The The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Guide to Caring for Your Transmission
Feb 26, 2014
Most vehicles have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Lancaster drivers only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Lancaster. You started out in a lower gear and shifted to higher gears as you went faster. Down shift for hills, stuff like that. Think of your legs as the engine – there's an ideal speed you can pedal and you change gears to leverage the work you're doing.
Lower gears for power on hills or for starting out. Higher gears for more speed. That's what the automatic transmission does – it automatically starts in lower gears and shifts up to higher gears to go faster on California roads. And it automatically shifts back down to climb Lancaster hills, pass or start up again.
Vehicle automatic transmissions have certainly gotten more sophisticated in recent years. They have more speeds than before: the base is four speeds, five is very common.
At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, we routinely service transmissions with six speeds and several have seven or even eight speeds. As you can imagine, this means more parts. Any they all have to fit into roughly the same space.
Transmissions are computer controlled these days, with some high end transmissions having two or three computers. Transmissions are engineered to last. But they are also engineered to tighter tolerances. If a portion of the transmission is starved for lubrication, it can lead to failure.
Not enough fluid can starve the transmission, or dirty transmission fluid can clog small passages in the transmission. Then the lubricant is blocked and can't get to all the parts to protect them, so they wear out prematurely. The technicians at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.
And, as you can imagine, repairing one of these new transmissions at any Lancaster service center can be quite costly. That's why owner’s manuals have a schedule for how often you should change the fluid and what type of fluid to use.
It's really important for Lancaster area drivers to carefully follow the manufacturer's transmission service schedule.
At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster, we hope you never become shiftless in Lancaster because you didn't take care of your transmission.
Safe California travel starts with preventive maintenance and good car care at Doug Beimler's QH Automotive. But there are other things Lancaster motorists can do to prepare for emergencies on the road. Here’s some auto advice that can help you plan for emergencies, and just may save your life — or someone else’s.
First, Lancaster car owners should consider keeping an auto emergency kit in their car. The kit should contain items that will allow you to deal with common emergencies on the road.
Some vital items you should carry in your truck include jumper cables (or a booster box), flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools. Other useful items include gloves, two quarts of oil, some antifreeze, water and everything you need to change a tire. You might also consider a can of tire inflator, which is a great temporary fix for minor flats.
But taking care of your truck is only part of emergency preparedness. It is essential to take care of the people in the car, too. For this reason, you should carry a first aid kit, drinkable water and blankets. Other items to consider include high-calorie food items (like energy bars), toilet paper, a towel, a hat and boots. And, of course, when you travel in California and out-of-state you should always have your cell phone, some emergency cash and a credit card.
Depending on where you live, you may need to add other important items to this list. For example, sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra water would be good to have on hand in a hot climate. For the cold and snowy California season, some salt, a hand shovel, emergency blankets and matches might be in order. Also, if your California area is prone to severe weather or earthquakes, you should check with your local Red Cross or disaster preparedness office for their recommendations on what to keep on hand in your truck for emergencies.
When you travel away from your Lancaster home, you should check the weather forecasts before you leave, and pack appropriate emergency supplies. Also, do some research about the areas you will be traveling through so you can be prepared for the climate and terrain. Remember the basics: heat, water, shelter, light, and food.
When you travel, it is critical to leave your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Check in periodically at prearranged checkpoints. That way, if something does happen, someone else will quickly know you are in trouble and will be able to send help. These checkpoints will also help rescuers find you quickly, as they will have a better idea as to where you are. The automotive professionals at Doug Beimler's QH Automotive want Lancaster motorists to be safe. Preventive maintenance, proper planning, smart communication: these are the basics of safe travel.
Why Is My Check Engine Light On?
Feb 11, 2014
The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Lancaster drivers, and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most people.
Let's get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your Check Engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn't drive at high speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Lancaster service center.
If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two. If the light doesn't go off, schedule an appointment with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to get it checked out.
Some more information on how the Check Engine light works may be helpful for Lancaster drivers. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.
In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range, the computer runs some tests and may turn on the vehicle's Check Engine light.
A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn't know if it's a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine light.
Now when you tighten up the gas cap, the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn't come up again, it turns off the Check Engine light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it'll then turn off the Check Engine light.
If the problem can't be resolved then the light will remain on, and you should get your vehicle looked at. Your friendly and knowledgeable pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Helps You Decipher the Menu Board: Part 2
Feb 06, 2014
California service centers have a menu board that lists the services they provide. Some Lancaster drivers may not be familiar with all of the items on the board so here is a quick description of some of the typical services that might be listed.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley fuel system cleaning: Over time, the vehicle fuel system gets gum and varnish built up. A fuel system cleaning gets rid of that and cleans out the fuel injectors. Saves gas, by the way.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley headlamp replacement: Halogen and standard headlamps gradually fade. It's usually good to change them every year or so.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley inspections: Lancaster drivers get inspections for many reasons. Maybe they're going on a trip or just want to make sure their vehicle's ready for a California summer or winter. Maybe they just bought a used vehicle and want to give it the once over. An inspection may reveal some things that are broken or are getting close to having a problem.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley oil change: There are several options: Some Lancaster centers offer just an oil change and new filter as an option. Most will also check and top off all of your other fluids and do a quick visual inspection with a full service oil change. In my way of thinking, the full service option is best because it makes sure you have adequate fluids and may uncover an emerging problem. There may also be options for higher mileage fluids or an upgrade to synthetic oil.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley PCV valve replacement in Lancaster: PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve. It's a little part that releases pressure from the engine. It can get gummed up and that can lead to engine damage. It just needs to be changed now and then.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valleypower steering service: Often overlooked. Your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician will evacuate the old fluid, clean out the system and replace it with clean fluid. Keeps the vehicle system running well for a long time.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley serpentine belt service: That's the belt that powers the vehicle engine's accessories like the alternator, air conditioner, power steering and brakes. You'll want to replace the serpentine belt before it breaks, because that'll shut you down.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley shocks and struts: This starts with an inspection of the suspension components. Shocks last a long time and wear out slowly, so many Lancaster drivers don't notice when it's time to change them. If they're worn or leaking, they need to be replaced.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley transmission service:This involves removing the transmission fluid and replacing it with clean fluid. It's like an oil change for your transmission.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley tire rotation and wheel balancing: The tires are rotated from front to back using the recommended rotation pattern. This helps tires wear more evenly. Wheels need to be balanced from time to time to keep them turning without any wobble or bounce. Helps the ride and saves tire wear.