The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Fuel Saving Tip for Lancaster: Check Engine Light
Sep 25, 2016
Here's a question for Lancaster, California : How long have you been enjoying the romantic glow of your Check Engine light?
Hey, it's not there to create ambiance; it's a warning that something's wrong. (And, by the way, Homer Simpson's fix of covering it with tape is not a good idea.)
Many conditions that trigger the Check Engine light can hurt your vehicle. A lot.
If your date's eyes are smoldering in the soft glow of the Check Engine light, try to think of all the gas money you'll save by getting it fixed. Give The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley a call when you are ready.
Most Lancaster drivers are too young to remember life before power steering - cranking those great big steering wheels! It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. Let's look at how it works. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine; a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.
These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea for Lancaster drivers to have them inspected at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why power steering fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owner's manual for the right type - or just ask your friendly and knowledgeable pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.
The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so Lancaster drivers need to replace it from time to time. Many vehicle manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the car maintenance schedule for many of us. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Your technician at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.
Here are some warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It's harder to turn the wheel, there's erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your power steering pump quickly.
Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks: ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear and an off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster will reveal bent or damaged steering components.
Most SUV's, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.
The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. The team at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley also recommends the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners' manual maintenance schedule. It's usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km. If you drive through water in the Lancaster area, the bearings will need service more often.
Change Your Wiper Blades Twice Yearly at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Sep 13, 2016
Because 90% of our driving decisions are based on visual information, unobscured vision is paramount. Which brings us to the topic of today's The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley article: wiper blades. While this isn't the most exciting automotive subject, it's important. You wouldn't drive at night in Lancaster with your headlights off, but a dirty or streaked vehicle windshield can catch the glare of the sun or on-coming headlights and make it just as difficult to see.
Most of us in Lancaster replace our wiper blades when they no longer do the job. They are so worn, hard or brittle that they can't clean the windshield. They may even be falling apart. In other words, we deal with our wiper blades from a failure perspective. We address them when they no longer function. The theory, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," doesn't apply here. Instead, we should think about wipers blades as an important safety system that we should maintain rather than repair.
California automotive experts recommend that we change our wiper blades twice a year, in the spring and fall. That way you have functional blades for those Lancaster spring showers and winter storms.
When we use our wipers a lot, they get worn from the Lancaster road grime and bug juice. Even if we don't use them very often, they're exposed to the sun, heat and cold, and air which cause them to dry out, become brittle and break.
And of course, you need a good windshield washer fluid in your vehicle to help the wipers do their job. Always use washer fluid because plain water doesn't work as well and it can freeze in the reservoir. If you're driving where there are a lot of bugs in California, you can pay a little more and get fluid that does a better job of clearing them. If you live where you have extremely cold winters, you can get fluid that resists freezing.
Like everything else in the automotive world, there've been some big advancements in wiper blades, both in terms of the design and the materials from which the blade is made. If you are a local Lancaster driver that has a need for better than average windshield wipers, you can pay some more for an upgraded wiper. And if you live where there's a lot of snow and ice in California, they make special winter blades that don't clog up and freeze like standard blades.
At one of your fall and spring oil changes, ask your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor which isbest wiper bladefor your driving conditions. Replace your blades on schedule so you never have to struggle with your vision when you switch on your wipers.
Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last With Help From The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Sep 06, 2016
A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the California news. Lancaster people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better gas mileage and receive a government rebate.
A lot of Lancaster motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They're good commuters, grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they're paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their vehicles for 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) or more – as long as it's economical to do so.
There are plenty of Lancaster drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles (240,000 or 320,000 kilometers). We can learn from what they're doing to keep our own vehicles on the road in California.
The Lancaster drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.
That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it's really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your vehicle's engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that is bad for your engine.
There's another reason the scheduled oil change is so important for Lancaster car owners. It's simple – a The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won't get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let's use brake fluid as an example, your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or repair.
Your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor will also visually inspect your vehicle for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car's worth.
Realistically, things are going to wear out as your vehicle gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) you'll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.
Of course, these things cost some money, but they are less than new vehicle payments in Lancaster. With proper service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley and regular inspections, you'll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.