HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR CAR’S AC NEEDS A RECHARGE

How to Tell When Your Car’s AC Needs a Recharge

If you live in Gilbert, AZ, it’s nice to have functional air conditioning in your car for all the obvious reasons. We’re not in the business of telling you things you already know, though, we’re in the business of car repairs and keeping your vehicle in the best possible condition. With that said, let’s get straight into what an AC recharge is and how you know when you need one.

What is an AC Recharge?

Simply put, an AC recharge means adding more refrigerant to your vehicle. This process is a very common maintenance requirement for older vehicles that still use Freon as a refrigerant. Most modern cars have started using a refrigerant called R134a instead, which doesn’t need to be topped off quite as often. If you have a new vehicle that commonly needs more refrigerant, there’s a good chance you have an AC leak somewhere in the system. Either way, we’ll get to the root of the problem and help you stay cool on the road. 

How Do I Know if My Air Conditioner Needs Recharging?

Unless you have at least a little bit of experience in engineering or as a mechanic, you won’t always be able to tell the difference between low AC refrigerant and other problems. Don’t worry about that for now. All you need to recognize is that if you have a malfunctioning car air conditioners in the Arizona heat. When you can’t get cool in your car, it’s time to bring it into a Gilbert repair shop that understands your pain.

When you bring your car in, we’ll investigate an AC leak in addition to other problems. An excellent first step is to examine your AC compressor. By watching how the clutch and pulleys engage, we can usually tell quickly if the problem is low refrigerant, electrical malfunction, or something mechanical.

In the case of an AC leak, bad electrical signals, or mechanical failure, the system may call for other small repairs. In many cases, though, there is a good chance that you need more of a refrigerant like R134a in your vehicle. We’ll get you back to an appropriate level of air conditioning refrigerant and send you on your way. Since we have all the required equipment on-site, it’s as easy as that!

How Often Does My Car AC Need to Be Recharged?

There’s no hard and fast rule here. Some new cars that stay cool with R134a may only need to be recharged every seven years or so. Living in a hot place like Gilbert though, there’s a good chance you’ll feel the need for a recharge even more often than that. Older cars (from before 1994) will need an AC recharge much more frequently, but you can’t even find many good shops that work with R12 Freon in the United States anymore for environmental health reasons.

In 2014, some cars started running on R1234YF. 1234YF is an effective coolant, but unfortunately, not many shops service it. It requires specialized equipment, which makes it hard for these car owners to get their AC recharged. Luckily, we at Highline Car Care are one of the few shops with the appropriate equipment to work with R1234YF.

Air Conditioning Recharge near Gilbert, Arizona

If you notice your car blowing warm air from the vents even once it’s been running, we at Highline Car Care want to help. We live in Gilbert and spend a lot of time in vehicles, so car air conditioners are near and dear to our hearts. We’ve built our name by treating every car like it’s our own, and we’re ready to do the same with yours. Contact us today, then keep your cool and let us repair your vehicle.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/daniiD

9 Reasons Your Car Won’t Start and How to Fix Them

Whether you’re late for work or just finishing up the perfect evening out, a car that won’t start can be extremely frustrating. Thankfully, there are a number of reasons that your car won’t start, and diagnosing them may be easier than you imagine. Save yourself time and money by checking out these nine reasons your car isn’t working properly. Some of them you can fix yourself and others might require help from the professionals.

Dead Battery

The very first thing you should check is your battery. A dead battery is one of the most likely reasons your car isn’t starting, and it’s an easy fix. Usually, your car battery dies when you leave the lights on for an extended period of time. Running the battery completely empty doesn’t allow the engine to rollover and allow the alternator to start charging it.

Check if your lights or radio work. If not, look for a nearby car to jump start your vehicle. If jump starting the battery doesn’t work, you may need to have your battery replaced or you have a bad alternator.

A battery can die for a number of reasons, so consider checking these out before completely replacing your battery. Be extremely cautious when working around your car battery and, when in doubt, ask a mechanic to check it out for you. Check for one of these common battery issues:

  • Loose wires
  • Corrosion on the battery terminals
  • Expired battery

Empty Gas Tank

Another frustrating, yet simple, fix is an empty gas tank. As you go about your day it’s easy to forget to top up your tank. Your gas meter may even be broken, which leaves you driving on low fuel without knowing it. If your car sputters before dying or if the electronics still work, your gas tank light should be your first signal.

This is another easy fix. Simply fuel up and check it out again. Grab a gas can and try to top off your tank. If your car starts with a full tank of gas, you can be glad that it was one of the cheapest repairs needed. Unfortunately, if your car still won’t start, the issue may be more severe. From fuel filters and starters to ignition switches and fuel pumps, there are a number of repairs that require extensive mechanical experience.

Bad Starter

Perhaps the most common sense issue is a bad starter. A starter, as its name implies, helps start your car. As long as your battery is working properly, the starter receives the power needed to start your engine. A common sign of a damaged starter is a clicking sound as you turn your keys in the ignition.

A quick fix is to ask for a jump. Jumping your car typically gets it started again, but it won’t be a long-term solution. Bring your car into Highline Car Care and we’ll replace your starter and get you back on the road.

Damaged Ignition Switch

Just like your starter, your ignition switch is essential to properly starting your car. First, rule out the battery by attempting to turn on your headlights. If your lights still work but turning the key in your car’s ignition doesn’t produce any results, you may have a damaged ignition switch.

A damaged switch will prevent your engine to run, even if you have the power and fuel necessary. If your ignition switch isn’t functioning, it’s time to take your car into the shop. A bad switch is time-consuming to replace on your own, but a mechanic can make quick work of the job.

Failed Fuel Pump

Another more serious possibility is a failed fuel pump. Your fuel pump is necessary to keep fuel moving to your engine, so a pump that isn’t operating will prevent your car from starting or cause it to stop soon after you’ve started it.

A failed fuel pump will typically sputter and attempt to start before dying. Even if your vehicle doesn’t sputter to life briefly, you should still hear the pump running in the tank for a few seconds if you listen closely. A pump is another difficult repair that’s best left to the professionals.

Damaged Spark Plug

The lowly spark plug could be the culprit for your car that won’t start. A spark plug allows a controlled spark to ignite the fuel in your engine. Without it, your car won’t be able to operate. If your lights and radio will turn on but your car is sputtering or won’t start at all, you may have a defective spark plug.

Replacing a spark plug is relatively easy, but finding the culprit can be difficult. Unless you know the exact location of the damaged plug, consider saving yourself the time and frustration by taking it into your local mechanic.

Faulty Ignition Coil

Similar to a damaged spark plug, a faulty ignition coil will keep sparks from reaching the cylinders, keeping your engine from starting. An ignition coil is a sort-of amplifier that is responsible for converting the 12v supplied by the battery into several thousand volts required to sustain an internal combustion engine.

On older cars, there is usually a single coil which is connected to the distributor by a single spark plug wire. Replacing the coil is very straightforward, since there is only one. On newer cars, however, you are likely to encounter individual coil packs on each cylinder, which can make identifying the faulty coil a bit more tedious.

Activated Security System

If you have a newer vehicle, it may be too smart for its own good. Many vehicles come with safety features to prevent theft or dangerous operation. Whether a sensor is damaged or your car was broken into, your security system may be preventing you from starting your vehicle.

Check out any safety features in your owner’s manual and determine whether you can easily turn it off. You may not have the remote starting device in the vehicle, you may have the incorrect device, or you may need to enter a security code. In any case, a certified mechanic should have the tools and knowledge necessary to reset your vehicle and get you back on the road.

Locked Wheel

A more straightforward security feature is a wheel lock. If your wheel is turned slightly, it could be pushed against the locking pawl and preventing you from turning your key. If your lights still work but you can’t even turn the keys in the ignition, try turning the wheel from side to side. Straightening the wheel out can allow you to unlock this safety feature and start your car.

Stop by Highline Car Care for Emergency Servicing Today

From complex maintenance to quick fixes, Highline Car Care is your premier repair shop in Phoenix. Located conveniently in Gilbert, our trained mechanics can help you quickly troubleshoot any issue and determine the exact reason your car won’t start. Whether you’re stranded on the side of the road or stuck at home, contact us today to schedule an appointment or narrow down the reason your car isn’t starting properly.

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Which Country Makes the Best Cars?

Whether you’re in the market for a new vehicle or want to know if you made the best choice with a purchase, knowing where the best cars come from is a helpful piece of knowledge. However, to a certain point, the country that claims the title is somewhat subjective. There is no one country that earns first place in every performance and functionality category. While some countries produce vehicles consistently strong in a few categories, it is important for you as the consumer to know which factors are the most important to you.

Japan

While Japanese-made cars may have the second least impressive towing capacity and second lowest acceleration in comparison to other countries, they excel in many other categories that make towing and acceleration seem somewhat irrelevant. In our opinion, Japanese-made cars are among the most reliable we have seen and happen to be our specialty at Highline Car Care. We believe that reliability is one of the most important factors when it comes to car ownership. Japanese produced cars also tend to have the lowest maintenance costs, which can really benefit their owners.

Britain

Britain is definitely a top contender in performance categories. Surprisingly, they are in first place for horsepower and towing capacity, both by wide margins. Their win in the towing category is largely due to the Land Rover and the fact that only vehicles made for towing were considered. However, it is one of the worst in fuel efficiency, seating capacity, and is the second most expensive on average.

Italy

Just as surprising as Britain taking first place, Italy only beats Japan and Korea for horsepower. However, as you’d expect, they’re first in acceleration and top speed. Being the fastest and lightest comes at a cost, though. They are the most expensive vehicles as well as the least safe, offering the lowest seating capacity.

United States

While purchasing American made vehicles is a popular and honorable value, the United States is not a leader in almost any category. While they do take second place in towing capacity and are among the least expensive, they are one of the lowest in acceleration and the last in top speed and weight. They also have the second to lowest smart ratings and one of the lowest safety ratings. However, the safety ratings are very close for most countries, between four and five on a scale of five. As far as seating capacity and fuel efficiency, they sit comfortably in the middle.

Germany

Germany is in the middle in almost every category, but they are second to Sweden in their safety rating. Slightly lower than the United States in gas mileage and seating capacity, they offer dependable functionality with fewer bells and whistles. They are among the more expensive cars, finishing out the top three which are all found in Europe.

Korea

Korean vehicles often sit right next to Japan, almost always closely following. This includes second place in fuel efficiency as well as taking up the rear in towing capacity and horsepower. Their smart rating and safety rating are both average. Their vehicles are the second lightest, after Italy. There is only one category where Korea is the leader, and that is MSRP, offering the lowest average prices.

Sweden

Like Germany, Sweden is unremarkable in most performance categories. However, their safety and smart ratings are the highest. They also offer the most seating space. They have average horsepower and are among the heaviest vehicles on the market.

We Repairs Cars From Every Country

There are benefits and deficits with vehicles from any country and there is no definite answer for everyone. No matter where your car was manufactured, you can depend on Highline Car Care for the skill and capability to find and repair any problems your vehicle may have. From a simple tune-up or oil change to navigation system maintenance and preventative car care, we have everything you need to keep your vehicle in the best possible shape. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and find out how we can care for you and your vehicle.

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How to Extend the Life of Your Hybrid Battery

Driving a hybrid car comes with many advantages. It’s environmentally friendly, depends quite a bit less on fossil fuels and often has a higher resale value. Additionally, hybrid batteries generally last longer than a typical car battery. How long do hybrid batteries last? Let’s have a look.

What the Car Manufacturers Tell Us

Not every hybrid car manufacturer has a distinct number on how long hybrid batteries will last, though some have given estimates. For example, Toyota suggests their batteries will last as long as the hybrid vehicle itself. Their tests have shown a battery lasting for 180,000 miles. Honda proposes under regular driving conditions, their batteries will last 10 years at a minimum. Both brands provide a warranty for their batteries of eight years or 80,000 minimum miles. Ford offers this same warranty.

While Toyota and Honda have some pretty solid estimates, it’s important to keep in mind that driving conditions, engine temperature, mileage, make, model and other factors play a role in how long your hybrid battery will last. It could be five years, it could be ten.

How You Can Preserve Battery Life

There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to preserve the life of your hybrid battery for an extended period of time, but it never hurts to take preventative measures to maximize battery life. The following are some tips to do just that.

  •  Start slowly – Slamming your foot on the accelerator might get you out of the gate more quickly, but it could also wear the battery out just as quick. After stopping at a light or stop sign, lightly tap the accelerator to get going again and move ahead at a steady increase of speed.
  •  Stop slowly – Again, slamming your foot on the break is not a great option. Instead, let the vehicle coast to a stop. This creates kinetic energy that will give the battery a little boost in the form of a charge.
  •  Go on a drive – When hybrid vehicles are not driven for a long amount of time, the battery doesn’t get that kinetic energy it needs to stay charged. Slowly, it will begin to die. If you don’t need to use the car, find a need. Take it for a leisurely drive, use it for errands once or twice a week or plan a road trip.
  •  Keep up on maintenance – With all machines, when one component is out of whack, the other components have to work harder to keep the machine running. The same is true for a hybrid car. When you keep it maintained, complete repairs on time and care for it the way you should, the battery doesn’t have to work harder to keep the vehicle running.

What You Can Expect

As was mentioned before, there’s no guarantee your hybrid battery will last for a certain amount of time, but there are some things you can do to preserve the battery life. If you always remember to start and stop slowly, take your car for a spin more often than not, and keep up on the maintenance items it requires, you can expect your battery to last for quite a while. Before purchasing a hybrid vehicle or a battery for it, double check the warranty. If the battery doesn’t last for as long as you thought it should, you can take advantage of the warranty.

Keeping Your Hybrid Vehicle Serviced

For more information about hybrid cars and batteries, or to have your vehicle serviced, contact us today. We look forward to assisting you in preserving the life of your battery and your car with our knowledgeable, quality service.

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5 Reasons Your Brakes Could Be Making Noise

When you come to a full stop, the last thing you want to hear is your brakes squealing. There is a litany of reasons why you have brake noise, and you need to remedy the situation immediately. Since there are numerous reasons why your brakes have begun to fail, it is paramount to get your vehicle inspected by a professional right away to find the cause. Here are some of the most common explanations.

  1. Low-Quality Brake Pads

    When the time comes to purchase brand new brake pads, you will always be better off buying a high-quality set. It will cost you more money now, but you will benefit in the long run. The problem with low-quality pads is that they tend to contain pieces of metal. This metal can then scrape and rub up against the rotor’s surface, resulting in substantial damage. Therefore, you are better off buying brake pads from brands you can trust.

  2. Worn-Out Brake Pads

    No matter what type of brake pads you buy, they will wear down over time. Most brake pads need to be replaced once every 15,000 miles. Once you hit this milestone, you will likely hear metal scraping against metal. The material from the pads has worn down too much, and you need an immediate replacement. If you do not replace your pads right away, then your brakes will become extremely damaged. Both the caliper and the backing plate will become destroyed, so do not delay this essential service.

  3. Broken Shims

    When your car develops broken shims, the brakes will produce a grinding sound. This sound comes from the shim making contact with another component of the brake system, usually the rotor. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to replace the shims every time you get a brake job performed. In the event you are unsure if your mechanic will automatically do this, you should ask.

  4. Object Getting Stuck Between the Caliper and Rotor

    As your car drives along Arizona roadways, it can kick up rocks and various pieces of debris. Occasionally, these items will make their way into the brake system and get caught between the rotor and the caliper. This creates a grinding sound when you press down on the brakes. The ensuing friction will ultimately damage the parts if you do not remove it promptly.

  5. Infrequent Driving

    Idleness is not good for any vehicle. If you have a tendency to leave your car idle in the garage for weeks at a time, then you need to be careful nothing deteriorates prematurely. Additionally, bad weather and rain can cause parts in the braking system to rust and corrode. Even if you do not have a need to drive your car, you should still take it for a spin once in a while. As long as you do this, your brakes should be fine for at least 15,000 miles.

Let Us Diagnose the Noise for You

Any time you hear a strange noise coming from your car, you should take it to the professionals at Highline Car Care right away. Our experts are proficient in an array of services, including brake pad replacement and rotor repair. You need to contact us at the first sign of trouble, and we will get your vehicle back on the road in no time.

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Shocks vs Struts: How To Tell the Difference

Shock absorbers and struts provide stability to your car, steadying your tires and suspension in order to prevent jolts every time you accelerate or hit a rough patch in the road. Both of these features are vital to smooth steering and acceleration. Their internal structures are similar, but they work differently and take up a different position under vehicles. Below, you can learn the difference between shocks vs struts.

How Do Struts and Shocks Work?

Shock absorbers don’t support the weight of a vehicle, but they do control the movement of your suspension and springs to keep the wheels steady. They do this by taking the suspension’s kinetic energy and turning it into thermal energy that can be absorbed by the hydraulic fluid.

Shock absorbers generate resistance against the piston in response to the speed at which the suspension moves. Some are velocity-sensitive, which means that they adjust to driving conditions, counteracting the following:

  • Swaying
  • Bouncing movements
  •  Vehicle dive
  •  Squatting while accelerating

Struts can be found mostly on vehicles with front wheel drive and are a part of a suspension’s structure. This is one of the main difference between shocks vs struts because shocks are separate from the suspension system. The struts hold tires in place, keeping them aligned and supporting the spring.

Typical suspension systems have an upper ball joint and upper arm, but a strut takes the place of these two components, with the benefit of being more compact. By taking up this position, they allow the suspension assembly to move along with the vehicle as its direction changes. Struts support the weight of your vehicle using the coil spring, and a damping unit controls the movement of the suspension and the spring. The strut housing provides a rigid casing for these two internal parts.

Are Shocks and Struts Interchangeable?

Shocks and struts have some internal similarities and perform a similar function. Both make use of a piston to push against hydraulic fluid, which allows them to stabilize against your vehicle’s movement. Shock absorbers house a piston and piston rod, which push against the hydraulic fluid in the pressure tube. When the suspension moves, hydraulic fluid is pushed through holes in the piston in order to slow it down. Once it slows, the suspension and spring slow down as a result.

Struts also include the piston and piston rod to control the movement of the suspension and springs, by pushing the hydraulic fluid. The struts resist the up-and-down movement of the suspension and respond to speed by increasing or decreasing the amount of resistance generated.

Though they are similar, vehicles will only have one of these parts at each wheel, never both on one. Any replacement parts should match the original. Shocks cannot be replaced by struts.

When To Replace Shocks and Struts

For most drivers, failing shocks and struts become apparent when they change how it feels to drive a car. Once your shocks or struts stop effectively providing stability to your car, your ride gets much rougher. Roads suddenly seem much bumpier than before, and steering often becomes more difficult and less precise. Braking can also seem shakier than before. Visible leaking fluid is another sign they are worn out.

Because this feature controls so much about your tires, it can cause unusual patterns of tread or tires that seem to be wearing out faster than usual. Lots of driving can also cause them to wear out faster, and an inspection every 50,000 miles can help you identify old or damaged parts before they cause any issues.

Replacing Your Struts or Shocks in Mesa, AZ

Both shocks and struts are vital to controlling your car’s movement. For a smooth, comfortable ride, it’s important to have them inspected regularly. Make an appointment for a thorough inspection at Highline Car Care today.

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