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Don't Blow a Gasket! (Valve Cover Gasket Replacement)

When you head out to your vehicle after it's been parked and notice oil leaking underneath it, that's something to have looked at right away.  Oil leaks mean your oil level is probably low and running a vehicle in that condition can lead to expensive repairs. While there are many reasons oil leaks develop, one possibility is a bad valve cover gasket.  Vehicle engines have a cover bolted over the spot where the engine valves are, and that cover keeps the oil inside the engine. In between the cover and the engine is a gasket that keeps that seal tight.  But after many years of high engine temperatures and vibrations, that gasket or the bolts that hold on the valve cover can fail or loosen, and oil can leak. You may see dirty oil on the valve cover in the engine compartment, near the spark plugs, or around the bolts that hold the valve cover on.  All those are signs of leakage and time to bring your vehicle in for our technicians to check out. In some vehicles, taking ... read more

Snake in the Engine (Serpentine Belt)

There's a belt that snakes through your engine.  It's even named for a snake, the serpentine belt.  It'll bite you when it breaks, possibly leaving you stranded.  So, it's good to know a little about this snake-like belt. In early engines, there were lots of belts. They were used to convert the rotating power of the engine to turn a mechanical part.  But engineers had an idea.  Why not consolidate all those belts into one that ran a bunch of different parts simultaneously? Voila!  The serpentine belt. It's found in the front or side of your engine unlike older belts which were often in a V shape, the serpentine belt has ribs on it which more effectively connect with the pulleys that power the other components.  A serpentine belt may power the water pump, power steering pump, alternator, and the air conditioning: all from one crankshaft.  Now, all that's fine when everything is working well and the belt is intact.  But when a serpentine belt ... read more

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Serpentine Belt

Breathe Easier (Cabin Air Filter)

When you get in your vehicle, how does it smell? If it's not so nice, it may be time to have your cabin air filter changed. It's not the same one that filters out the air used in the engine.  The cabin air filter screens out dust and other particulates from the outside air so when it enters the cabin, you don't have to breathe them in when you're driving.  Maybe your commute finds you traveling along dusty rural roads, or maybe you pass by some city factories that have smokestacks spewing out smoky exhausts.  Or in spring, maybe you notice your allergies acting up because of the pollen in the air.  The cabin air filter will remove a lot of those things. The more it filters out, the more those small particles add up.  That reduces how much airflow the heating/air conditioning system can handle, and you may notice not as much air is coming through your vehicle's vents.  That can also be a sign you need your air filter replaced. Our technicians will remove an ... read more

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Cabin Air Filter

Staying In Charge (Alternator Repair)

Seems like these days, we're hearing about more and more electric or hybrid vehicles.  Keep in mind that conventional gasoline internal combustion vehicles have important electrical components, too, and it's important to make sure they're operating at their peak. In a vehicle with a gasoline engine, the part that keeps the battery charged is the alternator.  It converts the mechanical energy created by the engine into electrical power.  To do that, a shaft in the alternator has a pulley on one end that's driven by a belt that is turned by the engine.  A series of magnets then spins around coiled wires and it creates alternating current, or electricity. Your vehicle uses that to charge the battery that, in turn, keeps other electrical components in your vehicle working. Here are a few signs that the alternator isn't doing its job right.  The battery keeps going dead, your instrument panel's battery light is on (it looks like a rectangle with a - and + inside and ... read more

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Alternator

Road Ready (Trip Inspection)

Maybe you've been cooped up for a while and are yearning for a change of scenery.  Or maybe you need to visit a relative who lives far away.  You choose not to fork out the big bucks for airline tickets, so it's time for a road trip.  Make sure you're road ready by having your vehicle professionally inspected before the big drive. One of our technicians can check out several of your vehicle's most important systems so you can be more confident that you'll be able to go the distance without a breakdown.  Here are a few things a trip inspection may include: Your vehicle stops with brakes that, in turn, stop the tires.  They must both be in sound condition. The technician can look at your tire tread, the condition of the sidewalls, and note the tires' age.  Brakes have pads and rotors that should meet certain specs, so an expert inspection of their condition is important, too. A technician can check other vital fluids such as engine coolant, power steering, t ... read more

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Trip Inspection

Keeping Your Cool (Coolant System)

No matter what the weather is like outside, your internal combustion engine expects to keep its cool all the time, even when it's really cold.  That's because engines create the power that moves you to your destination by a series of tiny explosions of a fuel and air mixture. In turn, that generates a lot of heat in a small space. Your vehicle has a complete cooling system with a lot of different parts that work together to keep the temperature at a point where the metal engine parts won't heat up enough to warp.  Its lifeblood is coolant, a liquid that circulates through the engine (and, in most vehicles, the transmission, too) through a series of hoses and tubes.  In order to get rid of the coolant's heat, your vehicle has a part you probably recognize: the radiator.  It does what its name proclaims: radiates heat.  The radiator has a series of thin metal fins that coolant goes through, and when outside air passes over them, the heat is dissipated from the ra ... read more

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Cooling System

Always on Guard (TMPS)

One of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle running safely is to make sure your tires are properly inflated.  If one or more is vastly over- or underinflated, that has the potential to cause major handling problems and may result in a dangerous accident. All vehicles in recent years are equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, or TPMS.  One system uses small sensors in the tires that continually check the pressure in each tire.  That sensor sends a signal to computers in your vehicle which turns on an instrument panel light warning of low pressure when at least one is very low. Or it may update a numeric reading on your instrument panel which gives you an approximation of how many PSI (pounds per square inch) of air is in each tire.  Another system works with your antilock brake system to measure the size of your vehicle’s tires.  When one wheel is going faster than another, it will spin faster. A computer sees that and alerts ... read more

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TPMS

Oh, Stop! (Disc Brake Service)

Every time you drive your vehicle, you wear down your brakes just a little bit.  And after a while, that adds up.  Gradually, your stopping power isn't like it used to be.  Since brakes are one of your vehicle's most important safety features, it just makes sense to keep them performing well. Most vehicles have disc brakes.  One key component, as the name suggests, is the disc.  Most vehicles have discs on their front and rear wheels.  The discs (also called rotors) are made of metal, and each rotates with the wheel hub.  Your brakes also have pads that make contact with the rotors when you press down on the brake pedal, and the friction stops your vehicle. After many, many stops, that friction wears down both the pads and the discs and reduces their ability to stop the way you need them to.  The discs may also become uneven from all the heat they generate, and your brakes won't stop as well as they used to when they were newer.  Some signs ... read more

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Brake Service

Restore Your Get-Up-and-Go (Fuel and Air Induction Cleaning)

You may have heard the old saying, "My get-up-and-go got up and went." If your vehicle's engine's fuel economy is noticeably worse, your engine is idling roughly or stalling or your vehicle's acceleration isn't what it used to be, ask your service advisor if you might need your vehicle's fuel and air induction systems cleaned. As the hours pile up on your engine, carbon deposits can build up.  It's not unusual for some of the impurities and additives in fuel to leave behind a black residue that eventually will negatively affect your fuel economy and performance. Maybe you're noticing your engine is harder to start, you hear knocking or pinging in your engine and your vehicle just doesn't have the pep it used to. While it's a sophisticated process with a lot of components, a gasoline engine essentially produces power by drawing in air from the outside and mixing it with fuel in the cylinders where this blend of fuel and air is ignited by spark plugs in synchronized explosions. The ... read more

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Fuel Economy

Oil's Well That Ends Well (Oil Change Grades and Weight)

Changing your oil regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle running well.  And knowing the right type of oil to use is also very important.  Engine oil is classified by weight, but it doesn't refer to how much the oil would weigh if you put it on a scale.  It refers to viscosity, or how easily the oil flows through the engine.  Most engines operate normally at around 210°F/99°C.  The viscosity, or weight, is assigned a number by how well it flows at that temperature.  The lower the number, the more freely it flows.  Most vehicle engines use what's called a multigrade oil which behaves differently in different temperatures. Multigrade oils have a "W" in their viscosity number that you may have seen on a bottle of oil, something like 5W30.  The W stands for winter and shows how freely it flows in colder temperatures. That means a 5W30 oil will behave like a 5 weight oil in lower temperatures (less viscous ... read more

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Oil Change
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