Articles:

Round and Round (Wheel Balancing)

In a perfect world, all wheels and tires would be perfectly round and weigh exactly the same at every point of the wheel.  Unfortunately, they're not, and if they're out of balance, they can reduce the lifespan of your tires, make your vehicle shake like a carnival ride, and maybe even damage a few suspension parts along the way.  You don't want that! Wheel balancing, sometimes known as tire balancing, is a process by which a technician makes sure your tire/wheel assembly has evenly distributed weight.  If it isn't, it can give your ride bad vibrations.  If you feel your vehicle's steering wheel shaking, it can mean unbalanced wheels in the front. If you can feel a vibration in your seats, it could be unbalanced rear wheels. In addition to your vehicle vibrating at higher speeds, there are other signs that your wheels are out of balance. You may see uneven tread wear, or you may notice you aren't getting the kind of fuel economy you used to.  When you experienc ... read more

Steering You Right (Power Steering Signs of Problems)

Nearly every modern vehicle on the road today has power steering, a wonderful invention that makes steering take far less effort than it did in the "good old days."  Today, we take our steering for granted: until something goes wrong, that is. Most power steering these days is rack-and-pinion, the rack being a metal bar between the front wheels with notches in it and the pinion being a gear whose teeth fits into those notches.  Adding power assist makes it easy to turn. That assist comes in the form of hydraulic fluid that is pressurized by a pump powered by the engine, an electric motor that adds a power assist or a system that uses both an electric motor and hydraulic fluid. Your vehicle usually gives you a heads up that something is going wrong with its steering. Here are a few signs to look for: A humming, whirring, rubbing or grinding sound coming from you engine compartment when you turn. Signs of hydraulic fluid leaking, such as wet spots under your vehicle. The smell ... read more

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Steering

Put the Brakes On! (Brake Caliper Replacement)

Keeping your vehicle's brakes in top shape is one of the most important things you can do for your safety and those on the road with you. Most drivers know a little about brake pads and rotors but maybe not so much about another brake component called the calipers. Disc brakes work by a mechanical system that presses your brake pads against discs called rotors (you can usually see these discs through your wheels). The friction stops your vehicle smoothly when everything is working the way it should.  The calipers use the hydraulic pressure of the brake fluid to apply the stopping power.  After they've been on your vehicle for a while, the calipers can get stuck or wear out.  If calipers on one side of the vehicle work correctly and not on the other, you might feel a pull in one direction.  You might feel the same kind of pull if the caliper is stuck and is applying constant pressure.  You might hear scraping or squealing coming from a stuck caliper and you migh ... read more

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Brakes

Oh, Stop! (Disc Brake Service)

Every time you drive your vehicle, you wear down your brakes just a little bit.  And after a while, that adds up.  Gradually, your stopping power isn't like it used to be.  Since brakes are one of your vehicle's most important safety features, it just makes sense to keep them performing well. Most vehicles have disc brakes.  One key component, as the name suggests, is the disc.  Most vehicles have discs on their front and rear wheels.  The discs (also called rotors) are made of metal, and each rotates with the wheel hub.  Your brakes also have pads that make contact with the rotors when you press down on the brake pedal, and the friction stops your vehicle. After many, many stops, that friction wears down both the pads and the discs and reduces their ability to stop the way you need them to.  The discs may also become uneven from all the heat they generate, and your brakes won't stop as well as they used to when they were newer.  Some signs ... read more

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Brake Service

Road Trip? Check! (Trip Inspection)

After months of postponing travel far away from home, a lot of us can't wait to hit the road and scream "Road Trip!" again.  But how long has it been since the vehicle you're planning on taking has had a thorough inspection? And is it roadworthy for several days on the highway? Time to schedule a professional trip inspection in our service center.  When it comes to long trips, before you go, make sure you can stop.  We can perform a break inspection.  Our technician will visually inspect your brakes for wear and how much life is left in the brake pads and rotors.  They'll also check your brake lines and fluids for fitness and fill. If it's going to be a long trip, it's important that your engine stays lubricated.  The technician will see when the last time you had an oil change, check the levels and inspect the system for leaks.  If you are close to needing an oil change, it's best to have it done before the trip because no one wants to interrupt a va ... read more

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Trip Inspection

Plugging Away (Spark Plug Replacement)

If you drive a vehicle with a gasoline engine, thank the spark plugs for igniting the gasoline/air mixture in each cylinder that keeps your vehicle traveling smoothly down the road every day.  Your spark plugs work hard, firing thousands of times in a well-choreographed order, and you usually don't pay much attention to them until one of them stops working the way it should. Signs that spark plugs are wearing out include: Engine runs more roughly than it did Vehicle doesn't start as easily as it used to Vehicle hesitates when you press on the accelerator Your fuel economy has gotten worse When a spark plug stops working altogether, you will find your engine has likely lost a lot of its power and isn't running smoothly.  Your Check Engine light may  come on.  Then it's time to head to come to our service center to have it diagnosed. If your plugs need to be replaced, they're usually done all at the same time. And if your vehicle has spark plug wires, experts recomm ... read more

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Spark Plugs

Staying In Charge (Alternator Repair)

Seems like these days, we're hearing about more and more electric or hybrid vehicles.  Keep in mind that conventional gasoline internal combustion vehicles have important electrical components, too, and it's important to make sure they're operating at their peak. In a vehicle with a gasoline engine, the part that keeps the battery charged is the alternator.  It converts the mechanical energy created by the engine into electrical power.  To do that, a shaft in the alternator has a pulley on one end that's driven by a belt that is turned by the engine.  A series of magnets then spins around coiled wires and it creates alternating current, or electricity. Your vehicle uses that to charge the battery that, in turn, keeps other electrical components in your vehicle working. Here are a few signs that the alternator isn't doing its job right.  The battery keeps going dead, your instrument panel's battery light is on (it looks like a rectangle with a - and + inside and ... read more

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Alternator

Straight to the Point (Alignment Signs of Problems)

It’s just common sense that your vehicle will drive better if all the wheels are lined up with each other and the road the way the engineers intended.  When they’re not, that is called being out of alignment.   Here are some signs that your alignment has problems. Your steering wheel isn’t straight when your vehicle goes straight down a straight road. This one’s pretty easy to notice.  If your vehicle’s logo on the wheel is tilted, that’s probably not the way designers wanted it to be. Bring it in and have us check it out. Your steering wheel is vibrating on a smooth road or when you are accelerating.  While this could be caused by several different things, one possibility is misalignment.  If your steering wheel is shaking, it should be examined by a trained technician. Your vehicle is pulling to one side without you wanting it to.  Sometimes the configuration of the road will cause it to pull slightly left or rig ... read more

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Alignment

Breathe Easier (Cabin Air Filter)

When you get in your vehicle, how does it smell? If it's not so nice, it may be time to have your cabin air filter changed. It's not the same one that filters out the air used in the engine.  The cabin air filter screens out dust and other particulates from the outside air so when it enters the cabin, you don't have to breathe them in when you're driving.  Maybe your commute finds you traveling along dusty rural roads, or maybe you pass by some city factories that have smokestacks spewing out smoky exhausts.  Or in spring, maybe you notice your allergies acting up because of the pollen in the air.  The cabin air filter will remove a lot of those things. The more it filters out, the more those small particles add up.  That reduces how much airflow the heating/air conditioning system can handle, and you may notice not as much air is coming through your vehicle's vents.  That can also be a sign you need your air filter replaced. Our technicians will remove an ... read more

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Cabin Air Filter

Snake in the Engine (Serpentine Belt)

There's a belt that snakes through your engine.  It's even named for a snake, the serpentine belt.  It'll bite you when it breaks, possibly leaving you stranded.  So, it's good to know a little about this snake-like belt. In early engines, there were lots of belts. They were used to convert the rotating power of the engine to turn a mechanical part.  But engineers had an idea.  Why not consolidate all those belts into one that ran a bunch of different parts simultaneously? Voila!  The serpentine belt. It's found in the front or side of your engine unlike older belts which were often in a V shape, the serpentine belt has ribs on it which more effectively connect with the pulleys that power the other components.  A serpentine belt may power the water pump, power steering pump, alternator, and the air conditioning: all from one crankshaft.  Now, all that's fine when everything is working well and the belt is intact.  But when a serpentine belt ... read more

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Serpentine Belt
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