Yellow and Red Dots on Tires: What Do They Mean?

tires with yellow dots

Even if you’re not a car expert, it’s good to know the basic visual components of your vehicle so that you can know when it’s time to take it into the shop. Tires are some of the most important parts of your car, and keeping them balanced is essential to their long-term performance. One way you can keep your tires in great shape and catch issues early is to know what the red and yellow dots on the sides of your tires mean. 

As you try to keep your vehicle’s tires in the best shape possible, knowing what these dots mean and how they affect wheel balancing can make the difference between a set that lasts you 10 years and having to replace them earlier than you’d like.

What Do Yellow Dots on Tires Mean?

Yellow dots on a tire’s sidewall mark the lightest point of the tire. While manufacturers take great care in making the most perfectly balanced tire possible, there can still be imperfections. In order to make up for the uneven weight most tires naturally have and balance the tires, the lightest part of the tire is lined up with the valve stem, which is installed on the heaviest part of the wheel. 

In the manufacturing phase, the yellow dot helps installers easily find the lightest part of the tire and match it with the wheel’s valve stem. However, mistakes can occur, and the yellow dot might not always be located next to the valve stem. In this case, improper weight distribution can occur, causing tires to vibrate and unevenly wear when driving. Checking that the yellow dot is lined up with the valve stem on a new vehicle or when you install new tires can help prevent improper weight distribution. 

What Do Red Dots on Tires Mean?

Similar to the yellow dot on the sidewall of a tire, the red dot also aims to prevent issues with wheel balancing during manufacturing. On a tire, the red dot indicates the tire’s highest point, which is the most imbalanced part. If you have a red dot on your tire, you’ll likely have another red dot or sticker on the wheel itself behind the rim. On the wheel, the red dot indicates the wheel’s lowest point, and this red dot should line up with the red point on the tire. 

Lining up these dots will offset the unevenly distributed weight of the tire and reduce vibrations caused by the tire’s highest point. If you have yellow and red dots on your tires, you should ignore the yellow dot entirely. Instead, make sure the red dot on the tire is lined up with the red dot on the wheel when you purchase a new vehicle or a new set of tires.

Why Do Balanced Tires  Matter?

Both the yellow and red dots in your vehicle attempt to make it easier for installers, mechanics, and vehicle owners to properly balance a vehicle’s tires. If the red and yellow dots on your tire indicate you have imbalanced tires, you’ll likely run into several issues. You can find the main reasons to check that the yellow or red dots on them are properly aligned below:

  • Properly balanced tires will give you a smoother ride in your vehicle. If your tire balance is off, you may feel unwanted rumbling or bumping while you’re on the road. 
  • If your tire’s balance is off, it won’t wear evenly. Tire wear is inevitable, but if yours are breaking down unevenly, they will need to be replaced prematurely, costing you money in the long run. 
  • Imbalanced tires will cause more rolling resistance in your car, making your engine work harder and use more fuel. 

What Do You Do When Your Tires Aren’t Balanced?

When you notice that the yellow or red dots on your tires aren’t lined up correctly, you’ll likely run into wheel balancing issues. Though it can be tempting to try to fix the issue on your own, tire balancing is not something you should try to do yourself. It is a delicate procedure that is easy to mess up if you don’t know what you’re doing, and improper wheel balancing could land you in a worse situation than when you started. 

Instead of trying to perform wheel balancing on your own, you’ll want to bring your car to a vetted auto mechanic if your tire’s yellow or red dots indicate the wheels are imbalanced. It’s also best practice to bring your vehicle in every 6,000 to 8,000 miles to check your tire balance or if you start to feel strange rumbling when driving. When you get your tires balanced by a professional, you’ll likely save money in the long run, and your car will run smoother and handle exactly like you want it to.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for all of Your Wheel Balancing Needs

If you’re looking for wheel balancing services near you in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, or the surrounding areas, choose Chapel Hill Tire Auto Center. Whether you need a routine inspection of your wheel balance or you’ve noticed your wheels vibrating more than they used to, our mechanics can solve the issue. Before you schedule an appointment, review our promotions to find a great deal on our many services!

Learn more about our tire balancing services today. When you’re ready to bring your car in, please make an appointment at one of our convenient locations in the Triangle Area.

4 Ways Wheel Alignment Can Save You Money

wheel alignment services

Tire alignment may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of routine maintenance for your car, but it is a crucial aspect of keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape. Whether you want to reduce costly repair bills, improve your car’s lifespan, or save money, wheel alignment services are essential. If you’ve noticed that your vehicle is pulling to one side or making noises while turning, it’s time to bring your car into the shop for a wheel alignment.

If you’re debating whether a wheel alignment is worth the cost, review the top four ways regular wheel alignment maintenance can save you money.

1. Better Fuel Efficiency

When your wheels are out of alignment, they make your engine work harder. The tires will create an increased amount of drag on your vehicle, and your engine will have to compensate by consuming more gas to keep your car moving forward. More gas consumption means more trips to the gas station and more money spent at the pump.

Properly aligned wheels won’t fight against each other to keep your vehicle moving straight, resulting in improved fuel efficiency. Plus, getting them checked out is as simple as bringing them into your local shop for a tire service appointment. You may have seen some things about DIY alignment online, but it’s a time-consuming job, and it can be very difficult to replicate the results that you would get by sticking to a professional.

2. Improved Tire Lifespan

Are your tires showing wear and tear earlier than they should be? Your alignment could be the culprit. No matter how severe the alignment issue is, improperly aligned wheels will damage your tires over time. Even a small issue could reduce the lifespan of your tires by thousands of miles!

Ideally, a set of tires should last about six to ten years with regular use, and a new set of tires usually costs around $600.00. While you’ll need to get new tires eventually, delaying that process with routine tire alignment services will end up saving you a chunk of change in the long run.

3. Reduced Risk of Costly Repair Bills 

Your tires aren’t the only part of your car affected by faulty wheel alignment. For example, suspension and brake systems can also accrue wear and tear over time if your vehicle’s alignment is off. A suspension repair can cost between $1,000 – $5,000, depending on the severity of the damage and where you take your vehicle. That’s a huge amount of money compared to a visit for alignment maintenance.

When your tires aren’t properly aligned, they can develop different amounts of traction, leading to issues with your brake system not being able to apply the pressure needed to stop your vehicle. Alongside the high costs of brake and suspension repairs, issues with your brakes and suspension can be extremely dangerous. An alignment check is a quick and easy way to give you the peace of mind that you and your passengers are traveling safely.

4. Increased Resale Value 

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your vehicle, it’s important to make sure that your old vehicle is in the best condition possible before putting it on the market. Prospective buyers want to get the most for their money, and you want the best possible value for your vehicle.

A car with properly aligned wheels and tires that are in good shape will net you a better sale than one that has had its maintenance neglected. Additionally, a comprehensive repair history is a major selling point for buyers, and having regular alignment checks on your vehicle’s maintenance reports is crucial to selling your car.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for all Your Wheel Alignment Needs

If you’re looking for alignments near you in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, or the surrounding areas, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. We’re pleased to offer free alignment checks to our customers, and if you do end up needing to have your wheels aligned, one of our highly qualified maintenance technicians will be happy to get your car back in working order. We pride ourselves on being a values-based company and strive to make every visit as seamless and easy on the customer as possible!

Our customer-friendly portal makes it easy to set up an appointment at our convenient locations in the Triangle area! You can also review our promotions to find a great deal on our many services.

Which Car Services Are Covered By Insurance?

Repairman working on the bumper of a car

The service covered by your car insurance company will largely depend on the type of coverage you’ve chosen. Policies have different parts that cover different expenses. You may have one section of the policy reserved for repairing your vehicle after an accident. Another section of the policy is set aside for other vehicle repairs. If you want to save money on repairs and take advantage of other auto services, it’s important to know what common car services are usually covered by insurance companies.

4 Car Services Usually Covered by Insurance

If you want to get the most out of your car insurance policy, you’ll need to know what’s typically covered by major car insurance companies. Whether it’s car accident repair coverage when an accident occurs without another involved driver or rental car reimbursement, you can often save money by taking advantage of your policy’s coverages. While you’ll want to check your policy for specific policy details, the following four car services are typically covered by insurance:

1. Rental Car Reimbursement

Most policies include rental car reimbursement. This reimbursement keeps you on the road when your vehicle can’t. After an accident occurs, you’ll likely have to take your car to the shop and leave it there for a few days or even weeks. 

Since you’ll still need to get to work and run errands after an accident, taking advantage of rental reimbursement can ensure you have a means of transportation while your car is in the shop. If rental car reimbursement isn’t automatically included, auto insurance companies often offer it for an extra fee.

2. Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance covers several problems that will arise during your lifetime as an automobile driver. For example, you can run over a nail or hit a serious pothole that causes a flat tire. Or maybe you’re at a friend’s house and realize you accidentally locked your keys in the car. Perhaps you forgot to stop and fuel up, and before you know it, you’re drifting onto the shoulder. 

For those in muddy or snowy areas, you’ll need help getting back on the road if you find yourself stuck. Alongside these potentially dangerous or inconvenient situations, something else could go wrong, like the engine or transmission giving out, leaving you in need of a tow. Each one of these issues is covered under roadside assistance. There’s usually an additional fee for this service, but it’s worth every penny.

3. Damage Due to Natural Disasters

There are a number of scenarios in which your car can be damaged. When Mother Nature unleashes her power, your vehicle may be the victim of damage beyond your control. Heavy tree branches may embed themselves in your car’s roof, or strong winds may sweep your vehicle to the other side of town.

Typically, a comprehensive insurance plan will cover repairs due to natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other similar weather events. This coverage is an essential part of any car insurance policy, as natural disasters can significantly damage your vehicle and cause you to need to receive costly repairs.

4. Accidents With No Other Driver

Collision insurance not only covers accidents with other drivers but also accidents where there’s no other driver involved. You may swerve to avoid a deer and crush your front end against a light pole, or a pedestrian may suddenly jump in front of your car, causing you to run up on the curb and hit a fence.

Hitting an empty parked car is another accident typically covered by collision policies. To receive car accident repair coverage, you’ll have to submit a claim for damage to the insurance company before they pay to repair the damage.

What Isn’t Covered by Car Repair Insurance?

It’s good to know what your insurance company will cover, but it’s equally important to understand what claims will be denied. For example, general maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations won’t be covered. On that same list are personal items that end up damaged after an accident, normal electrical wear and tear, damage committed by the previous owner, and any damage that’s deemed intentional.

It’s also important to understand your policy’s limitations. If the damage caused is your fault, but the repairs to the property exceed your coverage limits, there won’t be an insurance payout.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for Car Repair Near You in the Triangle

If you need affordable car service near you in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, and the surrounding Triangle area, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. Whether or not your policy covers the repair, you can expect to receive cost-effective services at every Chapel Hill Tire location. We offer a number of comprehensive car repair services that will get you and your vehicle back in the swing of things. You can also review our coupons to receive a discount on our already low prices. 

If you need a car repair, schedule an appointment at one of our 11 conveniently located service locations today.

6 Reasons Your Car Might Not Jump-Start: Troubleshooting Guide

Car jumpstarting problem

If you own a car, you’ve likely experienced trouble at one point or another getting it to start. No matter how many times you push the start button or how hard you turn the key, your car just won’t respond. As frustrating as this can be, especially when you have important plans, most know to call a friend or pull out a battery pack and jump-start the car. Sometimes, however, these tried and true methods don’t work, and you’ll be stuck with a car that won’t start.

While a car that won’t jump-start can be frustrating, the problem is usually due to a few solvable issues. When you want to protect your car and know what could be causing the reason for it not jump-starting, review the six most common reasons a car won’t jump-start.

1. The Battery is Dead or Damaged

The car battery is arguably the hardest working part of the vehicle. Each day, it powers up your car and gets you to where you’re going. Unfortunately, it won’t last forever, and at some point, it will die and need to be replaced. When it hasn’t died due to standard wear and tear, it could contain a defect or short circuit. If your starting system is working just fine, then replacing the battery should have you back cruising down the road.

2. The Alternator Has Gone Bad

If the jump-start fails, it’s possible that the alternator is the real issue. This component returns energy to the battery in an effort to replace the power the battery loses when it starts up the car. When the alternator begins failing, it exhibits symptoms similar to that of a dying car battery.

Signs that your problem is the alternator include the battery light making an appearance on the dashboard or dimming car lights. Before you rush out and get a new car battery, have a professional take a look at the alternator.

3. You Need New Jumper Cables

When purchasing jumper cables, don’t skimp on the price. You want a thick set of cables that can carry a sufficient current to your battery. The length of the cables is also important, as the longer they are, the more internal resistance they produce. If your cables are too long, they may not be able to transfer enough power to your car.

A quality set of cables will be the right length and thickness to give you the power you need. Most vehicles will need four or six-gauge cables that run around fifteen feet long. If you need advice about the right cable to buy, make sure to ask your local mechanic for help to receive expert guidance.

4. You Have Loose or Corroded Battery Terminals

When your battery terminals are covered in corrosion or aren’t tightly connected, these elements will obstruct the power flow. For example, loose cables won’t be able to carry the necessary electrical current to the starter, and corroded battery terminals can also disrupt the proper flow of energy. Instead of driving with loose or corroded battery terminals, you can have a mechanic clean up the corrosion with a wire brush or tighten the cable clamps. After they clean off the corrosion and tighten the clamps, the car should start again.

5. The Neutral Safety Switch Is Out

If you have a manual transmission car, you won’t have to worry about this issue. But for those with automatic transmissions, beware. This switch is designed to prevent the car from starting unless it’s in park or neutral. When this switch goes bad, it doesn’t send the right information to the engine’s computer, and you’re unable to move.

Your mechanic can determine if this is really the problem, and if so, they can make the proper repairs.

6. Something Other Than the Starting System Is Wrong

It’s very possible that none of the above-mentioned issues are the source of your pain. Your starting system may be in great condition, but a bad fuel pump or clogged fuel filter will also cause the same problems.

One of the most obvious causes is if the car is out of gas. But it could also be worn-out spark plugs, a bad catalytic converter, or an issue with the carburetor. The list doesn’t end here, so be sure to visit your local mechanic for a battery inspection.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for Car Battery Replacement Services in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill

If you’re looking for battery services near you in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, or the surrounding areas, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. With our 11 Triangle area locations, we’re confident we can solve whatever issue is impacting your car battery. Whether you need an inspection, a new car battery installed, or a repair, we have you covered.

If you’re looking for battery services near you in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, or the surrounding areas, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. With our 11 Triangle area locations, we’re confident we can solve whatever issue is impacting your car battery. Whether you need an inspection, a new car battery installed, or a repair, we have you covered.Learn more about our car battery replacement services today. If you’re in need of a new car battery or an inspection, please make an appointment.

5 Signs of a Failing Serpentine Belt

worn serpentine belt

The most common belt in modern cars is the serpentine belt. This long snake-like piece of rubber keeps the alternator, power steering pump, and AC in working condition. On some vehicles, it’s also the source of power for the water pump. If you haven’t already figured it out, your car desperately needs this belt. While it’s not a fancy piece of machinery, its failure can prevent you from safely or comfortably driving your vehicle. 

Due to the importance of a serpentine belt, it’s critical you know how they work, the main warning signs your serpentine belt is failing, and when you should have them inspected.

How Does a Serpentine Belt Normally Work?

The serpentine belt uses a tensioner belt and pulleys to transfer power from the engine to other parts of the car. It’s also referred to as the drive belt because you can’t drive without it. This part powers the crankshaft, which is the component that powers the alternator. 

Why Is the Serpentine Belt Tensioner Important?

Most of the vehicles made today have a self-tensioning device. This device is referred to as the automatic belt tensioner. The amount of tension the belt tensioner holds over the serpentine belt is predetermined.

The serpentine belt must maintain a specific balance of tension and flexibility. The tensioner’s internal spring and pulley apply just the right amount of force against the serpentine belt, so it remains tight. When the amount of tension is insufficient, the serpentine belt slips, makes noise, or overheats. This lack of tension can put your AC, power steering, and other accessories powered by the engine out of business.

5 Warning Signs You Need to Replace Your Serpentine Belt

When the belt is about to go bad, you’ll likely notice multiple things going wrong with your vehicle. As you try to keep your vehicle in the best shape possible, make sure to bring your vehicle to a mechanic immediately if you notice any of the following five signs you need a serpentine belt replacement:

  • You hear strange sounds, smell burnt rubber, or see steam: When a serpentine starts to go bad, you’ll often hear an annoying squeaking or chirping sound under the hood. Another sign you’ll want to look out for is the smell of burnt rubber, as this smell can indicate the serpentine belt is failing. You’ll also want to look out for steam or vapor coming from the engine.
  • Your engine or battery light comes on: Another indication that you need a replacement is if the check engine light or battery light has turned on. While these lights could be related to other issues, it’s best to bring your car to a mechanic to see why the lights are on and what you need to do to fix it.
  • Power steering or your AC stops working: If the AC or power steering stops working, you likely have a broken serpentine belt or tensioner. Instead of risking driving to a mechanic without power steering, you’ll want to have your car towed to their shop. 
  • Your engine overheats: If your engine overheats, you could have an issue with your serpentine belt. Since an overheated engine can be due to several different serious causes, you’ll want to have your car inspected as soon as possible. 
  • You spot visual signs of wear: Cracks, splits, and fraying are visual indicators of a worn belt. If the belt’s sides are glazed over, the belt won’t last much longer. Take the belt and twist it. If the layers separate or chunks are missing, a mechanic will need to replace your serpentine belt.

Should You Change Your Serpentine Belt On Your Own?

While you may think that a broken serpentine belt is a simple fix, it’s best to leave the repair to the professionals. If you aren’t trained to replace the belt and tensioner, you may destroy other parts of the engine. Most who decide to take on this task all by themselves also run into trouble accessing the belt.

The process requires a special set of tools, and you have to be careful not to damage any of the pulleys or other crucial components. To avoid making any mistakes, take your vehicle to a trained mechanic’s shop for serp belt service.

When Should You Inspect Your Serpentine Belt?

Once your vehicle hits the 60,000-mile marker, it’s time to have the serpentine belt inspected. Maintenance is simple as it only requires a quick check to ensure it’s not showing signs of wear. While 60,000 miles require an inspection, 90,000 miles is when a replacement is recommended, even if it appears to be in tip-top condition. Replacing your belt at 90,000 miles can prevent serious problems from occurring, such as your power steering going out.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for Serpentine Belt Replacement Services

If you notice any warning signs and think you need serp belt services in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, or the surrounding areas, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. Once you bring your vehicle in for a serp belt service appointment, we’ll provide a comprehensive engine diagnostic service and pinpoint what’s happening to the vehicle. If we find you need a serpentine belt replacement, we’ll replace your serpentine belt quickly and get you back on the road. 

Learn more about our vehicle maintenance and repair services. If you need a serpentine belt replacement or an inspection, please make an appointment.

Should I Upgrade to LED Headlights?

LED Headlights in the dark

Driving at night is more dangerous than driving during the day due to the lack of visibility. Unfortunately, not all roads are well-lit, leading to an increase in accidents. That’s why headlights are such a crucial component of the safety and performance of your vehicle. As you look for a new vehicle or consider upgrading your current set of lights, it’s important to know why LED lights are so popular and the disadvantages of sticking with traditional halogen headlights.

Why Have Vehicles Moved Away From Halogen Headlights?

For years, halogen lights have been the standard bulb used in vehicles. However, the development of automotive lighting throughout the years has shown that halogen lights aren’t the most effective, and many vehicle manufacturers have switched to LED bulbs as a result. 

For example, halogen bulbs consume a lot of energy, which is an issue if you’re an eco-conscious driver. This excess energy usage also puts more demand on your vehicle’s electrical system and can impact your vehicle’s overall efficiency. These headlights also have a short lifespan and need to be replaced more frequently than LED bulbs. Their shorter lifespan means you’ll have to spend more time at the repair shop and more money on replacement bulbs.

Besides their high energy usage and shorter lifespan, they don’t shine as bright as LED lights. Since their energy usage often gets turned into heat rather than illumination, their dim, yellowish glow can struggle to fully light the road as you drive.

4 Benefits of LED Headlights

Due to the greater energy use, reduced visibility, and shorter lifespans of halogen headlights, many drivers prefer LED lights. If you’re considering replacing your headlights with LED bulbs, learn more about the top four benefits of LED headlights below:

1. Greater Energy Efficiency

Eco-friendly individuals who prefer electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid vehicles will appreciate the energy efficiency of LED lights. Why? Because they don’t need as much power as halogen lights to operate at a similar level of brightness. In fact, LED headlights consume about 80% less energy than halogen lights.

For a battery-operated car, this reduced energy consumption means the strain on the power source is greatly decreased, and the driving range is increased. Even if you use a gas-powered vehicle, the greater energy efficiency of LED lights reduces the strain on your electrical system and promotes greater energy efficiency.

2. Longer Lifespan

LED lights also have a longer life span that extends far beyond that of a halogen bulb. A typical halogen bulb lasts about 500-1,000 hours, while LED lights continue shining for up to 30,000 or more hours. This longer lifespan reduces the number of replacements and keeps maintenance costs low. 

3. Improved Brightness and Visibility

When driving through a low-light area or in inclement weather conditions, visibility is a priority. Halogens are not as bright as LEDs, nor is the beam of light as intense and focused. This improved illumination allows for a broader field of vision during nighttime driving, thus enhancing safety.  

Moreover, the crisp, white light emitted by LEDs provides better color rendering, allowing drivers to discern objects and road hazards more accurately. This improved color rendering is especially needed when weather conditions adversely affect visibility.

4. Lower Longterm Costs

When it comes to upfront costs, the halogen bulb is more affordable. They’re generally cheaper to manufacture and are easy to find, making replacing them a cinch. However, they will have to be replaced more often, causing you to spend more money over time. The drain on the vehicle’s electrical system can also lead to other components of the vehicle needing a replacement sooner than expected. 

While the initial cost of LED headlights is higher than halogens, the long-term monetary benefits are greater. 

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for Headlight Restoration Services

If you want to replace your halogen lights with LEDs and are looking for headlight services near you in Raleigh, Apex, Cary, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, or the surrounding areas, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. At Chapel Hill Tire, we can quickly swap out old halogen lights with LEDs and provide any LED headlight repair services you might need. Our headlight restoration services are also perfect for times when your headlights begin to dim. We have experts who will use professional-grade cleansers to remove oxidation and restore their brightness.

Learn more about our headlight repair, replacement, and restoration services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule a headlight restoration service, please make an appointment online or visit one of our 11 Triangle-area locations

Am I Exempt from the NC Emissions Inspection?

Woman performs car emissions testing

Each year, North Carolina requires vehicles registered in the state to pass an annual safety inspection. This inspection must be done 90 days before the vehicle’s registration is up for renewal. A licensed mechanic checks the vehicle’s brakes, tires, headlights, and other important components and systems.

For many drivers, part of the annual safety inspection is a vehicle emissions test. While some vehicles are exempt, drivers should know if they’re required to receive an emissions inspection and how to pass one if they do.

Why Do I Need an Emissions Inspection?

Automobiles are major contributors to poor air quality. To control the toxins emitted into the atmosphere from motor vehicles, they are equipped with air pollution controls. North Carolina requires annual emissions tests to ensure these controls are working as intended and that your vehicle meets the state’s environmental standards.

How Much Does a North Carolina Emissions Inspection Cost?

Typically, the most you’ll be charged to complete a local NC emissions inspection is $30. But, if the vehicle has after-factory window tinting installed, there is an additional $10 fee. 

Exemption Guidelines

There are currently 19 counties out of 100 where emission inspections are necessary. If you live in one of the counties listed below, make sure you take your vehicle for its yearly inspection.

CabarrusForsythIredellNew HanoverUnion

There are a few vehicles that are exempt from the process if they meet specific criteria. For example, farm vehicles and diesel-operated vehicles do not have to submit to an emissions inspection. Additionally, if the vehicle is 20 years old or older, there is no emissions inspection required.

Light-duty gasoline vehicles with less than 70,000 miles made within the three newest model years are also exempt. These vehicles only have to go through the vehicle safety inspection required by the state. 

Antique vehicles are another emissions inspection exemption. Automobiles at least 30 years old can obtain an antique automobile license plate, which enables them to skip the annual inspection. This exemption for antique vehicles is because they’re generally used for public interest events like exhibitions and parades.

Does North Carolina Offer Any Tools to Help Me Check If My Vehicle Is Exempt From Emissions Inspections?

If you’re still unsure whether or not your vehicle must have an emissions inspection completed, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has an exemption calculator on their website to assist in making a determination. 

Simply enter the current calendar year, vehicle model year, and odometer reading into the calculator. Next, the calculator will use this information to let you know if you need to take your vehicle to an inspection station. 

What Happens If I Fail the NC Emissions Test?

Failing the test is an inconvenience, but it’s not the end of the world. The vehicle can be reinspected once the issue that caused the failure is resolved. The Division of Motor Vehicles’ License and Theft Bureau can issue a year-long waiver under the following circumstances: 

  • Parts Waiver: If you fail an emissions inspection due to a part being tampered with or if the part is inoperative or no longer available, you can receive a parts waiver. To receive this waiver, you’ll need to provide three forms of documentation from a salvage yard, a dealership, and an automotive part store that support the claim the part isn’t available. These documents should also feature a signature on the company letterhead.
  • Repair Waiver: If the visual and safety parts of the inspection were passed, but the emissions inspection was not, you can sometimes receive a repair waiver. To receive a repair waiver, you’ll need to make a minimum of $200 in repairs to correct the OBDII trouble codes that caused the emissions failure. Next, take the vehicle to the License and Theft Bureau with the proof needed to show that the appropriate repairs have been made. 

Alongside parts and repair waivers, you can receive a non-communication or “Not Ready” waiver. You can review a complete list of all these waivers and their requirements by visiting the North Carolina Environmental Quality’s page on emissions inspection results.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for Vehicle Inspection Services Near You in the Triangle

If you’re looking for NC emissions near you in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, or the surrounding areas, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. When you bring your vehicle in for a local NC emissions inspection appointment, our trained technicians will perform a comprehensive review of your vehicle. Alongside ensuring your vehicle meets safety and emissions standards, our technicians will check that your car is running efficiently and can perform any needed repairs.

Learn more about our NC vehicle inspection services today. Don’t hesitate to give us a call or make an appointment at one of our 11 locations in the Triangle area today!

Why Car Batteries Die in the Summer: Mechanic Insight

A car stalled in the summer

The summer heat can be brutal on the components inside your car battery. The heat under the hood (or trunk, for some) significantly rises in temperature, which increases the risk of battery failure. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence during the hotter months, and over the summer, many North Carolina drivers find themselves stuck on the side of the road due to battery failure from the heat.

As you prepare for your road trips this summer, here are a few things to keep in mind so you get the most use out of your car battery

How Does Extreme Heat Affect a Car Battery?

When summer comes around, we tend to move at a slower pace because the heat makes us sluggish, and we’re looking to conserve energy. The sun makes us sweat, leaving us thirsty and searching for water to replace what we’ve lost. Your car battery has a similar experience, with the heat impacting it in several ways that harm its performance. Some of the main effects heat has on car batteries include: 

  • Heat evaporates the battery’s vital fluids: As your hood or trunk gets warmer, the heat will evaporate the battery’s fluids. Without these fluids, your battery will send a weaker charge to other parts of the car. Eventually, the charge will grow so weak that your battery won’t be able to hold it.
  • Heat speeds up the corrosion process: Besides impacting your battery’s charge, heat can increase the speed of corrosion on your battery. Once the internal components become corroded, the damage is irreversible. It’s even worse when the vital fluids have been drained from the battery, as evaporated battery fluid can corrode battery terminals and cause structural damage.
  • Heat weakens the battery’s overall function: Heat damage will leave the battery weakened, which may cause your battery to fail in the summer. However, it can also make it so your battery can’t perform well once the seasons change and your battery starts to experience freezing temperatures. If your battery’s overall function is impacted during the summer, cold weather will likely kill the car battery and cause it to die much faster in the winter.

How Does Extreme Heat Affect Electric Vehicle Batteries?

Electric car owners aren’t free from the problems caused by high temperatures. Although electric vehicle (EV) batteries can keep running strong for up to 20 years, extreme heat can reduce their lifespan. Some of the primary effects heat has on EV batteries include: 

  • An electric car battery may lose up to 20% of its range: When the temperature is above 95 degrees, EVs that normally make it 100 miles will only go 80 miles under these weather conditions.
  • The battery needs to be charged more often: Since distances in hot weather are reduced, EVs can’t make as many trips on one charge. As a result, you’ll find yourself charging your EV’s battery more often in the summer.

How to Protect Your Car Battery In Hot Temperatures

Though heat can be brutal to your car’s battery, there’s plenty you can do to protect your battery and avoid an early car battery replacement. If you want to keep your battery running well all summer long, follow the below tips for how to protect your car battery from heat:

  • Clean the battery: If you notice dirt, debris, or greasy buildup on the battery, remove it right away. Examine the battery regularly for these issues to ensure it remains in peak condition.
  • Watch for corrosion: Hotter temperatures outside mean even hotter temperatures inside the vehicle’s engine. This can cause corrosion that will restrict the electrical current flow. If you notice any corrosion, a mechanic can use a copper brush or scouring pad to remove it from the battery.
  • Drive the car regularly: Since heat drains the battery, it’s important to take a trip of 20 minutes or longer each day to ensure the battery replenishes and doesn’t discharge. If the car will be parked for an extended period, look into using a battery minder or smart charger.
  • Park in a shaded area: Just sitting in the hot sun can cause problems for your car’s battery. Whenever possible, park in a shaded area, under a car park, or in a garage to shield it from heat.
  • Check the water level: Lead-acid batteries must maintain a certain water level. If it’s low, use distilled water to replenish what was lost.
  • Take your vehicle in for an inspection: One of the best ways to protect your car’s battery from heat is to bring it in for an inspection at the start of summer. If the inspection reveals your battery has corroded or is close to running out of power, the mechanic can clean your battery, fix any issues, and potentially provide a car battery replacement service if the battery is past the point of repair. 

How Can EV Owners Protect Their Vehicle’s Battery?

Alongside following the tips above, EV owners can protect their battery by charging it to the midpoint, or 50% to 60% of its total capacity. Since fully charging an EV battery can cause it to degrade faster, not charging it to its full capacity will ensure the combination of heat and a full charge won’t cause your battery to degrade even faster. You’ll also want to avoid using fast-charging stations over the summer, as fast charging can cause a battery to degrade faster.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for Car Battery Service In the Triangle

If you need car battery services near you in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, or the surrounding areas, Chapel Hill Tire can help. Whether you need a new car battery or an inspection, our team will ensure your vehicle’s battery works at its best before you hit the road again. You can also review our coupons to ensure you get a great deal on our services.

Learn more about our car battery services today. If you’re ready to bring your car in for an inspection or car battery replacement service, please find a location close to you and make an appointment.

5 Signs You Need Wheel Alignment

Steering wheel in need of alignment

A huge part of owning a vehicle is keeping up with its maintenance. If you own a vehicle, regular maintenance requirements like oil changes and tire rotations have probably become routine. However, some issues aren’t so routine but must be taken care of right away. One of those issues is your vehicle’s wheel alignment, which refers to how your tires are angled on your car. During an alignment, your vehicle’s suspension system will be adjusted to better angle your tires and maximize their contact with the road.

When your car is misaligned, you’ll find it harder to control your vehicle, and your tires will experience more wear and tear than normal. Wheel misalignment usually happens over time with standard wear and tear, but passing over bumps or potholes at high speeds or hitting a curb can cause sudden jarring and throw the wheels out of alignment. As you try to prevent the negative effects of a misaligned vehicle, review the top five most common symptoms your car will exhibit when it needs a new wheel alignment.

1. Vehicle Pulls to the Right or Left

When traveling down a road without any curves or bends, does your car try to pull to the right or left? If you’re not sure, pay attention to your hands the next time you’re driving straight. If you use one more than the other to keep the vehicle straight, it’s probably because it’s pulling to that side more often.

Most people believe vehicles should stay straight if you take your hands off the steering wheel, but that’s not true. Each road crowns to some degree which will cause vehicles to pull slightly to one side. However, when the car pulls to the same side on every road, it likely needs an alignment.

2. Steering Wheels Won’t Stay Centered

The steering wheel should stay straight and centered unless you’re making a turn. The easiest way to check for this issue is to look at the emblem in the center of your steering wheel. It’s time to take the car in for maintenance if it’s crooked. Also, if the steering wheel doesn’t naturally return to the center after making a turn, that is usually an indication that the alignment is off.

3. Steering Wheels Feel Loose

When the steering wheel feels wobbly and unstable, poor wheel alignment is usually the cause. You’ll find yourself constantly making small corrections to keep the car straight. Let a mechanic take a look at the issue to determine if a wheel misalignment is the source of the problem.

4. Tire Wear Patterns May Be Abnormal

Are your tires worn in certain spots but not in others? This inconsistent wear is usually a sign that the vehicle’s wheels need to be aligned. For instance, you’ll probably need a wheel alignment if the treads closer to the vehicle are in great shape but the treads on the opposite side are almost bald. Additionally, if the tire treads are worn down too quickly, that may be another indication that the wheel alignment is off.

5. Squealing Tires

When it comes to keeping your wheel aligned with the ground and other wheels on the vehicle, the camber and toe settings come into play. When one of them strays from its position, it creates friction which leads to strange noises.

One of the strange noises coming from the tires will be squealing. When you hear this obnoxious sound, don’t hesitate to take your car to a local mechanic.

Wheel Alignment Near Me in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh

If you’re looking for a wheel alignment near you in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, or the surrounding Triangle area, Chapel Hill Tire has you covered. With over 11 convenient Triangle locations, Chapel Hill Tire makes it easy and convenient for you to receive wheel alignment services. Once you bring your vehicle in, one of our certified mechanics will identify the exact issue and get you back on the road in no time.

Instead of spending one more second worrying about that shaky steering wheel or loud squeaking coming from the tires, schedule an appointment today for a free alignment inspection. Don’t forget to view our promotions and take advantage of any discounts related to your service. 

Dangerous Signs You May Be Prone to Tire Blowout

So you’re driving to work or out running errands when one of your tires suddenly gives out. No matter how many years you’ve been driving, this is a scary experience for anyone. It’s completely unexpected and unpredictable—or is it? 

Tire blowouts can be caused by numerous factors, including potholes or sharp objects in the road, like nails or shrapnel. But, some blowouts can be prevented with regular car maintenance. Keep reading to find out just what a tire blowout is and the warning signs you should pay attention to in order to keep yourself and other road users safe. 

What Is a Tire Blowout?

When one of the vehicle’s tires bursts out of nowhere, and all of its air rapidly escapes, it’s called a “blowout.” Now, the first thing you may think when this frightening situation occurs is that the tire has too much air. Why? Because we tend to associate something bursting with it being overinflated, but that isn’t always the case. 

Did you know that underinflation is just as dangerous as overinflation? Whether it’s over or under, an improperly inflated tire will blow out under the right circumstances.  

If the tire is underinflated, it will begin to flex and overheat, and during the hotter months – when eggs can be fried on asphalt – a tire without enough air is likely to burst.

As a nation, we use our cars to travel a lot during the summer, transporting our families and luggage to visit relatives and friends. When the tires aren’t inflated correctly, the extra weight and very hot roads are a recipe for disaster.

The 4 Most Common Tire Blowout Warning Signs

Since a blown tire can throw a serious wrench in your plans and even cause an accident, it’s important you know the main warning signs you’re nearing a burst tire. As you try to keep your vehicle and tires in the best shape possible, review the four most common signs you’re at risk of a tire blowout below:

1. Worn Out Tire Tread

When was the last time you checked the treads on your tires? If it’s been a while, you might want to head outside. 

The treads are full of bumps and ridges that allow the tire to get a tight grip on the road. If you regularly travel for long periods or have not changed the tires in a while, your tires are likely worn out. This wear can be risky for drivers as more wear means the tire has a weaker grip on the road and is more likely to burst.

Luckily, there’s something you can do to find out if your treads are the right thickness – it’s called the “old penny trick.” Take a penny and stick it into the tread to measure its depth. If the tread doesn’t rise above President Lincoln’s head, it’s time for a new set of tires.

2. Bubbles in the Tires

Bubbles are one of the most common tire defects. The part of the tire affected by this issue is the sidewall, which is made up of several layers of rubber. Sidewalls are not as thick as treads, and an improperly inflated or overheating tire’s wall layers will begin to separate.

When the separation happens, air can easily seep in between the layers of the sidewall. The area around the bubble is then stretched over the air pocket, causing this section of the wall to become thinner. Without warning, this spot can pop and cause a tire blowout.

3. Vibrating Tires

If the tires are vibrating while driving, this is definitely a sign that something is wrong. Instead of ignoring it, pull over as soon as possible and call a mechanic to ensure you don’t have a serious problem on your hands. The wheel may be misaligned or even bent, which can lead to other damages. You could also have a defective tire that is more likely to burst, and you’ll need to replace it with a new one before you can drive safely.

4. Deflated or Overinflated Tires

As we discussed previously, underinflation and overinflation can cause tire blowouts. If you’ve noticed your tires deflating faster than normal or you haven’t checked your tire’s pressure recently, you could have a deflated or overinflated tire. An overinflated tire is usually due to heat or user error where you accidentally put too much air in your tires. Additionally, under-inflated tires can be due to damaged valves or seals, cold weather, or a lack of regular maintenance and tire pressure checks.

Regardless of the cause, deflated and overinflated tires put you at risk of a burst tire. If you haven’t checked your tire pressure in a while, take your vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection. 

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for New Tires in the Triangle Area

If you’re looking for new tires near you in Raleigh, Durham, Apex, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, or the surrounding areas, turn to Chapel Hill Tire. Our team can provide several tire services, including rotating, balancing, and replacing tires. We also carry a large inventory of new tires to ensure we can get your vehicle back on the road quickly. Before you schedule an appointment, check out our coupons to get a discount on our already low prices. Don’t spend more time worrying about your tires, and let us help you confidently travel the roads. 

Schedule an appointment with Chapel Hill Tire today, and take advantage of our top-quality tire services.