Lights. Dashboard. Action?

Understanding dashboard warning lights is crucial for every driver. But what does it mean when one of those nebulous symbols begins to glow? Is it a warning that maintenance is needed soon, or a warning that if you don’t stop right now your car’s engine is in mortal danger? How do you know?!

Here’s a basic guide.

warning lights of your car dashboard

Check the Color!
Red Warning Lights: These require immediate action. If you see any red lights, address the issue promptly. Examples include the engine oil warning light (indicating low oil pressure) and the check engine light (signaling various engine problems).

Orange/Amber Warning Lights: These are just advisory signals. They indicate situations or issues that need attention. For instance, the low tire pressure light (exclamation point inside a half-circle) means your tires need air. Find a safe spot to stop and inspect them.

Green or Blue Lights: These remind you that a feature or system is operating normally. No immediate action is needed.

Check the Manual, or…
For more specific information on what the lights mean, check your owner’s manual. You can also use a smartphone to do an image search.

Or you can call us. “My car has a yellow light with an exclamation point and a squiggly line under it” may not mean much to you, but we know it means that you need to check your tire pressure.

One HUGE word of warning. Remember, when your check engine light illuminates, don’t ignore it—get it checked out promptly! We’re warning you. That light on your dashboard needs immediate action. So give us a call!

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ADAS: It’s Like a Co-Pilot for Safety

ADAS for your car

Car manufacturers and government regulators are always looking for ways to keep you and your vehicle safe. That’s why Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) were created. An ADAS enhances your driving experience and protects you, kind of like having a co-pilot.

What Exactly Is ADAS? ADAS stands for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems. These are cutting-edge technologies designed to assist help you drive safely. There are several ways that an ADAS helps…

Sensors and Cameras:

ADAS relies on sensors, cameras, and other smart tech to monitor your surroundings.
These systems detect obstacles, lane markings, pedestrians, and potential hazards.

Safety Features:

ADAS includes a range of safety features:

Adaptive Cruise Control: Adjusts your speed based on traffic flow.
Lane Departure Warning: Alerts you if you drift out of your lane.
Automatic Emergency Braking: Slams the brakes if a collision is imminent.
Blind Spot Monitoring: Keeps an eye on those sneaky blind spots.
Traffic Sign Recognition: Reads speed limits and other signs.
Parking Assistance: Helps you squeeze into tight spots.

Levels of Autonomy:

ADAS can enable various levels of autonomous driving. From basic warnings to semi-autonomous maneuvers, it’s all about making driving safer.

Most road accidents happen due to human error. ADAS minimizes that risk by acting as your vigilant co-driver. Studies show that ADAS significantly reduces road fatalities. It’s like having an extra set of eyes (or several) on the road.

Of course, just like you need to visit the doctor, your co-pilot needs regular check-ups. Our mechanics ensure that your ADAS systems are calibrated and functioning optimally.

Our Commitment to Your Safety You trust us to keep your vehicle safe and reliable. When you bring your car to us, rest assured that we understand ADAS inside out. From recalibrating sensors to diagnosing issues, we’ve got you covered.

So, next time you hit the road, that your ADAS is like a co-pilot. Norris and your ADAS help you arrive safely at your destination!

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Rooting for our Community Champions

Our primary business is fixing engines and changing oil, but for a long time, but we have a secondary passion – youth sports! For more years than we can count, we’ve been sponsoring local youth sports teams. At Norris, we love kids, and we love baseball and soccer and basketball! We love to cheer from the sidelines, and we’re grateful we can provide financial support, too.

Mike Norris, our owner, is a mechanic with a heart of gold. He once played Little League himself. He knows firsthand the camaraderie, discipline, and life lessons that youth sports imparts. He loves to keep that tradition alive.

We love to see the kids gain that sense of belonging and being on a team. We love the values that it instills.  The players proudly wear jerseys with the garage’s logo, and when they step onto the field or court, we like to think they play with a little extra determination, knowing that someone believes in them.

If you look real closely at the faces of the players, you may just see family resemblance to some of the Norris and Elite Motor Car employees. Listen to the parents yelling from the bleachers, you’ll probably recognize the voices!

So, next time you drive by Norris Automotive, remember that it’s not just about fixing cars; it’s about fixing hearts and building dreams. 

Here are a few of the teams we’ve sponsored through the years.

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“What’s Up with Your Engine? The Lowdown on…Hesitation.”

engine block

We’ve all been there, that frustrating moment when your engine – um – hesitates – and stutters. Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Engine hesitation is one of those quirks that can leave you scratching your head and wondering what’s going on under the hood.

So, why exactly is your engine hesitating?

Fuel Delivery Woes: When there’s a hiccup in fuel delivery, such as a clogged fuel filter or a faulty fuel pump, your engine might hesitate as it struggles to get the proper amount of fuel. It’s like trying to run on an empty tank.

Ignition Troubles: Your engine’s ignition system can sometimes feel like it’s trying to get up the courage to ask someone out. Faulty spark plugs, damaged ignition coils, or a misfiring distributor can lead to incomplete combustion, causing your engine to hesitate as it tries to find its rhythm.

Airflow Snags: Your engine needs the perfect balance of air and fuel to perform at its best. Any disruptions in this airflow, like a dirty air filter or a vacuum leak, can throw off this delicate equilibrium and leave your engine stumbling and hesitating like a novice on a tightrope.

Sensor Shenanigans: Modern engines are equipped with a ton of sensors that monitor everything from air intake to exhaust emissions. If one of these sensors goes rogue – say, a malfunctioning oxygen sensor or mass airflow sensor – it can send mixed signals to your engine’s computer, resulting in hesitation as it tries to make sense of the chaos.

Of course, knowing which of the above is the culprit to your shy engine is still a question. Whether it’s a simple fix like replacing a worn-out spark plug or a more complex issue requiring diagnostic wizardry, bring your engine to Norris Automotive. Our team of skilled technicians is ready to get your engine purring like a contented kitten once again.

You know that prevention is the best medicine, and keeping up with regular maintenance can go a long way in warding off engine hesitation to start with. So, don’t skimp on those oil changes, air filter replacements, and tune-ups!

Do you still have questions? Don’t – um – hesitate to give us a call! We’ll turn your shy, stuttery engine into a confident machine that will transport you and your family safely and efficiently.

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Taking the Suspense Out of Your Car’s Suspension.

auto suspension

Suspense is fine for movies, gender reveals, and lottery tickets. But when it comes to the things that keep your vehicle up and running, being in suspense is not a good thing. That includes knowing about your car’s suspension.

What is a Car’s Suspension? Simply put, your car’s suspension is the complex network of springs, shock absorbers, and linkages that connects your vehicle to its wheels. It’s responsible for a smooth ride, ensuring that road bumps and potholes don’t send you and your groceries bouncing around in your seat.

Why is Suspension Important? The suspension system has two primary roles. First, it absorbs the energy from road irregularities, so you’re not feeling every single bump and dip. It also keeps your tires firmly planted on the road, which is vital for safe steering, braking, and overall stability.

Types of Suspension Systems. There are several types of suspension systems. Leaf Springs are often found in older cars and heavy-duty vehicles. Coil springs are the most common type of suspension system, giving you a good balance of comfort and control. If you have a luxury vehicle, it may have air suspension, which offers a supremely smooth ride, often seen in luxury cars.

Signs of Suspension Problems. Keep an ear out for unusual noises or a change in ride quality. If your car continues to bounce after hitting a bump, it’s time for a check-up. Uneven tire wear could indicate misaligned suspension components. If your car drifts or pulls to one side during turns, the suspension might be to blame.

Maintenance Tips. There are a few things you can do to keep your suspension in tip-top shape. First off, don’t overload your car; it puts extra stress on the suspension. Avoid potholes and rough roads when possible to reduce wear and tear. And finally, have your suspension checked by a pro (you know, like Norris Automotive!) regularly.

Remember, your car’s suspension is key to a comfortable and safe driving experience. If you suspect any issues, swing by our garage. We won’t keep you in suspense. We’ll get you back to cruising smoothly in no time!

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Aftermarket Parts – Pros and Cons

Today’s auto parts market is competitive – and international. Vehicle owners and garages often can often choose between new and used original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and aftermarket parts. We’d like to help you understand the pros and cons of using aftermarket parts, so that you can make an informed decision.

Pros of Aftermarket Parts:

  1. Cost-Effective: Aftermarket parts are generally less expensive than OEM parts, sometimes by a significant margin.
  2. Variety: A wider selection is available, giving you more options to find the part that suits your needs and budget.
  3. Quality: While quality can vary, many aftermarket parts are comparable to, or even exceed, the quality of OEM parts.

Cons of Aftermarket Parts:

  1. Overwhelming Selection: The vast array of options can be confusing, making it harder to choose the right part for your specific vehicle model.
  2. Variable Quality: Not all aftermarket parts are created equal, and some may not match the quality of their OEM counterparts.
  3. Potential Fit Issues: Some aftermarket parts may not fit as seamlessly as OEM parts, leading to additional adjustments or compatibility issues.

At Norris, we prioritize your car’s health and your satisfaction. We’re here to guide you through the selection process, ensuring you get the best part for your vehicle. Whether you opt for the affordability of aftermarket parts or the reliability of OEM parts, we’ve got you covered.

Remember, the road to the perfect car part is paved with knowledge. Drive confidently into your next repair or upgrade with the facts in hand, and Norris Automotive, as your roadmap!

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Kelley Blue Book and You. And Us.

At Norris, we know a lot about cars, which means we also know a lot about Kelley Blue Book (KBB). Since 1926, KBB has been the go-to resource in the automotive industry. It offers a range of services, assisting consumers like you and professionals like us in determining the fair market value of vehicles. Using data from dealerships, auctions, private sales, and industry experts, KBB analyzes factors such as make, model, year, mileage, condition, and geographic location.

Three primary values are typically provided by KBB:

Trade-In Value: This represents the amount a dealer might offer for a vehicle if the owner decides to trade it in. Generally lower than the private party sale value, it accounts for the dealer’s need to resell the car for a profit.
Private Party Value: This figure indicates the price one might expect to receive when selling a vehicle to another individual. It typically falls between the trade-in and dealer retail values.
Dealer Retail Value: Often referred to as the “asking price,” this value reflects what one might expect to pay for the same vehicle at a dealership. It tends to be higher than the private party value due to additional costs such as dealership overhead and profit margins.

We usually advise customers to utilize KBB as a starting point when negotiating to buy or sell, with the caveat that KBB values are estimates only. Things like a vehicle’s condition, maintenance history, and local market demand can significantly influence its true worth.

Kelley Blue Book serves as an invaluable resource in the automotive market, to our customers when they are navigating the buying and selling process. At Norris, we’re a resource for car sales, too. We can help you evaluate a vehicle that you’re thinking of purchasing. PRO Tip: If you’re selling a vehicle, ask us about Elite Motor Cars, our sister company.

If you’re getting ready to sell your car or truck, we can help you get your vehicle in its best condition, so you in turn can get the very best price at the sale. Kelly Blue Book and Norris Automotive – both great resources to have on your team!

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Foggy Windows in The Spring

As the weather warms up and spring arrives, you’re going to have foggy windows in your car. Whether it’s during early mornings or after a sudden rain shower, foggy windows can hinder visibility and make driving uncomfortable. But fear not! Here are some practical steps to tackle this issue:

Foggy on Why This Happens? In a word, it’s condensation. Foggy windows occur due to condensation forming on the inside of your car’s glass. Warm air from your breath, body heat, and wet clothing meets the cooler window surface, leading to misty windows. In the morning, the air outside your car is colder than the air inside, creating water vapor which then condenses into droplets leaving behind foggy, damp glass.

Clearing Up the Fog. Here are some suggestions to help you clear the moisture off your windshield.

Activate your car’s heater and front defrost. Warm air can hold more moisture, helping to clear the fog.

Turn on the AC to reduce humidity. The AC removes moisture from the air as it passes over the cooling coils.

Avoid Recirculation. Switch off the recirculation button. Fresh outside air is less humid, preventing further condensation.

Keep Windows Clean. Dirt particles and residue on the glass make it easier for condensation to form. Regularly clean both the inside and outside of your car’s windows using lint-free materials.

Ventilation. Crack a window slightly to balance humidity and temperature between the interior and exterior of your car. Proper ventilation helps prevent excessive condensation.

We know you’re not so foggy that you don’t know that windows are essential for safe driving. Follow these tips, and enjoy a fog-free view as you cruise into spring!

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How to Extend the Life of Your Transmission

If your car were a person, your car’s transmission would be the heart. Whether you’re behind the wheel of an automatic or a manual vehicle, taking care of your transmission can significantly prolong its life. Here are some tips to keep your transmission healthy.

Warm Up
It’s never good to start exercising without warm ups. Cold transmission fluid can slow down gear engagement. Give your car a couple of minutes to warm up before hitting the road.

Keep Cool
Remember that high temperatures affect both your engine and transmission. Regularly maintain your cooling system to prevent overheating. Proper coolant levels and a well-functioning radiator are essential.

Push Park
Engage the parking brake, especially when parked on hills. Avoid stressing the parking pawl and other transmission components. A little extra care goes a long way.

Be Easy
Aggressive driving accelerates wear and tear on your transmission. Opt for smooth acceleration and gentle shifts. Even when your car is at operating temperature, avoid hard-driving habits that can shorten its lifespan.

Downshift Thoughtfully
Downshifting can prevent brake overheating, especially on hilly terrain. However, excessive downshifting can strain your transmission. Strike the right balance between engine braking and minimizing wear.

Full Stop
Before changing directions (such as shifting from “Park” to “Reverse”), bring your vehicle to a complete stop. Moving while shifting places unnecessary stress on your transmission.

Check Up
Even sealed transmissions require attention. Come see us regularly so we can check fluids and filters, replacing as needed. Proper maintenance ensures optimal performance and longevity.

Remember, a well-maintained transmission not only keeps your car running smoothly but also contributes to your overall driving experience. When you take care of your transmission, you extend its life, and the life of your car. At Norris Automotive, we’re here to help you keep your whole vehicle in tip top condition. Just think of us as your primary care provider for your car!

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When to Repair vs. Replace Your Car: A Practical Guide

At Norris, we can fix pretty much anything. But we’re realistic, too. Eventually, you’ll face the decision: repair or replace? Here are some practical ways to help you make that choice:

  1. Cost of Repairs vs. Car Value:
    • When the cost of repairs or ongoing maintenance exceeds the actual value of your car, it’s time to consider a replacement.
    • Older cars tend to require more expensive repairs, so keep an eye on those repair bills.
  2. Safety Considerations:
    • Older cars lack modern safety features found in new vehicles, such as advanced airbags, stability control, and rearview cameras.
    • If your car is showing its age and safety is a concern, it might be time to upgrade.
  3. Fuel Efficiency:
    • As cars age, their fuel efficiency tends to decline.
    • If your car is guzzling gas and mileage is suffering, consider a replacement. Newer models are more fuel-efficient.
  4. Future Repairs:
    • Look beyond the current repair. Ask yourself: What’s likely to break next?
    • Ask us to help you assess looming problems and estimate future repair costs.
  5. 50-Percent Rule:
    • Use the “50-percent rule”: When repairs cost 50 percent of your car’s value, it’s time to replace.
    • Determine your car’s worth using tools like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.
  6. Parts Availability:
    • If parts for your car are becoming scarce or expensive, it may be time to move on.
    • Newer cars have readily available parts and better reliability.
  7. Habitual Repairs:
    • If your car has been nickel-and-diming you for years, it’s time to evaluate.
    • Repeatedly repairing an aging car may not be cost-effective.
  8. Safety Features:
    • Consider the safety features in newer cars: blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warnings, and collision alerts.
    • These features enhance safety and reduce the risk of accidents.
  9. Engine and Transmission:
    • If your car needs a new engine or transmission, it’s a significant expense.
    • Evaluate whether it’s worth investing in major repairs.
  10. Trade-In or Retail Value:
    • Know what your car is worth before making repair decisions.
    • Use online tools to estimate trade-in or retail value.

Remember, the decision to repair or replace depends on your individual circumstances. If you’re doing a lot of the repairs yourself, you may be able to keep your car longer. Whether you choose to pamper your old car or invest in a new one, Norris Automotive is right here to help you!

PS Trying to decide on a used vehicle? Read this guide to deciding on a car with less mileage or less age.

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