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Hints & Tips

Brakes+ Mechanical Services handy hints and tips are here to help you to get the best out of your car. Of course, if you are unsure about any issue or are concerned about any safety aspect seek professional advice from your local Brakes+ Mechanical Services store.

MECHANICAL TIPS

The Basics

Learning about the braking system will help you to know when you need to get your brakes serviced, and if you’re thinking you’ll be able to do it yourself, unless you can perform brain surgery singlehandedly, a brake service is best left to the experts (like us!).
Let’s start with the main components of your braking system:
Brake Pads
  • The friction created by your brake pads is how your car comes to a stop
Brake Calipers
  • These handy things squeeze the brake pads on to the disk and release when you take your foot off the brake pedal
Brake Rotors
  • These are the things your brake pads clamp down on to stop your car and are, in actual fact, just as important as your brake pads

What to look out for

When you're stepping on your brake pedal, all of these components work together in order to stop your car and making sure they are all in good working order is extremely important to vehicle safety. So, if you’re experiencing any of the following, it would be a reasonable assumption that you should get your brakes looked at by a qualified mechanic:
  • a burning smell when you stop your car
  • squealing or grinding noises
  • pulses in the brake pedal
  • shaky steering wheel
  • you need a longer amount of time to stop than usual
  • your car pulls to one side as you stop
  • you put your foot to the floor and nothing happens!

Warning signs

If you notice the following, it would be a good idea to have your battery checked:
 
  • Dimming headlights and interior lights
  • Slow engine starting
  • Vehicle's "check engine" light is on

Inflating your tyres - the when and how.

When?
Your tyre pressure should be checked every month.
How?
Use the information that’s on the inside of your car’s door to get the correct pressure, or just call into your local Brakes+ Mechanical Services store and we’ll check them for you for free!

You may want to consider changing your oil more frequently if:

  • you live in an area that is either extremely hot or  extremely cold
  • you often drive on unsealed roads
  • your engine burns oil quickly and is old
  • you frequently carry heavy loads
Shock absorbers do much more than just provide a comfortable ride for you and your car, they are an integral suspension component that reduces serious damage to connecting parts and possible steering failure. They are also the reason your tyres stay in contact with the road surface. The more worn your shock absorbers are the more often your wheels loose contact with the road which may lead to your car skidding instead of gripping.

Signs of worn shocks include:

  • steering vibration
  • uneven tyre wear
  • rough or spongy ride
  • clunks and bangs coming from underneath your car
Regular maintenance is not just about changing your oil.

You need to maintain all of these areas as well:

  • Spark plugs
  • Brake pads
  • Battery maintenance
  • ABS sensor cleaning
  • Wiper replacement
  • Wheel Nut / Stud check
Your car's wheel alignment affects the steering, handling, suspension, braking, tyre wear, fuel consumption and safety of your vehicle

You should get a wheel alignment every 6 months or if you have an accident or hit a pothole or the kerb.

Signs of improper wheel alignment:

  • your car 'pulls' to one side of the road while driving or braking
  • when driving straight the steering wheel is off centre
  • your tyres wear unevenly (typically one side wears faster than the other)
  • your tyres wear out more quickly
  • poor handling when driving
  • car feels unstable or wanders from side to side (this requires urgent attention)
  • when turning, your tyres screech

GENERAL TIPS

What should you check before you go away?

Before you leave to go away, make sure that you’ve checked your car for the following:

  • Oil is topped up
  • Coolant is topped up
  • Your tyres are pumped up to the correct PSI
  • Your spare tyre is in working order
  • You have water in the boot for emergencies

When you are already on the road...

  • Watch the temperature gauge. Make sure it stays in the 'normal' range
  • Never, under any circumstances take the radiator cap off if your engine is overheating
And before you pack the kitchen sink, try and remember these things first:
  • Map or GPS (you really, really don’t want to get lost when you’re running low on fuel)
  • If you’re taking a GPS – don’t forget the charger
  • Make sure your spare tyre is a good one! (and inflated to the correct PSI)
Its not nice when it happens, but sometimes our cars decide that they are going to make some pretty strange sounds – and if you’re lucky, your car might even throw in a strange wobble now and then!
Here’s some quick hits on what the sound (or wobble) might be…

Sound or Wobble... you hear rumbling and feel vibration from the tyres (like you’re driving over marbles).

  • What it is… if this issue gets worse over speed it’s most likely that your wheel bearing is worn.
  • Solution… you’ll need to send it into the mechanic to replace the bearing and axel if you find you are unable to repack and readjust the bearing yourself

Sound or Wobble... you hear a low click or clunk that changes to a vibration in either the pedals, steering wheel or through your seat.

  • What it is… this is caused by a worn CV joint (front wheel drives) or a worn universal joint (rear wheel drives).
  • Solution… you’ll need to replace the CV or universal joints.

Sound or Wobble... steering wheel shakes in your hands and the entire car vibrates as if your driving along railway tracks.

  • What it is… at least one wheel is bent, most likely from hitting a curb or hole in the road when going a little too fast, although alloy wheels don’t usually have this issue as they usually crack rather than bend like steel wheels do.
  • Solution… you’ll need to replace it and get a technician to make sure there’s no internal damage to the wheel.
Winter can do many things to your car’s mechanics. More vehicles and car components fail more often during winter than any other time of year.
Battery 
  • A battery that was working well in summer may not necessarily work in winter as there is more pressure on the battery when starting it in cold weather.
Windscreen Wipers 
  • Windscreen wipers may get damaged when cutting through frost on your windshield. You should consider purchasing a new set for the winter, or alternatively melt the frost off your windshield (with cold water) before turning on your wipers.
  • Windshield Cracks + Hot Water DO NOT MIX! If you need to remove the frost from your windshield that has a crack, use cold water. Using hot water will expand the glass and make the crack even bigger - It might even shatter your windshield.

The good news is that there are a few things you can do to lessen the effect winter has on your car, saving you money on costly repairs.

Battery
  • Get your battery checked. It’s a simple and effective test which includes checking the charging system, voltage output and the charging rate of the battery and then comparing this to the manufacturer's specifications.
Windscreen + Wipers
  • Purchase some winter windscreen wiper fluid to clean your windows in the winter months. The fluid is specially made for winter months and will help to prevent frost on your windshield and wipers.
Other Fluids
  • Make sure your antifreeze and all other fluids in your car are topped up to the right levels.

Step One - Locate the filter housing

Open your bonnet - (prop it up properly - we don’t want any accidents). If your car has been made in the last 20 years your filter housing should be located in a black plastic case with metal clips on the sides. On most cars there is also a black tube going into the plastic case.

Step Two - Open the Filter Housing

Find the metal clips and flip them downwards. They may be on pretty tight so you may want to use a screwdriver to pop open the clip. Some filter housings have nuts that also hold from the top. DO NOT LOSE YOUR NUTS! Put them in a safe place - and don’t forget where they are!

Step Three - Remove the Old Filter

Before removing the old filter, be sure to take note how the old filter is sitting in the housing so that you can put the new one in correctly. Your filter may be round or rectangular and will be made of lots of folded paper surrounded by rubber. Carefully pull it out, making sure that nothing falls into the bottom of housing box (we’re talking sticks, rubbish and some really big bugs that somehow get themselves stuck in filters).

Step Four - Put the New Filter in Place

Make sure you’ve got the filter the right side up before you place it in the housing (although you’ll know that you have it wrong as the lid won’t go back on properly until you have the filter inserted correctly). Remember to press the rubber gasket of the filter all the way into its groove in the housing. If you find the housing cover hard to get back on, re-check this as it's often the culprit.

Step Five - Close the Filter Housing

If your housing had nuts, locate the safe place that you put them and put them back on to the filter housing. Then close all the clips on the filter housing ensuring they’re all on correctly.

Step Six That’s it - All done!

Many of us like to think we are useful. We at Brakes+ Mechanical Services are quite useful at repairing and servicing your car (we don't mean to toot our own horn, but its true!) - and we can give you some hints on how you can be useful too without looking like a tool doing it.
So, what are the few things that you could attempt to fix on your car without risk of losing your eyebrows?

You can:

  • Replace the wiper blades
  • Change the air filter
  • Change a headlight
  • Change a battery
Instructions on how to do these can be easily found online, or you could ask your local Brakes+ Mechanical Services mechanic! Remember if you are just getting started, try and watch someone fix the same thing before you begin. It makes it a heap easier and hey, if anything goes wrong you can always ask them to help you fix it!
We talk about looking after your cars all the time, but what about if you are looking to buy a new used car? Below is a quick list of the things you should look for so that you don't spend countless $$$ repairing the thing!
Odometer - how many km's has the car done? The average per year in Australia is 15,000km's.
Ownership - is the seller the only owner of the vehicle? If they are, you can get all the information you need from this person.
Service Records - check if they have had their log book service (see below) completed and stamped for each of the car's various services - this is especially important if the car is still covered by its statutory warranty.
Special Features - it's all well and good to have power windows, sunroof etc, but what is important is to check if they all work correctly. You can check all of these when you go to look at the car.
Reason for the sale - so, if it's such a good car why would they want to sell it? Asking this question can give you a good idea if the reason the owner is selling is a genuine one - let your intuition do the work here, it will usually be right!
Accidents - has the car ever been involved in an accident? No matter how minor it was, you will need to know this when insuring the vehicle. If needed, you can find this information online.
Check it out - take the car for a test drive. If you want you can bring it in to your local Brakes+ Mechanical Services service centre for a once over.
Happiness factor - was the owner happy with the car? This also comes down to why they want to sell the car but this information could help you come to a decision.
Log Book service is a service that is completed as per your vehicle's manufacturer's handbook specifications.
A Log Book Service can include:
Oil change, oil filter change, water drained from fuel filter, brake pad thickness checked, exhaust checked for leaks, check fittings are secure and without damage, visual checks of the engine and it's components, condition and tension of belts, coolant levels and anti-freeze protection checked, brake system visually checked for leaks or damage, headlight setting checked, dust and pollen filter replaced, gearbox; final drive and C.V joints checked for leaks and damage, battery checked, tyre tread depth checked, tyre pressure checked, front and rear lighting checked for damage, warning lights and horn checked for operation, operation and adjustment of windscreen wipers...etc etc.
These items could be included in any or all of the service intervals for your car. It depends on the type of car, the type of service and other varying factors. To check what's included in your vehicle's log book service check your vehicle manufacturer's handbook (usually located in your glove box...unless you've moved it).

MECHANICAL SERVICES~ We Do It All...

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