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What Customers Should Know

Water Everywhere (Clogged Drains)

Jan 09, 2022

It's bad enough when you mistakenly leave a window open in your vehicle on a rainy day and you find your carpet soaked.  But what in the world is going on when your windows are closed tight, not leaking and you STILL wind up with wet carpet? The answer could be something you might not even know your vehicle has.

And the answer is? Drains. And those drains can get clogged.  Yes, your vehicle has several drains with tubes or hoses attached to them that you really never see.  There are some in and around the hood that channel rainwater down to the ground.  There are some that take condensation from the air conditioner and allow it to flow outside.  And if your vehicle has a retractable sunroof or moon roof, there are small drains at each corner that connect to tubes that go through the vehicle body down to an exit near the ground. 

Considering all the leaves, dirt, dust and other debris your vehicle encounters on a daily basis, it's not surprising that these drains can get blocked.  Then when it rains, that water winds up going to the place of least resistance.  Sometimes, that's inside the cabin where it shows up as wet carpeting.

So, what's the solution?  You may be tempted to see if you can clean out those drains yourself.  But there are many people who have tried blowing condensed air in the drains only to find that they literally blow the tubes off of their connections inside the vehicle's body.  Reattaching those can be a time-consuming, labor-intensive, expensive proposition.

A trained technician has the equipment and knowledge to clear out those drains properly. To prevent clogged drains, regular maintenance is the key, so when your vehicle is in for other periodic maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations, the technician can make sure all drains are clear and flowing like they should.

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



Power Failure (Broken Power Seat)

Jan 02, 2022

Know anyone who doesn't love a power seat in an SUV, a car, truck or van? They're convenient and precise in their adjustments.  But when they break, oh, what a pain.  Not only is it inconvenient, it may leave your seat position too close to the steering wheel or too far from the pedals.  This is a must-fix problem.

There are many things that cause a power seat to fail:

  • Seat controls.  These are either at the side of the seat or in the door.  Both are places that can be exposed to moisture or other contaminants.  When the controls stop working, they usually need to be replaced.
  • Seat motor.  Electric motors are what make a power seat move, and sometimes they fail.  Sometimes they just get worked to death and die of old age.  Replacement is the most common remedy.
  • Fuses. A power seat is, after all, powered by electricity and all vehicle power systems have fuses to protect them.  A technician can determine which fuse may have blown and replace it.  But it's also important to figure out what caused the fuse to blow and deal with that, too.
  • Wires.  There are wires under the seats that move when you move the seat.  Sometimes they get stretched, kinked or ripped.  In a power seat malfunction, it may be a wiring harness that needs to be replaced.
  • Gears.  They help the seat move and may need to be realigned or replaced.
  • Obstructions.  Yes, a piece of trash or a kid's toy has been known to jam up the works of a power seat. Taking them out of the mechanism may get your seat working again.

Most people pay extra to have power seats in a vehicle. So make sure you keep that convenient feature working. And don't forget that it's a safety issue, too.

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



In a Fog (Fogged Windows in Cold Weather)

Dec 12, 2021

It's bad enough in cold weather when ice and snow block your visibility.  Add to that fog on the inside of your windows and you could be driving blind.  So here are a few tips on how to keep your windows from fogging up when there's a chill in the air.

You probably know fog is really condensation, when moist, warm air meets a cold surface and turns to liquid.  If your windshield fogs up, you probably turn on your windshield defroster. Most defrosters blow heated air on the windshield glass to warm it up so it won't condense the moisture.  Many also turn on the air conditioning to reduce the moisture. 

That same strategy can work on the rest of the windows.  First, turn up your heater's temperature setting.  The hotter the air, the more moisture it will hold.  Also, turn off the "recirculating" setting since you want all outside air to come in. Then switch on the air conditioning.  It will remove the moisture from the outside  air that it's blowing inside the cabin.  Try cracking a couple of windows to make it easier for the air to flow. This should do the trick pretty quickly. 

There's one other thing to try.  Many vehicles have electric heater elements embedded in the rear window glass (the rear window defroster) and in the outside rearview mirror glass. Make sure to turn those on, too; sometimes they're on the same switch.

For all of these things to work, of course, your vehicle's components have to be maintained so they'll do the things they're designed to do.  And you didn't think it was important to have your air conditioning working in the cold weather months! 

One final tip.  Keep the insides of your windows CLEAN.  Oil and dirt on the glass give the water molecules something to latch on to.  That ought to clear up this problem.

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



Why You Have an O2 Sensor (Oxygen Sensor)

Nov 07, 2021

If someone asked you what gas made up the largest portion of the atmosphere, what would you guess? Well, it's not oxygen; it only makes up 20.9 percent.  But since we're talking about oxygen, you should know that your vehicle uses oxygen sensors to make sure your engine is running the way it should.

The oxygen sensors measure how much oxygen is in your exhaust.  If there's too much, it means there's a problem with the mixture of fuel and air.  The sensor sends signals to computers in your engine and adjusts the mixture so it maximizes performance and efficiency.  It does this constantly. 

Many vehicles have multiple oxygen sensors.  Some have one close to the engine, another close to the muffler.  Two measurements are better than one since they allow readings to be more accurate.  You may have a vehicle with a dual exhaust, so you'd have twice as many oxygen sensors.

Your oxygen sensors can fail.  One thing that can damage them is contamination from bad fuel.  The sensors can simply wear out, though they usually last a long time.  It's not unusual for an oxygen sensor to last 100,000 miles/160,000 km. One more thing that can cause an oxygen sensor to fail is residue from an engine that's burning oil.  Plus contaminants from the road like salt can also cause problems. 

Here are some signs that your oxygen sensors might be failing.

  • The Check Engine light goes on.  In this case, your service facility can plug in a device that will read the code in your engine's computer to see if that's the problem.
  • The engine is running roughly.
  • Black, sooty smoke is coming out of your tailpipe.
  • Your fuel economy is noticeably lower than it used to be.

Head to your service facility and tell your advisor what symptoms your vehicle is experiencing.  They have the equipment and training to track down the issue.  Note that simply replacing the oxygen sensor is often not enough since it doesn't get to the root of the problem; other repairs may be needed. 

So make sure your oxygen sensors are working the way they should be.  Oh, and back to the question of what gas makes up most of the Earth's air?  It's nitrogen, which comprises 78 percent of the air we—and our engines—breathe.

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



The Best Book that's Not a Best-Seller

Oct 10, 2021

Sometimes the movie is better than the book, sometimes it's the other way around.  But when it comes to your vehicle, the best book of all is the owner's manual. The plot is simple: Owner wants long life and dependable performance from the vehicle, manual has the way to achieve that long life and dependable performance.

And yet, it's amazing that some people will own a vehicle for years and never even crack this book.  They'll only read it when they absolutely have to, for things like finding out how to change the clock. 

Ok, so you're probably not going to rush right over to your glove box and start reading the owner's manual cover to cover.  We know that.  But just think of what you can get out of it.

Consider this.  Those who wrote or helped write this book include the engineers who designed it and the people who tested and refined it.  They know more about your vehicle than anyone, period.  They know how long a part is likely to last and what you need to do to take care of it. They know how far a distance or how long a time you can drive before you have to change certain fluids in it.  They know what temperature it can reach before things will start to break.

And they've put your vehicle model through torture, testing it in the absolute worst conditions to see how to make it stand up to more abuse than it will ever receive.  They've then torn it down, examined it and, in many cases, redesigned the parts to make them even better. 

And they've put down—in fairly minute detail—this blueprint that, if you and our experts at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley follow their suggestions, will make it very likely that your vehicle will serve you well for a long time.  If you don't follow those suggestions, all bets are off.

We didn't even mention that the owner's manual tells you how to operate everything in your car.  How to adjust the heat and air conditioning, how to pair your smartphone with the audio system, how to program your key fob so it won't sound the horn when you lock your vehicle.

Have you lost your manual or did you buy a vehicle that didn't come with one?  Many are available either online or in paper form. If you don't know where to begin with such a long book, try a couple of pages a week, just three minutes.  You’ll discover your vehicle does things you never even knew it could do.  And the movie will never be as good.


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



Poor Reflections (Door Mirror Problems)

Oct 03, 2021

Mirror, mirror on the door, why is my vision there so poor? Well, you could have a broken outside rearview mirror that's disabled your blind spot vision there and endangering your ability to see some of the traffic around you. 

Outside rearview (or door) mirrors are important safety devices that are thoughtfully designed to help drivers see.  And there are a variety of ways those door mirrors can develop problems.

One is when the glass is broken in them.  Sometimes it's caused by an accident or vandalism.  But without your ability to see in that mirror, you could be driving blind, unable to see drivers approaching from the rear in adjacent lanes.  Sometimes it's as simple as having the glass replaced.  You'll greatly enhance your safety if you do.

Then there's the door mirror that you can't adjust.  First, let's look at a common scenario in later models, the power mirror.  They're great when they're working, awful when they're not.  Sometimes the motor fails, the switch goes bad or the wiring fails to deliver power.

Or how about the manually-adjusted door mirror that has either frozen up or just flops around? In this case, the mechanism has corroded, jammed up or a part has broken.  In both power- and manually-adjusted door mirrors, it sometimes can be hard to keep them in the right position.  Plus, every time there's a driver change, it may be hard to adjust those broken mechanisms by hand.

Finally, heated door mirrors can be extraordinarily useful in eliminating fogging or icing up in certain weather conditions.  But those heating elements can fail, switches can break or wiring can go bad.  Suddenly your fogged over, frozen mirrors aren't doing you any good at all. 

Good drivers use those outside rearview mirrors all the time.  They should be working the way designers intended, to provide the driver with vital traffic position information.  That's the kind of safety device you should get fixed or replaced sooner rather than later.  It's well worth it if you prevent even one little accident. 

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



The Daily Grind (Grinding Noise)

Sep 19, 2021

If your vehicle makes a grinding sound when you turn the steering wheel, it's speaking to you.  No, really, it is.  So listen to what it's saying and you could avoid a much more costly repair down the road.

A grinding sound coming from the front of your vehicle when you are turning can offer some very informative clues as to what's going on.  One cause could be that there's a problem with the mechanical linkage that enables you to turn the wheels.  Another is that the hydraulic system that makes turning the steering wheel easier may have its own problems. 

Think of it.  Hydraulic power steering has many components that need to work in tandem.  The power steering fluid may be too old and contaminated.  Or its level may be low. That may be caused by a leak somewhere in the system. A technician can check things over to find out exactly what's happening.

Other causes of grinding while turning can be problems with the suspension in the front.  You may have a failing CV (constant velocity) joint.  It could be your brakes are partially engaging while you are turning.  That metal-on-metal sound is never a sign that things are working just the way they're supposed to.

To a technician looking to pinpoint the problem with your vehicle, it's not a daily grind at all.  Experience and training will help her or him zero in on what's causing the noise and get you back on the road. Maybe you can enjoy your sound system more after that distracting background noise has disappeared!

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



Gas Smell! (What Causes Gasoline Odors)

Sep 05, 2021

If you've ever walked into your garage and noticed it smelled like gasoline, pay attention. Gasoline can be dangerous, both from the health problems fumes can cause and the fire danger gasoline presents. 

There are many things that can cause a vehicle to give off a gasoline odor.  One of the easiest to track down is the gas cap.  It could be missing or it doesn't seal well any more (they do wear out).  That can also cause the Check Engine light to light up, so those are clues to tell your service advisor when you take it in for diagnosis.

Another thing that can cause the Check Engine light to come on and produce a gasoline smell is the fuel filler neck. It's the part that goes from the place you put your fuel in to the gas tank. Over time, these can wear out and fail (they're made out of rubber or metal).  They can leak gasoline, too.

It's always a good idea to check the garage floor for any gasoline puddles.  Note the location of the puddle in relation to the vehicle. If it's near the back, that's possibly the fuel filler neck or the gas tank leaking.  In the middle of the vehicle? May be fuel lines.  Near the front? Could be fuel injectors (or carburetor if you have one) or fuel pump. 

There are other causes of gas odors, and you need an expert to figure out the source soon.  Gasoline leaks are nothing to play around with.  Gasoline is flammable, potentially explosive and its fumes can damage your lungs. A trained technician can pinpoint the cause and get your garage back to smelling like a normal garage again.

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



Before You Buy that Used Vehicle (Having a Used Car Inspected Before Buying)

Aug 22, 2021

Let's face it.  New vehicles are expensive, so finding a good used one can save drivers a lot of money.  It's tempting to look through ads, find a private seller who has what you're looking for and pay a price you think is a great deal.  But when you go over to look at a used car, do you really know what to look for to uncover potential problems with it?

The answer is probably no.  Used cars can look great on the outside, maybe even have lustrous paint and a super clean interior. But is it possible that vehicle's been in an accident? Does it have electrical problems you can't detect easily? Is any fluid leaking that you don't know about?

Think about it.  You are about to spend thousands of dollars for a complex machine and you're considering judging its condition without much expertise.  That's why it makes sense to have a qualified technician inspect any used vehicle you're considering buying.

Many vehicle repair facilities will do it for around $100-$200.  They'll check to see what's working right and what's not working.  They'll check for leaks and how strong the battery is; they'll look for signs it's been in an accident or has been painted. They'll look in places you'd find inaccessible, and they'll take it for a test drive to see what noises, vibrations and smells might give clues to any major problems.  An inspection usually takes about an hour.

You should have an inspection done by a technician you know and trust.  They'll have your best interests in mind.  And the inspection should be done before you start negotiating a price with the seller.  It's money well spent to either give you peace of mind that you're getting a good vehicle or steer you away from a lemon. 

One sign a used vehicle isn't a good deal? If the buyer refuses to let you have it inspected.  That says just about everything that needs to be said.    

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



That Vexing Vapor Venting (Vapor Coming out of Vents)

Aug 15, 2021

You may have noticed sometimes on a hot and humid day, vapor will come out of your vehicle's vents when you have the air conditioning on.  Is that something to be concerned about? Well, it depends.

Sometimes that steam or vapor can be caused by water accumulating in the vent system after it has condensed.  And sometimes water can pool at the bottom of a vent.  When you turn on the blower mower, the air hits the water and may create steam or vapor that you can see in the cabin.

One thing to check is if that vapor smells like anything.  If it doesn't, that's a good sign. You may be able to run the fan for a while and the issue may just go away when things dry out.  But moisture collecting in the ventilation hoses in a hot vehicle may be a breeding ground for mold, and that can have health consequences.

There's another possibility. Ventilation systems often have drains to get rid of any accumulated water, and debris can sometimes clog them.  A technician can clean out those drains and you'll be back in business.

One thing to nose around for is a sweet smell coming out of your vents.  Sometimes the heater core (a component of your vehicle's heater system) can develop very tiny holes.  That sweet smell may be coolant that's been vaporized by those tiny holes entering your cabin. 

It's always a good thing to mention to your service advisor any abnormality you're seeing—or smelling—in your vehicle.  By venting a little about your vents, a technician can get to the bottom of the problem before it starts "clouding" the issue.

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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