Tune Up For What!

Has your car been sluggish, squealing, vibrating or has become completely unreliable? If you answered yes to any of the above – it’s time for a tune up! Check out these 5 signs that your car shows when its time for a tune up.

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1. Warning lights
Those little indicators on your dashboard aren’t there just for decoration. They illuminate for a reason – to indicate a problem or potential problem with a vehicle system or component. It’s important to pay attention to these lights, and when they light up or flash, get them diagnosed at your earliest opportunity.

2. Stalling
Your vehicle stalling in mid traffic is not only dangerous, but is also a warning sign of trouble lurking. Engines are designed to deliver reliable performance, particularly when you need it the most. Common causes: fouled spark plugs, clogged fuel filter.

3. Hard Start
It’s Monday, you’re allowed to be a little sluggish first thing in the morning. However, your vehicle isn’t. If your car won’t start when you need it to, and if it takes several turns of the key before it starts, you’ve got a problem. Common causes: weak battery, defective starter.

4. Poor gas mileage.
If you feel like you are filling your gas tank more frequently even though you’re driving the same distance, your vehicle may be experiencing a reduction in fuel mileage. A sudden decrease in fuel mileage indicates the vehicle isn’t operating as efficiently as it should. Common causes: improper tire pressure, sticking brake pad.

5. Vibration
We know that after a harsh winter Pittsburgh roads are bad, but when the sudden appearance of vibration that isn’t caused by rough road conditions is a red flag. You might only feel it in the steering when at a certain speed or it may seem to go throughout the whole vehicle. Common causes: worn or unbalanced tires, tire going flat, failing universal joint.

If you have been experiencing any of the above problems, click here and schedule your tune up appointment with one of our master technicians today!

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Bye Bye Salt Stains, Hello Spring!

After the winter we’ve had, more than likely your car floor is covered in salt stains. And with Pittsburgh getting a small covering of what we’re hoping is the last snow of the season this past weekend, we’re glad we decided to hold off on our car spring cleaning. But with temperatures picking back up, we decided to get in the spring cleaning mood and give you a 3 step how-to on getting rid of those salt stains once and for all!

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To start, you need some water, vinegar, a brush, absorbent rags, a vacuum and a little TLC.

1. Vacuum the area carefully, getting as much dirt and dry salt out as possible. Do not press too hard as this will force the salt further into the carpet and perhaps damage the fibers.

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2. Spray and soak again, this time using an absorbent cloth to wipe the area. If you have a wet/dry vacuum use it to remove the remaining moisture. (Do not use the family household vacuum – there will be expensive results from ingesting the salty water!) If you do not have a wet/dry vacuum use absorbent towels. Press down on the damp area with as much weight as possible.

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3. Repeat as necessary, the salt will eventually come off and the vinegar smell will go away as well. Leave the windows open and enjoy the Pittsburgh spring air!

Do You Know When Your Brakes Need a Little TLC?

We cant stress enough the importance of routine brake inspections! Executive director of Car Car Council, Rich White, stated “When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list, so have your brakes checked by an auto service professional at least once a year. Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

But how do you know when you should get your brakes checked? Below, we have listed seven signs that your brakes need to be inspected.

Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.7 signs to inspect brakes

Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.

Low Pedal: brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.

Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.

Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.

Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.

Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

If you have encountered any of these signs, schedule your appointment here, and our technicians will switch your breaks and get you back on the road!

7 Things You Have to Explain to Non-Car People

There’s two kinds of people in this world. There’s car people, and then there are non-car people. Car people see and experience the world in different ways. They live for that new car smell, breath for windy roads, and dream of hemi engines. And while car lovers can talk for hours about their passion, here are 7 of the basic things you have to cover to the non-car people.

1. A tiny scratch makes a HUGE difference
That “little” scratch you have from when your friend “accidentally” opened your car door into the one parked beside you will be a constant reminder that you no longer have a “perfect” car.

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2. The sweet, sweet smell of new tires
FRESH TIRES TRUMP ALL. Enough said. (Check out our tire special here!)

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3. Focus on the details
When you’re a car lover, your car is better kept than you are. Constant cleaning and detailing is the equivalent to a facelift in the automotive world. By detailing your car properly it can take years off its age and keep it looking brand new.

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4. Part of the family
Some people see cars as just a means of transportation. But if you have a good car, it becomes part of the family.

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5. “V”
NOT ALL ENGINES ARE V-SOMETHING! The “V” refers to how the engine is laid out. For example, instead of a V6, you can have a starlight six, a flat six, both of which are completely different.

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6. A car is not a restaurant
Eating and drinking in a car-lovers sacred territory is forbidden. Okay, maybe, you can have a bottle of water when its a 100 degrees outside, but only if you’re careful. Not to mention grease goes everywhere and the smell lingers for days.

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7. If you don’t care about driving, you’ll never be a good driver
Being attentive isn’t enough. Learn where to look, what to do with your hands and feet in an emergency, and how to properly handle your car in snow, you need to study and practice.

green-hybrid-car-driving-down-road-jpgWhat do you have to explain to  the non-car people you know?

Become a Master Technician with These How-To Videos

Do you need help checking your tire pressure? What about changing your cabin air filter? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Our master technician, Johnathan, is here with quick and easy how to tips on common car questions. Click the videos below and find out how to become a master technician yourself! If you haven’t mastered the craft, and need to make a service appointment, click here, and we can do it for you! We’re always looking for suggestions! Leave your car questions in the comments below!

Get You Car Clutter Free in 5 Easy Steps

As embarrassing as it is, we all have had it at least once – a cluttered car. For most, your car is an extension of your house. You have items in there that have out worn their welcome. From clothes and shoes to that fast food bag you forgot about, your car has become the bearer of all things. But there comes a time when you realize that enough is enough, you have to clean your car! But where do you start? Well, that’s where we come in! Here are some steps to help you achieve a car that’s clutter free!

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1. Start in the trunk
This is the part of you car that you’re most likely going to find the most mess. The truck is the go-to storing space in your car since you don’t have to look at the clutter. When you fo through the piles of clutter in your trunk, sort them out using the five-box method: donate, sell, keep, store, and throw. Only the items that go in the keep box should remain in the trunk. But make sure that after you figured out what to keep, you organize the items in a way that won’t clutter up your trunk.

2. Move to the back and front seat.
Just like the trunk, you can organize your backseat with the same five-box method. Sort through all items and put them in the appropriate places. After you have tackled the backseat you can move to the front. The glove compartment is another area that needs some attention.

3. Collect loose change
Most cars have tons of loose changing rolling around. To prevent this, put a small coin box in your car. This will also make coins more accessible when you need them for parking, toll fees, and more!

4. Leave an empty bag inside the car
To help prevent your car becoming a cluttered mess all over again, leave an empty bag inside your car for trash. At the end of the day, take the bag out of the car so you don’t accumulate trash.

5. Impose a “no food” rule
This rule is great to keep the clutter and smell out of your car. If you do need to eat inside, just be sure to throw the trash away immediately and clean the inside of the car thoroughly.

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.

10 Car Hacks You Need to Know

We know times can be busy and hectic, and car maintenance is far from your mind. That’s why we’re bringing you 10 car hacks that will immensely improve your car.

1. Hand sanitizer is a fast and easy way to unlock a frozen door.

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2. Toothpaste helps get rid of scuffs

3. Dryer sheets help keep your car smelling fresh

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4. Use a shoe organizer to keep important items nearby

5. Make a trash bag holder from an empty canister

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6. A cereal container makes for a portable trash can

7. A coffee cup makes a great tissue holder

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8. Invest in a swivel tray for all your dining needs

9. Use an empty gum container to keep loose change

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10. Add a hanging tennis ball to the top of your garage to help prevent bumping into the garage wall

Do you know any other car hacks to improve your car? Share them with us in the comments below!

How to Extend the Life of Your Brakes

Do you feel like you are buying breaks after every season!? If so, take a look at our helpful hints on how to extend the life of your brakes. Both your car and wallet will thank you!

Stop speeding
Stops from high speed are your brakes worst nightmare. Stopping form 65 mph rather than 55 mph forces the brakes to dissipate about a third more energy.

Be a coaster
Coasting helps get rid of a lot of brake-killing speed. For instance, if you know you’ll have to stop at the end of a freeway off-ramp, coasting from 70 down to 50 before you brake will help reduce brake wear.

Memorize
Memorize places where other drivers slow down. If you were to ask a Pittsburgh driver, they would tell you the Squirrel Hill Tunnels are infamous for this!

Unload your car
The heavier your car, the harder it is on your brakes. Remove any unnecessary things that are weighing your car down.

Don’t follow the crowd
Many drivers brake just because the person in front of them did. It’ll take some practice, but eventually you will learn to coast when others brake inappropriately.

Change your break fluid
Brake fluid needs to be periodically changed. Renew your brake fluid, especially if you have an older vehicle or one that you purchased used. Flushing the brake fluid will make the internal components last longer and the brakes work better.

Upgrade and specialize
You get what you pay for, so don’t be surprised when bargain brakes wear out quickly. Today’s brake pads are complex, they may contain a dozen or more components, and are designed for specific uses.

Be frugal, but not foolish
Trying to extend brake life too long will cost you more money in the long-run. A good time to inspect brake material thickness is when you have your tires rotated.

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If you need new breaks give one of out service departments a call today!

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.

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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