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failed wiper blades

Today I want to give everyone 5 things that they can check on their own cars.

These are really quick and easy checks. With some practice, it will take about 5 minutes to complete. Consider doing these checks when filling your car up with fuel!

TIRES
Checking tires is pretty easy. I recommend turning your steering wheel all the way to the right or to the left(it doesn’t matter which way). This will allow you to check the condition of both front tires. You will be looking for any strange tire wear. The colors on the tires below show what it should not look. Be sure to check your tire pressure. The tires should be cold to get an accurate reading.

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WIPER BLADES
This one is easy. If they do not clear the windshield properly, just replace them! Please do not wait until the look like this!

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LIGHTS
I recommend doing this with your car running, so you will not drain the battery. Just turn the lights on, take a walk around the car and make sure they work! Be sure to look at the license plate lights too. You can check the turn signals inside the car. If they blink at normal speed, they should be fine. You will need a helper to check the brake lights!

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FLUIDS
This is the part that you might get a little dirty. Make sure you have a clean towel or a paper towel. Most cars coolant(antifreeze) can be judged by looking through the bottle. If you have a VW, it is pink and the bottle it is in is clear. To check the oil, be sure your car is on a level surface. Remove the dipstick, clean the oil off, and reinstall the dipstick. Now, put the dipstick back in, remove it again and look to see how much oil is on the stick. There will be indicator marks on the stick to tell you where the level should be.
Also, check the brake fluid and power steering fluid. Please make sure that the windshield washer fluid is correct for the season.

WINDOWS AND MIRRORS
This one is pretty important. Always make sure your windshield and rear window are clean. It will totally make driving at night better. It also goes with out saying, make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted and clean.

Side note, if you are my customer, just bring it to me, I will do it for you!

Is this stuff everyone checks? Post up what you think in the comments!!

Oh, another side note, I wrote this whole post including pics on my phone. If the format is goofy, that is why. I am still working out the kinks, but I wanted to get this post up for you guys!

A fan asked me if he could do his own brake fluid service.  I responded to him with ” sure it’s really easy”.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is actually a lot to servicing brake fluid.  There are lots of tools out there that can help you with this.  At the shop I use a pressure bleeder.  It pushes fluid through and works great.  That machine is about $1000, so not something you want to run out and buy.

As I have said before, brakes are a VERY important safety system.  I can’t be responsible for anything getting messed up. I don’t want anyone getting hurt, so please take this seriously.

Ok, brake fluid, this is the main connection from your foot, to the brakes at the wheels.    When the brake pedal is pressed, it forces fluid to the brakes. This moves the piston and pushes the brake pad into the rotor or brake drum.

We need to keep this fluid clean for a couple of reasons:
1)   Dirt in the lines can cause damage to seals in the system
2)   Brake fluid absorbs mositure(hygroscopic). Excess mositure will boil when the brakes get hot or freeze when they get cold. Either way this can result in expensive brake system repairs

Let’s get the fluid changed.  Remember,  this must be done correctly, or your brakes will be very sad.
There are several ways to do this I will talk about the 2 easiest ways to do it, and all you will need is a helper and wrenches to open the bleeders.  I personally like to take the wheels off to flush brakes.  Brake fluid on nice wheels can ruin the finish.

Gravity Flush
This takes a long time, but is the easiest way, and has the lowest chance of air getting in the system.

First, open the brake fluid  reservoir, and fill it to the top.

Next start by opening the bleeder fitting on the brake that is furthest from the brake fluid reservoir. This will usually be the right rear brake.

Open the bleeder screw enough to let fluid come out.  Keep a close eye on the fluid reservoir, it MUST NOT empty all of the fluid out.  While keeping the fluid full up front, let gravity do the work.  When the fluid is clean, close the bleeder, clean with brake clean, and move to the other rear wheel.  Do the exact same time on the 3 other wheels.

This takes a really long time, just don’t touch the brake pedal, and everything will be good.

Manual Flush

Well, this way is much faster, but you will need a helper, and run a higher risk of air getting into the system.  This way uses the pressure created by pushing the brake pedal to force the fluid out of the bleeder.

Like with Gravity Flush, make sure the fluid reservoir  is full, and DO NOT PUMP IT EMPTY!

Start at the futherest wheel from the fluid reservoir.  This time, have your helper pump the brake several times. Have them hold the pedal to the floor.  Open the bleeder and let fluid out.  Now close the bleeder, and have your helper pump the brake again.

This will need to be done a few times at each wheel.  Again until the fluid is clean.   Please be really careful. When the bleeder is open, DO NOT let the brake pedal come off the floor.  This will suck air in to the system, thats what happened to me the very first time I did it this way.

I have several times in this post to be carful. If you happen to get air in the lines, it will feel like your pushing down on a sponge.  This feeling gets worse as the brakes get hot.  PLEASE don’t do this if you are not 100% sure!!!  I can not be responsable if you damage your brakes.

 

Hi everyone,

I wanted to talk about checking brakes.  This is something everyone can do, with almost no tools.  The only thing you might need is a flashlight.

Before you get started I need to tell you a few things.  This is a basic visual inspection,  just a check.  If you have an issue with braking, then further inspection will be needed.   DO NOT DO THIS AFTER YOU JUST DROVE THE CAR.  The brakes get really hot and it burns like hell if you touch hot brakes(trust me).  If you have any question about what you are looking at, post it in the comments and I will help you out.

I also want you to know what you are looking at.  I am going to have you check 4 main parts. Brake discs(or rotors), Brake pads, Brake lines, and Brake fluid.

Lets start with fluid.

Open the hood.  Ususally the brake fluid resivoius is at the back of the engine bay, inline with where the brake pedal is.  If you don’t see it, check the owners book, it will tell you what the cap looks like.  Open the cap and shine you flashlight in.  You want to check the level.  Be sure its at the full mark.  Look at the color.  When new the fluid is yellow.  It turns greenish after time.  If its Black, get the fluid flushed .  Be sure to use the correct fluid. VW uses DOT 4+ fluid.

Ok, the fluid is good. Lets move to the wheels.

Start in the front, you’ll see why soon.   Look through the rim.  You will see a silver disc, that is the brake rotor.  It should be a nice silver color.  Look for any rust build up on the outer edge, some is normal, but  you don’t want your pads trying to clamp down on rust.  If you see a blueish tint, your brakes are getting too hot and need further inspection.  I like to run my fingernail up and down the rotor, like the hands of a clock @ 12:00, to check for any scoring or grooves that are forming.

If your rotor is good, now lets move to the pads.

Pads are the friction matieral that clamp down on the rotor to stop the car.  The brake pads are the part that will wear the quickest.  The pads are housed in the brake caliper and might be tricky to see.  The caliper is usually at the 9 o’clock or 3 o’clock positions.  This part is kinda tricky.  Follow the rotor around until you come to the pad.  The pad will look like its sitting on the rotor. Its actually barely riding the rotor to keep water off of it.  If the part that rides on the rotor is narrower than a quarter, replace them, NOW!

If you can see any of the lines, just check and make sure they are not wet with fluid.

Most cars will have a wear indicator of some kind for the front brakes.  Volkswagens have an electric sensor built into the pad.  Other cars like Honda have “squealers”. They will make a heck of a noise when its time to get replaced.  Please do not rely on these systems to keep you safe.

Well, time to move to the rear wheels.

One of 2 things will happen here.  If the rear brakes looks like the front, just use the same method as the front.  If you don’t see a rotor or brake pads, there is nothing to check.  Your brakes are drum style brakes, and the drum needs to be removed.

Well, you did it.  A quick and easy inspection.  How did it go?  How long did it take?  Please post in the comments how it went for you.

 

*Remember, If you are not 100% sure, get your brakes checked by a professional.  I am not responsible for any misdiagnosis, or errors that are made*