seeking out a brake service can save you money down the line.

Our staff is trained in maintaining and servicing front and rear brake systems and all accompanying brake system components like brake pads, brake shoes, parking brakes, rotors, drums, and hydraulic systems.

If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms of bad brakes, like unusual squealing or grinding noises, then contact us today to have your brakes inspected immediately.

A bad battery cable can make you think that your vehicle has serious problems. A faulty cable can make it difficult for you to start your vehicle, cause your car to run poorly or stall in the middle of a long trip. A battery cable can break or become corroded,or the terminal end can go bad. You should not attempt to repair a broken or corroded battery cable, although you can repair the terminal end of the cable. It’s relatively easy to replace the cable or repair the terminal end.

Due to the operational nature of automotive batteries, battery cables are often prone to corrosion build up both internally and on the terminals. When corrosion builds up on the terminals or inside the wire, the resistance of the cable is increased, and conduction efficiency is reduced.

As cables are usually relatively inexpensive, it is always recommended to replace them once they have become too corroded or worn out. Usually, a battery cable will last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 miles. The battery cables that are on your car are used quite frequently. Due to this amount of use, it is easy for them to wear.

Schedule an Appointment

It is important to schedule preventive maintenance for these and other components to ensure they continue to work as intended. Remember that environmental conditions may affect your ideal preventive maintenance schedule. Depending upon your environment, you may need to seek more frequent inspections and replacements.

Contact us today to learn more about recommended car maintenance service intervals for your vehicle.

The serpentine belt is one long, snaking, winding belt that keeps your alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning and, in some cases, your water pump running smoothly and effectively. Without this belt, the battery will not get charged and none of the electrical accessory components in the car will work.

Typically comprised of rubber and guided by hydraulic (or spring-loaded) belt tensioners or idler pulleys, serpentine belts connect your alternator, water pump, power steering system AND air conditioning unit to your crankshaft and transfer power from your engine to these vital components.

Since these belts perform such an important task, having them inspected and changed out regularly is extremely important to your vehicle’s health. If they wear out and snap from constantly being exposed to the intense heat produced by your engine, your engine can shut down completely and cost you a lot of money in repairs to the various systems supported by serpentine belts.

Signs your serpentine belt needs to be replaced include loss of power, noticeable vibrations, audible squealing and steering difficulties. Loud Drive Belt– If there is a noisy squealing coming from the serpentine belt then it is important that you have your vehicle inspected immediately. If the issue is being caused by leaking or spilled motor oil though, it can mean a complete replacement is needed for the belts and it will need to be replaced immediately before any more damages can be caused.

If you notice any of these warning signs or think it’s time for your serpentine belt to be replaced, be sure to schedule an appointment at Sierra Car Care and Tire Center by clicking HERE or by giving us a call at (775) 525-2420!

Our friendly, ASE-certified technicians can help you set up a proactive preventative maintenance plan for your vehicle that will include serpentine belts as well as several other components you may not be aware of but perform important tasks for your engine.

If your air filter gets too dirty or clogged, your engine won’t be able to suck enough air into the combustion chambers. The engine will then run rich (i.e., too much gas and not enough air). When this happens, your car will lose power and run roughly. Your Check Engine light also may come on.

Your engine’s air filter is a lot like your car’s lungs. In order for it to run efficiently, function properly and pass clean air through the system, the filter must be cleaned and installed correctly.

Combustion engines rely on air to function, and a bad air filter can suffocate a vehicle. This can lead to extensive problems down the road. Luckily, dirty air filter symptoms are easy to identify once you know what to look for.

The Humble Mechanic offers his tips for inspecting your engine’s air filter.

Dirty Air Filter Symptoms

  1. Air Filter Appears Dirty
  2. Decreasing Gas Mileage
  3. Your Engine Misses or Misfires
  4. Strange Engine Noises
  5. Check Engine Light Comes On
  6. Reduction in Horsepower
  7. Flames or Black Smoke from Exhaust Pipe
  8. Strong Fuel Smell

Dirty Air Filter Symptoms Are an Easy Fix

All the parts in a car work in harmony with one another. When one piece is malfunctioning, you’ll see a chain reaction of issues building from one system to the next.

Something as simple as the air filter can cause everything from harmful emissions, wasted fuel, damaged spark plugs, and engine buildup. That’s why it’s smart to keep an eye on parts that suffer a lot of wear and tear.

If you would like Sierra Car Care and Tire Center’s friendly ASE Certified mechanic’s to give you a Courtesy Vehicle Inspection, please feel free to bring your vehicle to any of our three locations around the Reno area. The inspection includes: belts, hoses fluids, battery, windshield wipers, brakes, and tires. Most cars & light trucks.

 

Extreme weather can do a number on your vehicle. In the Summer, beyond making your legs stick to your leather seats, the heat can cause serious problems for drivers. It’s important to prepare for the hot weather months ahead.

Here are five safety tips to help ensure that you, your family, pets and vehicle handle summer safely:

  1. Monitor tire pressure: Check tires before and during long trips. For an accurate result, use your gauge when tires are cold, usually before driving in the morning or after you’ve been parked for a while. Tire air pressure increases as the temperature goes up. Scientists have figured out that for every 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) that the temperature rises the tire pressure will increase by one pound per square inch (PSI). Doesn’t sound like much but there’s typically only 30-35 PSI in the tires of passenger vehicles.
  2. Fuel Economy: Gas evaporates quicker in a hot vehicle than it does in a cold one. Keeping your car in a garage or shade as much as possible will improve your fuel economy.
  3. Check fluids: Flush and fill the vehicle’s cooling system on schedule to prevent overheating. Check the level, condition and color/concentration of coolant regularly. Be careful around the radiator cap. Don’t touch or remove it until the engine is cool.
  4. Vehicle Battery: Hot weather can drain the life out of your car’s battery. When the temperature gets particularly high, the battery fluid can evaporate, meaning that damage can occur to the internal structure. 
  5. Professional checkup: For automobile safety, there’s no substitute for regular automotive checkups and fluid checks. Your mechanic should also inspect drive belts, hoses and clamps. At Sierra Car Care we offer a complimentary inspection to let you know how your vehicle is doing. We will recommend any work we see as vital and let you know about the overall general health of your vehicle. Click here for coupons.
  6. Use window shades to deter hot surfaces: Test vinyl seating surfaces and metal parts like safety belt buckles to prevent burns before placing your child in the car. Car shades are inexpensive, effective solutions to keep cool in extreme heat.
  7. Child and pet safety: Never leave children or pets alone in a vehicle, even with the car windows down. The interior temperature in a car or truck increases rapidly on hot days. It can soon exceed 100 degrees in the car. Be careful even when parked at home. Make sure to take your child and animals indoors with you, and don’t allow them to wait for you in the car. You could get a phone call, lose your keys temporarily or experience some other delay and forget them.

When you need auto repair come into any of our three Sierra Car Care locations around the Reno, NV area.

Most auto companies recommend that you change the air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, or every 12 months. Driving in crowded areas where there is heavy traffic — may cause you to stop and start more often, requires you to replace the air filter more frequently. Most vehicles also have a cabin air filter used to clean air entering the car’s interior, but it has a different maintenance schedule than an engine air filter.

Should you fail to replace your air filter at the suggested intervals, you may notice distinct signs of it needing replacement.

8 Signs Your Air Filter Needs Replacing

1. Reduced Fuel Economy. Your engine compensates for lower amounts of oxygen by consuming more fuel to produce sufficient power. Newer cars with fuel-injected engines use onboard computers to calculate the amount of air taken into the engine and adjusts the fuel flow accordingly.

2. Misfiring Engine. Restricted air supply from a dirty air filter results in unburnt fuel exiting the engine in the form of soot residue. This soot accumulates on the spark plug, which in turn cannot deliver the necessary spark to combust the air-fuel mixture. You’ll notice the engine does not start up easily, misfires, or jerks roughly as a result.

2. Unusual Engine Sounds. In normal circumstances, when your car is stationary with the engine turned on, you should sense the smooth rotation of the engine in the form of subtle vibrations. If you notice your car vibrating excessively or hear coughing or popping noises, it is often from a clogged air filter causing dirtying or damaging a spark plug.

4. Check Engine Light Comes On. Many modern engines suck up about 10,000 gallons of air for every single gallon of fuel burned in the combustion cycle. The inadequate air supply can result in carbon deposits — the byproduct of combustion — accumulating in the engine and setting off the Check Engine Light. If that happens, have your mechanic check the air filter among other diagnostics. The Check Engine light can illuminate for a variety of reasons. A mechanic will need to scan the onboard computer for the stored trouble code that triggered the Check Engine Light as well as the source of the problem.

5. Air Filter Appears Dirty. A clean air filter appears white or off-white in color, but as it accumulates dust and dirt, it will look darker in color. However, very often, the inner layers of filter paper inside the air filter might have dust and debris that is not visible even in bright light. This makes it essential that you have your mechanic check the air filter when you take the car in for maintenance. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding replacement.

6. Reduced Horsepower. If your car does not respond adequately or if you notice jerking movements when you press the accelerator, this could indicate that your engine is not receiving all the air it needs to perform. Since it improves airflow, replacing your air filter can improve acceleration or horsepower by up to 11%.

7. Black, Sooty Smoke or Flames Exiting the Exhaust. The inadequate air supply can result in some of the fuel not burning completely in the combustion cycle. This unburnt fuel then exits the car through the exhaust pipe. If you see black smoke coming from your exhaust pipe, have your mechanic replace or clean the air filter. You might also hear popping sounds or see a flame at the end of the exhaust caused by heat in the exhaust system igniting the unburnt fuel near the tailpipe. This is a potentially hazardous condition and needs to be diagnosed right away.

8. Smell of Gasoline when Starting the Car. If there isn’t enough oxygen entering the carburetor or fuel ejection system when you start the car, the excess unburnt fuel exits the car through the exhaust pipe. Instead of seeing smoke or flames coming out of the exhaust pipe, you’ll smell gasoline. This is a clear indication that it’s time to replace the air filter.

Our brand may have changed, but we are still operated by the same great management. Thank you for your trust.

 

We are a full service auto repair company. Our ASE Certified mechanics specialize in repair of all makes and models of vehicles. Enjoy competitive tire prices and gas pumps that are open 24/7 at three convenient locations in Reno.

 

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