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New New Jersey Inspection rules

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 1:46 PM Comments comments (54)
New NJ inspection rules
Are you a vehicle owner in the state of NJ?  New Jersey no longer checks basic safety items during the biennial inspection of passenger vehicles. Vehicles that are from MY 1995 and older with a gross vehicle weight of less than 8500 lbs. now are no long required to be inspected at all.   It is now up to you as the vehicle owner to properly maintain all of your safety and emission components on your car.  This is a quote directly from the NJ MVC website. “Vehicle owners are still required to maintain all safety and emissions equipment and may be at any time be cited for malfunctioning or missing required equipment”.     
 Here are a few tips to help you maintain a safe car and help reduce the chance of getting a citation from your local friendly law enforcement officer.
Frequently check all exterior lighting. Head and tail lights, turn signals, marker lights and don’t forget the often overlooked rear license plate light.
Tire pressures should be check at least twice a month. Don’t rely on the Tire Pressure Monitoring light only (For cars equipped with TPMS warning lights). Use an accurate gauge, not the one on the air pump.
Tire wear. Tires may be considered for replacement between 4 and 5 /32”  and require replacement at 2/32”. Also look for signs of dry rotting of the rubber. Tires do go bad over time just from age. Consider replacing tires that are more than six years old even if remaining tread is good. If you are unsure of the tires age have your locale tire expert check the date code to see when they were produced.  
Check all fluids at least once a month. Oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering and washer fluids are all important for your safety and your cars long life. See your owner’s manual if you are unsure of how to check any level and what type of fluids are needed for your car.
Low brake fluid may indicate that it’s time to have your brakes inspected. As the brake pads wear on a disc brake system the fluid in the brake reservoir will drop down as the caliper pistons move out to take up the place of the worn pads, this will happen gradually with normal wear. If you are adding fluid frequently you may have a hydraulic leak and will require immediate attention. If you notice any unusual noises, vibrations or pulling to one side or the other during braking it is also time to have your brakes looked at.  
Keep an eye on dash warning lights and gauges. If your car is equipped with gauges get to know were the normal range is so you will be well informed when something does go wrong. Don’t ignore the Check Engine Light, it can be trying to tell you anything from a minor emissions system malfunction like a loose gas cap to something more severe that can cause farther engine damage. 

Don't forget those wiper blades. Replace them at least once a year. This will prevent poor visibility and keep your windshield from getting damaged.   
Remember as a New Jersey motorist it is up to you to be sure your car is safe for public roads. Don’t take this responsibility lightly, your safety and the safety of fellow driver’s is in your hands.         


When is it time for a new car?

Posted on December 26, 2015 at 9:18 AM Comments comments (32)
One question that comes up repeatedly in the car repair business is “ Do you think it’s time for a new car?”  This question usually comes up just after someone has spent a good chunk of money on a large repair and now is faced with another looming expensive repair.  The thought of continuously dumping money into an older car month after month gets people thinking a new car payment may be less in the long run and I would have a new car with no issues and a warrantee.  With proper maintenance and repairs when needed almost any car can be kept on the road for many many years.  So what would be the killer failure that would render your car up for replacement?  One thought comes to mind and that is rust.  Any rust that compromises the overall structure of the vehicle will make it unsafe to drive and much less safe in a crash as the structure will not protect the passengers as the engineers intended.  Rust repair when done correctly is very expensive and can quickly overtake the value of the car itself.  Replacement or rebuilds of large components like the engine and transmission can also be very expensive.  The bottom line here is what works best for you financially.  Remember to always do all of the service at the intervals mapped out in your owner’s manual to get the longest life possible out of you vehicle in the first place.  Never put off servicing main safety items like tires, brakes and suspension.  It doesn’t make much sense to compromise your safety on the road to save a few bucks.  One of the main advantages to going with a new or newer model vehicles is advanced design.  Newer cars are cleaner, safer and more efficient with every passing model year, interior comfort and convenience has also improved vastly over the past few years.  On the other hand there is always a certain amount of pride in ownership of an older car that you maintained and cared for decades, some even consider an old car part of the family.  So what’s it going to be? New or stick with the old car? , it’s up to you.            

Common repair complaints

Posted on December 10, 2014 at 1:38 PM Comments comments (619)
Common automotive repair complaints.
Today we will touch upon some common complaints that will have the customer bring the car in for repairs and their most likely causes. These are the types of complaints that many times have the customer trying to imitate the noise when explaining what they want check, this can be quit entertaining at times.  Remember a complete inspection of your car will be needed to verify the exact cause of your complaint. This list is just intended to give some insight on the common causes of these problems.  
1. Noises from suspension.  Suspension noises are mostly noticeable when going over bumps. One of the most common is a broken or worn anti- sway bar link pin. Sometimes the sway bar frame mount bushings also fail. Both will produce a rattle of clunk noise. Broken springs, worn out control arm bushings, worn shocks and struts are also high on the list of probable suspects when looking for suspension noises.  
2. Rumble noise that changes with your speed.  An easy check here that you can do yourself is check tire ware. You are looking for a cupped rough ware pattern on the tread of the tires. Tire cupping can be caused by worn struts and shocks, but most likely it’s from poor tire design. Have your suspension checked as well as the alignment. If all is well suspect poor tire design.   
Bad wheel bearings can sound very much like cupped tires, this is why you should eliminate the tires first as a potential cause of this kind of noise. Does the rumble noise change pitch or get a lot quieter when turning left or right? If so, a closer look at the bearings are in order. Weight transfer of the car during turning or pitching the car side to side will make the loaded side (the one on the outside of the turn) noisier if it’s the culprit.  
3. Rattling or buzzing noise from under the car. This one will change or go away as you rev the engine in neutral. Take a look at your exhaust heat shields. Most of the time you will find one that the mounts or clamps have rusted out on and the tin shield is now just hanging on the pipe or converter just waiting to drive you nuts. Most techs will just cut them off to eliminate this annoyance. These shields should be kept in place if at all possible as they do serve a purpose. They don’t just shield the surrounding areas from the exhaust’s heat, they also are intended to keep the heat in allowing the converter to reach light off (operating temp) faster lowering cold start emissions.
4. Grinding or rubbing noise. If you hear a grinding noise when you apply the brakes you have worn the pads down to the metal backing of the pads and require brake service immediately. You would think this is a no brainer, but I see brakes worn through to the middle vented part of the brake rotor more than enough times to wonder how such a noise can be ignored. If you have grinding brakes don’t put off a brake inspection any longer! A squeak on the other hand may be an indication you have worn brake hardware of just glazed pads, squeaks are almost normal on some cars and are very difficult if not impossible to completely eliminate. Some brake pads have a ware indicator built into them that will cause a squeak when the brakes are applied to warn you that you are in need of service very soon. Remember, when in doubt have your brake system inspected.  

5. Fluid leaks. Leaks when small can be very hard to locate.  If you think your engine is leaking something, but unsure of what it can be, start by identifying what fluid it is. Place some white or light colored paper or cardboard under the car overnight. Once the car makes it’s deposits on the paper look at the color of the fluid. Green, yellow or orange can be coolant. Brown or black is oil and red is transmission fluid.  Also take note of the location of the deposits so you can get a general idea of the location of the leak.                

Some overlooked general maintenance tips

Posted on October 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM Comments comments (30)
Some overlooked general maintenance
1. Brake flush. Your brake system is one of the most important safety features of your car, but also has one of the most overlook maintenance items on the car. The brake fluid itself. Everyone knows to periodically have the brakes check for wear, but did you know the brake fluid must be changed too. All non silicone brake fluids like DOT 3 & 4 are hydroscopic and absorbed moisture. Over time this will lower the boiling point and effectiveness of the fluid. Most manufacturers recommend changing the fluid every two years.
2. Gear oil. If you own a rear wheel drive car or truck or a four wheel drive vehicle your differential level should be check at major service intervals to ensure it’s not low. Always top up with the recommended fluid for your car. Look for leaking axle seals if the fluid is low. Check your owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer recommends changing the fluid at a certain mileage.
3. Manual transmission fluid. Most people know they must service their automatic transmission fluid, but many forget about the fluid in their manual transmission. Once again it’s very important to check the manufacture’s maintenance schedule to see if there is a change interval on the trans fluid as well as the type of fluid to be put in.                      

4. Lighting. On todays cars with composite headlights it’s not good enough to just check that the bulbs work, you also have to make sure the plastic lenses are not cloudy to the point hardly any light is getting out. Cloudy headlight lenses will greatly reduce the distance you will see at night. There are many commercially available headlight restore kits on the market and most do a good job of returning the lights back to working condition. If your on a budget and don’t want to spring for a restoring kit you can try some very light polishing compound on a clean soft cloth. Try a small area first to make sure what your using works safely before doing the entire light. This will clean the lenses nicely, but does nothing to seal them as the restoring kits do, but it will get you by for a while.        

No Start Basics

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 11:43 AM Comments comments (14)
Basic no start checks
 Before you throw in the towel and call AAA or your best friend that knows all about cars, take the time to do a few basic checks on your no start car. Who knows you may get it running, you will gain some insight on what's wrong at the very least.  First we can break down the no start complaint into two categories.  First is the engine that cranks normally and doesn’t start and then there is the turn the key and nothing happens no start. Lets start with the turn the key and nothing happens situation. When you turn the key and attempt to start the engine do all the dash lights come on for their normal bulb check? If not the battery may be completely dead or you have a bad connection at the battery. A good place to start looking is making sure there was nothing left on that would have drained the battery since you last used the car. Headlights left on, dome light on due to a door not closed all of the way, glove box light, anything obvious. Next give the battery cables a little twist to make sure they are tightly connected to the battery terminals. If they are loose tighten them up and give it another try. Still nothing? now it’s time to get an idea of what the battery voltage actually is. If you have a volt meter its time to break it out. A fully charged battery will have about 12.6 volts on a static no load test.  If the voltage is low you may just want to charge the battery or jump start it at this point. No voltmeter available, try turning on the headlights and see if they illuminate at their normal brightness, if they do your battery probably has close to 12.6 volts. If they are dim its time to recharge or jump start. If your car starts now make sure the charging voltage is good. Once the jumper cables are removed or the battery charger is disconnected and the car is running you should have around 13.5-14 volts at idle. 12.6 or less would indicate your charging system is not functioning and the car is not going to stay running for long without it. The battery charge or jump still yielded a no start condition, you may have a starter or wiring problem. Don’t overlook the stupid things, like is the car in park or neutral, clutch pushed down all the way? Anything that will cause the neutral safety switch to prevent the engine from cranking. Don’t laugh, I have seen cars towed in for things like this on more than one occasion. Now lets take a look at the car that cranks normally, but will not fire up. All gas spark ignition engines need three basic things to run, fuel/air, ignition and compression. Start from the easiest position first, the driver’s seat. Turn the key to the on position and look and listen. You  should hear the fuel pump prime for a few seconds and shut off. You should see the check engine light come on during the bulb check. Now crank the engine. Does the engine crank faster than normal?  Your looking for clues to the problem here. If the engine cranks faster than normal you may have a compression problem. A broken timing belt will cause this. Can’t hear the fuel pump prime? could be an electrical problem to the pump or more commonly a failed pump. If you have a helper try banging on the bottom of the fuel tank as your helper cranks the engine. This will sometime bring a stuck electric fuel pump to life temporarily. Keep in mind this only works on in tank pumps. If it fires up, you need to replace the pump. If you don’t see the check engine light come on during cranking you may have a power problem to the computer. Now its time to get a little dirty if you want to keep going. If you can access a spark plug lead you can check for spark. Pull the lead off of a spark plug and hold the end of the lead to a good safe ground like the engine block. You want to have the metal part of the lead about a half inch from the ground. A good ignition system will jump this gap easily with a nice bright spark when your helper cranks the engine. Be careful that you are not a better ground than the one you chose or you will find out what 30 thousand volts feels like as it shoots through you, it wont kill you, but it will wake you up! If you have good spark and still no start you can add some fuel to the intake to see if it will fire on that. Again be careful here, you want to try and diagnose the problem, not burn the car and you to the ground. Pull off the duct going to the throttle. Spray a little carburetor cleaner in there, you may want to open the throttle a little so it gets into the intake. Give it a crank now, if it sputters to life you can be pretty sure it’s a fuel problem. Depending on the make and model of your car there can be many different causes of lost fuel or spark. I’m not trying to give the fix for the problem here, just some direction to narrow down the cause of your no start condition. Your mechanical ability and tools available will be the determining factor in how far you will take your diagnoses and when you will give AAA a call for the tow to the shop. Also never overlook the basics. Is there fuel in the tank? is there an alarm system installed that is killing the ignition?  Sometimes a no start is a minor problem, give it a look before you send out that SOS, you may surprise yourself and get back on the road quickly and save a few bucks in the process.                    

Check Engine Light basics

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 2:09 PM Comments comments (35)
Check Engine Light Basics
People have different reactions to the Check Engine Light (CEL) when it suddenly illuminates for what seems to be no reason. These range from, if I ignore it, it will go away, to stopping dead in their tracks thinking the car is going to explode. These days its easy to have the codes read for free at your local auto parts store or you can purchase an inexpensive code reader to the job. Keep in mind the codes only give direction in diagnosing and don’t always indicate what part has failed. Lets explore some of the basics of why your Check Engine Light may come on and what to do about it.
 Your On Board Diagnostic (OBD) system consists of many components that monitor and control engine and transmission functions. When something goes wrong that will cause the car to emit excessive emissions the light will come on. There is probably thousands of possible causes that will do this, but we will cover some of the most common problems here. It is also important to understand that there are continuously monitored systems and other systems that are only tested after a certain drive cycle is completed.  This is why if you have the light cleared without fixing the problem it will stay out for a short time, once the drive cycle is complete for the failed system the light will return. 
1) Evaporative or EVAP codes P0440 - P0459, These codes are telling you your fuel system may be leaking raw fuel vapor into the atmosphere or the system itself is failing the ability to self test. The problem can be as simple as a loose or defective fuel cap or a more complex problem with the systems switching components or even a rusty filler neck. Your car can still be driven safely with EVAP codes stored, but should be repair to meet federal emission laws. 
2) Misfire codes. P0300 – P0312. This is a continuously monitored system. If you have a misfire you will see the light blinking as the misfire is happening. P0300 is a random misfire and P0301-12 indicate what cylinder is the offending one. This condition will cause your car to run poorly and possibly damage other components like the catalytic converter. You should have this check immediately to prevent further damage.
3) P0420- P0439. These are your catalyst efficiency codes. The cat has to be at peak efficiency to do it’s job. As the cat ages or is damaged from a misfiring engine and the efficiency drops to 92% or less the CEL will come on. This can be a very costly code to fix as it almost always results in cat replacement, but sometimes something as simple as an exhaust leak or the ECU needing a reprogram will cause the codes. It is very important do have these codes diagnosed properly before any parts are replaced due to the expense. Your car can be driven safely with these codes until repairs are made unless the cat is completely melted down causing an exhaust restriction.
4) Oxygen sensor codes P0130- P0167. There are many O2 sensor codes because there are several sensors on your car and they are responsible for reporting fuel mixture to the ECU as well as how efficient the cat is , a very important job. Depending on the engine configuration you will have two or four O2 sensors.  There are upstream sensors mounted in front of the cat and downstream sensors mounted after the cat. The sensors themselves have heaters to aid warm up. O2 sensor heater failure is very common. Once again the code must be diagnosed to get to the true cause of the problem. Your car can be driven with O2 heater codes, but if the engine is running poorly with a large fuel economy drop due to sensor failure it should be driven directly to the repair shop to prevent further damage.
Please keep in mind this is just general information and not manufacturer specific. This is meant to give a basic idea of why your CEL may have come on. We always recommend having your OBD system properly diagnosed before any parts are replaced.                          


Spring A/C Check Up

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 10:19 AM Comments comments (53)
Spring Time A/C Check

Now that the hot weather is very close it’s time to start thinking of your air conditioning system.  Most people think you just turn it on and if it works your good to go. That’s only part of the story, there is some maintenance that should be done to ensure the system is at it’s full capacity. First lets take a quick look at the system itself. Open the hood and take a look at all the hoses and compressor, is there any trace of oily deposits at hose connections or anyplace in the system? If so you may have a leak at that point. The refrigerant in the system carries oil in it to lubricate the compressor, as the refrigerant leaks out it will leave a tell tail sign in the form of an oily deposit. Check the condenser to make sure it is clear of dirt and leaves. A blocked condenser can lead to excessively high, high side pressure, reducing cooling efficiency. Make sure the compressor drive belt is in good condition and not loose. You may also want to check the evaporator drain tube for any blockage. A clogged drain tube can lead to some very wet carpets and a musty smell inside the car. This is also a great time to check and replace the cabin air filter if your car is equipped with one. If the system still does not cool properly or not at all it’s time to check system pressures. Low or no pressure would indicate a low or empty system. It is extremely important to have the correct type and amount of refrigerant charge in the system, to little or too much refrigerant will adversely effect performance. It is highly recommended taking your car to a trained pro to take care of the recovery and charging of refrigerant. It is against the law to vent CFC refrigerants into the atmosphere. Remember White Horse Auto is fully equipped to service you’re A/C system. 

Spring Check up.

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 11:48 AM Comments comments (79)
Now that Spring is finally here it’s time to give your car it’s Spring check up. Stop in for a complete vehicle inspection. Make sure all of your cars vital systems are in good condition and ready for the added driving most of us do in the nicer months ahead. This is also a great time to treat your car to a good cleaning, especially the undercarriage. For those of us living in the snow belt now is the time to remove all remaining traces of road salt to prevent rust and corrosion. If you are unable to do it yourself look for a carwash that offers undercarriage cleaning, also make sure all of you body drains in the doors and fender areas are clear of dirt. Blocked drain holes allow water and salt to remain trapped in the car’s body causing sever rust. A little maintenance now will go a long way in keeping you car or truck in top condition.    

Maintenance Schedule

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 10:14 AM Comments comments (49)
Take care of your car, use your maintenance schedule. Did you know one of the best ways to keep your car running it's best and lasting for years to come is to follow your manufacturers maintenance schedule. The best place to find it is your owner's manual. If you don't have one please stop by or call and we can provide you with this valuable information.