Fix it: Cars & Bicycles

Keep moving with these tips on maintaining cars and bicycles

By
From the February 2014 edition
Brake Noise

Symptoms: Applying the brakes causes a screeching or grinding noise. When braking at high speeds, occupants of the car may feel vibrations.

Diagnosis: Some brake pads have warning tabs that chirp when your brake pads have worn down too far, says Keith Harris, owner of Bexley Auto Repair Center. “If you hear any kind of screech, you should obviously get it looked at,” Harris says. If you hear grinding, he says, “that means you need to get it in, like, right now.”Cost: New brake pads may cost between $50 and $70. If you also have to replace the new rotors, which Harris generally recommends over resurfacing old ones, the cost will approach $300, including parts and labor.

Car Heater

Symptoms: The blower works only on the higher settings.

Diagnosis: When your blower doesn’t work on lower speeds but it still works on high, it’s almost always because the resistor has gone bad, says Alternative Auto Care’s Chris Cozad. These resistor assemblies tend to burn out over time, she says.

Cost: $25 to $50, plus labor

Lights

Symptoms: When turn signals start to fail, they will blink quickly to let us know, but most people don’t know they have a brake light out unless someone tells them.

Diagnosis: If the lights are flashing quickly, it usually means a small bulb is out, she says. If one side goesout, Cozad will usually recommend replacing the other, too, since “it’s not unusual to have one fail relatively shortly after another.”

Cost: Most brakelight bulbs costs $3 to $6. The cost of labor varies, but it’s typically quite low or even free. Cozad notes it’s difficult to access lights in some European cars, which can drive up costs.

Tires/wheels

Symptoms: One of your wheels is wobbling.

Diagnosis: If you notice a tire wobbling back and forth, the cause is probably a bent wheel or, possibly, a separated tire, says Mike Paul of E.T. Paul Tires. “Sometimes people will hit the brake, and the steering wheel will shake. Chances are that you have a rotor that has been warped,” Paul says.

Cost: Having a wheel straightened will usually cost between $100 and $150. A new wheel, depending on the vehicle, could range from $100 to $1,000.

Windshield

Symptoms: Windshield is cracked, chipped or scratched

Diagnosis: As a rule of thumb, if the crack will fit under a dollar bill, it can be repaired, says Paul Syfko, global repair development manager for Belron, the parent company of Columbus-based Safelite.

Cost: Most insurance companies will cover the cost of repair if the damage is smaller than 6 inches, says Safelite spokeswoman Jenny Cain. The cost of a repair starts around $100. The cost of replacement typically starts around $200.

Bicycle wheels

Symptoms: The wheels are untrue, which becomes apparent if the rim, when rotating, moves away from and closer to the brake pad, says Trent Saksa, a bike mechanic at Paradise Garage. In extreme cases, the tire rubs against the brake pads, preventing a rider from being able to adjust the brakes.

Diagnosis: Wheel truing requires specialized tools. “If you haven’t been reading a manual about how to tune up bikes,” Saksa says, “then you probably wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Cost: $15 to $18

Bicycle ball bearings

Symptoms: You notice strange noises, such as a grinding sound, and it feels like sand is in your wheel.

Diagnosis: If turning or just riding feels rougher than usual, you may have a ball bearing problem, Saksa says. He explains the problem could be in the headset, bottom bracket or the wheel (all of which hold ball bearings). Usually, bearings either need to repacked with grease or replaced entirely, Saksa says.

Cost: $2 to $30 to replace ball bearings; full tune-ups start at $59