Articles:

More than Pads and Rotors (Brake Caliper Replacement)

You might be familiar with brake pads and rotors, two components of your vehicle's brakes that have to be regularly serviced.  Here's another important component of your brakes: the calipers. Calipers are used in disc brakes, the type of brakes now found in most recently manufactured vehicles.  A caliper is the part of the brakes that squeezes the brake pads against the discs, or rotors, which turn with your wheels.  There are different kinds of calipers, but the basic principle is the same.  You press down the pedal, brake fluid activates a piston or pistons that squeeze the brake pads against the disc and the friction slows down your vehicle. While modern vehicles have a warning system to let you know it's time to get your brakes checked, your brake light usually goes on when your fluid level is low or your fluid pressure is low.  But you may have to look out for signals your calipers are the problem.  If your vehicle pulls to one side when you brake, th ... read more

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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

Your Vehicle's Hissy Fit (AC System)

When you hear hissing sounds coming from your vehicle, you might start thinking the worst.   One type of hissing coming from around your air conditioner may be a normal sound, or it could be a sign of serious trouble. First - the normal sound.  When you turn off your vehicle, the refrigerant goes from its high-pressure side to the low-pressure side. Some of those noises are normal.  But when it hisses all the time, that's another story. One cause could be that the refrigerant is leaking.  Air conditioners are fairly complex systems that involve various pumps, hoses, valves and motors.  When your air conditioner is cooling, the refrigerant changes from a gas to a liquid and back.  That refrigerant is under pressure, and there are many places it can leak from.  A hissing sound can also be a failed valve in your air conditioner's compressor.  It is what controls the refrigerant's pressurization.  It's important to have this fixed fairly qu ... read more

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Air Conditioning

A Hot Mess (AC System-Compresser)

Air conditioning used to be a real luxury in a vehicle, but now it's standard in most.  Your vehicle's air conditioning system is built to last a pretty long time, but like anything mechanical, sometimes it fails.  It helps to know a little about how the A/C works. There's a compressor that pressurizes the refrigerant (you probably recognize the term Freon).  That makes it hotter, so it then goes through a condenser that cools it off.  Then another component takes out impurities and humidity before the Freon goes to a device that makes it lose pressure before it goes to the evaporator.  That's where it gets colder and takes the humidity out of the air. Then your vehicle's ventilation system blows air over the evaporator, cooling the cabin air that gives you such relief on a hot day. Of all these parts, one that does a lot of work is the compressor.  It has to compress that refrigerant and circulate it through the system.  It turns on and off several t ... read more

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Air Conditioning

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

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Oil Change

The Vivacious Vernal Vehicle (Preparing Vehicle for Spring)

Most of us look forward to spring because the days are longer, the weather's warmer and we can finally get our vehicles into warm weather mode.  Here are a few things that will breathe fresh energy into anyone's car, SUV, truck or van. First thing is a good cleaning, especially underneath. If you live where salt and brine are used on the roads, it's important to get that off.  One thing to note… if you hose off your undercarriage, be careful not to get your spark plugs/wires wet.  You could notice your vehicle running rough plus the Check Engine light may come on. It usually dries out quickly, but if the engine light stays on for more than a couple of days, have your service facility check it out. Next, replace your windshield wipers.  They've taken a beating through the winter. New ones will have fresh rubber and you'll see clearly (and safely) out your windshield again. Have your brakes inspected.  That salt doesn't do your brake's metal components any ... read more

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Inspection

Something to Latch On To (Hood Latch Safety)

The other day, a driver was trying to open his vehicle's hood so he could add some windshield washer fluid.  But when he pulled the hood release inside the car, nothing happened.  Usually, opening any hood is a 2-step process.  You pull the hood release (which is usually a handle under the dashboard to the left of the steering column) and listen for the hood to pop up slightly. (It doesn't open all the way because it has a safety latch to prevent you from accidentally opening it up while you're driving.) Then, you get out and find the latch, usually through the grille near the hood.  There's a little handle on it which you push, slide or pull (there are a few different types) at which point the hood can be opened up all the way.  But in this driver's case, the hood would not release at all when he pulled the handle inside.  Not knowing what to do, he called his service advisor, who told him to bring it over.  The reason? A hood with a broken latch cou ... read more

Why You Have an O2 Sensor (Oxygen Sensor)

If someone asked you what gas made up the largest portion of the atmosphere, what would you guess? Well, it's not oxygen; it only makes up 20.9 percent.  But since we're talking about oxygen, you should know that your vehicle uses oxygen sensors to make sure your engine is running the way it should. The oxygen sensors measure how much oxygen is in your exhaust.  If there's too much, it means there's a problem with the mixture of fuel and air.  The sensor sends signals to computers in your engine and adjusts the mixture so it maximizes performance and efficiency.  It does this constantly.  Many vehicles have multiple oxygen sensors.  Some have one close to the engine, another close to the muffler.  Two measurements are better than one since they allow readings to be more accurate.  You may have a vehicle with a dual exhaust, so you'd have twice as many oxygen sensors. Your oxygen sensors can fail.  One thing that can damage them is contaminat ... read more

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

Round and Round (Wheel Balancing)

In a perfect world, all wheels and tires would be perfectly round and weigh exactly the same at every point of the wheel.  Unfortunately, they're not, and if they're out of balance, they can reduce the lifespan of your tires, make your vehicle shake like a carnival ride, and maybe even damage a few suspension parts along the way.  You don't want that! Wheel balancing, sometimes known as tire balancing, is a process by which a technician makes sure your tire/wheel assembly has evenly distributed weight.  If it isn't, it can give your ride bad vibrations.  If you feel your vehicle's steering wheel shaking, it can mean unbalanced wheels in the front. If you can feel a vibration in your seats, it could be unbalanced rear wheels. In addition to your vehicle vibrating at higher speeds, there are other signs that your wheels are out of balance. You may see uneven tread wear, or you may notice you aren't getting the kind of fuel economy you used to.  When you experienc ... read more