New School: Automotive The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Technician Training
May 31, 2016
Lancaster consumers are demanding. We want a safe, reliable vehicle that handles well and is comfortable to ride in. Oh, and we want good fuel economy, too. We also want vehicle repairs that are cheap, fast and easy. Unfortunately, one usually comes at the cost of the other.
Today's vehicles have made significant improvements in reliability and performance over the last few decades. They also deliver more power to Lancaster drivers more efficiently than ever before. For example, some of today's 4-cylinder engines are equal to yesterday's V-8's. Our vehicles also offer an amazing range of features that make them more comfortable and convenient than ever before.
But all of that improvement has come at a price for Lancaster vehicle owners. Our vehicles are more complicated and difficult to repair than ever before. They have numerous mechanical and electrical systems. Fuel systems are so complex they have to be run by a computer. Our vehicles are covered with sensors and high-tech electronic equipment. Our dashboards rival the control panel of the first manned space flight.
With all that complicated equipment, it's no wonder we call mechanics service technicians these days. You can't learn to repair vehicles in the backyard with your dad anymore. Today's The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technicians have to go to school. School may come in the form of classroom instruction, online courses or both. Technicians are also trained on-site at the Lancaster service centers where they work (including The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley) to keep them abreast of constant improvements in vehicle engineering, diagnostic equipment and repair techniques.
Today's technicians need to be certified to work on our vehicles. They can earn a variety of certifications in California, but the highest of these is Master Technician. It's like a graduate degree in auto repair.
Vehicle repair at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster requires more than just training and certification, though. It also takes information and creative thought. Lancaster area auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and online repair communities in order to get the information they need to: work on various makes and models of vehicles, get recommended maintenance schedules, learn about non-standard features and locate hard-to-find parts in an unusual engine. They also use this information to help diagnose rare or difficult vehicle problems. Many auto repair problems also require a bit of creative thinking for the team at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to solve. Lancaster service technicians at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley act much like doctors in these situations. They're given a set of symptoms, and they have to come up with a diagnosis and treatment that will fix the problem. This process becomes as much of an art as it is a science.
A proper diagnosis, even by a highly qualified technician, can take time. And a technician's time is going to cost us. It's just the price of progress.
Of course, the best vehicle care for Lancaster vehicle owners is planned preventive auto maintenance. This is also the least costly way to keep your vehicle in good repair. Regular inspections and replacement of worn parts will prevent most repairs from ever being needed in the first place.
And with the amazing complexity of today's automobiles, isn't it good to know there's someone out there with the knowledge, training and skill to give us good auto advice? Whether we need preventive maintenance or repairs, the team of automotive professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can help us keep our vehicles on the road. We just can't do it on our own anymore.
Ask The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: What Happens When a Serpentine Belt Breaks?
May 23, 2016
The serpentine belt is aptly named since it snakes around under your hood. It may lack its namesake's fangs, but it sure packs a wallop when it breaks.
The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine systems. It runs the alternator, which charges the battery; the water pump (on some vehicles), which cools the engine; the air conditioning, which cools the driver and passengers; and the power steering pump, which allows for easier steering. When the belt breaks, all of these systems shut down.
Okay, so maybe you can live without air conditioning and power steering for a while, but your battery can't live very long without an alternator, and when the cooling system goes down, your vehicle engine will overheat. That's why Lancaster drivers should never wait to get a serpentine belt replaced.
Serpentine belts are fairly inexpensive at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster. And they look downright cheap when you compare them to the cost of an overheated vehicle engine, a tow truck, time lost on the road, inconvenience, and the potential safety consequences of being stranded.
Good car care means never putting off preventive maintenance. Do yourself a favor. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician to glance under your hood and give that serpentine belt a quick look-over.
Speak Up: Talking with Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Service Advisor
May 16, 2016
About 80% of the vehicles on Lancaster roads today are behind on their preventive maintenance schedules. That translates to about 160 million vehicles in the United States that aren't performing as well as they could be - thousands right here in California. Some of the maintenance issues are minor. Others represent serious safety concerns.
There are many reasons Lancaster drivers neglect their routine car care. Some of the more common ones are complacency, lack of confidence, lack of trust and budget issues.
Modern vehicles are amazingly reliable compared to their older counterparts. They can run for years without any repairs, and we sometimes translate that to mean they don't need any maintenance. The trouble is that without maintenance, parts in the vehicle are gradually wearing out, fluids are getting dirty, oil is developing sludge — a lot of stuff is happening that we can't see, and it is destroying the vehicle. The first time we learn there is a problem, we have a major repair bill on our hands.
Older vehicles just couldn't keep going without frequent maintenance; they broke down without timely vehicle care. Modern vehicles are designed to keep running even when they're not fully healthy. Unfortunately, that convenience has led some of us to become complacent and ignore vehicle care — until we have to fix something. And fixing something today takes a whole lot more than it used to.
Some people in Lancaster just don't feel comfortable taking their vehicles to their local Lancaster service center. They don't know much about engines or auto mechanics, so they don't know what questions to ask. They don't want to appear foolish or ignorant.
Your physician doesn't expect you to understand what a ligament is or how it works. But if you have a problem with one, she's going to explain to you what it is, what's wrong with it and how it can be fixed. It's in her best interest as well as yours to do so. You'll both feel more comfortable with the treatment.
That's what you can expect from the pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. They have to be highly trained and work with a lot of complex, high-tech systems. They don't expect their Lancaster customers to understand car care. So ask questions. You need auto advice from a service specialist, just as you need medical advice from a doctor and financial advice from a financial advisor.
Which brings us to the next concern: trust. A lot of rumors fly around Lancaster about auto repair scams. You may have heard about some local auto shops taking advantage of customers and replacing parts that weren't broken. Frankly, this is just bad business practice. Lancaster auto service centers won't stay in business long if they're engaged in this type of activity.
It's in the best interest of Lancaster service centers to diagnose a problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's how they keep their businesses open.
Trust must be earned. But just as it took time for you to establish a relationship and rapport with your doctor, it will take time to build a relationship with your service center.
Also, realize that when your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley recommends routine maintenance, he is generally relying on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. In other words, your trust lies both with your service advisor and your vehicle manufacturer. You'll find that most of the service recommendations from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley you receive coincide with what's in your manual.
Those recommendations were set up by the engineers who designed your vehicle, not The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. The team at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is just offering you a friendly reminder — a helpful reminder really, since most of us don't post our owner's manuals to our calendars.
Money is behind most neglect of vehicle maintenance. First, they worry that they can't afford it. Second, they worry that they're being overcharged.
The simple truth is, car care is like health care. We can't afford not to have it. Preventive maintenance is cheap compared to repair work. It extends the lives of our vehicles and saves us money on fuel. It also makes our vehicles safer to drive, which can prevent accidents. Putting off preventive maintenance can be very expensive.
Lancaster area service centers have to be competitive. Like any business, they can't afford to overcharge customers or they go out of business. But vehicle care today does cost more in California than it used to. Vehicles are more sophisticated, complex and high-tech. That means technicians have to be better trained. They have to purchase high-tech diagnostic equipment and tools. They have to keep up with the latest advances in vehicle engineering and subscribe to computer databases. Like any business, they also have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, etc.
If you are strapped for cash, The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can offer auto advice to help you keep your car running safely and manage your budget. For example, let's say you need new brake pads, transmission service and a new cabin air filter. A technician can't ethically recommend you delay brake service: that creates a safety hazard for you and other Lancaster drivers. You need to get that done now. But they can let you know if the transmission service can wait a month and how long you can put off changing the cabin air filter. They can also estimate what these services will cost. That gives you the time and information you need to save up for the other services.
The key to modern car care is preventive maintenance. Our modern vehicles are safer, more fuel efficient and more reliable than ever before. But to keep them that way Lancaster drivers have to be more proactive about caring for them. It's good to know there are knowledgeable professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley who can help us do just that.
Safe California travel starts with preventive maintenance and good vehicle care at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. But there are other things Lancaster residents 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 auto owners should consider keeping an auto emergency kit in their vehicle. The kit should contain items that will allow you to deal with common emergencies on the road.
Some items you should carry in your vehicle 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 vehicle is only part of emergency preparedness. It is 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 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 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 vehicle 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 important 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 The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley want Lancaster drivers to be safe. Preventive maintenance, proper planning, smart communication: these are the basics of safe travel.
It Pays to Take Care of Your Transmission at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
May 02, 2016
If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that vehicle engines are getting more and more powerful in Lancaster. At the same time, they are getting better and better fuel economy. I've gotta tell 'ya, most of that's because of technological advances in transmissions. To get a better understanding of why that is, let's talk bicycles.
You've probably seen plenty of cyclists on Lancaster roads. Perhaps you ride yourself. Then you know that a cyclist's cadence is the number of times per minute he or she pedals. The ideal pedal speed is the zone where they can most efficiently generate power over a sustained period of time. The experienced California cyclist uses her gears to keep her pedal speed in the ideal zone whether she's climbing a hill, cruising on a flat stretch or killing a downhill.
Think of it this way: if you have a 1-speed bike, you really have to pump hard to get up to speed. Your top speed is limited by how fast as you can pedal. And if you're climbing a steep California hill – forget about it.
Now let's add a couple of gears: one lower and another one higher. With the lower first gear, you can get up to your ideal pedal speed more quickly. When you shift to second, your pedal speed drops below ideal for a while as you work to get back to peak efficiency. Same thing happens when you shift to third, but now you can go much faster than you could with a 1-speed bike using the same effort. Add more gears and you can see that it's much easier to maintain ideal pedal speed. The result, quicker starts, better hill climbing, higher top speed and, most of all, a lot less fatigue for the Lancaster rider.
Like a cyclist on a bike, every vehicle engine has an ideal engine speed called its power band. When an engine is running in that zone, it can make power very efficiently. It's the vehicle transmission's job to keep the engine in the power band over a wide range of operating conditions. Today 5 or 6 speed automatic transmissions are pretty much the minimum, and 7 and 8 speeds are fairly common in Lancaster.
Obviously these sophisticated transmissions are very expensive. In fact, next to your vehicle engine, your transmission is the most expensive component in your vehicle, so it pays to take good care of it. Your manufacturer has a recommended service interval for changing your old, contaminated transmission fluid. Servicing your transmission on schedule at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley keeps it operating at its best and can prevent costly damage. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley advisor if it's time for transmission service. Come see why smart Lancaster drivers trust their transmissions to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.