Car Shaking After a Snowstorm? Here’s Why & How to Fix It

 

It’s common to feel your car shaking while driving after a snowstorm. Many people experience vibration in the steering wheel, the seat, or underneath the car. You might not even feel it until you pick up some speed. This can be alarming and sometimes a little scary, but the cause is usually benign.

Why Your Car Vibrates

The vibration comes from snow and ice stuck in the wheels. The snow acts as a weight and throws off the balance of the tires while driving, wobbling them up and down or front and back, wherever the snow is. Yes, snow is light, but it takes less than an ounce of added weight to throw off your tire’s balance.

If you feel vibration in the steering wheel, seat, or chassis, the tires likely have too much snow in them. Vibrations felt in the steering wheel usually come from snow in the front tires, and vibrations felt in the seat usually come from snow in the rear tires.

Driving on unbalanced tires can wear out the suspension and steering parts over time and make for an unpleasant drive.  It’s best to pull over in a safe spot and fix it, especially if you’re driving a long distance.

How to Fix the Vibration

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Do I Need Premium Gas?

Gas station Does your car recommend you use premium gas? Or if it doesn’t, when you’re pumping your regular gas, do you ever wonder if you would get a boost by paying for high-test? Or have you ever had an old-school car guy tell you that you need to run premium sometimes to clean out your gas tank?

There’s a lot of confusion out there about premium gas, what it’s good for, and who does or doesn’t need it. So, let’s clear things up once and for all.

Why Do Some Cars Use Premium Gas?

Some cars either recommend that you use premium gas or require it. Many cars will have a sticker inside the fuel door that tells you if it recommends or requires premium gas. You can always check your owner’s manual.

So why would you need premium gas? Cars that call for premium gas tend to either have high compression engines or forced induction (supercharging or turbocharging). That means that the fuel and air is under very high pressure in the combustion chamber. That’s one way to make a high-powered engine.

High compression and forced induction introduce their own complications. High pressure (along with heat building up in the engine) can cause the gas to combust before it should. That’s called pre-ignition, detonation, or engine knocking. Knocking can cause damage to engine components, especially if it recurs over a long time. You can recognize knocking as a metal-on-metal “pinging” sound under the hood.

You may have noticed the different octane ratings on the fuel pump: usually numbers like 87 for regular, 89 for mid-grade, and 92 (or thereabouts) for premium. A higher octane rating means that the gas is less likely to pre-ignite.

Which Cars Require Premium?

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My Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas & How I Fixed It

A few months ago, my 2007 Hyundai Accent had a bizarre problem. After I filled it up at the gas station, it would not start unless I depressed the gas pedal while cranking.

Other days it started right up, but any amount of fresh gas created start-up problems. It didn’t matter how much gas was in the tank, and there was no check engine light or codes.

Turns out this also happened to others that own Accents and Sonatas, and there could be a few fixes.

Troubleshooting Different Gas Fill-Up Scenarios

I work with some knowledgeable people here at 1A Auto, so after sharing this with them, a few experts gave me a some “tests” to try first to make sure there wasn’t an outside cause.

Before spending money on parts, here are the scenarios I tested for:

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

low tire pressure light symbol
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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How 1A Auto Helped Me Fix My Chevy’s Heat

Disclaimer: That is definitely not me featured in the video above.

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