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I'm Cool With That (AC Exchange)

On a hot day, you want your vehicle's air conditioning to work.  When the air blowing out of your vents isn't cold, it's easy to think, "I'll just take it by the shop and have them top off my refrigerant." But while some people think air conditioning is that simple, it's actually not. If your refrigerant is low, something has to have happened for it to be depleted.  Perhaps there's a leak in the system.  Or some hoses or clamps have failed.  If the system isn't evaluated by someone who knows air conditioning, it's possible that adding refrigerant will just be a band-aid solution. It's also possible that contaminants have gotten into the refrigerant, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon, or air.  Some of those gases do not condense like refrigerant does which can increase the pressure inside the system and strain the lines and other components. At that point, the best course of action may be to have the old refrigerant (with its contaminants) bled from the sy ... read more

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Air Conditioning

Not-So-Smooth Operator (Transmission Signs of Trouble)

You are heading down a flat, newly paved street when all of a sudden you feel it.  Your vehicle jumps a little bit when you're accelerating and changing gears.  You know it's not the surface of the road because it's smooth as silk.  So what did you just feel? That kind of jumping—or grinding or slipping—during gear changes could be a sign of trouble in your automatic transmission.  And it's important to get it checked out fairly soon because some transmission problems that aren't fixed early can lead to more involved and expensive repairs. By far most vehicles on the road in North America have automatic transmissions, and they are workhorses.  Unlike early cars with balky, hard-to-shift manual transmissions, the latest automatics allow you to drive without having to even think about gear changes.  But you should know about a few signs of trouble to look for if they ever start showing up. When you first get going and shift your vehicle from Par ... read more

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Transmission

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

Categories:

Brake Service

Straight to the Point (Alignment Signs of Problems)

It’s just common sense that your vehicle will drive better if all the wheels are lined up with each other and the road the way the engineers intended.  When they’re not, that is called being out of alignment.   Here are some signs that your alignment has problems. Your steering wheel isn’t straight when your vehicle goes straight down a straight road. This one’s pretty easy to notice.  If your vehicle’s logo on the wheel is tilted, that’s probably not the way designers wanted it to be. Bring it in and have us check it out. Your steering wheel is vibrating on a smooth road or when you are accelerating.  While this could be caused by several different things, one possibility is misalignment.  If your steering wheel is shaking, it should be examined by a trained technician. Your vehicle is pulling to one side without you wanting it to.  Sometimes the configuration of the road will cause it to pull slightly left or rig ... read more

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Alignment

The Little Valve that Could (PCV Valve Replacement)

It's easy to get letters like PVC and PCV mixed up.  PVC is a plastic that's used in a lot of things, especially plumbing pipes.  And PCV is a valve that helps your engine burn off excess fumes rather than having them pollute our atmosphere.  PCV stands for positive crankcase ventilation.  When your engine ignites gasoline in the cylinders, some of the gases produced make their way into the crankcase, where oil is held to lubricate the engine.  In earlier days, those gases would be vented out through a hose and go directly into the air.  It was a waste of gasoline (since about three-fourths of the gases were unburned fuel) and a nasty source of pollution. So engineers devised a one-way valve that directed those gases back into the engine's air intake system to be burned again.  After a while, the PCV valve can get clogged up with gummy oil.  Not only does that reduce the recirculation of the gases, but it can also cause pressure in the crankcase ... read more

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PCV Valve

Stopping "Brake" Downs (Brake Pad Replacement)

If someone tells you to put the brakes on something, you know it means stop.  And stopping is one of the most important safety maneuvers you can do in any vehicle.  That means your brakes have to work properly.  Let's face it.  You stop dozens of times every time you drive.  And over time, that takes its toll on your brakes.  Friction is what stops your vehicle.  Most newer vehicles have disc brakes, and the parts that wear out the fastest are those that rub against each other every time you stop, the rotors and the pads. The rotors are discs that rotate with the wheels, and the pads are removable surfaces that make contact with the rotors to slow or stop your vehicle.  Bits of both wear off each time you stop, and when enough of either (or both) lose too much material, your brakes become unable to safely slow or stop your vehicle.  The pads usually are the parts that wear out first.  Signs that your brakes might be getting worn are: Y ... read more

Categories:

Brake Service , Brakes

Road Trip? Check! (Trip Inspection)

After months of postponing travel far away from home, a lot of us can't wait to hit the road and scream "Road Trip!" again.  But how long has it been since the vehicle you're planning on taking has had a thorough inspection? And is it roadworthy for several days on the highway? Time to schedule a professional trip inspection in our service center.  When it comes to long trips, before you go, make sure you can stop.  We can perform a break inspection.  Our technician will visually inspect your brakes for wear and how much life is left in the brake pads and rotors.  They'll also check your brake lines and fluids for fitness and fill. If it's going to be a long trip, it's important that your engine stays lubricated.  The technician will see when the last time you had an oil change, check the levels and inspect the system for leaks.  If you are close to needing an oil change, it's best to have it done before the trip because no one wants to interrupt a va ... read more

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Trip Inspection

Bad Vibrations (Brake Rotor Replacement)

If you’ve ever stepped on your brake pedal and felt your vehicle vibrate, that’s a signal that you shouldn’t ignore.  A pulsating brake pedal is a sign that something is wrong.  Braking action should be smooth, sure, and quiet, not shaky and noisy. Most newer vehicles have disc brakes, called that because they have a round, flat disc connected to each wheel.  Those discs are the rotors. Other parts called brake pads are squeezed against those discs when you press on the brake pedal. Remember that vibration we mentioned? That can be caused by the rotor not having a straight, true surface. Rotors can heat up from friction and warp.  They can become thinner from constant wear.  Rotors can rust from the elements they’re exposed to, such as rain, snow ice, and salt.  They can get grooves in them from so many contacts with the pads.  The signs of worn rotors are vibrations, grooves on the rotor (which you can see sometimes through op ... read more

Categories:

Brakes

Oil Times are a-Changin' (Oil Change Synthetic)

When it comes to oil changes, things are really changing.  Most newer vehicles require synthetic oil, and while it costs more than conventional oil, it doesn't need to be changed as often. When conventional oil was the only game in town, you changed your oil every 3,000 miles/5,000 km. But as technology in newer vehicles has rapidly changed, so has oil technology.  Synthetics have been around since the seventies.  Even though they start with a conventional oil base, they are engineered in a chemical processing plant with properties that allow them to keep your engine lubricated at very high temperatures.  They are more uniform and consistent. Synthetic oil doesn't break down as easily, so it lasts longer than conventional oil.  And synthetic oil can flow more easily, even in extremely low temperatures.  As you can see, it has performance advantages at both temperature extremes. Generally, in recent years automakers have been shipping most of their vehicles ... read more

Categories:

Oil Change

To Fix or Not To Fix (Tire Repair)

You know that sinking feeling when you realize one of your tires has a problem.  It may be making an odd noise or behaving oddly when you're driving.  You may hit a pothole or curb and one suddenly goes flat.  Or you may head back to your vehicle and discover it has one tire deflated without a clue of what must have happened to it. With a lot of different tires hitting the streets these days, the issue of whether to have a tire repaired or replaced can be tricky, and we strongly recommend you have a trained technician help you make that decision.  One of the most common causes of flat tires is picking up a screw or nail in the tread area.  Many of those can be patched and plugged if the puncture isn't more than ¼ inch/6 mm in diameter. Most tires can handle two of this type of repair, but any more and you should buy a new tire.  If there's a puncture or bulge in the sidewall or shoulder, the rule of thumb is it's not repairable.  The sidewall d ... read more

Categories:

Tires
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