Can I Drive with a Flat Tire?

Flat tires are the worst. It’s bad enough when you get a flat in your driveway, but when you get one while driving, it can be even more difficult to deal with. By far the best way to deal with a flat tire is to remove it and put your spare on, but this isn’t always possible. Maybe you don’t have a safe place to pull over, or maybe you’ve never changed a tire before and don’t know how to do it.

In a situation like this, it can be tempting to limp along with a flat tire, but this can be dangerous and cause expensive damage to your vehicle. Read on to learn why it’s a bad idea to drive on a flat tire, and what you can do to get your vehicle to a safe place to fix it!

Is it Safe to Drive With a Flat Tire?

The short answer is NO. It would be best if you did not drive on a flat tire. Not only is it a safety risk, but you can also cause more damage to your vehicle.

Poor Handling and Traction

Driving on a flat tire is a safety issue. If one tire has no air pressure, the handling characteristics of your vehicle will change significantly. Acceleration, cornering, and braking will all be impacted and can put you at risk of getting in an accident.

Damage to Wheels

Tires are mounted on the wheels of your car and filled with air. Air pressure keeps the tires inflated and the rim off the ground. When a tire is flat, the weight of your car will be placed on the metal wheel. Driving on the rim can result in bending or other damage. Depending on the severity, the wheel may need to be replaced entirely.

Damage to Other Components

Beyond wheel damage and safety, driving with a flat can cause your vehicle to come out of alignment or damage the steering and suspension systems.

What to do If You Can’t Change a Flat

If you are in a situation where you are unable to put your spare tire on, you should do everything you can to avoid driving. The options you have will vary depending on the severity of the damage to the tire.

Fix-A-Flat

If you have a small puncture, a can of Fix-A-Flat will let you drive further to get help. Fix-A-Flat contains both air and tire sealant and will give you temporary mobility. You should not use it as a permanent solution though.

Call a Tow Truck

In the case of severe blowouts, the tire damage may be so substantial that no amount of air or Fix-A-Flat can help. If you see chunks of rubber or the tire has dismounted from the rim, your best bet is to call a tow truck if you can’t put on your spare.

blown out tire

How to Avoid a Flat Tire

The most obvious way to avoid driving on a flat tire is to not get a flat in the first place, but that is not always possible. Collisions with road debris and potholes can cause unplanned blowouts. However, keeping track of the condition of your tires can help prevent small leaks from leaving you stranded.

Check Tire Pressure Every Month

Driving with low tire pressure can put you at greater risk for flats or blowouts.

Manually checking your tire pressure is a great way to help prevent flats. While most modern vehicles have systems on board that monitor tire pressure, they may not alert you until the pressure drop significantly. Handheld tire gauges are inexpensive and can be bought at a local auto parts store.

When checking tire pressure, be sure to do it when the air in the tires is cold, around 3 hours after driving. When you drive, the air in the tires will expand and throw off the reading.

checking tire pressure with gauge

If you are unsure what your tire pressure is supposed to be, you can usually find this information in the driver’s side door jamb.

Get your Tires Rotated and Inspected 

Tire rotation keeps tread wear even. They also provide an opportunity to have your tires inspected for damage and tread depth.

Consider Run-Flat Tires

If you want to take the worry out of getting stranded, run-flat tires are a great option. Run-flat tires are engineered to support the weight of your vehicle even when they go flat, allowing you to temporarily continue driving. Most run-flat tires offer a 50-mile flat-driving range at a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour. In the majority of situations, this should be more than enough to get you to a safe place to pull over, or a tire shop like Scott’s U-Save.

Final Thoughts

If you have standard tires, you should not drive if you have a flat. Depending on the severity of the damage, a can of fixing a flat or calling a tow truck are your best options. Regular tire maintenance can help prevent a flat tire, and run-flat tires can solve the problem altogether.

Tire Services at Scott’s U-Save

Whether you need flat tire repair, new tires, or tire rotations, Scott’s U-Save is your one-stop destination. We have three locations in New Lenox IL, Steger IL, and Schererville IN. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

 

3.6L Pentastar V6 Oil Filter Housing Leak Guide

One of, if not the most common issue we see at our three stores is a leaking oil filter housing on the 3.6L Pentastar engine from Chrysler. Why is this one of the most common issues we see in our store? Well, it’s a very popular engine. Production started in 2010 and now there are over 10 million vehicles on the road with this engine. The Fiat Chrysler 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine is versatile, allowing it to be in sedans, pickup trucks, minivans, and SUVs. Common vehicles with this engine are the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, Chrysler Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Town and Country, Dodge Journey, Durango, and Ram 1500-ProMaster. 

Diagnosing Oil Filter Housing Leaks

Our mechanics’ extensive experience with these engines means they can not only repair intricate engine problems but also diagnose them correctly. It takes a bit of time for the oil to accumulate enough to see the oil leaking onto the ground. Why is this? The oil filter housing sits in a valley towards the back passenger side of the engine. When the oil filter housing leaks there is plenty of room below the housing to collect the oil. So, it’s hard to determine if your oil filter housing is leaking by looking under the engine for oil. You will commonly see the oil pooling up visually with a flashlight.

Why Does the Oil Filter Housing Leak? 

Well, the oil filter housing used on the engine is made of plastic. This plastic sees a good amount of heat while the engine is running. But when the engine is off the housing is exposed to the atmospheric temperature. Over the years, that is a lot of thermal cycling on a piece of plastic. The housing is mounted onto the engine block which is made from cast aluminum. During thermal cycling, the plastic of the oil filter housing and the aluminum of the engine block expand and contract at different rates. The gasket between the two is asked to do a lot of work because the gap between the two pieces is ever-changing.

What Can Prevent the Engine Oil Filter Housing from Leaking? 

Unfortunately, it’s a design flaw that causes the oil filter housing to leak. So, nothing can be done to prevent the oil filter housing from leaking. However, when we replace your oil filter housing at Scott’s U-Save, we will not use the OE plastic housing but upgrade to an aluminum housing. The housing should have been aluminum from the start. Once the oil filter housing is replaced with an aluminum part we seldom see the housing leak again.

Regular Oil Changes

Since you can’t prevent the oil filter housing from leaking, you should regularly have your oil changed. This ensures a technician is consistently inspecting your vehicle. Or, you can regularly check your dipstick to make sure you’re not running the engine low on oil. The engine takes 0W20 oil. 0W20 oil only comes as synthetic oil. So, your common oil change interval is 5,000-6,000 miles.

Why is There so Much Labor to Replace an Oil Filter Housing on an Engine?

 On the engine, the oil filter housing is located under the intake manifold. So, this manifold must be removed to reach the oil filter housing. This not only includes the labor to remove the housing, but you will also need an intake gasket to be replaced. These gaskets are for one-time use. At Scott’s U-Save, we highly suggest doing a tune-up at the same time you do the oil filter housing. The reason is, that the spark plugs are also located under the intake manifold. If you’re already paying to take off the intake manifold, replace the gasket, and re-stall you should replace all wearable parts. This would be your spark plugs, possibly your ignition coils, and your spark plug boots. Any time we do a tune-up we highly recommend a fuel service be done at the same time. This will clean up the fuel lines, injectors, and the back of your engine valves.

What is the Typical Cost of Replacing the Engine Oil Filter Housing? 

We just discussed a few other parts that should be replaced at the same time. But, just replacing the oil filter housing with upgraded aluminum housing is around $800.

Get Your Oil Filter Housing Replaced at Scott’s U-Save!

The skilled and experienced technicians at Scott’s U-Save have replaced oil filter housings on countless 3.6L Pentastar engines. We have three locations in Steger IL, New Lenox IL, and Schererville IN. If your engine is leaking oil, give us a call or schedule an appointment today. 

Can a Bad Fuel Injector Damage My Engine?

If you pop the hood of a car from the ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s, you’ll likely see a carburetor sitting on top of the engine. Before the rise of electronic fuel injection (EFI), carburetors were the standard system used for delivering air and fuel to the combustion chambers in an engine.

Fuel Rail Assembly Removed From Car

As technology changed and advanced, fuel injection systems have taken over. EFI systems consist of a fuel pump, fuel rails, oxygen sensors, and fuel injectors. EFI also utilizes a computer to control the amount of fuel being injected into each cylinder. Electronic fuel injection offers better fuel economy, consistent power at verifying elevations, and generally less maintenance. While there are many components that make an EFI system work, in this article we are going to focus on the fuel injector, and the potential problems that can arise if one fails.

What is a Fuel Injector?

The fuel injector is a component that controls the amount fuel being delivered prior to combustion. These small parts connect to the fuel rail and the either the engine block (or the intake manifold on some port injected vehicles), and plug into a harness that communicates with the ECU

Volkswagen Fuel Injector

What Causes Fuel Injector Failure?

While EFI systems are generally pretty reliable, fuel injectors can run into some problems. The spray nozzle on the end of the injector can become clogged with carbon deposits, preventing it from closing entirely. The plastic electrical connection points are exposed to extreme temperatures and can become brittle, causing issues with connectivity. Lastly, rubber seals in the injector can dry out and crack, causing external leaks.

Symptoms of Fuel Injector Problems

Failed or failing fuel injectors can cause a variety of issues.

  1. Misfires
  2. Rough Running
  3. Sluggish Acceleration
  4. Reduced Fuel Economy
  5. Check Engine Light
  6. Fuel Oder

And more.

Can Faulty Injectors Cause Engine Damage?

Most of the time, the symptoms of a failed injector will be significant enough that you will get it fixed quickly. In all likelihood, you will not run into this sort of damage because you won’t be driving with a faulty injector for long. That being said, there are some serious (and expensive) consequences that can happen if you neglect to replace a bad injector.

Hydro Locking

If the injector fails in a way that causes it to dump fuel constantly into the cylinder, the engine can hydro lock. Hydro locking occurs when the path in the combustion chamber that normally compresses vapor and gasses is filled with liquid. The liquid is unable to compress to the same degree and can result in a bent connecting rod, piston damage, or worse.

Bent Connecting Rod Resulting From Hydro Locking
This connecting rod bent as a result of hydro locking from a failed injector dumping excess fuel into the cylinder.

If severe engine damage happens as a result of hydro locking, your motor will need to be rebuilt or replaced.

Bearing Damage

Oil’s lubrication capabilities are reduced when fuel is mixed in with it. Without proper lubrication, damage to the bearings can occur. If this happens, the engine will need to be opened up and bearings will need to be replaced.

Catalytic Converter Damage 

A faulty injector that consistently dumps excess fuel can damage the catalytic converters. When unburned fuel enters the catalyst, it can combust. The extreme heat given off by combustion can wreak havoc on the inside of the expensive catalyst. Replacing failed catalytic converters is extremely expensive.

Flooded Engine

If you have a failed fuel injector dumping excess fuel into your engine, it can end up flooded. In a similar situation to hydro locking, your engine can flood when you go to start it up and the injector fills the cylinder with unburned fuel. As a result, your car will not start.

Don’t Put Off Fuel Injector Issues

If you’ve noticed symptoms of injector failure while driving, don’t delay! While the risk of severe engine damage is relatively low, it’s not impossible. More importantly, replacing a bad fuel injector will improve the fuel economy, engine power, and overall drivability of your vehicle.

Fuel Injector Replacement at Scott’s U-Save

At Scott’s U-Save, we want to keep your vehicle running at its best and prevent catastrophic damage whenever possible. We have teams of ASE-certified technicians at our locations in New Lenox and Steger Illinois, as well as Schererville Indiana. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

 

How Expensive is it Lift My truck?

Aside from bigger wheels and tires, lift kits are one of the most popular modifications for off-road enthusiasts. Not only does a lifted vehicle get extra ground clearance that makes tackling challenging lines easier, a truck or SUV that sits higher simply looks better. Lifting a vehicle requires making some changes to suspension components. How much you plan on lifting your truck will determine the extent of the modifications that will be needed.

You are probably wondering, how much does it cost to lift my truck? Modifying trucks and SUVs for off-roading is something we know well at Scott’s U-Save. This article will outline what you can expect to pay to get your truck lifted!

Types of Lifts

There are three common types of modifications that fall under the umbrella of a “lift kit”. Each type of lift system has a place and serves a purpose, but price, performance, and the ride quality can vary greatly.

Leveling Kits

Leveling kits are not the same as a lift kit, but they will raise the front and or rear of your vehicle higher than stock. Some kits simply raise the front to match the rear while some leveling kits will raise both; but the front is raised more than the rear to make them match. Example being a 2.5” leveling kit on a Chevy Silverado. This kit will raise the front 2.5” and only raise the rear 0.5”.

Red levling kit installed on spring perch

In a previous post, we discussed what leveling kits do. To recap, a leveling kit eliminates rake. Rake causes the front of your truck to sit lower than the rear. This conscious engineering decision allows the vehicle to sit level. Eliminating rake with a leveling kit allows for more ground clearance in the front of the vehicle.

Leveling Kit Advantages

The main advantages of a leveling kit are lower prices, less invasive installation, and no change to ride quality. Leveling kit components are cheap when it comes to suspension components, and the labor time to install them won’t break the bank.

How Much Does It Cost to Level a Vehicle?

As we said, a leveling kit is cheaper than a full lift. Fewer parts equal less cost. The same goes for installation. If you only level the front of the vehicle it takes less time. An alignment will need to be performed immediately after installation with a level kit or lift kit.

Body Lift Kits

Another lift system installed on trucks and SUVs is a body lift. Instead of modifying the suspension, body lift kits use spacers between the body and the frame. The spacers are usually made of nylon or polyurethane, and the amount of lift can range from one to three inches. Body lift kits utilize longer bolts to safely connect the body to the frame, passing through the spacers. On older vehicles, body lifts become difficult due to rust and degradation of the frame.

Body Lift Advantages

Body lift kits are another low-cost option for lifting your truck, Jeep, or SUV. Lifting the body off the frame allows for the fitment of larger tires, which are an advantage for off-roading.

Disadvantages of Body Lifts

Lifting the body of your truck does not modify the suspension in any way, so you will not gain any additional ground clearance. Adding larger tires can provide some additional ground clearance, but you will not have the flexibility of a true suspension lift. Depending on the height of the lift, the frame of your vehicle may be more visible, which may not be the desired look. As said before, body lifts also can lead to issues if you have an older vehicle.

Body Lift Cost

Similar to leveling kits, body lifts are a very cost-effective option to get your rig higher off the ground. Depending on the quality and brand of the kit you choose to install, body lifts can cost anywhere from $100 to $400. Installation is tricky on a body kit so that will very greatly depending on the condition of the vehicle.

Suspension Lift

A suspension lift can be the most extreme and off-road-focused lift kit you can install. As well, it changes the suspension geometry to fit with the new ground clearance. This is critical to ride quality and less wear and tear on ball joints and bushings. True suspension lifts replace key suspension components with new, engineered components. Some extreme off-road focused kits include high clearance coil overs and shocks, upgraded control arms, trailing arms, and leaf springs. Suspension lift kits are typically more involved, more expensive, and will impact the way your vehicle rides. Overall, a suspension lift makes sure your vehicle is properly lifted and didn’t cut any corners. A suspension lift can range from 2.5 inches up to over 10 inches.

Black Chevy Silveradp with an aftermarket suspension system

 

Advantages of a Suspension Lift

There are several key advantages to a suspension lift, all having to do with better off-road performance, longer life of suspension components, and allowing for proper suspension geometry.

Increased Ground Clearance

A suspension lift increases ground clearance, allowing your vehicle to tackle more rugged terrain. Unlike body lift kits, a suspension lift will provide additional clearance without larger tires.

Better Articulation

Have you ever seen a Jeep crawling on a trail with a fully flexed suspension? This is called articulation. Suspension lifts allow for more vertical movement and better suspension articulation. In addition to looking awesome, improved articulation makes a vehicle even more capable off-road.

Clearance for Larger Tires

Like a body lift, a suspension lift allows larger tires to fit on your rig. Larger tires give you, even more, ground clearance on top of what you gained from the kit! Plus, you now have endless options for cool, upgraded tires and premium wheels.

Black GMC Sierra with aftermarket wheels

Suspension Lift Disadvantages

The only downfall to a suspension lift kit is that it is an involved process. This equates to labor time. So, price is what you will have to incur. This price is well worth it because you now have a quality ride done properly by professionals.

Expensive

We seem to say it a few times now, but suspension lifts are by far the priciest way to lift your truck. Not only are you buying all-new suspension components, but the labor time to install them can be significant.

Additional Modifications 

The most extreme lifts may need additional changes to accommodate the driveshaft, transmission, or differential. Modifications like these will drastically increase the cost of the lift kit components and those extra components need extra time. They go hand in hand. You will see this typically when you lift a vehicle more than 4 inches; however, some 4” lifts for a Jeep Wrangler can require mods to the exhaust system.

Changes in Ride Quality

Suspension lifts will impact the way your vehicle rides. With all-new suspension components, you will notice a significant change compared to the stock suspension system. For some people, this may be an issue, for others, not so much. The trade-off is an increase in off-road performance.

How Much Does a Suspension Lift Cost?

If you plan on doing a suspension lift, you should plan on spending a good chunk of change. The kits themselves start near $400 but can easily reach over $5000 for top brands. The cost for installation is equally variable. Like we said above, the most extreme lifts can require additional changes to your vehicle’s drivetrain. Typically you can expect to pay another $500+ in labor for installation for basic lifts. Remember, you do need an alignment after the kit is installed. Luckily, Scott’s U-Save can do everything at once for you.

Get Your Truck, SUV, or Jeep Lifted at Scott’s U-Save

We are passionate about off-roading here at Scott’s U-Save. The teams of experts at our stores can help you pick out the best modifications for your rig, whether you want to improve its appearance, its performance, or both! We work with top suspension and wheel brands like Rough Country, ReadyLIFT, ZONE Offroad, Icon, BDS, and SuperLift just to name a few. When it comes to wheels; we represent American Racing, American Force, Asanti, Black Rhino, Foose, Fuel FMC, Moto Metal, and Vision just to scratch the surface on what we can provide. Need some inspiration? Take a look at some of our customer’s vehicles on our accessories page!

We have stores in New Lenox and Steger Illinois, as well as Schererville, Indiana. If you are ready to lift your truck, Jeep, or SUV, give us a call or schedule an appointment today!

Is a Coolant Flush Really Necessary? How Much Does it Cost?

When you think of regular vehicle maintenance, the first services that pop into your head are probably things like oil changes, tire rotations, brake services, and maybe alignments. Other than oil changes, all of these other services impact components of your car you can easily feel while you drive. Misaligned wheels or tires with excessive wear can drastically impact drivability. Brake problems can cause a lot of trouble, ranging from inconvenient to downright dangerous.

 

The services that don’t directly impact how your day-to-day drive feels are much more likely to be neglected, or even forgotten altogether. If you don’t notice any change, why go out of your way and spend money? It’s easy to fall into that mindset. However, neglecting any service can lead to catastrophe down the road. The absolute best way to ensure reliability is to perform ALL maintenance services at the correct intervals.

 

Enter the coolant flush. Unless you’ve blown a coolant line or replaced a leaking radiator, you might not give your coolant much thought. Coolant flushes are one of the easy-to-put-off services. If you don’t flush your cooling system, you probably won’t have any issues for many years, and if you do, you won’t notice any real difference when driving your car. However, neglecting coolant flushes can lead to some pretty serious problems down the road, potentially leading to some expensive repairs.

 

What is Coolant?

Coolant, or antifreeze, is a liquid that cycles through your engine block, radiator, and heater core, driven by the water pump. The entire cooling system is responsible for keeping your engine within safe operating temperature by removing access heat. The hot coolant then passes through the radiator and cools down. This process repeats itself the entire time your car is running.

Additionally, hot coolant passes through the heater core, which provides hot air in the cabin of your vehicle on cold mornings and winter days.

 

Up close of a black radiator

Why Are Regular Coolant Flushes Important?

Coolant flushes are about more than just replacing a liquid. The cooling system has many components, and the antifreeze helps protect them. Keeping all components in the cooling system like the water pump, thermostat, heater core, and hoses in good condition will prevent overheating and reduce the chance of an expensive repair.

Neglecting coolant flushes can lead to some serious issues:

 

1.) Scale and rust particles will build up in the cooling system over time. If you go too long without flushing your coolant, these particles can clog passages, potentially damaging your heater core or overheating your engine.

 

2.) Coolant contains anti-corrosive and lubricating additives that help prevent rusting and keep the water pump functioning well. Over time these additives lose their effectiveness, increasing the wear and tear on cooling system components through lack of lubrication and corrosive buildup.

 

3.) Antifreeze can become acidic as it ages, causing plastics, rubber hoses, and metal components to rapidly corrode. This process is called chemical electrolysis and can be catastrophic if left unaddressed.

 

In addition to preventing issues, a coolant flush is an opportunity to inspect the entire cooling system for issues. If contaminants like oil are present in the drained coolant, it can be indicative of other problems.

 

What’s Involved in a Coolant Flush?

Generally, this service is not much more involved than draining the antifreeze, adding new liquid, and purging air bubbles from the cooling system, sometimes called “burping”. Letting the vehicle run with the coolant cap off and the heater on high will allow any air pockets in the system, including the heater core, to escape. Air pockets will prevent proper cooling and may lead to overheating.

On vehicles with a lot of buildup and debris in the antifreeze, a coolant flush additive is sometimes used to get all the contaminants out. If the buildup is severe enough, components may need to be replaced.

 

How Much Does a Coolant Flush Cost?

The cost of a coolant flush depends on your vehicle’s coolant capacity, and whether or not you are flushing the system with chemicals or soap before refilling it. Typically, you can expect to pay between $100 and $150 for this service on most vehicles.

 

Coolant Flushes at Scott’s U-Save

As you can see, neglecting a coolant flush service is bad news. Staying on top of it, as well as other services like oil changes, brake service, and filter replacements, is the best way to keep your vehicle running reliably.

At Scott’s U-Save, we have teams of ASE-Certified technicians with the skills and experience needed to perform all services, including coolant flushes, on your car. We also offer an extensive tire catalog and aftermarket suspension, wheel, and off-road services. With three locations in Steger and New Lenox, Illinois as well as Schererville, Indiana, one of our shops is a short drive away. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!