Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for December 2011
Apple Valley Customer Detective Work
Date: December 28, 2011 2:14 PM - Category: Service Standards
One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley Minnesota is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.
Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it's challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.
Let us introduce you to something we'll call Customer Detective Work – that is helping your Apple Valley Minnesota technician find clues to what's wrong.
We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me. You come in to Valley Auto Care and your car is making a funny sound.
Q: Where's the sound?
A: Around the right front wheel.
Q: What kind of sound?
A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
Q: When do you hear the sound?
A: When I turn and accelerate.
Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?…
Do you see where we're going? You're gathering additional information to help your Apple Valley Minnesota technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech's experience, he'll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.
You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says "making a funny noise".
When you think you need to bring a vehicle in, make some notes about the problem. Rather than just saying "it's leaking", tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.
Things like 'the car is stalling or sputtering' are often very hard to diagnose because they're intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and usually aren't happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what's happening in as much detail as possible.
Your Apple Valley Minnesota technician at Valley Auto Care will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like 'it stalls after it's been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour'.
If the tech can experience the problem personally, he's better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.
Finding Vehicle Recall Information In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: December 22, 2011 1:17 PM - Category: Fuel System
No matter how well they're made, cars in Apple Valley Minnesota will have design or manufacturing problems.
And when the government thinks a problem is really serious for people in Apple Valley Minnesota, they require the manufacturer to issue a recall notice and fix the car free of charge. The manufacturer then tries to contact everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota who owns that type of car to get the recall work done.
These recalls always affect safety, so take them seriously. It's easy to see if a vehicle's being recalled.
The government has links on its websites, or just visit AutoNetTV for links.
There are many websites with free recall information and searches. There's CarFax, AutoByTel and the DMV.
Recalls are serious, but not all that common. But sometimes there are less significant issues, and for these, manufacturers issue a Technical Service Bulletin, or TSB, that tells service centers like Valley Auto Care how to repair a frequent or difficult problem.
The pros get updated information through subscription plans, also available in consumer versions for a reasonable cost.
So when vehicle recalls occur, get the work done, and keep you and yours safe.
Make Your Battery Last
Date: December 14, 2011 1:34 PM - Category: Battery
Today’s report from Valley Auto Care is on car batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn’t. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Apple Valley vehicle batteries last for 48 months.
Now that’s an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around Apple Valley. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.
For more information on your battery, please visit us: Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they’re hot than when they’re cold.
A car battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates actually, for the lack of a better word, 'die'. Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.
One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Apple Valley area, is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the car. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you’re driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.
Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it’s no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.
Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may’ve heard these chargers referred to as 'trickle chargers'. They’re attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.
Now there’s some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you’ll have to tend it. Frankly a learning curve on how to do it right and requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it’s fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.
The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.
Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery. Something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That’ll take months off the battery life every time you do it.
Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Valley Auto Care to clean it for you. Valley Auto Care can even test your battery and tell you if it’s time to replace it.
Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care about appropriate upgrades.
If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.
Buying the Right Tires and Wheels In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: December 9, 2011 3:01 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota eventually replaces their tires, whether it's because they're worn out or they're just looking for something different. There are so many great tire choices in Apple Valley Minnesota, it can be difficult to sort them out. Let's group the broad spectrum into several categories that will help in the selection process.
One category is often referred to as "summer tires". Summer tires are designed to be driven on the road when temperatures are generally above 45 degrees. Their tread design is optimized for traction on dry roads in Apple Valley Minnesota and they're also able to effectively displace water on rainy roads.
Now the rubber compound gets a little hard and stiff as temperatures drop below 45 degrees as it occasionally does here in Apple Valley Minnesota. And the tread which handles dry roads so well, can get packed with snow or mud – which provides very little traction in those conditions.
So if you live where its summer all year round, these tires will work well for you. If you like maximum performance in warm weather, but still live where it gets cold and snowy, you'll want to change your summer tires for winter tires as the weather starts to change.
Summer tires can be purchased with an emphasis on handling performance, smooth ride or long life. Your Apple Valley Minnesota tire professional at Valley Auto Care can help you find the right tire for the way you drive.
As you can imagine, winter tires are designed to work very well in snow and ice. Their tread is designed with many channels and grooves that throw the snow out of the tread as the wheel turns. This means the tire is always be able to bite into the snow.
The rubber compound used in winter tires is specially formulated to be flexible at temperatures below 45 degrees. This maximizes cold weather traction. When it gets warmer, the softer rubber will wear faster on warm dry pavement than summer tires, so change them out once the weather has turned.
There's a range of tires within the winter tire category. If you live where there's a lot of snow and ice, look for the mountain and snowflake icon that signifies a severe snow rating. If you have milder winters and still want a performance component, they make a winter tire for you as well.
For many people, an all-season tire is the answer. You will give up some of the performance at the extreme ends of the summer tire/ winter tire spectrum, but you will find a long wearing tire that gives both good highway performance and winter traction on our Apple Valley Minnesota roads.
Within the all-season category, there are many choices that you tire advisor can help you evaluate.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Outside of these three main categories, some people in Apple Valley with trucks and SUVs like a tire that is designed for both on-highway and off-highway use. They can handle the rocks and bumps off-road, but still work well on the street. Again, many options depending on the relative emphasis on on-road verses off-road.
You may want new wheels to go with your new tires – well, there are hundreds and hundreds of styles to choose from. That's a matter of personal taste. If you want to change the size of your wheels and tires, do get some professional help.
The computers on your vehicle are programmed to the size of wheel and tire combination that comes from the factory. Tire size affects various computer controlled functions like anti-lock brakes, traction and stability controls, speedometer and odometer. Of course, you want these systems to work properly. The computers can be re-programmed for different tire sizes.
And if you want to increase the size of your wheels and tires, you'll want so help to make sure they'll fit in the wheel wells of your vehicle without rubbing during turns or over bumps.
Power Steering: Keep Headed in the Right Direction, Apple Valley
Date: December 2, 2011 11:01 AM - Category: Steering
Power steering is standard on nearly every car and truck in Apple Valley, Minnesota these days. Now there are some exotic, new types of power steering systems, but for the most part, the heart of the system is a pump that’s driven by a belt powered by the engine.
The pump generates boost that assists you as you steer your car around Apple Valley, Minnesota. Power steering systems use hoses to move pressurized fluid back and forth. These hoses can develop leaks so it’s a good idea to inspect them at every oil change.
A check of the power steering fluid level is on the list for every full service oil change because low fluid can damage the power steering pump. And the fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so you need to use the correct type –just ask your service consultant at Valley Auto Care.
In addition to providing boost, the fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. The lubricants and detergents are depleted over time so you need to replace your old fluid with clean, fresh fluid periodically.
Excess moisture can collect in the power steering fluid as well. That can lead to rust and corrosion as well as reduce the effectiveness of the fluid. Many manufacturers specify power steering service intervals in the owner’s manual. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the maintenance schedule. When in doubt, every two years is a good fallback.
Your auto service center in Apple Valley, Minnesota will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.
Now, if you are experiencing high steering effort, erratic power assist, loud whining coming from the pump you may have a power steering problem. Another sign is that you have to frequently top off the fluid.
Holding the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time can wear your pump out real fast. AutoNetTV wants you to be sure to service your power steering system regularly to keep you headed in the right direction.
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.