Are All-Season Tires Good For Snow?

Do you need a dedicated snow tire? Will all-seasons work in the snow? This common tire question gets asked by many drivers as winter approaches. Tires have a variety of different tread patterns and rubber compounds that make them more effective in certain road conditions. Understanding these differences can help you decide whether you need a committed winter tire or if an all-season will work for you.

What conditions are all-season tires good for?

All-season tires offer some of the smoothness and comfort of a summer tire with some of the traction of a true winter tire. They offer better traction on variable roads but retain comfort and better fuel economy that winter tires lack. In general, all-seasons work well on wet roads, mild winter weather, and temperatures at or above 45° F.

The rubber compound is impacted by temperature

One of the main reasons all-season tires are not as effective in cold, wintery conditions is because of the rubber compound they use. Below 45° F, the rubber gets significantly stiffer. With less flexibility, the tire does not offer the same level of grip. Combine this with ice, snow, and slush, and the tire becomes much more likely to break traction.

Winter tires use a rubber compound that retains its flexibility in sustained cold temperatures. Because of this, snow tires can provide effective traction on snow and ice regardless of temperature.

Tire construction allows for more traction

Winter and snow tires are designed differently than all-season and summer tires. They typically have wider, deeper, and more jagged tread that gets better purchase on snow and ice. Snow tires also have significantly more siping. Sipes are small slits in rubber tread blocks. When you drive, the sipes open up, moving slush and water out of the tire’s contact patch. They allow for drastically improved traction on variable roads.

Should I get winter tires?

It all depends on where you live and the conditions you drive in. If you live in a place that sees regular heavy snow and extended periods of freezing temperatures, snow tires are highly recommended. Every trip you make in the winter will be safer for you and those around you.

If you live in an area that is a bit milder, but you frequently make trips into the mountains for skiing or other activities, snow tires are still your best bet. While you may not need the extra traction at home or during the week, having it when you are driving a hazardous mountain will ensure you don’t get stuck or go off the road.

Lastly, if you live in an area that stays mild in the winter with light snow and a few days of really cold weather, all-season tires may be a better option. If you do not need the extra traction, the fuel economy and comfort of an all-season will be beneficial.

tire in snow

Isn’t changing between summer and winter tires a pain?

Not having to change tires twice a year is what makes all-seasons so appealing to so many drivers. While it may seem inconvenient, there are things you can do to make the change over less of a hassle.

Use a set of winter wheels

Purchasing a set of inexpensive wheels to mount your winter tires on will make your yearly tire change easier. Instead of removing a set of tires from the wheels and mounting another set, you simply have to swap out the “summer wheels” for the “winter wheels”. Having a set of inexpensive winter wheels also protects the expensive alloys your car may have from corrosion due to road salts/other debris.

Time your tire changes with vehicle service

Instead of making an appointment just to get your tires changed in the fall and spring, have it done when your vehicle is getting an oil change, brake service, or other regular maintenance. It’s a good idea to service your vehicle before and after winter anyway!

Yearly changeovers extend the life of your tires

Having a set of summer and winter tires means they are each used for half the year. This extends the life of your tires, meaning you won’t have to buy new ones for several seasons.

Come visit the tire experts at Matson Point S! 

Utah drivers should have a set of proper snow tires to handle the winter weather we see in our state. If you need help selecting the best winter tire for your car or budget, or need to schedule a tire changeover, give us a call, or schedule an appointment. Our skilled technicians will make sure your car is ready for the winter.

How Do I Check the Transmission Fluid In My Car

Most drivers know the importance of checking the engine oil level in their car regularly. This habit can help you identify leaks and prevent engine damage. Checking transmission fluid levels is another important routine maintenance item that lets you keep tabs on the condition of your vehicle and stay ahead of damage and expensive repairs.

You don’t need to be a mechanic to keep an eye on the fluid levels in your vehicle. Checking your transmission fluid is an easy task you should add to your other vehicle maintenance routines.

Why Should I Check My Transmission Fluid?

For the same reason, you check your engine oil. Transmission fluid lubricates and cools the moving components within your automatic transmission, allowing it to reliably shift gears while you drive.

Prepare To Check

Get a paper towel or white rag and put on some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Park your car on a flat surface and start it. Let it get up to temperature, then pop the hood (the hood latch is normally found on the left-hand side of the driver’s footwell).

Set the emergency brake and put the transmission in the park. With the car still on, get out and open the hood. Be careful, components under the hood can be very hot.

Yellow transmission dipstick handle

Find The Transmission Dipstick

Depending on the orientation of your motor, the transmission dipstick may be toward the back of the engine or to the sides of it. On some vehicles, the dipstick will be marked. Don’t mistake the oil dipstick for the transmission one.

The transmission dipstick is further back than the oil dipstick

Check The Condition Of The Transmission Fluid

Next, lay the dipstick back on the white cloth of the paper towel and observe the color of the transmission fluid. The condition of the fluid can be indicative of the condition of your transmission. New, healthy transmission fluid will have a red or pink color. Fluid that is on the brink of needing replacement may appear brownish-red.

Dipstick covered in pink transmission fluid

Black transmission fluid may mean you have a more serious issue. Brown or black fluid may have a burnt smell, which is never a good sign. If you see metal shavings in your transmission fluid, get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. Metal in the transmission fluid indicates a much more serious issue.

Pink transmission fluid on paper

Keep Track Of Your Transmission Fluid Level Over Time

Regularly checking your transmission fluid will allow you to stay on top of leaks and consumption issues. If the fluid was low, continue to check weekly to get an idea of how quickly your transmission is leaking or consuming fluid. Always look on the ground where you were parked for signs of leaking fluid.

Time For Transmission Service? Come To Matson Point S!

Like the engine, the transmission requires proper lubrication to function properly. Keeping track of your transmission fluid is a good preventative maintenance practice that takes very little time. If it turns out you need a fluid change or other transmission services, give Matson Point S a call or schedule an appointment online. Our team of skilled technicians would be happy to take a look!

What Does a Bad Wheel Bearing Sound Like?

Hearing any abnormal noise while you drive is stressful. With so many moving parts making up your car, it can be nearly impossible to tell where that humming, whining, or whirring noise is coming from. A common issue that many drivers run into is a failing wheel bearing, which can present in a variety of ways. While many potential issues can cause an unusual noise while you drive, a bad wheel bearing is one possibility.

First, what is a wheel bearing?

Wheel bearings are a set of steel balls contained in a lubricated metal ring located in the hub. They support the weight of your vehicle and allow the wheels to rotate freely while you drive. In normal conditions, the bearing accomplishes this without making any excessive noise. If the grease lubricant escapes the bearing or debris as water or sand enters it, the bearing will wear out and fail quickly.

inside of a wheel bearing with metal balls

What sound does a bad wheel bearing make?

Being part of the hub assembly, noise caused by a bad wheel bearing will only occur when you are moving. The sound may increase or decrease when you pick up speed or go around a turn. Paying attention to changes in noise or volume when going around corners. These changes can give insight into which side has gone failed. A bad wheel bearing can make any of the following noises depending on the cause or severity of the failure:

  • Humming
  • Grinding
  • Grating
  • Clicking (when turning)
  • Growling
  • Howling

Remember, a bad bearing will make the same noises no matter what road surface you are on. If you hear a noise that changes when you get on a more smooth or more rough road, you might be hearing tire noise.

A bad wheel bearing only makes noise when the car is moving

If the noise you are hearing continues when you come to a stop, it is likely not caused by a bad wheel bearing. To produce noise, the wheels of your car need to be rotating.

That being said, when you are moving, the sound will not cut in or out. If you only hear a noise when you are accelerating, decelerating, or braking, there may be another drivetrain issue. 

Can I drive if my wheel bearing is making noise? 

The short answer is no. You should not drive your vehicle if you believe you have bad wheel bearing. The long answer is yes, but with the understanding that driving with a failed or failing wheel bearing can lead to serious safety issues as well as severe damage to your car.

A lot of the time, your car may not feel any different when the bearing is making noise. It’s easy to overlook or put off an issue that is not directly impacting your daily driving.

Your car is not as stable

When the bearing fails and comes apart, it will cause play in the wheel. This can lead to severe instability when driving at high speeds and can come on suddenly if the bearing completely fails while you drive.

The brake pedal can by soft

The brake discs on your car are part of the rotating assembly connected to the hub and wheel bearing. When your wheel bearing has failed to the point of lateral play, the disc will no longer be aligned correctly. This means when you press the pedal, it may feel soft and take longer for your car to stop.

The wheel can come off

This is an extreme case, but if you drive on a bad wheel bearing for long enough, the wheel could come off. If this were to happen on the freeway or at high speeds, it could be catastrophic for you, your car, and other drivers.

Get your wheel bearing replaced at Matson Point S!

When in doubt, bring your car to a technician. When it comes to wheel bearings, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you aren’t sure whether the sound you are hearing is a bad wheel bearing, the technicians at Matson Point S will take a look and let you know exactly what is wrong with your car. Give us a call or schedule an appointment at our Riverton, Utah location today!

How do I check the oil level in my car?

Without oil, the moving components in your engine will fail. The oil keeps metal components lubricated, reducing friction and dissipating heat. Keeping your engine oil level full will protect it from damage, saving you from expensive repairs and time without your car.

Older cars tend to burn oil due to wear and tear on engine components. The seals and gaskets in old vehicles are more likely to leak oil as well. While the amount of oil lost due to leaks and burning may not be noticeable day to day, over weeks or months it can put your engine at risk of disaster.

Getting in the habit of checking your oil regularly whether you drive an old car or a new one is a good way to gauge the condition of your vehicle and will allow you to provide more information to your mechanic or service advisor when you bring it in to the shop.

When should I check my oil?

The best time to check your oil level is when your car has been shut off for at least 5-10 minutes. Your engine circulates oil through the motor. When you turn your car off after driving it takes time for all the oil to return to the pan at the bottom of the engine. An easy way to get in a routine of checking your oil is to do it when you fill your gas tank.

Get ready to check

When checking your oil, make sure your vehicle is parked on a flat surface and shut off. Put the transmission in park (automatic) or reverse (manual) and make sure the parking brake is engaged. The vast majority of vehicles have a dipstick for checking the engine oil. To access the dipstick, you need to pop the hood. Usually, the hood latch is located on the left side of the driver’s footwell.

How to read the oil level from the dipstick

Once you’ve popped the hood, locate the dipstick (don’t confuse it with the transmission fluid dipstick, which, depending on your engine layout will be coming from either behind the engine or to the right or left of it). Pull the oil dipstick and wipe away the oil with an old rag or cloth. Insert the dipstick back into the tube and pull it out again.

You can now read the dipstick to check the oil level in your engine. The end of the dipstick has markings indicating oil level. Some dipsticks use dots or holes, others use lines indicating full or low. Some will even have “F” or “L” printed on the stick.

Look at where the oil level falls compared to the full and low-level markings. There should be oil present in the space between the bottom and top marks. If the oil level falls near the low line, it is a good idea to add some more to ensure you don’t run out. If your car’s oil level is below the low line, slowly add oil a little bit at a time. Give the new oil a minute or two to settle and check the level again.

Check regularly and keep track of oil levels

If your oil level was low, check it every week after refilling and keep track of the miles you travel. If you notice the oil level decreasing slightly every week, your car may have an oil leak or be burning oil.

My car doesn’t have a dipstick!

Auto manufacturers have been moving away from the dipstick recently. This move follows the trend of making vehicles only serviceable by technicians. If your car does not have a dipstick, the oil level can be accessed by the message center on the dash or infotainment system. Depending on the car, this can be difficult, and it’s best to let a technician check your oil level for you.

If you realize after a few weeks of checking that your car is a losing significant amount of oil, make an appointment with a repair shop.

If your car is losing oil, stop in at Matson Point S!

At Matson Point S, our technicians have the skills and experience to diagnose your oil loss problem. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

Summer Road Trip Prep

You’ve been saving money since the spring, gotten time off from work approved, booked hotels, campsites, and tickets. Your summer road trip is coming up quickly. During preparation, it’s easy to overlook the most essential part of a road trip- the car! If you are about to leave for a big family vacation, it’s important to make sure your vehicle can get you where you need to go, and not break down in the middle of nowhere or an unknown city.

Here are nine things to check, change, and plan before heading out on a road trip this summer.

Oil change 

If you are about to go on a long trip, get an oil change before you leave. Fresh oil protects your engine from damage, which is especially important when logging long hours and many miles on the highway. Getting an oil change is not expensive, and also provides you or your technician an opportunity to look under your car for any other issues before you hit the road.

Check tire pressure and tread depth

Having safe tires is extremely important no matter where you are driving. Getting a flat or having a tire blow out on the highway is not only dangerous to you and other drivers, but it will be a major (and expensive) headache while on vacation.

Walk around your car and take a look at the tires. Make sure the sidewalls are free from cracks, bulges, cuts. Next, make sure the tires have adequate tread. Tread depth can be tested with a quarter (the penny test is no longer the most reliable). Insert the quarter with Washington’s head facing down. If the top of his head shows, get new tires before leaving on your trip.

alloy bmw wheel

Lastly, check the pressure of each tire. You can do this with a tire pressure gauge from an auto parts store, and many air compressors at gas stations have gauges built into them. You can find the PSI rating for your tires on the doorjamb of the driver’s door or in your owner’s manual.

Check belts and hoses, and top off other fluids

In addition to fresh oil, making sure your coolant, transmission fluid, power steering, and brake fluid reservoirs are full. If you need to add fluid, make sure you get the factory-recommended product to ensure your car runs and drives correctly.

If you are unsure how to check fluid levels or top them off, have a technician do it for you. Newer vehicles can be confusing under the hood and sometimes it is not clear what fluid goes where.

When you have the hood up, inspect the drive belts. Many components, such as ac compressor and the water pump run off the drive belt. Look for cracking or other signs of wear. Drive belts should be replaced every 60,000 miles.

Make sure you’re A/C works

Nothing is worse than sitting in a hot car, and if you have hours of driving ahead of you, no air conditioning can make it unbearable. If your AC is not blowing as cold as it used to, schedule an appointment with a technician to get it serviced or recharged.

air conditioning vents

Check the brakes 

Go for a drive with the windows down and pay attention to how the brake peddle feels, and any sounds you hear when pressing the peddle. If the peddle vibrates, feels soft or squishy, or you hear a grinding sound when you apply the brakes, bring your car to a certified technician to have them looked at.

Pack an emergency kit

Keeping an emergency kit in your car can help you out if you get stranded or another mishap occurs. Be sure to have basic first aid supplies, non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, jumper cables, basic tools, paper towels, and gloves.

first aid kit

Check or replace wiper blades and washer fluid

Before leaving, make sure your wiper blades work well and the washer fluid reservoir is topped off. If you hit inclement weather on your trip, you don’t want to be hindered by old wiper blades.

Make sure your battery is charged

A strong battery will ensure your car starts every time, and if you are camping and need electricity to charge your phone or use other appliances. Make sure the terminals are clean and free from corrosion and have a technician check the health of your battery.

car battery black

Plan your destinations each day

Pick an end destination for each day of driving. Depending on where you are going, the stops along the way can be as fun as the final destination itself. Planning on an end destination each day you travel will also ensure you aren’t driving when you’re tired.

Planning a big trip? Bring your car or truck to Matson Point S!

Our team of trained technicians will get your car ready for the open road. We can perform all the services and inspections needed to ensure you won’t run into any trouble while you travel. Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!