Knowledge Base

7 Easy Steps to Winterize Your Vehicle This Year

 

 

  1. Ensure your tires have proper tread.

    Your tires can be your best friend or your worst enemy when winter weather hits the roads. Tires with proper tread will keep you rolling true in slippery conditions, but tires with uneven or excessive wear pose a serious sliding/slipping risk.

    An easy way to check this at home is to use the time-honored “penny test.” Simply take a penny, turn it upside down and facing you, and insert it into one of the treads of the tires. If you can see all of Honest Abe’s head, it’s time to replace.

    2. Change your oil.

 

Your motor oil expands and “loosens up” in warm weather and contracts and becomes a little more solid in winter. This can be exaggerated when that motor oil is dirty. The result is oil that won’t do its job the way it’s supposed to, taking longer and more energy to work its way through the components of your engine. This could lead to some very expensive and frustrating problems down the line.

Change your oil early on in winter, especially if you’re getting close to your manufacturer’s recommended interval.


  1. Install winter wiper blades.

 

Your wipers do the important job of keeping your visibility as high as possible during inclement weather. “Year-round” blades aren’t well-equipped to handle extreme temperatures or the increased weight of snow and ice. Winter weather blades are stronger and more flexible. They also usually have a special coating that helps them perform better in snow and ice.

Winter weather wiper blades are built to be there when you need them the most. They can usually be found for less than $10 at your local auto parts store and are a breeze to install yourself.

 

  1. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times.

    Did you know that condensation can often form inside your gas tank and fuel lines? In warmer weather that isn’t much of a problem. But in winter, that condensation can freeze and create blockages, making it difficult for your car to start or worse.

    The easiest way to avoid this is to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times during the winter. Gasoline will not ever freeze, so keeping your car’s fuel system filled up is an easy and effective solution to this winter problem.

    5. Check your tires often to ensure proper inflation.

    Treads are only half the battle when it comes to tires. While modern tires hold their air pressure under normal conditions, cold air molecules contract and become more dense, which can dramatically lower your tire pressure. Low tire pressure makes it more difficult for your car to maintain traction. In winter weather conditions that can spell disaster.

    Make sure to check your tire pressure every couple hundred miles in the winter, and be sure to pay attention to any tire pressure warnings your car might be sending. Another solution is to have your tires filled with nitrogen, which doesn’t fluctuate under changing temperatures. It also has shown to stay inflated properly for longer. While this used to be prohibitively expensive, many tire service companies offer this service now for less than $100.  

    6. Add antifreeze (especially in older cars).

    It says it right there in the name. Antifreeze is an additive that you mix in with your engine’s cooling system to lower its freezing point. As we mentioned before, water does some nasty things to car components, especially when it freezes.

    But there’s more. In addition to preventing freezing, antifreeze also raises the boiling point of your engine’s coolant to keep it from overheating. It also functions as a descaler, keeping hardened “junk” from building up inside the engine and other components.

    *Important note: Cars that were made after 1998 require silicate-free, organic acid antifreeze. Anything made before 1998 needs to use the traditional antifreeze which doesn’t contain silicate. Please, please heed this warning before putting the wrong antifreeze in your car.

 

  1. Pack an emergency kit.

 

No matter how prepared your car is to handle winter weather, sometimes circumstances are just out of your control. Even the most competent vehicles can slide off the road during inclement weather, and depending on where you are it may be an extended period of time before help can arrive.

 

At the very least, make sure your winter emergency kit includes the following, all of which should cost you less than about $125 in total:

 

  • Road flares
  • Tire repair kit
  • Battery-powered phone charger and cable
  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency blanket
  • First aid kit
  • Tire traction mats/Kitty litter
  • Water

6 Ways Winter Weather Can Hurt Your Vehicle

A blast of lower-than-average weather welcomed us here on the East coast into 2018. While the first snow of the year brings to mind sledding and school closings for some, for car owners it can also bring major frustration. Here are just five of the issues you might find with your vehicle this winter:

1. Your windshield cleaning equipment will fail

Winter weather takes a huge toll on windshield wipers. The blades get torn and the wiper transmissions will break when temperatures get lower than the freezing point of the fluid. The cold makes the rubber components more brittle and the weight of ice and snow can cause them to snap.

You may have seen people put their wipers up in preparation for a large snowfall. This is an excellent idea and a good way to prepare. Also make sure to clear all snow and ice out of your windshield gear before driving, so as not to suddenly need to use the wipers and have them locked by ice.

2. (Almost) all of your fluids will thicken

In general, fluids thicken as they get colder. This is especially true with conventional oils, which often contain paraffins. Paraffins crystallize in colder temperatures and make the problem even worse. In cold weather, fluids will move more slowly throughout the system and often fail to do the job they are supposed to.

Make sure to check your fluids regularly during cold spells. This is especially important for transmission fluid, which must flow quickly in order to be effective.

3. Your tires will lose pressure


As a general rule of thumb, most tires lose about one pound per square inch (PSI) with every drop of 10 degrees Farenheit. This means if your tire is fully inflated at 70 F, it will be four PSI under-inflated at 30 F. This can dramatically reduce the performance of your tires and cause a serious safety hazard, especially if icy or snowy roads are combined with the cold weather.


Even if your area doesn’t get much snow or ice, under-inflated tires still present a serious road hazard. Check them often and remember the simple calculation in your head to add air when appropriate.

4. Your battery might die unexpectedly

Extreme cold (anything lower than 30 degrees) can pull voltage from a battery, making it harder to start or function normally.

Batteries in good condition should be fine, especially in areas with moderate climates. However, a battery that is already weak may have trouble making it through an extremely cold night. Get your battery tested at least once every winter to ensure you don’t walk into that surprise.

5. Your spark plug might not work as well

As you may have noticed, cars start much harder in the winter. While a worn-out plug or old wiring may start perfectly fine in warm weather, the cold will severely impact the car’s ability to start in the winter.

If your car starts slowly in warmer weather, look to change the spark plug or wiring before freezing temperatures hit.

6. Your air shocks might start to fail

Cold air and moisture are brutal on rubber, and unfortunately that’s likely what the air bags in your air suspension are made of. Combine the brittling effect of cold air and frozen moisture on rubber with the task of supporting the weight of your vehicle and you have a recipe for air leaks.

Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do in the way of preparation. However, if winter weather has your car riding low or uneven, consider ditching that troublesome air suspension for a coil suspension that won’t fail in the cold. Strutmasters makes conversion kits for almost all makes of vehicles. Check the website to search for your car here.

All in all, while the cold and ice and snow can be rough on cars, a little prevention can ensure that you’ll make it through the winter relatively unscathed.

4 Car Components That Suffer From Driving on Bad Struts

A faulty air suspension is costly and dangerous in and of itself. But even beyond the struts and shocks themselves, driving a car on bad struts causes a ripple effect and putting stress on the rest of the car. This leads to extra expense and extra danger on the road. Here are just four of the components in your car that suffer from driving on bad struts:

 

 

 

 

1. Tires


While all tires eventually wear down and need replacing, the rate at which they lose their tread depends on how much friction there is with the road. Normal driving on well-maintained roads with a good suspension means there will be minimal up-and-down movement of the tires on the road. One of the primary tasks of your car’s suspension is to keep the tires in constant contact with the road, reducing the amount of bounciness.

When your suspension is underperforming, the tires will bounce up and down on the road more frequently, causing them to wear down more quickly and need to be replaced more often.



2. Joints

 

Vibration is the enemy of the joints in your car. It is motion and friction that wear out any mechanical parts. A car driving on bad struts exponentially increases the amount of vibration on the its frame.

The joints is where the brunt of this vibration is felt. Excessive vibration will cause the joints and bearings to wear down rapidly, needing replacement and exacerbating other problems in the vehicle.

3. Brakes

 

Struts absorb the force of the full weight of the car coming to a stop. Bad struts aren’t able to absorb as much force, putting excess strain on the brake pads and brake rotors.

This not only wears down the brake components quickly, it also increases stopping distance dramatically. At highway speeds, a car driving on struts at 50% effectiveness will take an additional 15-20 feet to stop. This can be the difference between avoiding an accident or facing serious injury.

 

4. Steering system

Your car’s suspension is vital to its ability to be steered. As a point of connection between the steering column and the wheels themselves, your struts help distribute the force of turning evenly throughout the body of the vehicle. This keeps your car stable and all four wheels on the ground.

A bad suspension means more force is required to steer the car, putting extra pressure on the power steering components and causing them to wear down rapidly. Bad steering components combined with a suspension that can’t absorb the force of turning is a recipe for danger.


When you’re ready to ditch that troublesome and costly air suspension in favor of a brand new, Made-in-the-USA coilover suspension, visit the Strutmasters website and find a kit that fits your car. Better yet, give us a call today at (866) 597-2397 and let one of our suspension experts do the work for you!

5 Things You’ll Notice When You Install New Struts

These days many people are ditching their old, faulty air suspensions for brand new, classic mechanical suspensions. If you’ve considered going this same route yourself, here are a few things you can expect to notice:

 

 

 

 

1. Things may feel a little bouncy at first


For the first hundred or so miles after installing your new gear, the driver will notice that the suspension feels a little stiff and bouncy. This is normal and happens primarily for two reasons:

First, a new set of shocks and struts needs to be broken in just like anything else. Though most springs get tested in the factory, most likely your shocks have never had any serious weight on them until the first time you drive on them. This means the amount of “give” in the shocks will gradually increase over time.

Second, a brand-new passive suspension will feel especially rigid in comparison to a worn-out active suspension. Without automatic adjustments for dampening, you will naturally feel a few more bumps here and there. In addition, it is likely that  a driver will get used to the soft feeling of the old suspension and notice a significant difference in how a ride feels.


2. You’ll take turns better

 

Your suspension does more than cushion you from bumps in the road. It is also responsible for helping your car keep all four wheels on the ground when you turn.

On an old suspension, the car may have felt out of control while taking turns. A faulty air suspension will make a car significantly less stable than when it is functioning properly. Once your new struts and shocks are installed, you will notice the car taking turns “tighter” and more securely with less drift.


3. You’ll stop sooner


Another important job done by your suspension is to reduce the impact of braking on your car. Not only do shock absorbers absorb force from uneven road surfaces, they also observe the force of a heavy vehicle coming to a stop.

Bad struts can increase stopping distance by sometimes as much as 12%. At highway speeds this can literally be the difference between life and death.

New shocks will help your car braking at ultimate efficiency, keeping you and your passengers safe.

 

4. Your tires will last longer

 

The ultimate goal of your struts is keep all four wheels in constant contact with the road. Not only does repeated bouncing against the road surface cause discomfort and wear and tear on your vehicle, it also wears down your tires at an alarming rate.

After installing new shocks and struts on your car, you will notice that over time your tires will wear down more slowly, requiring you to buy new ones less frequently.

 

5. You’ll notice extra money in your bank account

 

If you’ve gotten to the point where you decided to change out your suspension, it is likely that you have grown accustomed to opening up your wallet every few months for repairs. After converting to a passive suspension, you should be more or less done with suspension-related costs.

Not only that, but you’ll also be saving money by buying fewer tires, getting better gas mileage and needing brake service less frequently.

When you’re ready to start saving money, reducing frustration and extending the life of your vehicle by installing new shocks and struts, look no further than Strutmasters, the suspension experts. Use the handy search tool on the website to see if a suspension conversion is made for your vehicle, or give us a call at (866) 597-2397.

How to Completely Fix Your Lexus LS 460 Suspension for Under $700

Is your Lexus LS 460 having suspension problems? Welcome to the club.

 From 2007 to 2012 the Lexus LS 460 was everything anyone could want from a luxury sedan–a sporty, dynamic vehicle that holds the whole family, a gorgeous interior draped in fine leather and wood, and an air suspension that rode like a dream right up until the moment it didn’t.

Gorgeous from head-to-toe, the LS 460 features timeless Lexus styling and performance, but a sub-par air suspension.
Gorgeous from head-to-toe, the LS 460 features timeless Lexus styling and performance, but a sub-par air suspension.


 For all its accolades, Lexus’ flagship sedan was marred by one glaring problem–a faulty air suspension that like all air suspensions eventually broke down, resulting in astronomically expensive suspension repairs. The questionable reliability of this air system has been noted time and time again.

 Whether it’s the suspension bottoming out, a noticeably bumpy ride, a visible lean to one side, or strange noises coming from the shocks, problems with the LS 460 suspension seemed to come early and often for owners. To make matters worse, the high cost of replacement parts for this air suspension means a replacement cost of thousands of dollars.

 Even with replacing a few parts, the repairs on an air suspension are as endless as they are frustrating. The active suspension relies on a number of moving parts (solenoids, sensors, air bags, etc.) working together in unison to dampen the ride of the LS 460. Many Lexus owners have spent a few thousand dollars on replacing a few of their air springs only to find out that they need a new compressor just down the line.

 Fortunately, owners of these otherwise-fine vehicles have another option–ditching the air suspension altogether and installing a brand-new mechanical coil suspension. Strutmasters, the North Carolina-based “suspension experts” have just added a suspension conversion kit for the Lexus LS 460 to their catalog of celebrated conversion kits.

 The kit is a dream come true. At just under $700, it actually costs less to replace your entire suspension than the parts for just one replacement air spring. With Strutmasters’ patented Glide-Ride ® technology your Lexus will be riding like new. Even better, the engineers at Strutmasters have designed the kit to be simple and easy to install at home. The beauty of this conversion is in that very same simplicity–the fewer the parts, the fewer things that can go wrong. Mechanical coilover shocks for your LS 460 won’t ever spring a leak and there are no electronic configurations to worry about.

 When you factor in the Limited Lifetime Warranty offered by the company, what you have is a solution that will bring a permanent end to your air suspension problems. Start being worry-free today by visiting the Strutmasters website or calling one of the company’s experts at  (866) 715-6013.

 

What are Shock Absorbers?

absorber shock strut

Air suspension kits need shock absorbers (“shocks”) to cushion road energy and help your vehicle produce a seamless and stable ride. They’re an integral part of any suspension system, but few understand the purpose of shocks and just how important they are for your car.

So what is the purpose of shock absorbers and why are they so important?

What Are Shock Absorbers?

Shock absorbers are suspension parts that help your vehicle drive smoothly over rough terrain. They’re designed to cushion air suspension parts from road energy from bumps and dips. Most importantly, shocks work to prevent bouncing and bottoming out.

Shocks help the vehicle resist movement caused by bumps. Each shock comes with a piston that moves through a tube filled with fluid or air. As it moves, the fluid or air flows through holes and valves in the piston. This controls the stiffness of the ride or how much the vehicle resists movement.

On top of that, modern advancements allow drivers to adjust the stiffness of the ride manually or automatically. This helps the shocks provide the best cushion and performance depending on your specific driving needs or the current terrain.

While all shock absorbers work to minimize vehicle movement and ensure a smooth performance, they’re not a one-size-fits-all type of suspension part. Shocks come in many types for specific vehicles and performance needs. Some types of shock absorbers are:

  • Air shocks
  • Strut-type shocks
  • Spring seat shocks
  • Conventional telescopic shocks

What Do Shock Absorbers Do?

Again, shock absorbers are primarily designed to control vehicle bouncing and overall movement through various types of terrain. However, they can also help to reduce certain movements caused by over- and understeering and other performance issues.

For example, these suspension parts can prevent leaning and rolling while traveling to reduce the risk of rollovers. Plus, shock absorbers are responsible for keeping your vehicle’s tires on to the road when traveling. Essentially, they can control tire bouncing and hopping so your tires maintain road grip and traction at all times.

Why Are Shocks Important?

Shock absorbers aren’t important because they provide a smooth performance. They’re important because they ensure safety. With shocks, drivers experience more control and stability, especially when traveling through rough road conditions.

On top of that, shocks help to extend the longevity of your air suspension parts and tires. As you travel, the shocks will protect your air suspension against any excessive wear and tear. The shocks will also keep your tires connected to the road at all times to prevent uneven and excessive tread wear. As a result, they deliver optimum traction and performance for as long as possible.

To learn more about shock absorbers for your car, contact Strutmasters online now.

Spotlight: 1997-2002 Rear-Wheel Drive Ford Expedition Suspension

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1997-2002 Rear-Wheel Drive Ford Expedition

Get to Know the 1997-2002 Rear-Wheel Drive Ford Expedition

The 1997-2002 Ford Expedition was once synonymous with Eddie Bauer. Ford and Eddie Bauer teamed-up with this beast to offer ridiculous comfort and quality luxurious interior design without having to charge customers luxury prices. Eddie Bauer-stitched leather seats and an enormous cabin is not where Ford drew the line with this home-on-wheels. Ford also added rear air suspension in an attempt to increase towing and hauling performance.

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Spotlight: 1990-2002 Lincoln Town Car Suspension

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1990-2002 Lincoln Town Car

Get to Know the 1990-2002 Lincoln Town Car

The 1990-2002 Lincoln Town Car is one of the most widely recognizable vehicles in the history of the automobile. Quite often referred to as the “Grandpa Car”, Lincoln really set the standard for comfort with this ride. Don’t let the nickname fool you! With fairly reliable rear air suspension system and front and rear adjustable leather bench seats, it would seem that the Lincoln Town Car did precisely everything in its power to earn that title. It’s no wonder older generations don’t seem too keen on buying newer cars, they really like their comfort and Lincoln Town Car owners really know their stuff!

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Spotlight: Get To Know The 1992-2002 Ford Crown Victoria Suspension

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Get to Know the 1992-2002 Ford Crown Victoria

The 1992-2002 Ford Crown Victoria is one of the most widely recognizable vehicles in the history of the automobile. Known all over the U.S. for their contracts with almost every single law enforcement agency in the country, the site of one of these bad boys will make any driver think twice! Considering all of the gear packed into patrol cars, Crown Vics with air systems fail very quickly. That’s why we here at Strutmasters have experience installing our rear air suspension conversion kits on federal agency vehicles. When purchasing our conversion kit for your Crown Vic, please call and request that we upgrade your shocks to Monroe Gas Magnum shocks for in the rear of the car. The Crown Vics respond much better to faster cornering with these shocks on the rear. This is a must if you have a police cruiser due to the weight!

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