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What Customers Should Know

Start Me Up (Ignition Systems)

Jul 25, 2021

When you start up your gasoline engine car, you may not know that it's using the same ignition principles as it has for decades.  You have spark plugs that require enough power so a spark can jump across a gap at its tip.  Years ago, a vehicle's 12-volt system had to produce 15,000-25,000 volts to do that, so engineers came up with something called an ignition coil that bumps up the voltage. It also has to be done at just the right interval called timing.

The first systems had a distributor, a mechanical device with a rotating disc that switched the power to the ignition coil on and off.  That higher voltage then was sent to the spark plugs at the correct time interval. But the mechanical "points" had to be replaced and adjusted every 12,000 miles/20,000 kilometers.  Engineers later replaced the switching mechanism with solid state ones, but they still needed replacement after 120,000 miles/200,000 kilometers.

The next evolution came in the 80's when the distributor was replaced with a couple of sensors which talked to a computer.  This "DIS" (distributor-less automotive ignition system) was a big advance.  Plus, it didn't use just one ignition coil for all the cylinders.  It had coil "packs" that each provided spark to two cylinders.  That way, the voltage could be boosted even higher, to 30,000 volts, which helped engines be able to ignite a leaner fuel/air mixture.

Recently have come even more improvements.  Now instead of coil packs, there's a coil that's attached to each spark plug.  No more spark plug wires means less maintenance. Plus, a stronger, hotter spark of 50,000 volts can make an engine more reliable, increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.

No matter what ignition system your vehicle uses, your vehicle service facility has a staff of technicians trained to work on the latest technology.  Make sure to have your vehicle maintained regularly so you can take full advantage of these modern engineering marvels.

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



If You Drive Like a Maniac (Aggressive Driving is Bad for a Vehicle)

Jul 18, 2021

When someone mentions driving like a maniac, they're not talking about you, surely? Besides the safety issues of aggressive driving, you should know that your vehicle will last a lot longer if you'll just mellow out a little.  Here are four traits good drivers follow if they want their vehicles to go the extra distance.

Cool—The driver who can't wait to get to the next stoplight is just shortening the life of his or her vehicle.  Jackrabbit starts and uneven acceleration hurts your engine because the valves and cylinder heads are stressed more.  All of those moving parts will wear out faster as well as other components that are connected.  That means things like the air conditioner, power steering pump… just about anything that attaches by a belt or a pulley.  Oh, and you'll be generating more heat.  Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies.

Warm—If you get in your cold vehicle which has been sitting overnight, start it up and rev the engine high, you've just put a lot of stress on your engine.  That's because you didn't let the oil (that's been sitting down in the oil pan at the bottom of the engine) get to the moving parts in order to lubricate them. Some manufacturers advise that you run your vehicle for about 30 seconds before you take off.  And if it's really cold out, you may be wise to let the engine run for a minute or two before putting a load on the engine.  Also, for the first 5-15 minutes, keep your RPMs on the low side and don't jam on the accelerator.

Smooth—You're trying to get somewhere in a hurry and have to jam on the brakes while traveling pretty fast.  Just that one time can do more damage to the brakes than you would think.  Lots of hard braking can overheat your brakes and damage your rotors, wearing them out way faster than someone who drives with a smoother touch.  Hard braking also strains suspension parts, tires and engine mounts.

Smart—You know what PRNDL stand for.  Those are the letters in your automatic transmission (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Low).  Here are another couple of letters: IQ.  A smart shifter never goes into R to D without completely stopping the vehicle, unless, of course, you're anxious to spend some big dollars on your automatic transmission. 

These days, it's common to get 200,000 miles/320,000 kilometers out of a vehicle, no problem.  It just takes regular maintenance (oil changes and regular service) and one other thing.  Showing off: showing off a little moderation in driving habits with a big payoff in the end. 


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



I Had No Idea! (Four Things You Didn't Know About Vehicles)

Jul 04, 2021

Bet you didn't know:

Some of the earliest rearview mirrors were marketed as "Cop Spotters" so drivers would know when police were following them. Who wants a ticket, anyway? According to eBay Motors, Elmer Berger first patented a rearview mirror that was mounted on the front fenders, on the spare tire secured to the side of the car of at the top of the driver's door frame. 

About 80 percent of your vehicle is recyclable. So says The Balance. That means four-fifths of most vehicles can be recycled.  Much of that recycling is done by automotive aftermarket recyclers.  Between the U.S and Canada, they reclaim enough steel to produce 13 million new vehicles.

The man who invented the first modern cruise control couldn't even drive a car because he was blind! His name, says Smithsonian.com, was Ralph Teetor.  Blinded at a young age by a knife accident, Teetor was inspired to create a speed control by a couple of things.  One, the U.S. imposed a mandatory 35 mph/55 kph during World War II to conserve fuel and tire rubber, and Teetor wanted drivers to go a safe and steady speed.  Plus, a chauffeur who drove him around used to randomly slow down and speed up which irritated Teetor.  So he invented a speed control to encourage drivers to drive at a more constant and safer speed.

The first grooved tires were invented in 1904 by Continental.  But that was a big improvement over the very first "tires" which were actually metal hoops that made riding in the first cars a pretty rough experience.  The first rubber tires were solid rubber, not inflatable like today's tires.  Things have come a long way.  Modern tires are made with sophisticated rubber compounds that can deal with heat and cold.  Plus their tread patterns help drivers get better traction on wet roads when it storms.  Still, it's important to make sure yours have enough tread and are properly inflated for maximum safety and performance.

Quite frankly, there's a lot we don't understand about the vehicles we drive.  They're much more complicated than the old horse and buggy that preceded  them.  Leave your vehicle's maintenance and service to highly trained technicians who DO understand how to maintain, diagnose and repair today's modern, sophisticated vehicles. 

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



Got it Covered! (Timing Cover Maintenance)

Jun 27, 2021

You may have heard at one time or another about something called a timing belt or timing chain in your engine.  And you may know that if they fail… well, let's just way that there can be some major engine damage.  So obviously, we want our timing belts and chains to be in tip-top shape.

One part that helps keep them running the way they should is the timing cover.  As you can probably guess, it's something that covers the belt or chain.  The timing cover protects both belts and chains from dirt and road debris.  Timing belts also need to be lubricated so their covers allow them to be lubricated as well.  They have a gasket that insures a good seal for the engine.  If that gasket breaks or develops a leak, then engine oil can escape, and loss of lubrication is never good for an engine component.

Other symptoms of a failed timing cover are leaking coolant, a metallic sound coming from the front of your engine or your Check Engine light coming on.  You might also notice a drop in power when you're going uphill.

It's important that your timing cover be in good condition and functioning properly.  Your repair facility will check out that part of your engine to make sure gaskets are in good shape and the cover is doing the job it's meant to do.  Catch that leaking or broken timing cover in time and your engine will thank you for avoiding some serious damage and an expensive repair.

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



Move it or Lose It (Dormant Vehicles)

Jun 13, 2021

When it comes to your vehicle, driving it too much can cause some issues.  But what about not driving a vehicle enough? That has consequences as well.

Here are a few things that can happen if a vehicle isn't driven enough.  When the engine doesn't operate, the oil isn't lubricating. That means some mechanisms that need periodic lubrication aren't getting it.  And oil that sits around breaks down over time.  In fact, some experts say you should change oil more often if your vehicle sits in the driveway than if you drive it regularly. 

You've heard that expression, "Take it on the highway and blow out the engine.” Well, carbon buildup used to be a problem in older vehicles.  But the real culprit these days is moisture that builds up from combustion if your vehicle never gets hot enough to burn it off. That water vapor can mix with oil and cause sludge to form. There are many vehicle systems (battery, exhaust system, engine seals, etc.) that benefit from driving your vehicle at its optimal operating temperature for a while.

Spark plugs can deteriorate unless they are fired up.  The gas tank can rust from the inside if the metal is exposed from not having fuel in it.  Rodents and insects may see a sitting vehicle as a luxury hotel.  Brakes can rust after sitting around without being used.  Seals and gaskets can dry out.

One wise thing to do is check the operating manual. Some will spell out a maintenance schedule for vehicles that aren't driven regularly. 

One suggestion? Discuss your vehicle's maintenance with your service advisor. Let him or her know how often you drive the vehicle and what you use it for.  Then, you can come up with a maintenance schedule tailored for you, one that might not be covered in the owner's manual. 

If you do have a vehicle that's been sitting around for a long time, it may be wise to have it towed to your service facility rather than trying to drive it with brakes that may not work, spark plugs that may not fire reliably and other systems that may compromise your safety and those of others on the road. 

You may think it's great to have a low-mileage vehicle that you've barely driven, but a complicated, sophisticated machine such as a car, SUV or truck needs regular attention to keep it running safely… and reliably.

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



A Real "Pane" (Window Maintenance and Repair)

May 23, 2021

It's pretty frustrating when your driver's window won't work.  You can't get your food at the drive-thru without opening the door, have a tough time using the ATM from your vehicle, can't have that fresh breeze blowing through your hair as you listen to your favorite road tunes.

Plus, there's a safety factor.  Your windows provide an escape route in case you need to get out and the doors won't work.  Let's take a look at what's going on when your window won't operate.

Most vehicles these days have power windows.  They have an electric motor in each power window and sometimes those fail.  They often give you a warning that they're on their last legs by making a noise or hesitating, so if you get a sign like that, have a technician check it out. Loss of power can also be due to a blown fuse, a bad switch or faulty wiring.

All windows have something called a regulator that moves the glass up and down.  They have a lot of moving parts in them which can break, become bent, rust or get out of alignment. The glass moves along a window track guide.  Sometimes if the glass gets out of the track, it won't move up and down the way it's designed to do.

When you take your vehicle over to a repair facility, a technician can pinpoint the cause of your malfunctioning window.  Often it involves having to remove the door panel to gain access to the components inside.  But when everything's working right, you'll be able to throw that annoying inconvenience right out the window.

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



Greeted by a Screech (Loud Noise when Starting Vehicle)

May 16, 2021

No one likes to be greeted in the morning by having someone screech at you.  The same goes for a loud, high-pitched noise your vehicle greets you with every time you start the engine.  If you're wondering if that's normal, no, it isn't.  And it is worth getting checked out.  The good news is that it might be nothing serious.  Then again, it may be.

The first things to suspect any time you hear a high-pitched sound coming from the engine are belts.  They have tension on them and they're trying to turn lots of different pulleys, pumps and other equipment the engine needs to work properly.  The noise could come from the belts starting to wear out and dry out. If one of those belts breaks at an inopportune time, not only can it strand you somewhere, the damage to the engine could be very expensive to fix.

Other things that will cause a high-pitched sound are the pulleys and tensioners.  The tensioners keep the right amount of pressure on the belts and some pulleys contain rubber that dampens engine vibrations.  The rubber in the pulleys can crack or deform with age, which prevents them from working correctly and may cause your belts to wear out.

A technician will check to see if the belts are worn or cracked.  He or she will also check the tension on the belts, the condition of the pulleys and whether all  components are aligned the way they should be.

Sometimes, the noise is nothing major to worry about, but it's still worthwhile to rule out any problems that have cropped up now or may appear in the future.  You'll have a properly running vehicle that sounds like its engineers intended… quiet and smooth.


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



Do you have a Clue (Get the Most Out of a Service Visit)

May 02, 2021

When you head to the doctor, you probably have it in your mind what you're going to say about why you don't feel good.  That way your doctor can use that information to diagnose your problem. You might want to think of that same approach when you take your vehicle in for a repair.

Experts say what will help the service advisor most is for you to bring in some well-organized descriptions about your vehicle's issues.  You might even want to write them down so you don't forget.  Is there an unusual smell?  What does it smell like?  Does the problem happen first thing after starting out? If there's an odd sound you hear, is it dependent on speed?  Does it change when you turn a corner?  

Keep your expectations realistic.  Some conditions may take a long time to diagnose and repair.  If you go thinking you'll be in and out in no time, you might be disappointed when you're told there are other customers ahead of you and you may have to come back tomorrow.  If you can make alternate plans to have someone pick you up and take you back when the vehicle is finished, that way you won't feel like you've wasted your time. 

Most importantly, be available for any communication from the service advisor.  If they have your cell phone and they have a question or need an approval for a repair, the sooner they reach you, the sooner things can move forward. 

The service facility wants your experience with them to be good just as you do.  With a little help from you, they'll get your vehicle back on the road and you'll have a smile on your face.

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



Such a Little Part (Climate Control Resistor)

Apr 25, 2021

You expect your heater/air conditioner to work like it should.  You have a control for temperature and one for fan speed.  You even have a control for what vents the air comes out of. 

Don't be surprised one day if your blower fan develops a mind of its own and starts going crazy.  Most of the time, you may find that it starts blowing at full speed, and nothing you do to try to control it does any good.  This is what may be happening.

Your blower motor has an electronic component called a resistor.  It does what its name says; it offers resistance.  When you want the fan to run more slowly, you turn the fan speed down.  That resistor accomplishes that by turning its resistance up.  When the resistor fails, the power has nothing to slow it and the fan speeds up. 

It's a small part and can fail due to age or corrosion.  It's usually not an expensive part, either, but it's often found in a location that's not that easy for the technician to get to.  That means labor costs will vary depending on the design of your vehicle. 

Occasionally, a faulty resistor can cause the blower motor not to work at all or only partially come on.  But other things can cause that as well, such as a faulty fan switch or vent control. 

This is where a technician's training comes in.  Special equipment can track down precisely where the issue is so you can be assured the correct part is being replaced.

It's just not pleasant when the blower motor isn't following orders.  Have your service facility check it out so you can be the blower's boss, like it should be. 

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



The Neglected Windshield (Windshield Care)

Apr 18, 2021

You look at it every day, yet you don't really see it.  We're talking about your vehicle's windshield, and if you're not seeing it at all, that's probably a good sign.  The fact is that unless our windshields get fogged up, hazy or cracked, we don't pay all that much attention to them.  Considering how vital front visibility is in a vehicle, paying a little more attention to your windshield will pay off in the long run.

Keep it clean!  In ancient times when gas stations had attendants who filled your tank for you, they used to clean the outside of your windshield while the fuel was being dispensed. In these days of self-serve gas, we don't have that luxury any more.  But it's a good idea to clean your windshield regularly, even when it's not filthy. If you let dirt build up on the outside, it acts like fine sandpaper when you turn on your wipers when the glass is dry. Really, try to avoid turning on your wipers unless your windshield is wet.  If you must use your wipers to clear off something like bird droppings, use your washers liberally to help avoid scratches.

It's also important to wash the inside of the windshield, too. Even if you're not a smoker, you might notice the inside glass sometimes get a greasy film on it.  That's the plastic inside your vehicle off-gassing petroleum products that they're made of.  A hazy windshield when you are driving directly into low sun can blind you.  Use soaps that are made for automotive glass since they won't streak or harm vehicle interiors.  Your service advisor can recommend some.

Keep an eye on your windshield wiper blades.  Let them go too long without replacing them and you might wind up with the metal wiper frame actually touching the glass, a recipe for major scratches when you turn your wipers on.

Finally, do a quick inspection every once in a while for chips in your windshield glass.  Catch them quickly and they can be repaired while they're still small.  Often they will spread into a major crack, and at that point you'll have to have the whole thing replaced. 

So there you have it. Give your windshield a little love and it will reward you back with a beautifully clear view of the road up ahead.

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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