Tips from the Pro

Post: #PopTheHood: A Dipstick’s Guide to Dipsticks

Even if you’re not a mechanic (which is pretty much everybody, except for—well, mechanics), there are some things every driver should know how to do under the hood. Checking the fluids is definitely on that list, and is a very simple thing that can potentially help you avoid expensive repairs. That’s because the oils and other fluids help protect your vehicle from itself: they prevent wear and tear on moving parts, keep the car from overheating,…

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Post: What is Refrigerant? And Other Questions Nobody Asks

Refrigerant is one of those things you use all the time but don’t really think about. It’s used in every car air conditioner, refrigerator, freezer, and water cooler. Basically, if you need something made cold, refrigerant is usually involved in some way. But what is it? How does it work? Is it safe? Since refrigerant is usually “out of sight, out of mind,” these are questions most people do not  think of. But since we use…

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Post: How a Car A/C Works (or Doesn’t)

It’s not magic. Sure, your car’s A/C (if it’s working correctly) turns hot air cold, which can feel miraculous on a sunny summer afternoon. But the way it cools that air isn’t as complicated as some people think. As part of our ongoing efforts to help drivers understand what’s going on under the hood and potentially save money on simple repairs anyone can do, here’s a layman’s guide to how your vehicle’s air conditioner is supposed…

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Post: Too Little, Too Much: Getting Your A/C Charge “Just Right”

So your vehicle’s air conditioning is blowing hot air. It is likely low on refrigerant. You can easily fix it yourself by simply adding refrigerant, but how much should you add? It’s not a hard question to answer, but it is an important one to get right. That’s because having too much refrigerant in your A/C system is just as bad as not having enough. This isn’t a case of “too hot” versus “too cold.” If…

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Post: How to Stay Cool Without A/C: 7 Not-So-Good Ideas

The weather is warming up, and millions of winter-weary drivers are starting to sweat in their cars—their car air conditioner stopped blowing cold air. When people get sweaty, they tend to do some crazy stuff: window units added to the sides of cars, a fan and a bag of ice mounted in front of the driver’s seat, creative use of hamster tubing… we’ve seen it all. In an effort to help you avoid a hefty repair…

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Post: #PopTheHood: A Dipstick’s Guide to Accessories

Your car’s engine obviously provides the power needed to move your vehicle down the road. But it also powers everything else in your car: the lights, stereo, steering, A/C system, windshield wipers—everything. The engine provides power to these accessory systems through a collection of belt-driven parts bolted to its front and sides. It’s all those spinning things you see when you look under the hood: the engine powers a rubber belt, and the belt winds its way…

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Post: 7 Ridiculously Simple Car Repairs That Even You Can Do

So you’re not a mechanic. We understand that; most people aren’t. Maybe you know essentially nothing about how cars work, and don’t really own any tools to work on them. That doesn’t mean you have to be helpless, or spend extra money for maintenance problems that are truly minor. There are some car repairs that literally anyone can do, sometimes with no tools at all. The needed parts can be found at any auto parts store, with no…

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Post: #PopTheHood: A Dipstick’s Guide to Engines

Some people are geniuses when it comes to mechanical things. They can rebuild transmissions, restore junkyard antiques, or recharge flux capacitors. But most people aren’t so mechanically inclined. Perhaps your only repair experience is that you’ve aired up a low tire once or twice. Or, your knowledge of engines may be limited to the fact that your car (apparently) has one. If so, this post is for you. We want to help people have a basic…

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Post: #PopTheHood: A Dipstick’s Guide to How Cars Work

It’s not magic. When you look under the hood of your car, it might look like a complicated combination of mysterious components that somehow moves your car down the road (and keeps you comfortable in the process). But you don’t have to be a master mechanic to understand the basics of how it works. Having a general knowledge of your car’s parts and their functions is a very good idea, and can be helpful when it…

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Post: Why Your Car A/C Stopped Working Over the Winter

It’s a really common problem: the first warm day of spring arrives, and you turn on your car or truck’s air conditioner—only to find that it is no longer blowing cold air. What happened? Your A/C was working fine last fall, and you haven’t touched it since then. What could have possibly happened to the A/C when it hasn’t even been turned on all winter? Though there are a couple of different things that might have…

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