Drive Train Service in Lancaster at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Feb 24, 2015
The drive train in your vehicle includes all the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels. Those components differ depending on what type of vehicle you drive, namely, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The preventive maintenance your driveshaft needs will also differ by what type of vehicle you drive.
Let's start with front-wheel drive. In this vehicle, the transmission and the differential are combined in one component, known as the transaxle. The transaxle is connected to two half-shafts (axles), which are then connected to the wheels with a constant velocity (or CV) joint, which is protected by an airtight rubber boot.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service for this type of driveline includes servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot. If the boot is damaged, the CV joint will need to be inspected, and the boot will need to be replaced. If you hear a clicking noise in your wheel wells when you turn, you may have a damaged CV joint. A damaged CV joint should be replaced.
Rear-wheel drive vehicles generally have a transmission in the front of the car and the differential in the back. A driveshaft (it looks like a long tube) connects the transmission to the differential. Some vehicles may have a two-piece driveshaft, which are connected to the differential with universal joints or U-joints. Again, the differential is connected to two half-shafts that go out to the wheels.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service on the drive train on a rear-wheel drive vehicle starts with servicing the differential. It will need its fluid drained and replaced regularly. The seals on the axles should also be inspected for wear or leaks. Leaking or damaged seals may mean the axle needs to be serviced as well. Also, U-joints can wear out. If you hear clunking or feel a jolt when you shift into drive or into reverse, it could indicate a driveline problem.
All-wheel drive vehicles provide power from the transmission to all of the wheels, instead of just to the front or rear. The advantage is that the vehicle can adapt to different driving conditions and transfer more power to the front or back wheels as needed. The disadvantages are that the driveline is more complicated, and the vehicle weighs slightly more.
Many all-wheel drive vehicles are based on a front-wheel drive set-up. They also have a differential in the rear and one in the center of the vehicle that allows power to transfer to the front and rear. A shaft runs from the transfer case to the center differential, and another from the center differential to the rear differential.
Servicing an all-wheel drive at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley involves servicing ALL of the differentials and inspecting the joints and seals for wear, leaks or damage.
Four-wheel drive vehicles are rear-wheel drive vehicles that have an option to transfer power to the front wheels. In other words, they can be driven as either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. These vehicles are specifically designed for the harsh driving conditions Lancaster drivers encounter off-road. The driveline in a four-wheel drive vehicle is similar to that of an all-wheel drive vehicle. The center differential, however, is a transfer case. Maintenance requires servicing both of the differentials and the transfer case, as well as an inspection of the joints and seals.
Lancaster auto owners would be wise to check with their owner's manual for recommendations on how often to service their vehicle drive train. It's also good auto advice to check with your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor as well. You may live in an area in California where weather or driving conditions require more frequent servicing of the drive train.
Good car care at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster always includes taking care of your driveline. Without it, your vehicle becomes a very large paperweight.
Your Vehicle Is NOT Maintenance Free, Lancaster Car Owners
Feb 19, 2015
A generation ago, Lancaster drivers seemed to be more inclined to keep their vehicle's preventive maintenance on schedule. One reason for this may be that vehicles back then were a lot less reliable than they are today. Taking your vehicle in to your Lancaster shop every year or two for repairs seemed to be a good reminder to keep the oil changed.
For example, almost everyone in Lancaster used to take their vehicles in for regular tune-ups. Vehicles had mechanical ignition systems, which meant ignition points, spark plugs and coils had to be replaced and the timing adjusted every few years. As long as the vehicle was in for a tune-up at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, the vehicle was inspected and you took care of any needed repairs at the same time.
Today's engines have electronic ignition systems and engine control computers. Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles/160,000 km. Vehicle reliability has vastly improved in the last few decades, and surveys report fewer problems with new vehicles than ever before. That also means that our vehicles don't experience a huge performance drop when they're ready for some care. But it doesn't mean that they don't need it.
Modern Lancaster drivers need to rely on calendars and mileage intervals to know when to schedule maintenance. Owner's manuals contain recommendations on when different types of maintenance should be performed. Also, The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster can provide advice about auto maintenance schedules. At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster, we know that benefits of staying on top of preventive maintenance are substantial. First, you'll get better engine performance and fuel economy. Those two things alone return the cost of preventive maintenance: in fuel savings and safety. Also, routine maintenance has been proven to prevent major car repairs later on. Again, the cost savings can be significant. As the old saying goes, “Spend a penny, save a dime.”
Modern vehicle engines may be more durable and reliable than their predecessors, but they're more sophisticated and complex as well. For this reason, preventive maintenance today is even more critical than the old tune-up. Modern engine systems have a lot of parts that have to stay lubricated. These parts can be made of aluminum, plastic or steel. Special additives in lubricants are required to keep each of these materials from breaking down or corroding. Over time, these additives are depleted, even if the vehicle isn't driven. This makes fluid changes a critical part of scheduled maintenance if you want to keep your vehicle on the road.
As an example, coolant fluid in your engine is a sophisticated mix that not only keeps your vehicle engine cool but also protects and maintains its components. However, this fluid gradually gets contaminated and anti-corrosion additives are depleted. It can become corrosive and damage the vehicle's engine parts it was designed to protect. It can eat holes in your radiator and other engine parts. Changing the coolant could have prevented this damage, and it's a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing a radiator.
Timely oil changes are more critical for Lancaster drivers than they used to be. Skipping just one oil change can start the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Sludge can clog small engine passages, which cuts off the supply of lubricant to engine parts. Just this small bit of sludge can reduce the life expectancy of your engine. If the build-up continues, it could lead to engine failure within two or three years.
One word of warning to anyone in Lancaster who purchases used vehicles: take care when buying a leased vehicle. Lancaster folks who lease vehicles only intend to drive them for two or three years, generally the years when the vehicle is least likely to experience any problems. One of the reasons people lease vehicles is that they don't want to be bothered with maintenance or vehicle care. Before buying a pre-leased vehicle, be sure to inspect it for signs of damage that result from lack of proper care.
We can all be grateful for the improved reliability of our modern vehicles. With proper maintenance and care, we can expect them to last longer, perform better, get better fuel economy and require fewer repairs than ever before. We just have to be more conscientious about scheduling time for their care.
Give us a call or send us an email for more helpful tips.
The Straight and Narrow: Power Steering Service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Feb 12, 2015
Service to a vehicle's power steering system is part of preventive maintenance for Lancaster auto owners. This system provides power to the steering wheel so you can turn it with ease. Without power steering, all of the power to turn your vehicle's wheels would have to come from you.
The central element of most power steering systems is a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid, and it is this pressure that provides auxiliary steering power. A belt connected to the engine usually powers the pump, although some systems use an electric pump. Some newer vehicles have an electric motor that directly provides the power steering boost.
Pressurized fluid moves from the pump to the steering gear through a high-pressure hose. A low-pressure hose returns fluid to the pump. Power steering fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the system.
Lancaster drivers should remember that fluid levels in the power steering system should be checked at every oil change. Low fluid levels can damage the pump, which can be expensive to repair. Low fluid levels may also indicate a leaky hose in the power steering system, so it is a good idea to inspect the hoses, especially if your fluid levels are low.
Power steering fluid breaks down over time, losing its effectiveness. It also gradually collects moisture, which can lead to corrosion in the steering system. So the fluid needs to be replaced occasionally. You should check with your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to learn how often this fluid should be replaced.
When your fluid is replaced, your technicians at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will remove the old fluid and replace it with new. Power steering fluids are not all created equal; the fluid has to be compatible with your hoses and seals. The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can ensure that you get the right fluid for your vehicle, or you can consult your owner's manual.
Signs that your power steering system is in trouble can include the following: a steering wheel that is hard to turn, auxiliary steering power that cuts in and out, or a whining sound coming from the pump. Also, drivers in Lancaster who are not topping off the power steering fluid on schedule may hear squealing coming from the engine belts.
To protect your steering system you should never hold the steering wheel in the far right or far left position for more than a few seconds at a time. This can wear out your pump in a hurry.
Preventive maintenance for your steering system primarily involves the power steering components, but your steering system has other parts that can wear out or be damaged by rough California driving conditions. Such parts include the ball-joint, idler arm, steering gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod. Signs that they are in need of attention include play in the steering wheel, a vehicle that wanders, uneven tire wear and a steering wheel that is off-center. Lancaster drivers should have their alignment checked annually. This check-up can reveal bent or damaged steering components.
For answers to other questions about your steering system, or for auto advice on any type of vehicle maintenance, check with the team at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. We can steer you in the right direction when it comes to quality car care.
Breathe Free in Lancaster: Cabin Air Filter Replacement at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Feb 04, 2015
There are a lot of new features, both optional and standard, on Lancaster drivers' vehicles these days. One you may not have heard of is called a cabin air filter. Simply put, its job is to keep the air in the passenger compartment of your car nice and clean.
A cabin air filter is similar to the filter you use on your furnace at home in Lancaster. Cabin air filters can catch particles down to three microns. By comparison, a grain of sand is 200 microns. So cabin air filters are effective against dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores and most pollutants in our Lancaster area atmosphere. Good news if you suffer from any types of allergies, or if you live in an area in California prone to air pollution.
Cabin air filters are generally located in the engine compartment or under the dashboard. They can be tricky to access and replace, so you'll probably want to go to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to get it done. Check your vehicle owner's manual to find out if your vehicle is equipped with a cabin air filter and how often it should be changed. Recommendations vary, but generally a cabin air filter should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles (19,000 to 24,000 kilometers).
Of course, if you are an allergy sufferer in Lancaster, you may want to replace it more often. Also, if you do a lot of driving in polluted or dusty areas in California, you'll also want to shorten the cabin air filter replacement period. Dirty air filters just don't work well, and they can exude an unpleasant odor if ignored for too long.
Most Lancaster folks know that good car care includes keeping your vehicle clean, including the air inside the passenger compartment, so changing your cabin air filter should be part of your routine preventive maintenance. It's good auto advice as well as good medical advice that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You really shouldn't wait until the interior of your car starts to smell and your eyes start to water before you change your filter. And trying to cover it up with a dangling green pine tree is not the right answer, either!
Cabin air filters can be a welcome relief to Lancaster allergy sufferers, but they're also a great idea for anyone in California who just wants to breathe better.