5 Ways To Spot Alternator Problems

What Is an Alternator?

alternator                  The alternator is a major component of your car’s electrical system.  It’s found in all cars that rely on gas power, with the exception of certain hybrid models.  While your car is running, the alternator keeps your battery charging helps supply power to the rest of the vehicle.

Generally speaking, the alternator doesn’t need much maintenance.  Unless there are defects in the part or it gets damaged in an accident, an alternator should last 10-15 years without needing repair.  If it breaks down, the car will continue to run for a while, but it’s running off the battery at that point, so it will die eventually.

What Are the Signs of Alternator Problems?

You usually won’t know right away if there are alternator problems, but signs will start to show up relatively soon after they go bad.  Here are a few to watch for.

1. Warning Lights Come On

Most cars made in the last decade have a warning light dedicated to warning you about a bad alternator.  Usually, the light is shaped like a battery, though some lights say “Alt” or “Gen” (for alternator, or generator).  A lot of people see this light and assume it means there’s a problem with a battery, but that’s not what it means.  This light is usually hooked up to your car’s onboard computer.  The sensor monitors the output of the alternator and if it goes above or below its preset safe limits, the light comes on.  If you see this light, you need to get to a mechanic as soon as you can, because it means your car is likely to die soon.

2. Problems with the Lights

dim headlights                  When your alternator goes bad, the car is forced to run purely on battery power.  As the battery runs out, different systems in your car will start to run down.  Usually, the first sign is the lights.  The headlights, taillights, and internal lights will all dim and flicker as the power drains.  Eventually, they will go out.

Some cars are programmed with power priorities.  If so, the car will begin shutting down non-critical electrical systems before the lights, so you may notice your seat warmer or radio go off before you have problems with the lights.

3. Strange Noises

A lot of car problems cause strange noises and this is no exception.  Generally, a failing alternator sounds like a growling or whining noise.  This is caused by a problem with the belt system that keeps the alternator running.  If left unchecked, this can cause further damage to the engine, eventually requiring replacement.  When this happens, the whining will become a rattling sound, indicating that the engine bearings have been damaged.

Since a lot of car problems cause noises, this one only helps if you recognize other signs with it.

4. Bad Smell

When electrical components overheat, they produce a distinct smell as the wires begin to burn their insulation.  If overheating is the problem, it might also smell like burning rubber, indicating that the belt system is being damaged.  Bad smells are always a sign of serious issues with your car, so if you detect an odor that shouldn’t be there, get your car checked up immediately.

5. Stalling, or Starting Troubles

As I said earlier, a failed alternator means that your car has to run off its battery.  This means that as the power drains the car will start stalling more often and have difficulty starting.  You’ll find that you need to charge the battery more often just to keep using it.  It can be difficult to tell the difference between battery and alternator troubles when this happens, but a good mechanic will check both possibilities.  If you’re having this problem regularly, have your car looked at right away.

Come to Us

SE Performance                  Unless you’re a trained mechanic, it can be very difficult to diagnose these problems on your own.  There’s a lot of overlap in some symptoms when it comes to causes, so if you have any concerns, come in and see us.  We’ll help get your car up an running again in no time.  Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment any time.

How to Make the Most of a Test Drive

The First Rule of Buying a Car

test drive                  Always do a test drive.  This is the first and most important rule of buying a car.  It’s human nature to be impatient.  We prioritize things that reward us quickly because it gets us to that boost of happy brain-juice, but what comes easiest isn’t always the best.  Buying too quickly often leads to buyer’s remorse.  In the case of buying a car, ending up with one that doesn’t meet your needs is an expensive mistake.

Make the Most of Your Test Drive

A test drive is an important part of getting the best car, so don’t skip it.  Be sure and schedule it in advance.  Most car dealers are happy to let you try a test drive, provided you let them know.

To make sure your test drive is useful, here are some tips:


1. Make a Plan

gps plan a route                  Before you even go in for a test drive, you should make sure you know what you’re looking for.  Time some time to consider what you want the car for.  If you want to pull trailers with it, it should have good view of the sides in the mirrors and has the appropriate hook up for your trailer type.  If you do sports and need to carry equipment, look for proper storage space.  If you want it for casual driving, you’ll want the best gas mileage possible.  Figure out your personal preferences as well.  Once you’ve worked this out, get on the internet and do a bit of research about what types of cars meet your needs and wants.

While making a plan, be sure to map out your test drive route.  Plot it to cover several different kinds of roads so you see everything the car can do.  Don’t forget to test how good the car is at breaking and accelerating.  An empty parking lot is a good place to test this, if you can find one.  If not, look for a place where you won’t have to worry about other cars and obstacles.


2. Do a Thorough Test Drive

A proper test drive is not just around the block once to see if the car runs.  A good test drive should replicate a typical drive for you.  If you drive on the freeway a lot, take it for a spin on the freeway.  If you drive on rough roads, drive on some rough roads.  If you drive on a lot of winding roads, take the car on some curves to see how it handles them.  And don’t rush yourself on this either.  If you’ve planned ahead, you should have picked a day where you have time to really get a feel for the vehicle, so spend some time with it.


3. Make Sure the Car is Comfortable

Make sure the car is suitably comfortable for you and the people who will use it.  If you have a large family, you want to make sure that it has enough space for all of them.  Remember, this is about more than just enough seats; the seats have to be large enough and there has to be enough leg room for your passengers.  Check the little things, like cup-holders, the range of adjustable seating, and other little things.  They’re not the things you normally think about when test driving, but if you don’t have the right extras, it’ll make the car much less comfortable in the future.

While you’re doing this, make sure the car is a smooth ride.  Even if you don’t drive on a lot of dirt roads, you should still see if it handles rough roads well.  You never know when you’re going to experience a bumpy ride and you want it to perform when you do.  Check how it handles speed bumps, too.


4. Bring Along a Second Set of Eyes

bring a friend                  While a car salesman will try to help you find a car that’s right for your needs, he doesn’t know you as well as a friend or family member does.  Bringing along someone to give you a second opinion can help you figure out exactly what you’re looking for.  They may also be able to remind you of things you didn’t think about while preparing for your test drive.  You can also get an opinion from them about how comfortable the car is for passengers.  If your friend has some mechanical or car buying experience, that’s even better.


After Your Test Drive

The biggest mistake people make is buying right away.  Buying a car is a big decision and you shouldn’t leap to it quickly.  The purpose of the test drive is to work out if the car handles how you like it, not to commit to a purchase.  After your test drive, make sure you ask all the questions you can of the seller about the vehicle.  Then, go home and think on it for a day or two.  The car will most likely still be there, so there’s no rush.  The extra time to think will help you figure out if you’ve forgotten to check anything.  You want to be sure before you buy, so don’t jump the gun.



If you buy a good car, repairs shouldn’t be an issue right out of the gate, but it is something you’ll have to deal with eventually.  Whether you have an accident, or just the wear and tear of general use, the car will need regular maintenance.  For that, we’re here to help.  If your car needs any fixing up, fine tuning, or you just want to put it through a safety inspection, we can help you out.  Get in touch whenever you need us and we’ll make sure you’re good to go.

save money on gas

7 Driving Habits That Save Money On Gas

save money on gasDriving is very convenient.  It’s a fast way to get around, which gives you more time to spend doing other things.  The one major problem is that driving requires gas and gasoline is expensive.  It can rack up a huge bill pretty fast if you’re not careful.

So, here are some tips to save money on gas.


1. Accelerate Slowly

Don’t be a lead foot.  The harder you accelerate, the more gasoline is burned getting you up to speed.  Instead, press on the gas pedal gently and build up to your speed slowly.  Generally, it should take you about 5 seconds to accelerate to 15 miles per hour from a full stop.


2. Steady Speed

DrivingBecause acceleration uses the most gas, inconsistent speed is a good way to waste money.  If you have regular dips and spurts of speed while on the road, it can increase the amount of fuel you use by up to 20%.  That’s why many modern cars have cruise control; it helps maintain a constant speed while on the road.  You should make use of this feature if your car has it.


3. Don’t Be in a Hurry

Driving faster requires more energy, so going at high speeds will use up more gas.  Every model will have its differences but typically speaking, once you hit 50 MPH, your car’s gas mileage will start to drop rapidly.  According to some sources, every five miles you drive over 50 can cost you up to 14 cents more per gallon because of the extra fuel usage.


4. Don’t Slam the Breaks

Coasting to a stop is more fuel efficient than a sudden stop.  Whenever possible, you should decelerate slowly.  Not only is it more fuel efficient, it’s much less of a strain on your breaks and tires, saving you money on maintenance.


5. Don’t Idle

As tempting as it is to warm up your car on a cold day, this is a bad idea.  So is having the car on while waiting for a spouse or friend to join you.  Even if you’re not going anywhere, the idle engine is still using gas.  Whenever possible, you should turn the engine off to conserve fuel.


6. Don’t Be a Drag

Wind resistance creates a lot of drag when driving and that means you have more to overcome to accelerate and maintain speed.  Opening your windows will create a small amount of drag that adds up in the long run.  The biggest way to reduce drag, however, is to remove racks for bikes, skis, or luggage.  Racks really mess up the aerodynamics of the car and you usually don’t need them.


7. Buy Gas Early

save fuelThis is one you might not think of on your own, but it is helpful.  Buy your gas early in the day and early in the week.  Like all substances, gasoline expands and becomes less dense as it warms up.  If you get your gas early in the morning, when the gas in the pump is still cool, it will be more dense and you’ll get more out of the pump.  Since gas pumps are not 100% accurate on how much is going through them, this will save you some money.  If you buy gas earlier in the week, you’re more likely to get better prices, too.  For some reason, prices tend to rise between Wednesday and Saturday.


Regular Maintenance

All of the above are driving habits that you have to build for yourself.  But there’s more to getting the most out of your car than just how you drive it.  An important part of saving money is keeping your car in good condition.  Regular maintenance will make sure all the parts are working efficiently and help you get the most out of your car’s performance.  The worse condition your car is in, the more gas it will take to use, whether it’s from a struggling engine, or flat tires.  If you let your car wear out, it’ll cost you.

That’s where we come in.  Here at SE Performance, we’ll help keep your car in the best condition possible.  If you’re looking to improve your car’s performance and save money on gas, then schedule an appointment today.  We’ll get your car running smooth so you can focus on good driving habits.

Get in touch today!

Washing Your Motorcycle

Riding Time for Cache Valley!


Photo by Sourav Mishra

Spring is finally at full go in Cache Valley.  The snow is gone, the weather’s warming up, and the roads are clear.  It’s time to bring out your motorcycle.  Before you get started, though, you ought to wash your bike first.  It isn’t just about looking good; cleaning your motorcycle is essential to keeping it in good working condition.  Dirt and grime can corrode the paint and cause the parts to rust.  It can also clog up the engine, or add friction to the moving parts.  So, before you get started, make sure it’s in ready to go.

What You Need to Know

It’s tempting to use household cleaners and power washers to clean it quickly.  This is an amateur mistake.  The pressure of power washers can force water into the electrical components, causing damage.  Household cleaners may be cheap, but they have chemicals in them that can damage the paint, stain the chrome, or even corrode the metal, which is exactly what you’re trying to prevent by cleaning it in the first place.   Before you start, you should go out and purchase some cleaners specifically for use on motorcycles.

Avoid washing in the middle of the day.  The sun can dry out the soaps before you can rinse them off, which will leave stains.  When you do wash it, be sure to leave yourself some time for the engine to cool down.  If you put cold water on hot metal, it can cause serious damage.  On top of that, minerals and contaminants in water will do more damage if they’re warm.

Using the right tool for the right job is very important.  You’ll want to use both a sponge and a brush.  Sponges can be used for larger surfaces, while brushes will more efficiently clean the nooks and crannies out and are easier on the delicate parts.

Steps to Cleaning

1. Light Wash

First, remove the seat and any leather on the bike.  Cover the battery with plastic sheeting and seal off the exhaust pipe with plastic wrap and a rubber band.  This will help keep water out of the electronics and the engine.

Next, use plain water to remove the surface grit.  A simple hose with a nozzle that allows you to control the pressure will work great here.  Use gentle streams around the hub and wheels and other delicate parts, but apply a little bit more pressure for the broad surfaces.

Follow the rinse with a pre-wash.  Use soft soap, a microfiber wash mitt, and separate the soap and rinse buckets.  This is just to remove the lighter dirt, so don’t go scrubbing too hard here, and don’t dirty your mitt on the greasy areas.  Rinse off the suds immediately to prevent spots.  A power blower is preferable to rubbing it down with a cloth.

2. Clean the Tires

Spray the wheels and spokes with wheel cleaner and let it soak for 30 seconds.  Using a boar-bristle brush, scrub the rim and spokes.  Rinse it with water and dry it with a blower and towel.

3. Polish the Dashboard

Do not put any cleaners directly onto your dashboard.  Instead, squirt a dollop of polish onto a microfiber towel and work it over using a circular motion.  Continue wiping until the haze is gone, then wipe it all off with a clean towel.

4. Clean the Engine and Drivetrain

motorcycle engine                  Spray some cleaner onto the engine and drivetrain components.  Let it sit for about one minute to penetrate the outer layer of dust.  Brush the greasy areas, then rinse them off with clean water and blow it dry.  You may need to do this more than once to get it fully cleaned.  As tempting as it might be to use pressure from a hose or power washer to speed it up, this is a bad idea.  The pressure would force water into the engine, where it will rust the internal parts of your motorcycle.

5. Shine the Chrome

To clean the chrome, use a 100% cotton rag.  The rag must be smooth to avoid scratching it.  An old t-shirt or dishtowel might work, but cut off any seams first.  This will prevent scratching.

Apply polish to the cotton rag and polish the chrome until the haze almost disappears.  Use a clean rag to wipe away the rest.

6. Clean the Leather

Using a sponge, apply leather cleaner to the seat and any other leather parts.  Once done, wipe it dry and apply the condition using a different sponge.  Then wipe it all dry with a clean rag.

7. Full Rinse

Give your motorcycle one last full rinse, then blow it dry.  Starting at the top, blow the water down and to the front of the bike.  Wipe off any remaining water drops to prevent spotting.

Nice and Clean!

Washing the motorcycle isn’t very hard, but it’s an important part of keeping it in good working order.  After your bike’s been in storage all winter, you’ll definitely need to clean it before riding it again.  All that time sitting probably gathered a lot of dust.  It’s also a good idea to clean it regularly, as riding it will pick up dirt from the road and squashed insects can cause your radiator to overheat.  Regular washing will also help you discover other problems, such as fluid leaks, before they become serious.  Just be sure you don’t overdo it.  While a serious riding trip that muddies up your motorcycle should be followed by another wash as soon as possible, casual rides don’t gather enough dust to require immediate washing.  Generally, once every couple of weeks is a good guideline.

Get In Touch

While it’s easy to clean a motorcycle, there are other problems you might discover that aren’t do-it-yourself issues.  If you happen to come across a problem while cleaning, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.  We’ll take care of it right away.  The sooner you get it taken care of, the easier it will be to fix and the less it will cost you.

And if you have any other motorcycle maintenance needs, we’ll be here to help.


Time For A Tune-Up


Last winter was a long and wet one. Even as late as earlier this month, snow was still coming down and the amount of rain we’ve gotten this spring was pretty unusual. The rain looks like it’s going to keep coming, but the snow is finally over. Now that it’s warming up, it’s a good time to get a quick tune-up for your vehicle. Last time, I went over a few routine spring maintenance and repair tasks you should do. Today, I’ve got a few extra items you should also look over.

1. Wipers and Windshield

Windshield WipersSince the rain doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon, you’ll want to make sure you can see. Check your wipers to make sure they work. The sleet and ice of the winter sometimes causes damage to them. They’re easy to replace and they make a huge difference, so don’t forget to check on them.


2. Lights

headlights and taillightsEven though the days are getting longer, you still need to make sure all your car lights are good. Driving around with a burnt out headlight, or taillight is asking for trouble. You need to be able to see where you’re going at night, and people behind need to see you. Not having a headlight can also get you pulled over for a safety violation, and a ticket is an extra expense that nobody needs. Since it’s also easy to replace lights, there’s no reason to neglect this either.

3. Sensors

Cars come with a lot of equipment nowadays. There are cameras, assistors, and automations like you wouldn’t believe. They can smooth your ride, help you see where you’re going, and monitor your car’s performance. What all of these gadgets have in common, however, is sensors. All of your car’s extra features rely on special sensors to keep everything in check. If those sensors get dirty, then those features can fail. Since some of those sensors are responsible for safety features, some of them might even stop your car from running if they’re blocked. Before you get too far into the year, you should take a little time to check the sensors and make sure they’re cleaned off.

4. Clean Everything

Since you’re already cleaning, you might as well do a good job, right? Inside and outside, cleaning the grime off your car will help stave off rust and corrosion. This will help keep your car running for years to come.

Let Us Help Out

tune-upThere’s a lot to go over. While it’s easy to fix or replace some of these issues on your own, you don’t always have the time. Since there’s a host of other maintenance issues you should be looking at this spring, why not let us help you with these minor ones while you’re at it? It doesn’t take us much time to check the wipers, lights, or sensors while we’re checking your fluids, breaks, and tires. We can take care of it all at once for you. Just get in touch and let us know how we can help with your spring tune-up.


5 Important Spring Car Repair and Maintenance Tasks

Spring is In The Air

The weather is finally starting to warm up. With spring on its way, it’s time to give your car a good checkup from your local mechanic. Car repair and maintenance is a constant process and one you can’t ignore. So, here are a few things you should do to keep your car in top working order this spring.


1. Check the Coolant

No matter how hot the weather is outside, your car’s engine always runs a little bit hotter. During the winter, everything is colder, so your car might not need coolant as much as it does during other times of the year. This is especially true if you live at very high altitudes or are up north. In the summer, though, the temperatures can get very warm and if your engine doesn’t have adequate cooling, just a few degrees is all it takes to fry your engine.

Before the heat waves start rolling in, check with a mechanic and get your coolant systems inspected.


2. Check Your Fluids

Weathering is a natural phenomenon where going from hot to cold and back stresses solids and can cause them to develop cracks. During the winter, when the weather is cold, your engine is constantly heating up and cooling down as you turn it on and off and drive it around. So, come spring, as the weather starts to warm, you want to have a mechanic check up on your fluids to make sure none of them are leaking.

While he’s in there, have him see if any of them need replacing. Moisture, salt, and other substances can get into your fluid pipes during winter and as the weather warms up, they can expand and cause very significant problems to your system.


3. Refill Your Tires

Tire pressure fluctuates with temperature. The cold weather can often mean tires need less air in them to keep their pressure up. It’s a good idea to check your tires in the spring to make sure they have adequate pressure. This is an easy one to do yourself, as any gas station should have the equipment to check and refill your tires.


4. Inspect Your Air Conditioning System

You probably didn’t use your air conditioning during the winter. To make sure the long break hasn’t caused anything to go wrong, you should run your AC for 10-15 minutes to let it clear the air. After you’ve done this, you shouldn’t have any strange odors coming from your air vents and everything should work properly. If you do smell something off, or if anything else seems to not be working, check with a mechanic and get it fixed up.


5. Wax

Wax is used to protect the paint coating on your car. The outer layers of your car are hard to damage (barring an accident), but are harder to replace. A layer of wax gives you some additional protection and will extend the life of your car’s paint job.

However, wax doesn’t last forever. Exactly how long a coat of wax lasts varies depending on the brand, how much you drive, where you park your car, and what kind of usage it sees, but a good rule of thumb is to wax your car at least once per season.


Check With Your Mechanic

While you’re doing these regular updates with your mechanic, consider getting a safety inspection. While safety inspections are no longer mandatory, it’s a good idea to have one anyway. They can identify problems well before they turn into disasters and that saves lives.

If you live in Logan and need a good mechanic, don’t hesitate to drop by our office for a checkup. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. We’ll help you with whatever you need.

safety inspections

Why You Need Safety Inspections

HB 265: Safety Inspections Bill

safety inspectionsIn March of 2017, Utah passed HB 265, which changed the safety inspection laws. Among other things, this law means that you are no longer required to get safety inspections.  These changes went into effect January 1stof this year.  While the government has argued that this will put more money into Utah residents’ pockets, mechanics around the state see things a little differently.  They see this as a potential safety hazard that will, in the long run, cost more money than it will save.


“It Can’t Happen To Me”

We all think that way.  Accidents are things that happen to other people.  We see ourselves as good drivers who take care of their cars.  That’s why so many people don’t get safety inspections unless they’re required. This way of thinking is dangerous. You never know what will go wrong until it does.

Since the senate dropped mandatory safety inspections, state troopers have noticed an increase in unsafe practices.  Many drivers are on the road with cracked windshields, missing headlights, and heavily tinted windows simply because they think the requirement being off means it’s okay.  It’s not safe, though.


Safety Inspections Prevent Problems

Even though the law is changed, mechanics still suggest having safety inspections done regularly, at least once a year.  Basic car maintenance is essential to avoiding trouble.  The inspections will catch things like brake problems, engine trouble, worn-out tires, and so many other things that are surprisingly easy to miss.  The problems often seem minor, as the car still runs, but they quickly get out of hand.


Safety Inspections Save Money and Lives

accidentYou may think that safety inspections are expensive. It’s true they do cost money, but think on this: how much money will a trip to the hospital cost?  Ignoring regular inspections is setting yourself up to have an accident.  What may seem like a minor problem will get worse over time if not caught and corrected. If you’re on the road and your brakes give out, or your tires blow-out, then a crash is likely unavoidable.  Can you afford the medical bills?

Even if you don’t crash, these problems are often cheaper and easier to repair if caught early during a routine inspection.  You can usually repair a minor break problem easily, but if you let it sit, the extra pressure required to use your breaks puts strain on them and can cause them to break down completely.  A quick replacement of a couple parts is far cheaper than replacing your entire brake system.


Safety First

Don’t neglect your safety inspections.  The cost of a routine inspection is nothing compared to the cost of car repairs, or of medical bills due to related crashes. The law may not require you to get them now, but we would still recommend getting one on a regular basis. Better safe than sorry.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had an inspection, then get in touch with us.  We’ll give you a quick and thorough inspection and make sure your vehicle is road ready.


Winter Brakes in Cache Valley

Winter BrakesWill Cache Valley Winter Break Your Brakes?

Well, not really, no.  Not directly.  The winter in Cache Valley is relatively short and it’s not usually bad enough to cause serious issues.  Don’t let that trick you into thinking that there’s no danger, though.  There are still a few problems your brakes might face.


Cache Valley may technically be a desert, but we still get snow and icy roads.  The cities respond by laying down salt and chemicals to melt the ice and reduce chances of accidents from slipping and sliding cars. The problem with this is that salt, when mixed with water, becomes very corrosive.  While you’re out driving on the roads, this salty slush splashes against the bottom of your car.  This can lead to problems with the rotors by making their wear uneven.  If it eats away the seals, it causes leaking fluids, or seizing pistons and calipers.  The gunk can clog up various mechanical parts under your car as well.

While the brief winters in Cache Valley may not be enough to cause serious damage in just one year, if you haven’t had your brakes checked recently, they may be weak enough to fail under the added strain of the extra corrosion.  If they fail, the results could be catastrophic.

Freezing Fluids

We may not be Alaska, but it does still get cold during the winters.  While most car fluidshave a freezing point well bellow the average temperature drops of Cache Valley, that doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about.  If you don’t regularly change your fluids, water and other impurities will get into it over time.  These impurities can definitley freeze inside your lines.  If they do, the expansion can potentially cause them to burst at weak points.  This can be exacerbated by the corrosion caused by all the salt on the roads, too. The combination of the two problems can lead to serious mechanical failures.

What Can I Do?

The solution to these problems is simple. Don’t neglect the maintenance on your breaks.  Before snowfall, give your car a good check-up.  Replace the fluids and check the brakes for any wear and tear.  This should make sure your cars parts are good to last you through the winter.  After spring, do a follow-up inspection and make sure everything is still good. While you’re at it, why have the underside of your car detailed?  Shari from Aatopia Auto Care recommends a good detailing once a year to keep your car in tip-top shape.

Check It Today

If it’s been a while since you last checked your breaks, then get in touch with us today.  Since we offer free brake inspections, it won’t cost you anything just to be safe.  Don’t wait for your brakes to fail you when checking them over beforehand can prevent costly repairs and insurance hikes.  This winter, we’ll be offering a special on brake repair and checkups, so be sure to ask us about it when you call.


5 Common Problems with Motorcycles in Cache Valley

We Love Our Motorcycles

There are a lot of advantages to owning a motorcycle.  Motorcycles are incredibly fuel-efficient and create less pollution, saving you money and keep the air healthy and breathable.  That alone is a good reason, but that’s usually not the reason people get a motorcycle. There’s no denying the sense of freedom and relaxation that comes from riding a motorcycle.

There’s also no denying that there are a number of problems that come up with motorcycles.  In Cache Valley, where cold winters leave them in storage for at least three months, these problems are more common.  Here are the 5 most common problems you can run into and what you can do about them.


Fuel Contamination

Fuel contamination is one of the most common problems motorcyclists in Cache Valley face.  Gasoline doesn’t have the longest of lifespans and breaks down if left stagnant. While this isn’t a problem if you’re using it regularly, the cold winter months in Cache Valley will keep you off the bike.  Sitting in your garage or shop, the fuel will go stale and clog the system.  While there’s nothing you can do about not being able to ride in the winter, you can add fuel stabilizers to the tanks to keep the gas from going bad.  And if you can, try to use up the fuel in your tank just before you put it away for the winter.  That way, when spring comes, you can fill it up with fuel that you know is good.


Dead Batteries

This is another problem that comes up in the winter.  The battery life of a motorcycle is relatively short compared to a car. While this is not a problem for motorcycles that see regular use, the winter break is sometimes all it takes for the battery to die.  Keep a battery charger on hand and hook it up just before you get ready to bring it out for spring.  As a backup, have a couple of spare batteries on hand with your motorcycle accessories, just in case.  That way, you can get right back on as soon as the weather warms up enough.


Worn Tires

Worn tires are a serious problem and could lead to a breakdown or an accident.  The rule of thumb is to replace your tires every 3 years, but remember that’s just a guideline.  Blowouts on a motorcycles are much dangerous than for cars, so don’t take any chances.  Inspect your tires regularly for damage and replace them whenever you spot any signs of problems.  The best way to prevent premature wear is to keep the pressure on your tires at the proper level.  This is another problem that can crop up over the winter, because the cold air will make the air in the tires compress.  This can cause leakage.  Check the pressure each spring before you go on your first ride to make sure the tires are okay.


Poor Chain Lubrication

This is potentially the worst problem you can run into and the one most likely to cause a fatal crash.  If the chain isn’t properly lubricated, it could snap or slip, causing you to skid and crash.  Improper lubrication is another problem more likely to pop up the less you use your motorcycle.  While the motorcycle is sitting, you’re not thinking about its maintenance.  This is an especial problem for the winter months in Cache Valley.  You do not want the chains going bad while you’re on the road.  Make sure that you check the lubrication regularly, and take special care to check on them before you start riding after winter.


Debris in the Interior

Another problem you can run into if you don’t properly maintain your motorcycle is the collection of dirt and debris in the interior.  While not as deadly as the skids and crashes caused by worn tires or broken chains, it will make your motorcycle run poorly.  And again, here in Cache Valley, the winter months make this problem come up more often.  Regular cleaning helps, but who wants to wash a motorcycle during the cold of winter?  Certainly not you, and I don’t blame you.  But while it’s sitting in your garage, it will be gathering dust.  Make sure you wash it before you take it out in the spring.  And make sure you give it regular cleanings while you ride it, as the more you ride, the more debris it collects.


It’s All In Your Hands

The best way to avoid these problems is just to keep up with the maintenance of your motorcycle.  That’s ultimately all up to you.  You have to be the one to remember to take care of your bike’s needs.  That doesn’t mean we can’t help you out, though. If you’ve got any trouble with your motorcycle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’ll help you make sure you keep your motorcycle running smoothly and keep it going for years to come.

car maintenance

5 Car Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

car maintenanceYour car is an expensive investment and should be cared for as such.  Car maintenance is very important in keeping that investment in good condition.  You’ve got to go to a mechanic if something goes wrong, isn’t it better that things not go wrong in the first place?  If you want to save money on repairs, here are five car maintenance mistakes you should learn to avoid.

Ignoring Your Check Engine Light

This is by far the most important.  When the light is on, but there are no obvious issues, it’s easy to ignore the light.   You do so at your own risk.  There are so many parts of the car that the Check Engine light monitors.  It can pick up problems before all but the most highly skilled mechanics could even guess something is wrong.   If the light is on, have your car checked out by an ASE-certified technician.  Ignoring it will lead to costly repairs later on. It may even get you into an accident.

Driving With an Overheating Engine

Engines overheat if they’re being worked too hard or if the cooling system has a problem.  In either case, you need to stop immediately.  Driving on an overheating engine causes serious damage.   The whole engine might need to be replaced if you stress it too far.  It can even cause your engine to burst into flames.  Keep an eye on your temperature gage while driving and if you see it spike, pull over, turn off the engine, and open the hood to ventilate it.  Give yourself at least 20 minutes before you attempt to drive again, and call a tow truck if the problem persists.  For long driving trips, keep a spare gallon of coolant and distilled water on hand.

If you find yourself in a position where stopping is impossible, there are a few steps you can take to keep your car going until it’s safe to stop.  First, turn off your AC.   Then, turn your heat to max hot and the blower fan to high.  This will cool the engine by pulling heat into the passenger compartment.  This will be horribly uncomfortable for those inside, but it will keep the engine going long enough for you to find a safe place to pull off.

Not Checking Tire Pressure

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 1/3 of all the cars on the road are driving with at least one underinflated tire. Underinflated tires allow too much of the tire’s surface area to touch the ground, which creates heat from friction. That heat can cause several problems, including premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts.  Blowouts especially can cause accidents, either from the driver losing control of the vehicle, or other drivers swerving to miss debris launched at them by the blowout.

Many people don’t check the tire pressure unless the tire looks low, but this is a mistake.  Tires can lose much of their pressure and still appear to be mostly inflated.  Manufacturers recommend that you check your tire pressure at least once a month.

Not Checking Wheel Alignment

The wheel alignment isn’t something that you need to do very often if you’re driving on good roads and following safe driving laws.  That makes it easy to overlook.  It’s easy for the wheel alignment to be thrown off. If you regularly drive on poorly maintained roads, hit potholes, or run over a curb, you should check your alignment and have your tires rotated.  This helps you prevent uneven tread wear, which improves the lifespan of your tires and saves you a lot of money in the long run.  Even if you don’t do anything obvious to put your wheels out of alignment, you should still check them at least once every 6,000 miles.

Not Checking Fluid Levels

Everybody knows that it’s important to check the oil – though many people still forget to do it regularly – but that’s not the only fluid that needs checking.  There are five major fluids that you should check on as a part of regular car maintenance. Engine oil keeps all the parts moving smoothly and prevents damage from friction.  Coolant helps the engine stay cool (see section 2 for why that’s important). Power steering fluid helps your car turn more smoothly, giving you better control of the vehicle.  Break fluid gives the breaks power to stop your car.  You should also check your windshield washer fluid regularly.  A dirty windshield is hard to see through and can lead to accidents.

Do not neglect any of these fluids.  A shortage of any one of them is an accident waiting to happen.

Car Maintenance Matters

Cars are an expensive investment and you want them to last.  You can extend the lives of our cars by not overlooking the small details.  Check up on these five things regularly if you want to enjoy your car for years to come. And if you do have a problem, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We at S&E Performance are ready to help you with all your car maintenance needs.