Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
All Lined Up: Wheel Alignment Service At Valley Auto Care
Date: February 13, 2013 2:41 PM - Category: Alignment
When all of your vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in Apple Valley can cause your car's wheels to be out of alignment.
Driving for an extended time in Apple Valley when your wheels are out of alignment results in uneven tire wear. This is dangerous … and expensive. Worst case scenario, you have a blowout on a crowded Minnesota interstate. It can also cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive to repair. At the very least, you may have to replace your tires years too early.
Here are some alignment basics from Valley Auto Care:
The first adjustment is called toe or do the wheels point in towards each other or away from each other at the front of the tire. The next adjustment is called camber or do the wheels tip in or out at the top. And finally, there is castor. Castor measures the angle where the front axles attach to the vehicle.
The ideal alignment for your car was designed by its engineers. Alignment service at Valley Auto Care starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension – to see if anything’s bent or broken. Then your experienced Valley Auto Care technician will look at tire condition.
From there, the car is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to car car makers’s specifications.
Your car owner’s manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked at Valley Auto Care before you suffer expensive tire or suspension damage.
Fuel Saving Tip: Alignment For Your Apple Valley car
Date: April 10, 2012 1:22 PM - Category: Alignment
Imagine you've left Apple Valley and you're up in the arctic on a dog sled.
Your dog team is pulling straight and true. You can cover a lot of ground fast. Now imagine what would happen if one or two of the dogs wanted to go their own way and were pulling off to the side.
That would slow you down. You would have to work harder to keep the sled going where you want it. The dogs are all working as hard as before, but you're covering less ground for the same effort.
You're wasting kibble.
The same is true of your vehicle when the wheels are out of alignment. That wheel that's pulling to the side is dragging down the rest of the car; so you push a little harder on the gas pedal to keep up your speed. You're wasting gas.
So have your wheel alignment checked at least once a year. Get it checked right away if you feel the car pulling to one side.
Sometimes we bump a curb or hit a pothole and knock our wheels out of alignment. An accident can take the wheels out of alignment as well.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
So make sure you're tracking straight. You'll save gas and your tires'll last longer. Now, mush!
Power Steering Service At Valley Auto Care In Apple Valley
Date: March 21, 2012 11:45 AM - Category: Alignment
Many Apple Valley drivers have been hearing about new advances in power steering technology, specifically, electric power steering. Some very high-end cars have been featuring electric power steering for a few years. An electric motor directly provides the power assist to make steering easier. Undoubtedly we’ll see much more of this in Apple Valley as full electric cars and electric hybrids become more common.
The vast majority of cars and trucks serviced at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley use a hydraulic power boost system. With hydraulics, fluid is pressurized by a pump which actuates a hydraulic cylinder to reduce steering effort. Some of these pumps are powered by an electric motor. Most pumps are powered by the serpentine belt driven by the engine.
Power steering fluid has the necessary hydraulic properties and the ability to lubricate the internal parts. The power steering fluid also protects car components from rust and corrosion. Apple Valley car owners should be aware that manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. At Valley Auto Care, the old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.
Unfortunately, many Apple Valley people don’t realize how important it is to service their power steering, or even that it should be done at all. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks and the pump won’t last as long.
Signs that you may be having problems with your power steering include the need to constantly add power steering fluid, a loud whining from the pump, erratic power assist or high steering effort. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, have your power steering checked out at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The rods, arms, joints and knuckles that actually turn the wheels can become worn or damaged. A standard alignment service includes an inspection of steering components.
If you notice any play in the steering wheel, that the steering wheel is off center, or a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning, have your Valley Auto Care advisor do an inspection so the problem can be corrected. Waiting too long could cause uneven tire wear and may even lead to steering failure. Call Valley Auto Care today at 952-431-2700.
Tracking True In Minnesota: Wheel Alignment In Burnsville
Date: November 16, 2011 2:25 PM - Category: Alignment
Wheel alignment is often overlooked by busy Burnsville and Rosemount car owners until serious tire damage has been done. One wheel can be knocked out of alignment from the rest by hitting a curb or pothole on Apple Valley roads.
When a vehicle’s out of alignment, one or more of the wheels does not track true and pulls against the others. The tires will wear out very quickly and will need to be replaced prematurely. It could also lead to car suspension damage.
But the big issue for Burnsville, Rosemount, and Apple Valley motorists is safety. When your car wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you’re out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
At Valley Auto Care, your vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.
Adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in precisely the same direction.
Signs of alignment problems are: Your car pulls to one side. Also, your steering wheel may not be centered when you’re going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your Apple Valley service center look it over. If you’ve been in an auto accident in Minnesota that involved a wheel, you should get your alignment checked.
A big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Burnsville drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.
That’s why your manufacturer recommends periodic alignment checks. If your car owner’s manual doesn’t specify, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with Scott Brouwer or your service advisor at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
One thing’s for sure: the cost of the alignment at Valley Auto Care is cheaper than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.
Go Straight: Wheel Alignment For Apple Valley Automobiles
Date: July 8, 2011 3:04 PM - Category: Alignment
You may have an alignment problem if your car drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel’s off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn’t feel like it handles right as you drive down our local Apple Valley Minnesota streets.
When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other objects around Apple Valley, Minnesota are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
Driving for an extended time when your car is out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. Sometimes the tire can be worn so badly that it will fail.
At the very least, you’ll have to replace your tires sooner. You could end up with premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive. The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars.
Now, let’s talk about some alignment basics. Wheels are adjustable for toe, caster and camber. The ideal alignment for your car was designed by its engineers.
From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and we take an initial alignment reading.
If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle’s centerline. If the back wheels aren’t adjustable, the direction they push is determined and the front wheels are aligned to match.
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that’s given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive around the Apple Valley area. It’s better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear – by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety.
Come see us at Valley Auto Care for more information about your tire alignment. We look forward to seeing you.
Date: October 28, 2010 11:51 AM - Category: Alignment
Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel's off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn't feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
Driving for an extended time when you're out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. This can be dangerous and expensive. You'll have to replace your tires sooner, but even worse - you may cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive.
The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars. The adjustment can go three different ways. The first adjustment is called toe. The next adjustment is called camber. And finally, there is castor. The engineers who designed your vehicle determined the alignment settings that will give you the best handling and safety.
There are several things involved in an alignment check. First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension - it should be checked to see if anything's bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's center line. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, the technician determines the direction they push and then aligns the front wheels to match.
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It's better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear - by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety. For more information about alignment, call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:23 PM - Category: Alignment
North Americans love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than the 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. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle’s perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding byways or super-highways? Mountains or plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How many miles will you travel? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Lugging a trailer or roof top carrier? Will it be dusty?
Armed with the answers to these questions, you can start a trip inspection to help you prepare your Apple Valley vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Apple Valley customers prefer to go through this exercise with an automotive service advisor at Valley Auto Care to get their input and make sure they haven’t left anything out.
A great place to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job – you wouldn’t want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure.
Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you’ll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that’s pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous.
And don’t forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection before you leave.
Moving under the hood, have your belts and hoses inspected. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Your engine air filter will be important. For every gallon of gas you burn, your car will filter and use 12,000 gallons of air. If the filter needs to be changed, you’ll notice the fuel savings on your trip.
How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it’s due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don’t need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.
Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it’s an exhaust leak it could be fatal on a long trip. Of course you’ll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren’t getting the cold air you used to.
Are you wiper blades still working well? If not, that is quick and inexpensive to fix. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven’t changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip.
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 will 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?
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.