Bunge's Automotive Blog
Your brakes are your car’s best friend. Besides bringing you to those leisurely stops at traffic lights, they’re there when the neighbor’s dog darts in front of your bumper, or when that guy on his cell phone backs out in front of you in the parking lot. They’re also one of the only parts of your car that tell you when they need attention, and especially after the damage this winter may have done, you need to learn to speak brakes.
If your brakes are making an unusual sound, chances are they’re squealing. Besides being the most common brake noise, it’s also one of the least troubling. That’s not to say it isn’t important. Some brakes have wear indicators built in and when it’s time to replace your brake pads, you’ll hear that squeak. Other common causes include environmental moisture and debris. If the squeaking persists, or gets louder, it’s time to get your brakes checked.
Another common sound is a rhythmic thumping. While not an immediate danger, thumping in your brakes can mean warped brake rotors, a problem that can worsen over time. It’s often a quick fix: We just have to resurface or replace your rotors and voila, no more thumping.
Easily the most troubling sound your brakes can make is a metal-on-metal grinding sound. This is a serious problem and you should bring your car in immediately for service. Likely caused by the rotor making contact with the caliper, this indicat
After a long winter, it’s time to clean out the car and get ready for that great American past time: The Spring Break road trip. But before you pack your bags, take a minute to make sure your car is getting the m.p.g. you expect. Winter can reduce m.p.g., but if you’re still not getting good mileage after the snow melts, here are a few common culprits.
One of the most obvious and easiest issues to fix is incorrect tire pressure. Winter driving has a tendency to lower the pressure in your tires. This spring, make sure to inflate your tires to your car manufacturer’s specifications, which can usually be found on the driver’s-side door. (Avoid going off the tire’s specs, which may not be ideal for your car.)
If you’re noticing a significant dip in m.p.g., there’s a good chance you’ve got a bad oxygen sensor: When a sensor goes, it can take 20% of your fuel economy with it. These sensors work to make sure you’re getting the optimal mix of fuel and air. You can often feel it when a sensor goes bad as your car will tend to run rough, in addition to the loss of fuel economy.
Related to the oxygen sensor is your engine’s air filter. With the purpose of keeping harmful debris out of your engine, this filter can become a problem when it’s faulty, or needs to be cleaned or replaced because your engine can’t get enough air. Just imagine trying to run while you’re breathing through a st
Windshield wipers have come a long way since they were first patented in 1903. (That first design was a lever-operated system the driver had to manually crank. Not all that effective, but probably a great workout.)
Today, we have two types of wiper blades: standard blades and beam blades with plenty of technology bundled into both. Standard blades are the ones most of us are used to. They have quite a few exposed and moving parts. Beam blades, on the other hand, have fewer moving parts and provide a much more contemporary look. They’re also more aerodynamic and provide consistent, full coverage on your windshield. It’s no surprise that almost 70% of new cars come equipped with beam blades these days.
That’s not to say there aren’t quality standard blades and poorly made beam blades—you’re likely going to get what you pay for. But, by and large, the beam blade is less affected by high winds and gives you better all-weather performance—it’s just a better design. And on America’s roads, that little edge can be huge: 23% of the almost 6 million car accidents in the US are caused by poor visibility.
In the Midwest, where your wipers are likely to experience plenty of heat and bitter cold, you should consider changing your blades twice a year. Also, blades tend to show signs of wear before they fail. If your blades leave streaks on your windshield, or “skitter” over the glass, get some repla
One of the most common misperceptions about winter driving is you must idle your car’s engine before driving. In fact, a recent study showed that the majority of Americans believed idling your engine was a good thing and that you should idle for about five minutes. The reasons people give for why this is necessary range from fuel economy to engine health, but according to science, there’s really only one good reason to idle your car: Nobody likes climbing into a freezing cold cab for their morning commute.
Like most myths about cars, there are elements of truth to idling your car. In the old days, when cars relied on a carburetor to get the right mix of air and fuel, a cold carburetor could mean stalling your car—only when they were properly warmed up did they function properly. However, in the 80’s and 90’s, auto manufacturers did away with carburetors in favor of electronic fuel injection. Unless you’ve got your antique out for a spin on wintry roads, there’s no advantage to idling.
Further, it’s true that cold engines and cold weather cause a marked dip in fuel efficiency. In addition, it takes much longer for a car to warm up and reach ideal driving temperatures when the snow flies. But the fact of the matter is a car actually heats up quicker while it’s being driven, not while it’s sitting there in your driveway with the defrost blasting, and there’s precious little you can do be
When your car’s heater malfunctions in the winter, it’s not just uncomfortable—it’s downright dangerous. Besides warming you up on your morning commute, your heater serves as a tool to keep your windshield and windows clear of frost, snow, and condensation. Unfortunately, most car heater problems require professional intervention; there aren’t many issues you can fix at home unless you’re handy with cars. Fortunately, most of the fixes are relatively cheap and fast.
Your car’s heater works by taking hot air from the engine and transferring it to your car’s interior using fluids and fans. The two most common problems you’ll experience with your heater—cold air coming from the vents or no air coming from the vents—can both be traced back to that simple process.
If your car is blowing cold air, the heat from your engine is not being transferred to your heater. One of the most likely culprits is a low coolant level, often caused by a leak. Check beneath your car after its been parked for a while. If you see liquid with a greenish color, it’s likely coolant and low levels of coolant mean no heat, and a whole lot of other potential problems. Another cause of cold air from the vents is a busted or stuck thermostat. If a thermostat malfunctions, your car isn’t told to circulate fluid around your engine to pick up the heat. You’ll get air in your cabin, but it won&rs