Fact or Fiction: Cat Litter.. for Cars?

If you’ve ever put together an emergency kit for your car, you may have been shocked to come across the phrase “kitty litter.” What purpose might this odd product serve in, or for, your car?

People have claimed this wonder-substance can do so much, but which claims are based in fact and which have been fabricated? Here are three commonly shared uses for cat litter:

Cat litter provides traction.

This is a fact. If you were to swerve off the road and find yourself stuck in snow, sprinkle a little litter under your tires. Your tires need extra traction to pull out of a deep snowbank or a slick spot of road, and kitty litter works well for this. Just pour some all around your tires and try again to drive out. Note that it’s best to purchase the non-clumping variety.

Cat litter in the trunk can help with winter driving.

This is also a fact. As any cat owner can attest, big bags of cat litter are quite heavy. Some drivers like to keep a bag in their trunks to help the back wheels have better traction. This is especially true for cars and trucks that are much heavier in the front than the rear. The additional weight in the trunk will keep your vehicle’s rear planted more firmly on the ground, which means you could be safer in winter driving conditions.

Cat litter works to melt ice.

This tidbit is a little white lie. While cat litter does help with traction on ice, it does not melt it. Only salt or ice-melt products can help melt ice. Sprinkling cat litter on the ice on your sidewalks or in your driveway will just leave you with soggy cat litter, which could be a pain to clean up.

We hope this information on how cat litter can sometimes help when driving has the potential to help everyone in Oakland County stay prepared for the worst winter conditions. Even if you think ahead and stock your car with a giant bag of cat litter this winter, we hope you’ll trust anything you can’t handle yourself to our team of certified technicians.

Call us at (248) 668-1200 for assistance or to make sure your car is winter ready!

7 Ways To Improve Gas Mileage

Summer time is often a time when people either go on long summer vacations in their cars or head to the outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather and the outdoor adventures it provides. It also happens to be one of the most difficult times for car owners.

Here are 7 tips to help you earn better gas mileage with your car this summer.

#1) When you have your oil changed, make sure to have your air filter inspected as well. A dirty filter can cost your vehicle up to 10% less fuel efficiency.

#2) Check your tire pressure regularly. Keeping your tires at the manufacturer suggested tire pressure can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 3.3%.

#3) If you are driving a significant amount on the highway, keep your windows rolled-up. With them down, this creates a drag and pull on your car and can decrease fuel effiency by as much as 10%.

#4) Keep your speed steady and slow down on highway driving. When you drive your vehicle at 60mph vs. 70mph, you can save as much as 4 gallons of fuel over the length of an average summer trip.

#5) Keep the load you are carrying as low as possible. Decreasing the load your are carrying in your car by just 100 pounds can increase fuel efficiency by 1-2%.

#6) Use cruise control when possible. Especially when driving on the highway and on the open road cruise control help you maintain a constant speed, avoiding any sudden acceleration or deceleration of your vehicle.

#7) Keep your tires rotated. By rotating your tires regularly, you keep the tires wearing evenly which helps with overall fuel economy.

To have your vehicle inspected for these or any other car maintenance item, contact us online or call us at 249.668.1200

How To Keep A Car Cool In The Summer

There are not many things worse than a hot, stuffy car in the summer while driving around Michigan. While most people enjoy being outdoors during summer months, the heat and sun can make summer driving be like traveling in an oven. Thankfully, there are things you can do to keep your car cool during summer. The following are simple tips that can help you keep your car cooler on hot, humid summer days.

Car Window Shades

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car windows hold in heat and sunlight, essentially turning your car into a small greenhouse. Reducing the heat that comes through the windows is the easiest way to keep your car cool. Using sun shades or having tinted windows in your car will cut down on the direct rays from the sun. However, be sure to be aware of your state’s laws on window tint in vehicles. Used covered parking when you can, and leave your windows slightly cracked when parked to create airflow.

Cooling Your Car Seat

Scorching seats can cause discomfort or even moderate burns when you sit on them. If possible, avoid leather seats or put seat covers in your car during warm months. If your budget permits, you could also look at investing in air-conditioned seats for your car. Furthermore, cooling gel covers or pads for car seats can be purchased online.

Car Air Conditioning

Keep your car’s AC system functioning correctly and efficiently is imperative to staying cool in the summer. To ensure your car cools as quickly as possible, turn your air on full blast as soon as you start your car and open all your windows just a little. This will help push the hot air up and out the windows. Once at your desired temperature, use your car’s recirculating feature together with the air conditioning to maintain the coldest air.  If your AC system is pumping out less than cold air, take it to a reputable auto repair shop to have it serviced and inspected.

While you can’t change the weather (nor do you probably want to), you can take measures to ensure that your summer driving is more comfortable and pleasant for everyone in your car. Ask the experts at Kenny’s for other tips to keep you and your vehicle cool this summer!

Contact us or call at 248.668.1200

Brake Warning Sings

When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list! Brake maintenance is critical to keeping your vehicle safely on the roads in Walled Lake.

Key warning signs of brake failure include:

  • Noises – Screeching and squeaking can be caused when the brake pads become worn down. If the brake pad has worn completely away, you may notice a grinding sound when you apply the brakes. Metal on metal causes significant damage to the brake rotor, calipers, and other brake components.
  • Pulling – If your vehicle’s brakes aren’t working properly, they may stay engaged when they should be released and vice versa. This can cause pulling to one side when you apply the brakes.
  • Low/Soft Pedal – The brake system operates through hydraulic power. If the system loses pressure or brake fluid is leaking, the brake pedal may fall to the floor and feel soft when you press it.
  • Hard Pedal – Similarly, an issue in the hydraulic system or brake fluid can create excess pressure in the system. Instead of smoothly pressing the pedal, it may become too firm and difficult to engage the brakes.
  • Vibration – If your steering wheel vibrates as you apply the brakes, it could indicate an issue with the brake pads. Uneven or worn pads, or a rock or debris caught in the brake, may cause vibration.
  • Grabbing/Sensitive Brakes – Unpredictable reactions when you press the brake pedal are dangerous! If your brakes are sensitive and engage in unexpected ways, have your brake system inspected by a certified technician.
  • Brake Light On – Do not ignore a warning light! If the brake light appears on the dashboard, bring your vehicle in to Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts for proper diagnosis. The brake light can indicate a serious issue with the brakes that should be addressed right away.

Call Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts if you notice any of these symptoms: 248-668-1200. Ignoring brake issues can be extremely dangerous.  Fix it early to prevent brake failure or expensive repair in the future and to keep you and your family safely on the road.

Why is Hydroplaning Dangerous? FAQs

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning can occur when a vehicle is moving too fast in wet conditions. If a vehicle is traveling too quickly in heavy rain conditions, the tires can no longer grip the road. The speed allows the tires to travel on top of a thin layer of water, rather than staying on the surface of the road.

How does it work?

In short, hydroplaning is caused by water pressure. The physics comes into play when a tire approaches more water than it can move out of its way. Water pressure, created from the speed of the tire as it encounters the water, pushes water underneath the tire. When the pressure is great enough, the tire is separated from the road by this film of water.

Why is hydroplaning dangerous?

When your vehicle is no longer in contact with the road, you may lose control of your vehicle. Steering and braking become very difficult. The water separating the tire from the road means your tires no longer have traction.

How can you avoid it?

Check your tire tread. Tire tread is designed to channel water from beneath the tire so that it flows between the grooves and allows the tires to stay in contact with the road. If your tire has too little tread or is completely bald, it will not be able to effectively move water out of its way and you’ll be at greater risk for hydroplaning.

Slow down. The faster you drive, the more likely you will hydroplane. Slower speeds give your tires more time to move the water and remain in contact with the roads. Avoid areas where water accumulates, and leave extra space between your vehicle and the others on the road.

To make sure your vehicle is prepared for spring rain storms, bring it into Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts in Walled Lake. Our trained and experienced technicians will check key safety features, including your tire condition, tire pressure, balance, and alignment. If any services are needed, we will take the time to explain our recommendations and answer any questions you have.

Request an appointment online or call our Walled Lake auto repair shop at 248.668.1200.

Frequency of Fluid Flushes

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow earlier this month, declaring that Walled Lake is due for another six weeks of winter. Does it feel like Groundhog Day for your vehicle, too? Like Bill Murray living a single day on repeat, it may seem like your vehicle has the same recommendations over and over every time you visit an auto repair shop.

Does that mean something is wrong with your vehicle? Not necessarily. Some of the hardest working fluids in your vehicle need to be replaced on a regular basis in order to protect your vehicle and keep it running smoothly.

  • Engine oil lubricates all of the moving parts within your engine. It needs to be replaced every 3 months or 3,000 miles to prevent the fluid from becoming too thick and viscous to perform its job efficiently.
  • Coolant and Antifreeze makes sure your engine is running at the proper temperature, without getting to hot (overheating) or too cold (freezing).
  • Brake fluid allows you to stop your vehicle with a push on the brake pedal. If the hydraulic fluid stops working, your car won’t be able to stop.

Each of these fluids need to be replaced regularly in order to keep your car running properly. Keeping up with preventative maintenance, like fluid flushes, helps keep your vehicle running efficiently and prevents further damage to sensitive (and expensive) parts and systems in your car.

When you bring your vehicle to Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts for an inspection, our technicians will inspect the condition of your vehicle and recommend services as needed. If an oil change, coolant system flush, or brake maintenance is needed, we will advise you and explain your options.

To save money over the life of your vehicle, keep up with preventative maintenance! Even if it feels like Groundhog Day, following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule can help you take care of your vehicle, keep it running smoothly, avoid expensive repairs, and save money over the life of your car!

Schedule your next appointment online or call our auto repair shop in Walled Lake at (248) 668-1200.

Icy Roads & Curb Slips

Winters roads in Walled Lake are often slippery with fresh snow and ice. When temperatures swing from freezing up to moderate and back again, moisture on the roads can turn to slick patches of black ice. Drivers can quickly slide out of control and into the curb on an unanticipated ice patch.

Hitting the curb doesn’t always have immediate consequences, but the unseen damage can be extensive. If you’ve hit a curb, bring your vehicle to Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts for an inspection. Damage from curb hits can include:

Tire damage. The force of a curb hit can cause extreme wear or even puncture a tire. A dent in the wheel or rim can further damage the tire. A curb hit may result in a flat tire, but the more dangerous threat is unseen tire damage. Thin and worn patches can cause a blow out later on the roads, putting your vehicle and passengers in a risky situation.

Suspension Damage. A quick jar from a curb hit can throw off the suspension of your tires and wheels. Tie rods, which connect the steering system to the wheels, can break under the force of a curb hit. The suspension system is designed to help your car travel smoothly on uneven roads. Damage to this system can affect the comfort of your vehicle and even your ability to steer your vehicle.

Alignment Damage. Hitting a curb or a pothole often places a lot of force on a single tire. The force of a hit, even if you are driving slowly, can pull the wheel out of alignment. This leads to uneven tire wear, damage to the steering, and costly repairs. If you notice your vehicle pulling to one side as you drive in a straight line, bring it into Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts for an alignment inspection.

Hitting a curb, even at low speeds, can lead to tire damage, alignment issues, and suspension damage. If you hit a curb in Walled Lake, stop by our auto repair shop for an inspection. Our experienced technicians will check your tires, wheels, rims, and steering system to diagnose any symptoms and ensure no further damage occurs from unaddressed issues. Stop by our independent auto shop in Walled Lake or request an appointment online.

Build a Winter Emergency Kit

An emergency is, by definition, unexpected. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, you’ll need to make immediate decisions and actions.

Winter conditions cause more emergencies on the roads in Walled Lake. Keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle during the winter months will help you be prepared for unexpected situations.

You can purchase a pre-assembled emergency kit or build one yourself. Our experienced technicians offer this guide to putting together an emergency kit for your vehicle.

  1. Spare Tire. Most vehicles come equipped with one, but be sure you know where to find it. Check your spare tire for tire pressure and worn spots, just like the tires on your vehicle, so you aren’t stuck with a flat tire and a flat spare.
  2. Tools to Change a Flat Tire. Many vehicles come with this, too, usually stored with or near the spare tire. Check your user manual to see where to find the jack and lug wrench. If you don’t have one, purchase and keep one in your trunk.
  3. Ice Scraper. If your vehicle is parked outside on a cold and wet day, chances are you’ll have to scrape ice off the windshield before you can drive away again. Keep the ice scraper easily accessible during winter months when you’ll use it more frequently.
  4. Flashlight and Flares. Emergencies after dark can be even more trying. Keep a flashlight, along with spare batteries, so you can navigate in the dark without car power. Flares or road lights can also be used to help you and your vehicle be seen by other drivers on the road.
  5. Gloves and Blankets. When you’re stuck waiting for help to arrive, you may not want to (or be able to) run the vehicle’s heater the entire time. Keeping winter gear like gloves, hats, scarfs, and even blankets can help you stay warm.

While unexpected emergencies may not be avoidable, you can reduce your risk of roadside emergencies with preventative maintenance. Keeping up with oil changes, fluid flushes, and regular inspections can catch potential problems quickly and fix them before they leave you on the side of the road. To schedule an appointment or preventative maintenance service, request an appointment online.

If you do find yourself in an emergency, we are here to help. Call our auto repair technicians at 248-668-1200 anytime you need anything related to your vehicle. We can help arrange a tow, perform repairs, or simply walk you through options for your vehicle.

8 Tips to Stay Safe on the Road This Winter

Winter months are some of the busiest for road trips — families heading to warmer areas, taking part in winter activities, or visiting family for the holidays. If your adventures lead you away from Michigan, here are 8 tips to keep you safe:

  1. Slow down.  If you are driving in snow, plan on 50% more time to slow down in poor conditions.  Also, plan on needing a little more momentum when you do have to push through snow up a steep grade. Take it slow and stay safe.
  2. Stay nimble.  A smooth touch on the steering will help keep you in control.  A tight grip and high nerves can result in a loss of control of your vehicle.
  3. Prepare for a skid.  It is easy to lock up your brakes or lose control on a slick road. If you find yourself in a skip, stay calm and gently steer into the skid. Avoid braking as it can make the skip worse. Being prepared will help you recover control of your vehicle safely.
  4. Pack a survival kit.  Include food that can sustain high energy. Hydration helps sustain your alertness. If traffic prevents you from getting to your destination or exit as scheduled or if you get stuck in an emergency, you’ll be prepared.
  5. Stop. It is tempting to fight though the weather and drive, but you will need stops to stretch, eat, remain alert, and make the trip less stressful. When weather looks bad, stay safe and stay home.
  6. Don’t wander.  If you get stranded, don’t leave your vehicle.  Make sure your exhaust is clear of obstructions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Stay alert and wait for help when you are stuck.
  7. Tires. Keep them inflated and in good shape.  Tire depth should never drop below 1/8”.  Cold weather drops tire pressure, so check frequently to maintain good fuel economy and control of your vehicle.
  8. Know your route.  Keep on top of weather conditions, traffic, delays, and closures. Make a list of Department of Transportation hotlines and websites where you will travel so you can stay informed on the road.

All of the experienced technicians at Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts hope you have fun, safe adventures this winter.  If you have any questions about your vehicle before your next journey, please stop in and see us. Request an appointment for your pre-trip inspection or call our Walled Lake auto repair shop at (248) 668-1200.

Importance of a Radiator Flush

Your vehicle’s radiator holds water and antifreeze in a large reservoir to aid keeping the engine cool, and will occasionally require to be flushed. Your vehicle’s radiator keeps the engine cool when it’s running, and it also keeps your engine from freezing when it is parked on cold winter days.

Topping off your old anti-freeze is not a best practice, if you want a reliable automobile. Flushing your coolant is the only way to maintain that system, remove dirt and corrosion, and know this system is performing as intended.

There are five significant benefits of a radiator flush:

  1. Rust Protection – The new replacement anti-freeze will have additives that prevent rust and build up. An anti-foaming agent will keep it operating efficiently.
  2. Inspection – During the flush, the technician at Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts will perform a complete inspection of your cooling system. A pressure test checks for leaks, and visual inspection of hoses and fittings are performed.
  3. Contaminant Removal – During a flush, 4-5 gallons of anti-freeze pushes or flushes all of the old anti-freeze and contaminants out of the system. Particles that build up over time are removed. Draining will only remove 50% of the old anti-freeze, and contaminants are left inside your engine.
  4. Removes Rust – Scale and rust will build up over time in your engine.  The flush will push out these deposits that can cause poor efficiency and overheating.
  5. Water Pump Lubrication – Your coolant will have additives that lubricate the moving parts in your cooling system.  This is necessary to extend the life of your water pump and system.

Most manufacturers recommend a coolant flush at 30,000 miles, but can vary brand to brand. Ask a trained automotive technician every spring and fall if it is time for your vehicle, so you are not left stranded.

If you smell a hot maple-syrup-like odor, see visible scaling or rust in your coolant, puddles of coolant under your vehicle, or your temperature gauge is fluctuating, get it in to Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts to diagnose. In most cases a flush and replacement of your coolant will have you back on the roads of Walled Lake in no time at all.

Request an appointment online or call our auto repair shop in Walled Lake at (248) 668-1200.