Regular Schedule or Severe Service Schedule at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley?
Jul 30, 2017
Today's The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley article focuses on severe service maintenance. Many Lancaster drivers are not aware of them and yet there are also very vocal advocates in California who think that severe service schedules apply to everyone. Somewhere between a complete lack of awareness and the dire blanket statements lies a reasonable approach to severe service maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
To back up a little, vehicle owner's manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance: things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil after a certain distanced traveled or after so many months. Lancaster drivers understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.
Now when you hear 'severe service,' you may think it doesn't apply to you because you don't feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it's just normal everyday driving in the Lancaster area. So let's list some of the conditions that classify as severe so that you can make the judgment on your own driving.
Before we start the list, here's a point of contrast that definitely is not severe driving. Driving down your nearest California interstate at the highway speed limit on a 75 degree F/24 degree C day loaded only with your passengers. This is an easy trip for your vehicle: your engine is loafing along at low RPMs, no heavy loads to pull and moderate Lancaster temperatures. Now let's look at some severe service driving conditions.
Most trips around Lancaster are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers. When your vehicle engine cools down, moisture condenses in the engine. This water in the oil doesn't get a chance to evaporate on short trips because the oil doesn't get hot enough. A lot of short trips in your vehicle means a lot of water build up. And water in the oil leads to the creation of sludge which can damage the engine. Changing the oil more frequently keeps sludge from building up. By contrast, highway driving warms the engine up and gets the water burned off.
Here's another example. Most trips around Lancaster are less than 10 miles/16 km and outside temperatures are below freezing. This is the same reasoning, but in very cold California weather it takes even longer for the oil to get hot enough to evaporate the water, hence 10 miles/16 km as opposed to 4 miles/6.4 km.
Next, you drive in very hot California weather. The hotter it is outside, the more cooling the engine, transmission, brake fluid and so on becomes. The environment in which the fluids reside is more hostile, and the fluids simply break down faster. Therefore, the lower change interval.
Another: driving at low speed most of the time. Every vehicle engine has what's called its power band. This is a range of RPMs in which it's most efficient. Low speed driving doesn't keep the engine in its power band so it's working harder. This is one of the reasons that ratings are worse in downtown than on the highway.
Stop and go driving in Lancaster is another severe service condition. You're always accelerating, which works the vehicle engine and transmission harder. Then you're stopping, which works the brake fluid harder, causing it to get very hot. Highway driving, on the other hand, requires far less horsepower to maintain its speed than getting a stationary vehicle from a stop light up to 25 mph/40 kph. A lot of this and you'll need to follow the severe service schedule.
Also on the list is operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy conditions. Obviously, your engine air filter and cabin air will get dirty faster and need to be changed more frequently as will your breather element. Some of this dust and dirt will make its way into your fluids. They will simple get dirty faster and won't protect the components as well as fresh fluids.
Finally, you're driving under severe conditions in Lancaster when you tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier. This is pretty obvious. You'll spend more time in lower gears so the engine and transmission work much harder and create more heat. Brakes will be more stressed stopping the heavier loads.
Sounds like most of us in Lancaster operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How can Lancaster drivers know which schedule to follow?
Think of it as a spectrum with "always driving under severe conditions" on one end and "never driving under severe conditions" on the other end. Some will be at one extreme or the other, but most of us will fall somewhere in between.
Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can help you with your decision.
Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: When to Replace a Damaged Tire
Jul 24, 2017
Repair or Replace? That’s a question Lancaster drivers ask when they have tire damage. Some punctures cannot be repaired because of their size or location. Punctures larger than a quarter of an inch (6.4 mm) are considered too large to be safely repaired. Punctures in the sidewall or near the shoulders may not be able to be repaired. And sometimes there is internal damage revealed on inspection that indicates the tire should not be repaired.
Run flat tires should not be repaired. Repairing high performance tires may make them unsuitable for motorsports. Your friendly and professional The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can inspect your damaged tire and tell you if it can be safely repaired or if it should be replaced - and then help you get back on the roads around Lancaster.
The The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Guide to Saving Fuel: Get Rid of Dirty Oil
Jul 16, 2017
A lot of us drivers are asking ourselves the same question lately: how can we save on fuel? Lancaster area residents are all cutting back, if not in fuel consumption, then in other areas of our lives.
Preventive maintenance is an important way people in Lancaster can conserve fuel by improving fuel economy. And one of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is to keep the oil in our vehicle adequate and clean.
Oil lubricates your vehicle engine and keeps it running smoothly. If you're running low, there is increased friction in your engine. Friction creates drag, which means it takes more fuel to keep the vehicle motor running. This all translates to lower fuel economy.
Check your oil to make sure the engine is getting all it needs. Your owner's manual and service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will tell you the proper weight and type of oil for your vehicle.
Responsible Car Care
Dirty oil grits up your engine, which also increases friction. So even if there's enough oil, you're still getting that extra drag that reduces your fuel economy. That's why your owner's manual recommends getting your oil changed regularly. It's good auto advice.
While you're checking your oil, you should take a quick look at your transmission fluid as well. Your transmission also needs clean, adequate fluid to work efficiently. An inefficient transmission also translates into lower fuel economy.
Your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will be able to check your oil and other fluids, top you off or change your oil if necessary. Your owner's manual will have recommendations on how often you should check your oil and transmission fluid. But you can also consult with the pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster. The types of roads you drive on in California, the climate where you live and the air quality in your area can all affect how often you should change your oil.
And don't forget that this will improve our environment here in Lancaster as well. Improved efficiency translates to fewer emissions. Changing your oil as scheduled doesn't just help your vehicle (and your pocketbook), it helps keep the air clean as well.
There is no escaping it: things work better when you take care of them. Something most of us in Lancaster can relate to is our computers. You've probably noticed how they get slower and slower over time. It takes longer to start up and programs take forever to load. Eventually, many of us just get a new computer at our nearest Lancaster computer store. But computer experts know that there are things you can do to delay the need for a new computer purchase. You can run utilities that clean off temporary files and clean your memory registry. You can optimize your hard drive and a number of other things.
What you're doing is maintaining your computer to make it efficient. It's the same thing with your vehicle. You maintain it to make it more efficient. It works the way it was designed to and that means it uses less fuel while you drive around Lancaster. And you save money.
To help organize our discussion, let's think of things that rob us of fuel economy in two ways: increased friction and inefficient fuel combustion.
Friction. Anything that increases friction increases drag or load on the vehicle engine. It has to work harder to overcome the drag – and that takes more fuel. The first thing that comes to mind is engine oil. Low oil means there's not enough to fully lubricate the engine so there's more friction. Dirty oil won't lubricate as well as clean oil. The same principles apply to transmission fluid. Getting your oil changed and transmission serviced on schedule at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will reduce friction and help you get better fuel economy.
Another friction related problem is underinflated tires. When your vehicle tires are low on air, it's like driving on California highways through sand – your vehicle has to work harder to move every mile. Check your tire pressure at least once a month.
Wheels out of alignment and dragging brakes also increase friction. And your tires and brake pads will wear out much sooner as well. At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, we provide quality brake and wheel alignment services.
Let's move on to Fuel. You have to get the right amount of clean fuel to the combustion chamber at precisely the right time. A dirty fuel system has varnish and gum interfering, and the fuel injectors may be unable to deliver the correct amount of fuel at the right pressure — and in the spray pattern — that the engineers intended. A vehicle fuel system cleaning at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will get all of that working right and really improve fuel economy.
Replacing your fuel filter on schedule will help keep your fuel clean. Replacing a sticky PCV valve will allow unburned fuel from the engine to be returned to the intake system to be used. Replacing worn spark plugs will burn your fuel as efficiently as possible.
Diagnosing Your Vehicle at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster
Jul 03, 2017
When we Lancaster residents get a car repair bill, we really shouldn't be surprised to find “diagnostic fees” as one of the line items. When we get a computer fixed, there is usually a charge for the time it takes to diagnose the problem. When we go to a medical doctor, most of his fee is for his ability to diagnose what's wrong. It's no different with our vehicles.
Some diagnoses are fairly simple. Brake repairs at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley usually require only a visual inspection, for instance. But other problems are much more difficult to diagnose. An intermittent engine problem, for example, takes time and expertise to pinpoint.
Modern vehicles have multiple computers that monitor a variety of sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of those sensors has a reading that is higher or lower than the standard parameters, the computer turns on the Check Engine light. Technicians at a service center such as The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster can scan the engine's computer for a trouble code. This code tells the technician which reading is too high or too low.
That's where some Lancaster residents get confused. They think that this reading concludes the diagnosis, and they don't understand why the diagnostic fee is as much as it is when all the technician did was to scan the computer. But the truth is the trouble code is only the beginning of the diagnostic procedure.
Remember, the trouble code only tells which reading is out of parameter. It doesn't say what is causing the reading to be too high or too low. Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service technician still has to find the underlying problem. It's a lot like going to the doctor. He can take your temperature and discover that you have a fever, but that doesn't tell him what is causing your fever.
Automotive diagnostic technology can cut down the time it takes to figure out what's wrong with a vehicle that isn't running right. But it doesn't do away with the need for your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service technician to make a proper diagnosis. Car care, like medical care, still requires the human touch.