Improve Your Night Vision When Driving in Lancaster
Feb 28, 2016
Night driving in Lancaster is not as safe as daylight driving as evidenced by the increased accident rate at night. Much of that is simply because it's dark outside.
Visibility is important to safe driving. Ninety percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. And at night, we just can't see as much as we can during the day. In fact, if you have 20/20 vision during the day, your night vision is only 20/50. To translate, that means that an object you can clearly see 50 feet away during daylight, only becomes visible to you at 20 feet at night.
Reaction time is also related to visibility. Lancaster motorists don't react to a situation until they see it. So at night, we're reacting to situations later just because it takes longer to see them. But we don't have to stop driving at night to stay safe. We just need to practice some preventive maintenance and vehicle care that will maximize our night vision.
The most crucial item that helps us see while driving at night is, of course, our headlamps. Lancaster drivers should ensure that their headlamps are as bright as they can be. Headlamps dim over time, but they do it so gradually that it's difficult to notice. Because of this, experts recommend replacing headlamps once a year.
That's good auto advice for Lancaster drivers, but it doesn't apply to all headlamps. Some vehicles use HID, or high-intensity discharge, headlamps. These are bright headlamps that are designed to last for the entire life of a vehicle. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Consult with your friendly service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to learn your options.
Most vehicles use standard or halogen headlamps. If you use standard headlamps, you might want to upgrade to halogen, which offers a brighter headlight. Halogen headlamps come in a variety of grades, so evaluate your options the next time you replace your headlamps and upgrade if you want a better light.
It won't do much good to upgrade or replace your headlamps, however, if your headlight lens is dirty or yellowed. Studies have shown that about 90% of the vehicles on the road have impaired headlights due to dirty or yellowed headlight covers. You should get into the habit of washing your headlights every time you gas up. Simply grab the window washer squeegee, run it over your windows, then swish it across your covers. No cost involved at all.
Plastic headlamp lenses yellow or become hazy over time. If your lenses have this problem, they can be restored with a special polishing process. You may be able to get this done at your Lancaster service center. If not, they should be able to tell you where you can.
Now, what good is a quality headlamp if you can't see through your windshield? Your windshield needs to be clean and streak-free if you plan on driving at night in Lancaster. You should also keep your windshield washer fluid replenished and your wipers in good condition.
Wiper blades should actually be replaced twice a year. The changing of the seasons at spring and fall, or Daylight Saving Time, can be a good reminder to do this. And while you're at it, fall is the perfect time to replace your headlamps. Those long winter nights add up to a lot more night driving for people in Lancaster.
Stay alert. Stay awake. And keep those headlamps burning bright.
Considering an Alternative Fuel Vehicle in Lancaster?
Feb 23, 2016
There is a clear and vocal demand in Lancaster and nationally for a reduction in air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. This is what is driving the California market for alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of these vehicles on Lancaster area roads today, and many more being developed. Yet each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Lancaster auto owners should learn what these advantages and disadvantages are before running out and purchasing one of these alternative fuel vehicles at your nearest Lancaster dealership.
Lancaster drivers should carefully research the vehicle care before buying an alternative fuel vehicle, as it may or may not coincide with the standards for gasoline vehicles. You should look at costs as well; these vehicles may help save our environment here in Lancaster, but that might not represent a savings to your wallet. You'll need to decide what you can afford and what will work for your lifestyle. Also, your choice of vehicle may be affected by what fuels are available in your area. Switching to an alternative fuel vehicle is not a bad decision, but it should be a carefully considered one.
Flex Fuel Vehicles Flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Because of the 85% ethanol content, this fuel is commonly called E85 in California.
Ethanol is made from corn. So flex fuel vehicles lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. But they also raise the price of corn, which is a basic foodstuff in some areas of the world. Whether replacing fossil fuels with corn is a good idea is hotly contested right now.
One piece of The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley auto advice before we move on: do not put E85 into your vehicle unless it has an engine designed for flex fuels. Because of the high ethanol content in E85, engines need special seals and gaskets to function properly on this fuel. Running an ordinary engine with E85 can lead to gas leaks and fires.
Diesel Diesel engines are nothing new on California freeways, and many get great fuel economy. Diesel fuel can now be made from vegetable oil and other renewable sources. A diesel fuel made from algae will soon be on the market in the Lancaster area.
Natural Gas Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline in Lancaster and burns more cleanly. Also, gasoline engines can be adapted to run on compressed natural gas, and many natural gas vehicles are already on Lancaster roads. You can even install a special pump in your home gas line to use to fuel your vehicle. If you are interested in converting your gasoline engine to run on CNG in Lancaster, ask your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor about it.
On the other hand, an engine running on natural gas is not as powerful as one running on gasoline. Also, the tank you need to store natural gas is large—it takes up nearly the entire trunk of your car. Further, refueling stations are still few and far between in some California areas, or even unavailable in many parts of the country.
Electric Vehicles Electric vehicles were all the rage in California some years ago. But their limitations were quickly realized by Lancaster auto owners. These vehicles won't come into their own until we find ways to improve their batteries. Currently, many of these cars have a short range before their power runs out and can only be realistically used close to home. However, they are easy to recharge since they can be plugged in at home, and there are many researchers working on improving the battery technology in these vehicles. They may yet be the vehicles of the future.
Hybrids Hybrids have been among the most successful alternative fuel vehicles here in Lancaster and throughout the county. A hybrid gets its name because it has both a gas or diesel engine and an electric motor.
There are two types of hybrids. The full-hybrid relies on the electric motor for power, but the gas (or diesel) engine generates power for the battery. Thus, while still consuming fossil fuels, it uses less of them than a standard vehicle and also reduces harmful pollutants. Also, it overcomes the range problem of the strictly electric vehicle.
In a mild hybrid, the electric motor assists the gas or diesel engine in powering the vehicle. Thus, it uses more gasoline or diesel than full hybrids and has higher emissions. But mild hybrids are available in larger body models like full-size pickups and SUV's.
A Note of Caution about Hybrid and Electric Vehicles One last note before we leave the subject of alternative fuel vehicles. The battery in an electric or hybrid vehicle is not as tame as the one in a standard vehicle. They carry enough voltage to kill you. These are not do-it-yourself vehicles when it comes to preventive maintenance or car care. Only a trained technician should work under their hoods.
Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: Battery Testing
Feb 23, 2016
The simple fact is that 70% of car batteries fail within 4 years. They just need to be replaced at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley when they are no longer able to hold a full charge.
Batteries are a big ticket item for most Lancaster drivers and it’s tempting to put off buying a new one as long as possible. But a battery that cannot hold a full charge requires the alternator to work extra hard, causing it to wear out prematurely.
Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can test your battery to see if it should be replaced. Testing is a good idea for California drivers because a battery might still be good, but become dead because of a bad alternator or even a worn serpentine belt and tensioner.
Improve Fuel Economy with Proper Maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster
Feb 23, 2016
With Lancaster gas prices being what they are, many of us in California are driving less and looking into purchasing smaller or more efficient vehicles. Lancaster area residents who have to drive a lot, have large families or need four-wheel drive are particularly hard hit by the cost of fuel in California. But there are things all Lancaster drivers can do to save fuel: We can improve our driving habits and stay on top of preventive maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. These things make small savings possible, but they can really add up.
Let's start with driving habits. One major gas-eater is jackrabbit starts. A smooth, gradual acceleration uses a lot less fuel. It's also easier on your engine and drivetrain, so you'll prolong their lives as well.
If you drive with one foot on the brake, stop. That creates drag, increasing fuel usage and reducing the useful life of your brakes.
Slowing down can really add up on gas savings over time for Lancaster drivers. Driving five to ten miles over the speed limit can use up 10 to 15% more gas. The time savings is only a few minutes per hour, so the cost per minute can be rather steep.
A little extra planning can save fuel for vehicle owners in Lancaster as well. Leave a little early so you have time to slow down and still arrive on time. Also, plan errands ahead of time and group them as much as possible. Driving shorter distances is a great way to save fuel.
Using your cruise control where safe can save on fuel. Check your owner's manual for guidelines on when cruise control is recommended and when it isn't.
Clean out your trunk. Every ounce in your vehicle translates to a bit more fuel required to drive around Lancaster.
Many Lancaster residents let their car warm up during the winter - a major fuel drain. Your engine doesn't benefit; modern engines don't require a warm up to get up and running, although it's best to take it easy on them for the first few miles.
Now that we've gone over a few tips for improving driving habits, let's talk about the maintenance of our vehicle. Good car care at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster actually pays for itself in fuel savings.
First, if your gas cap is leaking or worn, get a new one.
Second, keep your engine clean. Clogged fuel filters, dirty fuel injectors and plugged PCV valves all cost you in loss of fuel. Replacing them or cleaning them will both improve fuel economy and increase the power you're getting from your engine.
Third, don't ignore your Check Engine light. Problems that cause that light to come on usually affect your fuel efficiency.
Fourth, check your 's owner's manual for service that should be regularly performed on your vehicle, and follow the schedule. Or talk to your friendly service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley . Oil changes, transmission checks and cooling system service all improve fuel economy if they're done when needed. Low fluids and dirty fluids also create conditions in your vehicle that require more fuel. So routine maintenance is a must to maintain fuel economy and save cash.
Last, keep your tires inflated. Underinflated tires increase your vehicle's friction with the roadway, which increases the energy it takes to move. Keeping your tires properly inflated is great for saving gas as you drive around Lancaster.
So if the cost of gas in Lancaster has got you searching the sofa for extra pennies, you might want to start making a few changes in your driving habits and getting your vehicle the service it needs at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.
Higher Lancaster fuel prices aren't going away any time soon. That's not good news for our wallets. A lot of Lancaster drivers are trying to find ways to cut down on fuel consumption and hang on to some of their hard-earned money.
North Americans drive billions of miles less during months of high fuel prices. That's right, billions. Of course California vehicle owners can't stop driving altogether, so we still need to find other ways to cut fuel bills.
Preventive maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster and good vehicle care can actually pay for themselves by lowering our fuel consumption. Here's a real-life example of how that can work.
A family planned a four-day camping trip. Before leaving, they took their SUV into The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for an oil change. They flushed the cooling system, serviced all three differentials and cleaned the fuel system. They replaced the PCV valve and breather element. Then they checked the tires to ensure they had enough air.
This was several hundred dollars in maintenance and repair. You may be thinking how the family could possibly recoup the cost in gas and save money. First of all, the repairs all needed to be done anyway. Even if the costs aren't recouped, many of them will pay for themselves by preventing even more costly repairs later. Also, the family had planned and budgeted for the routine maintenance, so it didn't cut into their trip allowance.
The SUV pulled a one-ton trailer and hauled everything the family needed on their camping trip. At the end of the trip, the owner was surprised to learn the SUV had actually gotten better gas mileage than it ever had before—even with that heavy load. The repairs and maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley had improved the gas mileage by 25%! The family saved $48.00 in gas on their four-day trip. And they are continuing to reap rewards from the improved mileage.
So what can you do to save fuel? First, stay caught up on routine maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. Almost every maintenance item listed in your owner's manual will maintain or improve your fuel economy. Second, take your vehicle into The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for scheduled tune-ups. And third, take care of needed repairs. You may be surprised at how much you save at the pump and probably with the improved vehicle performance as well.
If your Check Engine light is on, find out why and take care of it. Some of the problems that set off that warning light can seriously reduce fuel efficiency.
As you schedule preventive maintenance, don't forget your tires. Proper tire pressure and wheel alignment are both essential to good fuel economy.
Here's some more auto advice about some simple things you can do to improve fuel economy, beyond maintenance and repairs:
Dump the junk. More weight in your car equals more fuel. You'd be surprised how much stuff people carry around in their cars. That adds up to a lot of extra fuel. One hundred pounds of extra stuff in your vehicle can add up to the loss of one mile per gallon of fuel.
Get the lead out. No, don't speed up, slow down. Get the lead out of your right foot. The single biggest drain for most Lancaster vehicles is speeding or sudden accelerations. Slow down and go easy on turns and lane changes, and don't treat every stoplight and stop sign like a green flag. These small changes can add up to quite a bit of change in your pockets.
We haven't mentioned the pills you can drop in your gas tank or special devices you can hook on your fuel line in order to increase fuel efficiency. There's a simple reason for that: they don't exist. There may be some truth behind some of these claims, but most of them are full-out scams. And if any of these things do actually help, it's not nearly as much as the things we've listed here.
Be smart. Your vehicle and your wallet will thank you for it.
All those automotive fluids can be confusing for Lancaster drivers. Recent years have brought new grades of engine oil, types of transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid. The right fluid protects your vehicle and helps it perform at its best. The wrong fluid won't work as well and could even cause damage.
In addition to new grades of engine oil, many vehicles now leave the factory with synthetic oil. People in Lancaster should always use the grade recommended by their manufacturer.
All coolant, also called antifreeze, used to be green. Now there are several other colors of coolant sold at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster. Each type is designed to protect the cooling system components that are particular to your vehicle. The wrong stuff can void your vehicle cooling system warranty and could even cause engine damage.
Most passenger vehicles on Lancaster roads today use either DOT 3, DOT 4 or DOT 5 brake fluid. Your vehicle power brake system is specifically designed to use ONE of these types – you need the right one. Higher numbers do not necessarily mean a higher, upgraded fluid.
Now, the thing is knowing that your vehicle requires specific grades and types of fluids; using the right fluid is good and using the wrong ones is bad. Once you've got that down, it's easy to remember to check with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley or your vehicle owner's manual to find out which automotive fluids to use.
What Lancaster Customers like About Us at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Feb 23, 2016
A big part of the service we provide at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for our Lancaster customers is education. We want you to feel confident with your service decisions.
And we're always open to questions from our valued Lancaster area customers. Even though we try to be proactive in our The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley automotive education, we sometimes get busy fixing vehicles and need a reminder. Please, just ask.
We've found our Lancaster customers like the service reminders. They've grown to trust that our recommendations are based on the vehicle manufactures’ published maintenance schedules and that The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is not just pulling them out of the air.
We know that people in Lancaster live a busy life with a lot more to think about than wondering if it's time to replace the PCV valve on their vehicle. Part of our The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service process is checking the vehicle manufacture's schedule to make sure we don't overlook service.
We hope California drivers appreciate their courtesy inspection when they come into our Lancaster facility for service. If we find something unexpected, it's good to know, and if we don't find anything wrong, you get a little peace of mind.
You know, customer satisfaction is very important to us at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. We want to run a professional and friendly Lancaster automotive service operation. If we do, you'll keep coming back and recommend us to your friends.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Service Tip: Why Synthetic Oil Is Good For Your Vehicles
Feb 23, 2016
Hello California! Today's vehicle care topic is: Synthetic Oil vs. Petroleum Based Oil. Synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil. If you aren't currently using it, why not? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why, we'd need a microscope, so we'll have to settle for using our imaginations. The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is slipperier, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?
Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there's less friction. This results in myriad benefits: better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn't sludge up like conventional oil so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up. (We see that too often at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.)
Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals for many models. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor about how you drive in and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil for your vehicle. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.
Most of us have a busy life and occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead, admit it. Since we're not perfect, doesn't it make sense to use a motor oil that's got your back?
What about price? Petroleum based oil may appear to win out on this point, but let's consider all the facts. Although synthetic oil costs more, it lasts longer, protects your vehicle engine better and increases fuel economy. You'll likely save money in the long run. If you're serious about making your vehicle last longer, consider using synthetic motor oil.
Most Lancaster drivers know something about preventive maintenance on a vehicle. We know we should routinely replace the oil and wiper blades and other fluids. But have you heard of a PCV valve ? This little car part needs to be replaced regularly or it can cause some serious problems in your vehicle engine.
PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. The crankcase holds your motor oil and is located at the bottom of your engine.
When fuel is burned in your engine, it produces waste gases that are mostly vented out through your exhaust system. But some of these gases push their way past the pistons and into the crankcase. There, these gases can mix with motor oil to produce oil sludge, which can damage vehicle engine parts through corrosion and by clogging engine passages. Lancaster vehicle owners should be advised that if the engine is running at high speeds, these gases can also cause pressure inside the crankcase to build up. This pressure, in turn, can blow gaskets and damage seals, leading to oil leaks.
The waste gases that leave the engine are comprised of about 70% unburned fuel. They used to be vented off the crankcase into the atmosphere. But starting in 1964, laws mandated that these gases be recaptured. Manufacturers began installing PCV systems, which recycled the gases into the air intake system where they could be mixed with fuel and sent to the engine to be burned.
The PCV valve is a one-way valve attached to the crankcase. Waste gases exit the crankcase through the valve but cannot enter.
Over time, the waste gases leave deposits on the PCV valve that can gum it up. So it needs to be replaced occasionally. This is an inexpensive part of preventive maintenance that is often overlooked, but which can have very expensive consequences. It's good auto advice to keep this little valve clean and working well.
In order to maintain efficient circulation, the PCV system also has a breather tube that allows clean air to enter the crankcase. This air is usually filtered through the engine air filter. But some vehicles have a separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. If this is the case with your vehicle, proper maintenance of the PCV will include replacing this element. To find out whether your vehicle has this type of PCV system, check your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
The PCV system reduces harmful vehicle emissions. The maintenance it requires is simple and inexpensive at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. A fouled or damaged PCV system can lead to serious engine damage for Lancaster drivers.
Let's all learn to practice good car care. It's good for our wallets, and it's good for our California environment.
The The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Guide to Saving Fuel: Beware of Myths
Feb 23, 2016
There's a lot of auto advice in California right now on how to save money on gas. Some of it is good advice. Some of it isn't. Some of it is myth. And it may well be a scam. Plain and simple. When someone offers you a product designed to save money on gas, ask yourself, “Does this sound too good to be true?” If the answer is yes, do more research.
The internet offers us a convenient and quick way to research someone's claims about gas savings. Lancaster drivers can usually find out in only minutes whether that claim is questionable or not.
Chances are other Lancaster drivers have already tried what you're being offered. If you find evidence that others feel they have been scammed, you should be wary of becoming the next victim. There aren't any pills, magic or otherwise, that you can drop into your gas tank to improve your gas mileage. Drop in enough of those pills and you can actually harm your vehicle. The last thing you need is a bunch more sediment or unknown, dissolved additives in your fuel.
There actually are proven, sensible ways that you can maintain good gas mileage, however. Good car care and consistent preventive maintenance are the keys to good fuel economy. An oil change at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster and a new fuel filter, when needed, will keep your engine running efficiently, which will translate to good fuel economy. It may be mundane, but it's solid, proven advice.
So be smart. Listen to advice from qualified The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley professionals, and stay away from unverified “magic” and conspiracy theories. Your wallet—and your vehicle—will thank you in the end.