Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for May 2011
Nitrogen Fill For Tires in Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: May 31, 2011 12:29 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So, everyone in the Apple Valley Minnesota area knows how great helium is – you know, party balloons, squeaky voices. But a lot of people around Apple Valley still haven't heard about the benefits of nitrogen in your tires, and how it can help your tires. Here's some great advice from AutoNetTV, brought to you by Valley Auto Care.
Nitrogen has actually been around for a long time in the Apple Valley Minnesota commercial sector, but it's just starting to catch on for private vehicles in the 55124 zip code area.
Why nitrogen in your tires? Air is air, right? Actually, it turns out there is a difference.
Contact Valley Auto Care to learn more about nitrogen in your tires You can find us at: 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Or call us at 952-431-2700
The heart of the matter is maintaining proper tire inflation. When your tires are properly inflated, they last longer, handle better and more safely, and save you money at the gas pump.
The problem is that tires filled in Apple Valley with regular air can lose a pound and a half of air pressure every month. This just happens as the oxygen in the tire seeps out. So if you don't check your pressure for a month or two, well, you can be significantly low – low enough to actually affect your handling, shorten tire life and waste money at the fuel pump.
How does nitrogen help? Regular air contains about 78% nitrogen. Nitrogen is the largest molecule in air. It's dry and non-flammable. Air also contains 21% oxygen, which is smaller and seeps out of the tire three to four times faster than nitrogen.
So, a tire filled with nitrogen at Valley Auto Care will take about six months to lose as much pressure as regular air does in just one month. So it's more forgiving for those who don't check their pressure every week.
Also, when oxygen is at higher temperatures – like those inside your tire when you've been driving for awhile – it oxidizes the inside of your tire. Getting the oxygen out of your tire means that it'll last longer.
Who's using nitrogen? Well, let's start with NASCAR and Indy. These racers like nitrogen's ability to maintain consistent tire pressure and reduce tire temperatures under very demanding conditions. The US government requires all commercial aircraft to have nitrogen in their tires. NASA and the US Military use nitrogen. The mining industry has been filling those "humongous" tires with nitrogen for years. And semi trucks and trailers are starting to use nitrogen extensively.
You may have heard some detractors of nitrogen. But the studies and white papers from tire and vehicle manufacturers demonstrate that the technology really works.
In fact, a prominent consumer research group did a study where they filled some tires with air and some with nitrogen and stacked them outside for a year. They observed that the nitrogen filled tires did hold their pressure better, but they couldn't see the economic benefit. But that particular test has very little to do with the real world. Most tires are actually holding up cars and they also get driven around and do a lot of work. So if nitrogen helps them last longer, saves gas and gives safer handling, it's worth considering.
Date: May 25, 2011 9:26 AM - Category: Drive Train
With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Apple Valley, Minnesota, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most folks in Apple Valley, Minnesota don't even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don't need to be serviced for years, so it's understandable that it's not something on the top of mind for our Apple Valley customers. So it's not uncommon for people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.
Call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700 for information about differential service, or stop by our Apple Valley, Minnesota auto center at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 55124.
To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Apple Valley high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.
The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.
It's a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Apple Valley, Minnesota area weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.
That's a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.
The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that breakdown over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.
Your Apple Valley, Minnesota technician at Valley Auto Care will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then he'll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.
Your Valley Auto Care service advisor can look up the manufacturer's recommended service interval or you can check your owner's manual. Give us a call at 952-431-2700 for more information about your differential service.
Apple Valley Exhaust And Emissions Service
Date: May 19, 2011 10:33 AM - Category: Exhaust
Sometimes when we talk about exhaust service in Apple Valley, we think about exhaust pipes and mufflers. And if you can see smoke, or if it’s too loud. But, exhaust service at a place like Valley Auto Care is really a lot more comprehensive these days.
For example, in the U.S., the federal government mandated catalytic converters for all cars in Apple Valley in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. Minnesota and federal emissions requirements have forced manufacturers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental regulations. Cars sold in Canada follow the same guidelines.
So, exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer-controlled emissions devices are now a big part of that. And because it’s so sophisticated, your vehicle manufacturer recommends having your emission system checked out by a qualified technician, like the ones we have at Valley Auto Care, regularly to make sure everything’s working right – which is usually every six months or 6,000 miles.
If your 'check engine light' comes on while you are driving around the Apple Valley area, especially if it’s flashing, then you need to get your car looked at right away. Chances are it’s an emission related problem. You might have exhaust or emissions trouble if your car is hard to start, runs rough, or if it’s noisy or smoking.
So let’s review the exhaust system. Everything starts with the exhaust manifold. That’s the part that attaches to the engine and collects the exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe.
The exhaust gaskets help seal the connection with the manifold and other joints along the way. Now, if the manifold is cracked or loose, or a gasket is leaking, then dangerous gases could escape into the passenger compartment, where you ride. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it’s important that your exhaust system doesn’t leak.
The exhaust pipes connect the various components. They can rust or be damaged by a rock, so they need to be inspected periodically.
Next comes the catalytic converter. This part actually looks like a muffler. It changes chemicals that are dangerous to your health, and to the local Minnesota environment, into harmless carbon dioxide and water. Now it doesn’t require any maintenance itself. But eventually they wear out. If it has, you’ll probably find out when your car fails an emissions inspection.
Now the muffler. Its main job is to quiet engine noises. Mufflers work by either absorbing or baffling sound. And you can actually customize your car’s sound with different mufflers – which is pretty cool because you can change the look of your car, and the way it sounds.
Rusted or road-damaged mufflers can actually leak and they need to be replaced right away. The exhaust system is attached to the car by a series of hangers and clamps that hold the system in place. And when these hangers come loose or break then hot exhaust components can touch and melt wires, hoses and lines. Just think of the damage a hot curling iron can do – but worse. It’s not good to have that waving around.
And finally, we end at the tailpipe. Appropriate name. This is the final outlet for the exhaust. And one other component is the oxygen sensor. It monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust so the engine-control computer can adjust the fuel-to-air mix to keep the car running right.
We hope this hasn’t been too 'exhausting' of a discussion, but these things impact everything from life and death safety due to exhaust leaks, to just fine-tuning the sound of your ride. And talk with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care if you feel you need any of these items inspected on your vehicle, because a quick look can sure save a lot of pain down the road.
Date: May 13, 2011 10:02 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
We all know that under inflated tires wear out more quickly. Under-inflation is also a major cause of tire failure. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of under-inflated tires.
It's hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.
Uncle Sam to the rescue! A new federal law requires manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System - or TPMS system - in all vehicles by the 2008 model year.
Some 2006 and 2007 models already have TPMS. The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25 % below the manufacturer's pressure recommendations.
The law covers all passenger cars, SUVs, mini vans and pick up trucks. The system must also indicate if it has a malfunction. This technology has been used by race cars for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It's up to your car's manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they'll use to comply with the law.
Obviously, all of this doesn't come free. Government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100.
The costs are partially offset by savings in fuel and tread wear. There is also a saving in property damage and travel delay. Also, the government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate there will be between $3,000,000 to $9,000,000 for every life saved.
Your safety has always been a concern of your service center. They want you on the road and accident free. They've traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. They've been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and they pass the low cost on to you as an expression of their good will. That's why they're concerned about how you'll perceive the changes that this new law will force.
Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, or a snow tire mounted, the service technician is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system. Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. The sensors will have to be re-activated after the change. And, unfortunately, the very act of changing the tire will damage some sensor parts from time to time - it's inevitable and can't be avoided.
Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.
And the service centers themselves will need to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems.
Service technicians will have to be trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to the service center to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you. So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it's because of government mandated safety equipment. Your service center just wants to keep you safely on the road - and it's committed to do so at a fair price. The effects of the new law will take some time to sort out, but it will help you avoid the most common vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.
Today we're talking about shocks and struts. They're so easy to forget about because they last so long and wear out so slowly. But your shocks are really responsible for keeping your tires on the road – so they're very important.
Without shocks, your wheels would be bouncing over bumps and lifting in corners. The shocks push the tire down to the road to maximize traction. Good shocks equal good ride quality and safe handling.
Visit Valley Auto Care to have your shocks and struts inspected by a professional. You can find us at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Or give us a call at 952-431-2700 to make an appointment.
There's a difference between shocks and springs. Springs support the weight of the vehicle, keeping it suspended up off the axels. The shocks moderate the rebound motion as wheels hit bumps. Now a strut combines a shock and a coil spring in one compact unit.
When your shocks are worn out you may notice degraded handling as you drive around our Apple Valley streets. Your vehicle feels squirmy around corners and floaty over bumps.
You may notice the rear end squatting when you accelerate or the front end diving when you brake. Your car might even be sagging at one corner.
Uneven tire wear can also be a sign of worn shocks. Of course, if your shocks are leaking or have a big dent, they need to be replaced.
Your owner's manual will have a recommendation for when to replace the shocks and struts on your vehicle. It's usually between thirty and fifty thousand miles. Of course, if you tow a lot, regularly carry heavy loads or do a lot of driving on poor roads, your shocks might wear out faster.
If those driving conditions apply to you, you can get special shocks that are better suited to your driving.
The shocks that come from the factory are designed for the way most consumers are expected to drive that particular vehicle. If you have different needs for your driving around Apple Valley Minnesota, you can get premium shocks that improve performance handling, off-road abilities or towing comfort. Your Apple Valley Minnesota service consultant at Valley Auto Care can help you determine your needs and then give you some options.
It's best to replace all four shocks at the same time. That way you'll have even, predictable handling at all four corners. Anything less could be dangerous.
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.