Call Valley Auto Care to make an appointment to check your transmission in Apple Valley.
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Do you have any plans around Apple Valley Minnesota for the weekend? Maybe you and some friends and are taking the boat up to the lake. Maybe you'll be having a lot of fun water skiing and doing a little fishing.
You got the boat all ready. It's all gassed up. You packed lots of snacks and the cooler's stocked – ready to go.
How about your tow vehicle? It has plenty of gas and you've even vacuumed it out, but is your auto maintenance up to date?
Stop and think. You'll have some heavy traffic on your way out of town. Hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it may be hot weather. And all the time you're going to be towing around several thousand extra pounds.
That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission. Your transmission's going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. What's a fun little blast to the lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.
It's important that you have enough transmission fluid. If you're running low, the transmission will run to hot and won't have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing.
And if it's time for a transmission service, you really should have it done at Valley Auto Care before your trip. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, you need to have it serviced on schedule to make sure it runs efficiently.
Automatic transmissions contain a maze of passages that the fluid has to pass through to keep it shifting smoothly. If you neglect transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems. Neglect your transmission for too long, and it can fail. Believe us – you don't want to pay for a major transmission repair.
You know, most of us in Apple Valley Minnesota do a lot of our driving under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions. Things like short trips or driving in very hot or very cold weather. Also, dusty roads, city driving around Apple Valley, and basically any driving that's not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions is severe driving. We all need to think about whether or not we need to follow the severe service schedule.
So, consider going in for a full service oil change before you leave for the lake to make sure everything has been looked at. Ask for a trip inspection while you're at it. Your Apple Valley Minnesota service technician at Valley Auto Care can check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.
Don't forget the sunscreen. And to thank your Apple Valley service technician, how about bringing him back a nice trout?
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Archive for September 2011
Transmission Care In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 30, 2011 2:38 PM - Category: Transmission
Keeping Your Engine Cool In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 20, 2011 2:53 PM - Category: Cooling System
The cooling system keeps our engine from overheating while you are driving around Apple Valley Minnesota. Its job is to move heat away from the engine. Let's talk about the various components of the system and how they work to accomplish this.
The radiator is the part most everyone associates with the cooling system. Coolant flows through the radiator which has fine cooling fins that draw the heat out of the coolant and dissipate it into the air. To make sure there's enough airflow over the radiator, a fan pulls air over the cooling fins even when the car is idling.
In some vehicles, the fan is powered by the serpentine belt. On others, an electric motor runs the fan. Electric fans turn on and off as needed. You may have heard the fan kick on shortly after you turn your car off. The sensor has determined that the engine needs a little help cooling down to a safe temperature.
A hose connects the radiator to the water pump. The water pump pushes the water into the engine block. Now the engine block and cylinder heads have passages for the coolant to pass through without getting into the oil or the combustion chamber. These passages are referred to as the "water jacket".
While the coolant is passing through the water jacket, it absorbs heat from the engine on its way to the radiator for cooling. Between the engine and the radiator is a gatekeeper called the thermostat. The thermostat's job is to regulate the temperature of the engine just like your home thermostat regulates the temperature of your house. It gets your engine up to the correct operating temperature and then keeps it from overheating.
When your first start the engine, it's very cold and needs to warm up. So the thermostat blocks the flow of coolant to the radiator. As the engine warms up, the thermostat starts to let coolant flow through the system.
The final component I want to talk about is the overflow reservoir. This bottle is designed to hold some of the coolant. It'll have a mark that indicates whether or not you have enough coolant. This is where you should add coolant if you just need to top it off.
Caution: never open the reservoir or the radiator cap when the car's hot. The cooling system is pressurized and opening them while it's hot can cause hot coolant and steam to escape resulting in serious burns.
Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles around Apple Valley Minnesota. Your Apple Valley Minnesota service center can do a periodic inspection of the components for leaks, loose connections and weakening hoses.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Your manufacturer has also specified a cooling system service interval. With a cooling system service, the old coolant is replaced with correct clean fluid that contains the additives required to prevent corrosion. The additives are depleted over time and you need fresh fluid for adequate protection. Your radiator pressure cap should be replaced at this service as well.
Ethics of Automotive Repair in Apple Valley
Date: September 13, 2011 9:56 AM - Category: Service Standards
We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Apple Valley automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.
Unfortunately, every profession in Apple Valley has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.
Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Apple Valley automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.
If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If she's using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Apple Valley service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.
If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your Apple Valley automotive advisor's talking about: ask some questions.
Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's the industry standard:
If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:
- The part no longer performs its intended purpose
- The part does not meet a design specification
- The part is missing
For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Valley Auto Care says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.
If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor; Valley Auto Care would ethically have to refuse the repair.
To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.
Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:
- The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
- To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
- To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
- Based on the technician's informed experience
Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.
Clean Air for Your Engine: Engine Air Filters In Apple Valley
Date: September 6, 2011 10:48 AM - Category: Maintenance
Every Apple Valley car owner who has taken their car in for an oil change has been told that their engine air filter’s dirty.
Here’s what goes into the determination of when to change the filter: First, your car owner’s manual will have a recommendation of when to change the filter. Second, a visual inspection by your Apple Valley technician may determine that your filter it is visibly dirty and needs to be changed.
So between your owner’s manual and your Apple Valley technician’s inspection there’s really no guesswork involved.
Now, most air filters purchased in Burnsville, Burnsville, or Rosemount don’t cost a lot to replace. It’s just that Minnesota people hate getting caught with an unexpected expense. On the plus side, though, changing a dirty air filter at Valley Auto Care can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change in Apple Valley.
Think about a dirty furnace filter in your Burnsville home. When it’s all clogged up, enough clean air can’t get through. In your car, that means that your engine can’t get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel efficiently. So it makes do with less air and has to use more expensive Minnesota gas to move your vehicle around Apple Valley roads.
Your car actually needs about 12,000 gallons of air for every gallon of gas it burns. Engine air filters don’t cost much in Apple Valley at Valley Auto Care. When it’s time to change yours, just get it done. You’ll save buy less expensive Apple Valley fuel, have better performance and protect your engine.
Tire Tread Depth for Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 2, 2011 10:54 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So, when are your tires actually worn out? This is a question a lot of us in Apple Valley Minnesota ask ourselves. For many, the answer is 'when they no longer pass a safety inspection'. But waiting that long can have a serious impact on your safety.
The U.S. Federal government doesn’t have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider two-thirty-seconds of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider one-thirty-second to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Valley Auto Care (just call 952-431-2700) to find out what your requirements are in the Apple Valley Minnesota area.
Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there’s just 2/32” of tread left. But does that older standard give you enough safety?
Well, Consumer Reports issued a call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32”. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the big issue is braking on wet surfaces.
We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but you also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it’s wet or snowy in Apple Valley Minnesota, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you’re driving over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires actually need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there’s not enough tread depth on a tire, it can’t move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
This is where the studies come in. We think you’ll be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32” of tread were tested – this is the depth suggested by Consumer Reports
When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph with the worn tires.
Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That’s a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. Obviously this is really a big safety issue.
The tests were conducted with the same vehicles, but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable, was the tires.
So, how do you know when your tires are at 4/32”? Well, it’s pretty easy. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But a penny gives you 2/32” of an inch to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32”.
Tires are a big ticket item and most people in Apple Valley Minnesota want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out? For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is “no”.
Well, Mr. Washington, let’s go out and look at my tires.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124