Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for April 2011
Drive Train - What You Need to Know In Apple Valley
Date: April 29, 2011 1:42 PM - Category: Drive Train
One Apple Valley automotive service issue that doesn't get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don't get talked about very much around Apple Valley, but they're very important. First let's define what the driveline is:
Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.
That's not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you're not moving. So we need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we're going to have to over simplify a bit.
If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call: Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Call Us at 952-431-2700
Let's start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.
So, driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot to see if it's torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner's manual or check with your Apple Valley service advisor.
On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Apple Valley have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. You've probably heard the term 'u-joints'. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected.
The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axel is damaged or leaks, the axel will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Apple Valley service advisor for intervals.
Now let's go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.
Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don't work well on dry pavement when they're in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.
Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is required as well as service to the center and rear differentials.
Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There's a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So you need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.
The bottom line is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner's manual. Your Apple Valley service advisor can answer any questions you've got. If this is the first time you've heard some of this stuff – it's time to ask someone at Valley Auto Care if any of it needs to be done now.
Getting Your Car Serviced in the Real World of Apple Valley
Date: April 20, 2011 12:22 PM - Category: Warranty
We get a lot of questions about servicing your car at AutoNetTV. One that we get asked the most is: Do you have to take your car to the nearest Apple Valley dealer for service and repair? We’ve all asked ourselves that at one time or another. Of course, any new car dealer in Apple Valley would like to have your service business, but there are a lot of reasons to turn to the automotive aftermarket for routine maintenance services as well as repairs.
First, let’s get some terms straight. New car dealers and manufacturers are referred to as Original Equipment – or OE providers. Everybody else is in the automotive Aftermarket. That includes auto parts stores, quick lubes, tire and service, and repair centers.
It’s important to know how the automotive industry works. Most car manufacturers don’t actually make their own parts and none of them make all of the parts they use. Instead, there are over 5,000 manufacturers that make the parts used to build new cars as well as to repair used cars.
We get a little steamed when a new car dealer pushes the myth that you need to go to them to get “genuine parts”. The fact is that your independent service center (Valley Auto Care) can install the exact same original equipment parts from the same parts manufacturer that supplies the dealer.
One of the advantages of the aftermarket is that they’re free to innovate and improve. The aftermarket is quick to step in and fix design problems in Original Equipment parts. They’re also able to improve on reliability and performance.
When you use your independent aftermarket service center you’ll get parts that meet or exceed manufacturers’ specifications. You‘ll also have the freedom to choose replacement parts that meet your budget, improve performance or are the same as what the factory uses.
This freedom of choice is protected by law. You’re not required to use the dealership for service or to use the manufacturer’s brand of parts or fluids in order to maintain your vehicle warranty. Your local service center knows what products are recommended for your vehicle and can help keep you safely and economically on the road.
It’s like when you go to the hairdresser. They have a wide range of products you can choose from. You can buy something that’s less expensive when your budget’s tight, or kick it up a notch if you want. That’s the freedom of choice you get in the Apple Valley, Minnesota automotive aftermarket.
Some new car dealerships lead you to believe that only their technicians are able to properly service or repair your make of vehicle. That may be true if you drive a Ferrari, but for the rest of us, the training our local Apple Valley, Minnesota technicians receive is transferable to our cars.
Your Apple Valley, Minnesota service center invests heavily in training its technicians and in making sure that they have all of the high tech diagnostic and service equipment to take good care of you. Hey, we live in the information age – aftermarket service centers have access to the latest specifications, problem reports and repair solutions for your vehicle.
Like your hairdresser – she probably knows you. She knows your personality, all about your family, and maybe even a few secrets. Your Apple Valley, Minnesota automotive technician should also know you, and your car. You can’t underestimate the value of that relationship.
Your vehicles are a big investment and you rely on them so much. You have to have someone you can trust to take care of you. Valley Auto Care can get the right parts, has the training to fix your vehicle and has a very strong commitment to your satisfaction. And for most of us, they’re more conveniently located and can usually perform maintenance services with less wait and hassle.
Now if your car needs a repair that’s covered under its new vehicle warranty, you’ll want to visit the dealership. But for everything else, consider your local aftermarket service center. Options, freedom, convenience – and with labor rates that are nearly 20% lower than the dealership – why go anywhere else?
Custom Wheels and Tires
Date: April 15, 2011 10:30 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
It seems like everywhere you go around Apple Valley you see custom wheels. Big trucks, little cars, mini-vans - it doesn't matter, people are expressing themselves with custom wheels. Some people want smaller tires and wheels - some want larger - and some want them enormous. So where do you start if you want new wheels? We suggest you start with your budget. We know, that sounds so practical. But if the look you're after goes beyond just new tires and wheels and enters into the world of suspension modifications, you need to be prepared for the additional cost.
Let's start with something easy - you want to give your ride a unique look and the stock wheel size is just right for you. One of the concerns you will have is that the new wheels have the same offset as your factory wheels.
First, what is offset? The wheel bolts onto the hub on the car's axel. The distance from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on, is the offset. If the new wheel has a different offset from the factory, the tires may rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. That could lead to catastrophic tire failure.
Your Apple Valley tire and wheel professional can help you find the right size wheel - or install adapters to make your new wheels fit. All you have to do is pick from the hundreds of styles available.
So, what if you want to upsize? Well, if it is just bigger wheels you want, but you want to keep the same overall tire diameter, that's pretty easy. The same offset concerns apply. You need to know that the tires will likely be a little bit wider than the originals and could rub when you make sharp turns. A tire professional at Valley Auto Care can help you avoid this.
It is also important to keep the same overall tire diameter because changing the rolling diameter can mess with your anti-lock brakes and stability control systems. Are you starting to see why you want to consult with a tire and wheel expert? Is "super-size me" your motto? If it is, you are going to have to lift your vehicle to make room for those huge tires. A mild lift doesn't require extensive modifications. An extreme lift means a lot of new hardware under the vehicle. It also means a lot of stock electronic systems need to be recalibrated to the new tire size. For example, your speedometer and odometer will give false readings if they aren't recalibrated.
You should also be aware of possible performance issues. Bigger tires and wheels weigh more. Experts refer to this as unsprung weight because it isn't held up by your suspension system. Increased unsprung weight affects performance in different ways than an equivalent amount of groceries or little soccer players in the passenger compartment. Acceleration is negatively affected. Stopping distances may also be increased - sometimes dramatically. If you want really big tires and wheels, you might need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.
Heading the other direction, some folks like to run smaller than standard wheels and lower the suspension. All of the same fitment issues still apply as well as calibration issues. Don't think that suspension modifications are a bad thing. Many systems actually improve ride, function and performance over the stock set-up.
Regardless of your budget, you want your vehicle to continue to do all the things you need it to do. Some of those show cars and trucks you see on TV look fantastic, but have been modified in ways that may not suit your needs. For example, if you put large rims on your SUV with low profile tires, you may be in for busted rims if you go off-roading a lot. There just isn't enough sidewall to absorb the impact of thumping over rocks.
Some people stuff the largest tires and wheels possible in their vehicles but have to severely restrict suspension travel so that the tires aren't rubbing all day. That can lead to a very harsh ride. Again, talk with your Apple Valley wheel professional about all of these things: how you drive, what look you are going for, your budget and what compromises you are willing to make.
At the end of the day, you're going to be rollin' out of there with one sweet ride.
Recommended Service Intervals At Valley Auto Care
Date: April 7, 2011 11:43 AM - Category: Service Intervals
Most people in the Apple Valley area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Burnsville, Burnsville and Rosemount in Minnesota.
The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.
Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your car. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.
Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your car engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.
Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.
Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your car. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.
Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care by calling 952-431-2700. You'll find our shop located at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124.
You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your car. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.
Your car owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.
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.