Category Archives: Tips and Advice

Doing These Things can Lead to a Bad Catalytic Converter

Car owners often neglect some maintenance items, like tune-ups, because they want to save money on car expenses. Unfortunately, the problem with this mindset is that by ignoring certain service items one will end up having more expensive car repairs down the road. This is especially true when it comes to the catalytic converter. Its job is to remove harmful gases from the exhaust so they don’t pollute.  To do this, several precious metals (usually platinum and palladium) act as a chemical catalyst. It’s become of these metals that the cost to replace a catalytic converter is expensive. By doing (or not doing) certain things, you will more than likely end up with a bad catalytic converter. What are some of the things that will cause a catalytic converter to fail? Read on to find out.

  1. Neglecting Engine Tune-Ups – When was the last time you had the spark plugs and wires changed? When the engine gets out of tune, the entire vehicle will undergo more wear and tear. The catalytic converter is particularly susceptible to bad engine performance. An improper air/fuel mixture, improper timing and/or misfiring spark plugs will affect the exhaust coming from the engine. Anything that affects the exhaust will cause issues with the catalytic converter. If the problem continues for an extended period of time, the catalytic converter will go bad.
  2. Fuel Entering the Exhaust System – For your engine to run properly, it requires an exact ratio of fuel to air. Too little fuel and the engine doesn’t run right. Too much fuel and the unburnt fuel will enter the exhaust system. When that happens, the unspent fuel ignites when it reaches the catalytic converter causing it to heat up beyond its normal operating temperature. If it runs like this for too long… the catalytic converter will fail and you’ll be spending a lot of money to replace it. You can prevent this from happening by having tune-ups done regularly and replacing faulty parts, like oxygen sensors and fuel injectors.
  3. Coolant or Oil Entering the Exhaust System – The cooling system is paramount to engine performance. When the cooling system is neglected, the engine runs hotter than it should which could cause things like a cracked manifold gasket or cylinder head gasket. When these gaskets go bad, coolant and/or motor oil can leak into the combustion chamber and exhaust. Coolant and/or oil in the exhaust system will result in the accumulation of carbon deposits on the catalytic converter and end up blocking exhaust flow.
  4. “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” Light Left Unfixed – The Check Engine and Service Engine Soon light is an important warning system that lets you know there is a problem somewhere in the emissions system. If left unfixed, you will end up having to replace the catalytic converter. (Read more about the Check Engine Light here).

The simplest way to avoid having to replace the catalytic converter is to regularly maintain your vehicle. The certified technicians in our auto repair shop in Morristown, New Jersey, complete a 27-point courtesy inspection each time you bring your vehicle to Shade Tree Garage for service. We also keep a detailed service history on your vehicle so we can let you know when it’s time for a tune-up, the cooling system needs to be serviced, or there’s another engine component that should be addressed. Click here to schedule service or repair with Shade Tree Garage.

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5 of the Most Overlooked Car Maintenance Services

Commuting to work, carpooling the kids… when you have busy work and family schedules, there’s no time for unexpected car repairs. The majority of times, these high repair costs and the trouble associated with them could have been avoided with some basic car maintenance. Here are 5 of the most overlooked car maintenance services.

Are you guilty of not taking care of any of the following 5 car care services?

  1. Power Steering Service – When was the last time you brought your vehicle into the shop and asked for a power steering service? Thought so. Most people don’t, but in time, your vehicle’s power steering fluid will become dirty or sludgy from the normal wear and tear it undergoes each time you drive. Fluids are important to proper operation of the steering system. When the power steering fluid gets dirty and old, it can begin to clog steering components and may even cause system failures. Not sure how often to replace the power steering fluid? Ask us.
  2. Wheel Alignment – Wheels that are out of alignment can cause all sorts of problems from uneven tire wear to problems with the suspension system. Over time, the alignment will go out – a little more quickly if you hit potholes or curbs. You should have the alignment checked at least once a year and more if you’ve hit a pothole or curb.
  3. Transmission Fluid and Filter Service – How often do you check the condition and level of transmission fluid in your vehicle? To that end, when did you last have the fluid and filter changed? Because today’s transmissions are fairly reliable, many people don’t even think of having this important service performed. Check the fluid once a month and follow the recommended service intervals in your owner’s manual. For more on transmissions, click here.
  4. Timing Belt Replacement – The timing belt is critical to the proper operation of your vehicle engine. So much so that if the timing belt breaks, your engine could sustain irreparable damage. Your owner’s manual will identify when the timing belt should be replaced. Don’t wait until it breaks to replace it.
  5. Cooling System Service – Another very important component to your vehicle’s operation, the cooling system prevents corrosion and keeps the engine from overheating. A cooling system that hasn’t been maintained can’t protect engine parts from corrosion and will most likely cause the engine to run too hot. If the engine overheats, just like with the timing belt, you could sustain major engine damage. Make sure you have the proper level of coolant/antifreeze in the fall and spring. Flush and replace the coolant/antifreeze when it’s time to do so.

Our certified technicians and service advisor are happy to answer questions you may have about any of these services. Also, each time you bring your vehicle to us for repair or maintenance, we complete a 27-point courtesy inspection. If we find anything that needs to be replaced, we’ll let you know. Click here to schedule your next appointment with Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, New Jersey.

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The Type of Oil Filter You Use Does Make a Difference

You may be aware of the importance of using a high-quality oil in your vehicle, but were you aware that the type of oil filter that’s used is equally important? If you don’t change the oil frequently enough or use a motor oil of lesser quality, the life of your engine will be compromised. The same holds true for the quality of the oil filter that is used. So, what’s so important about the oil filter? We’ll explain it all in this blog post.

The oil lubricates the engine parts. Vital to engine life. The oil filter plays an equally vital role in protecting your vehicle’s engine from premature wear and failure. As your car engine runs, little pieces of metal will chip off various engine parts. The oil filter is responsible for cleaning the oil as it circulates through to the engine so these little bits of metal don’t cause additional damage to the engine.

You can save a few bucks on an oil filter, but it could cost you thousands in engine repairs if an oil filter comes apart or gets dirt in the system. In the first picture (the oil filter on the left), the paper element had blown out sending debris through the engine, and of course, no longer filtered the oil. The second picture shows how the filter on the right started collapsing which caused the height to shorten. If a low-quality oil filter does something like this in your vehicle, you’ve got a real mess on your hands.

Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, NJ, for your oil and oil filter changes.

When it comes to replacing oil filters, change them whenever you have the oil changed. If you regularly drive towing heavy loads, in stop-and-go traffic or in extreme weather conditions, it’s a good idea to change your oil and filter more frequently. Your technician at Shade Tree Garage can let you know the best oil and filter change schedule for your vehicle and the conditions under which you drive.

So now you know why the quality of an oil filter is important.  Have more questions? Feel free to ask us the next time you bring your vehicle in for service. Click here to schedule your next oil and oil filter change now.

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Is Your Car’s Cooling System Waiting for Disaster? 4 Signs of a Problem

When was the last time you had maintenance done on your vehicle’s cooling system? If you don’t remember, it’s definitely time to have this vital engine system checked out and serviced. In this blog post, we will address some signs that there may be a problem with the cooling system. We will also let you know what you can do to protect your car’s engine from major damage.

Signs of Cooling System Problems

The cooling system in your vehicle is a vital component responsible for making sure the engine and transmission don’t overheat. When the cooling system isn’t properly maintained, failure of the system can result in serious engine damage. As with any engine system, there are usually some telltale signs that indicate a problem. Here are the four symptoms that your vehicle’s cooling system needs to be serviced:

  1. The engine overheats. If this happens, you should have your vehicle’s cooling system checked out right away. If you continue to run the engine, it could result in major engine damage. Schedule your cooling system service now.
  2. You can smell antifreeze.
  3. You notice a leak under the front of your vehicle that is yellowish-green, pastel blue or fluorescent orange in color.
  4. You have to frequently add coolant to the radiator.

Tips on Maintaining the Cooling System

Regular maintenance is key to preventing cooling system failure. Here’s how to maintain the cooling system on your vehicle:

  • Regularly inspect the radiator, drive belt and hoses. You want to make sure the hoses aren’t showing signs of dryness, cracking, and/or bulging. When it comes to the drive belt (a/k/a serpentine belt), you will want to look for evidence of cracks, chunks missing, abrasions, rib separation, uneven rib wear, and/or damaged ribs. Replace any hoses when they show the first sign of a problem.
  • Have the drive belt replaced before it fails. Use the service recommendation listed in the owner’s manual. Typically, this is around 50,000 miles (or about 5 years). Our certified technicians can let you know if your vehicle is nearing the time that the drive belt should be replaced.
  • Flush and change the coolant about every 2 years. The coolant helps disperse the heat and prevents corrosion. As the antifreeze ages, it loses its ability to keep the engine from overheating. Flushing and replacing the antifreeze helps the engine run cooler and removes sediment that can be damaging to other parts in the cooling system.

The best way to take care of your vehicle’s cooling system is to have it maintained at Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, New Jersey. We can take care of coolant flushes and replace or repair all cooling system parts. Click here to schedule your cooling system service today in Morristown, NJ.

photo credit: EvelynGiggles radiator via photopin (license)

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The Most Expensive Car Repairs and How You Can Prevent Them

It’s impossible to completely eliminate car repairs, but you can lessen the chance of having to replace some of the more expensive car parts. We have written about it many times — The best way to reduce the probability of having to deal with major vehicle repairs is to make a commitment to regular maintenance. Properly maintaining items and replacing worn parts before they fail is the most cost-efficient way to take care of vehicle expenses. By doing so, you will have peace of mind about the safety and reliability of your vehicle and you’ll save money in the long run. Read on to find out how you can maintain some of those higher ticket components on your auto.

Is your vehicle turbocharged?

Turbocharged cars are definitely fun to drive, but they can also be a challenge. A turbocharger takes the exhausts gases and uses them to push additional air into the cylinders. In doing so, your car’s engine is able to burn more fuel to increase power to the engine. When running at full capacity, the turbocharger spins around 200,000 rotations per minute. If you have to replace a turbocharger, it could cost upwards of $6,000. That said, you can see why it’s important to make sure you take care of it properly to avoid problems.

Symptoms of a Potential Problem

  • Your vehicle is accelerating poorly.
  • You notice irregular or excessive exhaust.
  • The dreaded Check Engine light comes on.
  • You hear a loud, shrieking noise coming from under the hood.

How to Maintain this Engine Part

The first line of defense to prevent a problem with the turbocharger is to have the engine oil and filter changed regularly. When you do, it’s a good idea to use a high-quality synthetic oil – one that’s recommended by the manufacturer for your particular vehicle. Equally important is allowing the engine to warm up before running it at full capacity. You also want to make sure you cool down the turbocharger before shutting off your car.

Fuel Injection

Your vehicle engine requires the proper mixture of fuel and air to operate properly. The fuel injectors have the job of sending the fuel to the engine. Because of normal wear and tear, eventually you will have to replace fuel injectors.  The key to extending the need to have them replaced comes with proper and regular vehicle maintenance.

Symptoms of a Potential Problem

  • The Check Engine light is on.
  • You notice the engine is misfiring.
  • There’s a decrease in gas mileage.
  • You smell gasoline.
  • Severe engine problems like stalling, hesitating, the engine idles roughly and/or the engine fails to start.

How to Maintain this Engine Part

It’s important to periodically clean the fuel injector system. We recommend a fuel injector system cleaning be done about every 3 years or 36,000 miles.

The Head Gasket

When your car is operating, fluid from the cooling system is circulating around the engine to protect it from overheating. The head gasket seals the engine so the coolant doesn’t enter into the engine with the motor oil. If the head gasket cracks, engine damage will occur. Not only will you have to replace the head gasket, which is difficult to access, but you will have to repair the damage to the engine.

Symptoms of a Potential Problem

  • Coolant may leak from below the exhaust manifold.
  • Your vehicle’s exhaust will be white in color.
  • The engine will overheat.
  • You may find bubbles in the radiator or the coolant overflow reservoir.
  • There may be a loss of coolant with no signs of a leak.

How to Maintain this Engine Part

Avoiding problems with the head gasket comes down to maintaining the cooling system. Flush and replace the coolant every 2 to 3 years or 24,000 miles. You will also want to make sure the hoses and belts running the cooling system are replaced before they fail.

The Timing Belt

As you can imagine, the timing belt endures a lot of wear and tear. If the belt breaks, you’ll end up with major engine damage. Replacing the timing belt can be expensive, but the repair bill for a broken timing belt will be much higher. You may even have to replace the entire engine. Read more about timing belt replacement here.

Symptoms of a Potential Problem

  • The belt is missing some teeth.
  • There are signs of cracking on the belt.
  • The belt looks glazed.

How to Maintain this Engine Part

You can prevent major engine damage from a broken timing belt by replacing it according to the schedule recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.

The Fuel Pump

The fuel pump sends the gasoline to the carburetor and is located on either the inside or the outside of the gas tank.

Symptoms of a Potential Problem

  • There’s a noise coming from the gas tank.
  • You may have problems starting your car.
  • Engine power is reduced.
  • Poor acceleration.
  • Decreased fuel efficiency.

How to Maintain this Engine Part

 First and foremost, you should have the fuel filter changed regularly. In addition, never let the level of fuel in the gas tank fall below ¼ of a tank and use only a high quality fuel when filling up.

An Engine that has Seized

If something happens that causes your engine to seize, you’ll either have to buy a new engine or a new car. With proper maintenance, you can prevent this from happening.

Symptoms of a Potential Problem

If you oil warning light and/or engine temperature light come on, immediately pull over and turn off your car. Do not drive the car. Instead, you should have it towed to Shade Tree Garage’s auto repair shop located in Morristown, New Jersey. Once you do, give us a call and let us know what happened.

How to Maintain this Engine Part

Your car’s engine must maintain proper lubrication to operate efficiently. Regular oil and filter changes will extend engine life. Always make sure you have enough oil in the engine by checking the oil level once a month. If you notice that you have to add oil on a continual basis, schedule an appointment to have the car engine checked. It’s also important to have the cooling system serviced regularly to avoid engine overheating.

Automatic Transmission

The transmission can be quite tricky. It’s better to deal with a transmission problem when you first notice symptoms than to wait. Failing to properly maintain the transmission or ignoring transmission problems can result in an expensive transmission repair. Click here to read more about your automatic transmission.

Symptoms of a Potential Problem

  • The transmission fluid is dirty and has a black or dark brown color. It may also smell like it’s burnt.
  • Low transmission fluid.
  • Evidence of red-colored fluid leaks under your vehicle.
  • The transmission overheats.

How to Maintain this Engine Part

Like any other engine component that is lubricated, you should change the transmission fluid and filter on a regular basis. You should also check the level and condition of the transmission fluid once a month. If you find you have to add more transmission fluid or that it has a dark color or a burnt smell, have the transmission checked. If you have never had the transmission fluid and filter changed and you are approaching 80,000 to 100,000 miles on your vehicle, ask us before you have the fluid and filter changed. In that situation, it may be better to not change the fluid as doing so may cause transmission problems.

The Best Way to Avoid Expensive Engine Repairs – Bring Your Vehicle to Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, NJ

Regular maintenance is the key to avoiding all of these major engine repairs. The certified technicians at Shade Tree Garage can handle all your auto maintenance needs. Every time you bring your vehicle to our shop for service or repair, we perform a 27-point courtesy inspection. That way we can alert you when a part is showing wear so you can have it replaced before it fails. Click here to schedule your auto maintenance or repair with Shade Tree Garage.

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This is why the family-owned auto repair shop is better than the dealership

At Shade Tree Garage, we understand that where you bring your vehicle for service and repair is an important decision. After all, the safety and reliability of your car depends on it. A common question for car owners… Should I bring my car to a family-owned auto repair shop or back to the dealership?  We think there are some very distinct advantages to working with an independent, family-owned shop like Shade Tree Garage. We can summarize it all in one sentence – You have more options when you bring your vehicle to a family-owned auto repair shop.  Here are a just a few of the benefits:

  1. Maintenance Services – Let’s demonstrate this for you by comparing a family-owned restaurant vs. franchised fast food chain. When you walk into a fast food chain, they always ask if you want to “biggie size” your order. It doesn’t matter whether you need it or not, the goal is to get you to buy the larger serving of food. This is similar to the dealership, where you’ll be prompted to purchase more expensive maintenance packages, whether you need the services done or not. As an independent auto repair shop, we base our service and repair recommendations on the 27-point courtesy inspection we complete each time we service your vehicle. We aren’t looking to “biggie size” you on repair or maintenance work.
  2. Replacement Parts – When it comes to any repair work, you’ll be limited to the parts supplied by the dealership. You may think that’s good, after all, they are putting on parts that are meant for your vehicle. But, is it really a good thing? What if we told you that a family-owned auto repair shop can offer you more choices for replacement parts and the ones we can provide might actually be of higher quality and a better price?
  3. Tires – Here again, we can offer you more options. We are able to shop many different brands of tires and will help you select the right tires for your vehicle and budget. If you want to order your tires from someplace like Tire Rack and have us install them, that’s okay, too.
  4. More Experience – You may think the technicians at a dealership would be more knowledgeable than those at an independent repair shop. However, you’ll find that our ASE-certified technicians provide a higher level of service than most dealership technicians. Not only do they know your vehicle, inside and out, they have broader knowledge and experience. They possess superior diagnostic skills that can only be gained from years of servicing many different makes and models.

If these benefits alone aren’t enough, check out our list of 25 Reasons to Choose Shade Tree Garage. If you have never brought your vehicle to any place but the dealership, we invite you to give us a try. We promise, you’ll receive only the best in customer service. Click here to schedule an appointment with Shade Tree Garage.

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Here are all the facts you need to know when buying new tires

There comes a time when every car owner needs to buy a new set of tires. With so many brands and types of tires on the market, you may be wondering how you select the best ones for your vehicle. That’s what this blog post is all about. We’re going to give you all the facts you need to know about buying tires.

How do you know when you need to buy new tires?

First and foremost, it’s important to know when you need to buy new tires. Remember, they are what holds your vehicle to the road. If your car’s tires don’t have enough tread, your vehicle won’t have a lot of traction. It actually becomes quite dangerous as heavily worn and balding tires put you at greater risk for blowouts and accidents. You need that tread depth to help keep you from sliding all over the road during inclement weather.

Once a month, make a habit of checking the air pressure in your tires and inspecting the tread depth and wear. The best way to measure tread depth is with a gauge. If you don’t have one, you can use the old standby… a penny. Simply insert a penny into a tire tread groove making sure Abraham Lincoln’s head is facing down and toward you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tires need to be replaced.

What kind of tires should you buy?

It all depends on what you are looking for in a tire and your budget. If you liked the way your current tires performed on your vehicle, you can always buy the same brand and model. If you think you want to try a different brand or you have some budget constraints, there are a few things to take into consideration:

  • Load Index – In simple terms, the load index is the amount of weight the tires car support at maximum air pressure. Passenger car tires have a load index that is less than the load index you would need for a light-duty truck (found on pickups and SUVs). Very important to remember is that you should never install tires that have a lower load index than the tires that were installed on your vehicle at the factory.
  • Rim Diameter – You’ll want to make sure the tires fit properly on the rims.
  • Speed Rating – As you drive your vehicle, the tires heat up. The speed rating determines the tire’s ability to prevent heat build-up. A tire heats up more when you are driving long distance on the highway than it does when you are driving around town. If you will be doing a lot of highway driving, you may want to select a tire that has a higher speed rating.

The easiest way to select new tires is to ask your Shade Tree Garage auto technician. All of our team members can help you select the best tire for your driving needs and your budget. If you have your auto maintenance done at our shop on a regular basis, we will also let you know when it’s time to replace the tires.

What is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and why do I need it?

Your vehicle is equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System that is designed to let you know when the air pressure in your tires is too low. When your tires are being replaced, the TPMS will need to be reset. If your vehicle’s dashboard is alerting you to the fact that the TPMS is faulty, you will have to have this part replaced when you replace your tires. To learn more about this safety feature, click on this link (link to TPMS blog article.

Should you have the wheels aligned when the tires are replaced?

Yes. It’s a good idea to have the wheels aligned when you have new tires installed. If you don’t, bad alignment will cause your new tires to wear out quicker than they should. When we install your tires, we will mount and balance them using our state-of-the-art Hunter equipment. We can also perform an alignment for you.

Remember, we can answer all the questions you may have about purchasing new tires for your vehicle. You can buy them through us – we carry Michelin tires. If you buy them on-line, like Tire Rack, you can have the tires shipped to us and we can install them for you. Click here to schedule an appointment to have your tires replaced at our auto repair shop in Morristown, NJ.

photo credit: Clearly Ambiguous Tired via photopin (license)

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What does it mean when my car’s brake warning light comes on?

If your car’s brake warning light is on, you should bring your vehicle in to have it checked out immediately. Your vehicle may be unsafe to drive. Find out why the brake warning light may have come on and what you need to do about it by reading on.

Vehicles are equipped with several lights that deal with the braking system: 1) the parking brake (this one is typically “red” or “yellow”), 2) the anti-lock braking system (usually “yellow – click here to learn more about the anti-lock braking system), and 3) the brake system warning light (“red” in color). The first sign that the situation is a critical issue is the fact that the brake warning light is “red” in color. A red dashboard warning light always indicates a serious problem. If you are driving and the brake warning light comes on, you should safely pull over and call for a tow. If it comes on and stays on when you start the car, don’t drive. Again, call for a tow.

Note: For cars with only one brake warning light, first make sure the parking brake isn’t engaged before calling for a tow.

Why did the brake warning light come on?

When there is low brake fluid, the brake warning light will come on. Here is a list of some of the more common reasons this happens:

  1. The brake pads are worn. When the brake pads are worn out, the fluid level will go down. When the brake pads are replaced, you may need to add the proper amount and type of brake fluid for your vehicle. If we are doing the brake repair work on your vehicle, we will check to see if you need brake fluid and add it for you. The type of brake fluid your vehicle requires will be stamped on the top of the reservoir and is also listed in your owner’s manual.
  2. There is a leak in the braking system. A brake fluid leak is a very serious concern. If all the fluid leaks out, you won’t be able to stop your vehicle. Brake fluid can leak anywhere in the braking system, from the brake lines to the master cylinder.

If the light isn’t on, but you think you are having problems with your brakes, bring your vehicle in for a brake check (click here to read more about your car’s braking system). If you are concerned about driving it, you can have your vehicle towed to our auto repair shop in Morristown, NJ. Click here to schedule an appointment for brake repair with Shade Tree Garage.


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How to Tell if There’s a Problem with Your Car’s Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter in your vehicle plays an important role in reducing exhaust emissions and pollution. It looks like a simple metal canister but it is filled with a mixture of precious metals, typically platinum and palladium, that act as a chemical catalyst. Its job is to covert the gases coming from the engine combustion process into non-harmful gases. Typically, a catalytic converter that is failing will begin to produce a number of symptoms.

As with any type of major engine component, it’s important to have it checked out right away. When it comes to a catalytic converter, here are some of the symptoms to look for:

  • Poor engine performance is one of the first signs there may be a problem with the catalytic converter. A catalytic converter can sometimes clog because of a problem in another part of the fuel system. When it becomes clogged, you will begin to notice a decrease in fuel efficiency and an inability to accelerate properly. The engine may even misfire or stall.
  • Is the Check Engine or Service Engine Soon light on? This could be the result of a simple problem but it could also indicate an issue with the catalytic converter. Failure to correct this problem will eventually lead to issues with the catalytic converter, including having to replace this expensive part. Read more about the Check Engine light here.
  • You may notice a rattling noise. As the chemical catalyst ages, it begins to break down into smaller pieces. These pieces of catalyst will cause a rattling noise under your vehicle. If the catalyst breaks down into pieces that are too small, it can block or restrict the flow of exhaust from your vehicle.
  • There’s a rotten-egg smell coming from the tailpipe. This smell occurs because the catalyst has broken down too much and leads to the emission of sulfur dioxide.

What Can I Do to Prevent Problems with the Catalytic Converter?

  1. Make sure your vehicle is tuned up regularly. If you aren’t sure how often you should have a tune-up done on your vehicle, no need to worry. Our certified auto technicians will let you know when your vehicle is due for a tune-up.
  2. Take care of Check Engine or Service Engine Soon light problems right away. It could be as simple as replacing a faulty gas cap or an oxygen sensor. If you continue to ignore this warning light, you could cause serious engine damage, including having to replace the catalytic converter.

If you are noticing any of the symptoms we mentioned here, bring your vehicle to the trusted auto professionals at Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, NJ. Click here to schedule an appointment for catalytic converter repair in our auto repair shop.

photo credit: follettmotors_com Audi A4 1.9 TDI Catalytic Converter via photopin (license)

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What’s wrong with my car’s heater?

No one wants to find out their car heater isn’t working when it’s cold outside. If you have cold air or no air blowing out of your car’s vents, there’s a problem with the cooling and heating system. This blog post will address what might be happening with your car’s heating system and will also outline the steps to take to make sure it’s properly maintained.

Your car’s heater is actually part of the cooling system. The radiator, thermostat, belts, water pump and hoses circulate water through the engine to cool it down from the combustion process. As the water/coolant mixture flows through the system, it is heated. The hot water is sent to a heater core where a fan blows the warm air into your car through the vents.

Important Tip: If the heater in your car isn’t working, it’s important to have it checked out by a professional. Because it is part of the engine’s cooling system, a non-working heater could indicate a problem with the cooling system itself. If left unfixed, you could end up with an engine that overheats and becomes damaged. 

Why isn’t my car heater working?

There are any number of issues that can cause a problem with your car’s heating system.

  1. There’s not enough coolant in the system. If the coolant level is low, it could be the result of a radiator cap that is leaking or a slow leak in the cooling system. When the engine has cooled down, check the level of the antifreeze in the radiator. If it’s low, fill it back to the proper level with the appropriate mixture of coolant and water. You’ll also want to schedule an appointment to find out from where the coolant is leaking.
  2. There’s a pocket of air in the heater core. Warm water flows into and out of the heater core through hoses. Both the inlet hose and outlet hose should feel warm when the engine is at operating temperature. If the outlet hose doesn’t feel warm, there could be a pocket of air minimizing the flow of water out of the heater core.
  3. The thermostat isn’t working properly. A bad thermostat could prevent the engine from heating up properly which means your car’s heater won’t work.
  4. The heating system has a defective heater control valve. When the heater control valve is open, hot coolant will pass through the valve and into the heater core. When the valve isn’t working properly, the heater won’t produce warm air, it could leak coolant, or the heater will operate erratically.
  5. The heater core is clogged from debris in the cooling system. If debris has caused a clog in the heater core, it will need to be replaced.
  6. The blower motor isn’t working. If no air is coming out of the vents, electrical problems or a faulty blower could be the culprit.
  7. There could be a kink in a heater hose. 
  8. The water pump stopped working. If the coolant isn’t flowing properly through the system, the heater won’t work properly. 

How can I prevent problems with my car’s heating system?

When you properly maintain your car’s cooling system, you are helping to keep the heater in good working order. Proper maintenance includes flushing and replacing the coolant on a regular schedule. Equally important is the need to replace worn belts and hoses. You will also want to repair any leaks in the cooling system. Our certified auto technicians can assist you in this area. When you bring your vehicle to our auto repair shop in Morristown, New Jersey, we conduct a 27-point courtesy inspection on the major engine systems. If we notice a problem with your cooling system, we will alert you so you can have it taken care of before it becomes a major repair issue.

The best way to keep all the components of your car running properly is to trust its care and any repairs to the automotive professionals at Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, NJ. Our certified technicians can quickly diagnose and correct any problems with your vehicle’s heater. Click here to schedule an appointment for car heating system repair in our auto repair shop.

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