6 Signs You Should Have Your Brakes Checked


We are so dependent on our cars to get us from point A to point B so if we properly maintain them and treat them with respect, they will take very good care of us and our precious cargo. Besides the engine, the 2nd most important system of your vehicle that needs good upkeep is your brake system. It’s irreplaceable. After all, if you can’t stop, there’s no point in starting in the first place! Right? Your brakes take a beating every single time you get behind the wheel so good and proper maintenance of them is critical to help ensure your safety and that of your passengers.

But here’s the good news: in most cases, if you’re paying attention, your car will give you fair warning that the brakes are wearing out. Here are six signs you should look (and listen) for that tell you it’s time to bring your vehicle in for service:

  1. Your brake light is on
    If the ABS light on your dashboard turns on, that means it is time for brake repair. This light stands for anti-lock braking system, and if it is illuminated it means that sensors in the brake system have detected some form of a problem and it’s time to call for an appointment.
  2. The car pulls to the side when you brake
    If your car pulls to one side or another, without turning the steering wheel when you apply the brakes, this often indicates that the current brake pads are wearing unevenly and need replaced with new brake pads.
  3. The car jerks when you stop
    Do you feel the car vibrate or jerk when you apply the brakes? Sometimes this happens because one or more of the brake drums has become warped. This can be a safety issue because the brakes are making contact inconsistently, lengthening the time it takes to stop. If you feel this vibration, definitely have the brakes looked at.
  4. You have to pump the brakes
    Your car should immediately respond when you press the brake pedal. If you have to pump your brake pedal or need to push it down farther than normal, check your brake pads. They may be so low that they barely touch the disc itself. Your brake fluid could be low as well, forcing you to press the pedal almost to the floor to engage.
  5. The brakes grind or screech
    In most vehicles, a metal shim begins sounding off at the first sign that the brake pads are getting too thin, creating a high-pitched squeal or screech when the brakes are applied. If you take the car in for auto repair when you first hear this sound, chances are only the pads themselves will need replacing. If you procrastinate, the brake job will cost you more. When you hear a growling or grinding noise when you apply the brakes, that is usually caused by the calipers making direct contact with the brake drums or rotors, meaning metal on metal. You start hearing this sound because you’ve been ignoring the brake squealing. This typically means that the drums will need to be replaced along with the pads.
  6. The pedal vibrates or touches the floor when you brake
    If when you press your foot down on the brake pad, and feel vibration or constant grabbing when you attempt to apply the brakes. This is commonly known as “pulsating brakes”. The vibration is typically caused by worn out brakes, or brake pads that are warped due to heat. In the case of pulsating brakes, sometimes the brake pads are re-machined to remedy the problem. If the pads cannot be re-machined then they will likely need to be replaced with new brake pads.

Schedule an appointment today to have a maintenance check on your car’s brake system at Bell Union Auto Service by calling (602) 788-7600. We proudly serve the North Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Cave Creek, and North Scottsdale area. Our mechanics can check all the various parts of the system and make sure you are safe, because braking is crucial. Contact us today.

Is It Time to STOP and Have Your Brakes Checked?

We all rely on the brakes every time we drive our cars, or rather, every time we stop our cars. Whether you drive just around your neighborhood most of the time, or long distances on the freeway, you have to be able to stop the vehicle safely. But maintaining the brakes includes several different services, done much more often than many people realize.
Most cars today have disc brakes and their brake systems consist of the following parts:
• Brake Pads
• Brake Lines
• Discs (or Rotors)
• Master Cylinder
• Caliper
Brake Pads – It’s time to have the PADS checked! Pads are the part of the system that gets changed most often. The pads are the cushion between the discs, or rotors, and the calipers, the part that pushes on them to cause friction and stop the car. A general guideline to follow is to have your brake system overall checked every 10,000 miles. If you live in a very hilly area or someplace where you drive over rough terrain weekly or even daily, you should have them checked more often than that.
Brake Lines – The brake fluid in the brake lines is the other thing that gets more regular treatment and replacement in your brake system. It is critical for keeping the system working properly. Sometimes it simply needs to be changed or flushed, similar to how you have the oil changed in the car.
Rotors – The rotors are protected by fresh brake pads, but if the pads get too worn down, they can start to affect the rotors, causing wear in them. Wear in rotors in characterized by deeper grooves or pits, and can be seen during a standard inspection by a mechanic.
SQUEEK! Listening to your car is always a good idea. If there is a squeeking when you hit the brakes, it is a good idea to have them checked. If your car or the wheel of the car vibrates a little when you brake, that may also be a sign you need your brakes checked.
Pulling to one Side – Sometimes if a break line has a leak, and one side gets low on fluid, the brakes on one side of the car will be more effective than those on the other side. This causes the car to pull to one side upon braking, which is another warning sign that something may be wrong and need attention.
Do the brakes feel right? – If you have to apply the brakes and push way down before the car starts to slow down, or the opposite, you barely touch them and they are braking, you may need to have them checked. Don’t leave “mushy” or “spongy” brakes too long – it could be your brake pads that need replacement. And if you don’t change the brake pads when they are due, you can develop more costly problems, like damage to the rotors.
Schedule an appointment today to have a maintenance check on your car’s brake system at Bell Union Auto Service by calling 602 788-7600. Or pull in to one of their locations in North Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Cave Creek, and North Scottsdale. Our mechanics can check all the various parts of the system and make sure you are safe, because braking is crucial. Contact us today.

Avoid Costly Engine Problems or Breakdowns with Regular Belt and Hose Maintenance

Avoid Costly Engine Problems or Breakdowns with Regular Belt and Hose Maintenance

Small items that need to be maintained. Hoses in your car include those in your cooling system, your fuel system and your air system. Belts are different in different cars – some have one big long serpentine belt that runs through several systems, while others have several belts to maintain. Both hoses and belts are relatively small items to maintain that play a big part in the efficient running of your car’s engine.  A snapped belt or burst hose can lead to many different problems like your engine overheating or not starting at all.  Compared to maintaining the hoses and belts, these problems can lead to extensive and costly damage. Car manufacturers differ in how often they recommend this maintenance, but many are more often than you may expect.  If you have had your car for a few years, it may be time to have them checked.

Problems a mechanic may see with your belts and hoses.  Problems with hoses that should be corrected include kinking, wear and deterioration.  The hose cannot be kinked or be touching hot or sharp parts of the engine.  They are made from rubber, so extreme heat can damage them, or something sharp can pierce them.  Belts are similar – they need the right temperature to function in and they must have the proper tension.  As belts wear, they can split and fray. A trained mechanic can detect these problems early and replace hoses or belts in order to avoid bigger problems later.

Major problems to avoid.  Both hoses and belts are part of several different systems in your car.  When it comes to your own comfort, the belt that takes part in the air conditioning system is critical.  It can get hot in a car very fast during the warm weather if this belt is not working properly or it breaks.  The coolant hose is important for your engine because it keeps it from overheating by delivering coolant to it. The drive belt, or “fan belt” works in several systems including the power steering system, and without it, it can be very difficult to steer the car. The belt also keeps the alternator going, which charges your battery.  Without that, you will not be able to start your car.  You can avoid these potential problems, too, by doing regular maintenance on the hoses and belts.

Added benefits. Procedures done during maintenance on the hoses can also reveal problems or malfunctions with other parts of the car, like checking heater hose temperatures can reveal problems with the thermostat. As with most things, the earlier a problem is caught, the better. Schedule an appointment today to have a maintenance check on your engine’s belts and hoses here at Bell Union Auto Service by calling 602 788-7600. The mechanic there can tell you how often your car’s manufacturer recommends the check.

Importance of Getting a Radiator Flush in the Desert

Stay Cool in this Heat

If you live in the Valley of the Sun, you know how hot it can be for many months of the yearIn the desert, more than any other kind of climate, it is vitally important to keep the system that cools your car’s engine in excellent working condition simply because it is needed more in this extreme heat.  When combustion engines run, like those in most cars, they naturally produce heat, and it is multiplied by the heat in the air, and the engine is harder to cool.  If you don’t do regular maintenance to this system, the engine can overheat, causing damage like a blown head gasket that is expensive to repair, or other extra wear and tear on your engine.

What is a Radiator Flush?

The maintenance needed to keep your radiator in good working condition is called a radiator flush. During this procedure, the fluids are removed from your car’s cooling system by a mechanic, and the inside of the system is cleaned out. Then fresh coolant is added back into the system.  This is important because over time, the coolant you put in your radiator becomes inefficient and needs to be washed away. Sediment, rust and corrosion can start to build up and need to be cleaned out as well.  Having these detrimental elements in your car’s cooling system can cause the system to not work efficiently and eventually will cause damage. The fresh fluid lubricates the parts and helps them work properly, and it has elements in it to help avoid corrosion.

Have your Car’s Cooling System Inspected

When the mechanics perform the radiator flush, they also inspect the parts of the system, including not only the radiator and the hose but also the water pump.  It is a check up for your cooling system.  Finding any problems early is always beneficial so they can be corrected before they lead to larger engine problems.

Time to Make an Appointment

It is best to flush your radiator once a year, or as prescribed in your car’s owner’s manual.  If it is time to have your car’s radiator flushed, or if this service is long overdue, call the honest and professional staff at Bell Union Auto Service today at (602) 788-7600 to set up an appointment. Contact us today.

Prepare Your Car for Monsoon Season

With monsoon season here, it’s important to protect your car for the sake of its performance and appearance. The heavy rain and dust can take a tole on your vehicle over time, but there are ways to prepare your car for monsoon season.

  • While most dust just blows right off of your car, it can tend to cause many fine scratches. Getting your car washed shortly after a monsoon storm will help minimalism the damage to your paint. A coat of wax can also help to protect your car from the heavy dust and rain.
  • Often times when caught in the storm, your cabin filter becomes contaminated or restricted, and dust can affect airflow and air conditioning performance. To minimize this, turn your air conditioning to the “re-circulate” or “max” setting so it draws air from the inside rather than the outside.
  • Driving in the midst of a storm can drastically shorten your engine’s air filter. Dust can restrict the filter and cause poor fuel economy, effecting the performance of the engine. In extreme cases, dust restricting the filter can actually damage your car’s engine.
  • Be sure to check that the rubber molding around your windshield, doors, and cab is in good condition for monsoon season. If it’s not, water can cause serious damage to you car. In addition to potentially flooding your car or engine, water seeping in can cause electrical malfunctioning in your vehicle.
  • Driving through deep floodwaters can cause water to kick up into your engine and cause serious problems. Driving through deep water you risk damage or even catastrophic failure of your engine and/or transmission. If you can’t avoid the water, once you’re safely off the road turn off your engine and assess whether you should have your car towed rather than keep driving and possibly cause more problems or damage.

There is no doubt that monsoon season can take a serious toll on your vehicle. By checking rubber molding and windshield wipers for cracks, testing your brakes, being sure that your brake and headlights are clear and bright, and checking that your tires have good tread, you can help to prepare your car for this season’s monsoons.

How to Avoid Breaking Down In The Arizona Heat

The Arizona heat can take a tole on your car, especially in the summer time. Here are some tips as to how to avoid your car breaking down due to the high heat.

Replace your battery. Consider replacing your car battery if it is older than three years. Heat puts a lot of stress on the battery. The older the car battery, the more stress the heat puts on it.

Have your cooling system checked by a professional. Your cooling system plays a vital role in your engine. It helps to prevent your engine from overheating and your air conditioning running properly. It’s suggested that a professional look at your cooling system at least every two years.

If your temperature light goes on while you are driving or stuck in traffic, you are in the danger zone. Turn off your air conditioning immediately and role down your windows. If the light stays on, turn the temperature selector on the hottest setting to redirect some of the heat trapped in the system. If the light goes off, you should be safe to drive to a mechanic. However, if the light stays on pull over and stop driving to call for assistance.

Get fresh coolant. Make sure to start summer off on the right foot and make sure you have fresh coolant in your radiator system. It’s also suggested that you have your radiator checked for corrosion.

Check your tires. If your tires look worn or cracked, this could mean future trouble in the heat. This could lead to a potential blow-out, which at high speeds can cause a crash or even a rollover accident.

Keep a gallon of water handy. If you make lengthy trips, keep a gallon jug of water in your car. It could come in handy if you have a radiator leak or get stuck in the heat waiting for help.

Bell Union Auto Service is a family owned and operated auto repair facility servicing the North Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Cave Creek, and North Scottsdale neighborhood since 1989. We are very proud to be a part of this neighborhood auto repair facility. Thanks to our valued customers of this community and our business approach of “An honest repair is the best repair,” we have grown with the families, friends and neighbors of this great community. Our goal is to make your car repair experience, pleasant, manageable, and we will make every effort to work within your budget while providing you with a high quality repair.