Home > 4 Tell-Tales Signs of a Failing Starter

Preventative Maintenance

4 Tell-Tales Signs of a Failing Starter

When you’re already running late, a car failing to start can be a major inconvenience. Most of the time, a problem starting your vehicle is related to the starter. Keep reading to find out more about how the starter works, what causes problems, and where you can get your starter fixed.

key in ignition starting vehicle after starter maintenance

What is the Starter?

A starter motor starts the engine of your car. An engine has to be turned very quickly in order to begin running. An electric starter works by drawing power from the car battery. The starter relay and solenoid are also a part of this process. The current is sent through these parts to the starter to engage the engine. The process happens very quickly when you turn the key in the ignition.

What are the Signs of a Failing Starter?

There are several signs of a bad starter but sometimes it can be difficult to tell if it’s your starter, battery, or alternator. In those cases, it’s best to get the opinion of a mechanic. Signs of a bad starter can include:

  1. Click, click, click – One of the most common signs of a failing (or broken) starter is a clicking sound when you turn the key in the ignition.
  2. Engine won’t turn over – Your engine won’t turn over if the starter is busted but this can also happen with a dead battery. If the engine still won’t turn over after a jump start, it’s most likely a problem with the starter.
  3. The lights are on, but no one’s home – If your dashboard lights up like Times Square, but your engine still won’t turn over, that could be another sign of a starter issue.
  4. It starts, it doesn’t start, it starts, it doesn’t start – Intermittent trouble starting your vehicle can be a sure sign that something is not quite right with the starter.

What Causes Starter Issues?

Starter troubles can stem from a number of problems. Since the starter relies heavily on the battery, your problem could be an issue with corrosion, dirty connections, or loose wiring. An oil leak that drips onto the starter can also damage its parts. A bad ignition switch, solenoid, or starter relay will all cause the starter to malfunction.

If you’re having trouble starting your vehicle, it’s important to have it checked out by a qualified technician. Our team at Custom Complete Automotive is ASE certified with over 40 years of experience and are happy to help you with any of your auto issues. To learn more about our services, contact us today for reliable service and unbeatable prices!

How to Avoid Issues with Your Car Battery this Summer

Warmer weather is finally here but is your car battery ready for the change in seasons? Surprisingly, hot weather is harder on your car battery than even bitter winter cold! In extreme heat, you may find yourself with a dead battery just 24 hours after you last drove your car. That’s why it’s important to prepare your battery for the change in seasons.

man checking car battery issue during summer

Help Your Battery Weather the Summer

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure your car performs well. Keep these tips in mind to keep your battery in good condition.

  • Vibration shortens a battery’s life, so make sure it’s securely mounted.
  • Tighten any loose battery cables.
  • Inspect the terminals for corrosion and clean them if necessary. Clean battery terminals help your battery work more effectively.
  • Most modern batteries are maintenance-free. If your particular battery isn’t, top it off with distilled water.
  • Make sure your fan belt is in good condition.
  • Have your battery tested to ensure it can handle summer’s heat and humidity.
  • Have your alternator tested as well.

Avoid Battery Problems

To help keep your battery working well this summer, keep the below tips in mind.

  • Park in the shade whenever possible.
  • Cut down on the number of electricity-guzzling devices you have plugged in. Those electricity-guzzlers include your car’s climate controls and built-in entertainment system. Avoid using them at all when the engine is off.
  • Short trips shorten battery life! Give it a chance to take a full charge once in a while. A nice long drive in the country is just what your car needs in summer weather.
  • Keep it charged with a trickle charger, especially if you aren’t driving it regularly. A full battery charge takes approximately 8 hours of continuous driving, so a trickle charger is a great time-saving alternative.
  • Keep it clean since grease and crud keep heat from dissipating.

Let Us Help

When it comes to inspecting and changing your car’s battery, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced auto technician. Fortunately, here at Custom Complete Automotive, we’re experienced in all aspects of car repairs, including batteries and other electrical services. If you’re having issues with your battery or are looking for a replacement, contact us today or stop by one of our six convenient locations!

6 Common Summer Car Problems

When the temperatures start to rise, it’s the perfect time to take a road trip or a leisurely drive. However, with warmer temperatures come potential car problems. You won’t be having much fun in the sun if your car is out of commission. Keep reading to discover some of the most common car issues you may encounter during the summer months.

car properly maintained during summer

1. Tire Problems

Temperatures can fluctuate rapidly in the summer, with sweltering days and chilly nights. These temperature irregularities can wreak havoc on your tires. Check each tire’s pressure at least once a week and refill them as necessary, as low tire pressure can lead to uneven tread or even a blowout.

2. Cabin Odors

If you take frequent trips to the pool or beach, don’t leave wet towels or bathing suits in your car. This can lead to bacteria and mildew build-up in your car, which creates a stinky and unsanitary environment.

3. Low Battery

Hot temperatures make your car battery work harder and can greatly reduce its lifespan and efficiency. Allow a professional to inspect your battery to make sure it’s working properly and is in good condition and replace it if needed. We recommend replacing your battery every 3-5 years to help prevent costly damage.

4. Engine Overheating

Like the battery, your car’s engine also has to work harder in the summer to keep itself cool. If your engine’s seals are in bad shape, the hot weather can make them crack and leak oil or coolant.

5. Windshield Cracks

If your windshield has any small chips or cracks, summer can make them worse if not repaired quickly. Heat causes windshields to expand, causing any small, minor chips to become more serious cracks.

6. Broken A/C

This is probably the number one problem that can ruin a drive in the summertime. Driving in a hot car can put you in a bad mood and potentially cause you to overheat. When the temperatures rise, your car’s A/C has to work overtime, so it’s best to keep any eye on fluids and ensure your electrical system is in good condition.

Fortunately, many of these problems can be avoided with routine maintenance. To learn more about our auto services, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

7 Spring Car Maintenance Tips

As summer nears, make sure your ride is ready for all the adventures ahead! Spring is a great time to wash away the winter build-up and fine tune your car’s maintenance profile. With this spring maintenance checklist, your car will run at its best performance.

properly maintained car performing well in spring weather

1. Wash Your Car

During the winter months, your car collects grime, dirt, and chemicals in the undercarriage. When you drive on treated roads, harmful chemicals can spray onto your vehicle. Left unchecked, this can cause corrosion and degradation of internal parts. To protect your car, wash away the build-up in the spring.

2. Don’t Forget to Wax

After giving your vehicle a good wash, it’s also a good idea to wax the exterior. Not only does a wax give your car shine, it also helps protect and preserve your car’s paint. Wax protects your car from weathering damage, corrosion, water spots and more.

3. Inspect Your Windshield Wiper Blades

Throughout the colder seasons, your car’s windshield wipers can become cracked and damaged. Now is a good time to inspect your wiper blades and replace them if necessary, so your vision stays clear throughout the spring and summer seasons.

4. Check and Replace Fluids

Check all of your fluids and change any if needed.

  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Air conditioning coolant
  • Radiator fluid
  • Power steering fluid

5. Get an Oil Change

For optimal performance, change your oil at the prescribed intervals specific to your travel patterns and vehicle. Springtime maintenance give you a great opportunity to check your oil and change it if necessary.

6. Check Your Battery

Changing temperatures can affect the life of your car’s battery. Spring is a great time to check and replace your battery if needed to prepare your vehicle for summer’s heat.

7. Check and Align Your Tires

Spring is a good time to check and realign your tires to help avoid a flat. Ensure that they are holding air well and refill them if necessary. Fluctuating temperatures can affect your tire pressure and drag down your vehicle’s performance. Ensure that your treads are in good shape.

Contact Custom Complete Automotive

At Custom Complete Automotive, our expert mechanics are ready to help with all of your springtime auto maintenance needs. If your ride is in need of any auto services, contact us today for friendly, reliable service you can trust!

How to Tackle the Adverse Impact of Winter Salt on Your Vehicle

Adding salt to the road during winter is meant to help you as a driver by melting dangerous ice. Admittedly, it gives your car an extra bit of traction to assist you in navigating those slippery streets. However, other than covering your vehicle in a white film, there are a few concerns salt can bring to your car.

vehicle driving on salt covered roads in winter

How Does Winter Salt Affect Your Vehicle?

When road salt dissolves in water, its chemical composition breaks down, effectively downgrading the water’s freezing point. However, as effective as winter salt is in helping clear the snow, the resultant free sodium and chlorine ions easily bind to iron molecules.

Conversely, salt accelerates the adverse effects of water on metal, making the rusting process substantially more aggressive. After you factor in other contaminants and impurities found in water, this combination speeds up the oxidation process further.

Short of moving to a warmer climate, there’s no way you can evade the salting of local roads. So, in addition to understanding how the winter salt affects your vehicle, here’s how to curb the problem of rust before it ruins your car.

Preventative Measures You Can Take

1. Wax the Car’s Body to Keep Off Rust

As you drive on the road during winter, salty water splashes onto your car, and the paintwork catches a substantial amount of it. Nevertheless, you can mitigate the problem by applying a fresh coat of wax on your vehicle before the winter season rolls around. This proactive approach can help you protect the paint-coated metallic parts of your car.

2. Invest in Vinyl

Vinyl wraps provide your car with invisible protection. Plus, they’re an ideal way to furnish your vehicle with a removable appearance of a paint job. While a full transparent wrap costs slightly more than a wax job, it helps display your vehicle’s original paint and equally protects it.

3. Be Proactive with Pretreatment

Proficient auto repair garages and body shops offer an oil-based pretreatment that involves coating the underside of your car. Consequently, this protective barrier stops the winter salt and water from adhering to the unguarded undercarriage in the first instance.

Ultimately, any abrasion, scratch, or peeling of the paint and undercoating on your car should be a source of concern. It’s the paint and undercoating that helps safeguard your vehicle’s metal parts from oxidation as a result of water and winter salt. To learn more about how to keep your car in good condition, inside and out, contact us at Custom Complete Automotive today!

Tips for Safe Driving This Winter

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your car as colder temperatures put your engine under strain. Driving can be more dangerous with roads covered in ice or snow, so it’s important to know how you can best prep your car for this time of year.

person practicing safe driving in maintained car during winter weather

Get a Check-Up

Before and during the winter season, one of the best things you can do to ensure your car stays healthy and winter-road ready is to perform a thorough check-up.

Tires

Tires lose one psi for every 10-degree drop in temperature. As the air gets colder, your tire pressure gets lower, and your tires won’t perform as well or could easily become damaged. Keep any eye on your tires and have them filled up with air as soon as the temperature drops to keep them in good condition throughout the winter. You might also consider snow tires for better traction during winter conditions.

Fluids

Oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluids are all essential to keeping your car running. In cold weather, these fluids thicken and it becomes harder for your car to run. Have your car’s fluids checked or swapped out for winter-grade versions before a problem arises.

Battery

Extremely low temperatures pull voltage from the battery, which makes it harder for your car to start. Checking your battery’s health before the cold arrives will tell you if you’ve got a battery that’s ready to handle the colder temps.

Practice Good Habits

During the winter months, there are some habits that will increase the likelihood you’ll get from point A to Point B safely.

Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Car

It’s good to have supplies in your car for any emergency, but winter prep is especially important. Check out our recent blog post to find a list of recommended items to keep in your car this winter.

Drive Cautiously in Snow/Ice

It’s best to stay home if there’s a lot of snow on the roads, but if you must drive, there are some things you can do to make your trip safer.

  1. Use your headlights to improve your visibility and help other drivers see you.
  2. Increase your following distance. The norm is 3 to 4 seconds, but in winter weather, this should increase to 8 to 10 seconds.
  3. Avoid slamming on your brakes, which makes it harder to control your car. The instances of skidding and slipping increase during times of snow and ice.

Keep Your Gas Tank Full

Fuel can freeze in the colder temperatures and as such, it’s ideal to keep your gas tank filled. This will also prevent you from running out of gas and ending up stranded in the snow.

At Custom Complete Automotive, we strive to keep your car in tip top shape throughout every season. To learn more about our services, or for any of your automotive needs, contact us today!

Create an Emergency Kit to Keep in Your Car this Winter

We all know that driving in the winter is sometimes dangerous. Getting stuck in a snowdrift on the way to see your family is a distinct possibility! Even if you’re an experienced winter driver and feel comfortable driving on ice or snow, it’s always a good idea to prepare for treacherous conditions and sometimes unavoidable accidents.

Preventative maintenance and tire servicing can help with that. So can having the right equipment on hand when you need it. Check out this list we’ve created of items to keep in your car this winter.

man using snow shovel to dig out car

Frequently Used Items

  • Ice scrapers (plastic sometimes shatters in really cold temperatures so keep a spare scraper on hand)
  • Long snow brush (don’t forget to brush the snow off the roof or you risk a blinding mini avalanche)

If You Get Stuck

  • A bag of sand or non-clumping cat litter for traction
  • A snow shovel that folds or collapses
  • Headlamp (so you’re not shoveling one-handed)

In Case of a Car Emergency

  • Jumper cables
  • Tire chains
  • Tow strap
  • Emergency signaling items such as reflective warning triangles and road flares

Staying Warm and Comfortable

  • Extra clothing such as mittens, hats, and wool socks at a minimum
  • Hand warmers to stuff into your mittens and socks
  • Wool blanket
  • Emergency foil blanket for each person (place it over the blanket for extra insulation)
  • Waterproof matches
  • Portable carbon monoxide detector
  • Bottles of water (not quite full so they won’t burst if they freeze)
  • Nonperishable foods such as canned nuts, nut butter, granola bars, protein bars, dried fruit, hard candy, etc.

Miscellaneous Important Items

  • First-aid kit
  • Multi-tool with a knife blade
  • Crank or battery-powered emergency radio
  • Flashlight

Remember, prevention and preparation are key to driving (and arriving) safely! Regular preventative maintenance means less chance of a breakdown this winter. For peace of mind in knowing that your car is ready for winter, contact us at Custom Complete Automotive today friendly, reliable service!

Tips for a Longer Lasting Car Battery

Car batteries die unexpectedly, making a dead battery a memorable, if not dangerous, event. If you are fortunate, the low battery indicator in your car will flick on before your car’s battery dies, giving you time to drive to a repair shop and have the problem taken care of. While you cannot totally prevent battery failures, there are steps you can take to help avoid the sudden inconvenience of a dead battery and prolong your car’s battery life.

auto technician installing a new car battery into vehicle

Investing in a good battery is good insurance. Your car dealership can recommend the best battery for your car and driving habits. Consumer Reports is also an excellent resource. They test, evaluate, and compare the latest car batteries and are not beholden to a particular manufacturer so their assessments are objective.

How Long Should My Battery Last?

Ideally, a car battery will last about six years, but the average life span of a battery in the U.S. is between two and five years. Climate, vehicle type, driving practices, and vehicle maintenance all affect the health of the battery.

Climate Effects

  • Warm, humid weather inflicts more damage on the battery because of water loss and sulfation, a buildup of lead sulfate crystals. This is the primary cause of battery failure in lead-acid batteries.
  • During cold weather,starting an engine can require twice as much current as needed in warmer conditions. At 0 degrees, a car battery loses about 50 percent of its strength.

How Can I Lengthen My Car’s Battery Life?

  • Avoid leaving the lights on or using your plug-in accessories when your engine is not running.
  • Have the battery checked during each routine maintenance service.
  • Check electrical connections to keep the battery clean and dry. To remove corrosion, use a solution of baking soda and water and an old toothbrush.
  • Frequent, short car trips are harder on car batteries than long trips. It takes roughly eight hours of continuous driving for the alternator to fully charge the battery.
  • If short car trips are the norm, go easy on electric auxiliary controls such as entertainment systems and climate controls.
  • Protect your car from extreme cold by parking in a garage or park your car so the engine is not facing the wind.

Expand the life of your car’s battery by considering these tips and keeping up with regular car maintenance at Custom Complete Automotive. We’ll help keep your vehicle in tip top shape. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

3 Apps to Help Prevent Car Breakdowns

If you’ve ever had to wait on the side of the highway for a tow truck, you know how frustrating, not to mention potentially dangerous, that can be. With the use of new car technology, you can help prevent your car from breaking down on the freeway. New technology detects cars around you, and potential threats that could cause accidents. That means you’re less likely to be stranded on the side of the road after a wreck. Now, new technology can alert you to mechanical problems with your car before it breaks down, so you won’t be stranded thanks to mechanical failure either.

person using smartphone app to check car for potential issues and maintenance checks

1. Fixd

Fixd is a standalone software. Almost anyone can get it, regardless of car make and model. Plug the sensor into your car, and it will feed the information it picks up to an app on your smartphone. It picks up everything, from potential problems to maintenance reminders. You can easily share this information with your mechanic for quicker fixes.

2. Car Lock

This useful device allows you to monitor your car from anywhere in the world. While its primary function isn’t to assist with mechanical issues, it does have that ability. Car Lock allows users to check in on their car while they’re away. The device alerts when the car is started or moved without the owner inside. It can also let owners know when the battery is running low, and if harsh braking or turning is taking a toll on the car.

3. Hum

A lot of older cars don’t come with the same emergency alert technology that’s standard in the newer vehicles. Verizon’s Hum works in most vehicles, including older models, and is an emergency alert system, but it also let’s drivers know if there’s a mechanical issue. The app will perform diagnostic scan and let you know if your car is due for maintenance.

The invention of new technology is exciting. Devices that help alert drivers to problems before they become serious are great tools. Once you’re aware any of potential issues, it’s best to take your car into a mechanic to fix the problem and any other underlying issues. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with mechanics you can trust, contact us at Custom Complete Automotive today!

Keep Your Child Safe with the Right Car Seat and Proper Maintenance

Finding the right car seat for your child and keeping up with regular maintenance on your car are important aspects of keeping you and your child safe. At Custom Complete Automotive, safety is our top priority and we pride ourselves in providing trusted and reliable service for you and your family.

child in car seat in properly maintained vehicle

Why are Car Seats Important?

Car seats are crucial as far as keeping children in their seats in the event of an accident, greatly reducing their risk of injury. Regular seat belts are sized for adults, making them unable to offer the same level of protection to children under eight years old. According the American Academy of Pediatrics, using a car seat can reduce a child’s risk of injury or death by up to 70 percent.

Car Seat Regulations

A car seat’s number one job is to keep your child safe and there are several regulations that help consumers ensure that they are using safe, quality car seats. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 describes several safety regulations that manufacturers are required to follow, such as minimum standards regarding flammability, padding, buckle release pressure, and printing the date the seat was manufactured on the car seat. In addition, car seats should never be used after being involved in even a minor accident, which means that it is not a good idea to purchase a used seat.

Choosing the Right Car Seat

Parents should pay close attention to car seat standards to make sure that their child is using a car seat or booster seat that is appropriate for his or her height and weight.

  • Babies and children under two years old should sit in rear-facing car seats, as long as they are under the seat’s maximum weight.
  • Children over the age of two and under 40 pounds should sit in front-facing car seats.
  • Children over the age of four and over 40 pounds should use a booster seat until they are eight years old or 4’9” tall.

Car seats and booster seats are installed using the car’s regular seat belts. Proper installation is a must, as car seats that are not installed correctly won’t provide the correct level of protection needed.

Choosing the correct car seat for your child and keeping up regular maintenance on your car are two very important aspects in keeping both you and your family safe. For more information or to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive, contact us today!