Video Blog

Don't Stack the Mat

Jul 16, 2018

In the sloppy cold weather months, you might be tempted to pick up an all-weather mat and throw it on top of the mats you already have in your vehicle. After all, double protection is better, right? In this case, wrong. Here's why.

It's important to keep the accelerator and brake pedals clear so they can function the way they are supposed to. Stacking mats in the driver's side footwell can make them sit up too high on the floor. That can, in turn, jam your accelerator pedal forward, causing your vehicle to unintentionally speed up; it may get stuck in that position. Same thing applies to the brake pedal. The mats can get caught underneath it and prevent you from stopping.

Here are some other good practices when it comes to mats. It's best to get those designed for your vehicle. They are shaped to fit your specific car, truck, van or SUV. Ill-fitting mats can have the same untended consequences as stacked mats.

Good mats will have either a Velcro-type fastener on the back of them or a hook that fits into a hole in the mat. That way, the mat stays affixed to the floor so it doesn't slip and cause problems.

One more thing to keep in mind. If you have objects rolling around your vehicle, let's say under the driver's seat, just think about what happens when you jam on the brake. That object is thrown forward and can get caught in a pedal. You might find the accelerator stuck or the brake pedal inoperative.

Your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can recommend the right mat for your vehicle. The right mat may save your carpeting, the wrong one may cost you an accident.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com



Procrastination Prevention in Lancaster

Jul 09, 2018

Every one of us has a little procrastinator inside us. Some put off getting our teeth cleaned. Others put off answering our emails. Yet others put off calling friends and family (sorry, Uncle Joe). And there are those of us who put off getting our vehicle's service done, whether it's a repair or regular maintenance. You may make the excuse that you don't have time, it can wait until tomorrow, you have other things to do.

Well, there are some things you should NEVER put off when it comes to your vehicle because that procrastination could have dire consequences down the road.

The biggest one is changing your oil. Yes, it's one of those things you may hear somebody nag you about, but changing your vehicle's oil regularly is probably the one thing that will do the most to keep things running smoothly… and well. It's the lubricant that keeps metal engine parts from wearing out. Oil doesn't last forever and it gets dirty, so you have to swap it out for fresh every so often. How often? Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can tell you, and your owner's manual has the manufacturer's recommendations, too.

You have to keep the right amount of air in your tires. They don't inflate themselves! You may have a newer vehicle that has a tire pressure monitor built in and lets you know when a tire is over- or under-inflated. Don't ignore those warning lights! If your vehicle doesn't have those electronic monitors, have our pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley check your pressure every so often. If your tires have the right amount of air in them, they'll last longer, save you money and keep you much safer on the road.

Make sure you have the right amount of vital fluids in your vehicle. The important ones (besides oil) are brake fluid, transmission fluid and coolant. Without the right amount of brake fluid, your vehicle may be hard to stop. Without the right level of transmission fluid, gear shifting may be erratic. And without the right amount of coolant, your engine may overheat.

Ok, so if you put off calling your Uncle Joe today, he probably will be ok with that. But when it comes to these important vehicle maintenance points, prevent procrastination… and prevent problems down the road.

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com



Trickle Down Technology

Jul 06, 2018

Recently, Nissan introduced the latest version of its Leaf, the company's electric car. It has many new features, including something called e-Pedal. It allows the driver to let up on the accelerator and, unlike a gasoline engine car, the Leaf doesn't just slowly lose speed; letting off the throttle pedal brakes the car in a very controlled way, using regenerative and sometimes friction brakes. With practice, a driver can go for a fairly long time without touching the brake pedal.

Another system, similar to those found in self-driving vehicles, can steer the car to keep it in the center of the lane using a camera and radar. It literally watches the lane markers and, of course, doesn't work well in snow that obliterates those markers. But the technology is impressive and can greatly reduce fatigue on long trips.

In fact, much of this technology has "trickled down" from research on autonomous vehicles, such as adaptive cruise control that slows down your vehicle (even to a stop) if the vehicle in front of you decelerates or stops. And we can expect these features will eventually find their way into all price levels of vehicles if the past is any indication.

There was a time anti-lock brakes were only found on premium vehicles; now they are on nearly all new vehicles. Traction and stability control are also prevalent, helping drivers reduce slippage and maintain control, thanks to computers.

With SUVs and trucks so popular, rear backup cameras help drivers see behind their tall back ends, reducing injuries, deaths and property damage. Bumper sensors and cameras allow drivers to be visually and aurally aware of their surroundings with 360° protection.

Many of these features improve our vehicle's safety and efficiency, and we can expect new technologies to crop up in the future. But just like the mechanical systems in your vehicle, it's important to maintain the electronic and computerized systems. Technicians at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley constantly train to keep up on these latest developments. Make sure all your vehicle's components are maintained in top condition.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com



To Fix or Not To Fix: That Is the Question.

Mar 12, 2018

No matter what vehicle you drive, when certain things break, you have to make a decision.  Should I get it fixed now, later or never?  Air conditioning is one of those things.  You can certainly live without air conditioning, but it sure is nice to have on a sweltering day.

Let's say your air conditioning breaks in the fall and you live in a climate where it gets quite cold in the winter.  Should you get it fixed now, wait until spring since it won't get warm until then or maybe not get it fixed at all?

That can be a tough decision.  There are several reasons air conditioning in vehicles break.  One is fairly simple: It could be an electrical problem, perhaps a relay or solenoid is not turning on the system.  It's also a fairly inexpensive repair and doesn't require hours of labor.

Or, the problem is that the coolant has leaked out.  Your service facility can find the leak and replace the parts that are leaking.  With a refrigerant recharge, you're back in business.  The repair costs vary, depending on the reason for the leak.

When air conditioning malfunctions involve a compressor, evaporator or condenser, the costs can be significant since parts and labor add up.  Depending on the age and value of your vehicle, you may choose to simply roll down the windows and live with it. 

Keep in mind that many vehicles in cold climates use air conditioning in winter.  Many vehicles automatically turn on the A/C when you use the defroster.  The A/C dries the heated air it blows on the windshield and side windows to eliminate fogging more quickly.  Outside conditions such as snow and ice can severely hamper visibility.  Add to that fogging on the inside and it can present very challenging conditions for the driver.

In order for all systems to be functioning optimally, a vehicle owner might feel it's worth it for safety reasons to get a broken air conditioner fixed, even if it is done right before the approach of cold weather.  Discuss these options with your service advisor so you can make the best decision for your situation.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com

 



The Best Test

Mar 04, 2018

Would you buy a jacket without even trying it on? Probably not, but it might surprise you that one study shows about half the people buy a vehicle after a short test drive around the block or none at all.  If you're in the market for another vehicle, make sure you check out the most important things so you'll know if that's the right vehicle for you.

Check out the gadgets.  Love a good sound system? Then turn it up loud.  Does it have enough bass for you? See how you like its navigation system if it has one.  Try pairing your Bluetooth smartphone with the vehicle.  Test out how to set the cruise control and how steady it keeps the speed. Back up and check out the rearview camera. If you buy this vehicle, you'll have to live with all of these things every time you drive.

Test the vehicle on roads you know.  See how it handles bumps and potholes, how it takes that tight curve that you drive every day to and from work.  Driving on familiar roads gives you a chance to compare what you know with what you're thinking about buying.

Check the fit.  One suburban mom drove a full-sized SUV and loved it until she got it home and realized it was too high for her old garage.  Remodeling the garage would be the only answer! Try installing your child seats.  Size matters, especially in a vehicle.

Gauge the fuel economy. Many vehicles have a trip computer that will calculate fuel economy quickly.  Here's a tip: you can reset it before your test drive and when you're finished, check it and see what fuel economy you got.  It will be a smaller sampling than would be ideal, but it will give you an idea.

Take as much time as you can.  A lot of sellers will pressure you to restrict your test drive to 10-15 minutes.  Ideally, you'd like to have that vehicle for a week, but that's usually not possible. So, try for something in between. Remember, this could be your vehicle for years to come.

Keep in mind that every vehicle will feel strange to you at first. Buying a vehicle is a little like getting married.  You want that marriage to be happy, and you want it to last, so take the time to get to know it as well as you can.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com


The The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Basic Guide To Synthetic Oil

Feb 26, 2018

Synthetic motor oil has been around for a long time, and more and more new vehicles are leaving factories with synthetic in their engines. But a lot of drivers don't really know much about it.

Let's start with conventional oil – the kind folks are used to. Conventional oil is made up of naturally occurring hydrocarbon chains, which means its molecules are long and have various lengths. Like a pile of pencils, some of them new and some of them used.

Synthetic oil is man-made. Its molecules are more uniform and regular in shape – more similar to marbles than pencils. Some synthetic oil starts with a petroleum base that's modified and others are entirely synthesized from other materials.

Synthetic motor oil works better in both hot and cold temperatures. It's more chemically stable so it doesn't readily evaporate or break down in the high heat produced inside your vehicle engine. This means it resists turning to sludge, which is a real engine killer.

Remember that marbles and pencils thing we were talking about? Well, that makes synthetic oil slipperier than conventional oil which means less friction in your engine. Your vehicle engine runs cooler, wears less and lasts longer. You also get a boost in power and maybe even an improvement in fuel economy.

Synthetic oil also lasts longer so you change it less often – which is great for the environment. With longer oil change intervals, you need an oil filter specifically built for the longer service life of synthetic oil. Talk with your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service adviser about synthetic oil and synthetic blends – they might be just what you need to improve engine performance and extend the life of your vehicle.

Give us a call.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com


The Edible Engine

Feb 20, 2018

You may have had a friend whose vehicle was the victim of hungry rodents.  After all, mice, rats and squirrels—even rabbits—have been known to gnaw on wires in engine compartments, causing vehicle electrical systems to go haywire.  They can disable a vehicle completely and be very expensive to fix.

In 2017, some drivers noticed their vehicle's wiring was being chewed and found out the automaker was using a relatively new material for covering their wires: soy.  Many of the repairs to their new vehicles weren't covered under warranty by the manufacturer when it was discovered rodents were eating the wiring.  So the owners filed a class action suit, saying the soy covering was essentially baiting the critters. 

The automakers tell a different story, saying mice, rats and squirrels have been chewing through wire insulation long before it was made out of soy. 

Regardless of what the insulation is made of, vehicle owners should make sure rodents aren't chowing down and creating a problem in the engine compartment.  They can have their repair facility check for these signs:  Little bits of acorns, leaves, chewed up plastic and animal droppings in the engine's nooks and crannies.  Using a black light, your technician can detect animal urine, a sure sign that they've been using your engine compartment as a warm apartment, a nest and a dining room. 

You can take steps to prevent rodents from chomping your vehicle's parts.  Honda—one of the vehicle manufacturers that uses soy-based wiring covering—makes a rodent tape.  It contains a spice called capsaicin that rodents find too hot to handle.  Other preventative measures include installing metal mesh around wiring harnesses or spraying the engine compartment with special rodent-repellants. 

Rodent damage can cost one vehicle owner thousands of dollars to fix, not the kind of bite anyone wants taken out of their bank account. 

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com


Fuel for Thought

Feb 11, 2018

If you're like most people and drive a gasoline-powered vehicle, you need to be up to speed on its fuel-related components.  They're pretty basic: the fuel, the fuel filter and the fuel pump.

The fuel's the easy part.  You probably gas up your vehicle yourself and, if you're like most drivers, price is a big factor in what you put in your vehicle. Maybe you think it doesn't matter what kind of gasoline you buy, but one major automobile association has found it does make a big difference. 

Their study showed that the additives that are put in different brands can affect your vehicle's performance.  Certain gasoline retailers sell gasoline that meets performance standards called Top Tier.  The detergents used in Top Tier gasoline help protect newer engines from carbon buildup and deposits on intake valves, all things that can affect how smoothly your engine runs, how it accelerates and what kind of fuel economy you get.  You can check online or ask your service advisor where to buy Top Tier gasoline.

Another fairly simple component is the fuel filter. Depending on the age of your vehicle, you either have a separate fuel filter or one that's part of the fuel pump.  The fuel filter keeps the crud out of your engine's fuel injectors.  You'll get a hint that your fuel filter might be clogged if you notice your vehicle won't start, your power isn't what it used to be, your fuel economy is suffering or your Check Engine light is on.

Check with your service advisor to see what your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations are on how often to service your fuel filter.  Regular maintenance can prevent expensive repairs in the future. 

Finally, the most complicated part: the fuel pump.  As you may have guessed, it is the part that gets the gasoline out of the tank and into the engine.  If the fuel pump starts to fail, it can make a clicking or whining noise when your vehicle is running.  Your engine may misfire, lose power while driving or might be hard to start in the morning.  And that Check Engine light might go on.  One thing that helps prolong the life of a fuel pump is keeping your gas tank at least a quarter-tank full at all times.  It helps lubricate and cool the pump.  If you've detected some of the symptoms of fuel pump failure, tell your service advisor.

Knowing a little about your fuel system really can be a gas!

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com


Wasteful Thinking

Feb 06, 2018

With the weather getting colder, you might be tempted to start your vehicle up, let it idle for 15 or 20 minutes and then get in the nice, cozy cabin.  Some vehicles offer remote starting that let you do that from the comfort of your home or apartment.  But is letting your vehicle idle like that good for it?

Manufacturers say it doesn't harm the vehicle.  They say it's because modern vehicles are made differently from those in the past.  Just about all newer vehicles employ fuel injection which uses computers to adjust the amount of gasoline that goes into the cylinders.  The engine gets only the fuel it needs, taking conditions into account.

Older vehicles, on the other hand, used to use carburetors.  When you started a cold engine, the carburetor wasn't able to adjust the gasoline amount depending on conditions.  Some of the gasoline would mix with oil and the pistons wouldn't get the same lubrication as they would with undiluted oil.

So yes, you can warm up your newer vehicle for your own personal comfort.  But consider how much fuel you are wasting.  That is not only throwing away money, it's a waste of natural resources.  And it puts more carbon into the atmosphere. 

Automakers have to be mindful of what fuel economy their vehicles can achieve.  So the flip side of the remote starts they offer is a "stop-start" feature.  When you stop your vehicle, even at a stoplight, your vehicle will turn the engine off.  When you take your foot off the brake and step on the accelerator, it starts up right away.  That feature can save as much as 10 percent of the fuel your vehicle uses. 

Your vehicle may not have that start-stop feature, but you can still save fuel by shutting off your engine manually if you are waiting somewhere, like a parking lot or perhaps sitting outside your child's school waiting to pick him or her up.  It saves you money and contributes to a healthier atmosphere for our planet.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com


When "Oh, no!" Turns Into, "All right!"

Jan 29, 2018

Things we don't expect happen to our vehicles. And let's face, no one really wants to spend money on an unexpected repair. But if you are putting off going to your vehicle repair facility because you're dreading bad news, you might just be putting off some good news.

There was one minivan driver who'd had the same van for years and never had a problem with the power sliding doors.  Then one day, the electrical switches in the door pillars stopped working.  The key fob would still open them, but the door switches wouldn't do a thing.

Of course, the van driver feared the worst: an electrical problem, a major computer failure, mice chewing up the wires.  So, he put off going into the repair facility for a couple of months.  One day, it was time for his regular oil change and the service advisor asked him if there was anything else going on with the van.  The owner mentioned the door problem but said he didn't want to spend a fortune on it.

He waited for his van, and it wasn't long before the service advisor came out with good news. The doors weren't working because a switch on the overhead console had been turned off.  (It was a safety feature to allow parents to disable them.) The owner had accidentally switched it when he was unloading the van.  It was the first thing the technician had checked. Flip the switch back and all was working as usual.

Another example? A mother was driving a minivan with her two kids inside on a hot day when she felt the front end shaking violently as she drove down the road. Fearing something major had broken in the van (and fearing for the safety of her kids), she pulled into a fast-food restaurant parking lot and started to look underneath to see if it was anything obvious she could see.

She couldn't see any broken parts, but she also didn't feel safe getting back in the van with her kids.  So, she called her local service facility and asked if they could send someone to look at it.  When the technician arrived, he took it for a test drive on the same road on which she'd described having the trouble.  Then he put her van up on the lift.  His conclusion?  Nothing was wrong with her van.  It was the street she was driving on.  Crews repairing it had left the surface full of potholes, and that was causing her rough ride.

Ultimately, what these two drivers feared would be an expensive trip to the shop resulted in each driver getting different news than they had expected.  One learned something new about his vehicle.  The other?  Well, the technician saw that her tires were badly worn and convinced her to get them replaced, perhaps preventing an accident and giving peace of mind for a mom with two kids.

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com



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