What’s That Smell? How You Can Freshen Up Your Car’s Interior in Minutes


What’s That Smell  How You Can Freshen Up Your Car’s Interior in Minutes.png


We’ve all been there –


You and a co-worker decide to grab some lunch.


As a polite gesture, you happily volunteer to drive.  But, as you open your car door and sit down, you wonder:  “Does it smell in here?  Have I just gotten USED TO the tantalizing scent of old Egg McMuffin wrappers and stale coffee?”


Guess you’d better roll down the windows just in case…


Even the cleanest of cars can have a “scent” that leaves passengers silently pondering “What in the HELL is that SMELL?”


So, in an effort to keep your vehicle’s smelling fresh, we’ve elected to outline a few different ways that you can easily eradicate that aroma that seems to emanate from the back seat…


Find the Source


This may seem silly to mention, but you’d be surprised at how many things can stink up your interior.  If the cause of the smell is an old fast food wrapper or a discarded milk carton from April, getting rid of the source is simple.  But, what if there’s something a bit more foul at play?


Mildew can really put a damper on your driving experience.  Damaged trunk or door seals can allow moisture to collect inside the vehicle’s paneling.  Once this moisture “turns”, expect a lovely fragrance of stale water and mildew.


For scents that seem a bit more mechanical in nature, we may have to check under the hood to see if we have bigger concerns than just the smell of our car’s interior.


With all of this in mind, it’s time to consider what we can do about it!


(1)    The Two-Tiered Approach


Everyone knows that baking soda is perfect for getting rid of strong odors.  So, why not use it on your interior?  Sprinkle baking soda on the carpets and upholstery, and let it sit for half the day or so.  You can later vacuum it up, hopefully taking with it the reminders of yesteryear’s “lunch on the go”.


For smells that are a bit more persistent, use carpet freshener AFTER you have given the interior the “baking soda treatment”.


(2)    Filter Checks


The cabin air filter has a lot to do with the interior smell of your vehicle.  When was the last time you changed it?  Did you even know that your vehicle had one?


Replacing the air filters takes just a few minutes, and can really freshen up your vehicle.  The repair guides are usually easy to find online (we have quite a few onsite, actually – shameless plug), so don’t hesitate to get your hands dirty.  After all, at least the grime on your hands can wash off…unlike the smell in your car!


(3)    Clean Your Stinky Car!


Finally, and probably the most logical scenario, is finally taking an hour to clean your car.  You let it get this way – so go clean up your mess!


There you have it – our guide to freshening up your car.  We understand that you spend hours each week sitting in traffic, but that doesn’t mean that it has to look or smell like your 16-year-old’s bedroom!  Get in there, get the smell out, and stop worrying about your co-worker’s reaction when he or she sits down in your stale, stinky front seat!



Vehicle Thefts Appear to be Dropping Rapidly

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently reported that vehicle thefts for 2011 vehicles are down considerably from the 2010 model year.


Vehicle Thefts Appear to be Dropping Rapidly


By assessing the amount of thefts of a particular model year vehicle within the current calendar year, the group is able to determine the rate of theft.  Though we are in the 2013 model year (obviously), the rate is calculated a couple of years behind in order to have a reasonable sample size.


For the 2011 model year (calc. in 2013), theft rates dropped more than 91%, signaling evidence that modern technology is helping to curb auto theft rates.


In addition to the presence of improved anti-theft tools, other technologies such as “immobilizers” and “On Star” type utilities have helped to increase the risks associated with auto theft for potential thieves.  Once we factor in the improved efforts by local law enforcement, the steep decline should come as no surprise.


Ways you Can Prevent Auto Theft


While many newer vehicles have alarm systems to deter would-be thieves, those owner older vehicles may not have the same integrated technology.  This means that we must consider a few other avenues to ensure that our vehicles, and personal possessions inside them, are kept safe.


Consider these simple deterrents as a great way to decrease your chances of enduring a stolen vehicle fiasco:


(1)    Secondary Anti-Theft Devices


We’ve seen advertisements for “The Club”, and other similar products, for years.  The big question is, “Do they really work?”  We don’t sell products like these, so we have no horse in this race.


The truth is most thieves will be deterred by these “steering wheel lock devices”, as they can just add an extra layer to the process involved in stealing a vehicle.  However, if you are dealing with professional car thieves, these tools can actually increase the likelihood of theft, as they can be used as an extra lever to break the lock on the steering column.


Just a thought, but definitely worth noting…


(2)    Paying Attention to Items in Plain View


Sometimes, the vehicle isn’t the real target.  In fact, most thieves are interested in a “smash and grab” type scenario.  In other words, they smash a window, grab what they can, and are gone before anyone has a chance to silence the ringing car alarm.


By taking note of anything that you may have lying in plain sight (laptops, tablets, mp3 players, etc.), you can help to reduce the overall “appeal” of your vehicle.


(3)    Avoid Secluded or Hidden Parking Lots


This may seem like common sense, but we aren’t considering theft EVERY TIME we park our car or truck.  But, by avoiding secluded parking lots, you can add an extra layer of protection to yourself and your vehicle.  Auto thieves do not want confrontation, in most situations, so they will always seek out vehicles that are “easy targets”.


Lots that are in public view will often provide a bit of extra security for your automobile.


Auto theft is an issue that most automakers take into account as they develop new technology.  While most new vehicles will include an alarm, GPS tracking, etc., those with older models may want to consider a few extra steps of protection.


Stay safe out there, and remember to always lock your doors!



Save Thousands on Auto Repair by Simply Paying Attention


Save Thousands on Auto Repair by Simply Paying Attention


Extending the life of your vehicle is a simple process, provided that you can stay diligent.  Vehicle longevity went through a “dark ages” of sorts in the 1980s, but today, proper maintenance and care can help keep your car or truck running well into the 200,000 mile range.


Far too many vehicle owners believe that maintaining a car for the long-term is an expensive venture.  In fact, it’s quite the contrary – it isn’t until we FAIL to maintain our vehicles that costs get out of hand.


So, for the sake of your vehicle (and your wallet), let’s run down a few practices that can help keep your vehicle running for years into the future…


Pay Attention


This isn’t grade school and we aren’t your teacher.  But, if you aren’t paying close attention to the sounds of your vehicle while driving, you could be walking into an auto repair nightmare.  Many repairs will make themselves known LONG BEFORE they get expensive.  So, by paying attention to the sounds of your vehicle at different times during operation, you can be sure that nothing “out of the ordinary” is going on.


You want to be careful here, too, however, as we don’t want you to become incredibly paranoid about every single sound you hear.  The sound of your vehicle will change over time, as it’s just part of the aging process.  But, that loud “clacking” that you hear every time you make a right turn – yeah, you’ll want to get that checked out.


Our Recommendation:  The next time you accelerate from a stop, turn down the radio for a moment, just to listen to the engine.  Later on in your trip, turn the radio down again to listen to your Yugo humming along at “cruising speed” on the freeway.  No noticeable changes?  Great!  You can now get back to rocking out to the latest Justin Bieber track…or not.


Check Your Fluids!


Cars don’t have fluids because the manufacturers thought they were cool.  They have fluids because your vehicle needs them to perform properly!  An engine running low on oil can lead to a repair disaster of epic proportions, so take low fluid situations seriously!


By taking a few minutes to check, and ideally “top off”, the fluids under the hood, you can be sure that you are giving your engine what it needs to last you far into the future.


Our Recommendation:  Open up your vehicle’s “Owner’s Manual”.  We know, we know…it’s dusty and you forgot that it existed, but hey, it’s there for a reason!  Get acquainted with the types of fluids your vehicle uses (not all are the same!), and keep some on hand.  This way, the next time you pull up to pay far too much for a tank of gas, you can pop the hood, check the fluids, top them off as needed, and get back on the road.  This 5 minute practice can save you thousands! 



NOTE:  If 5 minutes of your time is worth more than the thousands you can save, call me – I’ll forward a resume.


Take It Easy


Sure, you love your Ford Focus, but do you really need to “punch it” every time the light turns green?  There’s a lot of wear and tear that can be prevented by simply easing back on the aggressive driving.  Remember, this has nothing to do with “cruising speed”, but instead, acceleration.  Also, when starting up your car in the morning, take a few minutes to let the engine warm up.  You don’t have to overdo it, but honestly, a few minutes of time here can save you money.  Who doesn’t love saving money?


When your vehicle has been sitting for hours, the fluids have all worked their way down into the reservoirs.  To get them flowing properly, you have the let the engine warm up a bit.


Would you wake up from a 16 hour nap, skip breakfast or a bathroom visit, and head out to run a marathon?  Of course not.  You would eat, stretch, and let your muscles warm up…let your car do the same!


Our Recommendation:  Let your engine warm up a bit before dropping into DRIVE.  Once it’s run for a few minutes, go ahead and get on the road, but take it easy for another few minutes.  Accelerate at a reasonable pace, and before you know it, you engine will be primed, warm, and ready to blister down the highway like any good Yugo should.


So, as you can see, taking care of your vehicle doesn’t need to involve an extensive amount of time or a large amount of money.   The few minutes you spend on paying attention to your vehicle can help you save thousands over the lifetime of ownership.


When your vehicle lasts for hundreds of thousands of miles, you win.  It’s that simple!


Until next time, folks…



Diagnostic Corner: Identifying Power Window Regulator Issues

Road trips are great.


You’re out for a long weekend with a few friends, ready to tackle anything that crosses your path.  All of the windows are down, the air is flowing nicely, and the radio is up!  What could go wrong?


Suddenly, out of nowhere, it begins to rain.  Hey, no worries, right?  A little rain never hurt anyone.


So, everyone begins closing their windows…but yours isn’t budging.  Better act quickly, or the interior will be drenched!  You pull over, attach some plastic to cover the window, and turn your attention to the culprit.


Is it a bad power window switch?  Did the window motor die on you?  Is the regulator shot?


The game is afoot…


What Does the Power Window Regulator Mean to Your Vehicle?


Well, to your driving experience, it’s pretty dang important!


The power window regulator is the assembly that raises and lowers your windows at the touch of a button.  Do not confuse the component with the “switch”, as this is just the button we push to MOVE the window…


Diagnostic Corner  Window Regulator


The regulator is inside the door frame.  Your window pane mounts to the “rail” of the regulator assembly, and with the help of the window motor, mobility ensues.


Vehicles with manual windows still have a window regulator, but the assembly is unpowered (obviously).


Diagnosing a Damaged Power Window Regulator


If your power window just SUDDENLY stopped working, don’t immediately assume that the regulator is to blame.  A loose wiring connection or damaged window switch could be the issue.  And, if it is, this is usually cheaper (and much easier) to fix than the entire regulator.


But, if the switch and connection seem to be in good shape, it’s time to turn our attention to the regulator and motor.


Here are a few ways you can tell that your power window regulator/motor assembly requires replacement:


(1)    Did you hear a grinding noise shortly before the window stopped moving?


A grinding noise is usually a telltale sign that the power window regulator is nearing the end of its lifespan.  If the windows have been a bit slower to open and close in recent weeks, and a low, almost agonizing rumble seems to be coming from inside the door panel, it means that your motor/regulator is struggling to function properly.


(2)    Can you RAISE and LOWER the window with your hands?


Your window pane is secured to the regulator rail (usually with a couple of bolts or clips).  It SHOULD NOT move when you try to lift or lower it with your hands.  If you pull upward on the window, and it moves, you have probably snapped one of the regulator cables.  In other words, you need a new power window regulator.


(3)    Did you hear a loud POP shortly before the window stopped moving?


When one of the cables on the window regulator breaks, they will sometimes make a loud “pop” sound.  If you hear this sound, and the window immediately stops working, then your regulator has moved onto the Great Parts Store in the Sky…


Repair Prognosis


Repairing a power window regulator can be a bit time consuming.  But, overall, the project is relatively easy, provided you understand a few simple nuances associated with the repair.


Removing the interior door panel is probably the worst part of this type of replacement.  Again, nothing is overly difficult, but instead, just requires a bit of patience.


Once you have the interior door panel off, the window regulator is mounted inside the door frame.  On most vehicles, 4-6 bolts secure the regulator to the door.  First, you’ll want to disconnect the window motor’s wiring harness.  Next, separate the window from the regulator rail (usually two bolts) and raise the window pane to the closed position.  Secure the pane to the top of the window frame using painter’s tape, and you can now loosen the mounting bolts and remove the regulator/motor assembly.


Installation is simply a reversal of the process.  Be sure that the regulator is properly mounted before lowering the window onto the rail, though!


It sounds like a lot, I know, but honestly, these repairs are much easier than they sound when reading the steps…trust us, you can do it!



How Does Your Toolbox Shape Up? The Auto Repair ‘Toolbox Essentials’

With the economy mired in a slow recovery, many are realizing just how much money they can save by handling some of the “light” repairs on a vehicle themselves.


In all honesty, it’s a great idea, as the labor associated with auto repair can get pricey in a hurry.


But, before you head out to the garage to tackle a headlight or radiator replacement, for example, you must ask yourself:  Do I have the right tools for the job?


To help in this arena, we’ve compiled our “Auto Repair Toolbox Essentials” list.


Tools You CAN’T Live Without


First and foremost, let’s note one thing:  You DON’T need to spend $300 on tools to get the job done under the hood!


Far too often, vehicle owners assume that an extensive tool collection is necessary to take care of random repairs that arise.  Not the case!  In fact, an all-inclusive set of tools (usually priced under $50) is all you’ll need for most repairs.


Let’s visit a few key items, shall we?


Sockets and Ratchets


Want our honest opinion?  You’re reading, so we’ll assume you do…


Why are we still on Standard measurements in the United States?


Ok, we won’t digress, but in truth, we recommend a small socket and ratchet set as one of our key toolbox essentials.  Most vehicles will use metric (10mm, for example) bolts, and a small set can go a long way when handling most repairs.


To get maximum mileage out of your socket set, why not add a 6” extension or flex-joint?  We don’t sell tools (as of today), so don’t worry – we don’t have an ulterior motive here.


For those of you that are really trying to stretch a tool budget, you can snag a crescent wrench instead of the socket set.  You’ll save a few bucks, and the adjustable head will allow you to handle most bolts.  The drawbacks involve reaching bolts (no extension) and having to use good old fashioned “elbow grease” to loosen them…




You can’t omit screwdrivers.  No matter what your repair is, you will encounter Phillips or flathead screws along the way.  Don’t go overboard, though!  Screwdrivers are inexpensive, and with just a couple of size variations, you won’t need much else.


Here’s where we’d normally tell you about the “cheaper” route to go, but if you’re getting a basic screwdriver set, there really isn’t one…


Hammer/Rubber Mallet


No toolbox is complete without a hammer or rubber mallet.  The hammer will come in handy all around the house (not just under the hood), which is why it is a MUST.  But, when it comes to auto repair, you’ll probably prefer a rubber mallet.


Some parts (alternators, starters) may require a bit of a “nudge” to separate them from the engine.  This is where the rubber mallet comes in.  There is a workaround however –


If you want to save a few bucks and just get a hammer, use a towel to wrap around the hammer’s head.  You can now use the tool as a rubber mallet when necessary.


If All Else Fails…Duct Tape


What’s that you say?  You lost the mounting bolts for your alternator?  Duct tape.


Oh, you can’t find the retaining pins for your interior door panel?  Duct tape.


Your radiator mounts have cracked, and now the component won’t stay in place?  Duct tape.


This is a joke.  Kind of… Duct tape.


Well, there you have it!  There are quite a few tools that we left off of this list, but we’re simply trying to get you the bare minimum as a tool set.  With sockets/ratchets, a couple of screwdrivers, and a hammer/mallet, you can do just about anything.


Oh, and don’t forget the duct tape!



Diagnostic Corner: How to Tell That It’s Time to Replace your Cooling Fan


Things are going great –


You’ve just left the ballgame, the home team won, and it’s time to head back to the house to enjoy some post-game grilling.  Though the traffic leaving the stadium is a bit frustrating, it isn’t too bad, as few things can dampen your spirits on this particular Sunday afternoon.


Until you notice the engine’s temperature gauge beginning to rise…


Is your thermostat shot?  Does your radiator have a leak?  Is the cooling fan assembly malfunctioning?  You’d better act quickly if you want to save your engine!


How Important is your Vehicle’s Cooling System?


Let’s get one thing straight….it means EVERYTHING.


Diagnostic Corner Cooling Fan


Overheating can spell DOOM for your engine.  In fact, when it comes to your vehicle, and the obvious hope that it lasts for quite some time, an overheating engine is the #1 cause for engine overhauls and replacements.  And, unless you have a relatively new vehicle, many will elect to “junk” a vehicle that has a bad engine.


But, not all is lost!  After all, in our scenario above, we have just noticed that the engine is overheating.  Chasing a cooling system problem can be difficult, but when you know how the system functions, and what warning signs lead to which components, you can quickly identify and resolve the issue at hand.


Diagnosing a Failing Cooling Fan Assembly


The cooling fan usually mounts directly to the radiator, providing the necessary air flow to cool the coolant, helping to keep your engine at a safe operating temperature.  Without this airflow, the system cannot function as it should.


Singling out the cooling fan as the culprit requires a few observations:


(1)    Does the engine temperature rise when stopped, but drop when in motion?


When moving, air flow isn’t a problem.  With air passing through the radiator, the coolant can cool.  However, when stopped, the temperature rises because the cooling fan isn’t supplying the necessary air flow.  Make sense?  This is a telltale sign that your cooling fan is hanging your engine out to dry.


(2)    Is There Coolant in the Radiator/Reservoir?


This sounds elementary, but in truth, it happens more often than one would think!  Rarely do vehicle owners check their coolant, and the result is often a low coolant level and the subsequent overheating issues.


NOTE:  DO NOT, under any circumstance, open the radiator cap to check the coolant when the car is hot.  I have made this mistake before, and I used every curse word under the sun to explain the error of my ways.


(3)    How Does the Cooling Fan LOOK?


Again, it seems like we’re talking about something that should be apparent, but there may be corrosion, broken blades, or simply a motor that is falling apart when you check out the cooling fan assembly.  Also, it’s a good idea to wiggle the wiring connections a bit.  Sometimes, a wiring harness can loosen over time, rendering the fan useless.


Check your wiring connections, and you may save yourself some money!


Repair Prognosis


Cooling fan repairs are actually quite easy for most vehicles.  Because the entire assembly mounts to the back of the radiator, there are usually just a few mounting bolts and a couple of wiring connections.  For some vehicles the area may be a bit cramped, but if you use a catch pan, you can easily drain the radiator, disconnect the upper radiator hose, and create plenty of room to work!


Once the new assembly is installed, connect the cooling fan motor wiring harnesses, and Voila! – You’re all set.


NOTE:  Be careful when mounting the cooling fan assembly.  You are bolting directly into the radiator, and over tightening can damage the radiator housing!  This leads to leaks, which leads to more overheating, which leads to more repairs!


…which leads to more frustration, which leads to…nevermind, you get the idea…



Diagnostic Corner: Knowing When to Replace your Starter


Dinner was great, the movie was entertaining, and now it’s time to head back home after a nice evening out.  You slide into the driver’s seat, put the key into the ignition, and…




You turn the key again…


Click.  Click.


It couldn’t be the battery, because all of the dashboard lights are brightly lit.  What could it be?


In this case, you can likely blame the vehicle’s STARTER for your issue.  Let’s take a look at how you can be certain that your starter has let you down…


What Does a Starter Mean to your Vehicle?


A starter is just as its name indicates – it starts your engine.  But, the manner in which it does it can be a bit confusing.  With a direct power connection to the battery, the starter spins the flywheel (manual transmissions) or flex plate (automatic transmissions) that gets the engine and transmission fired up and ready to take you on your way.


Diagnostic Corner  Knowing When to Replace your Starter


While the above description leaves out some other parts of the technical process, having a working idea of how the component functions is all that is necessary for diagnosis.  There IS the possibility, however, that the connection between the battery and starter is to blame.  But, for the most part, this is a rarity.


How to Diagnose a Bad Starter


As we mentioned in the introduction, anytime you are turning the ignition over and get nothing but a “click”, you can assume that your vehicle is having starter issues.  If the dashboard lights are brightly lit, you can assume that the battery is charged just fine, eliminating battery or alternator issues.  Here are a few things to consider during diagnosis:


(1)    Electrical Connections


Before running to the parts store to grab a new starter, however, it’s always a good idea to check out some of the connections.  Are the battery terminals nice and tight?  What about the connection leading to the starter?  If the wires are brittle, you may have saved yourself some money!


(2)    Do You Have An Alarm?


We aren’t asking this question because we want your address and intend on cruising by for some freebees.  Instead, it’s all about understanding your electrical system.  Any aftermarket or alarm connections are part of the electrical line, and a damaged connection anywhere along this lead could cause your starter to fail.  Give it all a look – you may learn that the problem is actually smaller than we thought!


(3)    The Old School Method


We’re going to preface this with one warning:  DO NOT hit your starter with a hammer!  And, if you do, we certainly are not responsible!  Our lawyers made us say that…


But, if you’re feeling froggy, and in some cases this will work, use a rubber mallet to give your starter a WHACK.  Sometimes, the component seizes, and just needs a “jump start”.  It doesn’t take much force, though, so don’t knock your starter into next week!


It’s also worth mentioning that if you have to do this more than once, you’ll probably need to replace the component anyway.


Repair Prognosis


If you determine that your starter needs to be replaced, the overall project really isn’t that difficult.  In most vehicles, it is easy to access and is mounted with just a few bolts.  There is also a wiring lead that is either held to the component with a bolt or via an electrical connector.  The bolted method is the most common.


Those that are familiar with auto repairs can complete the project in about 30 minutes.  If you are new to such repairs, or the particular vehicle, it can take up to an hour, but not much more than that.  You’ll be out of the garage and back in the house in time for lunch and a ballgame.


By taking the time to diagnose and replace the starter, you can save a nice chunk of money, while increasing your confidence for future repairs!  You can do it – we have faith in ya!



Diagnostic Corner: Knowing When Your Blower Motor Is Shot


You step out of the gym, into the blistering summer heat.  Surely your shoe soles won’t melt on the blacktop…right?  You hop into your truck, quickly roll down the windows to release some of the built up heat, turn the vehicle on, and switch your A/C to HIGH in the hopes of getting some relief.




You turn the knob down to 1 (low) and the A/C is giving you a light breeze of cool air, but all of the other speeds are non-existent.  Murphy’s Law has struck again, and, on the hottest day of the year, your blower motor has let you down.


Alas, you put all of the windows down, climb into the truck, and hope that you don’t hit any stop lights or traffic on your way home…


What Does a Blower Motor Mean to Your Vehicle? 


Acting as the central driving force behind your vehicle’s climate control system, the blower motor is an important part of passenger comfort.  Without it, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature’s temperature fluctuations, which usually results in an uncomfortable ride.  By pushing air through your vents, cool or warm air cannot reach the cabin without the help of the often underappreciated blower motor.


diagnostic corner blower motor


A failing blower motor, while not crucial to the operation of your vehicle, can leave passengers in an uncomfortable position.


How to Identify a Failing Blower Motor


As we noted above, a blower motor failure is actually quite easy to spot.  There may be some cases in which ALL of the AC/Heater speeds do not work, but in most situations, this particular issue is diagnosed by only a couple of the speeds failing.  For example, you can turn your A/C to “level 1”, and it works just fine.  However, when you move to “level 2”, there is no response.


Additionally, any time you are running the climate control system and smell a strange “burning” scent, there’s a chance that the wiring is faulty, and the blower motor will soon fail.


Repair Prognosis


Blower motor repairs are generally quite simple.  The blower motor in most models will be located beneath the glove compartment inside the vehicle.  Others may be found in the engine compartment, just on the other side of the firewall on the passenger’s side of the vehicle.  The second placement noted is usually for American made trucks and SUVs.


Regardless of where your blower motor is located, replacing one is simple.  The space can be a bit difficult to work with, but usually with a small socket, ratchet, and perhaps a “flex-joint”, the repair takes just a few minutes.


Replacing a blower motor on your own can save time and money!  While it may be good practice to leave the advances repairs to professionals, components such as these are quite simple to replace.



Advancement in Vehicle Technology Not Without Its Drawbacks


Before we get excited about the prospects of “smart” technology reaching our automobiles, we must remember that when we automate things, an entirely new list of dangers emerges.  This key point isn’t lost on lawmakers, however, as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation discussed the potential and existing dangers earlier this month.


Advancement in Vehicle Technology Not Without Its Drawbacks


With testimonies from members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a variety of professionals involved in the integration of technology into our automobiles, key topics included the increase in distracted drivers and the security risks associated with fully-automated onboard systems.


Hacking Risks?


Security concerns online are nothing new, but as we move into an age in which our automobiles have similar systems, does the risk for “attacks” on vehicles increase?  Indeed, it does, which has become quite a concern for government officials.


The 5.9 GHZ segment of the communications spectrum, which is used in newly integrated vehicles, has come under fire from many officials, as it could leave the door open for remote controlling attempts.  Much like we have seen with online cyber-attacks, a similar issue could arise that allows an international attach to cripple our transportation systems.


While many may consider these concerns to be “monsters under the bed”, the possibility of such an event is certainly worth of government consideration and attention.


Bandwidth Capacity


As we consider how our vehicles may soon be able to communicate with each other, which can help to prevent collisions, we must also wonder how much Wi-Fi infrastructure is necessary to facilitate such a high concentration of information sharing.


It has been argued that our soon-to-be “smarter” vehicles can help to dramatically decrease highway fatality rates, while ensuring that we are leveraging all of the tools at our disposal to improve efficiency and, ultimately, maximize convenience.  For now, however, the topic will continue to receive attention from the auto industry and federal officials.


We’ll keep you posted on any new developments that may help to shed some light on how our transportation infrastructure will be changing in the coming years.


Diagnostic Corner: How to Identify a Failing Alternator


You’ve just left the office.  It’s a cool evening and you’re strolling across the parking lot, ready to hop in your car and head home.  The parking lot is nearly empty, as everyone has headed home for the weekend.  You open the door, sit down in the driver’s seat, turn the key, and….





Is your battery dead?  If so, is it due to age or has your alternator failed?  Is there a loose battery cable?  Maybe just a bad relay? 



Any of these issues can be the culprit, but when you know how to diagnose an automotive issue, you can save plenty of money and time.  Let’s look at how you can tell that the ALTERNATOR is to blame…


What Does an Alternator Mean to your Vehicle?


The vehicle’s alternator essentially charges the battery while the vehicle is in operation.  The average car battery can turn the engine over a couple of times or get you down the road a bit, but the moment the energy is drained, you’ll see your lights dim.  Once this happens, you can expect to be on the side of the road in moments.


Diagnostic Corner How to Identify a Failing Alternator


When the alternator is functioning properly, your battery will be replenished consistently, ensuring that you always have enough power for the next “start”.


How to Identify a Failing Alternator


As we mentioned above, anytime you are driving and begin seeing the dashboard lights “dim”, you can usually assume that you have a faulty alternator.  But, what about when you try to start the vehicle and get absolutely nothing from turning the key?   There are a few tricks that you can try to test your alternator/battery combination to see which component is really at fault.  However, you will need to get a jumpstart to at least have a running vehicle during these tests:


(1)  Use the Gauge


These days, alternator gauges are becoming quite common, as our vehicles become increasingly “electric”.  If you have such a gauge, put a bit of strain on the electrical system by turning on the headlights, radio, or air conditioner.  If you see the volt/amp output DROP, then something is amiss, and your alternator isn’t getting the job done.


(2)  Listen


Far too often, we get caught up in the technical aspects of diagnostics.  In fact, I have a good friend who is often referred to as the “Car Whisperer” in social circles.  Why?  Because he listens to an engine run, then diagnoses the issue with incredible accuracy.  For our purposes, here, turn on the vehicle, and listen to the alternator.  If you hear odd sounds (such as a squeal), then you could have a damaged bearing.  And, a damaged bearing means it’s time for a new alternator!


(3)  Rev It Up!


When you have the vehicle running, turn on the headlights.   Now, as you rev the engine, does anything change?  If the brightness of your headlights remains constant, then you’re getting a solid charge.  However, if they dim or flicker, you aren’t getting the necessary charge from the alternator, and it’s time for a replacement.


Repair Prognosis


Diagnosis is one of the most difficult aspects of auto repair.  Because finding the necessary information to facilitate a part’s replacement is simple, many get hung up on whether or not they are actually replacing the culprit of the issue, and end up taking their vehicle to a professional.  While we would never say that this is a poor decision, as we’re mechanics ourselves, it can also be difficult to afford such a repair these days.


Alternators are quite simple to fix, provided that you have a few tools and about an hour of free time.  In most cases, the repair involves loosening the belt pulley and removing the belt, disconnecting a couple of wiring harnesses, and removing a few bolts.  From here, the repair is a simply reversal of the removal process, and you’ll have a new alternator before you know it!