Why Does my Car Shake When I Press the Brakes?

Why Does my Car Shake When I Press the Brakes

There’s no more unsettling sensation behind the wheel than feeling your vehicle shaking. Whether it be at idle, under acceleration, or when braking, you know there’s something off with your car. 

There are many reasons this could be happening under braking, some being more serious issues than others. While you should always bring your car to a technician if your car feels even remotely unsafe, there are a few common reasons that your vehicle may be behaving like this:

Warped or faulty brake rotors

When you press on the brake pedal in your car, the brake pads are pressed with force against your brake rotors to create friction, and in turn, slow down your car. These rotors come from the factory as near-perfectly flat disks, but as they’re exposed to the elements and temperature changes, these disks can warp slightly or become uneven. When this happens, the brake pads will “jump” on these valleys on the rotor, and can cause heavy vibrations. 

Silver wheel with blue brake caliper

Wheel or Tire Problems

Oftentimes the vibrations in your vehicle can be explained by something as simple as an unevenly worn or unbalanced tire. If your alignment is off, certain tires may wear faster than others and this uneven wear can lead to the vehicle vibrating or shaking slightly when braking. Although less common, this problem can also be caused by a warped wheel, which can be a product of an accident or hitting a large pothole.

Loose/Bad Wheel Bearings

Wheel bearings are small ball bearings contained within two rings. They help your wheels spin freely and with the least friction possible. When these bearings become worn over time, they can cause the wheel to vibrate under braking. These problems are often accompanied by a grinding or rubbing noise.

Worn Brake Pads

Brake pads are abrasive pieces squeezed by the caliper against the rotor. With use, brake pads will wear down and can become uneven, which can lead to the pad not pressing squarely against the rotors. This can cause a result similar to a warped rotor, where the pad will jump and vibrate, causing the car to vibrate. 

Worn Suspension Components

Suspension is what keeps your car gliding smoothly over uneven roads and pavement, but what happens when it’s not working properly? Sometimes these components get so beat up and worn from use or have large bumps/potholes that they may become slightly bent or shifted. The suspension is connected to the steering components and wheel, so a shaking sensation can be felt if something is off.

Underside of a car

Brake Service at Scott’s U-Save

Are your brakes feeling uneasy? Scott’s U-Save is the place for that in Chicago’s Southland. Our shops in New Lenox, Schererville, and Steger will take care of your vehicle with our ASE-certified technicians with years of experience, and have your car feeling good again in no time. Call or schedule an appointment with us today!

 

Why is White Smoke Coming from My Exhaust

From strange noises, low power, and lights on the dash, there are many ways your car can alert you to a problem. Thick, white smoke billowing out of the tailpipe is a sign that something is very wrong and shouldn’t be ignored. Read on to learn more about the causes of white exhaust smoke, and the repairs associated with stopping it.

White Smoke vs Condensation

Most vehicles will emit a small amount of white “smoke” when the engine is first started, especially on cold mornings. This “smoke” is simply condensation (water) in the exhaust turning to steam when the engine is running. The steam will dissipate within a few minutes once the condensation has burned off.

Smoke, on the other hand, will be thick and billowing. Depending on the severity, it may be difficult to see if you are standing behind the car. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between normal condensation and actual exhaust smoke.

What Causes White Exhaust Smoke?

Billowing white smoke coming from the tailpipe indicates that coolant is entering the combustion chamber and burning. Normally, coolant circulates through the engine block separate from the cylinders and oiling passages. White smoke means there is a leak someplace in the system and unfortunately, it’s going to be a big repair.

Head Gasket Failure

The head gasket seals the cylinder head(s) to the engine block, preventing oil and coolant from mixing or entering the combustion chamber. A blown head gasket can be caused by overheating, incorrect installation, high mileage, or abrupt temperature changes. Fixing a blown head gasket is an in-depth repair that involves removing the cylinder head to access it. This is not a job that most people can do at home.

a used head gasket

Cracked Engine Block or Cylinder Head 

While a blown head gasket is bad, a lot of the time the engine is fine and can be saved by replacing it. The other primary cause of white exhaust smoke is generally the death throe of an engine. When a crack forms in the engine block or cylinder head, coolant can enter the combustion chamber.

A cracked block is technically repairable, but in the vast majority of cases replacing the entire block (or engine) is a better option.

A cracked cylinder head will need to be replaced as well. In this situation, it’s worth comparing the price of replacing the head alone or the entire engine.

freshly machine engine block

What to Look for Besides White Smoke

You should not drive your car if you have white smoke coming out of the tailpipe. Whether it’s caused by a crack in the head or block or a blown head gasket, the engine is at a greater risk of overheating, which will cause even more damage. Some things to check (once the engine is cool!) include the coolant level and the oil.

Contaminated oil will look thick and creamy like a brown milkshake. Take a look at the dipstick or under the oil cap. If the contamination is severe, it will be pretty obvious just by looking at the oil.

Checking the coolant level will tell you whether or not coolant is being consumed by a leak. A normally functioning engine will not lose coolant.

Get Professional Help

Diagnosing any issue is difficult. Having a technician take a look is the best way to know for sure. Not only will you get an accurate diagnosis, but you’ll also get an estimate of the cost of repairs and the best plan of action for getting you back on the road.

Auto Repair at Scott’s U-Save

Scott’s U-Save Tires and Auto Repair is your destination for all things tires and automotive. Our teams of experienced technicians at our stores in New Lenox IL, Steger IL, and Schererville IN can quickly get to the bottom of the issue that causing your vehicle to emit white smoke. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

 

Do I Need a Lift for 35-inch Tires?

Any off-road enthusiast knows that bigger tires are one of the best bang-for-the-buck upgrades to improve ground clearance and off-road capability. Large tires also make your truck, Jeep, or SUV look more aggressive.

35-inch tires are a popular upgrade size. 35s will get your truck an additional inch of axle clearance over 33-inch tires and provide improved traction while wheeling. Upgrading to 35’s is not always easy. A lift and other modifications may be needed to make them fit properly. Keep reading to learn whether or not you will need a suspension lift to put 35s on your rig!

It’s All About Clearance 

Unsurprisingly, the main challenge that comes with fitting larger tires on a vehicle is clearance. Additional clearance can be obtained through a lift, negative offset wheels, and other suspension/body modifications.

Clearance is needed vertically and horizontally to ensure the tires don’t rub during turns, going over bumps, or driving straight. 

A Lift is Needed in Most Cases

A lift is required on most vehicles to accommodate 35-inch tires. The lift size needed can range from 3.5-6 inches. An exception is the new Ford Bronco, which requires no modification to fit 35s. Some trims even come with them from the factory!

The lift your vehicle needs also depends on whether it has an independent front suspension or a solid front axle.

Fender and Wheel Well Clearance

You will likely need to modify the factory fenders and wheel wells to clear larger tires, especially to achieve full suspension compression. To get the optimal clearance you may need to remove plastic wheel arches and trim the fenders with an angle grinder. These modifications are more common on vehicles with independent front suspension.

Upper Control Arms

Running 35s can cause the tires to rub on the upper control arms. There are a few things you can do to fix this problem.

Wheel Spacers

Wheel spacers push your wheels out and can reduce UCA rub. Spacers are a cheap option for addressing UCA rub but have some safety risks.

Negative Wheel Offset

Running a wheel with a negative offset can accomplish the same thing as wheel spacers. Unfortunately, this option requires buying a new set of wheels which can get very expensive quickly.

Upgraded Upper Control Arms

Upgrading your upper control arms to an aftermarket unit can eliminate clearance issues. Most aftermarket UCA’s designed for off-road use will easily accommodate 35-inch tires.

Crash Bar and Pinch Welds

Safety features like the crash bar can cause clearance issues on modern vehicles and may need to be relocated. The pinch weld in the wheel well can also cause problems. Grinding or hammering it down can help.

Other things to consider

The modifications needed to fit 35-inch tires can be extensive, but it doesn’t always stop at suspension and bodywork.

Differential Gearing

Depending on your vehicle, you may need to consider re-gearing your differential to better accommodate the larger tire size. Otherwise, you may experience sluggish acceleration and poor on-road performance.

Speedometer Calibration 

Larger tires will throw off how your speedometer reads. You will need to bring your vehicle to a dealership or shop with the software required to reprogram it.

Get Your Rig Riding on 35s at Scott’s U-Save!

If you want to take the plunge and upgrade your truck, Jeep, or SUV to some 35-inch tires, come visit Scott’s U-Save! Determining what you need to fit larger tires can be difficult, but our suspension and wheel experts will guide you through the entire process and help you achieve the goals you have for your rig. We have locations in Steger and New Lenox, Illinois as well as Schererville, Indiana. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

How Long Does an Alignment Take?

Wheel alignments are an essential service. When your vehicle is out of alignment, your tires will wear faster, your fuel mileage can be lower, and in serious cases, your car will pull to the left or right. Alignments should be done once a year, after new tires are installed, or after any suspension work.
You may wonder what is involved in a wheel alignment, and how long they take. In this article, we will go over the details of this service!

What is Involved in a Wheel Alignment?

Alignments ensure the wheels of your car are aligned parallel to each other. As you drive, your vehicle will slowly come out of alignment, and impact with potholes, curbs and other debris can cause it to become completely misaligned.
Aligning a vehicle involves adjusting three different suspension angles.

1.) Caster

The caster angle determines the angle of the steering axis. A positive caster angle places the steering axis ahead of the tire contact patch, allowing the wheels to return to center after a turn, and contributing to much greater stability while driving. The caster angle is not adjustable on most modern vehicles, but if it is off due to worn-out components it must be corrected.caster angle graphic

2.) Camber

The camber angle determines the amount of inward and outward tile the wheels have. A slightly negative camber can positively impact weight distribution while corning, but too much camber can lead to uneven tire wear due to a smaller contact patch

wheel camber angle graphic

3.) Toe

The toe angle impacts the way your vehicle steers and goes down the road. When the toe is out of alignment, your car can end up “dragging” one or more of your tires, leading to uneven, rapid tire wear.

toe angle graphic

How Long Does a Wheel Alignment Take?

A wheel alignment is a straightforward procedure. Modern alignment racks allow technicians to quickly determine any out-of-line components with precision. On average, you can expect a wheel alignment to take around an hour. Some factors can make the procedure more challenging for the technician, and thus take longer.

Vehicle Age

The age of the car has a significant impact on the time it takes a technician to align it. Suspension components are exposed to extreme temperatures, road salt, water, oil, and debris, and are not touched very often. As a result, hardware can become seized to the point of needing to be replaced.

Type of Vehicle

Sport’s Cars

The type of vehicle can drastically impact the amount of time required to perform an alignment. Any car with sport-oriented suspension will typically take longer to align. For example, a Porsche 911 can take up to three hours to align correctly!

Classic Cars

Classic vehicles utilize shims to correct the toe and camber. Installing shims and rechecking alignment is time-consuming. Many times, this will compound with issues like old and rusted components, further contributing to the time needed to align it.

High End/Luxury Vehicles

Certain higher-end vehicles will have more adjustability in the suspension that can take a technician a significant amount of time to access.

How Often Should I Get an Alignment?

For preventative maintenance, it is not a bad idea to get your vehicle aligned once a year. However, if you hit a curb, pothole, or large debris, or get in an accident, you should have an alignment performed. Additionally, any time the suspension is worked on or modified, such as when installing a lift kit, an alignment must be performed.

Get your Wheels Aligned at Scott’s U-Save!

If it is time for an alignment, visit Scott’s U-Save! With three shops in New Lenox and Steger Illinois, as well as Schererville Indiana. We can align any vehicle, from cars to medium-duty trucks. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

Does Running your Car A/C Lower Gas Mileage?

Gas is expensive right now. In June 2022, the national price for regular gas reached over $5 per gallon. It’s also really hot, which means most drivers are turning the A/C on high on their commute to work or road trips. With so many feeling the pinch of high gas prices, drivers are looking for any way to get a few extra MPG out of their cars. Will turning off the A/C help? In this article, we are going to answer this age-old question once and for all!

Running the A/C Lowers Fuel Economy

Looking at this issue purely based on whether the air conditioning system uses more fuel, it would appear that going with the windows down and the A/C off is the way to go. A/C systems work by cycling refrigerant through a series of components, transitioning from a liquid to a gas and back again. This system runs on power from the engine. Any extra load on the motor will reduce fuel economy.

If you left the system off and just drove with the windows down, you would always get better MPG, right? Not quite.

Having the Windows Down Will Also Decrease Fuel Economy

Driving with the windows down creates a significant amount of drag. If you are driving over 40 MPH, having the windows down can have an even greater impact than running the air conditioning.

A/C On the Highway, Windows Down in Town

To achieve the best fuel economy while trying to stay cool, you need to be strategic with your usage of the air conditioning. If you are driving at slower speeds, you will save gas by forgoing the air conditioning and letting fresh air in the car through the windows. Like we said before, at high speeds it’s more efficient to keep the A/C on low with the windows up.

Other Factors

Newer A/C systems are going to be more efficient, and vehicles with larger engines will be able to run the system with less of a load impact. On the flip side, large vehicles will normally have more space that needs to be cooled, which causes the A/C to work harder for longer.

Park In the Shade

When you get in your car in the afternoon after it’s been baking in the sun, the first thing you usually do is turn on the A/C at full blast. With the inside of the car being so hot, the air conditioning is working extremely hard to cool it down. If you can keep your interior temperature down by parking in the shade or the garage, you won’t need to crank the air conditioning as soon as you start your car.

A/C Service at Scott’s U-Save

The debate between windows down and air conditioning doesn’t mean anything if you’re A/C doesn’t work. If the air coming through your vents is not as cold as it once was, it’s probably time to get it serviced. The experienced technicians at Scott’s U-Save can quickly diagnose and repair your air conditioning system, regardless of what’s wrong. With three locations in Steger IL, New Lenox, IL, and Schererville, IN, we are conveniently located to best serve you. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!