Every Lancaster vehicle owner has to purchase tires at some time or another, so it's a good idea to understand what the choices are. The best seasonal performance is achieved by purchasing tires to match the season you are driving in. Summer tires are designed for hot temperatures. The tread is engineered for good traction on dry or rainy California roads. But the rubber compound in summer tires gets stiff when temperatures drop below 45°F (7°C), and snow and mud can pack into the tread, reducing the traction of the tire.
Winter tires are designed for good traction on snowy surfaces. The tread actually throws snow off of the tire as the wheel turns. The rubber compound in a winter tire is soft so that it will remain flexible at temperatures below 45°F (7°C). At higher temperatures, however, the softer rubber wears down rapidly.
All-season tires sacrifice some of the extreme performance of summer or winter tires, but they maintain adequate traction in either type of Lancaster weather.
So your first consideration when buying a tire is where you live in California, and where you usually drive. If you require maximum summer and winter performance you can go with dedicated summer and winter tires; you would just need to change out your tires each spring and fall.
For serious winter driving in California, look for tires with a severe snow rating. These tires are labeled with a mountain-and-snowflake logo.
Your second consideration is the quality of tire to purchase. Summer, winter and all-season tires come in a variety of grades and styles at California tire stores. Lancaster drivers will want to purchase a tire that will give them good wear and that will handle their driving style and road conditions. Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley tire professional can give you auto advice as to which type of tire will best fit your needs.
Lancaster vehicle owners who drive off-road around California may want to look at a high-grade tire that is designed for off-road use. These tires are designed to handle the extra wear of off-roading while still giving good performance on Lancaster streets and roads. There are a number of options to choose from so that you can find the right tire whether you are only an occasional off-road explorer or a serious rock climber.
New wheels can be purchased in Lancaster as a statement of style or to add personality to your vehicle. There are almost unlimited options. If you change the size of the wheels on your vehicle, however, you will need to get some professional help to make your vehicle compatible with its new wheels. Talk to your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for more information about tires.
Problems with Suspension Solved at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster
Jun 18, 2015
A vehicle's suspension system is tough. It can last for years and after lots of driving for Lancaster drivers. But it can be damaged quickly by hitting a pothole, curb or rock, and it can wear more quickly if you frequently drive off-road or on bumpy roads. A workhorse vehicle — one that hauls heavy loads — is also going to be hard on its suspension system.
Because the useful life of your suspension system contains these elements of unpredictability, it is important for Lancaster drivers to have them inspected periodically. Worn, broken and missing parts can be identified during an inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley . An ineffective suspension system will decrease the driver's control over a vehicle, so when it is damaged it frequently leads to the worst kind of vehicular damage — dangerous accidents.
The suspension system is composed of springs and shock absorbers (or shocks). Springs suspend the weight of the vehicle above its axles. They allow the vehicle to “bounce” over bumps, which reduces the force of the impact on the vehicle. Shocks reduce the rebound of the “bounce,” smoothing out the ride of the vehicle. They also force the tires to retain constant contact with the road. Shocks are responsible for “handling performance,” or the ease with which the driver controls the vehicle.
The springs in the suspension system are heavy-duty and rarely break or wear out. Shock absorbers are tough, too, but they will wear out.
Your vehicle might be equipped with struts. Struts are a combination spring and shock absorber. Struts, like shocks, have a limited life span.
Inspecting shocks or struts for damage and wear should be part of your preventive maintenance routine. Since a good suspension system is ultimately a safety feature of your vehicle, it's always better to be proactive about its care. In this case, good car care can prevent accidents.
There are some signs that will warn you that your suspension system may be in need of attention. One of the signs might be a cupped wear pattern on your tires. This is caused by the shocks bouncing unevenly. Other signs of bad shocks manifest themselves in the handling performance of your vehicle. You may notice a drifting sensation when cornering, often referred to as a “floaty” feeling. If the front of your vehicle dips significantly when you brake or if it rocks back and forth after stopping, it's time for new shocks. Your technician at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will check your shocks visually. If they're leaking, they need to be replaced.
Any one of these symptoms warrants an inspection of the suspension system. You should also get your suspension system inspected if you are involved in an accident involving one of your wheels. Lancaster drivers should never put off suspension repairs. If you experience suspension system failure, it can cause a serious accident. If one of your shocks needs to be replaced, then replace all four of them. This allows for even handling of the vehicle. Replacing just one of the shocks is rarely good auto advice.
When you replace your shocks or struts, use parts that are equivalent to — or better than — the original shocks on the vehicle. The original equipment was for the weight and expected use of the vehicle, and Lancaster drivers should never downgrade.
Upgrading, however, is another matter for Lancaster drivers. If your suspension system gets a workout or you just want to improve your vehicle's handling performance, then you should upgrade to a better shock. If you haul heavy loads around Lancaster or tow a trailer, then you should definitely be getting heavy-duty shocks.
Diesel engines have been used extensively in Europe and Asia for many years. They haven’t been as common in Los Angeles County because of the high sulfur content in our diesel fuel. But the government is now mandating lower sulfur content and, as a result, we are going to see more Lancaster drivers driving diesel-fueled vehicles on the road, especially in passenger cars and SUV’s.
Diesels are popular in Lancaster because they get better fuel economy than gas-powered engines. They also last longer. Modern diesel engines are quiet and powerful. And if you associate diesel engines with black smoke, then you’re not up with the times. That smoke is a thing of the past.
Diesels don’t produce any more pollutants than gasoline engines. The pollution standards for diesel-powered vehicles are as strict in California as for other vehicles.
Also, diesel engines can run on bio-diesel fuels as well as fossil fuels. Diesel fuel can be produced from vegetable oil or from cellulosic waste like wood chips and sawdust. In Los Angeles County, we may soon see bio-diesel produced from algae. These fuel sources will lessen Lancaster motorists' dependence on fossil fuels and may even become truly renewable and sustainable.
Diesel-powered vehicles perform as well as other passenger vehicles, also. Most Antelope Valley people don’t notice a difference in driving one or the other. If you haul heavy loads or tow a trailer in Edwards, however, the diesel is a definite improvement.
So, you may be asking, if diesels are so great, why don’t all Los Angeles County auto owners drive them? Surely there are disadvantages you haven’t told me about. That’s true. Diesel engines are heavier than gas engines, and they cost more in California. The better fuel efficiency of the diesel engine is partially offset by the higher purchase price.
Because of higher fuel prices, diesel engines used to be more pricey to drive in Los Angeles County. But now, with higher volatility in the prices of both gasoline and diesel fuel in California, that cost difference is less definitive. Whether a diesel or gas engine is more expensive for Lancaster car owners depends now on the current price of fuel in California and how many miles you drive.
Consider also that diesel-powered vehicles have a high resale value in the Los Angeles County area, and the costs of owning and operating a diesel vs. a gas-powered vehicle in California becomes a real toss-up.
Preventive auto maintenance for diesel vehicles has also become similar to that of gas-fueled vehicles in recent years. The major difference is that diesels require cleaner fuel, air and oil, so their filters are more expensive in Lancaster than those for gasoline engines. The engine air filter must be changed more frequently as well.
The costs for car care and repairs in Lancaster are similar. Wait, you may be thinking, but you just told me that filters are more pricey and have to be changed more regularly. True, but that is offset by the fact that diesel engines have a much longer lifetime than gasoline engines. So if you are the type of owner who prefers to hang on to a vehicle for a long time, you will be more than rewarded with a diesel engine.
So if you have been looking for Doug Beimler's QH Automotive auto advice on whether to switch to a diesel vehicle or stay with a gas-powered one, then we hope this helps. The answer as to which type of vehicle is better is that it depends on the Lancaster driver and their driving habits. Now that you know the facts, you can make an informed choice based on your own priorities and needs.
Good Timing: Proper Timing Belt Replacement Saves Money for Lancaster Drivers
Jun 05, 2015
Knowing how their engine works can help Lancaster drivers make informed decisions about auto care and prevent repairs to their vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to timing belts.
An engine's power is generated in the cylinders. Inside the cylinder is a piston that moves up and down while the engine is running. Power is generated in a cycle that includes four strokes of the piston. First, the piston drops and a valve at the top of the cylinder opens to let in fuel and air. The piston then rises, which compresses the fuel and air. At this point, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel and pushing the piston down. This downstroke transfers energy to the engine, which provides the power it needs to run. The piston rises again, and a valve opens to release the exhaust.
All of this movement is orchestrated by a timing belt. The timing belt is so named because it keeps the pistons and valves operating in synch with each other, just as a conductor keeps all of the instruments in an orchestra in time with one another. Thus, the timing belt is critical to the proper operation of your engine.
Not all vehicles in the Lancaster area have timing belts. Some have timing chains. A timing chain is more durable and rarely breaks, but timing belts are cheaper, so many use them to save money.
Timing belts wear out and break, so part of preventive maintenance for Lancaster drivers is to replace the timing belt on schedule.
The results of failure of a timing belt depend on the type of engine in your vehicle, but they are always inconvenient and can be very costly for Lancaster auto owners. If your engine is a non-interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the engine simply stops running. Now that can be an incredibly inconvenient situation depending on where you are driving around Lancaster when it breaks, but it won't cause any engine damage. On the other hand, if your vehicle has an interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the valves on your cylinders will actually fall into the path of the pistons. Then things start getting chewed up by the motion of the engine and it will cost thousands of dollars to get everything sorted out again. Compounding the problem is that there aren't any warning signs before a timing belt breaks. A visual inspection of the belt is difficult also. In some vehicles, parts of the belt may be visible, but most vehicles hide the belt under a cover.
The timing belt doesn't even have to break to cause major engine damage. If it slips, even one notch, the result could be engine damage with repair costs in the thousands of dollars.
Our only car care option is to simply replace the timing belt periodically. You can check your owner's manual to find out how often your timing belt should be replaced. Many vehicles need a replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), but the recommended replacement mileage could be as high as 90,000 or 100,000 miles (145,000 to 160,000 kilometers). If your owner's manual recommends replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), however, don't wait until 65,000 miles (105,000 kilometers) to get it done. Remember what you're risking.
Replacing a timing belt is not a cheap part of preventive maintenance for Lancaster vehicle owners. The belt is usually difficult to get to and often requires removal of some of the engine accessories. The cost of the replacement, however, is a lot less than what the repairs may cost if the timing belt fails.
For more auto advice on timing belts and other engine components, you can always consult with your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. When it comes to car care, ignorance is not bliss. It can end up costing you in a big way.
Below 45 Degrees in Lancaster: Consider Winter Tires
Jun 03, 2015
Remember snow tires? They were basically just regular tires with big, knobby lugs to get them through deep snow. They were loud and rode hard, and Lancaster drivers couldn't wait to get them off the car. Then along came television advertisements for “all-season” radials. California drivers ran out and bought some and we thought we were done with snow tires forever.
Tires have come a long way since then. Modern winter tires sold in the Lancaster area are much better designed for the wide range of conditions that come with California winter weather. They are made with a rubber compound that helps them stay flexible in cold weather. Regular tires become hard and stiff at Lancaster temperatures below 45°F (7° C) which reduces their traction. That's a concern in winter, especially with snowy or wet conditions. But it also means that Lancaster drivers are better off with winter tires in cold weather even when it's dry.
The tread design on winter tires has been improved to move snow, slush and water. The lugs and grooves throw packed snow out of the tread as the tire rotates. This means the tread is open and ready to move more snow when it rolls around again. Summer tires can pack up with snow, which makes them more dangerous than a bald tire.
The all-season tire that is popular among Lancaster drivers is a compromise between summer and winter performance. This means they give adequate performance for Lancaster drivers in either season but aren't great in either. Summer tires give great performance in hot weather but lousy performance in winter. Lancaster drivers need to put more thought into their tire choices these days.
If you want the performance that new winter tires can give you, you should have them properly installed by your friendly and professional service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. It's best to purchase four snow tires and put them on all the wheels of your vehicle. But if you only want two, you need to put them on the rear of your vehicle, even if you drive a front-wheel drive vehicle. Lancaster drivers always want to put the tires with the best traction on the rear of the vehicle.
For more auto advice about tires for any California season, ask your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley tire professional. They can help you find the right tire for your area and for your driving needs. For the best performance from your tires, whatever the season, don't forget preventive maintenance. Keep your tires up to pressure for the best durability, safety and performance, but don't overinflate them. Remember, good car care provides the safest road for all of us in Lancaster.