Video Blog

 

Steer Clear of Power Steering Problems (Power Steering Maintenance)

Dec 27, 2020

We usually take our vehicle's easy steering for granted until something goes wrong.  Power steering is what makes it almost effortless to turn the steering wheel, aiming your vehicle in the direction you want to go. Without the assistance of power from the engine, steering would be a laborious process, so you want to make sure the system is working well.

Power steering systems are usually one of two types, hydraulic and electric.  The hydraulic type uses a pump that is driven by either a belt or an electric motor.  This system uses hydraulic fluid to create pressure that gives your steering the power assist.  Since that pump is always working, time and distance traveled eventually take their toll, and these systems need to be periodically inspected.  Also, while that hydraulic fluid can last for years, it should be replaced periodically as it degrades over time. Your vehicle's owner's manual contains the manufacturer's recommendations.

A technician can check for leaks in the hoses, pump housing or reservoir.  Also, the belts should be inspected and so should the pump, as these can fail.  Signs of a failing pump are a groaning noise when you turn the steering wheel, stiff steering, squealing noises when you first start your car and puddles of a reddish-brown fluid under your vehicle. 

The other type is called EPS, or electric power steering, which is becoming more commonly used in the latest vehicles.  It only delivers power assist when you need it and has an electric motor that supplies that steering help.  It's more efficient, accurate, compact and clean. And because it has a lot fewer components, it's easier to maintain. 

If you have electric power steering, you may notice sometimes it's hard to turn the wheel or your Check Engine light comes on.  Sometimes the power assist motor fails or there can be problems with electrical connections.  Any time you have symptoms, it's important for your safety and that of drivers around you that you have a technician check them out.

Properly working brakes are essential for the safe operation of any vehicle.  Stop! And make sure yours are working properly.


The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com



Don't be Fuelish (Signs Fuel Pump is Failing)

Dec 20, 2020

A driver of a large SUV loaded with equipment was heading on a 7-hour work trip when he stopped at a gas station to refuel.  When he went to restart his SUV, it turned over but wouldn't catch.  Try as he might, he was never able to get it started again. 

Of course there are many things that can cause those symptoms, but the next day he had his SUV towed to a service repair facility.  Using their test equipment, they were able to pinpoint the problem.  His fuel pump had failed.  The pump, which was located in the fuel tank, had to be replaced, and after awhile he was back on the road, delayed, but happy to be up and running again. 

What had happened is that the pump was not strong enough to deliver adequate  fuel to his engine, vital to being able to start it.  It had delivered just enough pressure in the morning to get it started the first time, but it was on its last legs.  He had been having trouble starting his SUV in the days leading up to this trip, a clue that something was wrong. 

The engine relies on a certain pressure of fuel from the pump to run properly, and there are some other signs to be aware of that your fuel pump may need to be replaced.  If you are putting strain on your engine, such as going uphill or hauling a big load, and the engine sputters, it may be a sign that the pump isn't delivering that consistent pressure.  Another warning sign is if your engine is running hot and then stalls.  That could mean your fuel pump is getting weak.

Sometimes you might notice your vehicle suddenly speeds up on its own or your fuel economy goes from good to poor in a short time.  If your fuel gauge shows you have plenty of fuel in the tank and your engine stalls, that's another possible sign of a failing fuel pump. 

Technicians have special equipment to see where the fuel problems are, and there are many possibilities.  Have your vehicle checked before you're left stranded.  Oh, and one more tip to prolong the life of your fuel pump.  Since it is cooled and lubricated by the fuel in your tank, make sure you keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel at all times.  Avoid your "low fuel" light going on and you may be helping yourself avoid having to replace your fuel pump. 

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com



No Fountain of Youth (Aging Tires)

Dec 13, 2020

Can you think of anyone who enjoys aging?  Wrinkles where you don't want them, gray hair, eyes that won't focus any more, no stamina. 

Believe it or not, your tires age, too, and they don't get better the older they get.  And here's the important thing to know, even if they can still pass a tread depth test, they may simply be too old to be safe 

Here's the best way to understand this.  Have you ever found an old deck of playing cards with a rubber band wrapped around them?  Try stretching the rubber band.  SNAP! It's all cracked and brittle.  And you haven't stressed that rubber one bit since the time you put them in that drawer.

Now you know what's happening to your tires.  Rubber ages.  Just like us, the day we come into the world, we start to go downhill (no pun intended).  Oh, engineers are able to make a tire last longer than ever before.  But that gas that keeps us alive—oxygen—seems to love to chemically mix with some components in rubber.  Oxidation causes rubber to become hard and brittle.  The rubber band test.

Is there an age test that can tell you when a tire is tool old to roll? Well, not really.  They don't all age the same.  Hot climates can make tires wear out more quickly.  Some experts say a tire can last up to 10 years but should be inspected every year after the age of five.  Others say tires should have an expiration date at six years old.

Since no one would ever ask a tire its age, how do you know how old one is? Believe it or not, tires made after the year 2000 have a date code stamped on either the inside or the outside of the sidewall.  It's a four-digit numbers; the first two tell you the week, the second two tell you the year. So if it has the number 1916, it was made in the 21st week of 2016. 

Another way to find out if your tires still have enough life in them is to have your vehicle service facility inspect them.  They look for signs of age, such as developing cracks in the rubber, the condition of the sidewalls and, of course, that old standby: tread.  If it's time to "retire" them, discuss options with your service advisor.


The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com



Objects in the Mirror (Rearview Mirror Safety and Maintenance)

Dec 06, 2020

You may remember a song that went, "Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are." While that was a song about life's lessons, there are a few things we should all know about how important rearview mirrors are to safe driving.

While new electronic devices are helping drivers be aware of surrounding traffic in high-tech ways, the good old rearview mirror is still a dependable way of letting you know what's around you.  There are usually 3 on each vehicle, 1 attached to the windshield inside and 2 attached outside on each of the front doors.

It's important that they be adjusted properly before you start driving (not while you're driving). Experts say the windshield rearview mirror should cover the area behind the vehicle while the outside mirrors should not simply duplicate that view but extend it to the sides, where blind spots normally are.

Your rearview mirrors must be able to hold the positions they're adjusted in; it there's play in them or they move around, you'll never be sure they're pointed in the direction that will let you see where traffic is.  The one on the windshield must be firmly attached.  If it won't stay where you want it, head to your service facility where they can tighten it or replace any parts necessary to let the mirror maintain its aim. If it has fallen off the windshield completely, a technician can reattach it with the proper adhesives or fasteners.  There may be electronics that need to be properly connected as well.

The outside mirrors cover your blind spots and they must be able to hold their adjustments, too.  Many adjust electronically; switches and motors can fail, electrical connections can detach or become corroded and the reflective glass can crack, discolor or develop a hazy fog.  A technician can diagnose and repair those problems and recommend any replacement parts you might need.  Mirrors that are adjusted manually also should be restored to proper working order in order for you to maintain this important rear visibility.

Drivers don't think about their rearview mirrors all that much.  On reflection, don't they deserve respect and care for the important job they do?

The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
226 West Avenue I
Lancaster, California 93534
661-949-8484
http://cardoctorsav.autovideotipsblog.com




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