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.
Battery Basics For Apple Valley
Date: November 28, 2013 2:36 PM - Category: Battery
It's important for Apple Valley car owners to know battery basics. First, let’s talk about which is harder on a battery – hot or cold Minnesota weather. Most Apple Valley drivers think it’s cold weather because that’s when we call on our batteries to have enough power to start a cold car engine.
However, heat does more damage to a battery than cold. Truth is, our batteries start to die a little from day one. Keeping a full charge slows the process, which is hard with short Apple Valley trips because the alternator doesn’t have time to fully recharge the battery from starting the engine. Apple Valley drivers can top off the charge with a computer controlled battery charger – say, once a month in the summer and every three months during the winter.
As far as how long a battery will last, statistics show that 70% have given up the ghost within four years. By that time, they aren’t capable of taking a full charge like they used to, and your car alternator has to work overtime to keep up. This causes your alternator to wear out early.
If you’re pushing 4 to 5 years on your battery, see your experienced Valley Auto Care service specialist for a battery test to see if it’s recommended to replace it. Not only can you avoid getting stranded with a dead battery, but you’ll save unnecessary wear and tear on your car alternator.
Give us a call
Valley Auto Care 952-431-2700 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Date: November 19, 2013 10:59 AM - Category: Fuel System
Fuel filters clean the dirt, dust and debris out of your fuel. Both gasoline and diesel-powered engines have them. The fuel filter is located in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the car engine.
Apple Valley auto owners don’t need to filter their fuel because it has lots of grit in it; they need to filter it because it has some grit it in. Any dirt is bad for your engine. The cleaner the fuel, the better your car engine will run.
Over time, the small amounts of rust, dirt and contaminants in your fuel settle out inside the fuel tank. After about five years, this can amount to a quite a bit of sediment. This means that as your car ages, your fuel filter has to work harder to screen your fuel: more sediment in your tank means more potential for grit in your fuel.
The harder your fuel filter works, the more often it needs to be replaced. Check with your owner’s manual to find out how often it should be serviced and how long you can expect it to last. Apple Valley motorists should change it before it becomes clogged. Your experienced Valley Auto Care service advisor can help you with recommended fuel filter replacement schedules.
If your fuel filter becomes clogged, your car engine will sputter when you drive at highway speeds or when you accelerate rapidly. A clogged filter allows enough fuel to run the car at low speeds around town in Apple Valley, but when you need a higher flow of fuel for faster speeds, or if you need a sudden burst of fuel, you just won’t be able to get it through the filter.
Apple Valley auto owners take note: A clogged filter is actually dangerous. If you need to accelerate suddenly out of the path of danger, you just won’t have the power to do it.
Fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter becomes clogged, the valve allows some fuel to bypass the filter so the engine can keep running – just not enough to be running well.
That means, though, that dirty, unfiltered fuel is entering your engine. Instead of clogging up your filter, that dirt is now getting into your fuel injectors where it can cause serious damage. Fuel injectors are expensive; fuel filters are cheap. It doesn’t seem like a difficult choice.
Fuel filters are the epitome of preventive maintenance. They are cheap and easy to change, but neglecting them can lead to expensive repair bills for Apple Valley car owners. Some fuel filters are inside the fuel tank and cannot be routinely serviced – your experienced Valley Auto Care tech will be able to tell you if this applies to your vehicle.
Good car care means following recommended schedules for preventive maintenance, including changing your fuel filters. Take the auto advice offered in every owner’s manual and have your vehicle regularly inspected at Valley Auto Care. It may save Apple Valley car owners money by preventing costly repairs, but it will also repay them in improved fuel efficiency, safety and peace of mind.
Tire Replacement: What Burnsville Drivers Need to Know
Date: November 13, 2013 12:28 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Looking at getting some new tires? The choices at Burnsville tire stores can be a little overwhelming. Suppose you have an SUV and are trying to decide between all season tires or some that are also rated for off-highway. Do you get off the payment on the outskirts of Burnsville more than most? If so, some additional off-road traction would be nice.
Maybe the real reason for wanting those off-highway tires is that they look cool. Well there’s nothing wrong with that. If you make sure that you’ve got your functional needs covered with your selection, then you can have some fun with where you go from there.
Let’s suppose you zip around Burnsville in a sporty car. You may like to run a high-performance summer tire when the weather’s good. When Minnesota weather turns cold, you can put on high-performance winter tires. For the kind of driving you like to do, you want full-on performance tires. All-season tires are naturally a compromise that works well for most Burnsville drivers, but since you have a choice, go for dedicated summer and winter tires.
When it’s time for new tires, visit with a knowledgeable Valley Auto Care tire professional. Describe your needs and wants. He’ll come up with some selections for you to discuss. And once you settle on a type of tire, there are options for special needs: like pulling a trailer or carrying heavy loads.
Tires are one of the biggest purchases for Burnsville drivers. With so many choices, you’ll be able to get what’s best for you. Take their time. And don’t worry about what’s in stock. If you want something that isn’t here at Valley Auto Care, manager Scott Brouwer can order it. Chances are you’ll be rolling on your new tires in a couple of days.
Fuel System Cleaning at Valley Auto Care for Better Performance
Date: November 6, 2013 2:38 PM - Category: Fuel System
Hi Apple Valley auto owners. Let's talk fuel injectors. A fuel injector is a valve that delivers fuel to a vehicle’s engine. It has to deliver the precise amount of fuel, to precisely the right place, precisely when the engine needs it. The fuel also has to be mixed with air before it can burn in the engine.
Fuel injectors are engineered to spray fuel in a specific pattern into the engine. (The pattern varies by engine type and design.) In order to achieve these spray patterns, the fuel must be pressurized.
The pressure in a fuel injection system varies depending on its type. Many gasoline car engines use port injection systems, which operate with a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. Newer direct injection systems operate at 10 to 30 times that pressure. Some diesel passenger vehicles have fuel injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch.
Vehicles have one fuel injector for each cylinder in the engine. Your vehicle’s control computer constantly monitors the engine and various sensors in the vehicle and adjusts the fuel injectors accordingly so that they can deliver the proper amount of fuel to the engine. As you can see, fuel injectors are a sophisticated and vital part of your vehicle’s engine. Because fuel injectors are such precision instruments, dirt and contaminants are a serious detriment to their performance. When an injector gets gummed up, it affects the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel delivery. The result is a decrease in fuel efficiency and loss of engine performance for Apple Valley car owners.
So it’s to Apple Valley car owners' advantage to keep their fuel injectors clean. That starts with keeping the fuel in your tank clean. High-quality fuel contains detergents and additives that help clean your engine. Brand-name fuel companies also deliver a more consistent quality of fuel to Apple Valley motorists than do bargain Apple Valley area service stations.
The second way to keep your injectors clean is to keep your fuel filter clean. This filter screens dirt and rust out of the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine. If the filter clogs up, fuel will bypass it and carry its load of dirt into the engine.
Apple Valley drivers should check their owner’s manual to find out how often they should change their fuel filter. This should be part of your regular preventive maintenance. Also, remember that if you use bargain-brand or low-grade fuels, or if you drive an older vehicle between Apple Valley, Apple Valley and Burnsville , your filter will need to be changed more often.
You can also purchase cleaners at Valley Auto Care that will protect your fuel injectors. These cleaners are added to the fuel tank. They work best at preventing build-up in your fuel injectors and can clean up small amounts of carbon, gum and varnish. But they won’t be able to clean a fully gummed-up injector. Read the labels before using any of these products for full directions on their use. If your fuel injectors are gummed up, you can get a professional deep cleaning service at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley that will result in better fuel economy and improved vehicle performance.
Good car care will prevent serious damage to your fuel injector system. And this is one system that you want to keep in perfect condition.
Fuel Injection Keeps Getting Better For Apple Valley Motorists
Date: October 31, 2013 7:34 AM - Category: Fuel System
Apple Valley auto owners know that engines burn fuel to operate. Fuel is pumped from your fuel tank to your engine where it is squirted—or injected—into your engine’s cylinders. This is the function of the fuel injectors.
There are two ways to inject fuel into an engine. Fuel needs air to burn, so in the first method, fuel is injected into a port and allowed to mix with air and before it is drawn into the cylinders. In the second method, fuel is injected directly into the cylinders and mixes with air after it enters the engine.
Direct injection engines burn fuel more efficiently than conventional engines. Some models can deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.
For example, in one family of engines, the conventional version (a V6) delivers about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version delivers over 300 horsepower and gets about the same fuel efficiency. The turbocharged version delivers 350 horsepower.
Why the big difference in power? Direct injection systems allow fuel to be squirted into the engine at hundreds of times the pressure of a conventional engine. This atomizes the fuel better (breaks it down into tinier droplets), which means more of it gets burned, which translates to more power for your engine. It also results in cleaner emissions and improved gas mileage.
Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver the right amount of fuel at exactly the time the engine needs it. They are also engineered to inject fuel with a specific spray pattern. This spray pattern allows for maximum fuel efficiency and proper atomization.
Direct injection engines require a much higher degree of precision than conventional engines. For this reason, they are equipped with more sophisticated computers.
When fuel injectors get dirty, their precision drops off. The spray pattern won’t be precise, and the timing of fuel delivery may be off. This decreases fuel efficiency and gas mileage for Apple Valley car owners as well as delivering less power to the engine.
Fuel injectors are not cheap to replace. Direct injection fuel injectors are even more expensive. And we’re talking a mortgage payment to buy a set of new fuel injectors for a diesel engine.
So keeping your fuel injectors clean is just good auto advice for Apple Valley drivers. The best way to do this is to change your air and fuel filters regularly and practice other habits of good car care and preventive maintenance at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley. Cleaning additives in your fuel can also help.
If you do end up with gum or varnish in your fuel system, you’ll need a professional fuel system cleaning. This will clean out your whole system, including the injectors. The good news is that with proper maintenance, your fuel injectors will last for a long time.
Get Where You're Going With Power Steering Service In Apple Valley
Date: October 22, 2013 10:39 AM - Category: Steering
Today we're going to talk about power steering service in Apple Valley. If you took an informal poll around Apple Valley you'd probably find that most have never heard of power steering service. That's not surprising. Even though power steering is standard on every vehicle, most people in Apple Valley aren't aware that it needs periodic service.
If you're younger than a certain age, you've probably never driven a car or truck without power steering. To get an idea of the difference; if you've ever cut a board with a hand saw, you know it's a lot of work. Using a power saw is easy-peasy by comparison.
Without power steering, your arms have to do all the work to steer the wheels, and that's hard, especially around downtown Apple Valley. That's why old cars had such big steering wheels; to get enough leverage to steer.
Most vehicles in Apple Valley have a hydraulic power steering system. The serpentine belt from the engine powers a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid. This actuates a hydraulic cylinder that provides power to help steer.
Some vehicles in Apple Valley use an electric pump to pressurize the fluid rather than a belt driven pump. We're also seeing vehicles with electric motors providing the power assist, not using power steering fluid at all. We'll see a lot more electric systems as more hybrids and electric vehicles hit the market.
At least for now, the vast majority of power steering systems use power steering fluid that needs to be serviced. The fluid needs to be changed for a couple of reasons. For one, it attracts moisture. Water has different hydraulic qualities than power steering fluid, and that makes a difference in steering performance. Water is also corrosive and can damage power steering components. The fluid also just gets dirty and needs to be changed. Removing the old fluid and flushing out the system gets rid of dirt and deposits. The clean, fresh fluid lubricates and provides better corrosion protection.
So ask your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care or check your owner's manual to see when power steering service is recommended. It'll extend the life of your power steering components.
Fuel Injector Cleaning At Valley Auto Care
Date: October 15, 2013 2:58 PM - Category: Fuel System
In very simple terms, a fuel injector is a valve that squirts fuel into your car engine. Your engine control computer tells the fuel injector how much fuel to deliver as well as the precise time it should be delivered. Of course this happens thousands of times a minute in every single fuel-injected car driving down Apple Valley, Burnsville, and Rosemount interstates.
Most fuel injectors for gas engines are known in the Apple Valley automotive community as port fuel injectors because they deliver the fuel to a port just outside the cylinder. The fuel pump provides pressure needed to squirt the right amount of fuel into the engine.
A few auto manufacturers have recently introduced gas direct injection systems on some engines. They are now available at some Apple Valley dealerships. These systems inject the gas directly into the cylinders under very high pressure – many times the pressure of port injection systems.
Although more complicated, direct injection technology promises greater power with improved gas mileage for gas-poor Apple Valley, Burnsville, and Rosemount car owners. Minnesota motorists can expect to see more of it in the future. High temperatures under your car hood and variations in Apple Valley gas quality cause fuel injectors to be fouled with wax, dirt, water, additives and carbon. Injectors can become partially clogged, preventing them from delivering the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure.
When injectors are dirty, the fuel doesn’t burn as efficiently resulting in poor fuel economy and loss of power. So it’s important for Apple Valley car owners keep their fuel injectors clean.
Valley Auto Care service center can perform a fuel system service for you in which the fuel injectors are cleaned so that they operate properly and deliver the right amount of fuel at the right time.
Proper maintenance of your car fuel system means that you will spend less on gas, enjoy strong performance and prevent costly Apple Valley repair bills down the road.
Getting New Tires In Apple Valley?
Date: October 9, 2013 11:20 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
There are so many tire choices in the Apple Valley, Burnsville, and Rosemount area, selecting the right one can be a bit overwhelming for Apple Valley motorists. And even though it’s kind of fun to have new tires on your car, they’re a significant investment for most Apple Valley folks so you want do it right.
Tip: talk with your experienced Valley Auto Care tire professional. He’ll help you sort through the choices.
Here are some of the issues you’ll talk about: One is size – you know, all those numbers on the side of the tire. The right size is essential. All new vehicles are required to have stability control which, along with other important safety systems, is calibrated to work with specific tire sizes. Your Apple Valley tire professional can help stay within manufacturers' specifications or program a different tire size into your car’s computer.
And you’ll want to discuss how and where you drive in Apple Valley to determine the type of tire you need: summer, winter, all-season tires or all-terrain. There are tires for every Apple Valley auto owner's needs.
Like we said, tires are a big investment, so you want to get a good value on tires. Now that doesn’t always mean the cheapest tire. A top tier tire from Valley Auto Care will last a long time and give Apple Valley motorists good performance throughout its life. Tires sold in Apple Valley bargain tire shops may not live up to that promise. Again, your experienced Valley Auto Care tire professional can give you options that offer the best long-term value within your immediate budget.
Last, with a 2-wheel drive vehicle you should always replace both tires on an axle. Modern sensors and computer safety systems for car brakes, stability and traction control need both tires to have the same amount of wear to work properly. And always put the new tires on the rear so you don’t fishtail in a turn. With all-wheel drive you should replace all four tires at the same time.
Schedule a tire inspection at Valley Auto Care to see how much life is left in your car tires and seek the help of a professional when choosing new shoes for your vehicle.
Give us a call
Valley Auto Care 952-431-2700 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
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
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.