Salt In The Air, Sand In My Hair But I Can’t Go Anywhere. Summertime Car Troubles
Each changing of the season creates new stressors that can affect the performance of your automobile. Having automotive problems can make you second guess taking that road trip or even a visit to the local swimming hole. What many Portland, Oregon, and Idaho, drivers do is schedule a service appointment at Mac’s Radiator & Automotive Service.
When you schedule any kind of service at Mac’s, they let you know, as a courtesy, if there are any other weak spots in your vehicle that need attention before a failure. Often times, drivers forget to change fluids, fail to top off fluids, or have premature wear in spots that they can’t see. When it comes to summertime problems, it is common for drivers to experience weak batteries, transmission problems, engine stalling, A/C system failures, and overheating.
Mac’s Radiator & Automotive Service offers the superior resources needed to diagnose and repair problems because they are focused on keeping up with the latest trends in the automotive industry. This means that they will always have access to reliable factory information, current diagnostic tools, and other automotive resources to address all those strange technical issues that late-model vehicles develop. Let’s consider some common car problems that summertime drivers face, below.
#1: Malfunctioning A/C System
Although it is more common as vehicles age, few people realize that they have an A/C system problem until the summer when they need it most. There are several different types of issues that drivers may encounter. The first step is generally to assess the refrigerant charge of the A/C system. This requires special tools and certified technicians that you can find at Mac’s Radiator & Automotive Service.
You don’t want to try fix refrigerant leaks or any A/C problems yourself. The refrigerant is stored under high pressure and can cause serious injury if you try to open up any part of the system to replace a part. In addition, the refrigerant gases are toxic to the environment and known to deplete the Ozone layer of the atmosphere that protects us from carcinogen solar radiation. This is especially the case with older systems that run on R-12 and R-22. The majority of modern vehicles run on a safer R-134a refrigerant. But even R-134a is being replaced by R-1234yf on a few models and most of the models coming out in 2019.
It is a very bad idea to try and buy those aerosol cans of refrigerant that are sold in automotive stores. This is because your A/C system runs on a specific volume of refrigerant. If there is too little or too much, the sensors will deactivate the compressor and prevent the refrigerant from being compressed and circulated to cool the air. Only a certified technician who has the proper machine can evacuate your A/C system, perform a leak-down test (possibly with UV dye), and fill it up with the ideal volume of refrigerant in pounds that is unique to each vehicle.
At Mac’s Radiator & Automotive Service, you’d be surprised at how affordable and convenient the A/C service is. We don’t charge you for refrigerant unless your vehicle needs an actual recharge. Vehicles may have refrigerant leaks, electrical problems, or mechanical problems with rusted out evaporator coils, clogged drains, leaky condensers, worn out compressors, or anything in between. Most modern vehicles have highly technical problems that do not require a large investment in parts or labor, only the precision diagnostics of Mac’s service techs.
Some symptoms that require service of your A/C system are listed, below:
- Foul odors coming from the air vents when it is running
- Water draining into the interior when A/C is on
- Warm air blowing from the vents
- No air blowing from the vents
A fully functional A/C system is especially important if you have children, elderly, or pet passengers who are sensitive to heat. They can quickly become dehydrated, uncomfortable, and may even suffer heat stroke. The worse case is when a child or pet is accidentally left in a vehicle for a moment. The heat quickly builds up inside a vehicle as the parent rushes to find something and one thing leads to another. Call Mac’s today to schedule an appointment even if the problem hasn’t progressed, but your A/C is just not as cold as it used to be.
#2: Overheating Engines
In the summertime, your vehicle is especially prone to overheating. The engine circulates a coolant solution that is 50 percent antifreeze and 50 percent water. If the ratio of antifreeze is too low, this can increase the pressure in the system. The antifreeze lowers the boiling point and allows the hot fluid to circulate without blowing out hoses, gaskets, and radiators. When you don’t have the right volume or enough coolant circulating, you increase the risk of wear and heat damage to your engine. It only takes a moment for a head gasket to fail and for an engine to overheat and meltdown.
When an engine is operating at normal running temperature, the pistons are so hot that they are just below their melting point. There are several reasons why your engine cooling system may fail or may increase the heat damage to your engine:
- Blockage in the system
- Low coolant level
- Improper mixture ratio
- Seized water pump
- Frozen thermostat
- Wrong type of antifreeze
Heat is the number one cause of premature engine failure. A lot of car owners are scrupulous to change out the thermostat when they have the water pump replaced. If not, they may wind up paying double the labor when it eventually fails to open. The thermostat has to stay shut until the engine warms up to quickly reach the ideal operating temperature for fuel and emissions efficiency. Some drivers may have engines that are overheating but don’t know it until it’s too late because their engine temperature sensor is bad and not reading the high level.
Some drivers may notice a leak of fluorescent green or orange and try to add a bottle of stop-leak from the auto parts store. This is a bad move that can clog up and damage many parts in the system such as the radiator, water jacket passages, and heater core behind the dash. The passages can also clog if owners use the wrong types of antifreeze. In the worst case, the coolant will gel up and turn into gelatin inside their engines.
You can quickly check yourself for a leaky head gasket by looking at your oil. If it looks like chocolate milk, you have coolant leaking through the head gasket of the engine and into the oil. In any case, let Mac’s Radiator & Automotive Service handle all the hard work of replacing your gasket. It is the little things that count when you are working on cars. This requires decades of experience and expert training to do any job correctly.
#3: Stalling and Performance Problems
The summertime is a time when you need a reliable auto more than ever. You don’t want to ruin your vacation by sitting in some small town in the middle of nowhere waiting for major repair work. In fact, you may not even be able to find a mechanic willing to work on your automobile in some remote regions.
Drivers get jammed up badly when they are suffering from stalling and engine performance problems. These issues are not only hard on the wallet when you are seeking emergency service in some one-horse town, but they are also dangerous. Your vehicle can stall out or stammer right when you are pulling out into heavy city traffic or merging onto the highway. This can easily lead to an accident and is sure to frustrate if you have to wait 10 minutes for a supersafe opening.
Vehicles that have stalling problems often have rough running systems. You may feel that the engine is shaking at idle. It may not accelerate smoothly when you put your foot on the accelerator. It may sputter and cut out all of a sudden or lose power when you put a load on it going up a hill. And engine performance problems are becoming more complex than ever to solve without computer assistance. In fact, you may never be able to figure out the root cause of the problem without a skilled technician who has full access to current automotive resources.
Major causes for stalling engines and performance problems:
- Vacuum leaks
- Bad sensors
- Clogged fuel filter
- Bad ignition coils
- Airflow problems
- Computer problems
- Weak battery/alternator
This is just a short list of problems that you will encounter more frequently in late-model vehicles. In older vehicles, it is more common to see fouled spark plugs, failed fuel pumps, electrical short circuits, and even ignition or basic timing issues.
It is easy for anyone to develop a vacuum leak. The engine produces its own air suction called vacuum that has many automotive accessories connected to it. These connections are simple rubber unions that you can tug the hard plastic vacuum lines right out of in an instant. The vacuum system unions can come loose from being malpositioned and then experiencing vibration. An untrained mechanic can accidentally loosen one during an oil change.
In some cases, they may not be installed correctly after a repair or overlooked at one union. If you have a vacuum leak, your engine will try to compensate the most at idle by burning up lots of gas. You can also have a vacuum leak at the fuel injectors if they are loosened and not sealed properly. The other symptoms of a vacuum leak are loss of power braking capacity. If your brakes aren’t working very well, your vehicle is shaking hard at idle, and the engine is consuming a lot of gas, you can bet on a vacuum leak. It may even stall out if the leak is large enough.
It is very common in the summertime for the heat of the summer to put the last nail in the coffin of a dying battery. Batteries get weak because the electrolyte boils off even if they are sealed models. Then, when they are forced through a hard winter, the electrical chemical processes slow down and can put an additional burden on the cells. Finally, you approach summer and the battery is on its last legs and ready to die. If you don’t replace it quickly after those first hard starts and stalls, you will wind up burning out your alternator as it works overtime to feed it a charge.
The fuel filter is also a common but overlooked culprit. Most people don’t realize what the maintenance schedule is on their fuel filter and will wait until their vehicle just dies out one day before replacing it. And people will usually not suspect that a fuel filter will clog that bad and may not replace it until replacing everything else under the sun. You should have your fuel filter replaced at least every 5 years.
Ignition coils are suspect on many late-model vehicles. For some reason, they are just not built with a lot of durability or do not handle the heat well like traditional spark plugs and wires. You will need a professional to test your computer for misfires and to check for any sensor errors if you are experiencing performance problems or sudden stalls. If your engine timing is off, this will cause some serious running issues.
When you are ready to prepare your vehicle for the summer heat, call Mac’s Radiator & Automotive Service. As you can see, we know all about your automotive systems and have the personalized touch that you will appreciate. If you live in Portland, Oregon, or have access to our location in Idaho, feel free to stop by anytime for a world-class automotive care experience.