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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.

Like all belts on your car, the timing belt is subject to wear and tear. It is best to defer to your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals (generally somewhere between 50,000 – 80,000 miles, may vary depending on make and model).

How the timing belt system works:

The timing belt is a toothed belt that keeps your engine synchronized (in time). It ensures that the camshaft and crankshaft are in synch during operation, and that the valves open and close at the right times in relation to piston movement. As such, it is perhaps the single most important maintenance item on your car and should be replaced at the manufacturer’s recommended service interval.

To sum this up in a nutshell, the piston and valves in your engine essentially take up the same space. Obviously, they can’t do this at the same time, or they’d crash into each other and cause serious damage. The timing belt ensures that their movement is timed correctly. When the belt breaks, timing is thrown off. The most common outcome here is bent valves (due to impact with the piston), but it can also cause damage to the cylinder head, or even to the camshaft itself.

Common reasons for this to happen:

  • Failing Water Pump Pulley: The most common cause of squealing or squeaking from the timing belt cover is the water pump pulley. If the bearings in the pulley are beginning to fail, they will make noise. Eventually, they’ll seize and the water pump will no longer operate, causing your engine to overheat.
  • Serpentine or V-Belt Slipping: Another common cause here is noise transference from a slipping serpentine or V-belt. In these instances, the sound is actually coming from the belt slipping on a pulley and it just SOUNDS like it’s coming from behind the timing belt cover.
  • Belt Too Tight: Again, the sound cannot be coming from your timing belt, but if you’ve recently had your serpentine belt or V-belt replaced, it could be adjusted too tight, which will cause squeaking or squealing.

How important is this service?

If you’re hearing a squealing or squeaking sound from behind the timing belt cover, chances are good that it’s the water pump pulley. If this pulley fails, your engine will overheat, causing potentially devastating damage (up to and including a cracked block). The best defense here is to ensure that the water pump is changed when the timing belt is changed, and to always follow the automaker’s service recommendations. One of Sierra Car Care’s professional ASE Certified auto mechanics can listen to and inspect your engine, diagnose the problem and then repair it.

By performing a battery check, we can help save you the money, time and frustration with electrical system or unexpected battery failures. The advanced testing system tests the battery’s ability to deliver the correct current, to anticipate what temperature a battery could fail to crank your vehicle.

EARLY DETECTION

The purpose of early detection and preventive maintenance is to find a battery problem before a battery failure leaves you broke down, in the cold. It could be as simple as looking for cracks in a belt or excess wear. Even though your vehicle started today, your battery could fail when you least expect it. Come into any of our locations in the Reno area to have your battery tested.

Discover your battery’s condition in a few minutes. Early Detection Test only determines if a battery is good or going bad; it can detect if it is questionable. There are 3 possible conditions when testing of your battery:

  • BAD – Needs replace soon
  • MARGINAL – May fail in extreme to moderate cold or heat
  • GOOD – In 6 to 8 months you should re-test
  • MARGINALITY – The battery may start the car but its performance has started to decline. Extreme cold or heat may cause a marginal battery to completely fail.

Know when to expect battery problems:

Winter Car Breakdown - Woman Call For Help

  • Battery – Over 30% of vehicles with batteries 3 years or older can experience battery failure.
  • Heat – Whether from climate or high under-hood operating temperatures, heat speeds up battery corrosion.
  • Cold in Extreme conditions – Retards the battery’s chemical reaction that creates the cranking power in a vehicle and increases the current needed to start a vehicle.
  • Continuing to Crank with Little Driving – drains battery power without giving the vehicle’s charging system a chance to recharge the battery.

Living in certain areas can affect the life of your battery. You should inspect your battery and replace every 3-5 years. Batteries working in colder area’s last longer than warmer climates.

Related Articles: Avoid Winter Battery Failure

Among the many threats facing drivers during winter is the most dangerous of them all: Slippery, hard-to-spot and potentially deadly black ice.

“The biggest danger [with black ice] is that you are at the mercy of your vehicle and the ice until your car passes over it,” said Julie Lee, vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety.

Black ice forms most often when it’s raining and air is at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface. The low ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating ice. Sleet and the refreezing of runoff from melting snow can also generate black ice.

The thin nature and complexion of black ice makes it extremely difficult to spot, but using a car thermometer as an initial gauge may be helpful in determining the road conditions. Black ice gets its name from its ability to blend in with its surroundings.

A car thermometer, like any digital thermometer, tries to find the air’s ambient temperature. So, if a vehicle’s thermometer is close to freezing, the driver should take extra precaution behind the wheel.

While driving on black ice is similar in some regards to driving on snow, the biggest difference between the two is the amount of traction the vehicle retains. Ice causes no traction until the car has passed over the icy spot.

Due to a vehicle’s lack of traction on ice, the basic rule for driving on black ice is to stay calm and let the vehicle pass over it.

Zero Fatalities is all about eliminating fatalities on our roadways. Some people may think zero is an impossible goal, but when it comes to your family and friends, what other number would be acceptable? We’re aiming for zero fatalities because everyone matters.

Always Buckle Up

Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective means of saving lives and reducing injuries in crashes (NHTSA, 2014). Not only are you endangering your life, but not wearing your seat belt could lead to traffic fines.

Don’t Drive Impaired

Between 2013 and 2017, 359 people lost their lives and 682 were seriously injured in impaired driving crashes on Nevada roadways. Even what seems like a small buzz can have deadly consequences if you drive. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and lack of sleep can also impair your ability to drive safely.

Focus on the Road

Stay alert when you’re operating a vehicle—especially in less-than-ideal conditions—and don’t drive when you’re not able to give your full attention.

Stop on Red

Intersections are shared by a variety of users including pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, and vehicles. To stay safe at this potential point of conflict, know the laws and know when they apply to you.

Be Pedestrian Safe

Drivers need to watch for pedestrians and yield to them when pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk. Pedestrians also need to pay attention to vehicles on the roadway and obey rules for walking on and crossing streets.

Ride Safe

Motorcycles are a part of the great American tradition. However, there are certain risks that come with riding a motorcycle. That’s why it’s so important to ride safe and take the necessary precautions when you’re riding on Nevada’s roads.

Sierra Car Care and Tire Centers stand behind the Zero Fatalities goal on Nevada roads. We are happy to do our part in keeping your vehicle running great in order to minimize problems on the road.

When should I change lanes?

Crashes

Fender bender? Move to the shoulder. If there is damage only to a vehicle or other property (no injuries), your vehicle is obstructing traffic and the vehicle can be moved safely, move the vehicle to a location that does not obstruct traffic and then return to the scene.

Emergency Vehicles & Traffic Incidents

Move Over Graphic

Drivers in Nevada have certain duties when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle making use of flashing lights or any type of incident that disrupts traffic, including stalled vehicles.

In the absence of direction by a peace officer, the driver of a vehicle approaching a stopped emergency vehicle or traffic incident must:

  • Decrease the vehicle speed to a speed that is reasonable and proper and less than the posted speed limit.
  • Proceed with caution.
  • Be prepared to stop; and
  • If possible, drive in a lane that is not adjacent to the lane in which the emergency vehicle is stopped unless the roadway, traffic, weather or other conditions make doing so unsafe or impossible.

These apply to all types of emergency vehicles including tow trucks, vehicles from the Nevada Department of Transportation displaying flashing amber lights, stalled vehicles and vehicles under repair.

Slow-Moving Vehicles on Highways

Drivers on controlled-access highways must not drive in the far left lane if being overtaken by a faster vehicle. This law does not apply within the geographical limits or a city or town.

Mopeds  New!

Moped operators have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers. However, moped operators have additional responsibilities based on the limitations of their vehicle. Moped operators must remain in the extreme right-hand lane of any road unless:

  • There is a single lane of traffic
  • Preparing to make a left turn (turn must be made within one-quarter mile from entering lane)
  • When driving in the extreme right-hand lane would not be safe; or
  • As directed by a police officer

Bicycles

3 Feet for BikesMotorists passing a bicycle must move into an adjacent lane to the left, if possible. If not, the motorist must pass with at least three feet of space between the vehicle and the bicycle.

For more information please visit : NV Traffic Laws

Not long ago, to keep a car running beyond the 200,000-mile mark would have seemed about as likely as driving it to the moon. But big improvements in powertrain technology, rust prevention, lubricants, and more have led to game changing improvements in reliability and durability. Now, almost any car can make it well into six-figure territory with proper care.

That is good news for drivers, who are keeping their cars longer than ever before; the average age of all cars on the road is more than 11 years, up from about eight years in 1995, according to Polk research. Still, motorists might not realize the long-term financial benefits of keeping a car for 200,000 miles.

Buy a Safe, Reliable Model

You can coax any vehicle to 200,000 miles with enough patience and cash, but that doesn’t make doing so a good idea. The best way to minimize visits to the shop is to start with a model that has a reliable track record. And you don’t have to look far for a source; Consumer Reports compiles comprehensive reliability information.

In addition to choosing a reliable model, make sure to pick a car you’ll want to keep for a long time. Don’t compromise on the features you want or buy less or more vehicle than you think you’ll need. If this is going to be a long relationship, it may as well be a happy one. So choose a vehicle that will fit your lifestyle and that you’ll enjoy driving.

If you’re buying a used car, be on the lookout for signs of neglect or abuse. Check the car for dents, rust, and mismatched body panels. Look for paint overspray, which is often a sign of repair work. Make sure all interior components are in good condition. A mildew smell, discolored carpeting, and silt in the trunk are indicators of water damage. All components under the hood should be free of corrosion and grease. Check the fluids and watch out for damp areas in the engine compartment and under the vehicle, which might point to leaks.

When you’ve found a vehicle you’re interested in, take it to an independent mechanic for a diagnostic inspection, which costs about $100 to $150. A mechanic can help you spot signs of wear or abuse that you might not see.

Stick to the Schedule

Follow the maintenance schedule in your car’s owner’s manual. It spells out when to take care of every service for the life of your car, including routine oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and more major service such as timing-belt replacement. Even missing one oil change can contribute to premature engine wear or cause damage, and reduce the chances of your car remaining reliable for long.

If you’ve neglected following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, it’s not too late to get with the program. Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle and take care of any apparent problems, no matter how minor. Then introduce yourself to your owner’s manual and start fresh. Even if your vehicle doesn’t make it to 200,000 miles, it will definitely last longer with proper ongoing care.

Following the maintenance schedule has gotten easier over the years because longer-lasting components and fluids have increased service intervals. Today, it’s common to go 10,000 miles between oil changes, and some spark plugs don’t need replacement for 100,000 miles.

Many new models from a wide variety of carmakers make it even easier to stay on top of maintenance, with sensors that take into account your mileage and driving habits to determine the optimum time for maintenance. They monitor the miles driven since the last service and record data such as how much stop-and-go driving is done, the engine temperature during each trip, and the time the engine spends operating at higher speeds. The system then calculates how quickly your oil is breaking down and alerts you when service is due, and can even adjust a car’s complete service interval to compensate for the severity of use.

The End of the Road

No matter how well you choose and care for a car, someday it will be time to move on because it’s costing too much or is no longer safe. Still, saying goodbye can be a tough decision, especially if you’re attached to your car. Here are signs that it’s probably time to find another vehicle:

  • It needs a big repair that will cost more to fix than the car is worth.
  • Rust is compromising the structural integrity.
  • It remains unreliable even with frequent repairs.
  • It has been in a flood or a serious accident.

Be careful not to over-maintain your car, that waste’s money. If you think your vehicle needs a maintenance inspection, see any of our Sierra Car Care Locations around the Reno area for fast, friendly service.

The electrical and electronic systems in your vehicle are responsible for routing power and information in order to dictate the behavior of certain systems. The electrical systems are linked by wiring, fuses, circuit breakers, and relays.

Loose or broken wiring, poor pin fits, and broken connectors or switches may lead to intermittent power or a completely inoperative system.

When you begin experiencing trouble with your electrical and electronic systems, ask yourself these questions: How often does this problem occur, and how long does this problem persist?

The more information you are able to provide to our staff during an electrical and electronic systems service, the quicker we will be able to recreate the same conditions, and ultimately hone in on the exact problem.

The Importance of the Electrical and Electronic Systems

If your vehicle experiences an electrical or electronic systems failure, it is beneficial to have the problem repaired quickly. A vehicle with electrical problems may not start, or it may become inoperative.

At Sierra Car Care and Tire Centers our experts are able to diagnose and repair problems during an electrical and electronic systems service. We can locate shorts, grounds, open, and resistance problems in electrical and electronic circuits, and we can repair wiring harnesses and connectors along with electrical wiring and solder repair. Our staff is also able to diagnose the cause of uneven headlight brightness, intermittent lights, dim lights, and inoperative lights.

In addition, we can service headlights and bulbs as well as correct intermittent turning signal and hazard light operation. Motor-driven accessory circuits, heated glass operation, and electric lock operation are all concerns for our staff as we begin to diagnose the electrical and electronic issue. In the end, our staff will work hard to get you driving a safe and functional vehicle again.

Schedule your Electrical and Electronic Systems Repair

Sierra Car Care and Tire Centers proudly serves the Electrical or Electronic Systems needs of customers in Reno, NV, Verdi, NV, Carson City, NV, and surrounding areas. Please click any of the following links to setup an online appointment for your vehicle or you can contact us at a store near you to make an appointment with one of our ASE Certified Technicians.

Dashboard Warning Diagnostic

Headlight Bulb Replacement

Interior & Exterior Lighting Repair

Power Locks Repair

Power Window Repair

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