Not So Hot in Lancaster
When the weather turns cold, it's nice to crank up the furnace and enjoy the heat. But if your home's furnace doesn't work, it's not too comfortable. Same goes with your vehicle. When the heater's not working, things can get miserable. It could also signal some major problems, which we'll discuss later.
A vehicle's heating system is fairly complicated. It's made up of several parts, including a blower motor/fan, a heater core and some mechanical and electrical components. In basic terms, a vehicle's engine warms up coolant which is then sent to the heater core (which is kind of like a small radiator) behind the dash. That blower motor sends cold air through the heater core which heats up the air. Voila! Heat.
Diagnosing problems in this system takes a trained mechanic because of the different possible issues. Your heater core may need replacing; they are sometimes in tight spots and may be difficult to work on. Another possible problem could be a defective thermostat, which regulates how the coolant flows through the engine. You may have a leak somewhere in your cooling system. Those leaks may be something as simple as a detached hose clamp or as serious as a bad head gasket. A knowledgeable technician at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will be able to track the problems down.
For those reasons, it's wise to get your vehicle's heating system repaired. Not only can driving an unheated vehicle on a cold day freeze your fingers, some related engine problems that are not repaired could leave you stranded.
Smart drivers keep up the maintenance on their vehicle's cooling system; it's a hot tip to prevent a cold vehicle.
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Wishy-Washy in Lancaster
Perhaps you've found yourself driving when something all of a sudden splashes on your windshield, obstructing your view. You know that sinking feeling when you try to turn on the windshield washers and no fluid comes out. Now you're blinded even more. What can you do?
The best thing is to make sure your windshield washer fluid is always topped off and ready for these situations. You probably figure you'll grab a bottle of that blue stuff you see in the store. But is that really the right choice?
One thing you know ISN'T the right choice is plain water. It can freeze when temperatures drop. Plus, when it's close to the freezing mark outside, spraying water on your windshield can freeze, turning it literally into frosted glass and blinding you suddenly. Water freezing in your vehicle's washer lines can also damage them.
There are different types of windshield washer fluid made for different climates. Many have alcohol to prevent them from freezing; their label will usually tell you at what temperature they'll start to freeze.
Some washer fluids will have detergents in them so they can cut through contaminants and dirt. Still other washer fluids have a chemical in them to prevent streaking.
Also keep in mind some washer fluids are made to be put in your fluid reservoir as is; others are made to be diluted.
No matter what washer fluid you pick, make sure you have plenty of it in your vehicle. Our pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can top off your levels with the right kind of fluid. That's also a good reminder to have your windshield washer system working properly. Your technician can check not only the washers but the wiper blades and motor to make sure all are in top condition. The worst time you can discover it is usually when you need it most.
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Give me a Brake (Light)!
If that little brake warning light pops up on your dash, do you know what it means? Well, if you said no, you wouldn't be alone. You know it has something to do with your brakes, but exactly what? You're not sure. One of the reasons is that it could mean a lot of different things.
It could be something simple, like you put your parking brake on and forgot to take it off. Easy fix, you're on the road in seconds.
Or, it could mean there's something wrong with your anti-lock brake system. That is a pretty complex symphony of speed sensors, computers and wiring, and sometimes things get a little out of whack. You could have a defective sensor or some wiring may have gotten damaged or come loose. A trained technician at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley with special equipment can sort it all out.
It's also possible you have low brake fluid. That could be caused by a number of things. One simple reason is that your brake pads have worn down. Replacing them could solve the problem. Another possibility is that you have a leak in your brake system. That could be serious. If your brake fluid level gets really low, your stopping power goes down along with it, and a vehicle that can't stop is a safety hazard to you and others on the road.
Of all the warning lights on your instrument panel, pay attention to the brake warning light. If it comes on, come on over to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley very, very soon. A vehicle is great when it's moving. But if it can't stop, well, that is a disaster waiting to happen.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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