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Twin City Auto Maintenance Tips: The Belt Goes On

Twin City Auto Maintenance Tips: The Belt Goes On

All Scottsbluff service advisors know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles. The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And on many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures. (On some vehicles, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.) So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That's why your vehicle manufacturer and your service advisor at Twin City Auto have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn't fail.Your friendly and knowledgeable Twin City Auto service advisor can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amo ... read more

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Maintenance

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

Let's Clear Some Things Up (Headlight Restoration)

You know how exposing your skin to sunlight can cause sunburn and other unhealthy things.  Sunlight can also create major problems for your headlights.  After they've been exposed to ultraviolet light, acrylic headlights can yellow and fog due to oxidation.  And when that happens, less light can pass through the plastic, reducing the effectiveness—and safety—of your headlights.  It's not just the UV light that causes headlights to turn cloudy.  Road grime and debris gets kicked up and can scratch the plastic, diffusing the light that should pass through them when they're clear.  Plus, when your vehicle was new from the factory, the headlights had watertight seals all around to prevent moisture from getting into them and fogging them up with water vapor.  Just like clouds can hide the sun, tiny water molecules can diffuse the light from your headlight bulbs.  Sure, you could buy replacement parts and start fresh.  But the good new ... read more

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Headlamps

Shifty Letters PRNDL (Transmission)

You probably figured out those shifty letters.  They're what you see on your automatic transmission shifter and stand for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Low.  Your automatic transmission is one of the great automotive inventions; here are some ways you can keep yours working well. Maintain your transmission regularly.  A technician will check your transmission fluid's level and even its appearance and smell.  If it's dark or has an unusual odor, that could be a sign of trouble. Change from one transmission direction gear into another only when your vehicle is stopped.  So many drivers want to switch from Reverse to Drive quickly or the other way around.  If you do that when the vehicle is moving, you can damage your automatic transmission. Keep your vehicle's cooling system in top shape.  What does the cooling system have to do with the transmission? It helps keep the transmission fluid from overheating.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendati ... read more

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Transmission

Steering You Right (Tie Rod End Replacement)

For drivers, S stands for safety.  And there are three other words that start with S that are all equally important: starting, stopping and steering. For your vehicle to be at its safest, all three functions must be in top shape.  Steering is one of those things we take for granted.  After all, you turn the wheel and your vehicle changes direction. But sometimes you might notice your steering is a little off.  Maybe you've noticed you turn your wheel slightly and your vehicle doesn't turn. You may feel a little vibration in the wheel that increases when you go faster.  You may hear a little squeak from the wheels when you steer and you may notice your tires aren't wearing evenly. These are signs that your tie rod ends may be failing. Tie rod ends help connect your vehicle's steering mechanism to the wheels.  They can wear out after you've hit one too many potholes or just from constant use.  They can cause sloppy steering and loose handling, and they ... read more

In That Case? (Transfer Case Exchange)

Ever wonder how all-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive vehicles get the power from the engine to the front and rear wheels? The magic happens in what's called a transfer case.  In some all-wheel-drive vehicles, it's sometime called a power take-off unit, or PTU. Inside the transfer case is a set of gears.  And to keep those gears meshing smoothly, they have to be lubricated and kept cool.  What does that is called transfer case fluid. Depending on your vehicle's type of transfer case, it is filled with either an automatic transmission fluid, a gear oil that's a bit thicker or transfer case fluid designed to be use for your transfer case. As happens with all lubricating fluids, the transfer case fluid has things in it that break down the older they get.  They have corrosion inhibitors, detergents and anti-foaming agents that keep the lubricant from getting air bubbles in it. Transfer cases don't have filters in them to clean out impurities. If you don't have your transfer ... read more

Beginning to See the Light (Check Engine Light Diagnostics)

It's a light many drivers fear they'll see turn on at the most inopportune time.  It's the one on the dash that says "Check Engine," "Service Engine Soon," or it may be simply an engine-shaped light. Your first instinct may be to pull off to the side of the road and turn off the engine. The truth is that Check Engine light can be pointing to problems as simple as a loose gas cap. But it could be as serious as a severely misfiring engine.  Don't ignore it because it's there to help you avoid an expensive repair it is designed to alert you to, to tell you something's not quite right. Your vehicle has a connected system of computers and sensors constantly checking to see that all systems are working the way they should. If something isn't, the system will turn on the Check Engine light. If it's flashing, that could be serious. Look at some of the other warning lights or gauges such as heat or oil pressure. They could be telling you your vehicle's problem should be checked right ... read more

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

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Brakes

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

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 b ... read more

Giving CV Joints the Boot! (CV Joint and Boot Replacement)

Ever wonder how your vehicle’s transmission is connected to your wheels? After all, when you hit a pothole or some other uneven part of a road’s surface, there has to be something that can maintain the connection between the transmission and the wheel yet keep everything moving at the same speed.  That very cool device is called a CV joint, a kind of driveshaft running to each wheel.  The CV stands for constant velocity because it keeps the drive wheels moving at a constant speed (velocity).  They’re used mostly on front-wheel drive vehicles but also in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. The joints move up and down and adjust to bumpy surfaces.  Plus, they are covered in a rubber boot which protects them from road debris and also holds lubrication in.  There’s a CV joint and boot on the transmission side and one on the wheel side.  Unfortunately, the spot that usually fails first is that rubber protective cover (the boot).&nbs ... read more