Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Valley Auto Care Maintenance Tips: The Belt Goes On
Date: December 6, 2013 10:57 AM - Category: Maintenance
Today's Valley Auto Care auto maintenance article focuses on your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems. Let’s go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your car air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Apple Valley.
Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your car’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. All Apple Valley car owners know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And, on many cars, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures for Apple Valley car owners. (On some cars, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.)
So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why auto makers and your service advisor at Valley Auto Care have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail. Your Valley Auto Care service advisor can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.
Your serpentine belt works in tandem with a spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Valley Auto Care, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt. All in all, the serpentine belt’s a critical part for the function of your car. And it’s not that expensive to replace at Valley Auto Care – so bring in your vehicle if it hasn't been checked in a while.
Keeping Your Car Young In Apple Valley
Date: October 8, 2013 7:48 AM - Category: Maintenance
As Apple Valley consumers, we live in a disposable society. It's amazing all the stuff we throw away.
New stuff comes out so fast, and much of it is fairly cheap, so we just toss the old and move on. It seems like when we were kids in Apple Valley, our parents were real sticklers about taking care of our stuff - especially parents who grew up in the Depression. You know, hang up your clothes, polish your shoes, put away your toys. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough, we had to do without.
Apple Valley drivers couldn't afford new cars very often, so we tried to make them last as long as we could. It's a good thing that cars are more reliable these days. They just don't break down as often. And the good news for us Apple Valley penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles with proper care. The engineering's there and so is the manufacturing quality. The missing ingredient is us making sure we follow the car maker's maintenance schedules.
Is it really that bad for Burnsville motorists to get off schedule? Well, it all adds up. Every time you go a couple thousand extra miles between oil changes, you've created an opportunity for sludge to form and clog passages. Then some parts don't get oiled and they start to wear out faster.
Skip a cooling system service, and the corrosion inhibitors become depleted, and the radiator starts being damaged – one step closer to a failure. The same thing is true for transmission service, power brakes, fuel system cleaning – really everything on your schedule.
It's also even more important for older vehicles in the Apple Valley area. Those engines and other systems have had more time to get dirty, so they're working harder anyway. But it's never too late to get back on track with your maintenance and to hold off further damage.
It's just another example of our parents knowing what's best. (Surprising how often that happens.) And it really does start with the oil change, just like Dad said. When you get a full service oil change they top off all your fluids and check for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. That's like your safety net; go in for oil changes on time, and let your service advisor at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley help you keep track of the rest.
Of course, it is inevitable that some things are going to wear out along the way - stuff like alternators, water pumps and such - they don't last forever. But that stuff is cheaper than a new car payment. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to cause other problems. It's like having high cholesterol; you don't want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Busted: The Maintenance-Free Myth In Apple Valley
Date: September 10, 2013 5:17 PM - Category: Maintenance
There’s a segment of the Apple Valley population that’s not committed to proper vehicle maintenance. Mistaken perceptions have crept into the Minnesota area over time. Many Apple Valley motorists think the root lies in the fact that modern cars are so reliable. Reliability has improved dramatically in recent years. Quality surveys report fewer problems with new cars than ever before.
Back when cars spent more time in the repair shop, Apple Valley drivers were more mindful of routine service. Now, it’s much easier to put it off.
Take tune-ups for example. In the days of mechanical ignition systems, an engine needed to be tuned-up every couple of years. The ignition points had to be replaced, spark plugs and coils replaced and the timing adjusted. If your engine was out of tune, you knew it. It ran poorly and got bad fuel economy.
Now, the ignition system in your car is electronic and controlled by the engine management computer. Spark plugs rarely get fouled and will last for as much as a hundred thousand miles. So tune-ups used to force you in to Valley Auto Care for service and while you were there you just took care of whatever else was on the list.
Also, in recent years, a large percentage of new cars in Apple Valley have been leased. These folks plan on turning the car in after two or three years, so they haven’t focused on the maintenance that helps your car last longer.
Given all that, what’s the benefit to keeping up with factory scheduled maintenance? Well, your car will perform better and return better fuel economy.
Those benefits pay for themselves as they go along. The big plus is that major repairs are prevented. And these aren’t just repairs that are a long ways off. Modern car engines are far more sophisticated and have many parts that are in critical need of proper lubrication. Missing just one oil change can allow oil sludge to start forming. Sludge clogs small engine passages, robbing parts of the lubrication they need. An expensive failure could easily occur within two or three years.
And modern engines require more sophisticated fluids. Because of the different types of materials that are used to make auto parts, things like aluminum, plastics and steel, different types of additives are required to protect automotive components from corrosion. These additives deplete with time as well as with use.
For example, your car engine coolant could actually become so corrosive that it eats holes in your radiator or other cooling system parts. Of course, that could lead to massive engine damage, all for the want of replacing the coolant on schedule.
Taking care of the little things now prevents big problems later. At Valley Auto Care, we have been taking care of all those little things for 25 years. Your car still needs to be taken care of – it’s just that some of those points of care have changed with automotive advancements. The need for proper maintenance in Apple Valley did not go away.
The Importance Of Apple Valley Drivers Following Service Intervals
Date: July 24, 2013 2:57 PM - Category: Maintenance
Today in our Valley Auto Care blog, we’re going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your car isn’t the only aspect of your life in Apple Valley with recommended intervals: Let’s start with twice yearly dental check-ups and regular physical exams. How about laundry, watering the lawn and paying the bills?
Now, what would happen if you didn’t follow these intervals? Well, you’d get more cavities. You’d may not discover health conditions that could be more effectively treated with early detection. And you’d have to wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your brown lawn and have your utilities shut off.
Clearly, there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don’t, there are negative consequences. Our quality of life in Apple Valley takes a hit and it inevitably costs more money.
So why is it so hard to remember to follow regular preventive maintenance on our cars? Probably a couple of reasons. One is that automotive maintenance items just don’t seem that urgent. All our Apple Valley neighbors can see our dead lawn, but no one knows how dirty our transmission fluid is. It’s easy to put off. The other reason is that we’re just not as familiar with automotive maintenance, so it’s a bit intimidating.
From a practical standpoint, Apple Valley people don’t need to memorize their car owner’s manuals. You can let your Valley Auto Care advisor remind you of the guidelines established by manufacturers: he has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your car. You really can rely on Valley Auto Care professionals to help you make good automotive decisions.
For Apple Valley drivers who want to be more proactive with their car care, here are some simple ways for Apple Valley car owners to remember what has a maintenance interval.
First: Fluids. If it’s liquid, it’s got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc.
Then think tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you’re thinking tires, don't forget brakes and shock absorbers.
And what makes your car go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if Apple Valley car owners remember to take their car or truck in to Valley Auto Care for these things, their service advisor will help them with the rest.
And if you don’t follow recommended service intervals? You get lousy gas mileage, your car doesn’t run as well, your safety is compromised and you’ll spend more money in the long run. So it’s the same as everything else: The quality of your motoring life takes a hit and it ends up costing you more.
Reason enough for me to follow recommended service intervals.
Valley Auto Care And The Maintenance Mindset
Date: July 5, 2013 10:06 AM - Category: Maintenance
When it comes to their vehicles, some Apple Valley auto owners don’t have a maintenance mindset. They know they need to take care of their cars, but it just seems really hard to get them to remember to do it. Apple Valley drivers generally accept that many things in life require regular maintenance, but just may have not applied it to their cars.
For example: the lawn. You water it and mow it every week. And weed the flower beds and rake the leaves. There are other things that Apple Valley residents are diligent about. Going to the dentist twice a year. Clothes to the dry cleaner. Flu shots. Taking the kids to your Apple Valley doctor for a checkup before school starts.
So Apple Valley auto owners really are maintenance minded. They just have to learn to apply that mindset to cars. I mean, if you never brush your teeth or go to the dentist, you’ll become painfully aware of your neglect when you get a big cavity. Once the damage is done, most of us learn our lesson and shape up.
Unfortunately, Apple Valley auto owners too often learn a hard automotive lesson when they bring their vehicle to Valley Auto Care on a tow truck. So many times a little routine maintenance would have prevented a breakdown.
So how can Apple Valley auto owners get into the habit of taking care of their car? It’s so easy to forget. If you skip cutting the grass, you see it every time you pull in the driveway.
Here’s something that will help: The key to good vehicle maintenance starts with the oil change. Think about it – when you go in for a full-service oil change, your Valley Auto Care tech will check all your fluids. If one of them is low, he can look for the reason why. If your serpentine belt is cracked, he’ll see it and let you know. Corroded battery cable – they’ve got you covered. And at Valley Auto Care, we check to see if your car manufacturer has recommended any services at your current mileage. The oil change becomes kind of a focal point, a way to check in to see what needs to be done. The fact is that vehicle inspection surveys consistently reveal that over 80% of vehicles have one or more unperformed repair or maintenance service. Vehicles are generally very reliable and can take a lot of abuse and neglect. But, you’ve got to remember that cars are complicated machines. There are parts and fluids that are critical to their operation. Without them, the car won’t run at all.
So when you come in to Valley Auto Care for an oil change, you get an automotive analysis from your experienced service advisor and a reminder for recommended services so you can avoid a total failure. And remember that your Valley Auto Care technician can help you work out a maintenance and repair plan, prioritizing and scheduling the work to make sure you and your family are safe, and helping you avoid expensive breakdowns.
Keep Your Apple Valley Car Breathing Free: Engine Air Filter
Date: May 17, 2013 12:40 PM - Category: Maintenance
This is something really amazing: For every gallon of gas your Apple Valley car burns, it uses 12,000 gallons of air. All of that air has to be filtered to keep your engine clean.
That’s like a hundred gallons of air every block! The engine air filter is just another example of a very inexpensive part that has to do a tremendous amount of work. And when it works, everything goes well. But, when it doesn’t, well, it can lead to costly problems. Of course, your manufacturer recommends intervals for changing your air filter. But like most service intervals, where and how you drive your car affects when your filter needs to be changed.
Dusty conditions in and around Apple Valley or polluted city driving means you’ll need to change your filter more often. Your Valley Auto Care technician can check your filter for you. In fact, it’s often a routine part of an oil change.
When you think about it, a clogged air filter won’t allow as much air through as a clean filter. Your car needs this air to efficiently burn its fuel, giving you better fuel economy and performance.
Dirtier filters don’t work as well as clean ones. A filter can only hold so much, after that, it allows dirt to pass right into your engine. Air filters come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in different grades. There are high performance air filters available for most cars. These high performance filters cost a little more, but they increase horsepower and may improve fuel economy to boot.
So have your air filter checked. If it needs replacing, it doesn’t cost very much and it should easily pay for itself in better fuel economy before your next oil change.
Stop by Valley Auto Care at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124, and we'll take a look at your air filter for you. Feel free to give us a call at 952-431-2700 to make an appointment.
Busting Automotive Myths In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: January 4, 2013 2:57 PM - Category: Maintenance
Myths passed around our Apple Valley Minnesota community start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the cars of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.
To get the truth about auto myths you hear around the Apple Valley area, come over to Valley Auto Care. You'll find us at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124. Give us a call at 952-431-2700 to make an appointment for your next auto service.
Let's examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.
The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.
The truth on which this myth is based is that many new cars come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on many cars around Apple Valley. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Apple Valley still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.
Another common rant you'll hear around Apple Valley is that modern cars don't need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a 'tune-up', which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. Valley Auto Care would manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.
This definition just doesn't apply to modern vehicles. Service centers like Valley Auto Care generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 30,000 miles or so.
Of course you can't lubricate a sealed joint. Of course you can't adjust a carburetor if your car doesn't have one. You probably don't need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 30,000 miles. What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?
The danger with these modern-day myths, is that they prevent people in our local Apple Valley community from taking care of the routine preventive auto maintenance that manufactures recommend. Check out this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?
You get the picture. Your car is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at Valley Auto Care have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care, or do some research of your own.
Maintenance for High Mileage Vehicles In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: November 6, 2012 11:29 AM - Category: Maintenance
Before the recession hit, the median age for cars in the Apple Valley Minnesota area (zip code: 55124) was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. At Valley Auto Care we hear reports that those numbers continue to rise.
If you have a high-mileage vehicle in the Apple Valley area, bring it in for high-mileage maintenance: Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Many people in Apple Valley are keeping their vehicles longer. The economy has influenced that, but the fact that modern cars are more durable and reliable means that owning a high mileage vehicle doesn't have to be a painful experience.
Local car owners in Apple Valley with over 100,000 miles on their vehicles often ask which service intervals they should follow. Let's start with the special needs of the older vehicle...
The reality is that time and mileage will take its toll. The engine and transmission will have more sludge. The fuel, steering and brake systems will have gum and varnish built up. There'll be more dirt and contaminants in the fuel tank. Corrosion and deposits in the cooling system. And seals and gaskets will start to dry out.
All of this, plus normal wear and tear, means that the engine might not be as strong as new, so it just has to work harder to get the job done.
So we need to compensate. Consider high-mileage formulations for oil changes, transmission service, etc. These special formulations contain additives that condition the seals and gaskets to prevent leaks. They also have more detergents to clean sludge and other deposits. They cost a bit more, but they're worth it.
In general, if an auto service was recommended every 15,000 miles when the car was new, you should continue to get the service done every 15,000 miles.
Talk with your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care about the condition of your engine. See if he thinks you should adjust your auto service intervals for oil changes or other auto maintenance to account for the older engine working harder.
Expect the oil filter to get dirty faster. Same goes for the fuel filter. And some leaks are to be expected so you need to keep a closer eye on fluid levels.
If anything, following recommended service intervals for your car is more important in a higher mileage vehicle. Skipping oil changes or other services can lead to problems much more quickly than with a newer vehicle.
So, have your Apple Valley auto service advisor at Valley Auto Care help you with an assessment of your older car or truck. If you haven't gotten around to a fuel system cleaning, or replacing power steering or brake fluid, a differential service or transmission service – it's time to start taking care of those things. It'll help keep you on the road for many more happy miles.
Finding Vehicle Recall Information From Apple Valley
Date: November 1, 2012 9:24 AM - Category: Maintenance
No matter how well they’re made, cars are bound to have problems with their design or manufacturing. When the government thinks a problem is really serious, they require the manufacturer to issue a recall notice to Apple Valley residents and to fix the car free of charge. The manufacturer then tries to contact everyone who owns that type of car in Apple Valley and elsewhere until the work is done.
If you have questions about vehicle recalls, give us a call: Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
These recalls always affect safety, so you need to take them seriously. It’s really easy to find out if a vehicle is being recalled. For links to government sites, look in the AutoNetTV website.
Recalls are pretty serious and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that you still might want to know about. In this case, manufacturers issue what is known as a Technical Service Bulletin – or TSB. These bulletins tell service centers how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.
The pros receive updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. You can buy access to these for an annual fee.
Whatever your source, pay attention to vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.
Fall and Spring Checkup In Apple Valley
Date: October 25, 2012 12:48 PM - Category: Maintenance
When I was a kid in Apple Valley, my dad always made sure he took the cars in for Spring and Fall checkups. I was telling a friend that it's about time to get into Valley Auto Care for my checkup and he said that he read on the internet that modern cars don't need seasonal service.
My friend is (technically) right about some things, but from a practical standpoint, a seasonal check up still makes sense.
Back when my dad was teaching me about how to take care of the family car, most cars used a different weight of oil in the winter and in the summer. But most of today's modern engines run the same oil year round. High-tech engines and high-tech motor oils are better able to handle the seasonal changes.
Your owner's manual or Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care can tell you the right oil to use.
Of course, you're concerned about the coolant or antifreeze. You don't want to overheat in the Minnesota summer or freeze up in the winter. Your engine cooling system protects against both of these things. And modern coolant, or as it's sometimes called; 'antifreeze', is up to doing both very well. It's designed to last for more miles than most people drive in a year or two.
So how does a Spring and Fall check-up fit in? Let's start with Spring. Summer is coming. That means heat, more miles driven and road trips. It just makes sense to check your fluid levels and do a visual inspection to see that everything is up to snuff.
You may not be scheduled to drain and replace the coolant for some time, but you need to make sure you have enough coolant, and that you don't have any leaks or hoses that are about to fail.
That's pretty practical; a check-up to see if there are any problems or emerging conditions that could later become a problem, like a cracked belt.
And the same principle applies for getting ready for winter. Cold weather means lots of failed batteries. It takes more power to crank up a cold engine, and cold also decreases the available cranking power the battery has available.
So a battery test in the Fall could tell you if you've got a battery that is running on its last legs. And of course, if you live where winter temperatures get below 45 degrees or you have ice and snow, you'll want to consider changing to winter tires.
And odds are that you have one or more routine services that are due anyway. Like a transmission service, brake or power steering fluid, differential service – stuff like that. Are your wiper blades still good? Are your headlamps starting to dim?
So Spring and Fall: change your clocks, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors – and get a check-up for your cars.
See, dad was right again.
Come and see us at Valley Auto Care for your Spring and Fall automotive checkup. Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Gas Savings In Apple Valley: Sharpen Your Pencil
Date: October 5, 2012 12:02 PM - Category: Maintenance
High gas prices in Apple Valley have hit most of our budgets. You’ve probably budgeted a certain amount for vehicle related stuff. Increased fuel costs are now consuming a bigger portion of that budget and you may be tempted to skimp in some other areas – like scheduled maintenance.
According to news reports and industry studies, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten personal vehicles on the road have at least one maintenance or repair item that hasn’t been done. Some of these items are serious safety concerns. Others are just more likely to affect the cost of operating your vehicle.
In this area, we can take a lesson from professional Apple Valley vehicle owners. I’m talking about fleet owners and operators. You know, Apple Valley folks like the trucking companies and delivery services. Because their livelihood depends on it, they have gotten scheduled maintenance down to a science. And the last thing they skimp on is regular maintenance.
Why is that? Well, for one thing they know that routine maintenance prevents expensive repairs and costly breakdowns. They also know that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. For them, even a small decrease in fuel economy may mean not being profitable.
So what does this mean to Apple Valley drivers? Well, there’s a ninety percent chance that you’re missing some service that would improve your fuel economy. Here’s a quick reminder list:
Fuel system cleaning, transmission service, differential service, engine air filter, wheel alignment, oil change, tune up. Ring any bells? Can you honestly say that there isn’t at least one thing on the list that hasn’t been done?
Let’s suppose you chose to spend one hundred and fifty dollars and get caught up on some of these services at Valley Auto Care. Figure that they combine to improve your fuel economy by fifteen percent. What would that mean to your pocketbook?
Well, the average personal vehicle in Apple Valley is driven about twelve thousand miles a year. If you get twenty miles per gallon in your car, over the course of one year you would pay for the hundred and fifty dollars worth of service and save an additional hundred and sixty five dollars if gas is at three dollars and fifty cents. If gas is four fifty, you would save two hundred and fifty-five dollars. And you’d rack up savings of three hundred and forty five dollars with gas at five and a half bucks.
From this you can see that the more fuel costs, the more it pays to take care of your car. Some of us drive trucks in Apple Valley for work or recreation – or want a large SUV for family needs. A fifteen percent improvement in fuel economy can generate huge savings – six hundred and sixty dollars a year if gas is four fifty a gallon in Apple Valley. Take a look at this table to see where your savings could lie.
So catch up on those services you’ve been neglecting at Valley Auto Care. Get a couple done now and a couple next time. Chances are you’ll save a lot of money at Apple Valley gas pumps this year – and a lot more on repairs in years to come.
Following Recommended Intervals For Your car
Date: September 5, 2012 10:19 AM - Category: Maintenance
If you're reading this article in Apple Valley Minnesota, then you probably care about your car and how it runs. Even though you care, there is still that moment of dread when your service technician tells you the manufacturer recommends some additional service. Your heart beats a little faster, your blood pressure rises. You worry about spending more money than you expected.
Contact Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley Minnesota by calling 952-431-2700
And you worry that if you say "no", you might be harming your car or compromising safety.
At the risk of sounding like your dad, you really should have done your homework. All of this stuff is in your owner's manual. But it is not like you want to keep your maintenance schedule on your nightstand for bedtime reading.
Cars are complicated machines and it takes care to keep them running well. That is why manufacturers have maintenance schedules that explain how to keep your vehicle performing efficiently and prevent costly break downs. In a typical owners manual you'll find: oil change, brake fluid and pad change, coolant system service, transmission service, battery electrolyte levels, cables and terminals, tire pressure and wear, CV boots, cabin air filter, air conditioning, heater, fuel filter, air filter, belts and hoses, power steering fluid, differential service, fuel system cleaning, and wheel alignment. And then there are mechanical service requirements like timing belt changes, valve adjustment, steering function, engine and exhaust leaks - yeah, it is a really long list!
Fortunately, this isn't a test: You don't need to have it memorized. Your service center at Valley Auto Care has access to your manufacturer's recommendations. So do not be surprised when your technician at Valley Auto Care reminds you something is due. Your manufacturer has taken great care in putting together your maintenance schedule. Let Valley Auto Care help you stay on top of important maintenance. You can expect them to suggest recommended services and tell you what problems they find under the hood. We'll also explain how urgent these services are so you can work them into your budget.
Training Received by Technicians In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: August 28, 2012 9:20 AM - Category: Maintenance
When your car breaks down in the Apple Valley Minnesota area, or just needs some routine service, it can make you a little nervous. Because your car’s so important to your life, you need to be back on the road as soon as possible. And, with the problem fixed right the first time.
We’ve been checking into some of the training our Apple Valley Minnesota technicians receive, and we’re very impressed. It’s amazing how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. So it’s not like when your uncle worked on his hot rod over weekend.
Today there are four cylinder engines that make more power than the V-8’s in luxury cars 20 years ago. A new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket’s Ferrari in a race to 60 mph.
Our engines are more and more powerful and at the same time their fuel economy keeps inching up. And they’re so reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. Modern cars are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin.
Then there’s the electronics. Some cars in the local Apple Valley Minnesota area have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. We take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks.
It’s a real challenge for your local Apple Valley Minnesota technicians to keep up. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the auto technician and the service center as well. In addition to the training, there’s the financial commitment to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools as well.
So where do Apple Valley Minnesota technicians go for training? There’re many sources. It’s usually a combination of formal classroom training, training provided in the service center by parts and equipment manufacturers, on-line courses and home study courses. There are many independent certifications available all the way up to Master Technician.
And AutoNetTV produces monthly training for service centers called The Pro Channel. If you were to watch the Pro Channel segment on re-flashing the engine control computer, you’d be amazed at how much is involved: special software, hardware interfaces and a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill.
Service centers in Apple Valley Minnesota have a lot of other resources available as well. No one can know everything, so service centers like Valley Auto Care subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even on-line communities that can help them with they run into a difficult problem.
It’s like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms – what’s the diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. As consumers we want everything to be simple, straight forward and cheap – and sometimes it just isn’t.
So, be more relaxed next time you take your car in. You really should trust your service advisor at Valley Auto Care. You’re in good hands. The more you know, the more comfortable you can be with your automotive service decisions. Visit AutoNetTV.com to see more great auto tips videos about many service topics.
Are Modern Vehicles Maintenance Free?
Date: August 16, 2012 10:56 AM - Category: Maintenance
In our auto video today we'll be talking with Alan Peterson about myths surrounding automotive maintenance. You can lump these myths into the statement that "modern cars are so reliable, they are virtually maintenance free".
Any good myth has some elements of truth. No offense to Apple Valley Bigfoot fans, but this maintenance-free myth has more evidence than most. If we look at some isolated areas of auto maintenance, we could conclude that maintenance isn't so important. But other areas would just as easily lead you to believe that maintenance is more important than ever.
Here are some examples for our friends in Apple Valley.
Some cars in Apple Valley no longer require chassis lubrication. They're made with self-lubricating materials and have sealed joints. There's literally is no way to grease those joints.
-Chalk one up for the myth.
On the other side, some vehicles come with sophisticated variable valve timing. A lot of complicated parts up in the valve train that didn't even exist not that many years ago. These parts are very vulnerable to oil sludge.
So, skipping an oil change here and there could lead to very expensive damage.
-A point to maintenance.
Electronic ignition has eliminated replacing points.
-Myth gets a point.
Fuel injectors on direct injection engines are very expensive to replace so one must be sure to get a fuel system cleaning on schedule.
-Point for maintenance.
I think you get the picture. As automotive technology advances, it eliminates or reduces some maintenance requirements. And maintenance becomes more critical for some items. Most others remain very similar to what they've always been.
So the maintenance mindset is still important for car owners in Apple Valley if we want our vehicles to last a long time. The checklist may change over time, but there'll always be a check list.
Let me mention a couple of items on modern vehicles that folks need to be aware of. One of the most of the most important is timing belt replacement. Used to be that all engines had timing chains – you know, metal chains. They rarely broke.
It's cheaper to make engines with timing belts rather than chains, so replacing the timing belt is on most engines' maintenance list. The money the manufacturer saves by using a belt is more than off-set by what the vehicle owner has to pay to replace the belt. And it's a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of repairing the damage if the timing belt breaks.
So make sure you know when your timing belt needs to be replaced. You don't want to miss that. If you have 60,000 miles or more, break out your owner's manual or ask your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care to check on the recommendation right away.
Another is sealed wheel bearing assemblies on some vehicles. As you might have guessed, it's cheaper to make a sealed unit than one that has access to inspect or service the wheel bearings. The problem is that when the bearings fail, you have to replace the entire unit, not just the bearings. That'll cost 5 or 6 times as much.
For our friends in Apple Valley, we hope this has underscored the importance of knowing and following your maintenance schedule. Come in and see us at Valley Auto Care. You'll find us at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124. Just give us a call at 952-431-2700.
Valley Auto Care: Why Replace Your Engine Air Filter?
Date: July 19, 2012 2:26 PM - Category: Maintenance
Your car engine really needs clean air to operate efficiently. Let’s go egghead for a minute. For every gallon of gas we burn driving around Burnsville, twenty pounds of carbon dioxide comes out the tailpipe. Question: how can a gallon of gas that weighs a little over six pounds produce twenty pounds of carbon dioxide?
The answer is that the carbon comes from the gasoline, but the oxygen comes from the air. You see, it takes about twelve thousand gallons of air to burn a gallon of gas in your engine. Clearly, your car needs a lot of air to keep going in Burnsville. A lot of clean air is better.
You’ve seen the pictures of the crowds in Asia wearing face masks. They want some kind of filter to keep unwanted pollution and germs out of their lungs. Well, your car also works better when its internals are clean. When your car air filter’s dirty, it simply can’t trap any more dirt, so the dirt just passes through into your air intake system. From there it can clog your fuel injectors and even get into the engine itself. And burning dust and pollen in your car engine does you no good.
So, we’re talking potential damage for Burnsville drivers. But another big thing is wasted fuel. Your car engine management computer tries to mix the correct amount of air in with the fuel. If the filter’s clogged, there isn’t enough air for the optimal fuel to air mix and that really messes with fuel efficiency.
In fact, replacing a dirty air filter at Valley Auto Care can improve your fuel economy in Burnsville by up to ten percent. At today’s fuel prices in Burnsville, you should be able to pay for a new air filter before your next oil change.
The verdict: When your car engine air filter needs to be replaced; it needs to be replaced. How often depends entirely on how dirty the air is where you drive in Burnsville. A simple visual inspection at Valley Auto Care will tell you when you need a new engine air filter.
When you look at the air filter on your furnace at home and see it’s all clogged up with dust and dirt, you don’t hesitate to replace it. When your Valley Auto Care technician brings out your nasty engine air filter, you now know why you should go ahead and change it out.
Better Service - Better Economy
Date: July 5, 2012 1:50 PM - Category: Maintenance
The hottest Apple Valley news story may be different everyday, but there’s one topic that seems to come up over and over again – the price of gas in Apple Valley. But we’ve found several basic things that any Apple Valley vehicle owner can do to greatly reduce their gas consumption, save money, and help the Apple Valley environment. You can really impact your fuel economy by how you drive – but first, here’s a review of things you can do for your car that’ll save gas no matter how you drive.
The first one is keeping your tires properly inflated. That can save two miles per gallon. Driving on low tires is like driving through sand – your car just has to work harder. Most Apple Valley service centers will fill up your tires for free, so just ask your service advisor. Also, make a habit of checking your tire pressure whenever you get gas in your car. Many Apple Valley gas stations have an air hose you can use for free.
Another important item is to keep your air filter clean. An air filter all clogged up with dirt and bugs doesn’t let enough clean air through to efficiently burn fuel. Using a dirty air filter will cost you almost two miles per gallon in reduced fuel efficiency. And worn spark plugs can cost another two. A spark plug can fire as many as 3,000,000 times for every thousand miles driven. Check the owner’s manual for replacement recommendations.
The biggest item is the oxygen sensor. This device provides the engine management computer with information it needs to fine-tune the fuel/air mix. When that’s messed up it can cost up to three miles per gallon. And of course, there’s dirty or substandard oil. Dirty oil causes extra drag. The wrong grade may be too thick. That’s another .4 miles per gallon right there.
One item Apple Valley residents seldom think about is their gas cap. A worn, loose or missing gas cap can cost another two miles per gallon. Adding up all of these worn, missing or sub-par items leads to a total of almost 11.4 miles per gallon in reduced fuel efficiency! And with current gas prices in the Apple Valley area, the cost really adds up. Taking care of these simple maintenance items will save big bucks at the pump.
Now most people aren’t missing on all of these items, but think about which ones might affect you right now! And don’t forget tune-ups, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, fuel system cleaning, wheels out of alignment, PCV valve, fuel filter and other key services spelled out in your owners’ manual.
Valley Auto Care knows all this stuff and can tell you when you’re scheduled to take care of each item. Create a system of your own to track your service schedules, or just use the computer system at Valley Auto Care – which may also be updated with recall notices and maintenance schedule items from your manufacturer.
Technician Training at Valley Auto Care
Date: June 7, 2012 10:18 AM - Category: Maintenance
Your car is important to you and keeping it running is vital to your Apple Valley lifestyle. That's why you should have it serviced regularly at Valley Auto Care. And even though it may just be routine maintenance, you want it done right.
It's also very important to your Apple Valley service center to keep you happy and on the road. You might be surprised at the amount of money our Apple Valley service center spends every year to make sure our technicians are properly trained.
Valley Auto Care offers a variety of car care services to many kinds of vehicles. We need to be up to date on the latest techniques and parts so that they can care for your car properly. Our Apple Valley centers subscribe to data services that list the high quality parts and fluids recommended by your manufacturer.
And each service has a checklist of standard procedures. Valley Auto Care technicians follow these procedures so they can safely deliver a consistent level of high-quality service.
Some services require the use of specialized equipment. Valley Auto Care technicians are trained extensively on this equipment so that they can service your car quickly and efficiently.
Classroom, video and hands-on training is provided by the company and outside trainers. It's not only important that service technicians be able to perform a given task, they also need to be thoroughly trained in inspection and diagnostic techniques. One of the great services they perform is to spot potential problems before they become serious.
The automotive service industry has standards for classifying and communicating problems to customers. For example, it's one thing to learn that your manufacturer recommends that you change your serpentine belt every 30,000 miles and another to learn that the belt is on the verge of failure. These standards help you understand the urgency of recommendations, letting you make better service decisions.
You may be interested to know that service technicians are trained in compliance with federal and local Apple Valley laws and regulations, including environmental regulations regarding the disposal of used parts and fluids.
It's the goal of our Apple Valley service center to provide fast, courteous service. You should feel free to ask your technician or one of the managers about your service or for more information about their recommendations.
Well-trained service providers, established procedures, industry standards, and, of course, AutoNetTV, combine to give you the best service experience possible.
Serpentine Belt Service At Valley Auto Care In Apple Valley
Date: May 29, 2012 10:36 AM - Category: Maintenance
If you’ve ever heard a squealing sound under your hood, chances are it was your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems in your car. Let’s go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Apple Valley. Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your car’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. Without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering (some are electric) and power brakes (some use vacuum boost).
And, on most cars, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures. On some Apple Valley cars, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.
When they understand what it does, Apple Valley drivers realize that if it breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why manufacturers have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.
At Valley Auto Care, we can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon. If the belt has more than three or four cracks every 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.
If it has lost a significant thickness, it also needs to be replaced. There’s a special spring-loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Valley Auto Care, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
As mentioned, a squealing sound could be a sign that the serpentine belt needs to be replaced. It may be loose if you hear a slow, slapping sound when idling your car.
All in all, the serpentine belt’s an important part for the function of your car. And it’s not that expensive to replace at Valley Auto Care – so it’s good to do so before it fails.
Valley Auto Care On Your Serpentine Belt
Date: May 15, 2012 10:46 AM - Category: Maintenance
Today we’re going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Apple Valley Minnesota customers. Let’s start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That’s the device that makes electricity to power the vehicle and recharge the battery. Then there’s the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you're driving around Apple Valley Minnesota in the summer.
The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most vehicles. Those pumps make the pressure that assists your steering and braking.
In many vehicles, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. The water pump is what circulates the coolant that protects your engine. In some cars around Apple Valley Minnesota, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.
The radiator cooling fans on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That’s really a lot of work for one belt.
But modern engine design has a single belt that snakes around the front of the engine and drives most if not all of these accessories. Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles.
Just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car in the Apple Valley Minnesota area. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection can reveal a belt that’s getting close to failing.
Valley Auto Care can look at the belt: if it has more than three or four cracks per inch it needs to be replaced. A deep crack that’s more than half the depth of the belt - replace. Frayed, missing pieces, a shiny glazed look? It’s out of there.
What’s involved in replacing the belt? First the old belt is removed. Then a new one is fitted around all the pulleys for the accessories and the drive. There’s a special pulley called a tensioner.
This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm. Its job is to apply the correct amount of tension to the belt to keep it from getting loose and maybe slipping off. Because the spring in the tensioner pulley wears out, AutoNetTV recommends replacing them at the same time as the belt. It just makes sense.
What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating around our Apple Valley Minnesota streets. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.
What do you do if your belt breaks? If you’ve actually had that happen on our local Apple Valley Minnesota freeway, it can be a little scary. Often the first thing you notice is that you have no power steering or power brakes. Don’t panic – you can still steer and brake, but you’ll have to do the work. It’ll be harder to steer and you’ll need more time and effort to stop, so plan accordingly.
Your dashboard will light up will all kinds of warnings. You’ll see a warning about your cooling system if you have a water pump that’s driven by the serpentine belt. This is very critical because without your cooling system working, your engine will overheat. If you don’t stop you’ll have massive engine damage, maybe to the point that you need a new engine. Pull over as quickly as you safely can. Open your windows and turn the heater on full blast to provide a little engine cooling and pulled over as soon as possible.
The battery light will come on because the alternator isn’t working. If your car’s water pump isn’t driven by the serpentine belt, you’re not in danger of overheating so you can drive a little further if necessary. But the battery will run down to the point where the car won’t run and will just shut off. You don’t want that to happen while you’re driving in our local Apple Valley Minnesota traffic.
Remember, this does not have to happen if you replace your serpentine belt on schedule. Ask your technician at Valley Auto Care to check your belts and hoses from time to time so you can take care of them if they need to be replaced prematurely.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Maintaining Your Older Car In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: May 1, 2012 10:25 AM - Category: Maintenance
The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Apple Valley Minnesota: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Apple Valley Minnesota motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.
Because new cars are more expensive, people in the Apple Valley area are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in Apple Valley have more than 75,000 miles. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin'.
Give Valley Auto Care a call to schedule your next maintenance. 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Some owner's manuals don't specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles.
First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 15,000 miles should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles, and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule – ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks – seals and gaskets dry out over time and don't hold the fluids as well as they used to.
It's also time to make sure you have a good Apple Valley Minnesota technician. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble's brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.
And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.
High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.
Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it's way cheaper than a new car payment!
Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Valley Auto Care
Date: April 18, 2012 12:36 PM - Category: Maintenance
A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the news. Apple Valley people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better fuel economy and receive a government rebate.
A lot of Apple Valley motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their cars for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.
There are plenty of Apple Valley drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own cars on the road in Minnesota.
Apple Valley drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your car's engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that can damage your engine.
There’s another reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Apple Valley car owners. It’s simple – a Valley Auto Care professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your Valley Auto Care technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.
Your Valley Auto Care advisor will also visually inspect your car for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.
And your Valley Auto Care advisor will be able to remind you of other services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Apple Valley dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.
Realistically, things are going to wear out as your car gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.
Of course, these things cost money, but they are far cheaper than new car payments. With proper service at Valley Auto Care and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.
Looking Down the Road - Headlamps
Date: January 12, 2012 1:43 PM - Category: Maintenance
If you've ever been driving around Apple Valley and had a headlamp go out, you've probably just wanted to replace the bad bulb. If your car uses halogen headlamps, they dim over time. So if you just put in one, they won't have the same brightness which can be distracting and will affect your field of vision.
To have your headlights inspected, visit us at Valley Auto Care. We're at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124. Or give us a call at 952-431-2700
Experts in Apple Valley recommend replacing your halogen headlamps every year. It's easy to remember if you do it when daylight savings time changes in the fall. That way you'll have bright headlamps for those long Apple Valley winter nights.
There are other types of headlamps in addition to halogen. There are the old standard bulbs that have been around for decades. These are OK, but you can usually upgrade to halogen. They cost a little more but you can't believe the difference. If you do a lot of night driving you might want to use a premium halogen bulb that filters out the yellow hues and give a very white light that's a lot like daylight.
You may have noticed those bluish headlights on luxury cars. They are high intensity discharge or, HID lamps. They really light up the road. You can upgrade to HID on some vehicles. These cost quite a bit, but they'll last for the life of your car. If you want your Apple Valley friends to think you have HIDs, you can get halogens with a bluish tint - no one needs to know.
Seriously, though, night driving is all about reaction time – time to stop – time to get out of the way. You can't react to what you can't see. You need headlamps that'll give you a good view down the road and good peripheral vision as well. And your headlights need to be aimed correctly so you can see and also, to keep your lights from shining off into on-coming traffic.
You may have seen older vehicles with headlights that are awfully dim and maybe even yellow. That's because the plastic headlight lenses have gotten cloudy and yellowed with age. They can be replaced, but many Apple Valley service centers offer a service to restore the lens that's a lot cheaper.
You can't drive if you can't see. AAA reports that nine out of ten vehicles have dirty or yellowed headlamps. So run the window squeegee over your headlights when you gas up to clear the dirt and bugs. Get your lenses restored if they need it and don't forget to replace your standard or halogen bulbs every fall.
Budgeting for Maintenance In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: November 22, 2011 9:49 AM - Category: Maintenance
Life's full of surprises in Apple Valley Minnesota, some of which cost money. A leaky roof, a broken tooth, or an unexpected car repair. Valley Auto Care of Apple Valley Minnesota and AutoNetTV have done some research on how we can budget for proper vehicle care.
Everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota does our best to budget for scheduled vehicle maintenance. What's hard is unexpected repairs. The truth is that our vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before with proper maintenance. That's because of improved vehicle design and manufacturing quality. But some of those same improvements also lead to higher repairs costs.
Let's take the fuel pump. Previous generations were often stranded by the side of the road by vapor lock. This occurred when the gas vaporized between the gas tank and the fuel pump. Fuel just stopped flowing.
You had to sit and wait until the car would start again. To alleviate the problem, fuel pumps are now located inside the gas tank. This is a great solution, but when the fuel pump fails, it's a much more expensive proposition to replace it.
Sealed wheel bearing assemblies are another example. These wheel bearings can't be serviced – you just have to replace the entire assembly when it starts to fail. That costs several times as much as service on non-sealed bearings.
So we all benefit in Apple Valley Minnesota from design improvements, but we need to plan for repairs down the road.
There's a tool that can be found on Edmunds.com that you can use to prepare your service and repair budget.
Let's suppose you have a 2003 Toyota Camry – a very popular car in Apple Valley Minnesota. It's now paid for and you'd like to keep it running for the next three years. You can go to Edmunds' True Cost to Own calculator and enter your vehicle's data. The calculator will provide estimates of what it'll cost to service and repair your vehicle over the next five years. The estimate is based on where you live in or near Apple Valley Minnesota, manufacturers' recommendations and repair experience for your particular model.
Of course these are just estimates – there's no way to predict what'll actually happen to the car in your driveway, but it's a good starting point.
The calculator also has estimates for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel costs.
Let's focus on maintenance and repair. This table shows that the average monthly cost of maintenance and repairs is eighty-three dollars. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to a new car payment.
So if you set aside eighty-three dollars a month, you'd go a long ways towards taking care of routine maintenance and being prepared for the unexpected repairs that arise.
Of course, you can't predict when something will go wrong or what it'll cost, but at least you have a reasonable target to shoot for.
Some people around Apple Valley Minnesota are afraid of what can go wrong with their older car so they buy a new one. That's fine if you really want a new car, but if you properly maintain your older vehicle, you'll save a lot of money on new car payments and insurance. It just makes good economic sense.
Get with your Apple Valley Minnesota service advisor at Valley Auto Care and work out a plan for keeping your vehicle on the road.
You can visit Valley Auto Care at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 or just give us a call at 952-431-2700.
Make Your Vehicle Last
Date: November 10, 2011 2:00 PM - Category: Maintenance
We live in such a disposable society. It's amazing all the stuff we throw away. New stuff comes out so fast, we just toss the old and move on. In the old days people were real sticklers about taking care of their things. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough - they had to do without. Most people couldn't afford new cars very often, so they had to make them last as long as they could.
It's a good thing that cars are more reliable these days. They just don't break down as often. And the good news for us Minnesota penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles/320,000 km with proper care. The engineering and the manufacturing quality is tremendous. The missing ingredient is us Apple Valley car owners making sure we follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedules.
Every time you go a couple thousand extra miles between an oil change, you have created an opportunity for sludge to be formed and clog passages. Then some parts don't get properly lubricated and they start to wear out faster. Skip a cooling system service, and the corrosion inhibitors become depleted, and the radiator starts being damaged - one step closer to a failure. Same thing is true for transmission service, power brakes, fuel system cleaning - really everything on your schedule.
It is probably even more important for older vehicles. Those engines and other systems have had more time to get dirty, so they are a bit more stressed anyway. But it is never too late to get back on track with your maintenance and to hold off further damage.
And it really does start with the oil change. When you get a full service oil change they top off all your fluids and check for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. It's like your safety net. Go in for an oil change on time, and let your service advisor help you keep track of the rest.
Some things are going to wear out along the way, things like alternators, water pumps, etc. But fixing those at Valley Auto Care is cheaper than a new car payment. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to mess with other things. It is like having high cholesterol - you don't want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.
10 Overlooked Services In Apple Valley
Date: October 25, 2011 10:03 AM - Category: Maintenance
We live such busy lives nowadays: work, social events, running the kids all over Apple Valley. Some days it’s all we can do to keep track of everywhere we need to be. That’s why you’ve gotta be organized. Lists, PDA, calendar- we have to keep track of it all.
So let’s talk about schedules. Specifically, automotive service schedules. And particularly, the scheduled services that are sometimes forgotten.
We have a list of 10 service items that are often overlooked. They’re all very important and need appropriate attention. So here we go, in no particular order.
1. Power Steering Service Be honest; have you ever thought of this on your own? Your power steering fluid gets dirty and builds-up moisture over time. Cleaning out your power steering system means that dirt and gum are removed and your power steering parts are protected from corrosion. Ask your service advisor if it’s time for a power steering check-up.
2. Wheel Alignment When your wheels are out of alignment your car pulls to one side. It’s pretty annoying, but it’s also dangerous. And it causes your tires to wear out really fast; which is expensive! Most owners’ manuals suggest you get your alignment checked once or twice a year.
3. Differential Service Okay, did you even know you had a differential? Well you do. One, two or three in fact. Differentials are often called gear boxes and they’re part of the drive-train that transfers power from the engine to your wheels. They don’t need service that often, but you can’t just ignore them. Check with your service advisor.
4. Cabin Air Filter More and more Apple Valley cars these days have cabin air filters to clean the air in the passenger area where we sit. They filter out dust and pollen. When they’re clogged up, they can get smelly. Change your cabin air filter on schedule to enjoy fresh, clean air, which can also help with allergies.
5. Timing Belt Replacement Most cars and some vans and trucks around the Apple Valley area have timing belts. Without going into a lot of detail, let’s just say that your car won’t run without it – period. And if it breaks while you’re driving it can do thousands of dollars worth of engine damage. Check your owners’ manual or with your service advisor. If you’re approaching 60,000 miles; absolutely look into it right away.
6. Transmission Service Transmission service is very basic, but it’s often forgotten. Your transmission needs clean fluid from time to time to keep running efficiently and avoid costly repairs. And it can improve your fuel economy too.
7. Air Conditioning Service Most of us don’t think about our air conditioning until it doesn’t work. Then if you’re lucky, you just need to add refrigerant. If you’re not, some of the components may have been ruined. Those components are not cheap. Regular air conditioning service adds clean refrigerant which cools and lubricates your air conditioner and conditions the seals.
8. Brake Service No we’re not talking about squealing, grinding brakes here. We’re talking brake fluid. Over time the fluid gets a lot of water in it. Because water compresses differently than the brake fluid, your brakes won’t work as well. It may even get dangerous. The water can also rust out brake system components and then your brakes can fail altogether. Check with your service advisor for recommendations.
9. Coolant System Another thing that’s so easy to forget about: When you don’t change your antifreeze on schedule it becomes corrosive. Fresh coolant contains additives that maintain the pH balance in the coolant. These additives wear out and the fluid in the radiator can actually eat holes in the radiator or hoses. Then you’re stranded.
10. Fuel System Cleaning In times of high fuel prices, fuel system cleaning is so important. Fuel gums up a bunch of parts as it moves from the gas tank and through the engine. A thorough fuel system cleaning will keep clean gas flowing into the engine. Your fuel injectors get gunked up over time and need to be cleaned. Having your fuel system cleaned on schedule will really help your fuel economy.
And there we have it; 10 services that are often overlooked. Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90 percent of vehicles on the road have at least one scheduled maintenance service that hasn’t been performed? Based on our busy lives, we’re not surprised.
We know it takes some thought and effort to actually maintain your vehicle; but it not only saves money in the long run – it saves time too. And we can all use a little more time.
Valley Auto Care can help with any of these services. Give us a all at 952-431-2700.
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.
Hey Apple Valley Drivers; What Is The Most Distracting Food?
Date: July 1, 2011 2:59 PM - Category: Maintenance
So what is the most distracting food to have in the car while driving around Apple Valley?
A Soft Drink, or
Well, you may be surprised to learn that all but the gummy bears are in the top ten most distracting foods when you are driving, but if you chose 'coffee', then give yourself an extra two points; coffee is the number one food distraction for drivers in Apple Valley and around the country.
Food distractions cause 25 percent of all car accidents; over a million and a half each year!
You'll notice that all of the top ten distracting food items are messy. Messy foods are the type of food you might spill (very distracting!), then try to clean up (a safe-driving impossibility!). If you gotta eat on the run, take five-then drive. You'll thank yourself later for two reasons, one being that you can actually relax for just a moment in our fast-paced world, and the other is that you won't have to worry about getting that cinnamon roll frosting out of your dashboard after that near miss.
Keep drinks in spill-proof containers, too, so you can keep your eyes on the Apple Valley road without worrying about where that spill is headed.
So; taking a food break… Or filling out accident reports. We don't have to ask you which you prefer: It's a no brainer.
Valley Auto Care, along with AutoNetTV, wants you to keep both eyes on the road. Please eat safely and keep your eyes on the road.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Give us a call at: 952-431-2700
Keeping Your 'Old Faithful' Auto Running
Date: June 21, 2011 12:55 PM - Category: Maintenance
At Valley Auto Care we’ve had a lot of people asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that’s been building for several years. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles on them. It looks like it’s going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices a lot of folks are putting off buying a new car. Thanks to AutoNetTV, we can provide you with a video answer to this question.
So let’s say you’re one of the average people in the Apple Valley area; you’ve got a nine year old car with 80,000 miles on the odometer. What can you to do make it last another year or two?
Let’s start with the premise that there’s no reason that a modern car can’t run for 200,000 miles with proper care. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.
Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there’s no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if you stay on top of your recommended maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some owner’s manuals runs out at 60,000 miles or so: how do we know what to do when we’re way past that?
It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles for the first 60,000 miles you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles after you hit 60,000 miles. But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it’s very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change, for example, leaves an opportunity for harmful sludge to build up.
So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff need to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Apple Valley are positively religious about scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:
it saves fuel;
it prevents costly repairs, an;
they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.
Having the oil changed may be the most important thing. A full service oil change means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your technician a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get expensive. And it gives you a touch point with a professional along the way to remind you of things that aren’t scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.
If you live in the Apple Valley area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner’s manual and talk with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.
And, we would strongly encourage you to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They’re fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some people start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles as a preventive measure.
Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.
Give us a call for more information:
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Keys to a Long Lasting Vehicle
Date: June 10, 2011 10:17 AM - Category: Maintenance
We're living in a disposable society. Everything from elaborate packaging to our clothing. Even cell phones are disposable. When replacement is cheaper than repair, the term "built to last" goes by the wayside. An exception is our vehicles. They're still a very big investment and we want to make them last as long as possible - and we want to make keeping them as cheap as possible. When talking cars, it's all about preventive maintenance. There is an old saying that says, "a stitch in time saves nine" and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your car. A great example is coolant service.
Your coolant not only protects your engine from overheating and freezing - it must also protect cooling system components from corrosion. Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That's why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule.
The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. And of course, don't forget those oil changes right on schedule. Skipping even one change can start the build up of harmful oil sludge.
Our engines are full of gaskets and seals. Fresh fluids condition those gaskets and seals to keep them from drying out and leaking. Automotive fluids contain additives that help clean and lubricate the various systems they protect. Over time, the additives are used up and the fluid just does not provide the protection it did when it was fresh. And don't forget the mechanical systems. Changing brake pads before they are worn to the point that they cause damage to rotors is a great way to keep your operating costs down.
Replacing serpentine belts and timing belts on schedule is much cheaper than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure. Also, air filters, fuel filters, PCV valves and batteries are all important. Regular wheel alignments, tire rotation and balancing will make your tires last longer. And don't forget to replace your shocks and struts when they wear out. Your fuel system needs regular cleaning to keep running well, prevent mechanical damage and reduce fuel consumption.
Now this is a lot to remember - too much really. But it is your Apple Valley automotive technician's job to keep on top of this stuff. At Valley Auto Care we can tell you what your manufacturer recommends and help you with a plan to take care of it. We can advise you about which maintenance schedule you should use - the regular schedule or the severe service schedule - depending on the kind of driving you do. We also know the right fluids for your vehicle and may even suggest higher mileage formulations for your older vehicle.
Bottom line - take care of this stuff on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent costly damage and maintain your warranty coverage.
Of course, you want your car to look as good as it runs. Regular washing will prevent rust and protect your finish. Take advantage of cleaners, waxes and protectants for your interior and tires. Your vehicle will look great and you'll be proud to drive it longer.
Most of us can't afford to throw away our car when it breaks down. By budgeting for regular preventive maintenance, we can prevent many inconvenient - and expensive - problems down the road, and can keep driving "old faithful" for years to come.
I Can See Clearly Now: Wiper Blade Replacement In Apple Valley
Date: March 17, 2011 9:51 AM - Category: Maintenance
About 90% of our Apple Valley Minnesota driving decisions are based solely on what we see. So having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important.
Everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota has experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm, or when our windshield is just dirty. In fact, it’s estimated that 46,000,000 motorists from Apple Valley and across the nation are driving with wipers that can’t adequately clear their windshield in a storm.
It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. If that sounds like you, you’ve got plenty of company in the Apple Valley area. 78% of drivers only change their wiper blades after the blades function so poorly that they become a safety hazard.
We need to change our thinking. Instead of blades being something to replace when they fail, we need to consider wiper blades as an important safety component. Then we’ll stay ahead of the storm.
You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If you live in the colder parts of Minnesota, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall.
Winter blades are designed to resist freezing. Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don’t use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That can just shred your blades and may even damage the wiper motor.
Your wiper blades live outside; freezing cold and blistering sun. Over time, they become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don’t clear the windshield effectively. Worn wiper blades aren’t just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield – a big cost for such a little part.
AutoNetTV recommends you replace worn blades right away. Your local service center can provide you with a quality replacement blade. They cost about the same as they would at the store – but installation is included at the service center.
Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though Valley Auto Care will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle in the car if you’re on a road trip.
Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy French bottled water, just doesn’t cut it. It can freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won’t do as good job of cleaning your windows.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Before You Leave Apple Valley, Get A Trip Inspection
Date: December 16, 2010 11:42 AM - Category: Maintenance
You know, at Valley Auto Care we get a lot of people asking about how to prepare their car for a trip. That’s a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas outside of Apple Valley so you may be anxious to know that the car is up to the task and won’t leave you stranded.
You really do need to plan ahead for a major road trip – there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around Apple Valley to see if you can feel any vibrations: are the wheels are in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok?
Come in and see us for trip inspection.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. You may also need a new PCV valve and an engine air filter.
How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?
How are your wiper blades? There’s nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from Apple Valley.
Check your owners’ manual for any other recommended service and have Valley Auto Care do the multi-point inspection before you head out.
Consider also having the coolant system serviced – you want to stay within the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re towing a trailer you’ll want to be keep in mind that you’ll be going a long way under severe conditions.
A lot of folks overlook severe conditions like towing, or summer heat, or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – we want you to get there and back.
Date: November 26, 2010 1:18 PM - Category: Maintenance
If you aren’t currently using synthetic motor oil in your Apple Valley vehicle, maybe now’s the time to consider it. Need more information? Well, synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil.
Synthetic oil doesn’t gel or gum-up like petroleum based oil and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It protects better in severe driving conditions like stop and go driving around Apple Valley, as well as in very hot or very cold conditions. More and more new vehicles are being delivered with full synthetic motor oil; with the recommendation to use synthetic for the life of the vehicle.
Why is this? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why; we’d need a microscope, so we’ll have to settle for using our imaginations.
The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is more slippery, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?
Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there’s less friction. That means better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn’t sludge up like conventional oil, so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up.
Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.
Most of us here in Apple Valley have a busy life and might occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead admit it. Since we’re not perfect, doesn’t it make sense to use a motor oil that’s got your back?
Now synthetic oil costs more. But it lasts longer, protects better and increases fuel economy. You’ll likely save money in the long run. If you’re serious about making your car last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.
Economics of Maintenance For Apple Valley Auto Owners
Date: October 20, 2010 2:26 PM - Category: Maintenance
Buying a new car in Apple Valley is always a big financial decision. The allure of that new car smell is powerful, to be sure. But what if your current car is still in good shape? How do you decide?
People in Apple Valley who've been used to driving a new car every three to five years may be having second thoughts in this economy. For many, the question is, how does the certainty of a new car payment stack up against uncertain repairs for a car that may be out of warranty?
For purposes of our discussion, let's assume you live right here in Apple Valley and have a five year old vehicle. It's now paid off. If you keep it, you fear that there'll be some repairs over the next five years, but you really don't know what to expect. For help we turned to Edmunds.com.
Edmunds.com has compiled maintenance and repair information for cars and trucks. With this data, they project likely service and repair costs for a particular make and model. They're able to use manufacturer's maintenance schedules and repair histories for the projections.
Of course, these projections can't predict what will happen to your vehicle in Apple Valley, but they do give you information to use in your decision.
Let's look at the numbers for a five year old Toyota Camry V-6. In this example, the combined maintenance and repairs for the five year period is $5,748. This works out to an average of $96 a month. The year-by-year averages range from a low of $49 a month to $124 a month.
So compare $96 a month with a new car payment. And it's actually better news than that; you would still have maintenance expenses with a new car, so the repair element could be less than half that figure.
Here are numbers for some other five year old vehicles from around Apple Valley:
Ford Escape - $116 a month
Chevy Silverado - $131 a month
Jeep Grand Cherokee - $138 a month
Hyundai Accent - $85 a month.
Now, if your vehicle is older than five years, have a chat with your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care. We see hundreds of vehicles through our bays every month and we know your car. See if there's any particular problem common with your vehicle that you might see over the next couple of years.
And of course, the best way to keep future repair costs down is to take care of all your scheduled maintenance. This is especially important in older vehicles that have had time to accumulate some deposits.
There are special motor oil formulations that help clean older engines and protect and recondition their seals and gaskets.
We hope this eliminates some of the unknowns in the decision to keep or trade.
Give us a call if you have any questions: Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Keys to Long Lasting Vehicle
Date: October 6, 2010 10:16 AM - Category: Maintenance
New cars cost so much these days. Add financing and insurance and, well a new vehicle may not seem so attractive. A lot of Apple Valley, Minnesota people are hoping to make their cars last a lot longer.
The good news is that with the current state of automotive engineering and manufacture, there’s no reason a modern vehicle can’t be made to last for a 150,000 miles or more.
There is an old saying that says, 'a stitch in time saves nine' and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your car. A great example is coolant service.
Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That’s why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule.
The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. And your oil changes should be done right on schedule to avoid the build up of harmful oil sludge.
Don't let your brake pads go too long before they are worn to the point that they cause damage to rotors. Preventive maintenance is a great way to keep your operating costs down.
Now this is a lot to remember. Valley Auto Care can keep on top of this stuff. We can tell you what your manufacturer recommends and help you with a plan to take care of it.
Bottom line – take care of this stuff on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent costly damage and maintain your warranty coverage. Call Valley Auto Care today for an appointment; you can reach us at 952-431-2700.
Take good care of your car, and it’ll take good care of you.
Valley Auto Care Give us a call today at 952-431-2700. Or stop by at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Risk of Extended Oil Change Intervals
Date: September 10, 2010 12:42 PM - Category: Maintenance
Nothing in your engine workers harder than your oil. With hundreds of moving parts, and thousands of explosions every minute, it's no wonder that engine oil needs to be changed frequently!
You've probably heard the old rule of thumb: Change your oil every 3,000 miles/ 5,000 kilometers or 3 months, whichever comes first. But some car manufacturers have introduced extended oil change intervals. They figure that a modern vehicle driven under the right conditions can go for 5,000 miles/8000 kilometers or more between an oil change.
The key phrase here is "under the right conditions". If you look at your owner's manual, you'll see two different maintenance schedules: one for "normal" driving conditions and one for "Severe Service". Severe service driving conditions include stop and go, short trips, towing, hauling, hot, cold, and dusty driving. That's why at AutoNetTV we often refer you to the severe service schedule in your owners' manual, because, for most of us Minnesota car owners, that's the way we use our vehicles in everyday life.
Recently, four of the largest auto manufacturers in the world have extended engine warranty coverage for engine damage caused by oil sludge resulting from longer oil change intervals. They found that real-world conditions require more frequent oil changes than the 7,500mi/12,000 km interval they were recommending. They subsequently recommended more frequent oil change intervals and proof of timely oil changes in order to qualify for the extended warranty.
Oil sludge is the culprit. Sludge is oil that has turned to a thick, jelly-like consistency. Sludge can block passages in the engine, preventing oil from lubricating vital engine parts. Parts wear more quickly and may fail prematurely.
Sludge is caused by several factors. The first one is simply - time. The engine oil is contaminated by exhaust gas that eventually leads to sludge. That is where the recommendation to change your oil at least every three months comes from. Sludge can also come from oil that gets contaminated by water from normal condensation. A few minutes of driving at Minnesota freeway speeds allows the oil to heat up enough for the water to evaporate. The problem is we often run errands or take other short trips that don't allow the engine to warm up enough for the water to evaporate. This is especially true in winter. Sludge also forms when the engine gets too hot, causing the oil to breakdown. Stop and go summer driving, towing and hauling are all prime conditions for creating harmful sludge. And every engine has hot spots that create sludge.
Given all of these factors, estimating when to change your oil is pretty complicated. A couple of manufacturers have computer programs built into their vehicles that record the number of cold starts, how many times the cylinders fire, engine temperature and other factors. From that, the computer estimates when you should change your oil and flashes a warning. But what if you do not have a vehicle with this feature? How do you know when to change your oil? We're not sure you really can. Which is why it is better to be safe than sorry. 3,000 mi/5,000 km or three months - whichever comes first - talk with a service advisor at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley and see if that's a good recommendation for the way you drive.
Maintenance Free Myth
Date: August 17, 2010 10:11 AM - Category: Maintenance
Sometimes we hear people say, "What's up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don't break down." While it is true that today's cars and trucks are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most folks don't realize how high tech automotive fluids have become. Fluids like, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.
Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today's automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle's components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and miles march on for all of our cars. Please don't think we're using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance - but here are some personal stories from AutoNetTV staff members to emphasize the importance of getting things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and budget. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.
The first comes from a staffer who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on the highway and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been exchanged - just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundred of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.
Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. Our staffer took his SUV in for the Minnesota safety inspection to renew his registration. At the inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the $45 bucks. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind - over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a few bucks on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story: don't skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Apple Valley service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.
Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy's little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn't get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire - so it was hard enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later - and then an alignment.
Situation: son and wife with cars from the same manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son's maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done - it cost several hundred dollars. His wife's car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed and the entire head was shredded and had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.
We're talking about taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, your car runs better and is more economical to operate. Remember to save those maintenance records. It'll show potential buyers that you've taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren't any, assume that the maintenance hasn't been done and take it to your Burnsville or Rosemount service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.
Severe Service Requirements
Date: July 26, 2010 1:11 PM - Category: Maintenance
A lot of our viewers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their car owners' manual. It can be confusing. Let's clear the air on this subject. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufacturer of automotive products and fluids. She's been in the automotive business for 20 years and is a speaker, a trainer, and a writer. Cricket says there's so much confusion on this topic because, "Most owners' manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called 'regular service' and 'severe service'. Sometimes they're simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement, and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time.
Manufacturers create these specific schedules for each vehicle they make. So there isn't one generic schedule that applies to all cars. In addition to your owners' manual, Apple Valley automotive repair centers subscribe to information services that provide the maintenance schedules for every vehicle - so they can help you know when to take care of needed services. Below is a typical definition for severe service.
Most trips are less than four miles
Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
You drive in very hot weather
The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the highway)
Stop and go driving
You operate your vehicle in dusty or muddy conditions
You tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier
It's common sense: Just a few minutes at freeway speeds allows the moisture in the oil to evaporate. Very short trips, or trips of less than ten miles when it's very cold, don't allow the engine to heat up enough to get rid of the water. And water in the oil leads to damaging sludge. Also, towing and heavy loads raise operating temperatures and cause fluids to breakdown more quickly. Dusty and muddy driving means that more dirt will get past the air filter to contaminate the fuel system and engine oil.
The bottom line is that you need to decide for yourself if the regular or severe service schedule is right for you, based on your driving. Look at your owners' manual, or talk with your Valley Auto Care service advisor who can help you know which schedule to follow. Valley Auto Care is located at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley Minnesota.,
Here is what a fleet manager said recently: "Since city miles are generally tougher on vehicles than highway miles, we use the manufacturer's severe service schedule as the basis for our preventative maintenance program. We massage those schedules over time, increasing or decreasing the service intervals so that they make the most sense. There is a little bit of art to go along with the science.
Make an honest evaluation of your driving habits. Unless you do mostly Minnesota highway driving in moderate weather, you'll likely have a fairly good amount of severe service mixed in. Some people just want to play it safe and follow the severe service recommendations, rather than analyzing how they drive each month.
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.