Steve’s Car Care Tip #10: Six Important Facts About Brake Care (that you should know!)

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Destroyed Brake Rotors

Good brake care is a necessary and very important aspect of car maintenance.  Steve Gerbig, owner of Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service in Osage Beach (in Missouri), answers some questions about brakes that many of us might have.  Read on for some “food for thought” on brake care…

  1. Question: What about lifetime brake pads… what info can you give on them?

Answer:  A lifetime warranty on parts is “appreciable” and a way to get you back to the same place to spend a lot more money the next time.  You are likely to be told that you will need other major components that may or may not be required.  You are probably going to have a sales pitch for rotors, calipers, brake hoses and other such things like flushing the brake system (kind of a gimmick).  So, keep in mind that while lifetime warranty pads are nice, be aware of what the situation may easily turn into.

  1. Question: Should vehicle owners beware of low-priced brake services?  Could this be a way to get customers in to their shops to sell other services?

Answer:  Yes, this does happen and a way that many mechanic shops operate.  This is a way that they might “cover” other cheap services like super low-priced oil changes.  Just beware of prices that are very low and other services you might be urged to acquire.

  1. Question: How can a vehicle owner stay “on top” of their brake care as far as not having their brakes get into such a bad shape i.e. like a warped rotor and very expensive repairs?

Answer:  Don’t take your vehicle to places that only supply limited services like a business that just does mainly car washes/oil changes or sells groceries/farm supplies/oil changes.  These businesses usually do not do a thorough check of your vehicle like a full-service mechanic shop would.  I do a complete check of every vehicle to see whether there is a brake problem or any other of numerous other problems.

  1. Question: So, should you go to your mechanic every six months or so for a checkup to see if there is a problem with your brake pads, etc.? 

Answer:  Not necessarily, let’s also keep YOUR busy schedule in mind here… What you should know is that if you should go to your “regular” full-service mechanic for your oil changes, (even if the franchise place is running a “$5 dollar cheaper special”) they should spot any problems for you before they become a disaster.   And, many times you could patronize a place that does tires and maybe brake service, but, for instance, you could REALLY need a timing belt, and they would not provide that service.  But, they will try to sell you other “gravy” services when what you BADLY NEED is a timing belt.

  1. Question: If you step on your brakes and they go to the floor – what does that mean has happened? 

Answer:  Generally, if that would happen, it is not when traveling down the road and stepping on them hard, but when you are going through the drive-thru, using a light-to-moderate pressure scenario.  And, every time you let off a little bit and let your car ease forward, the pedal gets a little mushier, sinks a little more…and, sinks a little more…

Question:  What does that mean?

Answer:  It means you have a leak in your master cylinder.  It’s an internal leak – you don’t see fluid on the ground.

  1. Question: What about brakes making noises…what info can you provide on that?

Answer:  To be safe, any brake noise should be investigated by a competent mechanic.  This may well not even take 5 minutes.   There can be a big difference between a squealing noise, & a deeper, “scraping/grinding” noise, & you may not be able to tell the difference. So, be sure to have any noise checked out immediately.

Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service does FREE brake inspections.  If you are at or near the Lake of the Ozarks, give Gerbig’s a call at (573) 302-4555.  Or, just stop in at 1030 Rowan (Normandy) Rd., Osage Beach, MO. Located just off Hwy 54, behind the U.S. Post Office.  Walk-ins are welcome. 

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Photo Credit (destroyed rotors):  Interiot

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Steve’s Car Tip #6: Economy Car Cleaning Solutions

Clean car

Photo Credit: David Martyn Hunt

Been looking for some inexpensive car cleaning solutions that really seem to do the job?…look no further than this handy dandy guide of economy car cleaning solutions.  Clean your car without breaking the bank while being gentle on the environment, too (in many cases).  So, with a busy schedule and tight budget, clean your car with materials you may already have in your house!
Our Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to test on a small, unnoticeable area first to be sure it won’t damage the fabric or paint on your car.

Washing Your Car

Try a mixture of a dab of hair conditioner and clean water for an inexpensive car wash that’ll make your vehicle’s finish shine, repel water and look like it was just waxed. A good choice would be one that includes includes lanolin as one of its ingredients for even better results.

Shining Up Paint

A little WD-40 will often do the trick to remove tar, tree sap, bird droppings, and dried bugs – always notoriously difficult to remove. It’s also handy for removing old bumper stickers – just spray a little on whatever it is you want to remove and then wash it off.  You may want to use a soft cloth and some gentle rubbing to help speed the process.  For an extra economical solution – try a little bit if creamy peanut butter or shortening on that sticky spot, they can work wonders and are environmentally friendly.

Scrubbing the Windows

Just as women from 50-100 years ago used to use as their major window cleaner – choose vinegar, instead of ammonia. Ammonia can harm some window tints and so it is always best to avoid ammonia whenever possible. There are many commercial products out on the market containing vinegar like Windex, Eco-Touch, and many others.   Or, if you want to save some money, make your own window cleaner. Combine one cup of water with half a cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of alcohol. Mix well and spray away.  Be sure to use a microfiber cloth when cleaning your windows for extra gentleness to the surface.
Another economical, environmentally-friendly solution is to sprinkle some cream of tartar on the dry windshield’s exterior, wipe it down with soapy water, rinse and dry for a sparkling, streak-free view. Your vehicle’s windshield won’t taste better afterward, but it sure will be cleaner.

Cleaning Interior Surfaces

WD-40 is a magic solution for many cleaning needs.  Not only is it good for exterior removal of bugs, tar, tree sap and nasty bird droppings, use it inside to remove gum and grease on interior fabrics and surfaces (spot check first, though).  A little bit goes a long way to remove many stains.  Just spray a little on the spot you want removed, rub it gently with a clean, soft cloth and then with some soap and water and, presto!  The stain is gone.
An all-natural solution to shine up your interior can be made at home with lemon juice and olive oil.  It will make your interior shine bright!  Mix one part fresh lemon juice with two parts olive oil. Dab some on a soft cloth and get to work rubbing it into the vehicle’s interior plastic and vinyl surfaces – being careful to avoid the steering wheel and gas and brake pedals. Polish and rub in the residue with another clean, soft cloth and you’ll have an interior that looks, and smells, great.

Removing That Smell

Ever wonder how your once new car went from having such a fresh smell to the staleness it now has?  How about taking a paper bag and put in some food scraps, a cup or two of dirt, and some fresh grass clippings, keep them in your car for three months with the windows rolled up and the sun beating down.  Pretty disgusting odor after just a few months!  But, a great solution for this is to place a small bag of charcoal under a seat and leave it there to help remove odors and serve as a dehumidifier.
Another odor busting solution is to use baking soda with a pleasant-smelling herb, such as lavender, mixed in can also help replace offensive odors with pleasing ones. Sprinkle the mixture on the floor and fabric seats, let it set for a few hours or overnight and then vacuum it away.

Fighting Stains

A water-vinegar mixture and a spray bottle can remove stains just as good as many store bought cleaners.  Also, try using some corn starch by sprinkling it on a grease or oil stain, leaving it on there for a few hours.  The starch may help to absorb and lift the grease so it can be vacuumed – a real economical solution that works on fresh stains!
Use these natural car cleaning, eco-friendly solutions that are easy on the pocket book for a fresh, clean car that your passengers will surely love!
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If you’re around Osage Beach at beautiful Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri – stop in and see Steve at Gerbig’s Osage Auto Repair Service for expert car advice for you.

Steve’s Car Tip #5: Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winter Car

Photo Credit: Vicki Timman

You can avoid many dangerous winter travel problems by planning ahead.  For optimal maintenance, have regular service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends.

In addition, every fall:
Either have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add any antifreeze, as needed.
It’s also a good idea to replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.  In addition, replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.

During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank
and fuel lines.
If you are at or near the Lake of the Ozarks region – stop by and talk to
Steve about what your car might need for the winter.   573-302-4555

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Steve’s Car Tip #1: Are Your Windshield Wipers Safe?

With all the rainy weather we’ve been having this spring (and more on the way) it’s good safety sense to have your windshield wipers in tiptop shape.  It’s a fact that 90% of driving decisions are based on vision.  When the rain is pelting the windshield and visability is impaired, you are at an increased risk for an accident.  Don’t risk your safety or that of others, check your windshield wipers before setting out or have an expert mechanic assess them.  If at or near the Lake of the Ozarks, Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service will happily help.  Call or stop by (573) 302-4555.

Windshield wiper facts:

  • It’s recommended that wiper blades are changed once every year
  • One in five vehicles have deficient wiper blades
  • Drivers will often wait years to replace wiper blades that wore out after 6 – 12 months of use
  • If you use your washer solvent and the blades streak or chatter, it may be time for new blades
  • It may not be a problem with the blades, but could be the wiper arms with a problem

What will we do to help?

After assessing the exact problem, we will know if the solution lies in simply replacing the blades.  Or, the correct thing to do may be to fix the arm…it could be as simple as straightening it.  It is best to get expert advice and (most important) to not neglect your wipers.

Happy and Safe Driving!

Steve Gerbig

Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service