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.
Every one of us has a little procrastinator inside us. Some put off getting our teeth cleaned. Others put off answering our emails. Yet others put off calling friends and family (sorry, Uncle Joe). And there are those of us who put off getting our vehicle's service done, whether it's a repair or regular maintenance. You may make the excuse that you don't have time, it can wait until tomorrow, you have other things to do.
Well, there are some things you should NEVER put off when it comes to your vehicle because that procrastination could have dire consequences down the road.
The biggest one is changing your oil. Yes, it's one of those things you may hear somebody nag you about, but changing your vehicle's oil regularly is probably the one thing that will do the most to keep things running smoothly… and well. It's the lubricant that keeps metal engine parts from wearing out. Oil doesn't last forever and it gets dirty, so you have to swap it out for fresh every so often. How often? Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can tell you, and your owner's manual has the manufacturer's recommendations, too.
You have to keep the right amount of air in your tires. They don't inflate themselves! You may have a newer vehicle that has a tire pressure monitor built in and lets you know when a tire is over- or under-inflated. Don't ignore those warning lights! If your vehicle doesn't have those electronic monitors, have our pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley check your pressure every so often. If your tires have the right amount of air in them, they'll last longer, save you money and keep you much safer on the road.
Make sure you have the right amount of vital fluids in your vehicle. The important ones (besides oil) are brake fluid, transmission fluid and coolant. Without the right amount of brake fluid, your vehicle may be hard to stop. Without the right level of transmission fluid, gear shifting may be erratic. And without the right amount of coolant, your engine may overheat.
Ok, so if you put off calling your Uncle Joe today, he probably will be ok with that. But when it comes to these important vehicle maintenance points, prevent procrastination… and prevent problems down the road.
We’d love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions.
The The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Basic Guide To Synthetic Oil
Feb 26, 2018
Synthetic motor oil has been around for a long time, and more and more new vehicles are leaving factories with synthetic in their engines. But a lot of drivers don't really know much about it.
Let's start with conventional oil – the kind folks are used to. Conventional oil is made up of naturally occurring hydrocarbon chains, which means its molecules are long and have various lengths. Like a pile of pencils, some of them new and some of them used.
Synthetic oil is man-made. Its molecules are more uniform and regular in shape – more similar to marbles than pencils. Some synthetic oil starts with a petroleum base that's modified and others are entirely synthesized from other materials.
Synthetic motor oil works better in both hot and cold temperatures. It's more chemically stable so it doesn't readily evaporate or break down in the high heat produced inside your vehicle engine. This means it resists turning to sludge, which is a real engine killer.
Remember that marbles and pencils thing we were talking about? Well, that makes synthetic oil slipperier than conventional oil which means less friction in your engine. Your vehicle engine runs cooler, wears less and lasts longer. You also get a boost in power and maybe even an improvement in fuel economy.
Synthetic oil also lasts longer so you change it less often – which is great for the environment. With longer oil change intervals, you need an oil filter specifically built for the longer service life of synthetic oil. Talk with your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service adviser about synthetic oil and synthetic blends – they might be just what you need to improve engine performance and extend the life of your vehicle.
The The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Guide to Proper Fluids for Your Vehicle
Mar 21, 2017
The automotive professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley would like to give Lancaster drivers an update on some of the things happening in automotive fluids. You know, vehicles are becoming more sophisticated every day. Fluids such as, oil, coolant and transmission fluid are becoming more specialized at about the same pace.
The Lancaster do-it-yourselfer has to be pretty careful so that they do not actually harm their vehicle with the wrong type of fluid. That is why so many California ] owners rely on the advice of their friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor to not only get the correct family of fluids, but to suggest the formulation that is best for their vehicle and their driving habits in the Lancaster area.
Let's start with engine oil. Lancaster drivers who have been paying attention will have noticed a number of new oil weights on the California scene in the last several years. Modern engines are built to much tighter tolerances and have very complicated valve trains. The oil must be thin enough to lubricate complicated parts when the engine is cold. The weight of an oil is expressed in terms like 20-W-50 or 5-W-30. The vehicle manufacturers recommend the weight of oil for each vehicle they make. The recommendation is based on engine design. Your Lancaster service center will know what weight your vehicle manufacturer recommends - and it's important to follow those recommendations. Your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can also offer suggestions for special formulations and can tell you all about conventional and synthetic oils.
Antifreeze, or engine coolant, is another area that has become more complicated. For a long time, vehicle manufacturers only recommended a couple of different types of coolant. Now, several different formulations are needed because of the high-tech materials that vehicle manufacturers are using to build the cooling system. Using the wrong type of coolant in your vehicle can actually void your warranty, so it's important to get that right.
Transmission fluid is becoming specialized for Lancaster vehicles as well. New transmission designs have particular requirements that require specific formulations. Recently, new, somewhat confusing, standards for brake fluid have also been released.
Not too long ago, there was a good chance that all of the vehicles at your house would use many of the same fluids. However, as automotive technology advances, the array of basic automotive fluids California drivers need will grow. And, some of the formulations will cost a little more for Lancaster drivers. Fortunately, The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will continue to update their training to keep pace with technology so that you'll get the right fluids your vehicle needs. It's all part of the commitment we make to your driving peace of mind.
Oil changes are probably the most recognized service on a vehicle. Almost all Lancaster residents know about them. But do we know enough?
Several decades ago, oil changes were fairly standard: every three months or 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But recent advances in both engine technology and oil quality have led to longer oil change intervals.
Delayed or skipped oil changes are a problem for Lancaster residents because they lead to the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Oil sludge forms when engine oil breaks down, which happens with both time and miles. Obviously, driving will take its toll on engine oil, but the oil also breaks down even as the vehicle just sits in the garage. This is why oil change intervals are listed in both time and distance traveled, and the phrase “whichever comes first” is applicable.
Oil sludge is essentially petroleum jelly. Imagine this stuff squishing around in your vehicle engine, pushing into small engine passageways and blocking passage of oil to vital engine parts, shortening your engine's life expectancy.
To prevent sludge, you have to get your oil changed regularly, as often as the manufacturer recommends. Check your owner's manual for every vehicle you own to know the interval for each one. Don't assume they will be the same.
If you tow a trailer, haul heavy loads, make a lot of short trips around Lancaster, usually engage in stop-and-go (or around-the-town) driving, drive in cold or hot California weather, or drive in polluted or dusty conditions, you may need to change your oil more frequently. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for a “severe service” recommendation.
If the manual doesn't give you the advice you need, talk to your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor. He will be able to answer any questions about preventive maintenance or vehicle care that you may have, including how often to change your oil.
Lancaster residents need to get the right weight and type of oil recommended for their vehicles. More and more are using synthetic oil in their vehicles. Synthetic oil typically lasts longer and is more resistant to sludge formation than conventional motor oil. But it is also more expensive. So it can be tempting for Lancaster residents to ask for conventional oil, but if you replace synthetic oil with conventional oil, you will have to change your oil more often to prevent sludge build-up. In the end, you're probably not saving money at all.
Also, your engine may not be designed for the conventional oil. Check your owner's manual before replacing synthetic oil with conventional.
Talk to your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor for more information.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Advice on What to Pour into Your Vehicle
Mar 27, 2016
Changes in vehicle design and manufacture have resulted in changed fluid requirements for our vehicles. With the sophistication of engines, transmissions, differentials, etc., it's best for Lancaster residents to always use the proper type of fluid for their vehicle. Using incorrect fluids can actually damage your engine.
As engines have become more sophisticated, new weights (or grades) of engine oil have been introduced. Today, there is a much wider range of weights for engine oil as well as a variety of formulations for different types of engines.
Transmission fluid, brake fluid and coolant/anti-freeze have changed because the materials that go into making the systems they protect have changed. The fluids in our vehicles generally have two jobs: to lubricate and to prevent corrosion. The fluids formulated for your vehicle are specifically designed to protect the materials that make up its engine parts. Using the wrong fluid may leave some parts vulnerable to corrosion. Further, using the wrong fluids can also void your vehicle's warranty. So The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley recommends Lancaster drivers follow the fluid recommendations in their owner's manuals.
Vehicle fluids, including engine oil, are also designed in special formulas for higher mileage vehicles. These formulas contain additives that help clean older engines and transmissions as well as recondition older seals and gaskets. These fluids are perfectly okay for your vehicle as long as you match the original fluid recommendations in your owner's manual. In other words, a high-mileage oil is fine as long as it is the same weight as the oil recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer.
Good vehicle care always includes proper attention to your vehicle's fluids. Understanding and using correct fluids will keep your vehicle running well and will help prevent early corrosion and wear of vital engine parts.
Talk to your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor for more information.
California: What Is the Risk of High Oil Change Intervals?
Mar 07, 2016
California residents may have heard that vehicles don't need their oil changed as often as they used to. That's true. But it's not the whole story.
Owing to improved engine technology and higher oil quality, most newer vehicles can go longer between oil changes than their older counterparts.
So what is a good time interval for oil changes? How do California residents know when to change it? And why do we change it in the first place?
Oil lubricates a vehicle's engine, which protects it from friction damage. Over time the oil can collect dirt and contaminants that inhibit its performance. But dirty oil isn't the only problem for California residents. What you really want to avoid is called oil sludge.
Oil sludge is caused by moisture in the oil and by hot spots in your engine that burn off oil. This sludge is a gooey gel that can clog engine passageways, which can block lubricants from reaching vital engine parts. The result can be engine wear or even engine failure.
Sludge forms rapidly in an engine that is driven under what are termed “severe conditions.” A vehicle's owner's manual includes recommendations for oil change intervals under both normal and severe conditions. Severe conditions include towing a trailer, driving in polluted or dusty conditions, hauling heavy loads or using a car top carrier. Also, extremes in climate such as very hot or very cold temperatures constitute severe conditions for vehicles.
Some people may be tempted to overlook the severe conditions preventive maintenance schedule in their 's owner's manual because of the word “severe.” But consider this: the most common form of severe conditions is stop-and-go driving, rush hour commuting or only driving your vehicle on short trips around the area.
When a vehicle only makes trips under four miles/six kilometers, or under 10 miles/16 kilometers in freezing conditions, the engine doesn't get warm enough for condensation in the oil to evaporate. The result? You get oil sludge build-up. If your driving patterns are the same as any of the conditions that count as severe, you should be changing your oil more frequently under the severe conditions schedule.
The team at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster can help you understand what type of oil to use in your vehicle and how it can affect your oil change schedule. Some vehicles are filled with synthetic or synthetic-blend oil at the factory. The owner's manual will recommend that this oil continue to be used in the vehicle, and oil change intervals will be based on this type of oil.
Also, if your vehicle uses conventional oil, but you have some of those severe driving habits we talked about, you can switch to a premium-grade oil to give your vehicle extra protection. The answer to why we change our oil is fairly simple: to protect our engines and make our vehicles last longer and run better. But the answer to how often to change our oil is more complex: it depends on our vehicle, our driving habits, where we live and what kind of oil we use.
When it comes to oil changes, a little information can go a long way to helping people save money and extend the life of their vehicles. Stay safe, and stay on the road.
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.
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.
Super Slick at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster: Synthetic Oil
Jan 02, 2015
When you get an oil change, it's always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we're asked if we'd like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Lancaster drivers.
Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides advantages over conventional motor oil.
First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Lancaster drivers, cooler operating temperatures and more engine power.
Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn't vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Lancaster and very hot or freezing California temperatures.
Also, synthetic oil doesn't generate oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your vehicle engine.
Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their vehicles before delivering them to be sold. Many owner's manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your vehicle came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you're used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can't follow this longer service interval. You'll have to change your oil more often.
On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can ask the pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for more information. They can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.
Oil changes are the hallmark of preventive maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. All Lancaster drivers need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more expensive, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there's a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves cash in the long run. All Lancaster drivers pay for vehicle care. But understanding what we're paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.