Articles:

The Light Many Drivers Fear (Check Engine Light)

Ask just about any driver about one thing they fear seeing inside their vehicle and they'll say it's the Check Engine light coming on. You know, that little light on your instrument panel that is in the shape of a vehicle engine, often accompanied by the words Check, Check Engine, Check Engine Service, or Service Engine Soon. There are so many different reasons that light shows up, from something as simple as a loose gas cap to a more serious problem that requires immediate attention.  The Check Engine light comes on because a component of your vehicle's onboard diagnostics system is telling you something isn't operating normally. Your vehicle has a lot of sensors built in, all tied together by computers.  When the sensors are showing that things somewhere aren't functioning the way they should be, they alert the vehicle's diagnostic computers and tell you something's amiss. The simple rule is if the Check Engine light is on steadily, it's so ... read more

Giving CV Joints the Boot! (CV Joint and Boot Replacement)

Ever wonder how your vehicle’s transmission is connected to your wheels? After all, when you hit a pothole or some other uneven part of a road’s surface, there has to be something that can maintain the connection between the transmission and the wheel yet keep everything moving at the same speed.  That very cool device is called a CV joint, a kind of driveshaft running to each wheel.  The CV stands for constant velocity because it keeps the drive wheels moving at a constant speed (velocity).  They’re used mostly on front-wheel drive vehicles but also in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. The joints move up and down and adjust to bumpy surfaces.  Plus, they are covered in a rubber boot which protects them from road debris and also holds lubrication in.  There’s a CV joint and boot on the transmission side and one on the wheel side.  Unfortunately, the spot that usually fails first is that rubber protective cover (the boot).&nbs ... read more

Oil's Well That Ends Well (Oil Change Grades and Weight)

Changing your oil regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle running well.  And knowing the right type of oil to use is also very important.  Engine oil is classified by weight, but it doesn't refer to how much the oil would weigh if you put it on a scale.  It refers to viscosity, or how easily the oil flows through the engine.  Most engines operate normally at around 210°F/99°C.  The viscosity, or weight, is assigned a number by how well it flows at that temperature.  The lower the number, the more freely it flows.  Most vehicle engines use what's called a multigrade oil which behaves differently in different temperatures. Multigrade oils have a "W" in their viscosity number that you may have seen on a bottle of oil, something like 5W30.  The W stands for winter and shows how freely it flows in colder temperatures. That means a 5W30 oil will behave like a 5 weight oil in lower temperatures (less viscous ... read more

Categories:

Oil Change

Keeping Your Cool (Water Pump Replacement)

No matter what the temperature is outside, it's important for your vehicle's engine to remain cool, calm, and collected.  Well, cool, anyway. If your vehicle has a gasoline engine, it's powered by a bunch of explosions involving spark plugs, pistons, gasoline, and air.  And the by-product of all those things working together? HEAT. There's a whole cooling system to keep everything at a tolerable temperature for your engine's parts, and a key part of that is the water pump.  Technically, it's pumping more than water. It should actually be called the "coolant" pump since the liquid that circulates through the system is a mixture of water and coolant.  Basically, the water pump keeps this coolant moving through your engine, where it picks up the engine heat, and then is pumped into the radiator where it gets rid of that heat.  When a water pump fails, the engine heat can build up.  When you get a warning light on the dash (either a gauge or a light) that show ... read more

Categories:

Water Pump

The Last Gas (Fuel Pump Replacement).

You're heading down the road and you notice your vehicle is sputtering, like it's running out of gas.  But the gauge show's it's still got a quarter of a tank.  So what gives? It could be that your fuel pump is failing, meaning your engine is not getting enough gas to run properly.  While fuel pumps are built to last a long time, sometimes they fail.  Other symptoms you may have a bad fuel pump include your vehicle stalling and then refusing to start again, the engine overheating or a hum or whirr coming from around the gas tank.  Or, your Check Engine light may come on. Most fuel pumps are in the gas tank. They have a small electric motor in them.   When you bring your vehicle to our service center, a technician will run tests to confirm the fuel pump is getting power to it but has failed.  Some vehicles have an access panel so the fuel pump can be removed and replaced.  But in some vehicles that don't have that access panel, the technician ... read more

Categories:

Fuel Pump

Full of Hot Air (Air Conditioning)

In warm weather, you want to be in a cool vehicle. When we're talking cool, we don't mean stylish or trendy, but cool as in not sweltering inside.  And if your vehicle's air conditioner stops working correctly, it seems to always break at the worst time—during a heat wave.  Automotive air conditioning problems fail for a number of reasons: Blower motor not working.  No air comes through the vents, even though the rest of the system could be working fine. Refrigerant leak. When the gas that cools the air off escapes from the air conditioning system, your air conditioner can no longer cool off the outside air Condenser and compressor. These are parts of your AC system that compress and expand a refrigerant gas to cool off the outside air. They are fairly complex. When you bring your vehicle into our service center, we'll run a series of diagnostic tests to figure out what isn't working correctly.  The air conditioning system has a lot of parts. There are elect ... read more

Categories:

Air Conditioning

Light Up your Life (Headlamp Replacement)

Did you know that having a burned out headlight can result in your rearview mirror reflecting some flashing lights? In other words, you might get pulled over by the police for only having one working headlight, because in most places it's against the law.  Not only is it illegal to drive with one headlight burned out, but it's also dangerous. You can't see down the road nearly as well at night with only one headlight, and other drivers can't see you as easily either. The good news is many newer vehicles warn you when one of your headlamps burns out. When that happens, have it taken care of as soon as you can.  While there was a time when all headlamps were pretty much the same, the same isn't true these days. There are halogen, Xenon, LED and other technologies used in modern vehicles.  Plus there are sealed beams (like those on older vehicles) and capsules. If you have a burned out headlamp, ask your service advisor for recommendations.  Usually when one side goes ... read more

Categories:

Headlamps

I Can See Clearly (Wiper Blade Replacement)

Warm weather can bring severe storms, and when the rain is coming down hard, that's one time you really need to be able to see as clearly as possible out your windshield.  Having wiper blades that are fit for the job are important to maintain that safe view. Maybe you live in a climate where you use blades made for winter weather and you have haven't changed them since the weather changed.  Those blades are made of heavier materials and don't work as well in warmer temperatures. Blades made for warm temperatures are lighter and clear water better in the warmer months. The general rule of thumb is you should change your blades every six months, but if you use them a lot, you might have to change them more often.  A couple of signs that your blades need changing? If you are seeing streaks on the glass or hearing a chattering sound when your wipers are working, time for a new pair. Wiper blades have cleaning windshields on vehicles for more than 100 years.  The origina ... read more

Don't Blow a Gasket! (Valve Cover Gasket Replacement)

When you head out to your vehicle after it's been parked and notice oil leaking underneath it, that's something to have looked at right away.  Oil leaks mean your oil level is probably low and running a vehicle in that condition can lead to expensive repairs. While there are many reasons oil leaks develop, one possibility is a bad valve cover gasket.  Vehicle engines have a cover bolted over the spot where the engine valves are, and that cover keeps the oil inside the engine. In between the cover and the engine is a gasket that keeps that seal tight.  But after many years of high engine temperatures and vibrations, that gasket or the bolts that hold on the valve cover can fail or loosen, and oil can leak. You may see dirty oil on the valve cover in the engine compartment, near the spark plugs, or around the bolts that hold the valve cover on.  All those are signs of leakage and time to bring your vehicle in for our technicians to check out. In some vehicles, taking ... read more

Heat and your Tires (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)

With hotter weather and brutal heat waves becoming more common, the pressure in your vehicle's tires goes up.  After all, heat causes air to expand, and the air in your tires follows the laws of physics. Overinflated tires can reduce your vehicle's traction, cause a hard, punishing ride and make your tires wear out faster; all are important safety issues. Four out of every ten drivers rarely check tire pressure. Some rely on their vehicle's tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to keep an eye on proper tire inflation.  But it's not designed to do that. TPMS is a safety feature that has been required on vehicles made in 2008 or later, using sensors in the wheels that alert you to tire pressure problems.  That warning can be a light on your dash, a digital message or a readout of the pressure in each individual wheel.  But a study showed that more than 40 percent of drivers don't even know what the tire pressure monitoring light symbol looks like! One looks like a ho ... read more

Categories:

TPMS
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