Four Wheel Drive & All Wheel Drive – What Does It Mean?

Just because a vehicle boasts 4-wheel drive capability doesn’t necessarily mean that it is capable to explore off road in the areas around Monument, CO.

Better Traction Under Power

What it does mean is that you have better traction under power? When your car is distributing power to all four wheels, your chances of getting stuck in snow, ice, mud, etc. go down. However, in most cases, this doesn’t necessarily translate to better safety. Four-wheel drive doesn’t mean there is more clearance under your vehicle (it sits just as far off the ground as a two-wheel drive), any extra braking (all vehicles have brakes on each wheel, whether 2- or 4-wheel drive), or improved steering or handling.

A difference between a four-wheel drive vehicle and a two-wheel drive one is maintenance, mainly because a four-wheel drive vehicle involves more parts.

Four Wheel Drive Parts

For example, a typical four-wheel drive car has the following:
• Transfer case (which needs periodic fluid changes);
• 2 Differentials or gear boxes (which require periodic fluid changes);
• Transmission (which needs fluid changes);
• 2 sets of hubs and bearings (that need to be cleaned and re-packed with grease);
• Drive shafts (that needs lubrication): one for the front wheels, one for the rear

On the other hand, a typical 2-wheel drive vehicle only has one differential, one axle of hubs and bearings needing grease, and one drive shaft).

However, take heed! Most cheap lube places don’t have ASE Certified technicians who understand how to properly inspect and maintain these extra moving parts and their lubrication needs. Find the most reputable shop in your area to ensure that your vehicle will be serviced correctly the first time you bring it in. The experts at JJ Tracks are very familiar with drivetrain service and repairs, especially the needs for Colorado adventures.

If you’d like to talk to experts in four wheel drive vehicle, contact us or call us at 719.481.4393

6 Ways You Could be Killing Your Car

Whether you own a new car or an older model, your car requires regular care and maintenance in order to stay safely on the roads. Ignoring warning signs and key services is the quickest way to send a vehicle to an early grave… The Car Care Council offers the following warnings about 6 ways you could be killing your car:

Ignoring the check engine light. Ignoring an illuminated check engine light can result in serious engine trouble and costly repairs. At the very least, this warning light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting your miles per gallon.

Failing to change fluids and filters. Many fluids are required for the operation and protection of vehicle systems and components. Checking fluid levels regularly, along with the filters, helps ensure that your vehicle runs dependably and extends vehicle life. Check your cabin air filter – if it’s clogged, it can prevent your air conditioning from keeping you cool as it heats up this spring.

Neglecting your tires. Your vehicle’s tires should be checked frequently for proper inflation and tread depth. Under- and over-inflated tires wear unevenly, meaning they need to be replaced sooner. Improper inflation can also negatively impact safety and gas mileage.

Not following a service schedule. Because many car parts and components wear out or become damaged over time, vehicles need to be routinely serviced in order to perform optimally. As temperatures rise this spring, your battery is more prone to corrosion. Routine inspections and timely repairs will help keep your car running efficiently and will help you avoid more expensive repairs down the road.

Keeping a dirty car. Allowing your car to go too long without a wash leads to buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt, increases the potential for rust from ice melting chemicals and interferes with proper visibility needed for safe driving.

Being an aggressive driver. Whether it’s stop-and-go traffic, extreme weather, rough roads or heavy loads, it can sometimes be difficult to limit severe driving conditions. However, you can drive smart and improve fuel economy by observing the speed limit, avoiding “jackrabbit” quick starts and stops, and not hauling unnecessary items.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to save money, avoid expensive repairs, and protect the investment you’ve made in your vehicle.

Don’t kill your car! Visit JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center and get the inspection and advice you need to make an educated decision about how to keep your family’s vehicle safely on the roads.

Request an appointment online or call 719-481-4393.

Spring Danger: Wet Roads

April showers bring May flowers. While we find comfort in this phrase on gloomy days, it doesn’t make the rain go away… To help you prepare for spring rain showers, our auto repair experts are offering three tips for your vehicle.

1. Tires – Wet roads mean your vehicle is at increased risk for hydroplaning. This happens when your tires seem to float or slide uncontrollably on the wet surface of a road. Your tires need more tread to properly grip the road in wet conditions, approximately 4/32” minimum. Check your tread and tire pressure as part of your routine vehicle inspections. When the roads are very wet, slow down to remain in control.

2. Brakes – Your car’s brakes rely on friction to stop your moving vehicle. Wet conditions mean less friction. If the brake rotors become wet, the brake calipers may not be able to grip them as strongly to slow and stop the rotating tire. Hard braking also is more likely to lose control of the vehicle. If the tires lock up while braking, your vehicle may hydroplane on the road and you’ll have very little control over the vehicle. If you’ve noticed problems with your brakes, like slower response times or screeching noises, bring your vehicle in for a brake inspection and service right away. On wet roads, leave extra space between your vehicle and the vehicles around you and allow extra time to stop.

3. Windshield wipers – In heavy rain storms, visibility can become impaired. It is critical that your windshield wiper blades can clear away accumulated water on your windshield to keep your vision clear. If your wiper blades leave streaks along your windshield, you may have to duck or lean to see the road clearly. This can be a real hazard! Before you’re caught off guard in a rain storm, check your windshield wipers regularly and replace them as soon as possible.

Between low visibility and slippery conditions, wet surfaces and rain storms can cause havoc on the roads. Make sure your vehicle will keep your family safely on the roads in Monument by checking your tires, brakes, and windshield wipers. For a full spring safety inspection, request an appointment at JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center or call our experienced team of car care experts at 719.481.4393.

Check your Headlights

Whether you’re embarking on a road trip to visit family or commuting to and from work, winter has its own set of driving challenges and safety considerations. One of the biggest is almost one of the most forgotten – it is dark.

Winter days are short and matched with long, dark evenings. As the sun goes down earlier in the day, traveling home in the evenings is darker and colder this time of year. And while you may not think about it most days, it is especially important to turn on your lights!

Street lights and other cars may make it possible for you to see the road as you drive, but even if you can navigate without them, your headlights serve another purpose – to help other drivers to see you.

Many newer cars are equipped with automatic lights, or day running lights, so the driver doesn’t have to think about turning them on and off. Even with these lights, you still need to turn on the headlights when driving at night for the best visibility.

To easily check your headlights, pull up to your closed garage door and look for the reflection. Get out of the car, walk around, and confirm that your lights are working properly (or have a passenger check before you head out). Don’t forget to test your turn signals too. If a bulb is burnt out, have it replaced right away for the safety of yourself, your family, and other drivers.

If your headlights are looking dim, have them cleaned! Wipe away the dirt, snow, and ice that accumulates from driving with a brush or wet rag. Next time you drop off your car for an oil change, ask our techs for a headlight cleaning. This quick service makes a remarkable difference, leaving your headlights looking like new while helping you see better and stay safe on the road!

We’re through the shortest days of the year, but we still have dark evenings ahead of us through the last weeks of winter. See and be seen, avoid accidents, and stay safe all winter by checking your headlights!

To schedule your next appointment, call our team at JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center at (719) 481-4393.

Winter Road Hazards

Whether it’s snow, rain, or ice, the roads in your neighborhood may be feeling the brunt of the harsh weather making its way through the country. These road hazards that tend to appear this time of year can put you and your car at risk and could end up costing you thousands in repair bills. Here are a few things to look out for when you’re driving around Monument this winter:

Curbs: Heavy rain or snow can make many obstacles on the road invisible, especially when driving at night. Curbs are one of them. Running or even sliding into curbs can lead to broken shocks, damaged struts and/or misaligned wheels. When any of these things are out of whack, you may end up with a large repair bill.

Black Ice: This stuff is just clear water that has frozen on dark roads. This unseen trap catches many motorists off-guard and can easily cause you to lose control on the road. Black ice is most common on bridges, below overpasses, and around wooded areas. It’s important to know that black ice forms very quickly. The best defenses against black ice are to slow down and to have good traction on your tires.

Potholes: Try to avoid potholes as best you can this winter. Hitting them can severely damage your steering and suspension components and your tire rims; however, it’s your shocks that get the brunt of the blow when you hit a pothole. Large potholes can cause your shocks to bottom out, resulting in costly structural damage.

Salt on the Road: Though road salt is put on the roads to help cars get traction, it’s important to get salt off your car as quickly as you can. Not only can it damage your vehicle’s paint job but can also cause corrosion underneath the car. If left unattended, a little bit of road salt can end up costing you a lot more than a car wash by damaging your brake and/or fuel lines. It’s best to leave your car in a garage if you can. Another way to combat road salt is to visit a car wash that will clean the undercarriage of your vehicle.

To keep your vehicle safe this winter, stop by JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for a vehicle inspection. Our experienced technicians will recommend services if they are needed to help you stay safe from winter road hazards in Colorado. Request an appointment online, stop by our auto shop in Monument, or call (719) 481-4393.

5 Tips to Stay Safe this Winter

Happy Holidays! We hope you are fully enjoying this season, spending time with your family.

Winter is here, which means the days are getting colder and shorter. Whether you’re embarking on a road trip to visit family or commuting to and from work, here are a few tips to stay safe this winter:

1. Slow Down
On slick winter roads, your car will have less traction. The tires won’t be able to grip the road as well, so steering and braking will take longer. Give yourself enough time to react to changing road conditions and other drivers on the road.

2. Check Visibility
Winter days are shorter and darker. Make sure you turn on your headlights! Wipe away snow, dirt, and mud that collects on your headlights to make sure you can see and help other drivers see you.

3. Pack an emergency kit
A basic emergency kit, with snacks, water, batteries, a phone charger, and spare change is always good to carry in the car. In the winter, you may want to add in warm layers, lights, and cat litter for added traction when you need it on slick roads.

4. Trust your instincts
Know your limits and the limits of your vehicle, and don’t push those boundaries. If the roads look dangerous, stay inside. When you notice a change in your vehicle, like a strange noise or difficulty steering, bring it in to JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for an inspection right away.

5. Get ready for Winter
Have a safety inspection performed on your vehicle – check our specials page for savings on vehicle maintenance – to make sure it is ready to keep you and your family safe all winter in Monument.

Our ASE-Certified Technicians are here to help you get your car ready for winter roads! Give us a call at (719) 481-4393 if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment. Wishing you a fun and safe holiday season!

Do I need Snow Tires?

Winter means wet and icy roads across Monument. These conditions can be challenging for your vehicle’s tires, which need to grip and handle diverse and adverse weather conditions.

If you are considering snow tires, stop by JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for advice. Our experts will help you identify the best tire option for your vehicle based on your driving habits and the Colorado weather.

Snow tires are not always necessary, but can be useful especially for drivers who spend a lot of time in snowy mountain roads. The traction laws affecting mountain highways are important to consider. Make sure your tires are equipped for mud and ice and have enough tread to meet the requirements.

Tire chains are also a good options for emergencies or extreme conditions. These devices are secured to the tire of your vehicle to provide extra traction in the snow and ice. They can help you stay in control even in adverse conditions.

Whether or not you need snow tires or tire chains this winter, it is important to check the condition of your tires.

First, check the air pressure. Too low pressure or deflated tires can affect traction, making it more likely for you to slide on slick roads. A tire pressure gauge costs only a few dollars. We recommend keeping one in your glove box to check every time you fill up your gas tank. If you are concerned or don’t have a pressure gauge at home, stop by JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for a quick check.

Also check your tire tread. We recommend having at least 4/32” of tread for snowy and icy conditions. This can be checked using a quarter with Washington’s head facing down.

Before the snow hits Monument, stop by JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for a tire inspection. Our experienced auto technicians will make sure your vehicle’s tires are ready for winter weather, with proper tread and pressure to keep you safe and in control. We’ll even help you pick out the best snow tires or all-weather tires for your vehicle. Request an appointment online or call (719) 481-4393.

8 Car Systems to Check this Fall

October is Fall Car Care Month! As we enter the holiday season, fall weather in Monument is predictably… unpredictable. But taking a few steps now can help you avoid the headaches of costly breakdowns later.

This month, we’re offering tips for preparing for the fall season, adapted from Car Care Council. Bring your vehicle into our auto repair shop to have all of these critical components inspected before the weather turns.

  1. All fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  2. Hoses and belts. With changing temperatures, these parts can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  3. Battery. Cold temperatures can be hard on batteries. Make sure your vehicle has enough power to start when the temperatures drop. We’ll make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  4. Brake system. Have our experts check the full system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  5. Exhaust system. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
  6. HVAC system or heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. Proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and safety reasons, such as defrosting.
  7. Tires. You can check tire pressure and tread at home, but stop by our shop for a thorough inspection. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  8. Wipers and lighting. See and be seen! We’ll make sure all interior and exterior lighting is working properly. Replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

To make sure your vehicle is ready for changing conditions this fall, stop by JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for a fall safety inspection. Our technicians will inspect all of the elements on this list for you to make sure your vehicle will keep you safe on the fall roads. Stop by our auto repair shop in Monument or request an appointment online.

Any time you have any questions about your vehicle, call us at (719) 481-4393.

Headlight Restorations

Are your headlights ready for shorter days?

Your lights turn on, so you may assume they work just fine while driving around Colorado, but do they perform well enough to keep you prepared and safe?

Now that we are seeing the daylight hours shrink, your need for effective lighting to keep you safe by illuminating your travels as intended, and making you visible to others, is critical.

Over time, you may have clouded or dull looking headlights. Road debris and UV rays over time take a toll on these lenses. It is much more than a cosmetic problem. According to Consumer Reports, your night vision may be compromised and the effectiveness of your headlights may be reduced by as much as 80% when your lights are clouded.

Online you may be able to find a variety of temporary do-it-yourself suggestions to restore your headlights. We have seen everything from toothpaste to bug spray. The usual result is a minimal improvement cosmetically, but usually will look like you tried to fix your vehicle with toothpaste.

Many auto parts stores sell kits with a paste and sometime a polishing mitt or drill attachment. If you know what you are doing, these can be more effective than the home remedies. Swirls, patchy areas, burnt acrylic from the heat of the drill attachment, and possible damage to surrounding paint and trim can cause more harm than good. Consumer Reports tested several retail products with varying levels of both immediate and long-lasting successes.

Headlight restoration is not daunting, expensive, or time consuming for a trained technician with the correct tools and products. A typical restoration can be performed during your next oil change, only adding about 30 minutes to the service. Besides adding a dramatic level of before and after illumination to your commute, the overall appearance of your vehicle will improve greatly.

Next time you are at JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center, we would be happy to inspect your headlights, and do what we can to light up your travels. Ask our experienced technicians about headlight restoration during your next inspection, or call our auto repair shop at (719) 481-4393.

Back-to-School — Carpools and College Travel

Back-to-school season is already here! In Monument and across Colorado, schools are starting. Families are getting ready to get their kids to school with a new carpool. College students are packing up their cars to head to campus for a new semester.

Before the back-to-school rush catches up with all of us, now is a great time to plan ahead for the fall season.

Carpools are a great way for parents to support each other and get all their children safely to school. Save money on gas and maintenance and save time by sharing the load with other parents in your neighborhood and community.

After you set up a carpool, make sure everyone in the group has the schedule, back-up plan, and contact information. Include a contact list for your child so they can ask for help if they miss a bus or ride.

Don’t be the weak link in the carpool! Make sure your family vehicle is ready for the school year with a safety inspection (and encourage the other parents in the carpool to do the same).

If you are sending your child off to college or trade school, make sure they have a safe and reliable vehicle. Long-distance maintenance can be a hassle, especially when your child and the car are hundreds of miles away and you’re dealing with somebody you don’t know over the phone… Instead, take care of items now at home with a shop you can trust.

Our technicians at JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center are happy to inspect the vehicle and review our recommendations with you and your child, so they are aware of basic maintenance items to watch and tasks to perform while they are away from home to keep their vehicle safe.

Take care of your vehicle’s seasonal maintenance now, before busy fall school and activity schedules are in full swing.

If you struggle to find the time for car maintenance, call our technicians at 719-481-4393. We know how busy this season can be, and will work with you to balance your family budget, schedule, and vehicle maintenance needs.