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Mar 24, 2019

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For 4x4s (Maintenance of 4x4 Vehicles)

Mar 17, 2019

Some people love 4x4 vehicles, the true 4-wheel drive works of engineering like Jeeps and 4x4 pickups that allow you to seemingly go anywhere on the planet. You can climb up a 40-degree rock trail with some planning and skill (always careful to protect the environment, of course), or you can get through the deepest snow.

But with that added capability comes additional complexity, drive-train components and other systems that less capable vehicles don't have.  And that is why when it comes to 4x4s, you have to maintain them a little differently from those vehicles that spend their lives on pavement.  Here are some of the key things to keep an eye on:

  • Transfer case—This transfers power from the engine to the wheels.  A transfer case has fluid in it that needs to be changed at intervals recommended by the manufacturer.  Your service advisor will let you know how often that is and will keep track of your service dates.  You will need to make sure the transfer case seal is working properly.  Otherwise, transmission fluid could get in and cause damage that is costly to fix.  Some transfer cases have an electric motor that shifts it through gears, and its connections are often exposed to the elements, making them vulnerable to damage and corrosion.  Proper maintenance will keep those connections working like they should
  • Front and rear differentials—These also have to have the right amount of fluid and should be checked regularly.  Your service advisor can let you know when you need that fluid changed as the owner's manual recommends.  It's important the service is performed correctly with the proper lubricant so it will work the way it is designed to.
  • Brake lines—Those 4x4s practically beg to go into wet spots. They also are great machines to conquer snow: road salt, brine and all.  Moisture, salt and brake lines are a recipe for corrosion, so brake lines need to be inspected regularly.  There are anti-corrosion sprays or white lithium grease that can retard corrosion.  Remember, getting there is half the fun, but not being able to stop is no fun at all.

So enjoy your 4x4 and what it can do that other vehicles can't.  Just remember that even though it's tough on the outside, it needs special care to keep it going.  Oh, and remember to take care of the environment when you go off-roading, too. 

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


Bad Vibes

Mar 10, 2019

Your vehicle has a way of letting you know when something's wrong. Consider a vibrating steering wheel. It certainly didn't do that when it was new, so that shake is trying to tell you something.

There are a few things that can cause your steering wheel to vibrate as you drive down the road.  One of the most common is out-of-balance tires.  You may not only feel that wobble in your steering wheel, you might also feel it in the tires.  Sometimes it's not there when you're driving at lower speeds through residential areas, and sometimes it starts when you hit highway speeds. 

So what is tire balance anyway?  Well, you have a rubber tire that fits around a metal wheel.  It should have the same weight all the way around.  If it doesn't, it will start getting the shakes.  Ever load your washing machine so that all the clothes are at one side of that drum that spins?  When it hits the spin cycle, it can throw that washer against the wall. 

That's the same thing that's happening with an out-of-balance tire/wheel combination.  A technician has special equipment to figure out where to put small weights on the wheel to get things back in balance again.  But it could be that you hit a pothole some time ago and bent the rim.  Or your tire isn't as round and even as it once was.  That could be due to age, damage or wear and tear. The technician will know and offer you options.

Another possibility for that vibrating wheel is a faulty brake, such as warped rotors or a sticky caliper.  All of these issues can be evaluated as part of regular, routine maintenance with us.  There are many things that cause vibrations in your wheels.  But you don't want any bad vibes when it comes to your vehicle. 

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


Sniffing Out a Problem

Mar 03, 2019

Your parents probably taught you to have common sense. When it comes to your vehicle, common scents can also come in handy. Different smells may tell you about some conditions in your vehicle that need attention.

For example, you know what rotten eggs smell like.  If you smell them around your vehicle, it means sulfur can't be far away. Here's a surprising fact: Gasoline has a little sulfur in it.  There's a device in your exhaust system that's supposed to convert it to something that doesn't pollute the atmosphere. That device is a catalytic converter.  If you are smelling rotten eggs, maybe your catalytic converter is wearing out.  But it could also be a problem with your fuel injectors.  Either way, something's rotten that should be repaired.

Ever smell something sweet around your vehicle, maybe a little like pancake syrup? If you sniff out a little sweetness just when your engine is warming up or after you shut off your engine, you might be smelling some coolant (anti-freeze).  If it's leaking, then you may be getting a whiff of ethylene glycol, one of the coolant's components.  If the odor is strong inside the car, it could be a leaky heater core. This is important to get checked out because a leak in your vehicle's cooling system can eventually cause expensive damage.

How about that distinctive smell of gasoline? You could have a leak in your gas tank, a hose that vents your gas tank or a leak in a fuel injector line.  A gasoline leak needs to be tracked down since it could catch fire.  It can also be bad for your health if you breathe it in all the time.

When you step hard on the brakes, ever smell something like a rug's in fire? That could mean you've just overheated your brake pads.  If you detect that smell just driving around town, one of the brake calipers could be stuck.  To figure out which wheel has the problem, get out of your vehicle and smell each wheel.  It will likely be obvious where the problem is.

Here's one last smell.  Ever had your oil changed and right after you picked up your vehicle it smells like something's burning around the engine? That's because sometimes a little oil leaks onto the metal when the filter is changed or the oil is poured in.  It's a useful smell to know.  Because of you smell burning oil and you haven't had your oil changed recently, that could mean you have a leak in your engine.  It could be a gasket or a seal, but it also could mean the start of more serious issues. 

All of these things are signals that you should discuss with your service advisor to get them checked out.

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


A Bright Idea

Mar 01, 2019

You've probably noticed how much easier it is to see when you're driving in the daytime as opposed to at night. It's one of the main reasons about half of all fatal vehicle accidents happen when it's dark.

That's why it's important that your vehicle's headlights are in top condition and working the way they should.  That means that they're aimed correctly and producing the amount of light they are intended to produce.

For many years, headlights were a standardized size and shape.  They were what is called a "sealed beam," and when you needed to replace one, it was pretty simple.  You just took the old one out and plugged a new one in. 

But now there are hundreds of different types of lighting systems on vehicles, producing light with such illuminating technology as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), halogen bulbs, high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs and more.  Some vehicles have systems that turn your lights in the direction you turn your steering wheel so you can more clearly see where you are going.

Now that it's not so simple to change headlamps or bulbs, it's wise to consult your service advisor.  She or he can tell you what your options are.  There may be ways you can upgrade your lighting with new headlamps or components, but it's important not to install new parts that could damage your vehicle.  For example, the headlight housing could be damaged if a bulb burns too hot for its design. 

It's also good to check regulations and laws where you live.  Some regulate the color of light your headlamps can shine and how bright they can be. It's wise to leave it up to a technician to replace your headlamps.  Some are tricky to get at, and modern engine compartments can be packed so tightly, it's hard to maneuver around all of the other engine components to reach the headlamp compartment.

Oh, one other thing to keep in mind.  Even if your headlamps are both working, you might notice people are flashing their lights at you, even when you don't have the high beams on.  That could mean your headlamps are aimed wrong; for the safety of the other drivers and yourself, have your technician check your headlamps' aim.

You'll see the light when you have good visibility at night.

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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