10 Basic Car Maintenance Tips Every Driver Should Know

basic car maintenanceAmerican motorists drove a record 3.22 trillion miles in 2015. Not only are Americans driving more miles, they’re also keeping their vehicles longer than before. In fact, the average length of vehicle ownership increased by 60% in the last 10 years.

All this means that you’ll need to keep on top of your car’s maintenance needs to make sure it continues to serve your needs in the years to come. And the first step in keeping your car maintained is performing basic car maintenance.

Not sure how to perform basic maintenance on your car? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

This is what you need to know about basic car maintenance.

What Basic Car Maintenance Does Your Vehicle Need?

Regardless of what car or vehicle you own, here are some basic maintenance tips which you should know.

1. Read the Owner’s Manual

If you’re like most people, you’ve never bothered to read the owner’s manual that came with the car. This is a mistake; the manual contains a great deal of information about basic maintenance and how to perform it.

The manual will also tell you what things on your car you should check, as well as what symptoms indicate a problem with your vehicle. It will also tell you what the various warning lights on the dashboard mean which is important to know should they ever come on.

2. Inspect the Vehicle Regularly

You should routinely check your vehicle for signs of problems. From tires that are underinflated to spotting a fluid leak, identifying potential problems early is important for the safety of you and your family.

The owner’s manual will cover what things to look for during an inspection. The inspection will not only identify problems at an early stage, it will let you get to know the various parts which make up your vehicle.

3. Check Your Tires

Having properly inflated tires is an important part of basic car maintenance which maximizes fuel economy and improves the steering and braking characteristics of the car. To make sure your tires are properly inflated, you’ll need a tire pressure gauge to find out if the tires are inflated to the pressure recommended by the car manufacturer.

While you’re checking the tire pressure, you’ll also want to look at the tread depth to look for signs of wear. Worn tires will not perform well in wet or snowy conditions which could put you at risk during adverse weather.

4. Check Engine Oil Level

The vehicle’s engine oil reduces friction in the engine as it operates and prevents excessive wear and tear. You’ll want to follow the directions in the owner’s manual to locate the dipstick and check the oil level to make sure the car has enough oil to do the job.

You should also look at the color of the oil on the dipstick. It should be amber in color. Darker oil typically indicates contaminated oil which needs to be changed.

5. Check Engine Coolant Level

Your vehicle’s engine creates a lot of heat when it runs, and the engine coolant system makes sure it doesn’t get too hot. The key to the cooling system is the engine coolant which dissipates the excessive heat.

Follow the instruction manual’s directions to check the coolant reservoir and determine the engine coolant levels are proper when you perform your basic car maintenance.

6. Inspect the Engine Air Filter

Your vehicle’s engine runs on a combination of fuel and air. To keep contaminants out of your engine, the air filter screens the air and removes dirt and debris which could be harmful to your vehicle’s engine.

While the owner’s manual will tell you how often to change the filter, it’s important to inspect the air filter regularly. This is because excessive stop and go driving or dusty conditions can clog an air filter before the typical replacement mileage.

A visual inspection of the filter will allow you to see if your filter is getting dirty and needs replacement.

7. Using the Right Fuel

Your vehicle will have a recommended octane rating. You should always follow this rating when filling up.

Lower than recommended octane fuels may cause your vehicle’s engine to run poorly and produce a ‘knocking’ sound. This will reduce the vehicle’s performance.

At the same time, using a higher than recommended octane rating will not improve your vehicle’s performance and will cost you more money.

8. Inspecting Light Bulbs

The lights on your vehicle serve an important purpose by making sure you can see the road at night and others can see you. Because light bulbs burn out, it’s important to routinely check all the lights as part of basic car maintenance to make sure they are working.

Any broken bulbs can be replaced following the owner’s manual instructions. It will identify the correct replacement bulb, as well as how to change the light.

9. Inspect Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers perform a vital function by cleaning the windshield as you drive. Having windshield wipers that don’t function properly can create a significant safety hazard during bad weather driving.

Inspecting the blades can identify worn wiper blades early on so you don’t find out about the need to replace them during a long drive in bad weather.

10. Track Your Vehicle’s Maintenance

Keeping track of when your car needs maintenance, whether it’s an oil change, tire rotation, or other services, is important.

The manufacturer will provide recommended maintenance intervals for your vehicle. This information is found in the owner’s manual.

There are many different apps that allow you to track your vehicle’s maintenance and alert you when your vehicle is due for maintenance. Of course, you can also track the maintenance schedule using the chart in the owner’s manual.

Keeping Your Car on The Road

Now you know what to look for when performing basic car maintenance.

Keeping your car running smoothly and safely is our top priority. When your car needs service, we’ve got a team of experts to take care of all your automotive service needs.

Just give us a call or go online and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment today.

Emissions Test Information You Need to Know

exhaust repair Sundance Automotive DenverHere at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood, we want to share some of the emissions test information you need to know. In Colorado, all vehicle owners who are residents will need to go through a vehicle inspection at the DMV and some Colorado counties require an emissions test to ensure that cars that are operating on the roads are helping to control smog levels in our communities. Passing is required for those vehicles that must have a DMV vehicle inspection completed, with a few exceptions and exemptions.

Testing Rules in Colorado

In Colorado, emission tests vary based on the model year and fuel type of your vehicle which also determines the kind of vehicle inspection given. Colorado offers 5 different kinds of emissions tests:

  • Onboard Diagnostics (OBD): This test is given to vehicles that are hybrid vehicles that are over 8 years old, as well as gas-powered vehicles that are 8 to 11 years old because these vehicles have the same emissions standards. Those vehicles that have a check engine light on will automatically fail this test.
  • I/M 240 dynamometer (treadmill) test: This test is given to vehicles that are at least 12 years old but whose model year is not older than 1982. These vehicles may be able to pass inspection even if the check engine light is on.
  • Two-speed idle test: Gas fueled vehicles that are 1981 models and older are given this test.
  • RapidScreen Roadside Test: This test is used for vehicles that have very small amounts of emissions.
  • Diesel emissions tests: Owners of diesel-fueled vehicles will need to obtain independent smog certification from an approved provider. DMV smog test sites do not administer diesel emissions tests. 

If you need an emission repair so that your vehicle will pass the smog test, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood.

Exemptions from Smog Checks in Colorado

Not all vehicles are required to have testing in the state of Colorado. Smog certification is required in specific counties and there are some exceptions for certain vehicles in all counties. The following counties require smog certification: Boulder County, Broomfield County, Denver County, Douglas County, Jefferson County, and some parts of Adams, Arapahoe, Larimer, and Weld County.

The following vehicles are exempt from emissions tests, regardless of which county they are registered in:

  • Motorcycles, farm vehicles, mopeds, horseless carriages
  • Models that are seven years old or less than seven years old
  • A collector’s vehicle model years 1975 and older
  • Fully electric vehicles (hybrids are not fully electric)


Colorado residents may be required to submit an emissions test even if the vehicle and owner are located temporarily in another state. Colorado will accept certifications from out-of-state, but a little extra paperwork is required. A smog test provider in their area must be used or alternatively, an inspection performed by a law enforcement officer is acceptable.

The results of the test/inspection must be sent to the Colorado DMV along with an Application for an Affidavit of Emissions that has been completed. If the test was performed in a state that does not offer DMV emissions test, a Verification of Vehicle Identification Number form must be additionally included.

Colorado Emission Waivers

There are some additional instances where vehicle owners can obtain a test waiver. If a vehicle owner has spent over $715 in professional repairs to pass the test and they have failed again, they may receive an inspection waiver. If the vehicle is from 1967 or earlier and did not pass the emissions inspection and the owner has spent more than $75 in professional repairs, the owner may be eligible for a waiver. The waiver is valid for one inspection.

People who are experiencing an economic hardship may also qualify for a waiver. Car owners who enroll in a financial aid program to pay for their emissions test repairs and who have no other means of transportation may qualify for a waiver. For this waiver, there is no minimum repair expenditure required.

Test Fees and Locations

Though the smog test varies depending on the model year of the vehicle, most smog tests will cost $25. Owners of diesel vehicles are subject to the emissions test price at Diesel Emission Testing Centers, which can be the equivalent of one hour of labor.

There are several emission testing locations for non-diesel vehicles located throughout the state of Colorado. Testing is available in Boulder, Denver, Castle Rock, and Fort Collins, as well as other locations. Each location is an official Colorado DMV testing provider and the tests are conducted by licensed professionals. These professionals will conduct appropriate tests for the type and model year of your vehicle.

Test centers are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Testing centers are not open on Sundays or holidays.

Failing an Emissions Test

Not all vehicles are going to pass. Typically, older vehicles that have never been tested are more likely to fail an emissions test. If your vehicle fails, the Vehicle Inspection Report given following the test should provide the reason for failing. Common reasons for failing the test include emitting too much carbon dioxide, unacceptable levels of smoke from the tailpipe, the check engine light is on, and the vehicle’s gas cap does not function properly.

To resolve your emission issue, take your report to a reputable auto repair shop and get the specific issues listed addressed. Once the problem has been fixed, you can then return to the appropriate testing facility for a re-test.

Hopefully, this emission test information you need to know is useful and can provide you with the directions you need to get your vehicle tested. If you end up needing a repair on your vehicle to pass your smog test, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood. We can provide needed repairs so that you can pass your vehicle emissions test.

What Fluid Is Leaking from Your Car?

car towing Sundance Automotive DenverWhat fluid is leaking from your car? Here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, we know that leaks can signal a problem with your vehicle, but figuring out what is leaking and where the leak is coming from can take a bit of investigative work. Leaks can be the start of trouble and if ignored, can be costly to you and dire for your vehicle.

Here are a few tips that can help you figure out what fluid is leaking from your car.

Engine Oil

The appearance of engine oil changes with age. After an oil change, new oil is light brown. Older engine oil will look black. If this fluid is leaking from your car, engine oil will leave an oil stain where it is parked. Engine oil has an greasy texture but each brand has a different smell so you may need to check out your dipstick and compare scents to confirm that your engine oil is the source of the leak.

Engine oil leaks can stem from the oil filter, the timing cover, sump pump, and head gasket. A small leak (like a few drops weekly) can be somewhat normal for vehicles with high mileage. It is a good idea to check the oil levels on such a vehicle and be sure the oil gets topped off when needed. Larger leaks will need a visit to your mechanic for repair.

Transmission Fluid

Depending on the age and condition of your transmission fluid, its appearance may be pink, red, or brown. Transmission fluid has an oily texture that is frequently mistaken for engine oil. Transmission fluid leaks are much more common in automatic transmissions than in manual transmissions. The output shaft and axle seal are common sources of transmission leaks, but having a professional examine your vehicle is helpful for finding the true problem.

Brake Fluid

If the fluid looks like cooking oil and is pale amber or clear, then it is likely brake fluid. It is the only vehicle fluid has this appearance. The master cylinder, brake caliper seals, and flex lines are the likely culprits.

Before driving your car to your mechanic, check your brake fluid level and top it off if needed. Start up your vehicle and pump your brakes while still in park. Turn your car off and check the level again to help you determine if you have a leak and how much of a problem it is. If you have a large leak, you may not be able to limp your car safely to the mechanic. You may need to have it towed.

If you suspect that you have a brake fluid leak or are leaking a different fluid, have a professional check out your car immediately for your safety while driving. If you need a mechanic to check your vehicle’s issue, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can figure out what needs to be done to stop your fluid leak.


Coolant/anti-freeze is the easiest to identify because it is bright green or yellow and has a very distinct sweet odor. If this fluid is leaking from your car, there are a number of places that can be the source of a coolant/anti-freeze leak such as the radiator, water pump, freeze plugs, hoses, head gasket, and water core.


A water leak, particularly from the passenger side of your vehicle, is not something you need to worry about. Generally, your air conditioner was likely on when you parked your car and the condensed water from the air conditioning drained and left behind a small pool of water.

Power Steering Fluid

When power steering fluid is leaking from your car, it can sometimes be mistaken for transmission fluid. It appears to be reddish-brown but the difference is that the liquid is thinner in consistency and has a smell that is both sweet and burned at the same time. Finding a power steering leak is fairly rare, but it can happen. These leaks occur near the steering rack by the rack end seals and the pinion steering system.

How to Detect a Leak from Your Vehicle

Sometimes determining what fluid is leaking from your car is not so straightforward. Plus, you may know your car is leaking but be unclear as to where the leak is occurring. Finding the leak before it becomes a serious problem is important and we hope these tips will help.

  • Put cardboard or newspaper under your car. This is an easy way to determine that your car has a leak and will help you identify which fluid is the culprit. It is best to leave the car stationary for several hours or overnight. This gives the leak time to occur.
  • Search the components under your vehicle. If you are having trouble figuring out the source of your leak, you may need to jack the car up to look under it. Because of the airflow while your vehicle is in motion, the leak source will likely be forward of the spot with fluid remnants.
  • Spray on foot-powder will help you locate the source. If you know the general area but need to figure out the source more specifically, spray-on foot powder can help. It may seem odd, but it can easily highlight the source of your leak (you should be able to spot the drip in the white powder) and it is easy to clean off when done.
  • Be sure to park on a flat surface while looking for your leak. If your car is on a slight slope, tracking down your leak will be more difficult. Additionally, the levels of your fluids under the hood will be inaccurate, which may create further issues. 

What fluid is leaking from your car? Now that we’ve pointed you in a few likely directions, you might need a mechanic to actually fix the problem. So, get in touch with us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can get your leak stopped and make sure your car is back to normal so that you can get back on the road.

Signs of Car Engine Trouble

Signs of Car Engine Trouble Sundance Automotive DenverKnowing the signs of car engine trouble can save you a great deal of money and time. Here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, we want to help you save your engine so that your car troubles won’t break the bank.

Check Engine Light

Though a check engine light can mean so many things, it is never a good idea to ignore it. Hooking your car up to a scan tool is an easy way to quickly determine what the problem might be. Sometimes the trouble is something easy like the gas cap is not screwed on properly, but your check engine light can be a sign that something has gone much more wrong and needs immediate attention.

Jerking, Surging, Misfiring, or Hesitating

When your engine is functioning properly, everything runs smoothly. If your car surges or misfires, it may be a sign that your engine is running too hot. If there is hesitation when you press on the gas, you could have trouble such clogged fuel lines, bad spark plugs, or dirty air filters. Additionally, if your engine is revving high when it should be idling or if you experience sudden acceleration, you have an issue that should not be ignored.

If you are experiencing signs of car engine trouble, contact us at Sundance Automotive to make an appointment. We can get your engine running right so that you can avoid a more costly problem.

Odd Noises

If your car has started making odd noises, it is important to get them checked out right away. Grinding, tapping, or popping sounds are among the noises that can mean your engine is experiencing a problem. Try to track down where the noise is coming from as well as when it seems to occur so that you can relay specific information to your mechanic.

Strange Smells

It is never a good sign if a strange smell has made it to your car’s interior. Odd smells can be an indication of leaking from what is normally the closed loop system of your engine. Rubber and exhaust smells can also spell engine trouble. It is best to get those unexplained smells check out directly.


Smoke is never a good sign and most people understand that. If you notice smoke that looks like it is blue, this likely means you have an oil leak somewhere, whereas white smoke from your tailpipe means that antifreeze or water condensation is mixing with your fuel. To avoid overheating or other more significant problems, get your car to a mechanic quickly.

Excessive Oil

If you need to provide your vehicle with more oil regularly, you could have an oil leak and a potentially more serious problem as well. Getting your vehicle checked is a good way to avoid more trouble.

If you are experiencing signs of car engine trouble, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster for an appointment. We can get your problem solved and get you back on the road quickly with a car that is running properly.

Basics of Car Brake Repair

Basics of Car Brake Repair Sundance Automotive DenverKnowing the basics of car brake repair can be helpful when you have a brake issue. Here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, we want to help our customers better understand their brakes. There are five main components of your brakes, knowing a bit about what each one does can help you understand when you have a problem.

Brakes Lines and the Master Cylinder

Today’s brakes work hydraulically. This means fluid is used to transfer the power of your foot on the brake pedal to the actual brakes on your wheels. The master cylinder is where it all begins. If your master cylinder is not functioning properly, it may not be able to push fluid to your brakes. This is why checking your brakes lines and master cylinder for damage is a good idea.

Calipers, Pads, and Rotors

The calipers, pads, and rotors all work in conjunction with each other to bring your vehicle to a stop. When you press your brake pedal, the master cylinder pushes fluid to your brake calipers. The calipers squeeze together, placing pressure on your brake pads. When the calipers press together, the brake pads clamp down on your rotors which in turn causes your car to slow down. If your calipers are damaged they may not be able to squeeze together effectively.

It is also important to check your brake pads for wear. If your brake pads are worn down, they will not be able to connect smoothly. This uneven connection can damage your rotors and these can be expensive to repair.  Most brake pads today include wear indicators. These indicators squeal as a way to let you know it is time to get your pads replaced.

Stick to Your Maintenance Schedule

Use the guidelines in your owner’s manual to make sure regular maintenance and checks are performed on your brake system to avoid costly repair. If you are unsure about replacing the pads or brake fluid, you can stick to the basic guideline of checking every 12,000 miles.

If you are in need of brake system maintenance on your vehicle, contact us at Sundance Automotive to schedule an appointment. We can make sure your brakes are working properly and effectively.

Maintenance Cost

Regular maintenance is one of the basics of car brake repair and an excellent way to save you money. Getting your pads and fluid replaced regularly is much more cost effective than needing to replace the rotors or a full brake system repair. Preventative maintenance really can save you a great deal of money over time. Servicing your brake pads and replacing the fluid can cost you less than $100 (depending on the specific service needed) while needing rotor replacement may be ten times as much. It is an excellent idea to keep to the maintenance schedule for best results.

The basics of car brake repair are fairly straightforward. If you need your brakes serviced, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster for an appointment. We will help keep your brakes in good shape to help you avoid more expensive repairs.

Causes of a Failed Emissions Test

Causes of a Failed Emissions Test Sundance Automotive DenverToday, the car experts at Sundance Automotive in Westminster want to cover the causes of a failed emissions test. This assessment checks for pollutants produced by the engine of a car. When a vehicle fails the test, it can be a source of frustration and even worry. We get a number of questions from stressed out customers who bring their vehicles in after failing this important test. However, knowing the common causes can help you better understand what may need to be done to get your vehicle to pass the emissions test.

Emissions Test Basics

Generally, in an emissions test, there are three different vehicle inspections that could point to a wide variety of causes of a failed emissions test.

  • The Acceleration Simulation (ASM) checks for dangerous gases like carbon monoxide.
  • The On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) monitors the performance and status of the emission control equipment and the ignition system.
  • The Two-Speed Idle (TSI) tests emission gases on older vehicles (those vehicles from 1995 or before).

Gas Analyzers

There are five gases that are monitored during emissions tests: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon, oxygen, and nitrogen oxides. A gas analyzer is put in a vehicle’s tailpipe to measure the emission of these gases. There are also portable gas analyzers which use infrared to measure the temperatures of the various gases. Additionally, diesel analyzers are used to monitor emissions for diesel engines.

DLC Scanner

The Diagnostic Link Connector (DLC) Scanner works with a Diagnostic Link Connector monitor. Sometimes a vehicle needs to be driven a distance in order for all the monitors of the DLC Scanner to work properly. This means that a car owner will be asked to drive an additional distance before returning so that the DLC Scanner can work properly.

Additionally, the DLC will check if the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) light is on or off. The MIL light is a signal warning for problems and malfunctions in the engine so it is very important that it be in proper working order and good condition. The MIL light uses the Check Engine Light (or other warning light) to help determine the engine’s status. Usually, the MIL light is turned on when the vehicle’s engine is causing issues that result in excessive emissions. The DLC Scanner also gets any fault codes that the vehicle currently has.

Emission Standards in the US

The US has different standards for each gas that is being monitored. Here are the levels that are used in your car’s emissions standards tests.

  • Hydrocarbons—In the atmosphere, hydrocarbons react to the nitrogen oxide and sunlight. The combination produces ozone. On the ground, ozone is a part of smog which is one of the worst offenders of air pollution. Smog can cause breathing problems, damage lungs, irritate eyes, and has even been found to cause cancer.

The amount of hydrocarbons from a passenger car that is a transitional low emission vehicle (TLEV) must be less than .156 g/mi. An ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) must have a level that is lower than .055 g/mi.

  • Nitrogen oxide—When oxygen and nitrogen combine a high pressure, nitrogen oxide is formed. Engines can be very high producers of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide is the primary cause of acid rain. The maximum nitrogen oxide level for emissions is .6 g/mi for a TLEV and .3 g/mi for a ULEV.
  • Carbon monoxide—When fuel is not completely oxidized to carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide forms. Carbon monoxide is toxic to human beings and it is one of the primary emissions from vehicles. The maximum amount of carbon monoxide for a TLEV is 4.2 g/mi and for a ULEV the maximum amount is 2.1 g/mi.
  • Carbon dioxide—This gas is one of the main greenhouse gases that contribute to the increase in the earth’s overall temperature.
  • Additional emissions—Some of the emissions are created by evaporation that occurs at higher temperatures. For example, gas vapors are vented at higher temperatures. For emissions testing, the emissions of gas vapors must be less than 2.0 g/test hour.
  • Additional standards—Each state has additional standards that must be met for emissions tests.

Common Failure Reasons

There are several causes of a failed emissions test. Here are a few of the more common reasons. If you need to have an emissions test or need a repair to pass your emissions test, contact us at Sundance Automotive in Westminster to make an appointment.

  • Fuel metering specification. Your vehicle could have a faulty computerized engine control, fuel injections unit, or carburetor that can cause your vehicle’s fuel metering to not meet specifications.
  • Faulty oxygen sensor. A faulty oxygen sensor is very common and can lead to other problems such as higher emissions, overheating, and loss of acceleration.
  • Defective ignition system. Generally, this means your car is emitting high amounts of hydrocarbons. It can be an indication of defective spark plug wires, worn out spark plugs, a worn distributor cap, or an ignition-timing problem.
  • Vacuum leaks. The MAP sensor not working properly can lead to a leak and be one of the causes of a failed emissions test.
  • Rich fuel mixture. A rich air/fuel mixture can be caused by a number of issues such as leaky injectors or excessive fuel pressure. This will cause high carbon monoxide levels as well as high carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Malfunction in the air injection system. This system reduces the emissions of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The air injection system forces air into an engine’s exhaust. If this system is not working properly, the vehicle can emit large amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
  • Faulty evaporative emission control system. The evaporative emission control or EVAP system prevents gasoline vapors from being released into the atmosphere. Leaks in system hoses and vents are common reasons for this system to be problematic. It could also be related to a defective purge valve or a faulty gas cap.

Hopefully, now that you know the causes of a failed emissions test, you’ll be better prepared and a little less worried if and when your car experiences an issue. Most importantly, you can always bring it to Sundance Automotive in Westminster to get the repairs handled by the pros. Contact us today for your appointment and we’ll make sure your car aces the test next time around.

Does a Nail Puncture Require New Tires?

Does a Nail Puncture Require New Tires Sundance Automotive DenverNew tires can be expensive, so does a nail puncture require new tires? Here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, the first step in answering this question for you is to perform an assessment. We’ll look at where the puncture is and how much damage has been caused before determining next steps. If a new tire is needed, you can trust our shop to give you a great price for quality tires and installation.

The Nail Location

If you’re wondering does a nail puncture require new tires, it’s all about location. Unfortunately, if a screw or nail has punctured the sidewall, you will need new tires. These types of punctures simply cannot be repaired. If the nail or screw is along the shoulder of the tire, that also will require a replacement. However, if the center of the tread is where the nail or screw entered, you are in luck, and we can provide tire repair services.

Exceptions that will typically require tire replacement:

  • Cuts, slices, or larger punctures, regardless of location
  • If your tire has been patched at some other time
  • Any tire that no longer has a tread depth of at least 2/32”

Leaking Puncture

If the puncture is slowly leaking or if it is not yet leaking at all, you should be able to drive it to the shop to get your tire repaired. If the air is quickly escaping, then driving on the tire is not recommended. You could wind up creating all new problems.

Put your hand on the area that is punctured and feel for air. You can also spray soapy water on the puncture. If it bubbles, air is escaping. You may even hear the air leaking. If you can hear the air escaping, you should not drive any further on the tire. Additionally, if your car has a tire pressure monitor, you may be able to see how quickly air is escaping by watching the monitor. Do not drive until you’ve performed an assessment and only found a slow leak.

Flat Tires

If your wheel appears to be resting on the fold or if your tire is clearly flat from a puncture, do not drive on it. If you drive on a completely flat tire, it will be damaged internally and the tire will need to be replaced regardless of where the puncture is. If you have a spare tire, you should change it before proceeding to a repair shop or tire store.

Your vehicle may be equipped with “run flat” tires. Run-flat tires are intended to support the weight of your car when your tire is flat or punctured. With a run-flat tire, you may not even realize that your tire has lost all its pressure. The sidewalls of run-flat tires have been reinforced so that the tire’s internal structures are not quickly ruined while driving with a flat tire. You can drive around 50 miles at a maximum of 50 mph, depending on your run flat tire. It is best to check the specifications on your tire to know for sure.

When You Can’t Drive on a Tire
  • Donuts or Space-Saver Tires

Donut tires or space-saver tires are much like run flats. They are not designed to travel very long distances. In general, an average space-saver tire or donut will also travel 50 miles at 50 mph. Just make sure you get to Sundance for tire repair or replacement services.

  • Spare Tires

Full-size spares are just like your normal tires so they can be driven any needed distance. You will still want to get the original tire replaced as soon as possible because it will not wear at the same rate as your regular tires. This can eventually lead to unsafe handling while driving your vehicle.

A Few Items to Note if You Have Tire Trouble

Not a DIY Project

Tire repair involves fixing the hole from the inside, as well as the outside. The wheel must be taken from the vehicle and the tire must be removed from the wheel. The process also involves special tools, so tire repair should be left to professionals. If you have a tire puncture that needs repair, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can get the repair done and get you back on your way.


General vehicle warranties do not cover your tires. There are third parties that sell tire specific warranties. If you purchased one of these warranties, be sure to have proof of your coverage with you. New cars also offer tire insurance and warranties and insurance may be available to you when you purchase new tires.

Be Prepared

It is always best to be prepared for life’s little annoyances and a flat tire from a nail or screw can be quite frustrating. It is best to be prepared for such an event. First, it is important to know whether you have a spare, a replacement tire, or a run-flat. Finding out when you experience an issue can be a huge inconvenience.

Additionally, some cars have an air pump that may also be able to pump a fix-a-flat chemical. These chemicals have expiration dates and will not work on larger holes. Also, if left in your tire for an extended period, these chemicals can damage your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) if you have one on your vehicle. If you know what you have with you ahead of an emergency, you will be better prepared for an actual emergency.

If your car is not equipped with a spare, you may want to carry one for such a situation. It is also good to understand how to use the equipment that is included with your car. Additionally, everyone should know how to change a tire in emergency situations, particularly, if you get stuck in a location without cell service. Though less and less common, there are many locations where you may not be able to get roadside assistance due to a lack of service or due to your location. It is important to prepare for a variety of situations.

Does a nail puncture require new tires? It all really depends. But if you need your tires repaired, contact us at Sundance Automotive in Westminster for your tire repair needs.

Understanding Your Shocks and Struts

Understanding Your Shocks and Struts Sundance Automotive DenverHere at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, we think understanding your shocks and struts is important to the overall care of your vehicle. Shocks and struts ensure that your ride is smooth and that your vehicle has greater stability. Here’s a guide to help you know more about your shocks and struts and to know when they are starting to fail.

What are They?

When your vehicle rides over a rough surface, your shocks and struts absorb the impact and dampen the effect of potholes and bumps. They prevent excessive bouncing, which is unsafe and can change the way a vehicle handles. Shocks and struts keep your vehicle on the ground by helping the tires stay on the road, which keeps everyone safer. This is why you need to replace your shocks and struts when they start to fail.

How are Shocks Different from Struts?

Understanding your shocks and struts starts with knowing more about each component.

  • Shocks are simple cylindrical parts that help absorb impact from your vehicle’s leaf springs. Their sole function is to keep your car from bouncing. Shocks are usually found in the front suspension while struts are usually in the rear.
  • Struts are a part of a complete suspension system and are encased in a complicated coil mechanism system. The struts absorb the shock from coils springs.

People use the terms shocks and struts interchangeably, but really the two parts are quite different. Trucks will frequently have shocks in both the front and rear suspension systems. Shocks are generally less expensive and simpler to replace. Struts can be much more complicated to replace.

If you want to get your shocks and struts checked, call us at Sundance Automotive. We will check out your shocks and struts for you and get them replaced quickly so that your vehicle doesn’t develop other issues and you can drive without safety concerns.

Signs of Failure

When it comes to understanding your shocks and struts, it’s important that you recognize a problem early so that you have an opportunity to get your car to a mechanic before there is real trouble. Here are a few indications to look out for:

  • Bottoming Out: If the rear end of the vehicle hits the pavement when the vehicle hits a rough spot, it is an indication that your rear shocks or struts are failing. If your car does this when you have extra weight in the trunk or extra people in the back seat, this is also a sign your shocks or struts may need replacement.             

Bottoming out can cause other problems for your vehicle if you fail to replace the shocks or struts. It can damage the body of your car, while further damage continues to the shocks and struts.

  • Forward Plunge: If your vehicle plunges forward when you come to a stop, this is another sign that your shocks or struts may be worn. This happens because your shocks or struts are not absorbing enough to help keep the weight of your car from traveling forward when you come to a stop.

The effect is hard on your brakes and is also a driving hazard. The forward plunge makes your vehicle more difficult to handle and steer. If you avoid caring for this issue promptly, you may find you will need to replace your brake pads as well.

  • Rock and Roll: If your vehicle rolls or rocks side to side when you turn corners, your shocks or struts may be to blame. You may notice that taking fast curves or turns is becoming more difficult as a result.

This is a potential hazard because the weight of your car could cause your wheels to leave the ground. This could, in turn, cause your car to roll. This is why you should have your shocks or struts replaced as soon as possible. Understanding your shocks and struts, as well as issues like this, are key to your driving safety.

  • Bumpy Ride: If riding in your vehicle seems particularly bouncy or bumpy, you may have a shock or strut problem. Rough roads and surfaces will feel bumpier while riding over them because the vibrations are not being absorbed. Additionally, your car will seem louder and your car will have decreased handling and tire performance. 
  • Unpredictable Handling: If your shocks or struts are failing you may find that you vehicle pitches unpredictably. Again, it is a good idea to get them checked out and replaced immediately. 
  • Poor Steering: If you notice that your steering is stiffer or noisier, this is another sign of a shock or strut problem.

You or your mechanic can check your shocks and struts for leaking. They can also be checked for visible damage. Unusual wear patterns on your tires can also be a sign that your shocks or struts may have issues. A tire cupping wear problem, for example, can be a wear pattern that indicates shocks or struts as the root issue.

Generally, shocks and struts may start to exhibit some of the above signs and symptoms around 50,000-60,000 miles. Depending on the type of driving you do and the general road conditions you experience, you may need to replace them sooner. Additionally, they may last longer if driving conditions are generally easier. Understanding your shocks and struts will help you better determine when to bring your car or truck for repairs.

Don’t Do It Yourself

While shocks are fairly easy to replace, you may think you could take care of the strut replacement as well. This is not a job that is generally recommended for a do-it-yourself job. The spring that encases the strut requires special machine compression to perform any repairs or replacement. Trying to do this yourself, with the wrong equipment especially, can result in serious injury.

Understanding your shocks and struts is an excellent way to better understand caring for your vehicle. If you need to have your shocks and struts inspected, repaired or replaced, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can take good care of your vehicle, so you are safe when you are on the road.

Signs You Need Transmission Repair Services

Signs You Need Transmission Repair Services Sundance Automotive DenverAt Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood, we understand how important it is to know the signs you need transmission repair services. Transmission trouble can be a big stress for a car owner. These issues can be highly complex, inconvenient and sometimes expensive. The best way to prevent having to deal with a major transmission problem is to give your vehicle proper maintenance regularly. If you’ve had your vehicle a long time though, you should expect to eventually have trouble with your transmission that will require repair.

Here are a few signs you need transmission repair services.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light is generally the first indicator of a problem that has already occurred or has started to develop in your vehicle. Though the check engine light can mean that something relatively small has gone wrong (maybe you left the gas cap off), it can also point to something much, much bigger.

No matter the reason, you should never ignore your check engine light because if a larger issue is left unchecked, it could end up costing you a much larger amount of money. The check engine light is attached to your vehicle’s on board-computer which monitors sensors throughout your car. A number of these sensors monitor your transmission. These sensors pick up trouble as soon as they begin to occur, so again, never ignore a check engine light.

Whining, Clunking, Humming

Transmission noises can be difficult to identify, but they can often be described as humming, buzzing, clunking, or humming. If you hear such noises that you have never heard before, it is a good idea to get it checked out. Unusual noises are usually a sign of a problem. Even if it turns out to be a noise related to something else, it is probably something in your transmission that needs attention.

Grinding or Shaking

You should not hear grinding while driving your car and your car should not jerk or shake. All of these issues are signs you need transmission repair services.

If you have a manual transmission and you hear grinding when you shift, that noise is a sign that you have probable transmission trouble on your hands, though it could also indicate a problem with your clutch.

With an automatic transmission, you are more likely to hear and feel the car experience difficulty getting into gear when you first start to drive. As it gets worse, you may notice shaking. In any case, this is never something to ignore. If you are experiencing this problem, can contact us here at Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood. We can track down the problem and get your vehicle back to running smoothly.

Noise in Neutral

If you hear a bumping noise while your vehicle is in neutral, your vehicle may have low or dirty transmission fluid. Such a noise can also be an indication that some parts of the transmission may be worn such as the reverse idler gear, bearings, or gear teeth. Topping off the transmission fluid will solve the problem only if the issue is related to low fluid. You may need to have the fluid changed or you may have a much larger transmission issue.


If the car pauses when shifting, there is often a clutch issue, but if your car isn’t shifting smoothly, it could be one of the signs you need transmission repair services.

Leaking or Low Fluid

Leaking fluid should never be ignored and a transmission fluid leak is a sure sign of transmission trouble. Do not neglect this problem and be sure to take care of it quickly. An unattended leak can cause irreparable damage to your transmission meaning you may need to replace it entirely. Leaking transmission fluid is easy to spot. Normally, transmission fluid is bright red, clear, and has a slightly sweet smell when everything is working properly. Fluid that is darker or that smells burnt is in need of replacement.

Car Can’t Get into Gear

Trouble with your transmission fluids can be a source of trouble and cause a vehicle to have trouble going into a gear. You should check the transmission fluid level to be sure that this is not the source of the issue. The source of the issue could also be the clutch linkage, the computer system, or the shift cables.

Burning Smell

If you notice a burning smell, you need to do something right away. First be sure that nothing is actually on fire. If there is no fire, the smell could be transmission fluid that is overheating. Dirty, sludge-like fluid is not going to cool your car’s engine nor is it going to lubricate very well. A car that is allowed to run on dirty transmission fluid will have an engine problem eventually. This is one of the reasons vehicle maintenance is so important.

Draggy Clutch

If the clutch on your manual transmission seems to be dragging, this could be a sign that the flywheel and clutch disc are not disengaging when the clutch is pressed. When the clutch is spinning, changing gears can be hard and sometimes impossible. This problem is frequently accompanied by a grinding noise.

Gear Slipping

Manual transmissions are supposed to stay in gear until your shift, while the computer does this for you in vehicles with automatic transmissions. If the transmission is slipping in or out of gear, you need to bring it to a mechanic right away. A vehicle in this condition can be very dangerous to drive and can cause you to get in an accident. The problem is likely broken or worn gear linkage. Get this fixed right away because you could be in a situation where you have no power to your wheels and this kind of situation can end catastrophically.

If your vehicle is exhibiting signs you need transmission repair services, contact us here at Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood. We can get your transmission back to humming smoothly and working right so that you are safe on the road.

Prolong Your Car’s Life with One Simple Service

prolong your car’s life with one simple serviceDid you know that you can prolong your car’s life with one simple service? It is so easy that we at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood wanted to share it with you. It may come as a surprise, but an oil change is hands down the easiest way to keep your car running longer and performing better.

It’s estimated that over 20% of car owners have low and/or dirty engine oil. A year’s worth of oil changes could cost on average around $120. Not changing your oil regularly could result in an expensive repair – want to guess how much it costs to replace a car’s engine? It’s not cheap, which is why regular oil and filter changes are the most important maintenance step in your vehicle’s overall care.

So, oil changes. How do you prolong your car’s life with one simple service? Let’s take a closer look at your vehicle and the role oil plays in its engine.

Engine Lubrication

An engine has a number of moving parts that work together at high rates of speed: pistons, valves, cylinders, rods, and more. The movement and speed create intense heat. Oil is the lubrication that keeps the heat from wearing down all the parts of your vehicle’s engine in very short order.  Keeping your oil at the recommended fill volume and with the recommended grade and weight of oil helps your car’s engine in working order.

Engine Components Stay Cool

Without lubrication, the various engine components create friction, which in turn creates heat. Clean oil in the right amounts helps reduce friction and keeps all your engine components cooler than they would otherwise be. This is why it is important to change your oil regularly.

Removes Dirt and Sludge

Dirt can be deadly to your engine. Over time, dirt reduces the life of your engine and can cause corrosion. The oil in your engine can also turn to sludge if left unchanged and unattended. Routine oil changes not only remove the dirt but greatly reduce the chances of sludge running through your engine’s parts.

Better Gas Mileage

Poor engine lubrication increases your fuel usage. Routine oil changes with the proper kind of oil can improve your gas mileage by up to 2%. That sounds like a really small amount, but over a year, appropriate oil changes could save you a decent amount of gas – every gallon counts, right?

Your Vehicle Lasts Longer

Routine maintenance, like regular oil changes, is the best and cheapest way to increase the life of your vehicle. Routine car maintenance will save you time, money, and inconvenience. It can also increase the amount of money you can get for your car when you decide to resell it. Knowing that a car has been serviced regularly points to a level of care that buyers appreciate. Regular oil changes will keep your engine from working too hard which will help you from having engine trouble later.

It is pretty impressive that you can prolong your car’s life with one simple service. Performing oil changes yourself is not always easy or convenient. If you don’t have the time or want the hassle of changing your oil yourself, come see us at Sundance Automotive for an oil change. We’ll help extend the life of your car and its engine.