Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Battery Replacement For Your car
Date: August 16, 2013 1:52 PM - Category: Parts
Modern cars and trucks in and around Burnsville run on 12 volt electrical systems. 12 volts is enough to get the job done without having so much power that there is danger of electrocution. But today's vehicles have more electrical components and do-dads than ever before. This really strains your electrical system, making it hard for the battery to keep up. Think about it: electric seats, seat heaters, power locks, windows and sun roofs. And then we have all the power outlets for our cell phones, computers, and DVD players.
We also have navigation systems and powerful stereos. Plus there are all the engine and transmission computers, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, sensors and on and on. Even the security system is running off the battery while the car is turned off.
Fortunately, battery technology has given us resilient batteries that are able to meet these strenuous requirements. But the fact is, batteries just wear out over time. Eventually, every battery gets to the point where it cannot hold enough of a charge to start your car. Sometimes batteries need to be replaced because they have just worn out. Or, in other cases, they have developed a leak and need to be replaced.
Special safety precautions are taken when working with batteries in the shop at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley Minnesota. These precautions also apply to anyone who is poking around the battery. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can damage your eyes and burn your skin, so safety glasses and rubber gloves are a must. Be careful to not spill acid on your clothes or the vehicle's paint. Of course, avoid short circuiting the battery as well.
Replacement batteries come in all shapes and sizes. Some cars have limited space that requires a specially shaped battery to fit. Larger engines require more powerful batteries to get them started. If you live in a cold climate you will need a more powerful battery because engines are harder to start when it is cold.
Sometimes there is quite a price range for batteries that will work in a particular car. Think of it as "good", "better" and "best". More expensive batteries have a longer warranty and are guaranteed to last longer. As with most things, paying a little more up front saves money in the long run.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
PCV Valve Service At Valley Auto Care In Apple Valley
Date: September 21, 2012 10:42 AM - Category: Parts
The PCV Valve is a little, inexpensive part that does a big job for Apple Valley drivers. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.
The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the car engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase. These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel.This can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause car engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Valley Auto Care. At high speeds on Apple Valley freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.
Back in the old days, engine makers simply installed a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, laws mandated that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the car's engine.
This is much better for the environment and it saves gas too. (Budget-conscious Apple Valley drivers take note!) The little valve that controls all this action is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets gases out of the engine, but won’t let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and wasted gas.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV Valve at Valley Auto Care and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many Apple Valley drivers don’t know about it. Check your car owner’s manual or ask your Valley Auto Care service advisor. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.
There’s another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That’ll need to be replaced at Valley Auto Care when it gets dirty.
Please ask your experienced Apple Valley service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Apple Valley, you can avoid some very expensive deep engine repairs.
Rosemount Drivers: Is It Time To Replace Your PCV Valve?
Date: July 12, 2012 2:58 PM - Category: Parts
The push for fuel economy has two benefits: using less gas, and fewer emissions. Rosemount cars and trucks run cleaner than ever. Rosemount people may not realize that the first federally mandated pollution control device came out almost fifty years ago.
Rosemount folks that were around in the early 60's may remember that the PCV valve came out on 1964 model cars. PCV stand for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. The crankcase is the lower part of the engine where the crankshaft is housed and where the engine oil lives. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons that power the engine.
When fuel is burned in the car engine, it pushes the pistons down and the crankshaft rotates and sends power to the transmission. Some of the explosive gases from combustion squeeze past the pistons and down into the crankcase.
Now this gas is about 70% unburned fuel. If it were allowed to remain in the crankcase, it would contaminate the oil and quickly turn it to sludge. Sludge is like Vaseline and clogs passages in the engine leading to damage.
Also, the pressure build up would blow out seals and gaskets. So in the old days, there was just a hose that vented the crankcase out into the air. Obviously, not good for our environment in Rosemount. Enter the PCV valve. It’s a small, one-way valve that lets out the gases from the crankcase, and routes them back into the air intake system where can be re-burned in the engine. Fresh air comes into the crankcase through a breather tube. This makes for good circulation in the crankcase. And that gets the bad air out. As you can imagine, the valve gets gummed up over time.
Rosemount drivers that skip oil changes now and then will notice that the PCV valve gets gummed up even faster. If the PCV valve is sticking in your car, the gases won’t circulate as well, leading to increased pressure in the crankcase. That, in turn, can lead to oil leaks. Fortunately, the PCV valve is very inexpensive to replace at Valley Auto Care. Some can even be checked for function by your experienced service technician.
Manufacturer’s usually recommend they be changed somewhere between twenty and fifty thousand miles. Unfortunately, PCV valve replacement is left out of some car owner’s manuals, but at Valley Auto Care, we will make sure your PVC is replaced if needed.
All of us Rosemount car owners can do our part for the environment. Watch that lead foot, stay on top of our automotive maintenance and don’t forget to replace our PCV valve.
Emergency Items For Your car
Date: March 7, 2012 12:39 PM - Category: Parts
Local Apple Valley roadside emergencies can range from a flat tire downtown to being stranded in a snowy ravine for three days. So you may want to consider a basic emergency kit to keep in the car at all times and a travel kit tailored to a specific trip.
Your close-to-home kit for around Apple Valley would have some basic items to work on your car: everything you need to change a tire, gloves, a couple quarts of oil, some antifreeze and water. A can of tire inflator is a great temporary fix for minor flats. You'll also want jumper cables or a booster box, flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools.
Now for your comfort and safety: a first aid kit, drinkable water, high calorie food (like energy bars), blankets, toilet paper, cell phone, towel, hat and boots. Keep some change for a pay phone, emergency cash and a credit card.
People who live in areas with frequent severe weather or earthquakes may want to carry provisions for longer emergencies.
For trips away from home, consider the weather and geography as you assemble your emergency supplies. You'll need to have a source of light and heat and will want to provide protection against the elements as well as adequate food and water for everyone in the car.
Always tell people where you are going and have a plan for checking in at waypoints. Then if you run into trouble, you can be reported missing as soon as possible and rescuers will be able to narrow the search area.
The key to safe travel is to keep your vehicle properly maintained, plan ahead, and let others know your itinerary.
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
OE vs. Aftermarket
Date: August 4, 2011 1:41 PM - Category: Parts
Minnesota new car dealerships are happy to leave you with the impression that you should have all of your scheduled automotive maintenance performed at the dealership during the warranty period. Some go so far as to imply that your warranty protection depends on it. In fact, nothing is further from the truth. Federal laws in both the United States and Canada specify that you do not have to have your vehicle serviced at a dealership to maintain warranty protection. The laws further state that a vehicle manufacturer cannot mandate that you use their particular brand of replacement parts or fluids. This certainly means you have many more service options, but what about quality?
First off, it is important to know that vehicle manufacturers do not make all of their own parts. They look to thousands of independent suppliers to manufacture the parts that go into your car or truck. Many of these same manufacturers that make the parts that are original equipment for a new vehicle, also supply parts for the automotive aftermarket. That means that your local service center such as Valley Auto Care has access to quality parts that meet or exceed auto makers' specifications. Your service consultant can offer a range of parts solutions that give you the option to save some money or to upgrade to a higher performance part.
While TV commercials for auto dealerships will tout "genuine" parts, your Apple Valley service center has the option to not only use that same part, but to help you choose one that better meets your driving needs. Dealership ads often promote the notion that only their technicians are up to the task of servicing their particular make of vehicle. That may be true if you drive a Ferrari, but for the rest of us, the training that your local service technicians receive is transferable to any vehicle.
Today's service databases enable your Burnsville or Burnsville service provider to get the right parts and to follow the right procedures to take care of your car. The diagnostic technology and equipment your service center uses enables them to get you back on the road as economically as possible. Speaking of economics, aftermarket labor rates are nearly twenty percent lower than dealership rates.
So there you have it. Your local Apple Valley area service centers are more convenient than auto dealerships, are more economical and provide high quality parts and products. And, your warranty is protected unless the manufacturer can demonstrate that a particular part lead to a warranty failure. In addition, you have more options as to where you have your vehicle serviced or repaired and you can take advantage of innovations and improvements that aren't available at the dealership.
Date: March 24, 2011 9:44 AM - Category: Parts
Like everything automotive, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. We can all drive more safely at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility down the road, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as the country's population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.
Most new cars come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on the road, they're very bright and have a bluish tint.
From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many people complain about HID lights in on coming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies - your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.
All halogen headlamps dim over time. Experts recommend that they be changed out once a year. AutoNetTV suggests you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Savings Time. It's easy to remember - when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time - then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long winter nights.
If you have an older car with old style headlamps - they make halogen replacement lamps for most cars. You'll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.
In addition to regular halogen lamps, you can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that's more like natural sunlight. This light's easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.
Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other drivers to think you're running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn't she? Only her Minnesota automotive service technician knows for sure.
Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, Minnesota can restore your headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing.
Serpentine Belt Replacement
Date: January 11, 2011 2:59 PM - Category: Parts
Don't you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator-which charges the battery, the water pump-which cools the engine, the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.
Serpentine belts are especially tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. But, with time they wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You have to stop the car or it will overheat, potentially causing major engine damage. And it probably won't be at a convenient time or place. You might even need to get your car towed to a Apple Valley automotive service center. That is why manufacturers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. You really should get it done on schedule because a belt failure will definitely take you off the road.
If you hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, you should have your serpentine belt looked at. Your service technician will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.
Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled vehicle to a service center for repairs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To schedule a belt inspection, call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700. We are located in Apple Valley at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105.
Timing Belt Replacement in Apple Valley
Date: January 5, 2011 1:28 PM - Category: Parts
Today we want to talk about timing belts. They’re something that many Apple Valley drivers don’t know much about and yet your vehicle won’t run if it’s broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner’s manual, it’s not the kind of thing that most Apple Valley car owners remember because it’s not well understood.
Let’s review what a timing belt does. As you know, the engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It’s called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.
Now, not all Burnsville and Burnsville vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. Manufacturers started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now we're left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous depending on where you are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.
Interference engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it’ll cost thousands to repair the engine.
So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren’t any. There aren’t tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Valley Auto Care may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that’s in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the damage it’ll cause. There’s no middle ground.
So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner’s manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles, ask your Valley Auto Care service advisor right away if your manufacturer requires a timing belt replacement.
Contact Valley Auto Care to learn more about your car's Timing Belt You can find us at: 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Or call us at 952-431-2700
Sometimes you can go quite a while without a failure, but we’ve seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It’s not worth the risk.
What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Burnsville or Rosemount? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it’s usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn’t a cheap procedure, but it’s a fraction of what it could cost to repair the damage caused by a failure.
At Valley Auto Care we’re all about trying to prevent costly repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment. Thanks to AutoNetTV for their great auto video tips.
PCV Valve Replacement
Date: July 26, 2010 1:39 PM - Category: Parts
The energy from exploding fuel is what powers your engine. But some of the vapors from the explosions escape into the lower part of the engine, called the crankcase. The crankcase is where your engine oil hangs out. These gases are about 70% unburned fuel. If the gases were allowed to stay in the crankcase, they would quickly contaminate the oil and turn it to sludge. Sludge is one of the biggest enemies of your engine, clogging it up, eventually leading to expensive failures. Also, the pressure build up would cause seals and gaskets to blow out. Therefore, these gases need to be vented out.
Gasoline engines used to simply have a hose that let the poisonous fumes vent out into the air. In 1963, the federal government required gas engines to have a special one-way valve installed to help reduce dangerous emissions. Diesel engines are not required to have these valves.
The positive crankcase ventilation, or PCV, valve routes crankcase gases through a hose and back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh, clean air is brought into the crankcase through a breather tube. It's really a pretty simple system, but does an important job. The re-circulating air removes moisture and combustion waste from the crankcase, preventing sludge. This extends not only the life of your oil, but the engine as well. The PCV relieves pressure in the crankcase, preventing oil leaks.
Eventually, the PCV valve can get gummed up. Then it can not move enough air through the engine to keep it working efficiently. If the PCV valve is sticking enough, you could have oil leaks, excess oil consumption and a fouled intake system. If you experience hesitation or surging or an oil leak, it may be a sign of PCV value problems. Your owners' manual may give a recommendation for when the PCV valve should be replaced - usually between 20,000 mi/32,000 km and 50,000 mi/80,000 km. Unfortunately, some manufacturers don't list a recommendation in the manual, so it can be easy to overlook.
Many PCV system problems can be diagnosed with a visual inspection. Fortunately, PCV valve replacement is both quick and inexpensive. Proper oil changes will greatly extend the life of the PCV valve. Skipping a few recommended oil changes can allow varnish and gum to build up in the valve, reducing its efficiency. So now when your Apple Valley service technician tells you its time to replace your PCV valve, you will know what he's talking about. If you have had your car for a while and this is the first you've ever heard of a PCV value, ask your tech to check yours out or call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700.
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.