Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for February 2012
Keep it Flowing With A Fuel Filter Replacement At Valley Auto Care
Date: February 21, 2012 1:31 PM - Category: Fuel System
The function of the fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory. It filters your fuel. The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere in between the fuel tank and the engine. Both gas and diesel vehicles around Apple Valley Minnesota use fuel filters.
For more information about your fuel filter, visit Valley Auto Care or come by our shop located at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124. Please call 952-431-2700 to make an appointment.
Generally speaking there's not a lot of dirt in our Apple Valley Minnesota auto fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out. The problem actually gets worse the older your vehicle becomes. That's because dirt, rust and other contaminants will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank. After your car is five years or older, it can actually have a fair amount of sediment built up.
That just means that the fuel filter has to work harder as your car ages. It'll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often.
A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration. That's because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough just can't get through the filter. Obviously, that could be dangerous if your car or truck can't get enough power to get you out of harm's way.
For just that reason, fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter is severely clogged, some fuel can bypass the filter all together. Of course that means that dirty, unfiltered fuel is getting through to be burned in the engine.
This dirt can then clog and damage your fuel injectors. Now injectors are not cheap to replace, so you don't want to cause them damage just because you didn't spend a few bucks to replace a fuel filter.
You know, in a way, the fuel filter can be the poster child for preventive maintenance. It's a little part, it's simple and it's cheap to take care of. But if it's neglected, it could lead to thousands of dollars of repair bills.
Those auto service schedules in your owner's manual are there for a reason. If ever you don't understand a recommended service, just ask your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care. We'll be happy to explain.
Apple Valley Road Trip Preparation
Date: February 16, 2012 11:27 AM - Category: Inspection
People from Apple Valley Minnesota love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than a Minnesota road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it's great! But there's nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.
Now you can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip.
Heading out on a Minnesota road trip? Stop by Valley Auto Care before you head out to make sure everything is in good repair. 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Call us at 952-431-2700
Let's look at some of the auto maintenance related problems you might encounter on a road trip and what you might do to avoid them.
It all starts with a thorough trip inspection by your Apple Valley Minnesota service professionals at Valley Auto Care. Let's talk about some of the items on the trip inspection checklist.
The most common vehicle component to fail is the tires. Of course, you can't always avoid a road hazard that leads to a flat, but you may be able to head off some maintenance-connected tire problems.
A good tire inspection will start with looking over the condition of the tire itself. Are there signs of uneven tire wear? Are the tires properly inflated? Is the tread worn to the point that the tire should be replaced? The answers to these questions may lead to a recommendation to balance or rotate your tires. It may also be time to have an alignment service.
Your brakes should be inspected for function as well as to determine how much life is left in your brake pads. You'll also want to know if it's time to service your brake fluid. Over time water and contaminants make their way into your brake fluid and the system needs to be flushed, cleaned and filled with fresh fluid.
While looking under your car, your Apple Valley auto technician should also inspect your suspension system for worn or damaged parts. If you need new shocks or struts, you'll really notice the difference on your trip once you have them replaced.
Now the second most common vehicle failure is the cooling system. It may be time for a coolant exchange or flush. These services remove old fluid that has become corrosive and replaces it with fresh, clean fluid that restores the effectiveness of your cooling system.
The cooling system inspection will reveal leaks and weakened hoses. Replacing worn parts, like the radiator cap or water pump may be indicated. Even though cooling system failure is fairly common, it's easy and relatively inexpensive to prevent with proper maintenance.
Another thing people often overlook their transmission service. This is very important before a road trip because transmission problems tend to take some time and money to get fixed. Not the way you want to spend your vacation.
Your technician will inspect your belts to see if they should be replaced. A failed belt is at best an inconvenience. He'll also give your exhaust system the once over to make sure there aren't any dangerous leaks that could harm you and your passengers.
Of course, there are the usual things as well. An oil change, engine air filter, fuel system cleaning, a tune up. If you need any of these things, get them done today at Valley Auto Care – the improved fuel economy will be appreciated on your road trip.
If your heater or air conditioning isn't working as well as you'd like, let your Apple Valley Minnesota service consultant know at Valley Auto Care.
Some important items that are often overlooked are power steering service, differential service and timing belt replacement. If these things don't ring a bell, have your service consultant check to see if they're due.
Now while you're out seeing the sights, you'll want to make sure you can see the sights. Replace your windshield wipers if they aren't working well. And don't forget your headlamps. They gradually lose their brightness and you don't even realize it. Many people replace their lamps once or twice a year.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip. They'll always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the world's largest ball of string, would you?
Wiper Blades In Minnesota
Date: February 8, 2012 12:14 PM - Category: Windshield Wipers
If you're gonna drive around the Apple Valley area, you've got to be able to see! So having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important. We've all experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm, or when our windshield is just dirty.
It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. But windshield wipers are like most other vehicle parts– they require regular attention in order to work their best.
You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If it's going to be a particularly harsh winter in Apple Valley, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall. Winter blades are designed to resist freezing.
Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don't use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That'll just tear up the blades and cause them to wear out more quickly. It may even damage the wiper motor.
Over time, wiper blades become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don't cover the windshield effectively.
Worn wiper blades aren't just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield; a big cost for such a little part.
Replace worn blades right away. Your local service center can provide you with a quality replacement blade. They cost about the same as they would at the store; but installation is included at Valley Auto Care.
Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though your local Apple Valley service center will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home, or in the car if you are on a long trip.
Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy bottled water, may freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won't do a good job of cleaning your windows.
And remember that some vehicles have two reservoirs: one for the windshield and one for the back window – which may be under the hood or somewhere in the back.
So follow these tips to keep your windshield clear and your eye on the road, and give us a call at Valley Auto Care or come by our shop at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124. Call to make an appointment at 952-431-2700
Date: February 1, 2012 1:39 PM - Category: Parts
Ever heard the sad tale of a staggering repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let's take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our timing belt.
First, let's review what a timing belt does. The top part of the engine, over the cylinders is called the cylinder head. The head contains the valves. There's at least one valve that lets the fresh air into the cylinder. This air, mixed with fuel, burns to create power. Then another valve or two open to allow the exhaust out of the engine. Each cylinder has 2 to 4 valves - that's 12 to 24 valves for a V-6, up to 32 values on a V-8. The opening and closing of the valves is done by a camshaft. The timing belt uses the rotation of the engine to drive the camshaft which opens and close the valves. It's called a timing belt because it has to be adjusted to rotate the camshaft to keep proper time with the engine so that everything's in sync.
The timing belt is a toothed rubber belt . But some cars use a timing chain or timing gears instead of a belt. Timing chains and gears are much more durable, but manufacturers are using belts more because they are quieter - and cheaper. If you have a small or mid-sized passenger car, crossover or mini-van, chances are you have a timing belt.
Unfortunately, timing belts fail without any warning. That shuts you down right away. A technician can inspect your timing belt and look for cracks and looseness. But getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it on some cars. That's why manufacturers recommend replacing the belt from time to time. For most vehicles it's from 60,000 to 90,000 miles or 95,000 to a 145,000 kilometers. If your owners' manual doesn't specify an interval ask your service advisor.
One AutoNetTV producer has had two timing belts fail. The first was while he was waiting at a stop light - that repair cost several thousand dollars. The second was while driving on the highway - that one cost more than twice as much. Both had the cars out in the shop for three weeks. His cars had what we call "interference engines", meaning that the valves and pistons are very close to each other. If the timing belt slips even one notch, the pistons will slam into the open valves. That's why our friend's highway failure was so much more expensive - his engine was traveling so fast that the valves were smashed and they chewed up the cylinder head.
A non-interference engine will just shut down if the timing belt breaks. You're stranded, but the engine doesn't suffer permanent damage. In both cases, our hapless friend was just a couple oil changes past the recommended interval for changing the timing belt. This is one of those things that you just cannot put off. Now replacing a timing belt is not cheap - but repairs for a broken belt can be many times as much.
Check your owners' manual right away - especially if you have more than a 60,000 miles or 95,000 kilometers. You may need to get that belt replaced right away. And on many cars, the timing belt drives the water pump. So, it may be a good idea to replace the water pump while you're at it because 90% of the work required for the new pump is already done with the belt change. Doing both at the same time saves you a lot of money because as they say, "timing's everything". Parts, Timing Belt
Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley MN helps people and their vehicles throughout Apple Valley and along Cedar Ave, County Rd. 42, Galaxy Ave, and 160th St. We work on all vehicles including the following manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Mazda, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, GMC, Cadillac, Mercury, Lincoln, Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Plymouth with most auto service needs including: Tires, Wheels, Brakes, Transmission, Tune-Up, Computer Diagnostics, Engine Codes, Suspension, Shocks, Struts, Alignment, AC, Clutch & more.