THE PROS AND CONS OF SUMMER TIRES

You may have heard of summer tires by a different name: performance tires. For people who hit the track, performance tires are a must. The fact that the two terms are interchangeable may seem confusing, especially because their use isn’t restricted to just one season. Here’s a look at what exactly summer tires — and performance tires — are, along with the pros and cons of using them. A Performance Edge When you’re looking for optimum speed and agility, performance tires deliver. Most tire manufacturers make them, and automakers include them as standard equipment on select models and trims. For everyone else, keeping a set of performance tires on hand just for the track makes sense. You put t

HOW TO SPOT A BAD VALVE COVER GASKET

Engine gaskets perform one of the most vital roles in your engine: They keep dirt and debris out and keep oil and other fluids in. When it comes to moving parts, there’s nowhere you’ll find more than under the valve cover. So a bad valve cover gasket is a critical failure. Although it’s covered top and bottom, this gasket is often made of rubber or cork and therefore can be easily damaged from the sides or even become brittle and crack as it gets old, causing a leak. Here’s how to spot a bad valve cover gasket, so you can get to the shop before it takes a toll on your engine. Shedding Light on the Problem The most obvious indicators of an engine issue are your dashboard warning lights. If

HOW TO SAFELY JACK YOUR CAR: 3 IMPORTANT TIPS

Knowing how to safely jack your car can mean the difference between being stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow and getting that spare tire on to replace a flat. In the spring and fall, however, it’s also a crucial skill for the thousands of vehicle owners who will be swapping their seasonal rims — moving from winter to summer rubber or vice-versa. Check out these three tips for safely jacking and supporting your ride. 1. Choose the Right Jack There are two important considerations to make when buying a jack. The first is the amount of weight that it can safely support, also known as its weight rating. This is typically expressed in tons — you’ll see jacks listed as 1.5 ton, 2 t

CAR WON’T START! ALTERNATOR OR BATTERY?

You depend on your car to get you where you need to go, so when it doesn’t start, it can be a pretty big problem. There are a number of reasons why this might happen, but one of the most common is that it isn’t getting enough electricity to start the combustion process. You may be tempted to blame the battery — and you might be right — but alternator problems could also be at fault. How do you know if it’s the alternator or battery? Knowing the difference will let you make a quick diagnosis and the proper repairs. Charge Ahead Always check the battery first, because it has a lower life expectancy (three to five years) and fails more often than the alternator. First off, switch the key to the

5 GARAGE CLEANING PRODUCTS THAT SHOULD BE ON EVERYONE’S SHELF

There are many garage cleaning products out there, but it’s not always easy to know which ones are must-haves and which ones you can do without. With the right set of cleaners, you’ll be set to tackle any mess you might accidentally make while working on a project, which is why we put together this quick list of five essentials that should be on every shelf. 1. Degreaser One of the most useful garage cleaning products on the market is degreaser. It’s easy to understand why: So many vehicle repairs require you to handle or otherwise use oils, lubricants and, well, grease. Whether you’re installing a ball joint, cleaning an engine bay or simply trying to scrub a stubborn stain off the floor, u

THE 5 BEST BOAT ACCESSORIES: 2018 EDITION

It’s time to get back out on the water, but before you go, make sure you and your boat are ready with this year’s best boat accessories. You can check out the 2017 edition of our top boat accessory picks, then add these new items to your wish list. 1. Infant Life Jacket You should have life jackets for everyone on board, just in case the unthinkable happens. There are several types of life jackets that might work for you, depending on your activities and whether you only need them for emergency use. If you’ve got little ones on board, though, an infant life jacket is mission critical! Infant life jackets are made to be self-righting, to keep your little sailor’s face out of the water with no

HOW TO REPLACE LAWN MOWER BLADES: DO’S AND DON’TS

The quality of your lawn mower’s blades has a huge effect on not only how it cuts but also the health of your lawn. As you mow, you may hit a rock or branch that damages the blade so badly that you must change it. Here’s a quick look at how to replace lawn mower blades yourself and save a few bucks. Gear Up Before you begin, there are a number of items you’ll need to gather, including: • A replacement lawn mower blade for your mower’s make and model • Adjustable or socket wrench (to remove bolt holding the blade on) • Shop towels Safety First Over time, your mower’s blade will become chipped from hitting rocks, branches and other debris. When a blade is severely damaged, it will need to b

5 TIPS FOR BLEEDING BRAKES

When you try to slow down and an unfamiliar squishy sensation results, it points to one thing: air in the brakes. Trapped air can affect brake performance; if the problem worsens, the brakes could fail. Fortunately, the problem can sometimes be resolved by bleeding the brakes. Here’s five tips for bleeding brakes and staying safe while doing it. Keep in mind that some modern brake systems require special diagnostic tools to be serviced correctly, so it may be best to let the experts at your local NAPA AutoCare can handle it for you. 1. Always Place Your Vehicle On Jack Stands At some point, you’ll remove each wheel to reach the brake bleeder screw. Any time you plan on being underneath a car

WHAT IS AN INTERFERENCE ENGINE?

What kind of engine is in your car: interference or non-interference? It’s important for you to know, because if the timing belt breaks, a non-interference engine will simply fail to start, while an interference engine could sustain heavy internal damage. Here’s everything you need to know about interference engines and why a broken timing belt may be a far more serious matter than you ever imagined. Interference vs. Non-Interference Engines The differences between interference and non-interference engines have everything to do with design. Nearly every engine has a timing belt or timing chain, designed to synchronize the camshafts and crankshaft. The camshaft is tasked with operating the en

BAD BRAKE PADS: 3 SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Bad brake pads aren’t the most difficult components on your car that you’ll ever need to replace, but they’re definitely among the most important. Your brake pads play a critical role in bringing your car to a safe and controlled stop, and over time they gradually wear down to the point where you can no longer rely on them to do so. When the moment comes to change your pads, you shouldn’t hesitate — and here’s how to know that you should be making that appointment with your mechanic. 1. Squealing Bad brake pads make noise — by design. Factory pads almost all have small metal tabs attached to them, nestled against the side of the pad. As the material on the pad wears down due to the friction

WHAT IS A NON-INTERFERENCE ENGINE?

The modern internal combustion engine is a complex ballet of moving parts, but what happens if one of the ballerinas is not listening to the music? The answer is chaos. Depending on whether your car is powered by an interference or non-interference engine, that chaos could result in either catastrophic engine damage or minor engine repairs. Interference vs. Non-Interference Engine Basics For every two crankshaft revolutions in any engine, the pistons move up and down twice, while the camshafts travel one revolution, opening and closing intake and exhaust valves to allow for intake, compression, power and exhaust strokes. “Interference,” in engine terminology, refers to the paths that the pis

SYMPTOMS OF A FAILING RACK AND PINION

Rack and pinion steering can be found on just about every modern automobile. Even off-road vehicles, pickup trucks and semi-trucks use this system, as well as ATVs and UTVs. Have you ever wondered how it all works to keep you pointed in the right direction? Also, how do you know if something is wrong with your steering gear? How Rack and Pinion Steering Works This particular system is named after the type of gears that are used. A small pinion gear, connected to the steering wheel, meshes with a long rack gear, connected at both ends to the tie rods and steering knuckles. When the driver turns the steering wheel, it pushes the rack left or right, thereby turning the wheels left or right. Des

TIRE WEAR: IS THIS NORMAL?

Tires are, unfortunately, considered consumable material on a car. Along with things like filters, windshield wipers and fluids, you should expect to replace them several times during the life of a vehicle, as the more they are used, the more worn they become. Actually, considering all that we demand from them, it’s kind of a miracle they last as long as they do. But how can you tell the difference between regular tire wear and something abnormal? And what might your tire wear say about your driving habits? Do you know when it’s time for a change? Stay Calm and Tread On The life expectancy of tires varies widely and depends on many factors, such as original construction, driving habits, mile

HOW TO RECHARGE A DEAD CAR BATTERY SAFELY AND QUICKLY

Having to recharge a dead car battery after turning the key in your vehicle and hearing not even a click from the starter is a frustrating experience — but don’t worry, because you’ve got options. In fact, there are many ways to deal with getting juice back into your car battery, but not all are appropriate for every situation. Check out these tips on recharging that will protect both your battery and your car from further damage. How Dead Is the Battery? When you recharge a dead car battery, it’s very helpful to know just how dead it is before you decide how you’re going to deal with it. A healthy battery will show 12.4 to 12.7 volts across both terminals when measured with a voltmeter, a s

COMMON BATTERY TERMS

When learning about car batteries you may come across terms you have never seen before. That’s we have supplied a list of common battery terms to help you understand your battery better. These terms can also help when talking with one of the experts at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store. ACTIVE MATERIAL – The active material in the positive plates is lead dioxide and that in the negative is metallic sponge lead. When an electrical circuit is created, these materials react with sulfuric acid during charging and discharging according to the following chemical reaction: PbO2 + Pb + 2H2SO4 = 2PbSO4 + 2H20. AGM (ABSORBED GLASS MAT) – A spill proof battery that utilizes a unique highly absorbent sep

HIGH-PERFORMANCE BRAKE FLUID: WHAT IS IT AND WHO NEEDS IT?

Upgrading to high-performance brake fluid isn’t the flashiest modification you can make to your vehicle, but if you ever intend to compete in an autocross event or try your car out at a track day, it’s a must-have. Moving to enhanced brake fluid is one of the most important upgrades you can make to any vehicle that will be driven quickly, and fortunately, it’s an easy one, too. Boiling Over On a track, your brakes can generate significant amounts of heat as they bring your vehicle down from speeds you might not normally reach on the street. Over the course of a driving session, this heat can build up so much that the temperature of your brake fluid reaches past its boiling point, causing it

SIGNS OF A BAD BLOWER MOTOR

The blower motor is an important part of your vehicle’s heat and air conditioning systems. Without it, you can’t control the temperature of your cabin — not a dire consequence, but definitely a major annoyance in extreme heat or cold. Of course, your climate control systems can fail in many ways, so it’s good to be able to identify the signs of a bad blower motor and get it taken care of without replacing a bunch of other perfectly good parts. Getting Some Air Time The blower motor is a small rotary motor that drives a fan sitting behind your vents, pushing hot or cold air through them at varying speeds, depending on your selection. Even though it’s in a housing, it lives in the engine compa

WHY IS CHANGING AN OIL FILTER SO IMPORTANT?

We’ve long departed from the 3,000-mile oil change; most automakers now suggest longer oil change intervals, usually every 5,000, 7,500 or 10,000 miles. These longer intervals are possible thanks to both tighter engine-manufacturing tolerances and high-tech, low-viscosity engine oils, which make for more efficiency and better performance. Changing an oil filter has always been recommended along with the oil change, yet some suggest that changing the filter less often could save money and time. What’s really going on here? Are oil filters just another money-making add-on or a critical part of every oil change? How Engine Oil Filters Work As suggested, oil filters filter oil. New, clean oil im

WHAT ARE COATED BRAKE ROTORS?

Disc brakes on automobiles have been around since the 1950s. The basic design itself hasn’t changed much since that time, but technology has advanced the components that make up the system. Calipers have evolved to contain as many as eight pistons for maximum clamping force. Rotors feature not only internal cooling vanes, but some have strategically placed vent holes and slots. Advances in chemical technology have now added coated brake rotors to the list of updated brake system components. But what is the big deal? The open wheel designs of vehicles 10 years old and less reflect the OEMs desire to improve fuel economy by eliminating air drag. This sealing off of airflow in the wheel area ca

TIRE PRESSURE MATTERS TO MUCH MORE THAN FUEL ECONOMY

Are your tires properly inflated? Tires are your vehicle’s only link to the pavement and affect so much of how your vehicle handles on the road, so this is an important question to answer. Because air pressure constantly fluctuates, it’s a good idea to check and adjust tire pressure at least monthly, if not weekly. Here are four things that the loss of just a few PSI can affect, most of which are interrelated and some of which may not seem so obvious. 1. Fuel Economy You probably know this one already, but insufficient tire inflation will reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy and cause you to spend more time at the pump. The worse the underinflation, the more fuel you’ll waste getting from plac

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