Car Service

Do I Need a Power Steering Flush?

There are many different fluids you need to swap out on a regular basis—oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and radiator fluid. One of those that regularly gets lost in the shuffle is a powering steering fluid flush. Not sure that a power steering flush is really necessary? Learn more about why this part of your maintenance schedule should never be skipped. The Basics of Power Steering Your power steering system works by using the principles of hydraulics. In a typical power steering system, your engine pumps power steering fluid from its reservoir into the steering box using a belt and pulley. When you turn your steering wheel to drive, the power steering fluid is put under pressure and then pushed into a piston that helps to move the steering wheel. Once you stop turning the steering wheel, the valve will shut off and stop the flow of oil and the piston. Even if the power steering system fails, you can still use the steering wheel to turn your car. However, it will be much more difficult to do without the help of the fluid. Fluid Breaks Down Over Time Any vehicle that uses a hydraulic power-steering system utilizes power steering fluid. This fluid works with your power steering pump to make it easier to move the steering wheel, have the car respond properly and drive with ease. Even if you use a high-quality power steering fluid, it will degrade in quality over time. As you drive your vehicle, the power steering fluid will slowly accumulate rubber and metal particles. Repeated circulation of contaminated fluid will lead to greater wear on your gears and pumps. Should You Replace Your Power Steering Fluid? Some of the key signs that it’s time to replace your power steering fluid include: Your power steering is […]

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Do I Need a Differential Fluid Change?

What’s one of the most overlooked maintenance tasks on SUVs, passenger vehicles and light trucks without 4-wheel drive? Caring for the car’s differential. The differential is located at the rear and underneath the vehicle, so many people forget it’s even there. Unfortunately, a lack of attention to the differential and differential fluid can prevent your car from functioning properly. What Is the Differential? The differential helps to make up the difference in distance that the inner and outer wheels travel when your car rounds a corner. If your car has rear-wheel-drive, the differential is housed and lubricated by a thick and dark oil. Front-wheel-drive cars often have the differential inside of the transmission housing and use the same fluid. Your car’s differential fluid helps to lubricate the ring and pinion gears that move power from the driveshaft out to the wheel axles. Changing the differential fluid on a regular basis is just as important as swapping out your engine oil or transmission fluid. Over time, metal-to-metal contact will wear down surfaces in the car and create heat. Without the right fluid lubricating the process, your car will wear down more quickly than it should. How Often Should Differential Fluid Be Changed? In general, you should swap out the differential fluid every 30,000 to 50,000 miles in your vehicle. Bringing your car or truck in for service is necessary to have a fluid change completed. Every differential is different, and some have a drain plug while others require the housing cover to be removed entirely. It can be a very messy job that you shouldn’t try to tackle on your own. When changing out the fluid, we suggest using the best quality gear oil you can afford. Most manufacturer’s manuals contain requirements for the weight and capacity of the tank. If […]

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Do I Need a Coolant Flush?

When thinking about what your car needs to stay in great condition, oil changes are probably at the top of the list. However, your coolant should also be changed and flushed on a regular basis. Failing to have your coolant flushed can cause your engine to age faster than it should and lead to costly repair bills. How can you tell whether or not you’re due for a coolant flush? What Is Coolant? Coolant is a special mixture of water and alcohol. It’s sometimes referred to as antifreeze, and it helps to absorb the heat that your engine generates when it runs. Coolant runs through a reservoir attached to your radiator, and it constantly circulates into your engine and back into the radiator. Coolant is essential because over 50% of the energy that your engine produces while you drive is converted into heat. The exhaust system gets rid of some of that heat, but a great deal of it stays in your engine block. The coolant will absorb the heat and prevent your engine from overheating. If you chose to go without coolant, your engine could reach temperatures far beyond what it can handle, and you would need to invest serious money in repairing it. Why Should You Maintain Your Coolant System? A well-maintained cooling system will offer you: Freeze protection Improved efficiency Less thermal stress on your radiator and engine Protection against overheating all year long Reduces rust and corrosion in your cooling system Extended lifespan of all rubber and plastic pieces in the coolant system A reduction in electrolysis, which leads to engine component erosion How Often Should Your Coolant Be Changed? You should typically pay attention to what your car manufacturer suggests first. Some cars need a coolant flush every 30,000 miles, but other cars need one […]

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What Oil Should You Use for Your Vehicle?

Oil is essential to the performance and health of your vehicle, so why wouldn’t you want to choose the right one for you? With so many different types of oil on the market, it can be tricky to make the right choice. Remember that the professionals at Thunderbird Automotive are always here to help you make the right decision and complete your oil change. Why Does Oil Matter? Oil is part of what makes your vehicle’s engine run properly. It keeps all of the intricate moving parts lubricated and prevents overheating. If you don’t have oil changes on a regular basis for your car, sludge and dirt can accumulate in the engine, and things won’t be lubricated as well. The longer that you wait to swap out dirty oil, the higher the chances are that you’ll need an engine replacement in the future. Know Your Labels There are two labels you should see on every bottle of legitimate oil. The first one is from the American Petroleum Institute (API). When the API deems a certain oil to be satisfactory, there will be an SL rating on the front. This will tell you what the oil is appropriate for. The other label will include a viscosity number and tell you whether or not the oil passed the Energy Conserving test. When selecting an oil, you should choose one approved for usage in your engine. Understanding Viscosity Viscosity is a measure of how resistant a liquid is to flowing. For example, water is much less viscous than honey. Viscosity for oils is rated at 0 degrees and 212 degrees. The first number in a rating comes before “W,” which stands for winter. The second number represents the rating at 212 degrees. What does that mean? A 10W-30 oil is less viscous at […]

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Do I Need a Transmission Flush?

There are plenty of fluids that run through your vehicle to keep everything working properly, but one of the lesser discussed ones is transmission fluid. Transmission fluid might not get as much attention as oil or brake fluid, but it is vital to the health and performance of your car. While you typically only need to have a transmission flush every 2 years, there are some situations where you should get one sooner. Do you need a transmission flush? What Does Transmission Fluid Do? Transmission fluid is a liquid responsible for lubricating the moving parts inside of your automobile’s transmission. If you have an automatic transmission, transmission fluid is a viscous fluid that moves power from the transmission to the engine and acts as a coolant. If you have a manual transmission, you should check which type of fluid your transmission needs. How Often Should Your Fluid Be Changed? You should start by checking your owner’s manual because the answer will depend on what type of transmission you have. A manual transmission typically requires fluid changes every 30,000-60,000 miles under normal use. An automatic transmission typically needs a fluid swap every 60,000 to 100,000 miles depending on the manufacturer. Why Do You Need a Transmission Flush? Grinding or Odd Noises: If your transmission is filled with grease, sludge or dirt, your car won’t be able to perform correctly. If you hear grinding sounds or other odd noises, you should check the fluid levels while the engine is on. The transmission fluid should appear a bright red shade and not black or brown, which signifies it is time for a flush. As long as the level is fine, the transmission will just need to be flushed to get out grime. If you notice a strange odor when you are checking the […]

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When Do I Need an Oil Change?

When do I need an Oil Change with Thunderbird Automotive?

Changing your oil is one of the most important maintenance tasks for your car. After all, your engine needs oil to function and keep your car on the road. However, how can you tell that your car is due for an oil change? Do you need to have it changed every 3,000 miles, or is there another metric you should be using? Thunderbird Automotive Specialists has years of experience in completing oil changes, and we are happy to guide you through the process of determining whether or not your car is due for one. The Basics of an Oil Change The frequency of your oil changes will vary depending on a number of factors. Because of technological advances in automobile manufacturing, many cars don’t need oil changes more frequently than 7,500 miles. For example, Ford and Porsche recommend oil changes every 10,000 miles. BMWs use synthetic oil and are made with high-performance materials, so they only need oil changes every 15,000 miles. Not sure how often you should think about an oil change? Check your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer recommends. The manual will also tell you what types of oil you should choose for maximum performance. Why Do You Need to Change Your Oil? Motor oil is to a car what blood is to a body. Oil is responsible for cooling down the numerous moving parts that prevent wear and friction in your engine. It stops the accumulation of dirt and debris that can form sludge that does permanent damage to your car. Oil also stops corrosion from acids and moisture. Over time, oil degrades in quality due to the depletion of the additives mixed in. It’s important to swap out in the oil in your vehicle on a regular basis to replenish the additives, prevent damage […]

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What Should I Do When My Car Won’t Start?

If you open your door this winter only to find that your car won’t start, there could be a variety of causes leading to the problem. From minor issues to major problems, we are experts at diagnosing a myriad of things that could be leading to your car sitting in your driveway instead of zooming down the road. What should you do when your car won’t start? If Your Starter Will Crank, But the Car Won’t Start If your car still won’t start, but the starter is cranking, you should start by checking the battery. If your battery is old, it could die at any given time. However, if a battery is low, it can still struggle to start things up if the level is low enough. A low battery can be jump-started, but a completely dead battery needs to be replaced before driving again. Then, check the following: Will the car start with the automatic transmission in neutral but not in park? This is a sign that there’s a problem with the neutral safety switch. Are the battery cables free from rust or corrosion? Are the cables tight? Is there enough fuel in the tank? If your fuel gauge is inaccurate, your car could be empty without you even realizing it. Does your car use an anti-theft mechanism that prevents the car from starting if the proper procedures aren’t followed? If Your Key Won’t Turn in the Ignition This could be preventing your automobile from turning on for a number of reasons. Sometimes, the steering is locked by the ignition lock or the wheels are pressed against something hard, like the curb. Try to wiggle the steering wheel left and right and adjust the ignition key to release the ignition lock. Another common key issue occurs when there is […]

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What Is a Timing Belt?

What is a Timing Belt with Thunderbird Automotive

The timing belt is one of the most important parts of your car, but if you’re like most car owners, you probably haven’t given it a second thought, unless something is starting to go wrong. Depending on the issue with your timing belt, the damage could be a minor headache or a major wallet-buster. What is a timing belt, and what purpose does it serve in your vehicle? What Is a Timing Belt? Your vehicle’s timing belt is in charge of controlling all camshafts in the engine and opening and closing valves at the perfect intervals for a smooth driving experience. The timing belt is covered in teeth that turn the camshafts in unison with the crankshaft. Most cars on the road today have timing belts, but some older cars still have timing chains. Timing chains serve the same purpose as belts, but they do not need to be replaced in theory, and they are typically heavier and sturdier than timing belts. How Often Do Timing Belts Need to Be Changed? As with most repairs, you should start by checking the owner’s manual for your vehicle. Typically, the manual will give you a baseline for how often the timing belt will need to be replaced. In general, most will suggest a change between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. You should also know that, in some cases, replacing one part of the car like the water pump can mean needing to replace the timing belt as well. However, if you start to hear a shrieking sound coming out from under the front hood of the car, it might be time to replace it sooner rather than later. There are many other signs that indicate you need to change your timing belt soon, including: Ticking, clicking or shrieking sounds coming from the engine […]

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Do I Need to Change My Brake Fluid?

Change Brake Fluid with Thunderbird Automotive

While every manufacturer doesn’t include a reminder to change brake fluid in their maintenance schedules and owner’s manuals, that doesn’t mean that the task should be skipped. If you’re unsure of whether or not you should change your brake fluid, and why the task matters in the first place, you can trust the experts at Thunderbird Automotive Specialists. Brake Fluid 101 Brake fluid makes sure that, when you press the brake pedals in your car, your car actually stops. Since a good deal of force and pressure are needed to stop a vehicle in motion, brake fluid is an important part of every vehicle. Just like other fluids and oils in your car, brake fluid degrades in quality over time. Brake fluid can absorb moisture in the brake lines and eventually lead to corrosion and a decline in the efficacy of your brakes. How Do You Check Brake Fluid Levels? Most owner’s manuals give guidelines for checking brake fluid levels, so you should start by checking that first. The reservoir can appear similar to the windshield-wiper fluid reservoir, but it should be clearly labeled so you can tell what it is. As brake fluid ages, it will turn in color from clear to a yellow color, and finally dark and cloudy when the quality has gone down. If you are concerned that about your brake fluid, you can use testing strips or take your car in for a service at Thunderbird Automotive Specialists. Do I Need to Change My Brake Fluid? Since brake fluid is so critical, you should change it on a regular basis. If you are driving with old or bad brake fluid, compressing the pedal to brake will feel different. If you notice that it is taking more time or pressure than usual to stop your car, […]

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Why Do My Brakes Pulse?

Car Brakes with Thunderbird Automotive

You’re driving down the road, and you press down on the brake pedal only to find that the pedal is pulsing beneath your foot. What does that mean? When your brakes pulse, it’s easy to worry about a warped brake rotor. However, the culprit could be something totally different. What are the most common reasons why brakes pulse, and how can you tell what the issue with your car or truck is? Ideal Brake Conditions Before you can understand why warping occurs, you need to know how brakes are designed to work. All car and truck brakes are made to function best in a specific temperature range. As a result, all of the friction materials used are designed with that range of temperatures in mind. During normal use of brakes, friction material will go from the brake pad to the rotor and create a thin layer of friction material on the rotor itself. If the brake pads are overheated, the friction material will not evenly transfer from pad to rotor. Uneven deposits can lead to warping on the brake rotor. Warped Brake Rotor Warped brake rotors are any rotors that are not completely flat and totally parallel with the plane rotation. Anything from improper installation of the wheel to an uneven transfer from friction from the pad to the rotor can cause a brake rotor to warp. Modern brake rotors are designed with less material, particularly at the friction service. As a result, they are much more susceptible to warping as a result of high heat and too much lug nut torque. If your lug nuts were over tightened, or your brake rotor has undergone a great deal of wear and tear, it might be time to replace what you have. Anti-Lock Brakes Does your car have anti-lock brakes? If […]

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