Why Does My Tire Pressure Light Come On When It’s Cold?

Low tire pressure light.           Photo by Machalov is licensed under CC BY 3.0

It’s a bitter cold morning in January. You start your car and this icon lights up on your dashboard. It’s the low tire pressure light. What’s wrong? How did your tire go flat over night? And do you need to get air?

What the Light Means

Cars built after 2008 are required to have sensors in the tire that measure the tire’s air pressure. The light comes on if the pressure in your tire drops to 25% below the recommended pressure, according to Edmunds. How Stuff Works points out that the sensor can be off by as much as two pounds per square inch, but that’s far from enough to make your tire 25% low. If the light comes on then your tires are probably too soft. That can cause tire squealing, poor handling, and increased tire wear.

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Announcing the 1A Auto Empower Sweepstakes!

It’s that time of year for New Year’s resolutions! We’ve got one more we could suggest for you that’ll help you build skill and confidence, and it might even win you $500.

Build New Skills in the New Year

For a lot of people, January is a time for self-improvement. Maybe you’re trying to build confidence by getting in shape or independence by getting a handle on your budget.

At 1A Auto, we encourage people to fix their own cars, and we love to see people build confidence and independence by learning how.

We want to see you show off new skills and a new repair you did yourself—even if you’ve never worked on a car before.

The 1A Auto Empower Sweepstakes

It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who’s never turned a wrench or if you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer. We believe there’s a repair out there for everyone. Just take a photo or video and submit it for a chance to win a $500 gift card to 1aauto.com. Be one of the first 100 entries and you’ll also receive a free t-shirt.

Not sure how to start your repair? Need a few tips and tricks? We have thousands of how-to videos that can help you out. From universal tips to model-specific step-by-steps for many of the most popular cars on the road, our how-to videos can be your guide to finishing the repair.

How to Enter

It just takes three easy steps to enter the contest.

  1. Watch our videos, gather your tools, and do the repair.
  2. Take a photo or a quick video to show off your hard work and accomplishments.
  3. Upload your photo, fill out the sweepstakes entry form, and send it in.

You have until March 1 to show us what you can do. We’re looking forward to seeing what you can accomplish!

Enter the 1A Auto Empower Sweepstakes Here

How 1A Auto Helped Me Fix My Chevy’s Heat

I know just enough about cars to be dangerous. Well, that isn’t true—it’s my blind confidence that makes me dangerous. So when the heat went out on my Chevy Avalanche that I purchased a week before, I knew I wanted to fix it myself.

I have a 2003 Chevy Avalanche 1500 and the fan abruptly stopped working for both heat and A/C. It was a chilly ride home from Home Depot, that’s for sure!

Diagnosing the Cause of my Chevy Heat Failure

Trying to diagnose why the heater stopped blowing air, I turned to 1A Auto. I read an article on the 1A Blog about A/C failure. It was a thorough article on generic A/C issues but also covered when the fan stops working entirely, so I thought I could get some insight.

After removing the blower motor, I confirmed about 12v coming out of a 2 pin connector. I also hooked the motor directly to the battery and the fan started spinning, so I knew the problem wasn’t the blower motor. I didn’t have a way to test AMPs going through the wire when I changed the resistance. At this point, I assumed the problem was with the control panel but wasn’t sure how to troubleshoot it.

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6 Things Shady Mechanics Don’t Want You to Know

A trusted mechanic can be a great resource for car repairs. “Trusted” is the key word there. As with any business, there are some mechanics who will put a quick buck ahead of what’s best for you, the customer. We’ve pretty much all dealt with someone like that at some point. The best way to protect yourself is by educating yourself so you can make more of your own decisions. Here are some things you should know, even if your mechanic doesn’t want you to.

1. They Don’t Have Automotive ESP

Mechanics don’t have psychic powers that tell them what’s wrong with your car. You can apply some of the same skills the pros use to diagnose your own problems. A good mechanic knows plenty of tests to find out what went wrong with your car, and although you may not reach the level of expertise of a pro mechanic, you can definitely learn some basic tests.

First, if your check engine light comes on, a mechanic will use a device called an OBD scanner to check for trouble codes that will point out the problem. You don’t have to take your car to a shop to get it scanned, though. Many parts stores will rent you a scanner, or you can buy one, sometimes for as low as $20. If you have an older car with frequent problems, an OBD scanner can be a good investment.

You can also learn how to test parts for wear and tear yourself. You can easily visually inspect brakes for wear and you can test suspension parts like hubs and struts by hand.

In some cases, your shop is just trying to figure out your problem by educated trial and error. They may try one part see if it works, and move on from there. Of course, with a little know-how about your car’s various parts and symptoms, you could do your own process of trial and error much cheaper, as our DJ Butler describes. No, it’s not the ideal way to fix your car, but sometimes it’s your least worst option. Read More

7 New Year Resolutions for Your Car

Two mechanics working on car part

The new year brings a new opportunity for some lasting changes. While it’s always a good idea to work on ourselves, working on our cars can also set you up to have a great year.

When you work on your car, you not only save money, but you also gain experience, learn more about your car, create confidence to do other repairs, and feel accomplished. You’ll also learn how easy some repairs are and wonder why you never tried them before.

Tackle basic repairs

There are plenty of easy repairs you can do that only take minutes. Changing windshield wiper blades, filters, spark plugs, and on some cars the headlights and tail lights, are so easy you’ll wonder why you ever paid to have them done for you to begin with.

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Do I Really Need to Warm Up My Car?

rear view mirror covered in snow

If you live in a cold climate, you’ve probably heard how essential it is to let your engine warm up before driving.  You might even be in the habit yourself.  But is it really necessary?

It turns out that there’s a lot of debate on that subject. Some say letting the engine warm up will make it run better and will reduce engine wear. Others say that leaving the car idling in the driveway wastes gas and is bad for the environment. Of course, some people just don’t like to sit in a cold car.

The Case Against Warming Up Your Car

The Environmental Protection Agency does not want you idling your car much.  Their primary concern is the carbon dioxide and other exhaust gasses that the car gives off while idling.  The engine is also at its least efficient when it’s idling.  It’s using gas without going anywhere, so, as Chris M0oney at the Washington Post points out, you’re getting 0 miles per gallon.  The engine also tends to run richer, using more gas, when it’s cold.  Over time that puts a hit on your wallet.  The rich running can also put more strain on your catalytic converter, which might mean you have to replace it sooner.

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Tips You Should Know About Strapping a Christmas Tree to Your Car

Blue van with christmas tree tied to hood
Ole Betsy, the family van doin’ what she does best

Growing up, once a year we’d collectively jump in the van to go pick out the family tree. This was an important decision. You had to pick one that wasn’t too plump and wasn’t too bare, and also one that was tall enough to fit the tree-topper on without scraping our 9 foot ceiling. It couldn’t be too short either, because we had lots of garland and ornaments to put on, and if it was too small our dog would steal the softer, lower hanging fruit and bury them off somewhere.

Usually we’d just drive down to the local flower shop and peruse the trees, debating over minor issues like our perceived height of it and its plumpness. We kept doing this until we grew tired and finally agreed on one that was “good enough”.

Thankfully, we’ve never had a mishap. Our van, Betsy, is at almost 200,000 miles and she’s still going strong. She’s never left a tree stranded on the road, and honestly, that’s how it should be.

Tie It with Sturdy Material

For everyone’s safety on the road, you can face serious fines for having an unsecured tree or one that obstructs your vision.

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