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Takata Airbag Recall Update

We are posting this as part of the continuing awareness campaign regarding Honda and Acura airbag recalls. This information was provided to us today by American Honda Motor Company, to be forwarded to anyone that we believe may have a defective Takata airbag in their vehicle. The following information has been provided by American Honda Motor Company and they are responsible for its content:

The Takata Corporation is a leading global supplier of automotive safety systems such as seat belts, air bags and child seats. The company has 46 plants in 17 countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
The Takata Corporation is a leading global supplier of automotive safety systems such as seat belts, air bags and child seats. The company has 46 plants in 17 countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Attention
Important Safety Information for Your Customer:

 American Honda is providing crucial information that may help keep your customer safe. Everyone knows someone who drives a Honda – or Acura – and with your help, we can ensure our friends and loved ones are driving a vehicle that is safe.  Please check VINs at www.recalls.honda.com for Honda vehicles and www.recalls.acura.com for Acura vehicles or call 1(888) 234-2138 for open recalls.  If a vehicle is found to need a recall performed, please arrange to address it immediately.

Google 360° Photo Shoot Day!

In addition to a busy week of maintenance & repair on some of the most fun and interesting cars in the Chicago area, we all pulled double duty in getting the shop ready for our first ever Google 360° photo shoot. The end result can be seen by clicking on the photo below. Take a digital “walk” on our shop floor, with an immersive, panoramic photo tour. We very much enjoy sharing the eye candy that we get to see in our normal workday, with the many regular visitors to our website and our Google+ and facebook pages.

IMG_2540-1024x768

Car Batteries – What Do I Need To Know?

Battery

At Midwest Performance Cars we receive a lot of vehicles that are towed in as they suddenly will not start. This is often due to a failed battery and is very prevalent during the winter months.

However, your battery is just one part of your vehicle’s complex electrical system. A dead battery may be a result of another problem. Often a faulty alternator is not charging the battery properly and causing it to fail. You may also have a “parasitic draw” which means some component of your car is putting an undue draw on the battery when the car is parked. Remember, vehicles these days often have more CPUs than your home and office combined. Many of these electrical systems require a small drain on the battery all the time. However, if something is amiss, then they can drain the battery dead.

Why do car batteries fail in the cold weather? There are a number of reasons:

1. A battery produces less power or energy as the temperature drops. In fact batteries are measured using Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). A CCA rating is the number of amps a battery can deliver at 0 ° F for 30 seconds and not drop below 7.2 volts. According to Interstate Battery’s website:  “Your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.”

2. At the same time it takes more current to turn over a car’s engine when it is cold outside. The oil gets thick and there is more resistance that the starter has to deal with.

3. Cars are often “short-tripped” more in the winter. Short tripping is when a car is started and driven for a short period of time which does not allow the alternator to fully recharge the battery.

4. Vehicles are often driven less frequently in the winter. Periods on non-use can negatively affect the health of your battery – particularly if it is older.

Getting into your car and having it not start due to a dead battery is one of the most frustrating and disruptive aspects of car ownership (along with flat tires, running out of gas, and shoveling). Since you are in your car, you need to go somewhere – to work, to take your kids to school (in which case they are in the car), wherever. And there is no easy fix – you usually have to wait for the tow truck.

How Can I Prevent A Dead Battery?

Fortunately, your car will give you some early warning signs that your battery is at the end of its life.
• Age – most batteries today last an average of 3-5 years – less in harsher climates. In Chicago, if your battery is more than three years old you should have it tested periodically.
• Slow Engine Crank – when your car is harder to start than normal and slow to turn over, your battery is weak. The dreaded “rur, rur, rur” noise. If it does fire for you, don’t put it off too long.
• Check Engine Light/Battery Light/Strange Lights – some vehicles these days have a low battery light, others may throw a check engine light, or you may see weird lights that come on and off seemingly randomly. These are due to low voltage faults – one of the computers in the system is not getting enough power.
• Corrosion – look at the top of your battery and at your cables. Are your cables tight? Do you have something green that looks like it is growing off your battery or cables?

Let Midwest Performance Cars Check Your Charging System:

At Midwest Performance Cars we have diagnostic equipment specifically designed to check your entire charging system. This test will check the following:
1. The condition of your battery
2. The condition of your alternator
3. Your starter’s amp draw
4. If you have any parasitic draws
This test usually takes approximately one hour on most vehicle depending on where your battery or batteries are located.

Instrument Cluster Warning Lights – What You Should Know

Instrument-Panel-Warning-Lights

Many people do not know what all the warning lights on their instrument panels mean – or more importantly – what to do if they illuminate. These lights often need immediate attention, as they are usually telling you that something is wrong. It could mean that conditions are unsafe for you and your passengers, or that something is happening that can damage your vehicle. The following list is not an exhaustive one. Every driver should be familiar with all the warning lights on their particular vehicle.

Low-Tire-Pressure-WarningLow Tire Pressure Warning 

Most modern automobiles (and all vehicles sold in the US after 2005) consistently monitor the pressure of each tire, and warn you when there is a pressure drop. When the low tire pressure light comes on, you should pull over to a safe place and visually inspect the tires.

If your tires are not inflated properly all aspects of your vehicle’s handling are negatively affected. Also, driving with either low or overly-inflated tires adversely affects fuel economy and causes premature wear on your tires.

It’s common to see the low tire pressure warning light in the fall and winter when outdoor temperatures drop, resulting in a reduction of tire pressure. See our other blog for more information: Why did my tire pressure monitor system warning tpms light come on?

A good rule of thumb is to check fluid levels and tire pressure once a month (including the spare). Driving on a flat tire is dangerous and can result in damage to the both the tire and the wheel. Call for roadside service or change the tire. Midwest Performance Cars is always happy to check and set your tire pressures at no charge.

Low-Battery-WarningLow Battery Warning

When the low battery warning light comes on, it’s a good idea to have the charging system checked immediately. Often this indicates the alternator is not charging the battery properly, which can easily leave you stranded the next time you try to start your car. You should also check the terminals to ensure they are tight and free of corrosion. This light typically will NOT tell you that the battery itself is failing.  Indications of a bad battery are – your car turning over slowly at start, or not turning over at all. In the midwest, with the hot summers and cold winters, modern batteries typically last 4-5 years. Midwest Performance Cars can check the condition of your battery as well as test your charging system.

Brake-Fluid-WarningBrake Fluid Warning

An automobile’s brake system is the most important safety feature of the car. Never ignore a brake warning light. This warning light can indicate a fluid leak – and a resulting lack of stopping power. Brake failure can be life-threatening for you, your passengers, other drivers and pedestrians.

If the brake light is on, check the emergency brake to ensure it isn’t engaged. If the light remains on after disengaging the emergency brake, check the brake fluid. If low, add brake fluid up to the line indicated on the brake master cylinder, and pump thebrakes several times. If you feel the brake pedal “going down” and “getting soft”, you most likely have a brake fluid leak.

Any time brake issues are suspect, the safest option is to have the automobile towed to our auto repair shop, Midwest Performance Cars, and have the brake system inspected. If the brake system is losing fluid it is absolutely unsafe to drive the vehicle. When this light turns on, don’t risk it. Have the vehicle towed to our shop.

Brake-Pad-WarningBrake Pad Warning

Many vehicles have a separate warning light for the brake pads.  When you use your brakes, the brake pads clamp down on the brake discs and the generated friction slows the car.  As this happens, a small fraction of the pad material wears away. Over time, the pads wear down until a sensor in the pad hits the disc and turns on the Brake Pad Warning light. This is an indication that you need to have your brake pads, and sometimes rotors, replaced. You have a fairly short amount of time before the pad material wears away completely and the brakes cease to slow your vehicle. When you see this light, call Midwest Performance Cars. We will be happy to inspect your braking system at no charge.

Oil-Pressure-WarningOil Pressure Warning

Oil is a lubricant that reduces the friction and resulting wear on a car’s engine. The engine is the most costly component of an automobile, therefore it is important to keep it lubricated. This is also the reason periodic oil changes are vital. Over time, the oil wears out and is unable to lubricate properly, resulting in the premature engine wear.

An illuminated oil pressure light can indicate any one of several oil-related problems. Some of these are: an oil leak, a bad sensor, or your engine burning oil. Whatever the cause, this light requires immediate action. Pull over to a service station and check your oil level. If oil level is low, check your owner’s manual and top up with the correct weight oil until the engine is filled correctly. NOTE: DO NOT OVERFILL – too much oil can also harm your engine.

Get your vehicle to your mechanic as soon as possible – even if adding the oil causes the light to go off.  Midwest Performance Cars will be happy to find the cause of the trouble.

Temperature-WarningTemperature Warning

An illuminated temperature warning light can indicate your car has a coolant leak, bad water pump or faulty thermostat. While there are other potential causes, these are the most common. Driving an overheating car can result in damage to the engine which may or may not be repairable. Never open the radiator cap on a hot car, severe injury from scalding fluids can result. Have your car towed to Midwest Performance Cars, for diagnosis and repair by one of our certified mechanics.

Midwest Performance Cars is happy to advise you on any warning light issue and perform a complete vehicle safety check at no charge. Call us at (312) 432-9492 to set up an appointment or use our convenient online scheduler.

Why Did My Tire Pressure Monitor System Warning (TPMS) Light Come On?

Now that the brisk fall mornings are upon us, many of you will start your cars in the morning and be greeted by the worrisome TPMS light.

TPMS-warning

The pressure in your tires is affected by the ambient temperature outside.  Tire pressure will drop approximately 1lb. per ten degrees of outdoor temperature.  If your tire pressure was last set during 70 degree temperatures, then you will be approximately 4 lbs. low on that first 30 degree morning; this will trip your TPMS warning light.

When you see your TPMS light, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you check  your tire pressure as soon as possible. While tires may be a few pounds low due to the weather, this could also be an indication of a puncture or other severe problem with one, or more than one, of your tires.  This is a safety issue, as a compromised tire is prone to a blow-out, making your vehicle extremely hard to control and potentially causing an accident.

Be sure to adjust tire pressure as soon as possible.  Remember that driving your car with low tire pressure has three negative impacts on your vehicle.

First. and most important, your vehicle’s handling will be compromised.  The small, tire “contact patches” are the areas where your tires meet the pavement, and are responsible for the acceleration, stopping, and turning abilities of your vehicle.  Even small changes in tire pressure will have a big impact on those contact patches. Professional racecar drivers adjust each tire by as little as ½ lb. in order to make the car handle precisely the way they want.

Low tire pressure will also negatively impact your fuel economy. Low pressure makes the tires more resistant to rolling; therefore, the engine has to work harder to make the vehicle move.  Fuel economy goes down by approximately 0.3% for each 1 lb. drop in tire pressure.

Finally, driving on under-inflated tires has a profoundly negative impact on the life and wear of your tires. Underinflated tires generate more heat and cause excessive wear to the outer edges of the tires.

If you have a good quality tire pressure gauge, you can easily check and adjust your own tire pressure. Here is a tip: Check your tire pressure first thing in the morning, when the air is cold and before you drive anywhere.  If your tires are 3 lbs. low, drive to your nearest service station and add 3 lbs. to each. As you continue to drive, tire pressure will increase from the heat generated by friction, as the tires roll on the pavement. It is much better to be 3 lbs. high rather than 3 lbs. low. You can find the manufacturer’s recommended cold-inflation pressures on the driver’s side door jamb.

You can also have your mechanic check and adjust your pressures. Midwest Performance Cars is happy to adjust your pressures and perform a complete vehicle safety check at no charge.  Call us at (312) 432-9492 to set up an appointment, or use our online scheduler .

What you need to know about the NHTSA airbag recall

The Takata Corporation is a leading global supplier of automotive safety systems such as seat belts, air bags and child seats. The company has 46 plants in 17 countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
The Takata Corporation is a leading global supplier of automotive safety systems such as seat belts, air bags and child seats. The company has 46 plants in 17 countries around the world. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Most of us have heard of the massive recall surrounding vehicles with airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation in Japan. This has been all over the news this week as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has increased the number of vehicles included from 4.7 million to 7.8 million.

The list of vehicles (as of October 24, 2014) that could have these defective airbags is shown below.

There has been a lot of confusion relating to this recall. Here is what you need to know:

The problem originates with the propellant used in he manufacturing process; it was either too powerful, or becomes too powerful in humid conditions. In an accident, pieces of the airbag’s frame and propellant container pierce the airbag and shoot out like shrapnel, along with the propellant itself. This can, and has, caused serious injury to the vehicle’s occupants.

The NHTSA believes that the concern is greatest for people living in high-humidity areas such as Florida, Puerto Rico, and areas near the Gulf of Mexico. In those geographical areas, the NHTSA is urging people to take IMMEDIATE action, and not to drive their vehicles until the airbags have been replaced.

In the rest of the country, there have been a few incidents reported in Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, and Illinois. Some manufacturers identified these issues as early as 2008 and sent out recall letters at that time.

What should you do if you have a vehicle on the list below?

Go to the NHTSA website – https://vinrcl.safecar.gov/vin/ – enter your VIN, and check if your vehicle is subject to the recall. If it is, no matter what area you live in, YOU ARE STONGLY URGED to visit your dealership as soon as possible, and have the airbags replaced.  Vehicles in Chicago are subject to extremely humid interiors – often from blocked drains or even from a window left open during a storm.  You simply cannot afford to take the risk that the airbag, which is meant to save you, could actually cause you serious bodily harm. Also, as this list is still evolving, checking every few weeks is highly recommended, until the list is finalized.

From the NHTSA Website:

7.8 Million Affected U.S. Vehicles, by Manufacturer, Impacted by CY 2013 and 2014 Recalls Involving Takata Airbags

Note: The list below corrects the list that accompanied our October 20th advisory, which incorrectly included certain vehicles. The numbers cited for potentially affected vehicles below are subject to change and adjustment because there may be cases of vehicles being counted more than once. Owners should check their VIN periodically as manufacturers continue to add VINs to the database. Once owner recall notices are available, owners can retrieve a copy from SaferCar.gov, or will receive one by U.S. mail and are advised to carefully follow the enclosed instructions.

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang

General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL

Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider

Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra

 

Spring Car Care Tips

Spring-Driving

You and your car have survived the Chicago Winter and we should be all finished with any real snow and ice. Now is the right time to bring your vehicle in for a Spring Service. Winter is very hard on many components of your car and some wear or damage to important components may have occurred. If your car has been safely stored away for the winter, it is a good idea to have it gone through before the fun driving season begins.

It goes without saying that spring and summer are very different environments in which your car must operate in than winter is. While generally easier on the equipment, each season does present its own set of challenges. Spring brings a lot of rain and wet driving conditions. This stresses electrical components, tires and drains among other systems. Contact Midwest Performance Cars today to schedule an appointment for your Spring Maintenance. Below are a few of the things we will check for spring as well as a few recommendations:

LiquiMoly - made_in_germany

Spring Service Package – There are a few high quality additives that we recommend periodically adding to your oil and fuel systems in order to remove contaminants and to reduce wear. We have bundled three of the best into a Spring Service Package. All three products come from the highly respected German company Liqui Molly. “Engine Flush” is added to the engine and run for a few minutes just prior to an oil change – this removes contaminants from the oil circuit. After the oil change, we recommend “Cera Tec” which adds a ceramic coating to the metal and reduces both wear and friction. This service should be completed every 30,000 miles. Finally we recommend “Jectron” to keep the fuel injection systems clean. With our Spring Service Special we combine these three great services into a package at a considerably reduced price.

 

car-battery-testing

Battery – Winter is hard on your starting system components – battery, alternator and starter. The cold puts a high load on this system in order to turn over your motor filled with cold, thick oil. MPC will check this system to make sure it is still on good order. Signs that your battery is failing include hard starting, warning lights, dimming headlights and interior lights, and slow power windows.

 

 

brake rotor

Brakes – Salt, slush and ice get packed into your wheels and brakes during the winter. This can corrode your brake components – pads, rotors, brake lines, and ABS systems. Signs that your brakes need attention include pulling to one side, warning lights, a soft brake pedal, and squealing or grinding noise upon application.

 

 

tire with bulge in it

Tires – Those of you that have one set of tires for all year should have them checked out in the Spring. Spinning your wheels on ice trying to get out of your parking spot, alley, or garage can do a lot of damage to your tires. See this terrific article from Car Talk: Car Talk on Winter Tire Damage. Further, hitting potholes (hard not to do in Chicago Winters) can cause sidewall bulges or cracked/broken wheels. Either of these is unsafe and should be replaced immediately. We will check your tires for dry-rot – rubber cracks as it ages and old (5 years or more) tires will start to dry out and crack from the inside out. Finally, MPC will set your tire pressures. Tire pressures will change as the temperature outside changes so you should always have your pressures checked in the spring.

worn belt

Belts and Hoses – The cold and salt will also age rubber parts in your engine such as belts and hoses. As the rubber ages, belts will start to peel and crack and hoses will get soft. Blowing a hose in your cooling system will cause your car to overheat and you will need a tow. Similarly, a broken belt can cause many issues from a loss of power steering to overheating. Midwest Performance Cars will check your belts and hoses to make sure you are ready to enjoy spring driving.

 

 

 

cracked-ignition-coil

Spark Plug Wires & Coils – Both rubber spark plug wires and plastic coils will crack with age and heat. Often in the rainy spring weather, the humidity in the air will cause these cracks to develop into shorts which will result in misfires, hard starts or no starts.

 

 

 

 

 

pointing to drain hole under the hood

Drains – This is an important maintenance item that is overlooked by many shops and dealerships. Most vehicles have drains in the front cowling, doors, and sunroofs. These can get blocked up with leaves and other debris. When the drains are plugged up, water will often back up into the cabin on the floors and/or into the dash. These areas usually are full of electronic control modules that get damaged with water intrusion. We too often see vehicles with damaged, expensive control modules and moldy wet carpeting caused by something as simple as plugged drains.

 

 

oxygen sensor

Oxygen Sensors – These are one of the most common causes for a Check Engine Light to come on. There are often multiple oxygen sensors in today’s European cars, but they all work the same way. The oxygen sensor measures the unburnt oxygen in the exhaust stream and allows the vehicle’s fuel management to add or reduce fuel flow in order to maintain the perfect mixture. If your oxygen sensor(s) malfunction, the fuel management will often provide too much gas (rich mixture) and can reduce your mileage by up to 40% according to the auto repair website, CarMD. Running too rich can also damage your catalytic converter which is an expensive component of your vehicle. Oxygen sensors typically need replacing every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

 

brake reservoir

Fluids – It is always important to check all your fluids to make sure they are topped up and fresh.

 

 

 

 

 

interior ac vents

A/C System – It is a good idea to check out your A/C system before you really need it. The cold of the winter can shrink seals and cause your Freon to leak out. Turn your A/C on to max and see if it is working. If it is not, give Midwest Performance Cars a call to schedule an appointment.

 

 

 

 

New-Bilstiens-Springs

Suspension & Alignment – If you drive in Chicago in the winter, you are going to hit potholes – we all have to pretty much accept that. However, potholes are very hard on your car’s shocks, struts, bushings and alignment. At MPC we will thoroughly check your suspension and make sure no damage occurred during “pothole season”.

 

 

 

 

 

clean cabin filter versus dirty cabin filter

Cabin Filter – The cabin filter removes contaminants from the air inside the passenger cabin. If the filter is blocked or dirty, irritants such as dust and pollen can circulate in your cabin. This is particularly troublesome if you or anyone in your family suffers from allergies. Midwest Performance Cars will check your cabin filter every time your car is in for service.

 

 

worn wiper blades leaving streaks on windshield

Wiper Blades – Winter often destroys wiper blades, we will check them out for you.

 

 

 

simon's shine shop for detailing needs

Car/Undercarriage Wash – Removing all the salt and road debris that accumulated on your vehicle over the winter is an important maintenance task. Underneath your car, the salt and muck causes the components to rust. On the top, washing the car thoroughly and even treating your car to a good wax job will prolong the life of your paint. Midwest Performance Cars will wash your car with each service, however we recommend going to your favorite detail shop for a wax and undercarriage wash. We recommend Simon’s Shine Shop in Lincoln Park at 1439 W. Shakespeare, (773) 348-2000.

Why Do I Need To Flush My Brake Fluid?

There are a lot of different opinions and misconceptions regarding the need for periodic brake fluid flushes. Do you need this service? How often? Why?

Most European car manufacturers recommend having your brake fluid flushed every two years. Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it attracts and holds water molecules. Water will be absorbed right out of the air, and as brake fluid ages it will promote corrosion in many of the hydraulic components found in the braking system. In addition, the seals and hoses used in the braking system slowly deteriorate causing small rubber particles to be suspended in the brake fluid.

Old, contaminated brake fluid on the left vs. fresh fluid on the right.

Brake-Fluid-150x150

Antilock brake systems (ABS) have small passages in their pumps and control valves which are easily plugged from the suspended corrosion and rubber particles. That contaminated fluid will lead to compromised braking performance. Replacing your brake fluid at the proper time intervals will help maintain your braking system and prevent more costly repairs down the road.

Midwest Performance Cars recommends following your vehicle manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance intervals. If your vehicle is due for a flush, or you do not know when it was last done, call us to schedule your brake flush today.