Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Lancaster, California
Jul 27, 2011
Let's talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions in our California environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for Lancaster drivers very soon.
For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Lancaster area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn. The benefits to Lancaster drivers are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower gas mileage and when gas prices are low, E85 can be more than straight gasoline.
Lancaster drivers should only use E85 if they have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.
Diesel engines have been around California for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.
There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Lancaster roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It's less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.
Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Lancaster area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.
That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our California roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.
A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that's assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver similar to their highway ratings.
A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It'll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.
A quick word from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Lancaster service technician at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.
Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you're specifically trained on hybrid systems.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley On Your Serpentine Belt
Jul 21, 2011
Today we're going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Lancaster, California, customers. Let's start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That's the device that makes electricity to power the vehicle and recharge the battery. Then there's the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you're driving around California in the summer.
The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most Lancaster residents' vehicles. Those pumps provide pressure that assists your steering and braking.
In many vehicles, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. The water pump is what circulates the coolant that protects your engine. In some cars around Lancaster, California, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.
The radiator cooling fans on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That's really a lot of work for one belt.
But modern engine design has a single belt that snakes around the front of the engine and drives most, if not all, of these accessories. Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they're tough and can last for a long time.
Just how long will they last? That'll vary for each individual car in the Lancaster area. Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can detect a belt that's getting close to failing.
Your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can look at the belt: if it has more than three or four cracks per inch, it needs to be replaced. A deep crack that's more than half the depth of the belt - replace. Frayed, missing pieces, a shiny glazed look? Toss it. Come see us.
Keep Your Lancaster Car Breathing Free: Engine Air Filter
Jul 12, 2011
Hey Lancaster - this is something really amazing: Your vehicle uses 12,000 times as much air as fuel when you drive it. All of that air has to be filtered to keep your engine clean.
That's like 100 gallons (380 liters) of air every block! The engine air filter is just another example of a very important but inexpensive part that has to do a tremendous amount of work. And when it works, everything goes well. But, when it doesn't, well, it can lead to problems. Of course, your vehicle manufacturer recommends how often to change your air filter. But like most service intervals, where and how you drive your vehicle in California affects when your filter needs to be changed.
Dusty conditions around Lancaster or polluted city driving means you'll need to change your filter more often. Our trained professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can check your filter for you. In fact, it's often a routine part of an oil change.
When you think about it, a clogged air filter won't allow as much air through as a clean filter. Your vehicle needs this air to efficiently burn its fuel, giving you better fuel economy and performance.
Dirtier filters don't work as well as clean ones. A filter can only hold so much; after that, it allows dirt to pass right into your engine. Air filters come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in different grades. There are high performance air filters available for most vehicles. These high performance filters cost a little more, but they increase horsepower and may improve fuel economy to boot.
So it's important for Lancaster drivers to make sure and have their air filter checked. If it needs replacing, it doesn't cost very much at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster and it should easily pay for itself in better fuel economy before your next oil change.
Engine Air Filter from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Jul 07, 2011
Many Lancaster drivers have found themselves in the following situation: They go to get their oil changed and their friendly service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley recommends a new engine air filter. They say yes, but don't know what an air filter is or what it does.
If this has happened to you, rest assured that you did the right thing by getting a new one. But you should never be too embarrassed to ask your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor for more information. It's your vehicle and you have a right to understand what you're paying for.
Let's review: "What does an air filter do?"
Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside in Lancaster right now? Can you see any smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone in California with hay fever can tell you that there's plenty in the air that you can't see. Well, the engine air filter's job is to clean that air before it goes into your vehicle engine, to mix with the fuel and be burned. Without an engine air filter, the inside of your vehicle engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.
In fact, your engine needs 12,000 times as much air as fuel for it to run. That little filter does a very big job. It's no wonder that the air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced. Think about a vacuum cleaner. When the bag gets full of dust and dirt, the vacuum doesn't clean as well. It can't move enough air to create good suction. A clogged engine air filter is the same way - the vehicle engine can't get enough air to burn the fuel efficiently. That means less power and reduced fuel economy.
That's why your owner's manual has recommended that you change your filter at regular intervals. Of course the Lancaster conditions you drive in will affect how quickly the filter gets dirty. If you drive in California where it's very dusty or where there's lots of pollen or pollution, you may need to change the filter sooner. The filter is easy to check visually, so your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can quickly make the call. He might recommend immediate replacement or simply let you know that it is getting close and that you'll need to replace it soon - like at your next oil change.
Because a severely dirty vehicle air filter hurts your vehicle, many Lancaster residents find that a new air filter pays for itself in better fuel economy before the next oil change. They also make premium air filters that have been proven to increase your horsepower and torque. If more power is important to you, a high performance air filter is some of the cheapest horsepower you can buy.
The better your car breathes, the better it runs - kind of like people. And don't worry - if you have a question or don't understand a recommendation just ask your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor.