High gas prices in Lancaster increase the cost of living for California drivers. You've probably budgeted a certain amount for vehicle related expenses. Increased fuel costs now consume a larger portion of our incomes, causing some Lancaster vehicle owners to skimp in other areas – like scheduled maintenance.
According to California news reports and automotive industry studies, this is becoming increasingly more common. In fact, nine out of ten personal vehicles on the road have at least one maintenance or repair item that hasn't been done. Some of these items pose serious safety risks. Others are just more likely to make it more expensive to drive.
In this area, we can take a lesson from professional Lancaster vehicle owners. I'm talking about fleet owners and operators. You know, Lancaster folks like the trucking companies and delivery services. Because their livelihood depends on it, they have gotten scheduled maintenance down to a science. And the last thing they skimp on is regular maintenance.
Why is that? Well, for one thing they know that routine maintenance prevents expensive repairs and costly breakdowns. They also know that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. For them, even a small decrease in fuel efficiency may put their Lancaster business in the red.
So what does this mean to Lancaster drivers? Well, there's a 90 percent chance that you're missing some service that would improve your fuel economy. Here's a quick reminder list:
Fuel system cleaning, transmission service, differential service, engine air filter, wheel alignment, oil change, tune up. Ring any bells? Can most Lancaster vehicle owners honestly say that there isn't at least one thing on the list that hasn't been done?
Let's suppose you chose to spend $150 and get caught up on some of these services at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. Figure that they combine to improve your fuel efficiency by 15 percent. What would that mean to your pocketbook?
Well, the average personal vehicle in Lancaster is driven about 12,000 a year. If you get 20 miles per gallon in your vehicle, over the course of one year you would pay for the $150 worth of service and save an additional $165 dollars if gas is at t$3.50. If gas is $4.50, you would save $255. And you'd rack up savings of $345 dollars with gas at $5.50.
GAS PRICE $3.50 $4.50 $5.50
20 MPG $165 $255 $345
From this you can see that the more fuel costs, the more it pays to keep up on scheduled maintenance. Some of us drive trucks in Lancaster for work or recreation – or want a large SUV for family needs. A 15 percent improvement in fuel economy can generate huge savings – $650 a year if gas is $4.50 a gallon in Lancaster. Take a look at this table to see where your savings could lie.
A) $3.50, B) $4.50, C) $5.50
10 MPG: A) $480, B) $660, C) $840
20 MPG: A) $165, B) $255, C) $345
30 MPG: A) $60, B) $120, C) $180
So catch up on those services you've been neglecting at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. Get a couple done now and a couple next time. Chances are you'll save a lot of money at Lancaster gas pumps this year – and a lot more on repairs in years to come.
What to Do After You Buy a Used Vehicle in Lancaster
Feb 26, 2013
So you've bought a used vehicle in the Lancaster area. Do you know what you're getting? It is hard to know what you're getting because people in the Lancaster area sell vehicles for different reasons. Think about why you've sold vehicles. Did you just want something new or were there problems that you wanted to run away from? Maybe it was a little of both.
Used vehicles in California with 25,000 to 35,000 miles/40,000 to 55,000 km on them are often lease returns, corporate program cars or rental fleet vehicles. Most Lancaster buyers feel pretty confident about these because they're newer and may still be under warranty. But how well have they been maintained?
Lancaster drivers who are planning to own a vehicle for a long time will keep up on auto maintenance so that they can avoid repairs down the road. But, if you know you're only going to have the vehicle for two or three years, you may not be so committed to maintenance. It would be easy to think that skipping an oil change here and there wouldn't ruin a brand new engine. Then it'll be someone else's problem when it comes time to pay for the damage.
It is very tempting for Lancaster drivers to skip the 30,000 mile/50,000 km service if they know they'll be turning in their leased vehicle in a couple of months.
If the vehicle didn't come with maintenance records, Lancaster used vehicle buyers need to assume the worst. Most likely the coolant system and transmission have never been serviced. The cabin air filter has probably not been changed and a fuel system cleaning at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley may be in order.
You'll want The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to check the A/C, battery, engine air filter, serpentine belt and hoses. A used vehicle inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is well worth the cost.
And if your “new” used vehicle has been driven an even longer distance, an inspection is even more important. Check your owner's manual or talk with your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley about what should have been done. Please don't forget the timing belt; that can be very expensive if it fails.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will help you with a plan to take care of services and get the rest caught up. If your budget won't allow you to take care of everything right away, we can help you prioritize your needs and get it taken care of over the next several months. And remember to keep your maintenance records. They'll help you get top dollar on the California used vehicle market when it's time for you to sell.
Hey Lancaster! Let's talk about one of our California summertime must-haves: your car A/C. It's real easy for Lancaster drivers to take their car's air conditioner for granted. Just push the right buttons and out comes cool, dry, clean air. But your air conditioning system needs attention from time to time to help it keep its cool.
Do you hear loud noises under the hood when you turn on your air conditioner? Do you only get cool air sporadically? If so, it is time to get your air conditioner checked at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.
When most Lancaster folks hear the words "air conditioning problems." it sends a shiver up their spine. That is because the air conditioning system is fairly complex. It has a lot of parts and when it's broken, it's hard to repair.
What things can Lancaster drivers do to prevent air conditioning breakdowns?
A common cause of air conditioning failure is leaks. Water and air can leak into the system. It doesn't work as well with air in it and water can cause rust that leads to damage of the car A/C components. Also, refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system and making it work harder to cool the air. Periodicallyevacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system so it cools better and lasts longer.
Lancaster drivers should run their air conditioner regularly, even during a California winter, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out, which leads to leaks. Your owner's manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Of course, if it's not working right, now is the time to get it checked. The team at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. This helps you avoid repairs.
For most of us living in the Los Angeles County area, it is hard to remember life without power steering - cranking those great big steering wheels? It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine - a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.
These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea to inspect them at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owners' manual for the right type - or just ask your service technician at Doug Beimler's QH Automotive.
The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so it needs to be replaced from time to time. Many manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the maintenance schedule for many of us in Los Angeles County. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Your Doug Beimler's QH Automotive service center in Los Angeles County will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.
Here are some warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It's harder to turn the wheel, there's erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your power steering pump real fast.
Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks. Ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear, and off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at Doug Beimler's QH Automotive will reveal bent or damaged steering components.
Most SUV's, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.
The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. It's also recommend the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners' manual maintenance schedule. It's usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km. If you drive through water in the Los Angeles County area, the bearings will need service more often.
We would like to give you an update on some of the things happening in automotive fluids. You know, cars are becoming more sophisticated everyday - and fluids such as, oil, coolant and transmission fluid are becoming more specialized at about the same pace.
The do-it-yourselfer has to be pretty careful so that they do not actually harm their vehicle with the wrong type of fluid. That is why so many California car owners rely on the advice of their service consultant to not only get the correct family of fluids, but to suggest the formulation that is best for their car and the way they drive.
Let's start with engine oil. If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed a number of new oil weights on the scene in the last several years. Modern engines are built to much tighter tolerances and have very complicated valve trains. The oil must be thin enough to lubricate complicated parts when the engine is cold. The weight of an oil is expressed in terms like 20-W-50 or 5-W-30. Manufacturers recommend the weight of oil for each vehicle they make. The recommendation is based on engine design. Your Lancaster service center will know what weight your manufacturer recommends - and it's important to follow those recommendations. A service adviser at Doug Beimler's QH Automotive can also offer suggestions for special formulations and can explain conventional and synthetic oils.
Antifreeze, or engine coolant, is another area that has become more complicated. For a long time, manufacturers only called for a couple of different types of coolant. Now there are several different formulations that are needed because of the different materials that manufacturers are using to build the cooling system. Using the wrong type of coolant can actually void your warranty, so you want to get that right.
Transmission fluid is beginning to be specialized as well. New transmission designs have particular requirements that mandate the use of specific formulations. Recently, new, somewhat confusing, standards for brake fluid have also been released.
Not too long ago, there was a good chance that all of the vehicles at your house would use many of the same fluids. However, as automotive technology advances, the array of basic automotive fluids you need will grow. And, some of the formulations will cost a little more. Fortunately, your Los Angeles County service center will continue to update their training to keep pace with technology so that you'll get the right fluids your car needs. It's all part of the commitment your service center makes to your driving peace of mind.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Radiator Service
Feb 26, 2013
The coolant system is a vital part of your vehicle. It is also the second most common cause for vehicle failures. Even though coolant system failure is fairly common in Lancaster, it is easy to prevent.
The most recognizable part of the coolant system is the radiator. It is connected to the engine with hoses and is filled with coolant. The coolant draws heat off the engine and then passes into the radiator. Air passes through cooling fins to reduce the temperature of the coolant and then it's back to the engine again.
There are several ways for the cooling system to fail. Most common is with the coolant itself. Coolant is comprised of water and antifreeze. The proper ratio keeps the coolant from either boiling away or freezing. Understandably, either can lead to massive engine damage.
Another coolant issue that is often overlooked by Lancaster drivers is the age of the coolant itself. Antifreeze has additives that protect the coolant system from corrosion. As these additives are depleted over time, they can't protect the radiator and other parts from rust, scaling and corrosion. That old container of coolant gathering dust in your garage may still keep your engine cool, but it won't protect it from corrosion.
If you get a warning message to check the coolant or if the vehicle temperature gauge is in the hot zone, your cooling system needs to be checked. It's OK to add water or antifreeze yourself. But you need to be cautious. Remember four things:
First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. You could be severely burned.
Second, get to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your vehicle owners manual - it will direct you to only make additions to the coolant overflow bottle.
Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service center where we can make necessary adjustments.
Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze. You need to check your vehicle owners manual to make sure you use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturers warranty on your cooling system. Again, another reason to depend on your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service center in Lancaster to do things right.
Remember, The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley has the equipment to change your coolant quickly and inexpensively.
Suspension Service in Lancaster at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Feb 26, 2013
When they hear the word suspension, many drivers in Lancaster may think back to those energetic days of grade school. Well, your vehicle's suspension is actually a good thing because it keeps your vehicle up off the road and helps provide a comfy ride around Lancaster. Its job is to keep your wheels firmly planted over bumps and through curves. Your suspension system has many parts. If you look under your vehicle, it's basically everything that connects your wheels to the vehicle's frame. These are heavy duty parts that do a lot of work. They need to be inspected for damage and excessive wear at least once a year. A good time for this is when you get your annual alignment service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
Here are some warning signs of suspension problems:
the car pulls to one side
the steering is erratic
you see uneven tire wear
you experience a poor ride or handling
you see oil leaking from shocks
Basically, you just don't feel in control when you're driving.
Some suspension parts just wear out with use. Shocks and struts eventually lose their ability to control your ride. Wheel bearings need to be repacked every couple of years. And some suspension pieces need to be lubricated when you get your oil changed. Your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can perform an inspection and tell you what problems you may have.
If you're in an accident, your suspension can be damaged or knocked out of alignment. Even a minor accident, like hitting a curb around Lancaster or even a large rock can mess things up for drivers. With a minor accident it's tempting for many to just get an alignment or wheel balance to correct the problem. But if there's damage, a simple alignment won't actually fix the problem, and you'll just have to align it again after the repairs are made. So if you have an accident, get your suspension system inspected right away. Suspension problems are a major safety issue because they can lead to unsafe handling.
One big cause of suspension damage for Lancaster drivers is potholes – those nasty magnets that form in roads in freezing weather. They seem to draw our tires right into them. Here are some tips for avoiding damage from potholes: First, keep your tires at their full air pressure. That gives tires their maximum resiliency and will hopefully keep your wheels or other suspension parts from crunching on a big hole. Next, just pay attention. When you see a hole you can't miss, slow down before you hit it. Driving at a slower speed will limit the damage and may keep your drink from spilling. But avoid the temptation to brake directly over the pothole. That will cause the car's weight to shift forward and add to the potential damage.
Trip Inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster
Feb 26, 2013
Lancaster area drivers love their vehicles. And one of the most enjoyable things about them is taking a road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it's great! But there's nothing like vehicle trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.
Now Lancaster drivers can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle's perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding California byways? Purple mountain majesties or fruited plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How far will you travel each day? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Pulling a trailer, roof top carrier or ATVs? Will it be dusty?
Prepared with answers to these questions, you can schedule a trip inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster to help you prepare your vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Lancaster customers prefer to go through this exercise with their friendly and knowledgeable service advisor to get their input and make sure they haven't overlooked anything.
A great place for Lancaster drivers to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job? You wouldn't want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure on California rock-crawling trails.
Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you'll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that's pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous.
And don't forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster before you leave.
Moving under the hood, have a belts and hoses inspection. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Talk to your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
Your engine air filter will be inspected. Your car's air filter will process 12,000 times as much air as the fuel burned by the engine. If the filter needs to be changed, you'll notice improvements on your trip.
How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it's due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don't need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.
Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could be as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it's an exhaust leak, it could be fatal for Lancaster drivers and their passengers on a long trip. Of course you'll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren't getting the cold air you’re used to.
Are your wiper blades still working well? If not, that is a quick and inexpensive fix for Lancaster drivers. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven't changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip and provide the necessary after-sundown visibility.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all become more important as you plan for your trip.
They will always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient stops and delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the world's largest ball of string, would you?
Richard Petty once told AutoNetTV, “You've gotta have good brakes. If you've got good brakes you can keep yourself out of a lotta trouble.”
That's why a regular brake inspection is on every Lancaster driver's maintenance schedule. An inspection by your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will check your brake system and let you know if there are any problems.
Of course, if you're having trouble with your brakes, get your car into The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster right away. Here are some symptoms for Lancaster drivers to watch for:
Low or spongy brake pedal
Hard brake pedal
A brake warning light that stays on
Constantly squealing or grinding brakes
Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply your brakes
If you are experiencing any of these, it's time to get your brakes checked. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley .
There are two types of brakes: disc and drum. Disc brakes have a rotor that's attached to the axle. Calipers straddle the rotor, kind of like the brakes on a bicycle.
Drum brakes are most common on back wheels. Both types have pads or shoes that press against the brakes and slow the vehicle. Brake pads and shoes are made out of very tough material to withstand the heat and force generated when stopping your vehicle. Eventually, they wear out with use and become too thin and need to be replaced at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
If the brake pads wear away completely, you can damage the rotors. The calipers can grind grooves in the rotor. Then the rotor must either be resurfaced or replaced. That's not only expensive but also dangerous because your vehicle won't stop as quickly. Sometimes rotors warp or crack and must be replaced.
A brake service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will also include a check of your brake fluid. When the brakes are applied, the pressure in the fluid activates the brake pads or shoes. Not enough fluid means not enough pressure to brake properly. Also, water builds up in the brake fluid over time, which leads to corrosion, leaks and brake damage, and with hard use, the brakes could severely fade or even fail. Lancaster drivers should change the brake fluid when their vehicle manufacturer recommends to avoid these problems.
Come in to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for an brake inspection before damage occurs. You can call ahead for an appointment by calling 661-949-8484.
Cabin Air Filter From The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Feb 26, 2013
Here is a questions for Lancaster drivers: What is a cabin air filter?
A filter for a house in the middle of the woods?
A fresh, piney scent?
A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?
Clever you, it's 3.
A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment. It filters out dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, sparrows, exhaust gas and odors.
These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
Now not all vehicles in the Lancaster area have cabin filters. They are fairly new on the scene in California. About 40 percent of new vehicles come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.
Cabin air filters can make for a very nice driving environment for Lancaster. Your car can be a haven during California allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. However, like all filters, your cabin air filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.
Check your vehicle's owner's manual for recommended replacement intervals. Often, the owner's manual forgets about the cabin air filter, so ask your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor for a recommendation. It's usually every year or 12,000 miles/19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty Lancaster conditions or if you start to notice an odor from your ventilation system.
So, Lancaster drivers, keep your cabin air filter clean. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience more enjoyable.