For Brakes' Sake (Brake Rotor Service in Lancaster)
Think of how much abuse your brakes take. Day in and day out, they stop your vehicle when it's going fast and when it's going slow. Maybe your vehicle has been vibrating when you brake, or maybe it seems like your stopping distance is a little bit longer than it used to be.
Then it's time to get your brakes checked out. After all, you have to be able to stop if you want to be safe. Nearly all newer vehicles have disc brakes on the front, and many have that type of brake on all four wheels. That makes it likely you'll be getting disc brakes fixed at some time in your vehicle's lifetime.
Knowing how disc brakes work is as easy as riding a bicycle. If your bike had hand brakes, you'll probably remember a mechanism that squeezed a couple of pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you applied the brakes. Disc brakes are similar; but instead of the bike wheel, there's a metal disc instead. If that disc is warped or has irregularities in it, it's going to vibrate.
It used to be that rotors were thick, and when they warped, a technician could "turn" them to scrape off a layer of metal so their sides were straight again. The latest vehicles are using thinner, lighter rotors with a slightly different construction. Now, it's likely that rotors that are resurfaced this way will not have enough metal left to work safely. In fact, some manufacturers advise only replacing rotors that are worn out.
Newer designs have reduced rotor prices, and in many cases, the labor cost of turning the rotors is higher than buying new. There are times, though, where your rotors can be resurfaced and still meet manufacturer specifications.
If you have a rotor replaced on one side of your vehicle, it might be a good idea to replace rotors on the other side, too.
Maybe you're looking for the new rotors to last longer than the ones that were on there. New technologies can offer a longer lifespan in a premium rotor. Armed with knowing the type of driving you do, you and your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can make the best decision on which direction you want to go with your new brakes.
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Dashboard's a Funny Name (Instrumental Panel Warning Lights)
Every day you drive, you're sitting behind the dashboard. But how in the world did it get that name? Back in the days of the horse-drawn carriage, horses would kick up dirt and mud on the driver and passengers, "dashing" debris against the carriage. So those who built carriages began installing a board to protect them. So, dash-board. Dashboard.
The dashboard is still there, though changed quite a bit from the early days. Now its main purpose is to house the controls and instruments for your vehicle's systems.
Of course, you have the speedometer, tachometer and gas gauge. But there are four warning lights you need to pay attention to on your dashboard and instrument panel. Some of these may even be gauges, depending on your model of vehicle. Regardless, paying attention to them is a good idea if you want your vehicle to keep going as long as possible.
Oil pressure—The oil pressure light will come on if your engine doesn't have enough pressure in its system. Low oil pressure means engine parts aren't getting lubricated properly. This can cause really serious damage and do it quickly. If your oil light goes on, call your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor immediately if you can. Even driving a short distance may ruin your engine.
Check Engine light—If a light that looks like an engine comes on, it's not necessarily signaling a catastrophe. But it means one or more sensors in your vehicle have detected an abnormal situation. Have your vehicle checked soon. There will be a code stored in your vehicle that a technician can read and use it as an extra clue as to what's going on.
Brake light—If this lights up, first check if your parking brake is on. If it isn't, you could have serious brake issues. It's a sign you should get the brakes checked soon at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
Tire pressure—Tire pressure monitors are built in to newer vehicles. They let you know if any of your tires are over or underinflated. Both conditions need to be checked out. That could prevent a blowout or premature tire wear.
The dashboard isn't what it used to be. In fact, it's much better now… and much more informative. Take advantage of that information and keep your vehicle running the way it's meant to.
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The Engine Gets a Boost (Turbocharged Engine Maintenance)
If someone told you that your vehicle could have the same power but with a smaller engine, wouldn't that sound like great idea? Just think, a smaller engine would save you money at the gas station and you'd still get the same horsepower.
The technology to do just that has been around for a long time. It's called a turbocharger.
Race cars and other performance vehicles have been using turbochargers for years. It gives them a power boost without the need of a bigger engine, saving them fuel and pit stops.
Automakers have offered turbo gasoline and diesel engines for years, but there were problems with durability. Plus drivers had to make some driving adjustments with the way turbos delivered power. Newer turbos, though, have been vastly improved, and manufacturers are including them in more models. For example, Jeep offers its 2019 Cherokee with a choice of two engines that each make about 270 horsepower. One is a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and the other is a 6-cylinder conventional gasoline engine. The general rule of thumb is: the fewer the cylinders, the better the fuel economy.
A turbocharged vehicle uses a turbine that is turned by exhaust gas. That compresses air that goes into the engine, which then allows it to use more fuel per second, increasing power. One advantage of a turbo is that it is only engaged when the driver demands more power from the engine by stepping on the throttle harder.
One thing to remember, though, is that turbocharged engines have additional parts and are more complex. That means they can be more expensive to maintain. The upside? You'll likely save fuel.
Like any complex machine, it's important that you maintain your turbo vehicle so it will give you more years of service. The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technicians are trained to inspect and service the systems associated with a turbo engine. If you already drive a turbocharged vehicle, keep up your regular maintenance schedule to get the longest life and performance out of it.
Because of the advantages these powertrains offer, turbo engines are definitely here to stay.
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Make your Service Visit at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley a Good One
Most people don't love going to get their vehicle serviced, but it's one of those things you just have to do. So you might as well get the most of out of it. There are some steps you can take that will likely help you get the best results possible.
For one thing, it's important to describe your problem (or problems) to the service advisor accurately and clearly. If your vehicle is making a noise, for example, take time to really listen to it and think of the best way to describe it. Does it increase in speed when you go faster? If you feel a vibration somewhere, where in the vehicle does it seem to originate? Some service advisors recommend writing things down. That way the driver won't forget any important clues that could lead to a successful resolution of the problem.
Another thing is to make sure your vehicle is cleaned out and free of junk. That way the technician can access those nooks and crannies where some vital components may be. If your vehicle is full of strollers, boxes or your collection of fast food containers, it won't be easy for the technician to reach some of those parts. Oh, and if your vehicle is neat, it does send a signal that you really care about it.
Finally, stay out of the way of the technician. A recent survey of technicians reveals they work more efficiently and do a better job when they don't have someone hanging on their every move. Can you imagine how you'd feel if someone hovered over you all day while you were trying to get your work done?
Steering Clear in Lancaster
Those who know vehicles believe the steering system may be the most vital component of them all. Perhaps you've found over the years your steering has gotten loose. Or maybe suddenly, your steering wheel has gotten very hard to turn. Let's steer you in the direction of understanding why this may be happening.
First, loose steering. This can likely be the result of wear and tear on the components that connect the steering mechanism with the wheels. Those parts can be ball joints, Pitman arms or tie rods. These parts take a lot of abuse on the road, thanks to railroad tracks, potholes, uneven surfaces: you name it. It's important that they be checked regularly and maintained at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
Second, the hard-to-turn wheel. Virtually all vehicles on the road have power steering. There are a couple of different types, though, so let's deal with each. By the way, when they fail, your vehicle's steering can suddenly go from easy peasy to really hard to control.
Some vehicles have hydraulic power steering. It uses a hydraulic fluid that can either leak out or become contaminated. When that happens, you can lose that power assist. There's also a belt involved, and if it becomes worn, stretched or cracked (or even breaks), you'll find yourself struggling with the wheel. If you hear a loud whine coming from the area in the engine compartment when you are steering, that could mean your power steering pump is failing. The best way to avoid these problems is regular maintenance.
Recently, manufacturers have been using electric power steering systems that have some advantages over hydraulic systems. They have electric motors that—like everything mechanical—can fail. Sometimes a fuse to the power steering motor will blow, but simply replacing the fuse often doesn't get to the root cause of the problem. A The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician can evaluate the system and recommend a solution.
Steering issues are all about safety and should be addressed as soon as possible. When you tell your service advisor, try to be specific about the signs and symptoms. It's one way to steer clear of trouble on the road.
Don't Be Fuelish
If you smell gasoline in your vehicle, pay attention to your nose. That's because it has an important message for you.
Newer vehicles should never have a gasoline smell inside. One of the most dangerous conditions can come when your fuel line system has a leak or multiple leaks. Vehicles with fuel injectors are under pressure, meaning a crack or small hole in a fuel line can allow vaporized fuel to escape, sometimes around hot engine parts. Gasoline vapor and hot metal? You see the problem.
One of the most common causes of a gasoline smell inside a vehicle is a fuel tank leak. The gas tank can rot or be punctured by road debris. A The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician can evaluate the condition of your fuel tank and suggest either repair or replacement.
Fuel injectors can develop small leaks around their seals or O-rings. Those can deteriorate over time as the material they are made of gets old and less flexible. A technician can replace those parts.
Modern vehicles contain something called a charcoal canister. It gathers evaporating gasoline vapors from inside your fuel tank and prevents them from venting out to the atmosphere. If that canister has a leak, you'll smell it. One hint that you have a problem is the Check Engine light may come on.
You may have a leak in your fuel tank vent hose. Or you may be smelling gasoline simply because your gas cap is loose, the cap is faulty or—yes this does happen—your gas cap is missing altogether.
Consider the dangers of gasoline fumes seriously. Inhaling them can be bad for your health or they may start a fire. Don't fool with fuel; have gasoline odors checked out right away.
A Stitch in Time at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
You probably have heard that expression, "A stitch in time saves nine." In other words, if you fix an issue at its early stages, it will prevent a much more difficult problem later. That's certainly the case with your vehicle, and here's a true story to demonstrate it.
A driver noticed his vehicle was due for an oil change, so he took it in to his service facility early in the morning so he could wait while the work was performed. The technician routinely checks the battery on vehicles just before extreme weather is approaching (cold or hot), so with winter coming up, he hooked up the load tester (it measures voltage while a load is put on the battery). It showed the battery wasn't holding a charge well.
The technician checked the manufacturing date on the battery, too (most batteries have a date stamped in code somewhere on them). The date showed it was five years old. While batteries can last more than five years, many technicians say you should expect to get anywhere from three to six years out of them, depending on what they go through.
So, this battery was getting a little long in the tooth, and it wasn't holding a charge particularly well. But how much current was it being sent by the vehicle's alternator? If it wasn't getting enough, that might be a factor. A test of the charging system showed the alternator was putting out the correct amount of power. The technician recommended replacing the battery, and the driver agreed.
That was the stitch in time. Had the technician not checked the battery, that driver likely would have been stranded the next time he tried to start his vehicle on a very cold day. What originally was supposed to be just an oil change led to a technician's sharp diagnosis and a little preventative maintenance for one fortunate driver. Sometimes timing is everything.
Hold the Oil! (Oil Pan Gasket Replacement)
You've likely heard how important oil is to your vehicle's engine. Did you know that there's one part that's responsible for holding that oil so you can use it every day? It's called the oil pan, and it sits at the bottom of the engine.
The oil pan is a vital, though simple, part of your engine's lubrication system. Oil circulates through parts of your engine to keep them lubricated. It reduces friction so everything works smoothly. Without oil, friction would quickly destroy your engine. The oil pan keeps that oil contained in the lubrication system, so it's important that the oil doesn't leak out. Since it's a metal part attached to another metal part, there is a gasket between the oil pan and the part of the engine it attaches to.
Various things can put stress on the oil pan and gasket, including weather extremes, the speed you're traveling and the condition of the oil. You may drive over a couple of bad roads and kick up debris onto your oil pan. All this wear and tear, heat and time can take their toll. So after a while, the gasket can just wear out and start leaking. It usually starts pretty slowly. If you see oil visible under your vehicle where you park it, that might be a sign of a leaky oil pan gasket. Another sign? You smell burning oil coming from your engine. If the leak is bad and your engine has lost a lot of oil, you may eventually see the oil light go on.
Let your service advisor know if you are experiencing any of these things. Driving with insufficient oil can badly damage your engine. And it can do it quickly. A The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley trained technician will check to find the source of the leak. It may just be a gasket, but it also could be the oil pan is damaged and needs replacing as well.
This is a repair you should get taken care of. Your engine needs its lubrication system intact to provide you many years of service.
What is a TSB? (Technical Service Bulletins)
If your vehicle had something in its design or production that the manufacturer had figured out had an unanticipated problem, you'd want to know about it. And you'd want it fixed. There is something that can help drivers with just such a scenario. It's called a Technical Service Bulletin, or TSB.
Here's what a TSB is. Vehicle design and manufacturing is a very complex process. Aftrer every vehicle is introduced, the more units there are on the road, the more likely weaknesses in parts or design will start to show up.
Automakers gather data on the issues and how best to fix them. Then they send out TSBs (usually in the first year of the new model) so technicians will know to look for those problems and what to do about them. There may be more than one cause of a problem with a vehicle so there may be more than one TSB for an issue.
A TSB can be issued for anything from failing water pumps to strange noises to smelly headliners. A TSB and a recall aren't the same thing. A recall is issued if there's a problem that could cause harm to people or if it creates illegal emissions. The manufacturer pays for a safety defect to be fixed, and the repair is usually performed at a dealership.
But when a Technical Service Bulletin is issued, it's because there's a pattern of some system not working the way it should. If a vehicle is under warranty and the problem can be diagnosed in a specific vehicle, the manufacturer will probably pay for the repair. But there may be limits. Take one case with certain models of a minivan. Some wheel bearings were failing prematurely, so the manufacturer extended the warranty on them to 5 years or 90,000 miles/145,000 km. After that, the owner bore the cost. In some cases, a manufacturer will reimburse owners for a repair already done at an independent service facility.
You may have a vehicle that is no longer covered by a warranty but a TSB has been issued for a certain problem. In that case, any service facility can perform the service. At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, your service advisor will have access to TSBs that have been issued for your vehicle's year and model. They will help the technician diagnose it if your vehicle has the issue. The TSB will also have advice for the best repair procedure to get your vehicle working the way it should.
Don't Stack the Mat
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.
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