Common Car Problems in the Winter

With the temperatures warming to the 40’s and 50’s this past weekend, everyone was thinking spring. Unfortunately, those thoughts were short lived with the return of snow showers and single-digit temperatures at the beginning of the week.

And the wrath of winter weather doesn’t stop with us. It extends to our cars. The good news is, though, there are a number of things you can do to safeguard your car.

Batteries

One of the most common problems faced by drivers in the winter is failed batteries. Some contributing factors to a battery’s demise in the winter are how long you’ve had the battery and the quality of the battery going into winter. At Jim Shorkey, we suggest stopping by one of our Service Centers and having your battery checked before the winter starts.

According to AAA, your car’s battery can lose about 35% of its efficiency when the temperature is around 0 degrees.

Frozen Lines

The fuel lines carry gasoline from the tank to the engine. When you drive, the gasoline runs through the lines and keeps them clear. Sometimes, condensation can build up in these lines and, if left in cold weather too long, can freeze. To prevent this, you should take special care in keeping your gas tank at least half full, or between 3/4 to full throughout the cold months.

Winter Car Breakdown

If you have questions about how to keep your car safe in winter, contact our maintenance experts at any of our Jim Shorkey locations. If you run into problems, our service professionals can help.

 

Preparing Your Jim Shorkey Vehicle for Pittsburgh’s Winter Weather

Living in Pittsburgh you grow accustomed to beautiful summers and terrible winters, but have you done what it takes to make sure your car lasts this winter? Checking your car is a smart and safe route to take to avoid any troubles or problems you may encounter during the harsh winter times. The last thing you want is to break down on the side of the road during a cold winter night, so here are something’s you should check regularly before the winter starts and during the winter.

  • One of the first things you should ask yourself before winter starts is when was the last time my car had a tune up? If you cannot remember than you should get one as soon as possible. The winter time exposes problems that you may have not known existed; such as bad performances or hard starts.
  • The car battery and electrical systems are next. The winter time is hard on car batteries and electrical systems forcing the two to work twice as hold during cold weather scenarios compared to any other times of the year. Cold weather affects the chemical process in the battery which reduces the batteries ability to hold an electrical charge.
  • Antifreeze is another big one during the winter times. Failure to check your antifreeze can lead to a very expensive problem for you in the long run. Cold weather can cause cracked hoses, ruptured radiators and even water pump failure; so if you do not know when the last time you changed your antifreeze than maybe it’s time to do so now. (Clean and Flush)
  • Check all wipers and defrosters regularly, just to make sure everything is working properly and if you happen to get stuck one night you will not freeze to death. (Side note: your windshield wipers should be changed every six months).
  • Check tired tread and make sure your tires and up to good standings while driving in the snow. Also, take note that just because you have new or snow tires, this does not mean it works on ice. The tires are used for traction on snowy surfaces not ice on the roads. Make sure you also check your tire pressure (Weekly). Winter time can release the pressure in your tires more rapidly than other times of the year.
  • Brakes are something you should be well up to standards with during the winter; the last thing you want is to be going down a snowy hill and your brakes giving out on you. Make sure you get your brakes checked so that this does not become an issue for you. (Check out another one of blogs about how to extend your brake life).
  • Make sure you check your exhaust system to make sure no carbon dioxide is leaking in your car while the windows are closed.
  • Check your lights, body and windows during the winter; the winter time can create cracks that are not visible from far distances.
  • Lastly is your oil and filter; old oil can cause you a lot of trouble during the winter time. Make sure you get a regular oil check and if necessary change to your oil to “winter weight” during this time of the season.

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This time of the year can be brutal on your car, but it is up to you to make sure your car is in good health. You must protect it and take care of it and if you need any assistance do not hesitate to stop by at one of our Jim Shorkey Family Auto Group services with any help or checkups.

Tips for Driving on Black Ice

The winter season is here, and for as pretty as the snow is when it covers the trees and roads, it brings many dangers for motorists, with one of the most threatening being slippery and hard-to-spot black ice.

Black ice forms when the air is at 32 degrees or below at the surface and rain is falling. The ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating the ice.

Due to complexion, black ice is very hard to spot, but using a car thermometer as an initial gauge can be helpful in determining the road conditions. A car thermometer is made to find the air’s ambient temperature. So if a vehicle’s thermometer is close to freezing, the car driver should be cautious on the roads.

BLACK ICE

However, dude to the restrictions of a car’s thermometer, the best way to know if the roads are icy before heading out is to be aware of how, where, and when black ice forms. The prime time for ice to develop are around dawn and in the late evening, when temperatures are typically the lowest. During the day, the best thing to do before getting in a vehicle is to take a look at the pavement. If the pavement is dry but you see spots of pavement that look dark and glossy, there is a great chance that it is black ice. The most common locations for black ice to appear are shaded or tree-covered parts of driveways and roadways due to the lack of sunlight and bridges and overpasses because of their ability to freeze quickly.

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While driving on black ice is similar to snow, the big difference between the two is the amount of traction the vehicle retains. Due to lack of traction a car has on ice, the basic rule for driving is to stay calm and let the vehicle pass over it.

Other tips for driving on black ice:

1. Do not hit the brakes, instead keep the steering wheel steady

2. Lift your foot off the accelerator.

3. Do not overcorrect your steering if you feel your car sliding

4. Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses

5. Never use cruise control

6. Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes

7. Drive, turn, and break slowly

8. If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump the pedal

9. Use your low-beam headlights

10. Remember, four-wheel drive doesn’t help you stop any faster.

Our service departments are here to get your winter ready

What to Do If Your Car Starts to Overheat

We’ve all been there—driving down the road and suddenly your car is overheating. Don’t panic! Just remember these helpful tips as you steer your scorcher of a car to one of our Jim Shorkey Service Centers.

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1. The first, and most important, step is to make sure that you always carry an extra bottle of coolant (antifreeze) in your car, as well as a jug of water. Engines typically overheat because the coolant is low, so topping off the coolant will usually solve the problem.

2. If your air conditioner is running and you see the temperature gauge slowly creeping into the red, or a notification goes off, turn off your AC immediately.

3. If the problem continues, crank your heater to full blast. This may make the next few miles brutal but the transfer of heat away from the engine may save your car and wallet’s life!

4. If the previous steps fail, and the problem still persists, pull over as soon as you can and turn off the engine. If you can, pop the hood from the driver’s seat. Do not pop the hood by hand, until the engine has cooled, especially if you see steam rising off of the engine.

5. Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant tank. If the coolant tank is empty, you may have a leak. Take a look under the car, if you notice a drip or a puddle, chances are the coolant tank is leaking.

If you do have a leak, carefully open the radiator cap. Place a cloth over the radiator cap to protect your hand, and tilt the cap away from you as it opens. Refill the cooled radiator with your spare coolant or water. Do not pour cold water into a still-hot radiator — it could cause the engine block to crack due to the sudden change in temperature.

If the coolant tank is full, the problem may be electrical or mechanical in nature, in which case a tow to the nearest Jim Shorkey Service Center is definitely in order. A leaking hose, worn or broken fan belt, bad water pump, or malfunctioning thermostat may be the culprit.

How to Store Your Car in the Winter: Tips and Advice

Do you have a car that you store away for the winter? Don’t worry, Jim Shorkey has you covered. Follow our advice, and your car will wake up in the spring with birds chirping and the bees buzzing.

car care tips, storing car for winter around Pittsburgh

Clean it Up. Your hot rod has accumulated dirt and road grime from driving it all summer long. Make sure before storing your car that you clean the interior and exterior of your vehicle. All that road grime can lead to corrosion and damage.

Keep it Covered. The ideal space to store your vehicle would be in a heated indoor space. If you don’t have a garage available, consider renting a storage facility. If that is not an option, you can also purchase weatherproof car covers that will keep your car clean and dry while it is stored.

Fill up the Tank. Don’t leave your car thirsty all winter long. Filling up your tank before storage will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out.

Keep the Battery Charged. A battery that is not in use will eventually lose its charge. Start your car every two weeks and if possible, drive around for a few minutes. This will allow the battery to recharge and the car to maintain good working order.

Don’t Use the Parking Break. Although it is a good thing to use your parking brake, don’t use it when your car is in storage. If the brake pads are touching the rotors for too long, there is a chance that they might fuse. Instead of putting on the parking brake, you can use a tire stopper.

Prevent Tire Flat Spots. Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure. If a vehicle is not driven for a long time, the tires can develop flat spots from the weight of the vehicle.

Need a second vehicle while your car is in storage? We’ve got you covered! Take a look at our inventory!

The Importance of Routine Oil Changes

Sure, every car owner knows they have to get their oil changed. But maybe you’re really busy this week, or you’re waiting for payday, or you’re trying to stretch a few more miles out of the oil you currently have? Whatever the case, oil changes often fall on the backburner in terms of car maintenance. It cannot be that bad for your car, right?

Wrong.

Check out these photos of a car engine in which the car owner neglected to get oil changes:

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Now, compare those to these photos of a well-maintained engine that received regular maintenance:

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It doesn’t take a well-trained and highly skilled auto mechanic to notice the difference between these two engines. We cannot stress enough the importance of proper vehicle maintenance, especially going into late fall and winter. Click here to schedule your service today at any of our convenient locations on Route 30 in North Huntingdon or Pittsburgh Road in Uniontown.

Five DIY Car Maintenance for the Upcoming Fall Season

Fall is here, which means shorter days and cooler temperatures. We always recommend bringing your vehicle into one of our Service Centers to ensure it’s running in top shape this time of year, but to help prepare your car for the demands of the coming driving season, we have five, simple do-it yourself car maintenance tips for a smoother and safer drive around Pittsburgh.

  1. Generally, wiper blades are used more frequently in the fall and winter. They take a lot more abuse from road grime and windshield-washer solvent, so it’s best to have your wiper blades replaced annually every fall. Fortunately, replacing wiper blades as part of car maintenance is very easy and requires no tools. They cost from $10 to $20. Note: some cars will require same-sized blades for the driver and passenger sides, while others will require a longer blade for the driver-side wiper.winshield wipers, DIY car maintenance, car care tips, service tips, car service tips
  1. Check your spare tire to ensure that it is properly inflated. The typical space-saver spare tire found in some cars must be inflated to the inflation pressure listed on the side of the tire. A tire pressure gauge costs $7 to $20. Tire pressure drops one PSI, or pound per square inch, for every 10-degree drop in temperature, according to AAA, so check your tires on a weekly basis. The proper inflation pressure will generally be listed in your vehicle’s owner manual and/or noted on a sticker located on the driver’s doorjamb.
  1. In colder seasons, windshield-washer fluid needs to be replaced with a solvent that is suited for use in cold weather. The washer fluid costs $2 to $4 per gallon, depending on the brand and whether it has antifreeze mixed in. Checking the brake-fluid reservoir is also a good idea. If the level is low, top it off with the appropriate type of brake fluid ($3.50 to $17 per container, depending on the type).
  1. At a minimum, engine air filters ($11.50 to $53 per filter, depending on brand) should be replaced twice per year as part of car maintenance. So, if you haven’t done so already, replacing your car’s air filter is a good idea. When an air filter reaches the point where it causes enough of a pressure drop to restrict airflow, the car’s fuel economy, performance and emissions begin to deteriorate, getting progressively worse until the dirty filter is replaced. Car air filters, DIY car maintenance, car care tips, service tips, car service tips
  1. Many electrical issues and ignition problems stem from loose or corroded battery connections. If you notice corrosion on the posts or cable connectors, use an appropriate brush ($4 per brush.) This is a very inexpensive, yet handy tool that you can get at any auto parts store. And clean both (posts) completely, and then reconnect everything securely. As part of regular car maintenance, and for safety, make sure all of the car’s lights are working; it’s important for you to see, as well as be seen, during autumn’s longer and darker nights. Headlight bulbs range in price from $14 to $27 for a single bulb to $25 to $50 for a dual pack.

Car Facts You May Not Know

1. Your fuel gauge tells you which side your gas tank is on. If you’re driving a rental or other new-to-you car, you may not know which side to fill up on. In newer models, car makers have begun to include a “secret triangle” to show you just that. Next time you hop in the car, look on your car’s fuel indicator for this small arrow beside the gas pump icon. This is an easy way to show drivers which side to pull up to the pump.

2. Your car requires just a quick drink to get going. It doesn’t take much gas at all to get your car started; experts have found that the average car takes about half an ounce of gasoline to start. As a comparison, the average shot glass filled at your local bar gets somewhere in the neighborhood of one ounce poured into it.

3. One horse does not have one horsepower. The number of “horsepower” that comes advertised with your vehicle represents a basic unit of mechanical power that can be assessed in various ways. Some technical ones involve converting one horsepower to 745 watts, or in a physical conversion, 33,000 foot-pounds of torque per minute. By these measurements, a real horse averages only about 0.7 horsepower.

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4. Your car is an elaborate puzzle of parts. Estimates show that the average car has over 30,000 parts. It might seem incredible, but when you start counting things like side panel pins and interior handle screws, you can see how the numbers can start to add up. That’s a lot of little pieces to put together.

5. Seat belt usage laws still vary by state. The first seat belts were installed by auto manufacturers in the 1950s, but adoption of seat belt usage was very low until the early 1980s as a result seat belt use laws passing in more states. Even today seat belt laws vary from state to state, though adoption of their usage has greatly increased nationally – in 2013 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported national seat belt usage at a rate of 87% — the highest ever.

6. The car of the future needs a driver’s license. We’ve heard of self-driven cars being tested, but did you know that they will need their own special license to be used on the open road? Nevada was the first state in the US to authorize self-driven cars for their state’s roads, and issued the very first

Signs You Need An Oil Change

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to make sure your car’s engine stays in working order is to get an oil change on a regular basis, when needed. Without oil, the engine parts are not able to move freely, the seals can dry up and crack, little bits of dirt and metal can clog the works, and the whole combustion process can grind to a halt. A manufacturer-suggested mileage recommendation for oil changes (typically 4,000-6,000 miles) can be found in your owner’s manual, but there are other ways to make sure your vehicle performs at a premium. At Jim Shorkey, we suggest to write down a schedule and watch for signs that your oil is bad. What “signs” should you look for? We’re glad you asked.

oil change

  • The Oil Looks Black and Sludge-Like

The original color of oil is more of a honey brown than a black, and will quickly darken after a few weeks of use. Once you start to see particles mixed in with that black oil, it’s time for a change. You don’t want to overload the filter to the point that it’s missing contaminants that’ll gunk up in the engine.

  • Your Engine Runs Louder Than Usual

Oil lubricates your engine. Without lubrication, the parts will start to grind against each other, creating more unpleasant noises than you’re used to from under the hood.

  • You Can’t Remember Your Last Oil Change

Aside from making sure the correct oil is at the correct level, the most important thing about oil changes is getting onto a schedule that you’ll stick to. If you can’t even recall the last time your fluids were swapped, then get it changed, write it down, and remain on a healthy schedule.

  • Your Check Engine Light Won’t Go Away

This sounds like a no-brainer, but many drivers ignore lights on their dashboard. And, sometimes, rightfully so—an older car’s check engine light might come on when there’s something up with the engine lubricant, not necessarily the oil. Before you waste time trying to check everything else, make it simple and check the dipstick.

Think you need an oil change? Visit our Service page, or give us a call and talk to a friendly Service Advisor today!

 

Warranty Forever: What is it and how does it work?

Sure you hear “Warranty Forever” when you visit the dealership, listen to Jim Shorkey commercials on the radio, or browse new and used vehicles on our website, but what does “Warranty Forever” truly mean? Simply stated, “Warranty Forever” is—are you ready for this?!—a warranty forever.

WF

We believe you should browse and buy with 100% confidence. Therefore, we provide the exclusive Warranty Forever® program with every eligible new and used vehicle we sell. This includes an engine, transmission, and drive train warranty, including seals and gaskets, for as long as you own the vehicle. When we say “forever,” we mean forever. There is no deductible or separate parts and labor charges, and we do not tact on maximum mileage or ownership term criteria. Best of all, it comes at absolutely no cost to you. You don’t have to worry about “opting in” and getting hit with another couple $1,000 on your bottom line.

All we ask is you perform the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance on your vehicle. That’s it.

We recently sat down with Jim Shorkey III, and asked him to explain Warranty Forever® in his own words. Check out the video below! If you still have any questions, visit the information pages on our website here.