Is your brake light constantly on? Does the light come on when braking?

The skilled technicians at AAMCO Keller know that there are many reasons that may cause your brake light to come on. It can indicate several different issues within your braking system, all of which can affect your vehicle’s safety and shouldn’t be ignored, as few parts of your car, truck or SUV are as essential as working brakes.

Brake Issue Symptoms:

  • Your brake fluid is low.
    This could be an indication of a leak.
  • Your brake pads are getting low.
    Many manufacturers include sensors in the pads which can indicate when the pads are close to the end of their life. When the pads wear down to a certain point, this sensor touches the brake rotor and triggers the light to come on.
  • You may have an anti-lock problem with a sensor or a part.
    This could be dangerous and should be checked out quickly.
  • Or…. oops! It could be that you simply forgot to release the parking brake,
    and it’s just a matter of doing so. If you have driven far or often like this, you could have worn down the brakes and should get them checked to be on the safe side.
  • Squealing, Grinding, Squeaking, or Groaning Sounds
    The squeaking could be that your pads are worn down to the wear indicators and they are telling you to get the brake pads changed before you do damage to the rotors and calipers. The grinding could be that you waited too long and they are now metal to metal and completely worn out. Whatever the noise you hear when you push on the brakes, it’s important to get them checked to avoid creating any further damage.
  • Pedal Vibrations or Pulsations
    Pedal pulsations or vibrations are usually caused by a condition where the brake rotor has worn unevenly. This pedal movement happens because as the brake pads go in and out to follow the unevenness of the brake rotor, the pedal under your foot follows that movement. Usually this will necessitate replacing the pads and rotors. Another more dangerous condition could be that you have loose brake parts or a loose wheel. Get this checked out immediately. If you suspect anything loose, do not drive the car, have someone look at it before operating again.
  • Car driving or pulling to one side when applying the brakes
    condition could be caused by a hydraulic caliper sticking, a loose brake part or even a loose steering or suspension part. This can be very dangerous and should be checked out immediately.
  • A low, soft or spongy brake pedal
    All these conditions are generally created by leaking brake fluid. You may have a hose, line, or hydraulic cylinder or caliper leaking in the system and if not repaired immediately will eventually cause you to lose all braking. If your pedal goes to the floor or becomes soft or spongy, check the master cylinder reservoir to see if it’s low and have a professional take a look immediately.  Avoid driving if possible.
  • Smoke or a hot burning smell from a wheel
    This condition happens when a hydraulic caliper has frozen in the applied position and will not release. This condition usually ruins the pads, the rotor and the caliper. Always replace them in pairs and change the hoses that feed the caliper.

All parts, especially brakes, wear out over time. Delaying brake inspections and maintenance servicing could put you, your passengers and people around you at unnecessary risk. Like most automotive maintenance and repair problems and issues, the longer you put it off, the greater the chance for larger repair bills.

If you are experiencing any issues with your brakes, stop in or call your local AAMCO Keller auto repair center today for an appointment. It’s important to have your brakes checked for any potential problems long before they ever stop you on the road. The skilled technicians at AAMCO of Keller will to help keep your braking system in good working order.

Save now on our brake repair service with this coupon!

ABS and Traction Control Light On?

AAMCO of Keller, TX is here to help if your car has an ABS Light Or Traction Control Light on!

What you need to know about why your abs and traction control light is on.

All cars and light trucks since the 2012 model year have come with standard traction control, and many vehicles from earlier years that had antilock brakes also got traction control systems. That’s because traction control piggybacks on the antilock brake system (ABS) and uses the same wheel-speed sensors to detect tire slip during acceleration. Traction control and ABS are the basis of the stability control systems the federal government has required since the 2012 model year. Where traction control maintains traction while accelerating and ABS does the same for braking, electronic stability systems compare the vehicle’s trajectory to where the driver seems to want it to go and brakes individual wheels to keep it on course.

As with antilock systems, the wheel-speed sensors, wires, connectors, control module and other components can occasionally conk out or suffer intermittent problems. The sensors, wires and connectors are located at each wheel and live in a hostile environment of potholes, water, snow, dirt, tar, stones, other debris and more, so they take a beating and can fail.

A problem in the system will usually illuminate a dashboard warning light that traction control is disabled and, in some cases, ABS is disabled as well. (When ABS is disabled, you should still have normal braking, just without the antilock action.) This is different from momentary illumination of the warning light; the light should always come on for a couple of seconds whenever you start the vehicle as well as when the system detects that a wheel is spinning freely and does its job to improve traction.

Wheel-speed sensors are supposed to detect when one drive wheel is spinning faster than the others — meaning the vehicle is slipping or losing traction. The system will then reduce power and/or apply the brakes to that wheel. Braking the spinning wheel allows the power to go to the other drive wheel or wheels that have more traction. (This principle is what has allowed ABS-based traction control in some vehicles to take the place of limited-slip differentials, which serve the same purpose.) When traction control is disabled, you’ll have to control tire slippage the old-fashioned way: by lifting off the accelerator.

In some cases, the warning light can come on because wheel-speed sensors are covered with road grime or debris. Several GM models from recent years have had this problem, and GM issued a technical service bulletin to dealers to address it.

When the traction control warning light stays on, that means you aren’t getting any help from the system to control traction and the system needs to be checked. Unless you’re driving on slippery surfaces, traction control doesn’t come into play, so getting it repaired isn’t as crucial as it would be for disabled ABS or stability, which are arguably more important as safety features. A driver can prevent most wheel slippage during acceleration by going easier on the gas pedal. Diagnosing issues usually requires a scan tool to read the trouble code that triggered the warning light. Scan tools can help pinpoint what the issues are (such as a bad speed sensor or connector) and at which wheel(s).

Can I drive with the traction control warning light on?
If the traction control light comes on while you’re driving, but no other warning lights are illuminated, don’t panic. Find a safe place to pull over, turn off your vehicle, and then restart it. If a fluke in the TCS system triggered the warning light, it should turn stay off when you restart the engine.

If it comes back on, it’s likely time to call a mechanic and get a system diagnosis. Until it’s fixed, drive gently and avoid hard acceleration that could result in the wheels slipping. If the ABS light also comes on, the above advice also applies, with the additional precaution of avoiding hard braking that could provoke a skid.

If the TCS and the ABS warning lights both come on, along with the red main brake warning light, you should not drive the car until the problem has been fixed. Your entire braking system is affected, and may not be able to stop your vehicle when you need it to. Have your vehicle towed to a repair shop.

Proper diagnosis of TCS issues usually requires a specialized scan tool to find the trouble code that has triggered the warning light. The specific trouble code can help identify which component is causing the fault, as well as its specific location.

If your ABS and Traction Control Light is on give AAMCO Keller a Call Today at (817) 431-0009 or schedule an appointment online for a complete diagnostic inspection. 

How Long Can You Drive On a Spare Tire?

So how long can you drive with a spare tire? In the majority of cases the answer is that you should do everything possible to minimize both speeds and drive time with a spare fitted.

Just how restricted you are depends on your vehicle and the quality of your spare.

The exception to the rule is vehicles with a fifth/spare wheel that is equal in size and tire specification (make and model) to the full-size OE tires and wheels. If you’re lucky enough to be in this camp, then standard spare tire and wheel guidance doesn’t really apply. However, you should still get AAMCO of Keller or a local tire shop or dealer as soon as possible to get the damaged tire repaired, and maintain a functional spare. (Also, don’t forget to make that fifth tire a part of your tire rotation protocol.)

For everyone else, you’re most likely either working with a compact temporary spare, aka a “donut” tire, or what’s referred to as a “dissimilar/non-matching” spare wheel and tire, which is becoming increasingly common. Dissimilar/non-matching spare wheels and tires are often full-size, or close to it, but the wheel and/or tire is of a different specification than the four OE wheels and tires.

Compact temporary spare/“donut”

These spare tires and wheels are designed to mobilize the vehicle just long enough to get to the nearest service station. With a compact temporary spare fitted, important vehicle functions like traction control, ABS, and proper speedometer operation are likely to be impaired.

The handling dynamics, braking capability, and overall traction of your vehicle will be significantly compromised. When driving, reduce your speed substantially, and don’t plan to use it long-term or over a significant distance. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific guidance on speed and distance limitations.

Once the old tire is off your car and safely stowed in the trunk, you’re left with a spare tire to get your vehicle safely to the nearest auto repair shop. If you’re lucky, the mechanics can easily fix your flat tire for $10-$15. If the tire was damaged beyond repair, you’ll need to buy a new one.

For some, spending hundreds of dollars on a new tire just isn’t in the cards. That leaves the question, “How long can you really drive on a spare tire?”

In older cars, every model came with a spare tire that matched the tires already on the vehicle. Over the years, car manufacturers have realized the spare tire is used so infrequently, it doesn’t make much sense to equip every vehicle with a full-sized spare. For this reason, manufacturers began leaving a space-saver spare (otherwise known as a “donut”) in place of a full-size spare.

For years, cars were built with spare tire wells capable of carrying a full-size spare. On many older cars (and a few newer models), this is still the case. If you bought a truck, SUV or another larger vehicle, your car may have been equipped with a full-size spare. While a full-size spare is heavier and requires space for storage, these tires are more durable and can handle a drive similar to a normal tire.

Once you’ve taken your vehicle to an auto repair shop and learned your original tire cannot be repaired, you can request the spare tire be put on the original tire’s rim – just make sure to check the spare tire’s air pressure. This process is quick and cheap, and will allow you to drive on the spare tire for a longer period of time.

However, the spare has not been used to the same extent as the other 3 tires (and may be a different type of tire altogether). For this reason, the wheel will handle differently than the other tires and can create an unsafe drive. We suggest buying a new tire as soon as you can afford to.

Safe-Saver/Donut Spare Tire
These narrow, compact spares were designed to save space and weight in the vehicle. This allows the manufacturers to build a smaller car, but the tire itself is not built to last. Your owner’s manual will give the recommendations for driving time and speed. A general rule of thumb is to drive no more than 70 miles and no faster than 50 miles per hour before replacing your donut with a new tire.

The biggest reason to use these space savers for a short period of time is because they have little to no tread. This makes the spare vulnerable to road hazards and projectiles. It is also much smaller than the other 3 tires, making it spin faster to keep up with the moving car.

Over those 70 miles, the lubricating grease will break down, causing unnecessary wear on the gears and clutch plates.

A Run-Flat Tire
Run-flat tires are becoming more common as manufacturers are realizing they cost less to maintain than traditional tires. If you drive a recent model Lexus or Mercedes, your car likely came with run-flat tires. These tires are tougher than most tires, but are not designed to last forever.

Rather than including a spare tire, these run-flat tires are built to withstand most road hazards, including punctures. Rather than going flat or blowing out (as traditional tires do), a run-flat tire can continue to drive after a puncture for about 50 miles before needing to be replaced. However, these tires cost more to replace than a traditional tire.

Regardless of the type of tire, your spare needs to be replaced sooner rather than later
If driving on a full-sized spare, a rim replacement will allow for more time before you absolutely need a new tire. However, a space-saver tire should be driven on for no more than 70 miles.

It’s important to remember your tires are the only thing standing between the road and yourself. Getting a flat tire adequately taken care of isn’t a matter of convenience; it’s essential to your safety.

Tread-ware can be on of the leading causes of a flat tire under common road conditions. When the tire wears it becomes more susceptible to road hazards and harsh driving conditions.

Why is a wheel alignment important for my vehicle?

  • Proper wheel alignments can help improve your driver safety, create a smoother ride, and help increase fuel efficiency
  • Alignments could save you hundreds of dollars on replacing tires due to premature tread wear

Have a flat tire in the Keller Area? Wondering why your tires are wearing quicker than expected? Contact AAMCO Of Keller today to schedule a wheel alignment and tire inspection. Call Us Today at (817) 431-0009