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.
Auto Service Resources.
Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Keep Your Apple Valley Car Breathing Free: Engine Air Filter
Date: May 17, 2013 12:40 PM - Category: Maintenance
Differential Service At Valley Auto Care: Vive ala Difference
Date: May 10, 2013 3:11 PM - Category: Differential Service
Every car on Minnesota interstates has a differential, and it is critical to the proper operation of the vehicle, but most Apple Valley auto owners don’t have a clue what it is.
The differential compensates for differing wheel speeds. For example, when you turn, the inside tire on the turn travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel. So the inside wheel of the car must move at a slower speed than the outside wheel. Without a differential, the wheels would hop and scrape while turning.
Have you ever seen the large bugle-shaped object in the middle of the rear axle of a truck? That’s the differential. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located on the back axle. Four-wheel drive vehicles and SUV’s have differentials on both the front and the rear axle.
You might expect that the differential is located on the front axle of a front-wheel drive vehicle. You’d be right. But the differential is called a transaxle on a front-wheel drive vehicle because its location allows it to be combined with the transmission.
In an all-wheel drive vehicle, an additional differential or transfer case is located between the front and rear axles. Differentials are strong: They have to be because of the critical job they do. But those tough parts need proper lubrication. You don’t want your differential to seize up. That results in costly damage to your car.
So you need to have your car differential serviced regularly. It’s not a complicated job. At Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley we've been servicing differentials for 25 years. The used lubricating fluid is simply drained and then replaced. Some vehicles require specific additives in the differential fluid; your Apple Valley service center will ensure you are getting what your car needs.
The intervals in time or mileage for servicing your differential vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. Check with your owner’s manual or Valley Auto Care to find out how often your car differential needs to be serviced.
Generally, however, front-wheel drive vehicles need their differential serviced more often than rear-wheel drive vehicles. Also, if you spend a lot of time off-road or on Apple Valley area dirt or gravel roads, or if you drive through water, you will need to service your differential more often than the standard recommendation – check with your experienced Valley Auto Care service professional.
Preventive maintenance for your differential is good car care that can spare you costly repair bills. Knowing what your differential is and how it operates is critical and will help you understand why this is good auto advice. Remember, take care of your car, and it will take care of you.
Steer Right In Apple Valley
Date: May 2, 2013 10:49 AM - Category: Steering
Virtually all vehicles come with power steering so many Apple Valley motorists have never driven a car or truck without it. Power steering assists you when you turn your car steering wheel. Without it, it would be very hard to steer.
Now this power assist comes in a couple of forms. In recent years, a lot of Apple Valley vehicles have an electric motor that reduces steering effort and helps improve fuel economy.
The other kind of power steering is hydraulic. This is the kind most older Minnesota vehicles, and a lot of newer ones, have. Power steering fluid is pressurized by a pump and is used to assist steering. Of course, Apple Valley motorists need the right amount of fluid in the system. If it’s too low your steering is affected and you could damage your car pump.
Also, power steering fluid can become corrosive over time and damage the pump, hoses and connectors; leading to leaks and repairs. Power steering service at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley includes removing the contaminated fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid.
A word about power steering pumps: Some are powered by an electric motor. Others are driven by the serpentine belt. A worn serpentine belt stresses all of the car components it drives, including the power steering pump, so replace the belt at Valley Auto Care as advised to avoid undue repairs.
Losing your power steering while driving in Apple Valley can be unsettling – just remember that you can still steer, it’ll just be harder. Check with your experienced Valley Auto Care service advisor to see if it’s time to service your car power steering system.
In addition to power steering service, at Valley Auto Care we offer comprehensive automotive services including Head Gasket, Tires and Towing.
Give us a call
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Keep Your Cool In Apple Valley
Date: April 23, 2013 10:02 AM - Category: Cooling System
Apple Valley drivers rely on their car's coolant system to keep their engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your car engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it’s cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the coolant/water mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.
There’s a reason we mix coolant and water. Water alone actually does a good job transferring heat from the engine. The problem is that water boils at a temperature that’s easily reached inside your car's engine, so it can turn to steam which does not conduct heat as well and is harder to contain.
Also, if it’s freezing outside in Apple Valley, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the cold.
So, if you remember your Apple Valley high school chemistry, you’ll know that a mixture has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than either component alone.
Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures in and around Apple Valley.
Whenever the car is running, the coolant in the cooling system is working to keep your engine from overheating. When it’s cold outside, the coolant acts as antifreeze to keep the fluid from freezing in your engine.
All that exploding fuel in your engine creates a lot of heat. Without coolant, the metal car engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. Expensive parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole car's engine is ruined and has to be junked.
This is why it is critical that Apple Valley drivers check coolant levels frequently and have their car cooling system inspected for leaks. Also your car manufacturer has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner’s manual or ask us at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
The reason you need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system’s a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other car cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted and the coolant just has to be replaced.
Many Apple Valley auto owners ask Valley Auto Care why there are different colors of antifreeze. It is very important that you use the correct type of antifreeze. The different types of antifreeze – or coolant – are different colors so you don’t mix them up.
Auto manufacturers use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.
So check with us at Valley Auto Care or your owner’s manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your car cooling system.
Fuel Saving Tip: Tire Pressure Saves Fuel In Apple Valley
Date: April 17, 2013 12:48 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Under-inflated tires waste gas for lots of folks in the Apple Valley area. Think how hard it is to walk in sand – you just have to work harder because of the resistance. When your tires don't have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased and it simply takes more gas to get from Apple Valley to Apple Valley.
Always check your tire pressure when you gas up at one of our local Apple Valley service stations. If they're low – even just a little bit – bring them up to proper pressure. There's a sticker on the inside of your driver's door that gives the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure.
And don't rely on your tire pressure monitoring system to alert you to when you need more air. The TPMS system is set to warn you when pressure drops twenty percent below recommendations. That's severely under inflated and you needed more air a long time ago. And if you have a slow leak – get it fixed right away at Valley Auto Care.
Get some air and save some gas.
Keep Your Cool In Apple Valley: Air Conditioning Service
Date: April 10, 2013 1:42 PM - Category: Air Conditioning
Most Apple Valley car owners don't even think about their car air conditioning system unless it fails. That’s because many Apple Valley and Burnsville motorists don't really understand that automotive air conditioners need periodic service. Let me share some of the reasons why they fail.
First, like every machine, the car air conditioner parts need - you guessed it - lubrication. The lubricant is actually mixed in with the refrigerant (that’s the stuff that makes the air cool). Remember that even if the air conditioner is still blowing out cool air, the oil that lubricates the parts may be used up: and unlubricated parts can fail in all Minnesota cars.
Now here’s a tip for Apple Valley car owners: Run your air conditioner every so often during Minnesota winters. This circulates the lubricant to help keep the seals from drying out.
The air conditioner actually removes some of the moisture in the air. So if you have trouble with fogging on your windshield during Minnesota winters or during a rain storm, running the A/C on the defrost setting should help. Now on some Apple Valley cars you can’t run the A/C at the same time as the defroster. Don’t ask me why, but I suspect lawyers were involved.
Also, air and water can get into the A/C system. That can reduce the efficiency of the system and also lead to corrosion that causes damage. Apple Valley car owners should periodically purge the system and replace the refrigerant to remove the air and water.
Apple Valley drivers would be wise to learn the early warning signs of A/C trouble: 1) The air’s not as cold as it used to be. 2) Unusual noises when the A/C cycles on. Those are signs to get your vehicle into Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley before the damage gets worse.
By following the recommended service intervals in your car owner’s manual, you can help prevent mechanical failure of your air conditioning system. Your A/C system contains some expensive components like the compressor, condenser, dryer, etc. Anything Apple Valley and Burnsville car owners can do to lengthen the life of their A/C is well worth it.
Service Center Standard and Procedures
Date: April 4, 2013 12:53 PM - Category: Service Standards
All pilots have checklists for every aspect of flying. They always use their checklists even if they only have two steps on them. They do this simply because a checklist is a great way to not forget important steps. It is also how you can assure a predictable outcome.
That is why Apple Valley and Burnsville automotive service centers have procedural standards for each service they perform. Technicians are trained step by step. And they perform the procedures step by step, the same way each time. By training to procedural standards, centers can assure a quality outcome. The job is done right every time and you are happy with how your car performs.
Each company trains its technicians to standards. The industry as a whole is very committed to standards of excellence and encourages individual service center operators to apply them to every vehicle they service.
An example is how service technicians grade problems and communicate their recommendations. If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:
- The part no longer performs its intended purpose
- The part does not meet a design specification
- The part is missing
The technician may suggest repair or replacement if:
- The part is close to the end of its useful life - just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
- To address a customer need or request - like for better ride or increased performance
- To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
- Based on the technician's informed experience
Here are some examples:
An exhaust pipe has rusted through and is leaking. Replacement is required because the part has failed. If the pipe were rusted, corroded or weak, but not leaking, the technician may suggest it be replaced because it is near the end of its useful life and replacing it now may be more convenient for the customer.
Suppose a customer wants to improve his car's handling, but his shocks haven't failed. The technician may suggest replacement of the shocks to satisfy the customer's wishes.
Under these guidelines the service center must refuse partial service of a required repair if the repair creates or continues an unsafe condition. Let's say a customer has a cracked brake rotor. This is a dangerous condition that must be repaired. If the customer does not want to replace the rotor, but instead just wants new brake pads installed, the shop must ethically refuse the partial repair. That can be an upsetting conversation, but understanding that service centers operate under service standards and procedures is comforting. You want your service to be done right and to have confidence in your technician's recommendations.
The automotive service industry and Valley Auto Care want the best for you and for you to keep coming back. AutoNetTV is committed to providing automotive maintenance information to help you be confident in your service decisions.
Date: March 26, 2013 1:54 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Let me start by saying that your wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle. Did that get your attention? In this article we’ll discuss more about wheel bearings and how you can keep them doing their very important job while you drive around Apple Valley Minnesota.
Come see us at: 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Wheel bearings are pretty simple parts. They’re made of high quality steel and are engineered to last 100,000 miles or more if properly cared for. The bearings do two very important jobs: First they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 3,600 pounds, each wheel has to support approximately 900 pounds. That’s a lot of heavy lifting over many, many thousands of miles.
Even though wheel bearings are relatively simple, they need to be in near perfect condition to do their job. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect them. A seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It’s when the seal starts to leak that problems begin. The grease can become contaminated; causing the wheel bearings to overheat and ultimately fail.
The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise could get louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Your technician at Valley Auto Care can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.
Now some wheel bearing assemblies are factory sealed. That means that they cannot be serviced – they can only be replaced. Those that aren’t sealed can be serviced on schedule. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they’re re-installed – if not, they’re replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new seal is installed.
If your vehicle has a factory sealed wheel bearing assembly, the entire assembly needs to be replaced when trouble arises. Unfortunately, the parts are pretty pricy – but they usually last about 150,000 miles as long as the seals hold up.
Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that’s exerting pressure on the seal. So if you’ve driven through hub deep water your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they’re serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you just need to watch for signs of premature failure.
If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your owner’s manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles.
Now, if you have any sort of trailer, don’t forget its wheel bearings. They probably need to be serviced even more frequently. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch the boat by backing it into the water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don’t have the opportunity to sit and rust all winter.
So what happens if wheel bearings fail? Well, the wheel can literally fall off the vehicle. I don’t need to tell you how bad that could be. So check with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care and see if your vehicle’s wheel bearings can be serviced and when it’s recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you’ve been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms, be especially vigilant.
Come by Valley Auto Care for a wheel bearing inspection, or for Tires. Call for an appointment at 952-431-2700
Defensive Driving In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: March 22, 2013 1:21 PM - Category: Steering
There was a man in Apple Valley who learned that most car accidents occur within a mile of home – so he moved. (Just Kidding!)
When we think of defensive driving, we often focus on our local Minnesota highway situations. The fact of the matter is we need to be just as careful close to home in Apple Valley, because that's where we do most of our driving. We can't let our familiar surroundings keep us from driving defensively.
Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won't let anyone take your safety away from you. You'll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.
Don't leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.
Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.
Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.
Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you're not paying enough attention.
Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.
Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.
Always use your turn signals while driving around Apple Valley Minnesota. Avoid other vehicles' blind spots.
Don't drive faster than your headlights – if you can't stop within the distance you can see, you're going too fast.
Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.
Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an Apple Valley Minnesota intersection. That way if you're hit from behind, your car won't be pushed into on-coming traffic.
My daddy always said that when you drive, you're actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can't trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you've got to be aware of what they're doing at all times.
If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you're downtown Apple Valley, or take the next exit on the Minnesota highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Apple Valley community.
Never follow too close. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand'. If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you're following too close.
Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you're alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it's foggy or rainy.
Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.
If someone follows you too closely, just move over.
Don't play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don't want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Fuel Saving Tip: Fuel System Cleaning Near Burnsville Minnesota
Date: March 13, 2013 12:21 PM - Category: Fuel System
A lot of gas is wasted in the Burnsville area by dirty fuel delivery systems.
Let's start at the tank. The gas tank gathers dirt, rust and sediment over the years. That's why there's a fuel filter to clean the fuel after it leaves the tank. A dirty filter will rob the engine of the clean gas it needs to run efficiently.
The fuel intake components get coated with gum and varnish over time. This results in fuel being delivered inefficiently and some of that gunk getting into the engine. A fuel system service at Valley Auto Care will leave your intake as clean as a whistle.
The big fuel thief is dirty fuel injectors. They deliver fuel to the engine at a specified pressure and in a particular spray pattern. When they're clogged, the fuel doesn't get atomized the way it's supposed to and doesn't get burned as efficiently.
See your owner's manual or ask your Burnsville service advisor at Valley Auto Care when a fuel system cleaning is recommended.
What To Do In Case Of An Accident
Date: March 6, 2013 10:50 AM - Category: Windshield Wipers
If you've ever been in a car accident around Apple Valley Minnesota, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It's hard to think straight and know what to do.
Let's review what you should do in case of an accident in Apple Valley, Minnesota:
When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime in Minnesota - even if it's not your fault. And hit-and-run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your driver's license or even jail time in our local Apple Valley lockup.
Most states, including Minnesota require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able.
Warn other Apple Valley motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers or lifting your hood.
Call 911 as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.
Always file a police report. It's tempting to skip this if everything seems to be ok. But without a police report, the other guy can say whatever he wants about the accident later, and you won't have an objective report to help defend yourself.
Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong after an accident and we naturally want to talk about it – don't. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone including the police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of Minnesota law, the other guy may be responsible.
Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as "I was going 35 miles per hour" not "I wasn't speeding". Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you.
Also get the officer's name and badge number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Driver's license number and expiration
- Insurance information
Also take down a description of the other vehicle, license plate and vehicle identification number. Most insurance companies don't record license plate numbers, so the VIN number is the best way to track the vehicle.
Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can't wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can track them down later if necessary.
Always call your insurance agent or your Minnesota auto insurance company's 800 number.
Call or see your local Apple Valley physician if you think you may have been injured.
We here at Valley Auto Care hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy travels.
Service to Improve Fuel Economy
Date: February 28, 2013 10:18 AM - Category: Fuel System
The price of gas has got everyone talking. It seems that people who need a bigger vehicle to carry family and gear, or provide four wheel drive, are especially hit hard. That is why we thought it would be good to review some things that anyone can do to improve fuel economy.
First let's start with how we drive. People may not realize that they can really save on gas by just changing a few driving habits. One of the biggest is jackrabbit starts - you know, flooring the gas as soon as the light turns green. That really wastes a lot of fuel. Building up your speed at a slower pace uses less fuel and is easier on your engine and drive train. And don't drive with one foot on the brake. That's also a drag on fuel economy, and it wears out your brakes faster too.
Another thing is to drive slower - but only when it's safe. Sometimes on the highway we drive an extra five ... ten . . . twenty ... over the speed limit. We do it to save time, but it only saves a few minutes out of maybe an hour long drive, and we may use 10 to 15 % more gas. Just leave a little bit earlier, save some money and arrive more relaxed.
You can also try and group all of your errands for the day into just one trip, rather than several. If you can put off a trip today that can be combined with one tomorrow - you can save some time and money.
Using your cruise control can save money too. Driving at a constant speed really improves fuel economy. Be sure to only use your cruise control under safe conditions - you can look in your owner's manual for some good tips on using your cruise control.
Did you know that reducing the weight in your vehicle saves gas? Clean out the trunk or back seat from time to time so that you are not paying to carry around a lot of stuff you do not need in the car. If you live where there is snow and ice, clear it off your car. They add weight and mess with aerodynamics too.
Another tip is to avoid long idle times, which includes warming it up when you start. Modern engines do not require a long warm up to get going - just take it easy for a couple of miles.
Be sure to get a new gas cap if yours leaks or is worn.
Now, let's start talking mechanical. Bottom line - the better you maintain your vehicle, the less fuel you will use. It all adds up in a big way. For example, replacing your dirty engine air filter will pay for itself in fuel savings before your next oil change - and will keep saving you money after that.
A clean, well-maintained fuel system really pays big dividends. A clogged fuel filter wastes gas. So does a dirty fuel system, grimy fuel injectors and plugged up PCV valves. A fuel system service decreases the gas you use, and increases the power - so you can't go wrong with that.
Some of us ignore our Check Engine light. But fixing the problem that caused the light to come on will usually save some fuel as well. It may be a bad oxygen sensor that can really rob your fuel economy.
And, it may be time for a tune-up. Tune-ups should improve your fuel economy. Don't overlook the routine maintenance items, like scheduled oil changes, transmission and cooling system service. Dirty or low fluids actually use more fuel. Just look at your manufacturer's recommended service intervals in the owner's manual, or ask your Valley Auto Care service advisor for the schedule.
Don't forget your tires. Underinflated tires waste gas. And if your wheels are out of alignment you won't get the economy you need.
None of these things are very complicated or expensive to stay on top of. When you maintain your car properly, you save gas today, and prevent costly repairs tomorrow.
Valley Auto Care: Good Service And Good Fuel Economy
Date: February 22, 2013 11:49 AM - Category: Fuel System
Most Apple Valley and Burnsville drivers want to save on gas and seek our advice on improving fuel economy. At Valley Auto Care, we are frequently asked, however, if it is really worth the extra effort. Just how much money can Burnsville drivers actually save?
The US government has a website dedicated to helping us use less fuel. It presents the cost savings in a way Burnsville drivers can relate to and is relevant for all vehicles. Let me give you an example: Having your car engine properly tuned, can save up to 4%. If you’re paying three-fifty for a gallon of gas, you could save fourteen cents a gallon.
In today's Valley Auto Care article, we’re focusing on the things you can do to improve your car fuel efficiency driving around Minnesota. We’ll tell you the potential savings per gallon of gas at three dollars and fifty cents, and we’ll show a chart that also shows the savings at three and four dollars.
|DOLLARS PER GALLON||$3.00||$3.50||$4.00|
|TUNE UP 4%||.12||.14||.16|
The next item is replacing a clogged engine air filter. Your engine needs enough air to burn fuel efficiently for the best fuel economy. A clean air filter means you get plenty of air. The fact that the air’s clean protects your engine. That can save you up to ten percent or thirty-five cents a gallon.
|DOLLARS PER GALLON||$3.OO||$3.50||$4.00|
|AIR FILTER 10%||.30||.35||.40|
Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve economy by up to forty percent. That’s a whopping dollar forty in savings per gallon. Bring your car to Valley Auto Care and we'll check your oxygen sensor.
|DOLLARS PER GALLON||$3.00||$3.50||$4.00|
|FAULTY O2 SENSOR 40%||1.20||1.40||1.60|
Chances are that if your oxygen sensor is kaput your check engine light will come on. Now, there’s any number of things that could cause your check engine light to come on besides oxygen sensor problems. But if it’s on, get it checked out as soon as you can at Valley Auto Care.
Here’s an easy one. Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. That could save you three percent or eleven cents a gallon. Even a little drop in pressure will bring down your fuel efficiency, so check your tires every week.
|DOLLARS PER GALLON||$3.00||$3.50||$4.00|
|TIRE INFLATION 3%||.09||.11||.12|
Your car manufacturer has recommended a specific weight of motor oil. The recommendation is based on engine design and will give you the best protection. Using a heavier weight could cost one to two percent in reduced fuel efficiency, or up to seven cents a gallon.
|DOLLARS PER GALLON||$3.00||$3.50||$4.00|
|RIGHT GRADE MOTOR OIL 2%||.06||.07||.08|
Here’s one that’s free: Take it easy when you drive. Aggressive driving (we've all seen this on Burnsville roads), rocketing away from stop lights, standing on the brakes, punching it for lane changes - really takes a toll on your fuel efficiency.
Cutting out aggressive driving around Burnsville can save five percent or eighteen cents a gallon. Now on the expressway it gets really costly: thirty three percent or a buck sixteen a gallon. Think about that - and leave a little earlier.
|DOLLARS PER GALLON||$3.00||$3.50||$4.00|
|DRIVE AGRESSIVELY - MIN. 5%||.15||.18||.20|
|DRIVE AGGRESSIVELY - MAX. 33$||.99||1.16||1.32|
A related item is exceeding the speed limit. For example, if the speed limit is sixty miles per hour an additional five miles will cost seven percent or twenty-five cents a gallon. Fifteen miles per hour will cost you upwards of eighty cents a gallon.
|DOLLARS PER GALLON||$3.00||$3.50||$4.00|
|SPEED LIMIT - MIN. 7%||.21||.25||.28|
|SPEED LIMIT - MAX. 23%||.69||.81||.92|
The last thing we’ll talk about is excess weight. Our cars tend to accumulate a lot of things and the weight adds up. Clear out the trunk and only haul stuff when you really need it. For every one hundred pounds you can save two percent or seven cents a gallon.
Sorry honey, your brother can’t come with. It’d cost an extra thirty cents a gallon.
All Lined Up: Wheel Alignment Service At Valley Auto Care
Date: February 13, 2013 2:41 PM - Category: Alignment
When all of your vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in Apple Valley can cause your car's wheels to be out of alignment.
Driving for an extended time in Apple Valley when your wheels are out of alignment results in uneven tire wear. This is dangerous … and expensive. Worst case scenario, you have a blowout on a crowded Minnesota interstate. It can also cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive to repair. At the very least, you may have to replace your tires years too early.
Here are some alignment basics from Valley Auto Care:
The first adjustment is called toe or do the wheels point in towards each other or away from each other at the front of the tire.
The next adjustment is called camber or do the wheels tip in or out at the top.
And finally, there is castor. Castor measures the angle where the front axles attach to the vehicle.
The ideal alignment for your car was designed by its engineers. Alignment service at Valley Auto Care starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension – to see if anything’s bent or broken. Then your experienced Valley Auto Care technician will look at tire condition.
From there, the car is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to car car makers’s specifications.
Your car owner’s manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked at Valley Auto Care before you suffer expensive tire or suspension damage.
Coolant Service at Valley Auto Care
Date: February 8, 2013 12:51 PM - Category: Cooling System
Our cars have to operate in a wide range of Apple Valley, Minnesota temperatures and our engine coolant must be able to perform 'no matter what'. Think for a moment about the environment where the coolant works. Very hot, high pressure, corrosive...
And all the while, it has to protect the components of the cooling system from corrosion. These components are made from steel and aluminum, plastics and rubber. The coolant has to be formulated to protect against corrosion for all of these different materials. That’s why different manufacturers recommend different types of anti-freeze for our Apple Valley, Minnesota vehicles.
There are several different 'families' of anti-freeze available to us here in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Your owners’ manual will tell you what kind you should use. Of course, Valley Auto Care will know what to put in your car.
It’s important to stay on top of this because coolant system failure is the most common mechanical problem people have here in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Regular service at Valley Auto Care needs to be done to avoid failures and also to keep your warranty in place.
While the specifics of the service required may vary from vehicle to vehicle, your service consultant at Valley Auto Care will know what to do. You’ll be advised to replace the coolant at specified intervals.
Some manufacturers may recommend periodic coolant system flushes. A flush adds a cleaning step to the fluid replacement process. Again, check to see what your service consultant recommends.
Someday, you may have to deal with an overheating problem, so you need to know what to do if your coolant temperature warning light comes on or your temperature gauge is in the hot zone.
Now, overheating can be very expensive. You can literally melt down your engine and have to replace the whole thing. So take the warning signs seriously and take immediate steps.
First turn off the air conditioner. This will lower engine temperature right away. Next turn your heater to maximum heat and run the fan at high speed. You might need to roll down the windows, but this will take a lot of heat off the engine.
Pull over as soon as you can safely do so, especially if you are stuck in slow-moving traffic, and shut the car off. It may take as much as 45 minutes for the engine to cool to the point that it’s safe to operate the car again.
If you need to add water or antifreeze, be sure to wait until the car cools down. Opening the radiator cap or even the overflow bottle when the coolant is hot and under pressure may result in serious burns.
So after the engine has cooled for 45 minutes or so, look to see if the coolant is low in the overflow tank. If so, you can cover the overflow tank cap with a large cloth and open the lid. Then start the engine and pour in some water or antifreeze. Pouring it in when the car is running will circulate the new, cool fluid with the warmer fluid in the engine and avoid engine damage.
Of course, overheating is a serious problem and you need to get it fixed right away. Valley Auto Care can make sure the coolant is right before you drive home.
Those spring and winter inspections really come in handy when they head off a cooling system problem. And don’t forget that severe service driving conditions, like towing or hot, dusty driving around Apple Valley, Minnesota, mean that you’ll need to service your coolant more frequently.
At AutoNetTV, we suggest that you have Valley Auto Care inspect your coolant system to find small problems before they become big, and to change belts and hoses before they fail. After all, we don’t want you to lose your cool out there in Apple Valley, Minnesota.
Direct Fuel Injection Update From Valley Auto Care
Date: February 1, 2013 2:15 PM - Category: Fuel System
For those of you in Apple Valley Minnesota who pay attention to these things, you may have been hearing about the new direct injection engines and want to learn more about them. Some deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.
For example, in one family of engines the conventional V6 makes about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version of the same engine makes over 300 horsepower and gets essentially the same gas mileage. The turbocharged version makes over 350 horsepower.
So what are the differences from a conventional engine?
The core difference is in the fuel injection system. The system most vehicles use now is called a port injection system. The fuel injector squirts fuel into a port just outside the cylinder where it's then drawn into the engine with the air.
With a direct injection system, the injector squirts the fuel directly into the cylinder. The gain in power and economy come because fuel injected directly into the cylinder during the combustion cycle is burned much more efficiently.
First, the fuel is squirted in at hundreds of times more pressure, so it's atomized much better and burns cleaner and stronger. The other big advance is in electronics. Faster engine management computers can control the additional precision required to manage direct fuel injection.
Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver a precise amount of fuel at exactly the right time. The design of the engine also dictates a particular spray pattern for the fuel. If a fuel injector is dirty or gummed up, it can't do its job as well. That means less power and worse fuel economy for your car and can lead to damaged fuel injectors.
Replacing fuel injectors isn't cheap. Direct injection injectors are even more expensive because of the extremely high-pressure they use. Same thing for diesel fuel injectors; we're talking mortgage payment-range to replace a set of diesel injectors.
A professional fuel system cleaning from Valley Auto Care gets out the gum and varnish in the whole system, including the fuel injectors. Keep those injectors clean and they'll last a long, long time.
Using Proper Fluids In Your car Or Other Vehicle
Date: January 25, 2013 2:49 PM - Category: Fluids
Today Valley Auto Care is talking about the proper fluids for your vehicle. It's become more complicated with changes in automotive design and manufacturing. It's not that people in Minnesota are confused as much as they don't realize how much things have changed in recent years.
If you have questions about the fluids in your vehicle, please don't hesitate to stop by Valley Auto Care. You can find us on 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124.
Just give us a call at 952-431-2700
Let's take engine oil. Twenty or thirty years ago, there were just a handful of different weights of oil. The weight of an oil is a scientific measure of its properties, particularly its viscosity or thickness.
It was common in those days to use a lighter weight oil in the winter when it's cold outside. That way the oil would be able to splash around inside the engine and protect the parts before it was fully warmed up. And a heavier weight oil would be used in the summer. The thicker oil wouldn't thin out too much in the summer heat and vaporize in the engine.
Modern valve trains have become very complicated with more moving parts and small passages than ever before. The valve train is in the top of the engine, so when the car has been turned off for a while, the oil tends to run down to lower areas and the valve train parts are vulnerable at start-up, before the oil starts circulating.
So new weights of oil have been introduced to meet the engineering specifications of these newer engines.
Manufacturers are recommending specific weights of oil. The recommendation is often printed on the oil fill cap. It's certainly in the owner's manual. Of course, your Apple Valley Minnesota auto service center can look it up for you.
It's more important than ever to have the correct weight of oil. The wrong weight could actually harm the engine.
Other fluids are also becoming more sophisticated. In the last few years new types of transmission, power brake fluid and coolant have all been introduced for some of the same reasons as for engine oil.
In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now using a wider variety of materials in these systems. Looking at the cooling system as an example, it used to be that the parts were all made out of steel or iron and the hoses were rubber. Now, some parts are plastic, aluminum or other materials.
So the anti-corrosion additives contained in the coolant, or anti-freeze, need to be different in order to protect the different materials used to make the cooling system. If you use the wrong coolant that wasn't formulated to protect your plastic cooling system parts, they could become corroded and fail. And if you're using the wrong coolant, your cooling system won't be covered under warrantee. So it's important to use the right coolant and to not mix different types.
Your owner's manual or your Apple Valley Minnesota service advisor at Valley Auto Care can make sure you're using the right type. You may have heard of universal coolant. Universal, or global, coolant can be added to other types without harmful reactions. That's OK for an emergency top off, but following your manufacturer's recommendation for your car or other auto type is always a safe bet.
In the area of brake fluid, there are a couple of new formulations. It's important to remember that the new ones aren't better than the old ones. They're just different formulations for different vehicles. So if your vehicle calls for DOT 3, using DOT 4 or DOT 5 is not an upgrade. Use the recommended formula.
There are fluid formulations for vehicles with higher mileage. These are special engine oil, transmission fluid, and so on that contain additives to condition and restore seals and gaskets in older engines.
They're fine to use as long as they're a variant of the proper fluid. In other words you can use a high mileage engine oil as long as it's also the correct weight recommended by the manufacturer. Same goes for transmission fluid; as long as it's the right type for your transmission.
When Are Your Tires Worn Out?
Date: January 15, 2013 2:20 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Hey Apple Valley, are your tires worn out? What is the standard for our Minnesota streets? How can you tell on your car?
While there may be legal requirements for the Apple Valley area, there are safety concerns that go beyond meeting minimum replacement mandates.
2/32 is the depth of the tire tread wear indicator bars that US law has required to be molded across all tires since August 1, 1968. When tires are worn so that this bar is visible, there's just 2/32 of an inch – 1.6 millimeters – of tread left. It's that level of wear that's been called into question recently.
We're referring to the Consumer Reports call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 millimeters. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies.
The issue is braking on wet surfaces in and around Apple Valley. Most of us think of our brakes doing most of the work, but if you don't have enough tread on your tires, the brakes can't do their job. When it's wet or snowy, the tread of the tire is even more critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you're driving over a water covered stretch of road near Apple Valley, Minnesota. Your tires must be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means that the tire has to move the water away from the tire so that the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water.
Floating on the surface of water is called hydroplaning. So if there's not enough tread depth on a tire, it can't move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
In the study a section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up were brought up to 70 miles per hour, or 112 kilometers an hour and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths:
- New tire tread depth
- 4/32 of an inch
- 2/32 of an inch
So what happened with the 2/32 tires on the car? Get this – when the car had traveled the distance required to stop with new tires, it was still going 55 miles an hour. Stopping distance was nearly doubled to 379 feet and it took 5.9 seconds.
Wow! That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, you would hit the car in front of you at 55 miles an hour with the worn tires.
Now, with the partially worn tires – at 4/32 of an inch – the car was still going at 45 miles an hour at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. It took nearly 100 feet more room to stop and 1.2 seconds longer. That's a big improvement. We can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Of course, stopping distances were greater for the heavier pick-up truck.
How do you know when your tires are at 4/32 of an inch? Easy; just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
You may remember doing that with pennies. A penny gives you 2/32 to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new recommendation – 4/32.
How do people feel about replacing their tires earlier? Well, tires are a big ticket item and most people want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out?
For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is "no".
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Battery Replacement At Valley Auto Care
Date: January 10, 2013 12:50 PM - Category: Battery
Hello, welcome to Valley Auto Care. Today's topic is batteries. It seems like everything in Burnsville runs on batteries. Of course, the batteries we’re most concerned with here at Valley Auto Care are those in our vehicles. Car batteries wear out just like any other battery and need to be replaced. There are a couple of things Burnsville drivers should know when looking for a new battery.
There are two measurements that come into play: one is cold cranking amps and the other is reserve capacity.
Let’s start with cold cranking amps. This can be thought of as the power output used to start a cold engine. The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live, specifically how cold it is where you live. The two factors are that the colder your car's engine is, the more power it takes to turn the engine over to get it started. It has all that cold, sluggish oil to contend with.
The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient in the cold. We even have a table. Let’s say it’s eighty degrees Fahrenheit out. At that temperature, 100% of the battery’s power is available. At freezing, only 65% of battery power is available, but it requires 155% as much power to start the engine as it did at eighty degrees.
As you can see from the chart, the colder it gets, more power’s needed, but the available power drops.
Percent of Power Available Celsius Fahrenheit Power Required 100 27 80 100 65 0 32 155 40 -22 0 210 25 -32 20 350
So if you live where it’s cold, you need a battery with more cold cranking amps than you do where it's moderate or hot. The battery that originally came with the vehicle was based on averages. At Valley Auto Care, we like to remind Burnsville auto owners that they should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as the manufacturer recommends, but may want to upgrade if they live where it gets real cold.
And the type of engine you have will impact the battery you need: A six-cylinder engine requires more cold cranking amps than a four. An eight cylinder needs even more. And diesel cars require more than a gasoline engine with the same number of cylinders.
Now on to reserve capacity: It’s a measurement of the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has at a given load. The number is more important to Burnsville drivers these days because of parasitic drain. Parasitic drain is the battery energy that’s used when the key is off in your car. So, the power drawn by the security system, the remote start system, even the power the computers require to maintain their memory.
Reserves are also needed when you make very short trips around Burnsville. You’re not driving long enough for the battery to recover the energy it used to start the engine. So go with the minimum recommended by your manufacturer or Valley Auto Care and upgrade if you need more.
Talk with us at Valley Auto Care about your options. If you need more from your battery, a larger, heavy-duty battery may be called for. At Valley Auto Care, we remind our customers that it’s very important that the new battery fits your car: the terminals can’t be touching other parts and stuff.
Batteries are a big ticket item for most Burnsville motorists, so the warranty gives piece of mind. There’re two kinds of car battery warranties: pro-rated and free replacement. With the pro-rated, you get a credit for a portion of the battery if it fails during the warranty period. With a free replacement warranty, you get just that, a free replacement. Be sure to ask us at Valley Auto Care about the warranty so you know what you’re getting.
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?
Oil change, cooling system service, transmission service, tire balancing, tire rotation, wheel alignment, suspension service, power steering service, proper tire inflation, brake service, differential service, battery maintenance, engine air filer, PCV valve, breather element, fuel filter, belts, hoses, timing belt, windshield wipers . . .
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.
Introduction to Diesels for Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: December 25, 2012 9:36 AM - Category: Fuel System
Something you’re going to be hearing a lot about around Apple Valley, Minnesota is diesel engines. We’re not talking about semi-trucks and buses – We’re talking about diesel engine cars, pick-ups and SUVs.
Most people in Apple Valley, Minnesota are surprised to learn that around half the cars on the road in Europe have diesel engines. Nearly all import auto manufacturers offer a range of diesel engines abroad – even the ultra-luxury brands like Mercedes and BMW. For the most part, these diesel engines haven’t been available in Apple Valley, Minnesota. But that’s about to change.
In the past, North American diesel fuel has had a much higher sulfur content than European fuel. Recent environmental laws have required changes in diesel formulation and emissions standards here in Apple Valley, Minnesota so we are now ready to start seeing more diesel options offered over the next few years.
Why are so many interested in diesel engines? Well first off, diesel fuel is more energy dense. There’s more power in a barrel of diesel fuel than there is in a barrel of gasoline. That means better performance with better fuel economy.
Diesel powered vehicles get about 20 percent better fuel economy. And as for power – why do you think that the majority of new heavy duty pick-up trucks are being sold with diesel engines?
If you think back to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, you may shudder when you think of the diesel powered cars of the day – noisy, smoky, under-powered beasts that rattled and shook their passengers. Modern diesels are nothing like that.
They are quiet, clean – and very powerful. They’re so refined that many people can’t even tell they’re riding in a diesel powered car. In addition to fuel savings, diesels generally last longer than gasoline engines because of their heavy duty construction.
Another thing that intrigues the environmentally conscious is that it’s possible to use bio-diesel as fuel. Bio-diesel is made from vegetable oil – even recycled cooking oil from restaurants. Hybrid cars have gotten everyone’s attention these days. Look to diesel-electric hybrids in years to come to make a good idea even better.
Every year, manufacturers are planning more diesel offerings. Look for diesels in domestic light trucks, SUVs and passenger cars. Import marquees have plans to bring more of their outstanding diesel engines to Apple Valley, Minnesota as well.
Now you should know that properly maintaining a diesel engine is somewhat different than a gasoline engine. Fluid change intervals are different. Emissions control devices have to work harder to filter diesel fuel and to scrub the exhaust so you will need to pay attention to that. And the fuel injection system operates at much higher pressures than gas fuel injection systems, so it’s very important to keep your fuel system clean with a diesel.
The good news is that your local Apple Valley, Minnesota service center is keeping up with the new diesel technology and will be able to advise you on maintaining your diesel.
When we tell you to look for more diesels, you won’t be looking for smoky tail pipes as a clue. You also won’t be listening for that familiar big rig rattle. And, you certainly won’t be waiting for them at the stoplight, because modern diesels are as quick as their gasoline counterparts.
From all of us at AutoNetTV, ten four, good buddy.
Cooling System Components
Date: December 18, 2012 2:42 PM - Category: Cooling System
Today we want to talk about a very important system in our cars – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that you don’t give much thought to until it fails and then you’re stranded by the side of the road.
Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks, and you could have done something to prevent it?
The good news is that if you take care of your cooling system it can keep working for the life of your car.
Here at AutoNetTV, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, the radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.
It sounds complicated, but we don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our experienced service technicians at Valley Auto Care. But, having an overview will help us remember to take care of our cooling systems.
Most people would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.
Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some money on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.
There’s another little part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.
It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant can actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.
That brings up a good point. An engine has to work in all kinds of temperatures – extremely hot as well as very cold. How does the cooling system adapt to external temperatures as well as varying operating conditions?
Well, it’s much like the way you keep your house at a comfortable temperature all year round – with a thermostat. The thermostat in your car controls how much coolant flows through your engine. When the engine is cold, it restricts coolant flow until the engine comes up to an efficient operating temperature. Then it starts opening up to move more coolant to keep the temperature within a specified range.
The thermostat needs to be replaced from time to time as well. It’s easy to diagnose a failed thermostat and is fairly inexpensive to replace. We can do this for you at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, just give us a call: 952-431-2700. Now we’ve been talking about all this heat we’ve got to get rid of, but haven’t really talked about where it goes. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot coolant passes through the radiator. Air flows past the cooling fins and cools the coolant.
The radiator has two tanks that hold coolant: sometimes one the top and bottom or one on either side. If you have an automatic transmission, one of the tanks will also contain a second tank that cools the transmission fluid. Large SUV’s and trucks often have a separate transmission cooler. So when you drive around Apple Valley, the air is forced past the radiator. But driving doesn’t produce enough air flow. So the radiator has cooling fans that force fresh air over the radiator. These fans may be powered by a belt or by electric motors.
Now, you also have something called a heater core. The heater core is like a mini radiator. A small fan blows air over the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your vehicle. That’s how you warm your car when it’s cold out.
Next is the radiator cap. With most newer cars around Apple Valley, you never remove the radiator cap, except to replace it. You add coolant through the overflow tank. The radiator cap is also called a pressure cap, because its job is to maintain pressure in the cooling system.
High pressure raises the boiling point of the coolant, so it cools more effectively even in very demanding conditions. That is why you need to replace the cap from time to time. They recommend changing it out every time you replace your coolant.
Coming back to the overflow tank, it is needed because when the coolant gets hot it expands and the overflow holds the extra volume. The tank helps maintain the proper level of coolant and keeps air out of the system. You should never open the radiator cap or over flow tank when the engine is hot. This could lead to serious burns.
What else do we need to do to keep our cooling systems working well? Well, there are the hoses that hook all of these pieces together. They’re obviously very tough to deal with the pressure and high temperatures. But they do get worn. Sometimes they get spongy from the heat. Sometimes they lose their connection to the radiator, water pump, etc. It’s a great idea to have your Apple Valley service center inspect your hoses at least once a year and replace them, if needed, before they break.
Valley Auto Care can help you check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call at 952-431-2700.
Apple Valley Drivers: Get Fresh Air Inside Your Car
Date: December 13, 2012 9:28 AM - Category: Cabin Air Filter
Let’s talk about air quality in Apple Valley. It’s a global issue, but affects us wherever we are. Many decades ago, we began to become aware of how air pollution negatively affects health. But what about the air inside your vehicle?
Cabin air filters are now coming on most new cars in Apple Valley. These filters clean the air in the passenger compartment. They can filter particles down to three microns, so that’s good enough to clean out dust, pollen and most pollutants. If you suffer from allergies in Apple Valley, this is very good news. Your car can be a haven during your Apple Valley commute.
Now, it’s only been in the last few years that cabin air filters have become common. You can look in your owner’s manual to see if you have one. If you do, there’ll be a recommendation for replacing it when it gets dirty. If you live in an area of Apple Valley where there’s a lot of dust, pollen or pollution, you may need to change it more often.
You can also ask your service advisor at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley. How hard is it to change an air filter on a car? It depends on your vehicle. Some are quite accessible; others take some doing to get to them. They’re usually in the engine compartment or under the dashboard.
Because cabin air filters are so new on the scene, some Apple Valley people haven’t heard of them – even people who have cabin air filters in their car. Valley Auto Care service advisors have discovered that many Apple Valley customers who complained about an unpleasant odor in their car simply had a dirty cabin air filter.
Professional Fuel System Cleaning
Date: December 4, 2012 9:20 AM - Category: Fuel System
Getting enough fuel to your engine is very important for performance, fuel economy and safety. In order to accomplish this, your fuel system needs to be clean.
Today’s production cars have fuel injectors, rather than a carburetor. The injectors need to be cleaned from time to time in order to deliver the fuel with the correct pressure, spray pattern and volume.
You can buy fuel system cleaners that you just pour into your gas tank that can help maintain an already clean fuel system, but can’t do a major cleaning. For that, you need to see Valley Auto Care. They have the tools and chemicals to do the job right. Valley Auto Care can remove particles, gum and varnish from your fuel system and get those injectors running cleanly and efficiently.
You'll find 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 to schedule an appointment.
You’ll enjoy more power, better gas mileage and reduced exhaust emissions. The cleaners also help prevent rust and corrosion in your fuel system and lubricate vital engine parts.
And, as with all maintenance, it can help prevent costly repairs that can happen because you didn’t take preventative steps. Check with your service technician at Valley Auto Care and see when your car is scheduled for a fuel system cleaning.
E-85 Fuel Safety Advice From Valley Auto Care
Date: November 27, 2012 11:00 AM - Category: Warranty
Today at Valley Auto Care we want to talk with you about a very important safety issue. This automotive safety warning is coming from a very unusual source: fire fighting experts. You’ve probably heard of E-85 gasoline being offered in the Apple Valley area. Some newer vehicle models are specifically built to run on E-85 – the rest are not.
Does your vehicle use E-85 gasoline? Bring it down to Valley Auto Care at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 to find out, or give us a call to make an appointment by calling 952-431-2700.
E-85 gasoline has been developed to fight air pollution and reduce oil consumption. E-85 fuel is a mix of 85% ethanol, a grain-base alcohol, and 15% gasoline. So-called Flex-Fuel vehicles are designed to use either normal gasoline or E-85 gas. The result is lower harmful exhaust emissions to our local Apple Valley community.
All gas engines can run with up to 10% ethanol and in fact a lot of gasoline sold in the Apple Valley Minnesota area does contain some ethanol. The problem comes when well meaning people without Flex Fuel certified vehicles put E-85 into the tank.
At a 15% concentration, the potential for problems arises. Because of the chemical differences between ethanol and gasoline, special seals and gaskets are needed for Flex Fuel vehicles in Apple Valley Minnesota. In a normal engine, the ethanol in E-85 gas will eat away important seals and gaskets. This leads to gas and oil leaks.
You can imagine the fire hazard caused by leaking gasoline. Fire fighting experts caution consumers to only use E-85 if they know they vehicle is certified to handle it. They expect vehicle fires to increase because of using the wrong fuel in non-Flex Fuel vehicles.
So are people who don’t have a Flex Fuel vehicle but use E-85 to help the environment actually putting themselves at risk? Yes. In fact, service and repair centers in Apple Valley Minnesota are being warned to purchase fire extinguishers that use the special foam needed to extinguish ethanol fires as a precaution in case starting-up an ethanol damaged engine leads to a fire.
Obviously, this isn’t something you want to have in your Apple Valley Minnesota garage at home, either. If you have a Flex-Fuel certified vehicle, feel free to protect the environment by using E-85 gasoline. If not – please do not use E-85 in an engine that’s designed to run on unleaded gasoline only. At Valley Auto Care we are concerned about your safety. If you have questions or want to find out how to determine if your vehicle can safely use E-85, go to www.e85fuel.com for more resources.
Take a look at our attached auto safety tips video from Auto Tips Videos.
Air Conditioning Maintenance At Valley Auto Care In Apple Valley
Date: November 23, 2012 9:35 AM - Category: Air Conditioning
Warm weather or cold, Apple Valley drivers still need to think about their car’s air conditioning. Most Apple Valley people don’t service their air conditioning until after it fails. At Valley Auto Care, we can advise you on your vehicle manufacturer's preventive maintenance schedules for air conditioning service, just as we do for transmission service, oil changes and so on.
Maintaining your air conditioning system means that you always have enough refrigerant to properly do the job. Small leaks in the car's air conditioning system allow the refrigerant to escape and the system can’t cool the air as well. We see that a lot at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
The refrigerant also contains a special oil that lubricates air conditioning components, and keeps the seals resilient. Low refrigerant and lubricating oil means that the air conditioning parts will wear out prematurely, and all Apple Valley car owners know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. At Valley Auto Care, we recommended that the air conditioner be run regularly, even during winter months, to keep the parts and seals lubricated.
Corrosion is what leads to many air conditioning system failures for Apple Valley motorists. The small leaks mentioned earlier also mean that air and water can leak into the air conditioning system. This can lead to rust and dirt in the internal workings of the air conditioning components. This greatly accelerates wear and, ultimately, failure.
Air conditioning service at Valley Auto Care starts with a visual inspection of the components for signs of damage or leaks. The compressor is driven by a belt from the engine, most often the serpentine belt, so it’s inspected for cracks or wear. The air conditioning compressor and other components are checked for proper operation. Then comes the leak test. If a leak is detected, often in a hose or connection, it’s repaired and the system is retested.
Then the old refrigerant is evacuated and the system is recharged with clean, fresh refrigerant. A final test insures that the car's air conditioner is working, and you’re on your way.
How often this should be done varies from vehicle to vehicle. Your car owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s recommendation and, of course, your Valley Auto Care service advisor can tell you. It’s typically every two years.
If you’re not getting enough cool air you know something’s wrong. Also, if you hear strange sounds when you turn the air on, there might be a problem with the compressor and you should get it checked out at Valley Auto Care. Replacing a bad A/C clutch in a car is cheaper than waiting for it to ruin the compressor.
Apple Valley drivers need to be aware that there’s one more thing that isn’t directly related to air conditioning service, but does impact the quality of the air in your car. And that’s your cabin air filter. This filter cleans dust, pollen, pollution and other impurities in the air that comes from the heater and air conditioner. The cabin air filter needs to be replaced when it’s dirty. If you don’t it’ll start to smell. Not all vehicles have one, so ask your Valley Auto Care service advisor to check your cabin air filter at the same time they’re doing your air conditioning service.
Deep Clean Your Fuel System At Valley Auto Care
Date: November 13, 2012 2:58 PM - Category: Fuel System
Having trouble with your fuel system? Bring your car into Valley Auto Care for a check up.
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Today we're talking about fuel system cleaning. The first thing to know is how important it is to have a clean fuel system. You need fuel to go, and the cleaner your fuel system, the more efficiently the fuel will burn. That means more power and better fuel economy.
A clean fuel system saves money at the pump. We guess you could say, it all starts and ends at the pump. One of the most important things you can do to keep your fuel system clean is to buy good quality gas. Major brands have detergents that keep gum and varnish from rapidly building up in the fuel system.
So buying cheaper gas can actually cost you in the long run. Now, most cars on the road are more than five or six years old. That means they've had time for some dirt and rust to start accumulating in the fuel tank. This junk needs to be filtered out of the fuel before it hits your engine. That's the fuel filter's job.
When the fuel filter is clogged, the dirty fuel will bypass the filter and go on up to the engine where it can clog fuel injectors and get into the cylinders. That could do some damage. So you should have your fuel filter changed when recommended. Check your owner's manual or ask your service advisor if your fuel filter is due for replacement.
The fuel then goes up into the throttle body. This is another area where varnish and gum can accumulate. A professional fuel system cleaning will use a combination of special cleaning chemicals and old fashioned swabbing to clean out the throttle body. Now, the fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel delivery system.
It's real important to keep those fuel injectors clean. The fuel injectors need to deliver a precise amount of fuel, at exactly the right time, in a particular spray pattern. They just can't do that if they're dirty. Dirty fuel injectors really rob power and waste fuel.
It is important for the fuel system proper, but there are a couple other things that will help keep your engine clean as well. Of course, air is mixed with the fuel before it's burned. Dirty air means dirt gets into your engine, so you need to replace your engine air filter when it's dirty.
The PCV value routes unburned fuel that escapes into the lower engine back up into the intake system to be burned. A sticky PCV valve needs to be replaced to make sure that system is working properly and the breather filter needs to be replaced if it's dirty as well.
Do all these things and your engine's air and fuel will be as clean as possible. You'll get much better fuel economy and better power
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
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
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.
Other website include: carfax.com; autobytel.com; and dmv.org. All of these sites have free recall searches.
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.
So Spring and Fall auto checkups at Valley Auto Care are practical reminders to get ready for the demands of the hot and cold seasons to come.
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
Date: October 17, 2012 12:21 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
You know you need new tires, but you're not sure what type. You look at a tire to get the size: 225, 50, R, 16, 92, H. All the way to the service center you keep repeating it over and over. You even say it over in your mind while waiting in line. Then you get to the counter and the manager asks what size you need. Then your mind goes blank.
Tire size can be confusing. There's so much on the side of the tire, and it's hard to keep straight.
Even though there's a lot on a tire - if you know what it all means, it's actually more helpful than confusing. Let's start with the size number.
For example, let's say a tire reads: 225 50 R 16 92 H. The 225 part is the width of the tire in millimeters - the width between the sidewalls of an inflated tire with no load. The 50 is the aspect ratio - the ratio of the sidewall height to the tread width. Off-road tires will have a higher number and high performance tires will have a lower number.
The R signifies it's a radial tire. And 16 is the rim or wheel size in inches.
The 92 is the load rating index - it's the load carrying capacity of a tire. The higher the number, the more it can safely carry. Your empty vehicle can be safe with a lower number, but you'll need a higher rating if you routinely haul heavy loads. The next letter is the speed rating. Not all tires are speed rated. The ratings generally follow the alphabet: the further up the alphabet, the higher the speed rating - with the exception of H - it comes between U and V (don't ask why).
There's a lot of fine print that you probably need a magnifying glass to read. But there are a couple of other large print items of interest. One is the tread type: highway, mud and snow, all season, severe snow, etc.
And then there're the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System markings. The first is a tread wear index. 100 is the base line - a lower number is poorer and a higher number is better. All things being equal, a tire rated 200 would wear twice as long, on a government test track, than one rated at 100. These wear grades are only valid within a manufacturer's product line - you can't compare with other manufacturers. And it's important to note that a lower rating might be just what you want - a high performance, sticky tire has a softer rubber compound and won't wear as long, but boy, will it take those corners.
The next is a traction grade. This measures the tire's ability to stop on wet pavement in government tests. A - the best, B - intermediate, C - acceptable.
Temperature grade measures a tire's resistance to heat build up in government tests. A, B and C - from best to acceptable.
It's safe to go with the original equipment recommendations that came on your car. But if you want to make adjustments, you'll now be better equipped to communicate with your tire professional.
Fuel Saving Tip: Auto Myths Around Apple Valley
Date: October 12, 2012 2:57 PM - Category: Fuel System
With high fuel prices in Apple Valley Minnesota comes lots of gas saving advice. Some of it, like what you hear on AutoNetTV, is really great. Some is myth. And some is just designed to prey on Apple Valley Minnesota people desperate to save some money on gas.
When you get one of those e-mails that's going around telling you how to save gas, try to think it through.
Does it really make sense? Does it defy the laws of physics?
Do some research on the internet or ask your Apple Valley Minnesota service advisor at Valley Auto Care.
There aren't any magic pills you can drop in your gas tank and the government hasn't suppressed a device you can clamp on your fuel line to make your car run on air. Not even in Apple Valley!
So next time you get one of those e-mails, check it out with an automotive professional. You'll get more bang for your buck with an oil change or an engine air filter replacement.
We're Valley Auto Care, give us a call at 952-431-2700 for good honest advice about your car.
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.
On Board Diagnostics For Apple Valley Motorists
Date: September 25, 2012 10:45 AM - Category: Service Standards
Some Apple Valley motorists are confused by Valley Auto Care charges for diagnostic services for a vehicle repair. Many services at Valley Auto Care and other Apple Valley automotive repair shops include diagnostic fees.
When you take your laptop into a Apple Valley computer repair shop for a problem you’ll likely have to leave a deposit for diagnostics. When we visit our Burnsville doctor for a medical problem, we’re paying him to diagnose our ailment and of course for the tests that go along with it.
So receiving a diagnostic charge at Valley Auto Care for a tricky automotive problem shouldn’t be a surprise. In the Apple Valley area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your car brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy Minnesota expressway, you pull off the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you’re having an intermittent problem with your car engine, Valley Auto Care diagnosis may be much more involved.
Much of the Apple Valley public’s confusion comes when the problem involves the check engine light. The check engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.
There’s a common misconception among Burnsville, Burnsville, and Rosemount drivers that the trouble code tells the Valley Auto Care technician exactly what’s wrong. Why then is there a diagnostic charge, the scanner just gave the diagnosis?
Reality is more involved than that. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that’s out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the check engine light.
The car computer's trouble code just tells the Valley Auto Care technician what engine parameter is out of range – not what’s causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that’s causing the symptom.
There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Valley Auto Care Apple Valley customers. The Valley Auto Care technician makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem.
Apple Valley service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for a given trouble code. They outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented fix. These databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.
Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved and difficult. Of course Valley Auto Care wants to figure out what’s wrong with your car and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
PCV Valve Service At Valley Auto Care In Apple Valley
Date: September 21, 2012 10:42 AM - Category: Parts
The PCV Valve is a little, inexpensive part that does a big job for Apple Valley drivers. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.
The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the car engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase.
These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel. This can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause car engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Valley Auto Care. At high speeds on Apple Valley freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.
Back in the old days, engine makers simply installed a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, laws mandated that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the car's engine.
This is much better for the environment and it saves gas too. (Budget-conscious Apple Valley drivers take note!) The little valve that controls all this action is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets gases out of the engine, but won’t let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and wasted gas.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV Valve at Valley Auto Care and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many Apple Valley drivers don’t know about it. Check your car owner’s manual or ask your Valley Auto Care service advisor. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.
There’s another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That’ll need to be replaced at Valley Auto Care when it gets dirty.
Please ask your experienced Apple Valley service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Apple Valley, you can avoid some very expensive deep engine repairs.
Suspension Service At Valley Auto Care
Date: September 11, 2012 2:25 PM - Category: Shocks & Struts
Suspension systems will continue to operate effectively for many years and tens of thousands of miles. Eventually car components do wear out, but how long that takes depends a lot on how you drive in Burnsville.
As you can imagine, if most of your driving is on smooth Minnesota highways, your shock absorbers will last a lot longer than if you do most of your driving on bumpy roads or hauling heavy loads. In addition to just wearing out, car suspension components can be damaged in an accident or by a hard impact – like a pothole, hitting a curb or a rock in the road. Because the life span of shocks can vary so widely, your car manufacturer recommends periodic inspections.
During an inspection at Valley Auto Care, your experienced Burnsville service technician will check for worn, broken or missing parts. Let me give a rundown of the major suspension components.
First there are the springs. The springs hold the weight of the vehicle. There are several kinds of springs. Springs are obviously heavy duty parts that rarely break or wear out. Shock absorbers work in conjunction with springs to smooth out the ride and help keep the tires on the road. The shocks are key to handling performance and ride comfort.
You’ve probably heard of struts. They combine a shock absorber and a coil spring in one unit. Shocks and struts will wear out over time. There are some signs that shocks or struts are wearing out. The tires may have a cupped wear pattern. This is from the shocks bouncing unevenly. You may notice a floaty or drifting sensation when cornering. If the front of your car dives excessively when stopping, or rocks back and forth after you stopped, your shocks may be worn out. And if they are leaking fluid, it’s definitely time to replace them.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit Valley Auto Care for a suspension inspection. Same if you’ve been in an accident that involved one of your wheels. If your car suspension actually fails, it could lead to a serious accident, so take care of these things.
When you replace your shocks, it’s usually a good idea to replace all four at the same time. That’ll give you more even handling. Talk with your Valley Auto Care service advisor because you don’t want a big difference between the performance of your shocks from wheel to wheel, and replacing all may be the safest bet.
There different grades of shocks and struts. You always want to use a replacement shock or strut that equals the one that came as original equipment when your car was new. But remember, they were designed to meet the expected needs of the broad range of Burnsville people who buy that particular vehicle. Your needs may be more specialized.
For example if you want increased handling performance for your car, your experienced Valley Auto Care advisor can recommend an upgraded shock or strut to give you what you want. If you haul heavy loads or trailers, you can get a more heavy duty shock absorber.
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.
Service Intervals for High Mileage Vehicles in Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: August 21, 2012 1:00 PM - Category: Service Intervals
Nowadays, everyone in Apple Valley, Minnesota is paying more at the gas pump. For some families in the greater Apple Valley area, it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That’s got to come out of the budget somewhere. Throughout North America, people are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.
Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local Apple Valley, Minnesota roads have over 75,000 miles on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in Apple Valley can’t afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a break down. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like our personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.
Knowing what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many owners’ manuals don’t publish service intervals after 60,000 miles. It just means that you need to be better at keeping records and planning your preventive maintenance.
You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you’re past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles. Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles for as long as you have your car.
Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners’ manual or service advisor at Valley Auto Care to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.
And keeping up with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your car.
The second benefit is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.
And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry-out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain special additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.
Older vehicles in the Apple Valley, Minnesota area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don’t. Things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.
With a high-mileage vehicle, a couple of relationships will become pretty important. The first is with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget, and for the Apple Valley, Minnesota area driving conditions.
The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We’re not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean - pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to your service advisor at Valley Auto Care and head off problems. We can’t do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local Apple Valley, Minnesota roads.
Take a look at the attached automotive tips video from AutoNetTV
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.
Engine Air Filter From Valley Auto Care
Date: August 9, 2012 12:03 PM - Category: Fuel System
You may have found yourself in the following situation: You go to get your oil changed and the service adviser at Valley Auto Care recommends you get a new engine air filter. You say yes, but because you didn't know what an air filter is or what it does, but you were too embarrassed to ask.
First of all, you did the right thing by getting a new one. And, you should never be too embarrassed to ask for more information from any of our Valley Auto Care staff. It's your money and you have a right to understand what you're paying for.
Let's review what an air filter does:
Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside in Apple Valley right now? Can you see any smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone in Minnesota with hay fever can tell you that there's plenty in the air that you can't see. Well, it's the engine air filter's job to clean that air before it goes into your engine, to mix with the fuel and be burned. Without an engine air filter, the inside of your engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
In fact, for every gallon of gas you burn, your engine needs 12,000 gallons of air. That little filter does a very big job. It's no wonder that the air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced. Think about a vacuum cleaner. When the bag gets full of dust and dirt, the vacuum doesn't clean as well. It can't move enough air to create good suction. A clogged engine air filter is the same way - the engine can't get enough air to burn the fuel efficiently. That means less power and wasted gas.
That's why your manufacturer has recommended that you change your filter at regular intervals. Of course the conditions you drive in will affect how quickly the filter gets dirty. If you drive where it's very dusty or where there's lots of pollen or pollution, you may need to change the filter sooner. The filter is easy to check visually, so your service technician can quickly make the call. He might recommend immediate replacement, or simply let you know that it is getting close and that you'll need to replace it soon - like at your next oil change.
Because a severely dirty air filter hurts your fuel economy, many people find that a new air filter pays for itself in gas savings before the next oil change. They also make premium air filters that have been proven to increase your horsepower and torque. If more power is important to you, a high performance air filter is some of the cheapest horsepower you can buy.
The better your car breathes, the better it runs - kind of like people. And don't worry - if you have a question or don't understand a recommendation just ask.
Odometer Rollback On Your Apple Valley Minnesota Auto
Date: August 1, 2012 12:49 PM - Category: Older Vehicles
How do you know if an odometer is telling the truth?
Well, back in '86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect Minnesota consumers against mileage fraud. It says a Minnesota seller must certify the mileage reported is the Actual Mileage.
To have your odometer checked in Apple Valley Minnesota, stop by Valley Auto Care:
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
If it isn't, the seller must say why; like maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 miles and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.
If the seller tells you the mileage isn’t accurate, there’s not much chance of putting a good number to it; And there’s the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it’s not so. What can you do?
First, you can go to www.CarFax.com, where for a small fee, they’ll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your car, showing local Apple Valley Minnesota ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, Manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.
You can get a mileage history by checking with the local Apple Valley Minnesota DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car’s bought and sold. If there are signs odometer rollback, now you’ll now.
If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There’s always another.
Saving Lives In Apple Valley With Tire Pressure
Date: July 26, 2012 1:43 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
All new passenger vehicles on our Apple Valley Minnesota roads now have tire pressure monitoring systems – TPMS for short. They are designed to alert you if your tires are under inflated. Since they are fairly new, a lot of people have questions about TPMS.
First off, the most important thing is that you still need to check your tire pressure every week – or at least every time you gas up. The TPMS system alert comes in when your tire is twenty percent below the factory recommendation. So if the recommended pressure is thirty five pounds per square inch, the TPMS warning won't come on until the pressure is at twenty eight pounds. That's significantly under-inflated. Enough to raise safety concerns.
The worst is tire failure. A severely under inflated tire can overheat and fail. Also, handling degrades to the point that you may not be able to steer out of trouble. Also under-inflated tires wear out faster and they waste fuel. So it's costly to not stay on top of proper inflation.
What's the practical value of the TPMS system? Well, it's twofold. First, it can alert you when your tire is losing pressure due to a puncture or a bent rim. That's an important warning that you might not have gotten until next time you gassed up.
The second is that we all occasionally forget to check our tire pressure. So it's a failsafe system to let you know there's a problem brewing.
Other things can cause your TPMS system to go off. The system also monitors itself. The sensors that are mounted in the wheels have little batteries that send a signal to the monitor. The batteries go dead over time and the TPMS system will let you know. And the sensors could break. Also road salt from our Apple Valley Minnesota roads can ruin them.
There's also a hassle factor that your Apple Valley Minnesota tire center has to contend with. For example, when you have your tires rotated in Apple Valley, the TPMS system has to be re-calibrated so that it knows which tire is on which corner of the car. Same is true for when you have new tires or winter tires installed. Flat repairs, as well.
That takes extra time. And it requires the right equipment and training. Special – and expensive – tire change machines need to be used with some sensors. It's all complicated by the fact that there are a number of different TPMS systems in use so the tire professionals at Valley Auto Care need equipment and training for each kind. Tire centers have had to raise the price of some of these basic services to offset their increased costs.
Also if you add custom wheels on your car, you need to put in new TPMS sensors if your originals won't work on the new rims. If you don't your TPMS light will be on constantly and you won't have the benefit of the warning system.
All in all, the mandated TPMS systems will save lives, so they're worth the added hassle and expense.
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.
Rosemount Drivers: Is It Time To Replace Your PCV Valve?
Date: July 12, 2012 2:58 PM - Category: Parts
The push for fuel economy has two benefits: using less gas, and fewer emissions. Rosemount cars and trucks run cleaner than ever. Rosemount people may not realize that the first federally mandated pollution control device came out almost fifty years ago.
Rosemount folks that were around in the early 60's may remember that the PCV valve came out on 1964 model cars. PCV stand for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. The crankcase is the lower part of the engine where the crankshaft is housed and where the engine oil lives. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons that power the engine.
When fuel is burned in the car engine, it pushes the pistons down and the crankshaft rotates and sends power to the transmission. Some of the explosive gases from combustion squeeze past the pistons and down into the crankcase.
Now this gas is about 70% unburned fuel. If it were allowed to remain in the crankcase, it would contaminate the oil and quickly turn it to sludge. Sludge is like Vaseline and clogs passages in the engine leading to damage.
Also, the pressure build up would blow out seals and gaskets. So in the old days, there was just a hose that vented the crankcase out into the air. Obviously, not good for our environment in Rosemount.
Enter the PCV valve. It’s a small, one-way valve that lets out the gases from the crankcase, and routes them back into the air intake system where can be re-burned in the engine. Fresh air comes into the crankcase through a breather tube. This makes for good circulation in the crankcase. And that gets the bad air out. As you can imagine, the valve gets gummed up over time.
Rosemount drivers that skip oil changes now and then will notice that the PCV valve gets gummed up even faster. If the PCV valve is sticking in your car, the gases won’t circulate as well, leading to increased pressure in the crankcase. That, in turn, can lead to oil leaks. Fortunately, the PCV valve is very inexpensive to replace at Valley Auto Care. Some can even be checked for function by your experienced service technician.
Manufacturer’s usually recommend they be changed somewhere between twenty and fifty thousand miles. Unfortunately, PCV valve replacement is left out of some car owner’s manuals, but at Valley Auto Care, we will make sure your PVC is replaced if needed.
All of us Rosemount car owners can do our part for the environment. Watch that lead foot, stay on top of our automotive maintenance and don’t forget to replace our PCV valve.
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.
Apple Valley Air Conditioning Service
Date: June 29, 2012 9:33 AM - Category: Air Conditioning
Working up a sweat is a great thing to do in a gym around Apple Valley, but not in your car. When your car's AC System has a problem, you'll often feel it right away. The question is, how long do you put up with it? You know, the old comfort versus cost dilemma. But a more comfortable drive around Apple Valley has a lot of benefits, and keeping the AC System well maintained can help prevent expensive repairs.
A common cause for AC failure is water and air in the system. The system does not work as well with air in it. And water can cause rust that leads to damage of the A/C components. Also refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system, making it work harder to try to cool the air. That is why periodically evacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system so it cools better and lasts longer.
You should also run the air conditioner regularly, even in the winter, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out. The seals can crack and that leads to leaks. Your owner's manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Some service centers also have this information as part of their computer databases. Your service advisor at Valley Auto Care can give you more information.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Of course, if your AC currently isn't working right, then now is the time to get it checked. Many service centers such as Valley Auto Care can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. This goes a long way to avoiding having to bring your air conditioner in for major repairs.
Recent environmental laws have stopped the manufacture of Freon, a refrigerant that was common in cars made before 1993. There is a very limited supply of Freon so the price is very steep. It may not be worth its weight in gold, but it probably is worth its weight in silver. If you have an older vehicle that uses Freon, you may want to consider having it retrofitted to use the new EPA-approved R134a refrigerant. It will pay for itself in the long run.
Date: June 19, 2012 10:36 AM - Category: Brakes
Brakes really aren't optional equipment. And taking care of them isn't optional either.
A regular brake inspection is on every car's maintenance schedule. An inspection will check your brake system and let you know if there are any problems. Of course, if you're having trouble with your brakes, get your car into a Apple Valley or Burnsville service center right away. And watch out for these problems:
- Low or spongy brake pedal
- Hard brake pedal
- A brake warning light that stays on
- Constantly squealing or grinding brakes
- Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply your brakes
There are two types of brakes: disc and drum. Disc brakes have a rotor that's attached to the axle. Calipers straddle the rotor, kind of like the brakes on a bicycle. Drum brakes are more common on back wheels. Pads, called shoes, push against the inside of the drum to slow the vehicle.
There are several things that need to be serviced on the brake system. First, the brake pads and shoes wear out with use, and become too thin to really help. If the brake pads wear away completely you can damage the rotors. The calipers can grind grooves in the rotor. Then the rotor must either be resurfaced or replaced and that can be expensive. But putting it off is dangerous because your vehicle won't stop as quickly. Sometimes rotors warp or crack and must be replaced.
Brake fluid is also important. When the brakes are applied, the pressure in the fluid activates the brake pads or shoes. Not enough fluid, not enough pressure to brake properly. Also, water builds up in the brake fluid over time, which leads to corrosion, leaks and brake damage, and with hard use, the brakes could severely fade or even fail. You should change the brake fluid when your manufacturer recommends it.
There are different grades of brake pads. There are regular, metallic and ceramic - higher grades cost more, but give better braking performance and smoother operation. It's OK to upgrade your brake pads. But, never use a grade that's lower than what the manufacturer recommends.
Be sure to properly maintain your brakes because it's a lot cheaper than paying your nearest Apple Valley area body shop after an accident.
Fuel Saving Tip: Dirty Oil In Your Apple Valley car
Date: June 12, 2012 9:39 AM - Category: Fuel System
If you're a quart low in your car, there isn't enough motor oil to lubricate your engine properly. The extra friction causes drag that reduces fuel economy while you're driving around the Apple Valley area.
The same goes for dirty oil; it doesn't reduce friction properly. The result is you get to watch those numbers at your local Apple Valley gas pump rolling higher and higher.
The transmission also needs the proper amount of clean fluid to do its work. When it's in need of service, the transmission drags your fuel economy down.
So keep it clean and give yourself a fighting chance.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
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.
Can Car Scent Keep You Safe On Minnesota Roads?
Date: May 23, 2012 2:39 PM - Category: Automotive News
Here's a travel tip that'll I'll bet you didn't know, and, it might keep you safer...
The average American commuter in Minnesota spends two and a half hours daily in their car.
The government says a hundred thousand auto accidents yearly are caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. (Aggressive driving is the number one traffic safety concern.)
So what does this have to do with how your car smells while you're driving around Minnesota?
Well, which scent did you think makes drivers more alert?
- A. Strawberry
- B. New Car
- C. Pine
- D. Warm Vanilla Breeze
It's C. Drivers are more alert and have less fatigue with pine scent in the car, according to AroMetrics.
And, drivers were less angry with overall improved driving performance with strawberry and pine scents.
And you thought they just smelled nice.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
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
Shocks and Struts For Apple Valley Bumps and Bounces
Date: May 8, 2012 2:31 PM - Category: Shocks & Struts
If you're like most of us in Apple Valley, you want your car to handle well. That's the job of your suspension system.
There are different types of suspension systems, but they all work on the same basic principles. First, there are the springs, which bear the weight of the car. The most common springs are coil or leaf - although we see air springs and torsion bars more often. The springs do most of the work.
Visit our Apple Valley location for an inspection of your suspension.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
But if all you had were springs, your vehicle would be bouncing around like a bobble head. That's where the shocks come in. They control the rebound of the springs and smooth out the up and down motions. They also keep the tires on the road, and you in control. Some cars use struts. Struts are a combination of shocks and springs, together in a more compact system.
Shocks wear out slowly over time, so it's hard to notice when they get badly worn. One way to tell is to look for an uneven, cupping wear on your tires. If the shock or strut is leaking fluid, it needs to be replaced. If your car feels floaty in turns or if the front end dips a lot when you stop, it is time to get your shocks checked. Your owners' manual will tell you when your shocks should be changed - it's usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or 24,000 and 50,000 kilometers .
When you replace a shock, be sure to replace all four. Then your car will have an even suspension and will handle much better. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive. No, not your traffic violations, but how often you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive in rough terrain. If you do a bunch of that, you'll need a heavy duty shock.
Regular shocks use hydraulic fluid and air as their dampening system. Premium quality shocks and struts use compressed nitrogen gas instead of air. Gas shocks don't get air bubbles that affect the performance of regular shocks. If you do a lot of high performance driving, off-roading or just want added comfort and control, think about getting premium gas shocks or struts.
Replacing your struts may take your car out of alignment, so be sure to get an alignment at the same time. So, to smooth out the bumps on the road of life, change your shocks and struts when they need it.
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
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!
Breathe Deep With Your Cabin Air Filter
Date: April 26, 2012 11:43 AM - Category: Air Conditioning
Bad air quality while you're driving around Burnsville is nothing to sneeze at. But seriously, more and more vehicles these days come equipped with a cabin air filter. Since they're fairly new on the scene, a lot of folks don't know about them yet.
These filters clean the air in the passenger compartment, or cabin, of your car or truck. They do the same job as the furnace filter you have at home. They can filter out particles as small as thee microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
So your cabin air filer can clean out dust, pollution, pollen and spores, to keep the air in your car nice and clean. And just like your furnace filter, they need to be replaced when they get dirty. Check your owner's manual, but they typically need to be replaced at around twelve to fifteen thousand miles.
The filter is usually either under the hood or under the dashboard. Some are a little tricky to get to, so you'll want to have your Apple Valley Minnesota service center, Valley Auto Care, take care of replacing them.
As we said, many people don't realize they have a cabin air filter and go to their shop complaining about a funky smell in the ventilation system. It turned out to be a cabin air filter that was long overdue for replacement – really dirty and starting to smell. A quick replacement and they were on their way and smelling fine.
People who are allergy sensitive can really benefit from a cabin air filter, as it keeps allergens to a minimum. If you're one of them, you'll want to stay on top of your filter replacement schedule.
Of course if you do a lot of driving in dusty or polluted conditions, you'll need to change your cabin air filter more often.
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.
Fuel Saving Tip: Alignment For Your Apple Valley car
Date: April 10, 2012 1:22 PM - Category: Alignment
Imagine you've left Apple Valley and you're up in the arctic on a dog sled.
Your dog team is pulling straight and true. You can cover a lot of ground fast. Now imagine what would happen if one or two of the dogs wanted to go their own way and were pulling off to the side.
That would slow you down. You would have to work harder to keep the sled going where you want it. The dogs are all working as hard as before, but you're covering less ground for the same effort.
You're wasting kibble.
The same is true of your vehicle when the wheels are out of alignment. That wheel that's pulling to the side is dragging down the rest of the car; so you push a little harder on the gas pedal to keep up your speed. You're wasting gas.
So have your wheel alignment checked at least once a year. Get it checked right away if you feel the car pulling to one side.
Sometimes we bump a curb or hit a pothole and knock our wheels out of alignment. An accident can take the wheels out of alignment as well.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
So make sure you're tracking straight. You'll save gas and your tires'll last longer. Now, mush!
ICE - In Case Of Emergency In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: April 4, 2012 9:46 AM - Category: Monitoring System
Sometimes the unthinkable happens in Apple Valley Minnesota. A terrible accident and those involved aren't able to provide rescuers with emergency contact information.
You have people in the Apple Valley Minnesota area who you'll want to be contacted to arrange help, give consent to treatment, and inform paramedics of medical conditions, allergies or medications.
Too often, our Minnesota police and rescue workers must sift through pockets, glove compartments, wallets, purses and cell phone directories for clues – often wasting precious time.
A brilliantly simple solution is now spreading around the globe: ICE. ICE – standing for In Case of Emergency, is a way to identify emergency contacts in your cell phone directory.
Simply put 'ICE' before a contact name in your cell phone, like 'ICE – Dad', 'ICE – Nancy', or 'ICE – Doctor Roberts'. Rescuers will be able to quickly identify your emergency contacts, saving valuable time.
Bob Brotchie, a Cambridge, England paramedic came up with the idea and started a promotional campaign in England in 2005. This powerful idea is now being heavily promoted in Apple Valley Minnesota and in other countries. Rescue workers all know of how many times they are unable to find a wallet or purse on an accident victim, yet they are seldom without their cell phone.
There are national and worldwide disaster databases, but participation can cost up to two hundred dollars a year. 'ICE' is free to the 276 million cell phone users in the U.S.
It is easy and just takes a few minutes to designate some ICE contacts in your cell phone. Remember to keep the listings current.
Please join Valley Auto Care in getting the word out. Help us put Apple Valley Minnesota on ICE!
Fuel Saving Tip: Apple Valley Tune Up
Date: March 30, 2012 12:41 PM - Category: Fuel System
Have you ever gone to Apple Valley to listen to an orchestra? The musicians take the stage early and tune their instruments. Each individual instrument must be in tune, but the critical thing is for the entire orchestra to be in tune with each other. That's why they tune up together.
Now this is no surprise; I'm going to relate the orchestra to your car. Your engine has many component systems that each need to be working properly. And the components need to be working in sync, all timed up together in order for the engine to work efficiently.
We call this, (ta-da) a tune-up. When an orchestra's out of tune you get a bad concert. When your vehicle's out of tune you get bad performance and bad fuel economy.
So check your owner's manual for recommended tune-up intervals. Or ask your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care what he thinks.
...Just be careful not to say you want to make beautiful music together – that kinda makes us uncomfortable.
Power Steering Service At Valley Auto Care In Apple Valley
Date: March 21, 2012 11:45 AM - Category: Alignment
Many Apple Valley drivers have been hearing about new advances in power steering technology, specifically, electric power steering. Some very high-end cars have been featuring electric power steering for a few years. An electric motor directly provides the power assist to make steering easier. Undoubtedly we’ll see much more of this in Apple Valley as full electric cars and electric hybrids become more common.
The vast majority of cars and trucks serviced at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley use a hydraulic power boost system. With hydraulics, fluid is pressurized by a pump which actuates a hydraulic cylinder to reduce steering effort. Some of these pumps are powered by an electric motor. Most pumps are powered by the serpentine belt driven by the engine.
Power steering fluid has the necessary hydraulic properties and the ability to lubricate the internal parts. The power steering fluid also protects car components from rust and corrosion.
Apple Valley car owners should be aware that manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. At Valley Auto Care, the old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.
Unfortunately, many Apple Valley people don’t realize how important it is to service their power steering, or even that it should be done at all. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks and the pump won’t last as long.
Signs that you may be having problems with your power steering include the need to constantly add power steering fluid, a loud whining from the pump, erratic power assist or high steering effort. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, have your power steering checked out at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The rods, arms, joints and knuckles that actually turn the wheels can become worn or damaged. A standard alignment service includes an inspection of steering components.
If you notice any play in the steering wheel, that the steering wheel is off center, or a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning, have your Valley Auto Care advisor do an inspection so the problem can be corrected. Waiting too long could cause uneven tire wear and may even lead to steering failure. Call Valley Auto Care today at 952-431-2700.
Valley Auto Care Guide To Using the Correct Fluids in Your Vehicle
Date: March 15, 2012 1:16 PM - Category: Fluids
Today's Valley Auto Care post focuses on using the proper fluids for your vehicle. Big advances in automotive technology have lead to the development of high-tech fluids to keep pace. Some because of engineering advances and others, advances in the materials used to build car automotive systems.
A simple example of this is the cooling system. For decades it was primarily made out of iron, steel and rubber hoses. There was one kind of coolant that protected these components from corrosion.
Now cooling system components are made with various metal alloys and plastics. These materials require different additives to protect them from corrosion. Since the materials used vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, we now have a number of different kinds of coolant.
And it’s important that Burnsville car owners use the right coolant. If you pour in the wrong kind, it won’t protect the cooling system and may even void the warranty. Check your car owner’s manual. Of course, your Valley Auto Care advisor will know the proper coolant to use.
Brake fluid is confusing for some Burnsville drivers. Back when we opened shop 25 years ago, most vehicles used Dot 3 brake fluid. Now we have Dot 4 and Dot 5. Some Burnsville people mistakenly think the higher numbers are an upgrade. You know, if 3 is good then 4 must be better. That’s not how it works. They are different formulations to meet the demands of differences in brake systems. Only one of them is recommended for your car.
Transmission fluid is the same thing. For decades there were two basic types of tranny fluid used at Valley Auto Care: friction modified or not. With the tremendous engineering advances in car automatic transmissions, there have been several new types of fluids developed to protect and lubricate them.
Nowhere are the advances in automotive fluids more evident to Burnsville motorists and Valley Auto Care professionals than in motor oil. Many new weights and formulations have been created to meet the demands of today’s modern car engine design. Modern engines have more parts and much tighter tolerances. Every year, engines make more power and get better fuel economy. And with all the complication and sophistication, they still have to be durable.
That’s where the new grades of engine oil come in. They have to be formulated to lubricate, protect and clean all of those car engine parts, big and little. The oil has to be thin enough to get into little passages, yet resistant to vaporization.
At Valley Auto Care, we believe that in some ways modern automotive fluids are just as great feats of engineering as the new engines. Because weights of oil and types of coolant and transmission fluid are so carefully matched to the vehicle, take care to always use the proper fluid if you are topping off at home.
Check your car owner’s manual or ask your Burnsville service advisor. The wrong fluid can cause damage. If you drive a car or truck with 75,000 miles or more, consider high mileage formulations. These fluids contain extra detergent to clean dirtier older engines as well as additives to condition seals and gaskets. That’ll help prevent leaks. Always be sure that the high mileage fluid is the same weight or type of fluid recommended for your vehicle.
Emergency Items For Your car
Date: March 7, 2012 12:39 PM - Category: Parts
Local Apple Valley roadside emergencies can range from a flat tire downtown to being stranded in a snowy ravine for three days. So you may want to consider a basic emergency kit to keep in the car at all times and a travel kit tailored to a specific trip.
Your close-to-home kit for around Apple Valley would have some basic items to work on your car: everything you need to change a tire, gloves, a couple quarts of oil, some antifreeze and water. A can of tire inflator is a great temporary fix for minor flats. You'll also want jumper cables or a booster box, flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools.
Now for your comfort and safety: a first aid kit, drinkable water, high calorie food (like energy bars), blankets, toilet paper, cell phone, towel, hat and boots. Keep some change for a pay phone, emergency cash and a credit card.
People who live in areas with frequent severe weather or earthquakes may want to carry provisions for longer emergencies.
For trips away from home, consider the weather and geography as you assemble your emergency supplies. You'll need to have a source of light and heat and will want to provide protection against the elements as well as adequate food and water for everyone in the car.
Always tell people where you are going and have a plan for checking in at waypoints. Then if you run into trouble, you can be reported missing as soon as possible and rescuers will be able to narrow the search area.
The key to safe travel is to keep your vehicle properly maintained, plan ahead, and let others know your itinerary.
Timing Belt Service to Save Big Bucks in Apple Valley
Date: March 1, 2012 3:00 PM - Category: Timing Belt
Your engine is like a finely choreographed dance. All the parts have to work together. If the timing is off at the ballet, dancers crash into each other and fall down. It the timing is off in your engine, it may not run at all. One of the most intricate dances in your engine, has to do with the combustion cycle.
Your car engine has cylinders in which a piston travels up and down. At the top of the cylinders are valves open to bring in the air and fuel. And there are valves that open to let out the exhaust after the fuel has been burned.
Call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700 for answers about your timing belt, or drop by our Apple Valley Minnesota service center on 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, 55124
It's critical that the values be timed to open and close at precisely the right time in the combustion cycle, or the engine will run poorly or not at all.
The timing belt is responsible for rotating the shafts that control the valves. It's vital and precision work. Timing belts are made of very tough flexible material. They can last a long time. But they eventually wear out and can break. The consequences can be disastrous.
In some engines, the valves actually protrude far enough into the cylinders that they could come in contact with the piston. If the timing belt breaks, the pistons will smash into the valves. Valves get bend or broken. If the engine is spinning fast enough, the broken parts will shred the cylinder head as well. Repairing this damage can cost several thousand dollars.
It's a sad day when this happens; especially since it usually can be avoided. Manufacturers have issued recommendations for when you should replace your timing belt. For some engines, it's at 60,000 miles. For others it's at 90,000 miles or more. If you're approaching 60,000 miles, or have passed it, make sure you check your owner's manual or with your Apple Valley Minnesota auto service advisor at Valley Auto Care for when the timing belt should be replaced. Don't let this one slip by.
Now some timing belts are visible and can be inspected. Others are hidden under a protective cover and are hard to get to. Some timing belts also drive the water pump. If you have a leaky water pump, the coolant will contaminate the timing belt and could make it fail sooner. So if you have this kind of engine, get it in to Valley Auto Care for an inspection right away if you have a coolant leak.
Most people in the Apple Valley area with this engine design end up with a new timing belt when they replace the water pump. And when you're having your timing belt replaced on schedule, check with your Apple Valley Minnesota auto service advisor at Valley Auto Care to see if it makes sense to install a new water pump, even if it isn't currently having problems, since most of the labor is already being done any way for the timing belt replacement.
As a heads up; larger engines will often have metal timing chains rather than belts. The chains don't need to be replaced like belts.
We've already told you how very expensive it can be to get your car running again after a timing belt fails. You also need to know that replacing the timing belt is very labor intensive and is one of the most costly maintenance services you will have. So if you will be at the point where your timing belt should be replaced in the next year or so, ask for an estimate from Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley Minnesota so you can begin to prepare for the expense.
We at AutoNetTV are committed to helping you make your driving experience as safe and economical as possible. Valley Auto Care, your Apple Valley service center, can be a valuable partner. Please take advantage of their knowledge and experience, and check out http://AutoNetTV.com for more great auto tips.
Keep it Flowing With A Fuel Filter Replacement At Valley Auto Care
Date: February 21, 2012 1:31 PM - Category: Fuel System
The function of the fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory. It filters your fuel. The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere in between the fuel tank and the engine. Both gas and diesel vehicles around Apple Valley Minnesota use fuel filters.
For more information about your fuel filter, visit Valley Auto Care or come by our shop located at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124.
Please call 952-431-2700 to make an appointment.
Generally speaking there's not a lot of dirt in our Apple Valley Minnesota auto fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out. The problem actually gets worse the older your vehicle becomes. That's because dirt, rust and other contaminants will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank. After your car is five years or older, it can actually have a fair amount of sediment built up.
That just means that the fuel filter has to work harder as your car ages. It'll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often.
A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration. That's because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough just can't get through the filter. Obviously, that could be dangerous if your car or truck can't get enough power to get you out of harm's way.
For just that reason, fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter is severely clogged, some fuel can bypass the filter all together. Of course that means that dirty, unfiltered fuel is getting through to be burned in the engine.
This dirt can then clog and damage your fuel injectors. Now injectors are not cheap to replace, so you don't want to cause them damage just because you didn't spend a few bucks to replace a fuel filter.
You know, in a way, the fuel filter can be the poster child for preventive maintenance. It's a little part, it's simple and it's cheap to take care of. But if it's neglected, it could lead to thousands of dollars of repair bills.
Those auto service schedules in your owner's manual are there for a reason. If ever you don't understand a recommended service, just ask your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care. We'll be happy to explain.
Apple Valley Road Trip Preparation
Date: February 16, 2012 11:27 AM - Category: Inspection
People from Apple Valley Minnesota love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than a Minnesota road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it's great! But there's nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.
Now you can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip.
Heading out on a Minnesota road trip? Stop by Valley Auto Care before you head out to make sure everything is in good repair.
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Call us at 952-431-2700
Let's look at some of the auto maintenance related problems you might encounter on a road trip and what you might do to avoid them.
It all starts with a thorough trip inspection by your Apple Valley Minnesota service professionals at Valley Auto Care. Let's talk about some of the items on the trip inspection checklist.
The most common vehicle component to fail is the tires. Of course, you can't always avoid a road hazard that leads to a flat, but you may be able to head off some maintenance-connected tire problems.
A good tire inspection will start with looking over the condition of the tire itself. Are there signs of uneven tire wear? Are the tires properly inflated? Is the tread worn to the point that the tire should be replaced? The answers to these questions may lead to a recommendation to balance or rotate your tires. It may also be time to have an alignment service.
Your brakes should be inspected for function as well as to determine how much life is left in your brake pads. You'll also want to know if it's time to service your brake fluid. Over time water and contaminants make their way into your brake fluid and the system needs to be flushed, cleaned and filled with fresh fluid.
While looking under your car, your Apple Valley auto technician should also inspect your suspension system for worn or damaged parts. If you need new shocks or struts, you'll really notice the difference on your trip once you have them replaced.
Now the second most common vehicle failure is the cooling system. It may be time for a coolant exchange or flush. These services remove old fluid that has become corrosive and replaces it with fresh, clean fluid that restores the effectiveness of your cooling system.
The cooling system inspection will reveal leaks and weakened hoses. Replacing worn parts, like the radiator cap or water pump may be indicated. Even though cooling system failure is fairly common, it's easy and relatively inexpensive to prevent with proper maintenance.
Another thing people often overlook their transmission service. This is very important before a road trip because transmission problems tend to take some time and money to get fixed. Not the way you want to spend your vacation.
Your technician will inspect your belts to see if they should be replaced. A failed belt is at best an inconvenience. He'll also give your exhaust system the once over to make sure there aren't any dangerous leaks that could harm you and your passengers.
Of course, there are the usual things as well. An oil change, engine air filter, fuel system cleaning, a tune up. If you need any of these things, get them done today at Valley Auto Care – the improved fuel economy will be appreciated on your road trip.
If your heater or air conditioning isn't working as well as you'd like, let your Apple Valley Minnesota service consultant know at Valley Auto Care.
Some important items that are often overlooked are power steering service, differential service and timing belt replacement. If these things don't ring a bell, have your service consultant check to see if they're due.
Now while you're out seeing the sights, you'll want to make sure you can see the sights. Replace your windshield wipers if they aren't working well. And don't forget your headlamps. They gradually lose their brightness and you don't even realize it. Many people replace their lamps once or twice a year.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip. They'll always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the world's largest ball of string, would you?
Wiper Blades In Minnesota
Date: February 8, 2012 12:14 PM - Category: Windshield Wipers
If you're gonna drive around the Apple Valley area, you've got to be able to see! So having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important. We've all experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm, or when our windshield is just dirty.
It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. But windshield wipers are like most other vehicle parts– they require regular attention in order to work their best.
You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If it's going to be a particularly harsh winter in Apple Valley, 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'll just tear up the blades and cause them to wear out more quickly. It may even damage the wiper motor.
Over time, wiper blades become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don't cover 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.
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 Valley Auto Care.
Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though your local Apple Valley service center will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home, or in the car if you are on a long trip.
Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy bottled water, may freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won't do a good job of cleaning your windows.
And remember that some vehicles have two reservoirs: one for the windshield and one for the back window – which may be under the hood or somewhere in the back.
So follow these tips to keep your windshield clear and your eye on the road, and give us a call at Valley Auto Care or come by our shop at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124. Call to make an appointment at 952-431-2700
Date: February 1, 2012 1:39 PM - Category: Parts
Ever heard the sad tale of a staggering repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let's take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our timing belt.
First, let's review what a timing belt does. The top part of the engine, over the cylinders is called the cylinder head. The head contains the valves. There's at least one valve that lets the fresh air into the cylinder. This air, mixed with fuel, burns to create power. Then another valve or two open to allow the exhaust out of the engine. Each cylinder has 2 to 4 valves - that's 12 to 24 valves for a V-6, up to 32 values on a V-8. The opening and closing of the valves is done by a camshaft. The timing belt uses the rotation of the engine to drive the camshaft which opens and close the valves. It's called a timing belt because it has to be adjusted to rotate the camshaft to keep proper time with the engine so that everything's in sync.
The timing belt is a toothed rubber belt . But some cars use a timing chain or timing gears instead of a belt. Timing chains and gears are much more durable, but manufacturers are using belts more because they are quieter - and cheaper. If you have a small or mid-sized passenger car, crossover or mini-van, chances are you have a timing belt.
Unfortunately, timing belts fail without any warning. That shuts you down right away. A technician can inspect your timing belt and look for cracks and looseness. But getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it on some cars. That's why manufacturers recommend replacing the belt from time to time. For most vehicles it's from 60,000 to 90,000 miles or 95,000 to a 145,000 kilometers. If your owners' manual doesn't specify an interval ask your service advisor.
One AutoNetTV producer has had two timing belts fail. The first was while he was waiting at a stop light - that repair cost several thousand dollars. The second was while driving on the highway - that one cost more than twice as much. Both had the cars out in the shop for three weeks. His cars had what we call "interference engines", meaning that the valves and pistons are very close to each other. If the timing belt slips even one notch, the pistons will slam into the open valves. That's why our friend's highway failure was so much more expensive - his engine was traveling so fast that the valves were smashed and they chewed up the cylinder head.
A non-interference engine will just shut down if the timing belt breaks. You're stranded, but the engine doesn't suffer permanent damage. In both cases, our hapless friend was just a couple oil changes past the recommended interval for changing the timing belt. This is one of those things that you just cannot put off. Now replacing a timing belt is not cheap - but repairs for a broken belt can be many times as much.
Check your owners' manual right away - especially if you have more than a 60,000 miles or 95,000 kilometers. You may need to get that belt replaced right away. And on many cars, the timing belt drives the water pump. So, it may be a good idea to replace the water pump while you're at it because 90% of the work required for the new pump is already done with the belt change. Doing both at the same time saves you a lot of money because as they say, "timing's everything". Parts, Timing Belt
Lease verses Buy
Date: January 26, 2012 11:35 AM - Category: Automotive News
Lease? Or buy? It's always a tough question for residents in the Burnsville area. But here are a few ideas that'll make the choice more clear.
Either option gives you a choice of how you might finance your car. If you buy, you'll pay the full cost of the car, with maybe an initial down payment, then monthly payments on the balance that pays down the loan principal, and the finance charge.
If you lease, you're financing the portion of the cost of the car that's used up during the term of the lease. When the lease is up, you return the car to your local Burnsville area dealership. You'll pay some money upfront; fees, security deposit, first month's payment and maybe a capital reduction. The month payments include a depreciation cost and a finance charge.
So how do you decide?
First, how big a down payment can you make? A lease would require a smaller down.
How much monthly payment can you afford? Again, lease payments will be much lower for any given down payment.
A lease needs you to have better credit, so that's a factor.
How long will you keep the car? If you tend to keep your cars around for a while, buying is cheaper. But just two or three years? Then leasing is the way to go.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
If your car might suffer a ding or two, like, say a work truck would, then buying's better. The leasing company will want their merchandise back at the lease end in tip top shape, and if repairs are needed, you'll pay.
How many miles do you drive in and around the Burnsville area? Important to consider because leases have a mileage limit, and if you go over, you pay a hefty charge per mile when the lease is up. So high mileage means a buy.
Will the car be used for business? Check with your accountant, but both financing options have different tax benefits, depending on your circumstances.
Over the short term, leasing is much cheaper. Medium term, leasing and buying costs are about the same. Over the long haul, leasing is always costs more.
Leases may sound a bit complicated, and the typical lease decision weighs more on the monthly payment, rather than price. So sometimes leasers may pay on a higher purchase price than a buyer would.
Here is a tip: If a salesman asks if you'll be leasing or buying, say you're not sure yet. Make your best deal, then look at financing options.
Here's another: With a buy or a lease, if you total the car, you'll owe the full amount of the loan, or the balance of the lease payments, and usually, it's less than the car's fair market value – and that's all your insurance company will pay. But ask your agent about gap insurance, which pays the difference between fair market value and what you owe. Big consideration for a lease.
Remember, you have to return your leased vehicle in excellent condition, and may need to do all manufacturer's recommended service and maintenance, or face penalties. So see your local Burnsville service center on a regular basis, get the required work done and save the service records. It's well worth it.
Automobile Fluids For Your car
Date: January 20, 2012 12:22 PM - Category: Fluids
If you've walked through the automotive fluids of an auto parts store in Apple Valley, you'll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How do you know what's right for your vehicle?
As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run as you drive around the Apple Valley area. Your vehicle manufacturer has specified a particular type of fluid for every system from the motor, to the cooling system, brake fluid and so on. When you realize that not every variation is applicable to your vehicle, the task becomes more manageable.
First let's talk about why there are so many varieties. Starting with motor oil, we see that manufacturers match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the design needs of the engine. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil.
Some vehicles around Apple Valley come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet is to always use what the factory recommends. The recommendation is what's been proven to work in function and durability tests. The recommended oil is also a factor in determining oil change interval schedules.
A good quality oil has more additives that are engineered to clean and protect the engine. They cost a bit more, but are worth the extra protection. If you buy budget oil, you might want to consider shortening your oil change interval.
Sometimes fluids are developed specifically to meet the needs of a particular family of engines. An example would be coolant. Because of the different materials used to build the cooling system, the coolant has to be formulated to protect those parts, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from corrosion. We've seen special coolant in Apple Valley for General Motors, Volkswagen, Chrysler and others.
The same is true of transmission fluid and brake fluid in recent years.
The really good news is that your Apple Valley service center has databases that tell them the recommended fluids for your vehicle. This takes all the guess work out. If you have some special needs, like a higher mileage engine or want enhanced performance, ask your service advisor for upgrades or additives that'll meet your needs while being consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations.
Of course, your full-service oil change will top off your fluids. But it's a good idea to have some of everything at home in case you need to top something off yourself or to take on a trip. Ask your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care or check your owner's manual for fluid specifications.
It's important to know that there are national warranty laws that say that a manufacturer cannot require you to use their brand of fluid to maintain your warranty. That said, there are two things that may affect your warranty.
Using the wrong type of fluid may void the warranty. Going back to radiator coolant, the correct type protects against corrosion and the wrong type will not. So it's important to be right.
Also some warranty protections are conditioned on taking care of scheduled preventive maintenance. Please review your warranty if you have questions.
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.
Is Your Apple Valley Driving Severe?
Date: January 5, 2012 11:17 AM - Category: Service Intervals
People near Apple Valley Minnesota often ask Valley Auto Care how often they should have a particular service done. It's a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner's manual, or have your Apple Valley Minnesota service advisor at Valley Auto Care look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.
One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Apple Valley Minnesota will say that their driving is normal and that the 'regular' schedule probably applies to them. 'Severe service' sounds pretty extreme – 'I don't drive like that'.
Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.
- Most of your trips are less than four miles.
- Most of your trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
- The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
- You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
- Drive with a car-top carrier.
- Stop and go driving.
- Driving in very hot or very cold weather.
If that's severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I'm thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour when I'm on the freeway.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Apple Valley. Occasionally we load up for family trips.
For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here's what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.
Picture a line with 'regular' on one end and 'severe' on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For me, it's closer to 3,000 miles. For my wife, it's closer to 5,000 miles. Your Apple Valley Minnesota auto service advisor at Valley Auto Care will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.
Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather or engine and transmission heat from stop and go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren't as effective.
Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don't drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won't evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.
If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.
So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You've made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.
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
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
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.
Contact us at Valley Auto Care for questions about your power steering.
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
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.
Tracking True In Minnesota: Wheel Alignment In Burnsville
Date: November 16, 2011 2:25 PM - Category: Alignment
Wheel alignment is often overlooked by busy Burnsville and Rosemount car owners until serious tire damage has been done. One wheel can be knocked out of alignment from the rest by hitting a curb or pothole on Apple Valley roads.
When a vehicle’s out of alignment, one or more of the wheels does not track true and pulls against the others. The tires will wear out very quickly and will need to be replaced prematurely. It could also lead to car suspension damage.
But the big issue for Burnsville, Rosemount, and Apple Valley motorists is safety. When your car wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you’re out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
At Valley Auto Care, your vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.
Adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in precisely the same direction.
Signs of alignment problems are: Your car pulls to one side. Also, your steering wheel may not be centered when you’re going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your Apple Valley service center look it over. If you’ve been in an auto accident in Minnesota that involved a wheel, you should get your alignment checked.
A big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Burnsville drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.
That’s why your manufacturer recommends periodic alignment checks. If your car owner’s manual doesn’t specify, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with Scott Brouwer or your service advisor at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.
One thing’s for sure: the cost of the alignment at Valley Auto Care is cheaper than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.
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.
Nighttime Visibility In Apple Valley
Date: November 4, 2011 10:41 AM - Category: Headlamps
There are a number of factors that contribute to the high nighttime accident rate in the greater Apple Valley area, things like drowsy driving and a higher rate of impaired driving. Without a doubt, visibility is a major contributor. Let's focus on visibility…
It's said that 90 percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. Nighttime driving has the effect of reducing 20/20 vision to the equivalent of 20/50 vision. What you could clearly see at 50 feet in daylight can't be seen until you are just 20 feet away at night.
Too make sure your headlights are giving you the greatest visibility, visit us at Valley Auto Care. you'll find us located on 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124. Please give us a call to make an appointment: 952-431-2700.
Accident avoidance is dependent on reaction time. Reaction time deteriorates measurably in low light conditions. One thing we can do to improve visibility is to make sure our headlights are as bright as they can possibly be.
Headlamps dim over time. They dim so gradually that you may not notice it. Many experts suggest replacing your standard or halogen headlamps once a year.
If your vehicle has standard headlamps, consider upgrading to halogen lamps. They make a big difference. And there are upgrades available within the halogen category as well. This once-a-year expense is very modest compared to the safety benefits.
Some cars come with high intensity discharge – or HID – headlamps. These lamps should last for the life of your car. They are very bright and are clearly the best option for nighttime driving. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Talk with your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care about options for your car.
Another startling fact is that 90 percent of cars on the road have dirty or yellowed headlight covers. Dirty is easy to fix. Just run the window washer over the headlight cover when you stop for gas. Get those bugs and dirt off the cover.
Now plastic headlight covers can yellow or become hazy over time. They can be restored to clarity with a special polishing process. Valley Auto Care can help you with this service.
It's also vital to keep your windshield clean and streak free when driving at night. Make sure you have plenty of washer fluid and that your windshield wipers are in good working order.
We recommend replacing wiper blades twice a year – in the spring and fall. Fall is also a good time to replace headlamps so you'll be ready for those long winter nights.
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.
Fuel System Cleaning At Valley Auto Care
Date: October 20, 2011 1:01 PM - Category: Fuel System
Is your car sometimes hard to start on an early Apple Valley morning? When you turn the key, does it hesitate or stutter? If so, the problem could be the result of a dirty fuel system. Your car's fuel system starts with the air filter and ends in the top of your engine. Over time, different parts of the system get dirty, which robs you of performance and hurts your fuel economy.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Most of our car in Apple Valley have fuel injectors, rather than a carburetor. Fuel injection systems have fewer problems and require less adjustment. But they still need to be properly maintained. This is why your owner's manual has a schedule for cleaning your fuel injectors and other parts of your fuel system.
Some people are interested in buying fuel system cleaners that you can pour into your gas tank. You can do that - and there are lots of great products available that can help maintain an already clean fuel system - but these products cannot do a major cleaning. For that, you need to see your service center at Valley Auto Care. Valley Auto Care has the professional tools and chemicals to really do a complete service.
Your service center at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley Minnesota uses a process that gives your car a deep, professional fuel system cleaning. You need to remove particles, gum and varnish from your fuel system and get those injectors running cleanly and efficiently. After a professional fuel system cleaning, you'll notice more power, better fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions.
The cleaners also help prevent rust and corrosion in your fuel system and lubricate vital engine parts.
Fuel system cleaning is just one of those recommended service items that helps keep your vehicle running strong. As with all maintenance, it can help avoid costly repairs that often result from not taking the right preventive steps. And you will notice the difference in how well your car runs. Check with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley Minnesota to see when your car is scheduled for a fuel system cleaning.
An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Upsizing Wheels and Tires With Valley Auto Care
Date: October 12, 2011 2:56 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
At AutoNetTV we love doughnuts. So let's pretend you have three doughnuts right in front of your for our discussion of upsizing wheels and tires. Hey, don't eat them now - your going to need them later.
Many people want to accessorize their car - you know, make it theirs. One of the easiest ways to get a custom look is to get some new wheels. There are thousands of wheel designs out there to get you the look you want. And for many, that look includes bigger wheels. It used to be that cars came from the factory with 15 or 16 inch wheels. Now 16, 17 and even 18 inchers are standard. And the factories are offering optional wheel packages up to 20 inches or more.
Come in to Valley Auto Care to learn more about how you might upsize your wheels or tires.
You'll find us at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124.
So let's talk about what to consider when you want to upsize your wheels. It's not exactly a do it yourself project, so you need to know a thing or two before you get started. The most important term to know is rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is simply the overall height of your tire. Unless you want to modify your suspension, you'll want to keep your rolling diameter the same when you upsize your wheels.
Let's think about those three golden doughnuts in front of you. They're all about the same size. So if we pretend they're tires, they would have the same rolling diameter. The doughnut hole is the size of the wheel. Now pretend we've made the hole bigger on some. That's like having a bigger wheel - but the rolling diameter is the same.
It's important to keep the rolling diameter the same for several reasons. First of all, if the tire is bigger, it might not fit in the wheel well. Next the speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brake system are all calibrated for the factory rolling diameter. In order for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, the rolling diameter must stay within 3% of the factory recommendation. If you ignore that, you run the risk that your anti-lock brakes won't work properly.
Some cars today have electronically controlled suspension that will be negatively affected by changing the rolling diameter. Let's think about the doughnuts again. You see, as the size of the wheel gets bigger, the sidewall gets shorter. The tire holds less air, so the sidewalls are made stiffer to compensate.
Low profile tires from top manufacturers use special compounds that give the sidewall the strength it needs without compromising ride quality. As you increase your wheel size, you'll typically get a slightly wider tire. This means that you have a larger contact patch. The contact patch is part of the tire that contacts the road. Because there's more rubber on the road, the vehicle will handle better. And braking distances will be shorter. A lot of people with trucks or SUV's love the extra control.
You do have to watch out that the contact patch isn't so big that the tires rub in turns or over bumps. What we're talking about here is fitment. Your tire professional at Valley Auto Care can help you get this right. He'll install your new wheels, add spacers if needed to make sure your brakes fit inside your new wheels, and get you rolling.
Also, if you drive off-road a lot, you may need a higher profile tire to protect your new rims. And make sure your new tires have the load rating you need if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads. Again, your tire professional at Valley Auto Care knows how to help.
And don't forget about tire pressure. If you have larger rims, your new tires will hold less air and they'll need to run a slightly higher pressure. Forget that and you'll wear your tires out fast. Finally, get an alignment after you get your new shoes. AutoNetTV wants you to safely have the look you want.
Your Well Trained Technician At Valley Auto Care
Date: October 6, 2011 9:43 AM - Category: Service Standards
When your car breaks down, or just needs some routine service, you might get a little nervous. Your car’s so important to your life in Burnsville, you need to back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time.
If you’ve ever checked into some of the technician training Valley Auto Care professionals receive, you may be surprised at how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. Let me give you some perspective. Today there are four cylinder engines that make more power than the V-8’s in luxury cars twenty years ago. I mean a new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket’s Ferrari in a race to sixty.
Our engines are more and more powerful and at the same time their fuel economy keeps inching up – even with steep Burnsville gas prices. And they’re so reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. The modern cars driving around Burnsville roads are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin – not to mention the electronics.
Some cars have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. Burnsville motorists take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks. It’s a real challenge for Valley Auto Care technicians to keep up, but we work hard to stay ahead of the technology. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technician and the Burnsville service center as well.
In addition to the training, there’s the financial commitment to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools. Valley Auto Care technicians receive training through a combination of formal classroom training, training provided at Valley Auto Care by parts and equipment manufacturers, on-line courses and home study courses.
There are many independent certifications available at Valley Auto Care all the way up to Master Technician. The ability to repair your car requires a strong combination of training and resources. No one can know everything, so Burnsville auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even on-line communities that can help them when 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. At Valley Auto Care, we want everything to be simple, straightforward and cheap – but sometimes it just isn’t.
So try to be more relaxed next time you bring us your car. You’re in good hands.
Transmission Care In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 30, 2011 2:38 PM - Category: Transmission
Call Valley Auto Care to make an appointment to check your transmission in Apple Valley.
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Do you have any plans around Apple Valley Minnesota for the weekend? Maybe you and some friends and are taking the boat up to the lake. Maybe you'll be having a lot of fun water skiing and doing a little fishing.
You got the boat all ready. It's all gassed up. You packed lots of snacks and the cooler's stocked – ready to go.
How about your tow vehicle? It has plenty of gas and you've even vacuumed it out, but is your auto maintenance up to date?
Stop and think. You'll have some heavy traffic on your way out of town. Hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it may be hot weather. And all the time you're going to be towing around several thousand extra pounds.
That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission. Your transmission's going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. What's a fun little blast to the lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.
It's important that you have enough transmission fluid. If you're running low, the transmission will run to hot and won't have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing.
And if it's time for a transmission service, you really should have it done at Valley Auto Care before your trip. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, you need to have it serviced on schedule to make sure it runs efficiently.
Automatic transmissions contain a maze of passages that the fluid has to pass through to keep it shifting smoothly. If you neglect transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems. Neglect your transmission for too long, and it can fail. Believe us – you don't want to pay for a major transmission repair.
You know, most of us in Apple Valley Minnesota do a lot of our driving under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions. Things like short trips or driving in very hot or very cold weather. Also, dusty roads, city driving around Apple Valley, and basically any driving that's not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions is severe driving. We all need to think about whether or not we need to follow the severe service schedule.
So, consider going in for a full service oil change before you leave for the lake to make sure everything has been looked at. Ask for a trip inspection while you're at it. Your Apple Valley Minnesota service technician at Valley Auto Care can check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.
Don't forget the sunscreen. And to thank your Apple Valley service technician, how about bringing him back a nice trout?
Keeping Your Engine Cool In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 20, 2011 2:53 PM - Category: Cooling System
The cooling system keeps our engine from overheating while you are driving around Apple Valley Minnesota. Its job is to move heat away from the engine. Let's talk about the various components of the system and how they work to accomplish this.
The radiator is the part most everyone associates with the cooling system. Coolant flows through the radiator which has fine cooling fins that draw the heat out of the coolant and dissipate it into the air. To make sure there's enough airflow over the radiator, a fan pulls air over the cooling fins even when the car is idling.
In some vehicles, the fan is powered by the serpentine belt. On others, an electric motor runs the fan. Electric fans turn on and off as needed. You may have heard the fan kick on shortly after you turn your car off. The sensor has determined that the engine needs a little help cooling down to a safe temperature.
A hose connects the radiator to the water pump. The water pump pushes the water into the engine block. Now the engine block and cylinder heads have passages for the coolant to pass through without getting into the oil or the combustion chamber. These passages are referred to as the "water jacket".
While the coolant is passing through the water jacket, it absorbs heat from the engine on its way to the radiator for cooling. Between the engine and the radiator is a gatekeeper called the thermostat. The thermostat's job is to regulate the temperature of the engine just like your home thermostat regulates the temperature of your house. It gets your engine up to the correct operating temperature and then keeps it from overheating.
When your first start the engine, it's very cold and needs to warm up. So the thermostat blocks the flow of coolant to the radiator. As the engine warms up, the thermostat starts to let coolant flow through the system.
The final component I want to talk about is the overflow reservoir. This bottle is designed to hold some of the coolant. It'll have a mark that indicates whether or not you have enough coolant. This is where you should add coolant if you just need to top it off.
Caution: never open the reservoir or the radiator cap when the car's hot. The cooling system is pressurized and opening them while it's hot can cause hot coolant and steam to escape resulting in serious burns.
Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles around Apple Valley Minnesota. Your Apple Valley Minnesota service center can do a periodic inspection of the components for leaks, loose connections and weakening hoses.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Your manufacturer has also specified a cooling system service interval. With a cooling system service, the old coolant is replaced with correct clean fluid that contains the additives required to prevent corrosion. The additives are depleted over time and you need fresh fluid for adequate protection. Your radiator pressure cap should be replaced at this service as well.
Ethics of Automotive Repair in Apple Valley
Date: September 13, 2011 9:56 AM - Category: Service Standards
We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Apple Valley automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.
Unfortunately, every profession in Apple Valley has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.
Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Apple Valley automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.
If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If she's using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Apple Valley service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.
If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your Apple Valley automotive advisor's talking about: ask some questions.
Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's the industry standard:
If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:
- The part no longer performs its intended purpose
- The part does not meet a design specification
- The part is missing
For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Valley Auto Care says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.
If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor; Valley Auto Care would ethically have to refuse the repair.
To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.
Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:
- The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
- To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
- To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
- Based on the technician's informed experience
Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.
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.
Tire Tread Depth for Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 2, 2011 10:54 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So, when are your tires actually worn out? This is a question a lot of us in Apple Valley Minnesota ask ourselves. For many, the answer is 'when they no longer pass a safety inspection'. But waiting that long can have a serious impact on your safety.
The U.S. Federal government doesn’t have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider two-thirty-seconds of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider one-thirty-second to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Valley Auto Care (just call 952-431-2700) to find out what your requirements are in the Apple Valley Minnesota area.
Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there’s just 2/32” of tread left. But does that older standard give you enough safety?
Well, Consumer Reports issued a call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32”. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the big issue is braking on wet surfaces.
We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but you also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it’s wet or snowy in Apple Valley Minnesota, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you’re driving over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires actually need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there’s not enough tread depth on a tire, it can’t move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
This is where the studies come in. We think you’ll be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32” of tread were tested – this is the depth suggested by Consumer Reports
When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph with the worn tires.
Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That’s a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. Obviously this is really a big safety issue.
The tests were conducted with the same vehicles, but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable, was the tires.
So, how do you know when your tires are at 4/32”? Well, it’s pretty easy. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But a penny gives you 2/32” of an inch to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32”.
Tires are a big ticket item and most people in Apple Valley Minnesota want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out? For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is “no”.
Well, Mr. Washington, let’s go out and look at my tires.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
To Save Gas Around Apple Valley: Keep Up with Your Scheduled Service
Date: August 24, 2011 12:51 PM - Category: Fuel System
One topic that hits the news in Apple Valley on a regular basis is the price of gas. The answer for some people in Apple Valley is to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. For the rest of use, we need to improve our fuel economy anyway we can.
Following recommended service intervals by coming into Valley Auto Care is one of the best ways to keep your car running efficiently. That means better fuel economy. When you give it some thought, it only makes sense. Dirty oil or transmission fluid can’t lubricate or clean. That means more drag which reduces fuel economy.
Keeping up with scheduled oil changes and transmission services will save gas.
Dirty engine air filters are another efficiency pirate. They rob your engine of enough air to effectively burn the fuel, so you need more gas to get the job done. Replacing a dirty air filter can pay for itself in fuel savings before the next oil change.
You can imagine what dirty fuel injectors can do to your car as you drive around Apple Valley. If your owner’s manual recommends a fuel system cleaning, come into Valley Auto Care and ask us to get it done for you.
A simple, but very effective way to save gas is to keep your tires properly inflated. Low tires can cost you up to a mile per gallon. Check your tire pressure when you gas up – or at least once a month.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Date: August 18, 2011 12:58 PM - Category: Transmission
Let's talk about transmission service. It can be easy to forget about getting your transmission serviced because it doesn't need it very often. It's easy to remember to change the engine oil - you know, every 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But proper transmission servicing keeps your car running smoothly and helps you avoid costly repairs down the road.
The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit you see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatures. Usually it's 100 to 150 degrees higher than engine temperatures. Those high temperatures eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and loose efficiency.
As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn't lubricate and cool the transmission as well - leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of fluid passages inside the transmission. At best, your transmission won't operate smoothly. At worse, it could lead to costly damage.
When your transmission is running properly, it transfers more power from your engine to the drive wheels, and improves fuel economy. That's why manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid at regular intervals. Your owner's manual has a schedule for transmission service and, of course, your service center can tell you what the manufacturer recommends.
Hot and dusty conditions; towing, hauling, stop and go conditions and jack rabbit starts all increase the load on the transmission and its internal temperature. That means you need to change the fluid more often. A good rule of thumb is every 35,000 miles, 55,000 kilometers or two years. If your manufacturer suggests more frequent intervals or if you're driving under severe service conditions, you will need to change it more often.
Most service centers have the ability to perform a transmission service while you wait and the cost is quite reasonable. It's downright cheap when you think about how much a major transmission repair can cost! Your service technician will know the right type of transmission fluid to use. If it's getting to be time to have your transmission serviced, do your car a favor and have it done. If not this time, then on your next service stop.
Fuel Filter Replacement
Date: August 9, 2011 2:22 PM - Category: Fuel System
You would never like to drink a glass of mud, right? Well, your car feels the same way. It needs a steady supply of clean fuel in order to run well and deliver good fuel economy. The fuel filter's job is to clean dirt and rust out of the fuel before it gets to your engine. A clogged fuel filter can actually choke off the engine so that it won't start or run. Some fuel filters have a bypass valve that allows fuel to go around the clogged filter so your car will still run. But, then the contaminated fuel can plug your fuel injectors and allow damaging particles into your engine.
A car with a partially clogged fuel filter might run well around town, but sputter and strain on the highway because it's starving for gas. There are two things that affect how often you need to replace the filter. They are: where you drive and the gas you buy. If you drive a lot on dirt or gravel roads in rural Minnesota, your fuel filter will have a harder time keeping the fuel clean.
And, we hate to say it, but buying the cheapest gas from cut-rate Apple Valley area stations sometimes means dirtier fuel that'll clog the filter sooner. Major brands tend to be cleaner and certainly have higher levels of detergent additives.
Of course, your manufacturer recommends intervals for changing the fuel filter. But, it's a little more complicated than that. Some manufacturers stopped listing recommended intervals for fuel filter replacement or have very long intervals like every five years or eighty thousand miles. So you may need to look to other sources for recommendations. Cars older than six or seven years are especially at risk because they have had time for dirt and rust to build up in the fuel tank. A clean fuel filter keeps the gas flowing. Even a partially clogged filter puts added strain on the fuel pump. That can shorten its life and result in a costly repair.
As is often the case, spending a little money now on something as inexpensive as a fuel filter can save money down the road. At Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, we can check your fuel filter. It is better than fixing a burned out fuel pump or ruined fuel injectors.
OE vs. Aftermarket
Date: August 4, 2011 1:41 PM - Category: Parts
Minnesota new car dealerships are happy to leave you with the impression that you should have all of your scheduled automotive maintenance performed at the dealership during the warranty period. Some go so far as to imply that your warranty protection depends on it. In fact, nothing is further from the truth. Federal laws in both the United States and Canada specify that you do not have to have your vehicle serviced at a dealership to maintain warranty protection. The laws further state that a vehicle manufacturer cannot mandate that you use their particular brand of replacement parts or fluids. This certainly means you have many more service options, but what about quality?
First off, it is important to know that vehicle manufacturers do not make all of their own parts. They look to thousands of independent suppliers to manufacture the parts that go into your car or truck. Many of these same manufacturers that make the parts that are original equipment for a new vehicle, also supply parts for the automotive aftermarket. That means that your local service center such as Valley Auto Care has access to quality parts that meet or exceed auto makers' specifications. Your service consultant can offer a range of parts solutions that give you the option to save some money or to upgrade to a higher performance part.
While TV commercials for auto dealerships will tout "genuine" parts, your Apple Valley service center has the option to not only use that same part, but to help you choose one that better meets your driving needs. Dealership ads often promote the notion that only their technicians are up to the task of servicing their particular make of vehicle. That may be true if you drive a Ferrari, but for the rest of us, the training that your local service technicians receive is transferable to any vehicle.
Today's service databases enable your Burnsville or Burnsville service provider to get the right parts and to follow the right procedures to take care of your car. The diagnostic technology and equipment your service center uses enables them to get you back on the road as economically as possible. Speaking of economics, aftermarket labor rates are nearly twenty percent lower than dealership rates.
So there you have it. Your local Apple Valley area service centers are more convenient than auto dealerships, are more economical and provide high quality parts and products. And, your warranty is protected unless the manufacturer can demonstrate that a particular part lead to a warranty failure. In addition, you have more options as to where you have your vehicle serviced or repaired and you can take advantage of innovations and improvements that aren't available at the dealership.
The Fallacy of Cheap Tires
Date: July 28, 2011 2:41 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Do you ever shop for shoes in one of our Apple Valley area shoe stores?
When buying a running shoe, is quality important?
Does durability matter as long as the shoes look fabulous?
Would you rather have one pair of long lasting shoes or two pair of lower quality shoes at the same price?
Is the warranty important when buying tires?
When you choose new tires in Apple Valley, what's the most important factor for you?
Give us a call at Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700 for tire recommendations.
You know, buying tires in Apple Valley is a big deal. It's a big ticket item so you know you'll be spending a lot. You're not only concerned about the price, but you want to know that it'll be a long time before you need to buy new tires again.
And of course there's the safety aspect as well. The tires do a lot of work – they carry the weight of the vehicle and you and your passengers. They need to be up to the task. You want to be sure they hold the road and provide good traction. If you carry heavy loads or tow a trailer, the tires need a high load rating to be up for the job.
As a tire professional, I think it's important that people understand the effect of price on a tire's performance and durability. When I was a kid, my dad had a saying. He said, "Pay twice as much and buy half as many".
Dad applied that to a lot of things. He thought that one high quality suit would last longer and look better than two cheap suits. The saying really seems to hold true when it comes to shoes and boots, too.
I buy high-quality work shoes because I spend a lot of time on my feet. They're more comfortable, have important safety features like steel toes and non-slip soles – and they last at least twice as long as cheap shoes. I feel I get very good value for my money.
I apply the same thinking to tires. The major tire brands that you're familiar with are known as Tier 1 tires. These tires are well-engineered and very high quality. Comparable tires are usually in the same price range from brand to brand.
Stepping down in price you come to private label tires. Some large tire store chains carry tires with the chain's own brand. It's important to know that most private label tires are built by the same Tier 1 brands that you are familiar with – so they are a quality product. You can ask your tire professional who makes their private brand.
The lowest priced tires on the market are Tier 3 tires. These tend to be imported from China or South America. Since you get what you pay for, you can't expect a Tier 3 tire to deliver the same performance and durability as the others.
So let's say you need new tires. You've determined the features you need. So you have several options, including price options. Now, you've probably heard the term 'it's a 40 thousand mile tire' or 'it's a 60 thousand mile tire'. Simply put, the manufacturer warrantees the tire for 'X' number of miles. If that's important to you, look for the warranty.
What's the difference in the tires with higher mileage warranties? It's the rubber compounds and the amount of tread material. As you might expect, you'll pay more for the longer-lasting tire.
Now the cheapest tires you can find won't have a manufacturer's mileage warranty or if it does, it'll be relatively low. That brings us back to dad's saying; if you buy the cheapest Tier 3 tire you can, you will likely go through two sets in the time it would take to wear out one set of good quality tires. And the good tires won't cost twice as much, so you'll end up paying more per mile driven with the cheap tires.
Hey, I realize that sometimes the budget will only allow for a Tier 3 tire. I make them available for my customers who need them because I would rather see them driving with safe, new tires than pushing their old tires beyond their safety limits. But I always counsel my customers to buy as much tire as they can afford, because it will be much less expensive in the long run.
Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that touch the road. You're only as safe as your tires are well built.
Buy value – not price.
How Your Check Engine Light Works
Date: July 21, 2011 1:29 PM - Category: Dashboard
Have you ever had an experience like this in Apple Valley Minnesota? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!
You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off.
You wonder; "What was going on?" Well, it's actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.
Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn't be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something's wrong. Whatever's wrong could cause some serious engine damage.
Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.
It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I'm still concerned, I'll keep this light on for now.
Then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.
The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it's gone now. The danger is past, I'll turn that light off.
Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into our Apple Valley Minnesota shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?
Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.
The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.
The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can't compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.
The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what's wrong?
Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can't really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.
Let's say you're feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.
You know your symptom – a fever – but you don't know what's causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?
You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.
There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.
There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer's computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.
A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn't have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Apple Valley Minnesota service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.
The second problem is that once you've got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.
So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.
How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at Valley Auto Care. Give us a call at 952-431-2700 and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.
Diesel Maintenance For Minnesota
Date: July 13, 2011 12:29 PM - Category: Fuel System
At Valley Auto Care we hear from a lot of people who are excited about the new diesel engines that will soon be available in passenger cars and SUV's. But our Minnesota friends are often curious about the preventive maintenance requirements. People may not know that diesel engines have long been used extensively in Europe and Asia. In fact, in some markets, there're nearly as many diesel powered passenger cars as there are gasoline.
Here's who's announced or is expected to announce new diesels for North America: BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Subaru. Of course, the US auto makers will be expanding their diesel offerings as well. Diesels will become a very big deal here in Minnesota.
You may ask, why has it taken so long getting to Minnesota and North America? There are a bunch of reasons like fuel tax policies and such, but the biggest hurtle was that Minnesota diesel fuel had a high sulfur content – too high for the latest generation of highly refined diesel engines. Recent government mandates to remove sulfur now opens up Minnesota to the engines the rest of the world's been enjoying for a long time.
Why are diesels so popular worldwide? Well, for starters, diesels get up to 30% better fuel economy than gas engines. And they last a lot longer. And modern diesel engines are refined, quiet and powerful – and there's none of that black smoke we used to see.
Some people may think that diesels create more pollution. But, you need to rethink diesels. Environmental pollution standards for diesel cars and light trucks are scheduled to be as strict as they are for gasoline vehicles. A modern diesel engine is as clean as a gas engine.
You may also have heard a lot in the news about bio-diesel. The exciting thing about diesels is that they're not limited to fossil fuels. They can run on fuel made from vegetable oil. There are refineries that make diesel fuel from cellulosic waste like woodchips from lumber mills. There's even this cool new process where a special strain of algae is used to convert carbon dioxide, water and sunshine into bio-diesel. That's still a ways off, but you can see that diesel can become a sustainable source of fuel.
And, there are not a lot of trade off's with diesel in terms of performance. A modern passenger car diesel is very smooth, quiet and quick. Most folks wouldn't notice any difference. For those who tow trailers and haul heavy loads, diesels will be an improvement.
Now diesel engines are heavy duty, so they cost more than gas engines. But they get better fuel economy – so the break-even point is largely dependent on the difference between Minnesota gas and diesel prices at the pump and how many miles you drive. And diesels have a higher resale value.
Now, let's get back to diesel maintenance. You have to keep in mind that most of the new diesels are just coming in, or will be over the next couple of years, so we don't have the maintenance schedules to make direct comparisons yet.
But going off what we already have in Minnesota, we can expect fluid drain intervals to be similar to gasoline engines. Diesels do require very clean fuel, air and oil, so their filters are much higher capacity than gasoline filters and cost more. The engine air filter needs to be changed more frequently as well.
Repair costs are similar. As with gasoline engines, proper maintenance is the key to long engine life and to avoiding repairs. So pretty much what we have come to expect with gas vehicles; coolant system service, transmission service, power brakes, power steering, differential, filters, fuel system, and so on. And the payoff for you, if you're the kind that likes to keep your vehicles for a long time, is that a properly maintained diesel engine can last for hundreds of thousands of miles.
Go Straight: Wheel Alignment For Apple Valley Automobiles
Date: July 8, 2011 3:04 PM - Category: Alignment
You may have an alignment problem if your car drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel’s off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn’t feel like it handles right as you drive down our local Apple Valley Minnesota streets.
When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other objects around Apple Valley, Minnesota are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
Driving for an extended time when your car is out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. Sometimes the tire can be worn so badly that it will fail.
At the very least, you’ll have to replace your tires sooner. You could end up with premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive. The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars.
Now, let’s talk about some alignment basics. Wheels are adjustable for toe, caster and camber. The ideal alignment for your car was designed by its engineers.
So, what is involved in an alignment check at our Apple Valley Minnesota auto dealership? First, there’s an inspection of the steering and suspension to see if anything is bent or broken. Tire condition will also be evaluated.
From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and we take an initial alignment reading.
If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle’s centerline. If the back wheels aren’t adjustable, the direction they push is determined and the front wheels are aligned to match.
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that’s given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive around the Apple Valley area. It’s better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear – by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety.
Come see us at Valley Auto Care for more information about your tire alignment. We look forward to seeing you.
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 Hamburger;
- A Soft Drink, or
- Gummy Bears?
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
Questions To Ask Your Apple Valley Service Advisor
Date: June 15, 2011 11:25 AM - Category: Service Standards
We find that a lot of Apple Valley service and repair at Valley Auto Care are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions, but don't want to be embarrassed or to seem pushy. Cars are very complicated and there's more to know about them than most of us have the time to learn. Maybe it's because cars have become so much more reliable that the average person just doesn't need to know as much to keep their vehicle on the road.
You know, your local hospital has a Patient's Bill of Rights that they post throughout the hospital. We think our Apple Valley automotive service customers also have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their car and what it will take to fix it. They need to feel free to ask the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.
It's all about the communication. It's a little harder when you're trying to find the right service center in Apple Valley. But once you've developed a relationship, the communication should come easier.
What are some of the barriers to communication? Well, let's go back to the medical example. When your doctor's explaining something to you, it's something that she understands very well and is very familiar with. So she may use jargon you don't understand or that you don't have the education and training that's foundational to understanding what she's trying to explain.
So you fall behind and get frustrated.
It can be the same with your Apple Valley automotive service advisors. Most of them are very busy trying to service and fix cars to get their customers back on the road. So, just ask when you feel you need more information.
Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to customers. If you're not sure, ask what the payment policies are. For example, there's a big difference between giving your car a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while. Make sure you know what's done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.
Communication is a two way street. If you have some real budget concerns, ask your Apple Valley service advisor what he can do. He can give you priorities and options. He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is real tight, he might be able to find a rebuilt part or a used part. He should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.
Ask about warranties for parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. Your service center and its technicians stand behind their work and want you to understand precisely what that means.
Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that's done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received when the time comes to sell it.
Call Valley Auto Care to make an appointment.
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
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.
Nitrogen Fill For Tires in Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: May 31, 2011 12:29 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So, everyone in the Apple Valley Minnesota area knows how great helium is – you know, party balloons, squeaky voices. But a lot of people around Apple Valley still haven't heard about the benefits of nitrogen in your tires, and how it can help your tires. Here's some great advice from AutoNetTV, brought to you by Valley Auto Care.
Nitrogen has actually been around for a long time in the Apple Valley Minnesota commercial sector, but it's just starting to catch on for private vehicles in the 55124 zip code area.
Why nitrogen in your tires? Air is air, right? Actually, it turns out there is a difference.
Contact Valley Auto Care to learn more about nitrogen in your tires
You can find us at:
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Or call us at 952-431-2700
The heart of the matter is maintaining proper tire inflation. When your tires are properly inflated, they last longer, handle better and more safely, and save you money at the gas pump.
The problem is that tires filled in Apple Valley with regular air can lose a pound and a half of air pressure every month. This just happens as the oxygen in the tire seeps out. So if you don't check your pressure for a month or two, well, you can be significantly low – low enough to actually affect your handling, shorten tire life and waste money at the fuel pump.
How does nitrogen help? Regular air contains about 78% nitrogen. Nitrogen is the largest molecule in air. It's dry and non-flammable. Air also contains 21% oxygen, which is smaller and seeps out of the tire three to four times faster than nitrogen.
So, a tire filled with nitrogen at Valley Auto Care will take about six months to lose as much pressure as regular air does in just one month. So it's more forgiving for those who don't check their pressure every week.
Also, when oxygen is at higher temperatures – like those inside your tire when you've been driving for awhile – it oxidizes the inside of your tire. Getting the oxygen out of your tire means that it'll last longer.
Who's using nitrogen? Well, let's start with NASCAR and Indy. These racers like nitrogen's ability to maintain consistent tire pressure and reduce tire temperatures under very demanding conditions. The US government requires all commercial aircraft to have nitrogen in their tires. NASA and the US Military use nitrogen. The mining industry has been filling those "humongous" tires with nitrogen for years. And semi trucks and trailers are starting to use nitrogen extensively.
You may have heard some detractors of nitrogen. But the studies and white papers from tire and vehicle manufacturers demonstrate that the technology really works.
In fact, a prominent consumer research group did a study where they filled some tires with air and some with nitrogen and stacked them outside for a year. They observed that the nitrogen filled tires did hold their pressure better, but they couldn't see the economic benefit. But that particular test has very little to do with the real world. Most tires are actually holding up cars and they also get driven around and do a lot of work. So if nitrogen helps them last longer, saves gas and gives safer handling, it's worth considering.
Learn more about nitrogen in your tires by watching our attached auto tips video from AutoNetTV.
What Is A Differential And Do You Have One?
Date: May 25, 2011 9:26 AM - Category: Drive Train
With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Apple Valley, Minnesota, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most folks in Apple Valley, Minnesota don't even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don't need to be serviced for years, so it's understandable that it's not something on the top of mind for our Apple Valley customers. So it's not uncommon for people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.
Call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700 for information about differential service, or stop by our Apple Valley, Minnesota auto center at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 55124.
To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Apple Valley high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.
The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.
It's a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Apple Valley, Minnesota area weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.
That's a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.
The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that breakdown over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.
Your Apple Valley, Minnesota technician at Valley Auto Care will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then he'll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.
Your Valley Auto Care service advisor can look up the manufacturer's recommended service interval or you can check your owner's manual. Give us a call at 952-431-2700 for more information about your differential service.
Apple Valley Exhaust And Emissions Service
Date: May 19, 2011 10:33 AM - Category: Exhaust
Sometimes when we talk about exhaust service in Apple Valley, we think about exhaust pipes and mufflers. And if you can see smoke, or if it’s too loud. But, exhaust service at a place like Valley Auto Care is really a lot more comprehensive these days.
For example, in the U.S., the federal government mandated catalytic converters for all cars in Apple Valley in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. Minnesota and federal emissions requirements have forced manufacturers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental regulations. Cars sold in Canada follow the same guidelines.
So, exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer-controlled emissions devices are now a big part of that. And because it’s so sophisticated, your vehicle manufacturer recommends having your emission system checked out by a qualified technician, like the ones we have at Valley Auto Care, regularly to make sure everything’s working right – which is usually every six months or 6,000 miles.
If your 'check engine light' comes on while you are driving around the Apple Valley area, especially if it’s flashing, then you need to get your car looked at right away. Chances are it’s an emission related problem. You might have exhaust or emissions trouble if your car is hard to start, runs rough, or if it’s noisy or smoking.
So let’s review the exhaust system. Everything starts with the exhaust manifold. That’s the part that attaches to the engine and collects the exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe.
The exhaust gaskets help seal the connection with the manifold and other joints along the way. Now, if the manifold is cracked or loose, or a gasket is leaking, then dangerous gases could escape into the passenger compartment, where you ride. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it’s important that your exhaust system doesn’t leak.
The exhaust pipes connect the various components. They can rust or be damaged by a rock, so they need to be inspected periodically.
Next comes the catalytic converter. This part actually looks like a muffler. It changes chemicals that are dangerous to your health, and to the local Minnesota environment, into harmless carbon dioxide and water. Now it doesn’t require any maintenance itself. But eventually they wear out. If it has, you’ll probably find out when your car fails an emissions inspection.
Now the muffler. Its main job is to quiet engine noises. Mufflers work by either absorbing or baffling sound. And you can actually customize your car’s sound with different mufflers – which is pretty cool because you can change the look of your car, and the way it sounds.
Rusted or road-damaged mufflers can actually leak and they need to be replaced right away. The exhaust system is attached to the car by a series of hangers and clamps that hold the system in place. And when these hangers come loose or break then hot exhaust components can touch and melt wires, hoses and lines. Just think of the damage a hot curling iron can do – but worse. It’s not good to have that waving around.
And finally, we end at the tailpipe. Appropriate name. This is the final outlet for the exhaust. And one other component is the oxygen sensor. It monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust so the engine-control computer can adjust the fuel-to-air mix to keep the car running right.
We hope this hasn’t been too 'exhausting' of a discussion, but these things impact everything from life and death safety due to exhaust leaks, to just fine-tuning the sound of your ride. And talk with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care if you feel you need any of these items inspected on your vehicle, because a quick look can sure save a lot of pain down the road.
Auto Tips Videos provided for Valley Auto Care by AutoNetTV
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Date: May 13, 2011 10:02 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
We all know that under inflated tires wear out more quickly. Under-inflation is also a major cause of tire failure. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of under-inflated tires.
It's hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.
Uncle Sam to the rescue! A new federal law requires manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System - or TPMS system - in all vehicles by the 2008 model year.
Some 2006 and 2007 models already have TPMS. The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25 % below the manufacturer's pressure recommendations.
The law covers all passenger cars, SUVs, mini vans and pick up trucks. The system must also indicate if it has a malfunction. This technology has been used by race cars for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It's up to your car's manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they'll use to comply with the law.
Obviously, all of this doesn't come free. Government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100.
The costs are partially offset by savings in fuel and tread wear. There is also a saving in property damage and travel delay. Also, the government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate there will be between $3,000,000 to $9,000,000 for every life saved.
Your safety has always been a concern of your service center. They want you on the road and accident free. They've traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. They've been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and they pass the low cost on to you as an expression of their good will. That's why they're concerned about how you'll perceive the changes that this new law will force.
Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, or a snow tire mounted, the service technician is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system. Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. The sensors will have to be re-activated after the change. And, unfortunately, the very act of changing the tire will damage some sensor parts from time to time - it's inevitable and can't be avoided.
Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.
And the service centers themselves will need to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems.
Service technicians will have to be trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to the service center to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you. So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it's because of government mandated safety equipment. Your service center just wants to keep you safely on the road - and it's committed to do so at a fair price. The effects of the new law will take some time to sort out, but it will help you avoid the most common vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.
Check Your Shocks and Struts at Valley Auto Care
Date: May 4, 2011 1:26 PM - Category: Shocks & Struts
Today we're talking about shocks and struts. They're so easy to forget about because they last so long and wear out so slowly. But your shocks are really responsible for keeping your tires on the road – so they're very important.
Without shocks, your wheels would be bouncing over bumps and lifting in corners. The shocks push the tire down to the road to maximize traction. Good shocks equal good ride quality and safe handling.
Visit Valley Auto Care to have your shocks and struts inspected by a professional. You can find us at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Or give us a call at 952-431-2700 to make an appointment.
There's a difference between shocks and springs. Springs support the weight of the vehicle, keeping it suspended up off the axels. The shocks moderate the rebound motion as wheels hit bumps. Now a strut combines a shock and a coil spring in one compact unit.
When your shocks are worn out you may notice degraded handling as you drive around our Apple Valley streets. Your vehicle feels squirmy around corners and floaty over bumps.
You may notice the rear end squatting when you accelerate or the front end diving when you brake. Your car might even be sagging at one corner.
Uneven tire wear can also be a sign of worn shocks. Of course, if your shocks are leaking or have a big dent, they need to be replaced.
Your owner's manual will have a recommendation for when to replace the shocks and struts on your vehicle. It's usually between thirty and fifty thousand miles. Of course, if you tow a lot, regularly carry heavy loads or do a lot of driving on poor roads, your shocks might wear out faster.
If those driving conditions apply to you, you can get special shocks that are better suited to your driving.
The shocks that come from the factory are designed for the way most consumers are expected to drive that particular vehicle. If you have different needs for your driving around Apple Valley Minnesota, you can get premium shocks that improve performance handling, off-road abilities or towing comfort. Your Apple Valley Minnesota service consultant at Valley Auto Care can help you determine your needs and then give you some options.
It's best to replace all four shocks at the same time. That way you'll have even, predictable handling at all four corners. Anything less could be dangerous.
Drive Train - What You Need to Know In Apple Valley
Date: April 29, 2011 1:42 PM - Category: Drive Train
One Apple Valley automotive service issue that doesn't get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don't get talked about very much around Apple Valley, but they're very important. First let's define what the driveline is:
Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.
That's not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you're not moving. So we need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we're going to have to over simplify a bit.
If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call:
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Call Us at 952-431-2700
Let's start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.
So, driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot to see if it's torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner's manual or check with your Apple Valley service advisor.
On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Apple Valley have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. You've probably heard the term 'u-joints'. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected.
The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axel is damaged or leaks, the axel will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Apple Valley service advisor for intervals.
Now let's go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.
Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don't work well on dry pavement when they're in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.
Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is required as well as service to the center and rear differentials.
Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There's a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So you need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.
The bottom line is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner's manual. Your Apple Valley service advisor can answer any questions you've got. If this is the first time you've heard some of this stuff – it's time to ask someone at Valley Auto Care if any of it needs to be done now.
Watch our auto tips video from AutoNetTV.
Getting Your Car Serviced in the Real World of Apple Valley
Date: April 20, 2011 12:22 PM - Category: Warranty
We get a lot of questions about servicing your car at AutoNetTV. One that we get asked the most is: Do you have to take your car to the nearest Apple Valley dealer for service and repair? We’ve all asked ourselves that at one time or another. Of course, any new car dealer in Apple Valley would like to have your service business, but there are a lot of reasons to turn to the automotive aftermarket for routine maintenance services as well as repairs.
First, let’s get some terms straight. New car dealers and manufacturers are referred to as Original Equipment – or OE providers. Everybody else is in the automotive Aftermarket. That includes auto parts stores, quick lubes, tire and service, and repair centers.
It’s important to know how the automotive industry works. Most car manufacturers don’t actually make their own parts and none of them make all of the parts they use. Instead, there are over 5,000 manufacturers that make the parts used to build new cars as well as to repair used cars.
We get a little steamed when a new car dealer pushes the myth that you need to go to them to get “genuine parts”. The fact is that your independent service center (Valley Auto Care) can install the exact same original equipment parts from the same parts manufacturer that supplies the dealer.
One of the advantages of the aftermarket is that they’re free to innovate and improve. The aftermarket is quick to step in and fix design problems in Original Equipment parts. They’re also able to improve on reliability and performance.
When you use your independent aftermarket service center you’ll get parts that meet or exceed manufacturers’ specifications. You‘ll also have the freedom to choose replacement parts that meet your budget, improve performance or are the same as what the factory uses.
This freedom of choice is protected by law. You’re not required to use the dealership for service or to use the manufacturer’s brand of parts or fluids in order to maintain your vehicle warranty. Your local service center knows what products are recommended for your vehicle and can help keep you safely and economically on the road.
It’s like when you go to the hairdresser. They have a wide range of products you can choose from. You can buy something that’s less expensive when your budget’s tight, or kick it up a notch if you want. That’s the freedom of choice you get in the Apple Valley, Minnesota automotive aftermarket.
Some new car dealerships lead you to believe that only their technicians are able to properly service or repair your make of vehicle. That may be true if you drive a Ferrari, but for the rest of us, the training our local Apple Valley, Minnesota technicians receive is transferable to our cars.
Your Apple Valley, Minnesota service center invests heavily in training its technicians and in making sure that they have all of the high tech diagnostic and service equipment to take good care of you. Hey, we live in the information age – aftermarket service centers have access to the latest specifications, problem reports and repair solutions for your vehicle.
Like your hairdresser – she probably knows you. She knows your personality, all about your family, and maybe even a few secrets. Your Apple Valley, Minnesota automotive technician should also know you, and your car. You can’t underestimate the value of that relationship.
Your vehicles are a big investment and you rely on them so much. You have to have someone you can trust to take care of you. Valley Auto Care can get the right parts, has the training to fix your vehicle and has a very strong commitment to your satisfaction. And for most of us, they’re more conveniently located and can usually perform maintenance services with less wait and hassle.
Now if your car needs a repair that’s covered under its new vehicle warranty, you’ll want to visit the dealership. But for everything else, consider your local aftermarket service center. Options, freedom, convenience – and with labor rates that are nearly 20% lower than the dealership – why go anywhere else?
Custom Wheels and Tires
Date: April 15, 2011 10:30 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
It seems like everywhere you go around Apple Valley you see custom wheels. Big trucks, little cars, mini-vans - it doesn't matter, people are expressing themselves with custom wheels. Some people want smaller tires and wheels - some want larger - and some want them enormous. So where do you start if you want new wheels? We suggest you start with your budget. We know, that sounds so practical. But if the look you're after goes beyond just new tires and wheels and enters into the world of suspension modifications, you need to be prepared for the additional cost.
Let's start with something easy - you want to give your ride a unique look and the stock wheel size is just right for you. One of the concerns you will have is that the new wheels have the same offset as your factory wheels.
First, what is offset? The wheel bolts onto the hub on the car's axel. The distance from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on, is the offset. If the new wheel has a different offset from the factory, the tires may rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. That could lead to catastrophic tire failure.
Your Apple Valley tire and wheel professional can help you find the right size wheel - or install adapters to make your new wheels fit. All you have to do is pick from the hundreds of styles available.
So, what if you want to upsize? Well, if it is just bigger wheels you want, but you want to keep the same overall tire diameter, that's pretty easy. The same offset concerns apply. You need to know that the tires will likely be a little bit wider than the originals and could rub when you make sharp turns. A tire professional at Valley Auto Care can help you avoid this.
It is also important to keep the same overall tire diameter because changing the rolling diameter can mess with your anti-lock brakes and stability control systems. Are you starting to see why you want to consult with a tire and wheel expert? Is "super-size me" your motto? If it is, you are going to have to lift your vehicle to make room for those huge tires. A mild lift doesn't require extensive modifications. An extreme lift means a lot of new hardware under the vehicle. It also means a lot of stock electronic systems need to be recalibrated to the new tire size. For example, your speedometer and odometer will give false readings if they aren't recalibrated.
You should also be aware of possible performance issues. Bigger tires and wheels weigh more. Experts refer to this as unsprung weight because it isn't held up by your suspension system. Increased unsprung weight affects performance in different ways than an equivalent amount of groceries or little soccer players in the passenger compartment. Acceleration is negatively affected. Stopping distances may also be increased - sometimes dramatically. If you want really big tires and wheels, you might need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.
Heading the other direction, some folks like to run smaller than standard wheels and lower the suspension. All of the same fitment issues still apply as well as calibration issues. Don't think that suspension modifications are a bad thing. Many systems actually improve ride, function and performance over the stock set-up.
Regardless of your budget, you want your vehicle to continue to do all the things you need it to do. Some of those show cars and trucks you see on TV look fantastic, but have been modified in ways that may not suit your needs. For example, if you put large rims on your SUV with low profile tires, you may be in for busted rims if you go off-roading a lot. There just isn't enough sidewall to absorb the impact of thumping over rocks.
Some people stuff the largest tires and wheels possible in their vehicles but have to severely restrict suspension travel so that the tires aren't rubbing all day. That can lead to a very harsh ride. Again, talk with your Apple Valley wheel professional about all of these things: how you drive, what look you are going for, your budget and what compromises you are willing to make.
At the end of the day, you're going to be rollin' out of there with one sweet ride.
Recommended Service Intervals At Valley Auto Care
Date: April 7, 2011 11:43 AM - Category: Service Intervals
Most people in the Apple Valley area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Burnsville, Burnsville and Rosemount in Minnesota.
The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.
Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your car. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.
Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your car engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.
Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.
Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your car. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.
Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care by calling 952-431-2700. You'll find our shop located at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124.
You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your car. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.
Your car owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.
Keeping Your Apple Valley Air Fresh When Driving With A Clean Cabin Air Filter
Date: March 31, 2011 12:17 PM - Category: Cabin Air Filter
What is a cabin air filter? Is it:
A. A filter for your Apple Valley house?
B. A fresh, piney scent?
C. A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?
Clever you, it’s C.
A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment. It filters out common Apple Valley air particles like dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, exhaust gas, odors and even sparrows.
These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
Not all vehicles in Apple Valley have cabin air filters. They are fairly new on the scene. About forty percent of new vehicles sold in Apple Valley come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.
Cabin air filters can make for a very nice driving environment. Your car can be a haven during our Apple Valley allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. However, the filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.
Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals. Often, the owner’s manual forgets about the cabin air filter, so ask your service technician at Valley Auto Care for a recommendation. It’s usually every year or 12,000 miles / 19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions around the Apple Valley area, or if you start to notice an odor from your ventilation system.
So keep your cabin air filter clean. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience around Apple Valley more enjoyable.
Come by Valley Auto Care and we'll take a look at your cabin air filter for you.
Date: March 24, 2011 9:44 AM - Category: Parts
Like everything automotive, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. We can all drive more safely at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility down the road, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as the country's population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.
Most new cars come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on the road, they're very bright and have a bluish tint.
From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many people complain about HID lights in on coming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies - your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.
All halogen headlamps dim over time. Experts recommend that they be changed out once a year. AutoNetTV suggests you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Savings Time. It's easy to remember - when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time - then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long winter nights.
If you have an older car with old style headlamps - they make halogen replacement lamps for most cars. You'll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.
In addition to regular halogen lamps, you can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that's more like natural sunlight. This light's easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.
Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other drivers to think you're running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn't she? Only her Minnesota automotive service technician knows for sure.
Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, Minnesota can restore your headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing.
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.
So follow these tips to keep your windshield clear and your eye on the road.
Find us at:
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Fuel Saving Tip: Car Weight And Your Minnesota Driving
Date: March 11, 2011 11:48 AM - Category: Fuel System
Weight is the enemy of fuel economy. Everyone from here to Rosemount knows this makes sense.
Some of us in the Rosemount area carry a bunch of unnecessary weight, and I'm not talkin' what you see in the mirror.
Guys; sports equipment and tools. Ladies; well, just take a look around the passenger compartment and trunk. I think my car has about forty-five pounds of French fries on the floor.
All that extra weight wastes gas as you drive between here and Rosemount, and everywhere else.
Lose the junk and save some money.
...And you really only need one of those spare tires.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: March 3, 2011 12:06 PM - Category: Fuel System
Let's talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions to our Apple Valley environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for us very soon.
For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Apple Valley area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn.
The benefits are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower fuel economy and that when gas prices are low, E85 can be more expensive than straight gasoline.
You should only use E85 if you have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.
Diesel engines have been around the Apple Valley area for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.
There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Apple Valley roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It's less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.
Natural gas engines don't make as much power and don't get as good of mileage, but they cost less per mile to run. The big inconvenience is that the tank that holds the compressed natural gas takes up a lot of room; even your whole trunk! And there may not be places to refuel on a road trip from Apple Valley.
Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Apple Valley area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.
That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our Apple Valley roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.
A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that's assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver city fuel economy similar to their highway ratings.
A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It'll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.
Another breakthrough technology is hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity. Several global car makers have prototypes on the road. The appeal is that the only thing that comes out of the tail pipe is water vapor. It'll take some time to build a national infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations before there's widespread use.
A quick word about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Apple Valley service technician at Valley Auto Care is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.
Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you're specifically trained on hybrid systems.
Selecting New Tires and Wheels
Date: February 22, 2011 2:25 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Some of us just love tires. All those little rubber hairs on new tires and the smell is wonderful. We live in a great time for tires. No matter how you drive, where you want to go or the look you're after; there is a tire for you.
The same is true about wheels. The hardest part is choosing from the thousands of wheels available.
We may not be able to help with that, but we can help you get some things in mind before you consult with your Apple Valley tire professional. Let's start with function and think about how you drive.
For example, maybe you have a large SUV but you don't drive off-road, so an off-road tread isn't important. Also, because you are not out bouncing over rocks in the Minnesota backcountry, you don't need a high profile tire to protect your rims. So that means you can probably go with the low-wide look.
If you have a winter season with rain and snow or if you find you need better ice and snow performance, they make great, high-performance snow tires that won't make it look like you are driving a tractor.
There really are a lot of options for any given vehicle. You will find it very helpful to have a discussion like this with your Apple Valley tire pro when you need new tires. You can find the best solutions for your driving needs and to make improvements in ride or handling.
Picking a wheel that is the same size as what you are now running is pretty simple. But, it gets trickier if you want to upsize. Just get some help when you go bigger. All that tire and wheel still needs to fit in the available space. You do not want your tires to rub when you turn or hit a bump. You also need to make sure your brakes and suspension bits will fit with your wheel of choice. It doesn't matter how great your car looks if it's not drivable.
Taller, wider wheels and tires probably weigh more than your stock shoes. And it's "unsprung" weight - that has a big impact on brake performance. The upsized shoes increase rotational inertia - if you go too big you may need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.
Another possible problem is an inaccurate speedometer. This happens because the number of rotations can change with the new wheels. Fortunately, speedometers and odometers are all controlled by the engine computer; so it is simple to get it reprogrammed and compensate for the bigger tires.
No matter what you are after: low cost, long life, high performance, traction or stunning good looks, your wheel and tire professional at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, Minnesota can help you identify your needs and give you a custom fit. With all the options available, you don't have to compromise. There is a tire out there with your name on it!
Date: February 15, 2011 3:03 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
So you love our job, and your family life is great: You have achieved balance. But can you the same for your wheels? You can tell if your tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it's a back tire, you'll feel the vibration in your seat.
Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the tire technician will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it's too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 MPH, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's where you get your vibration.
Most people are surprised at how smoothly their car rides after balancing all four wheels.
Most high-quality tires hold their balance pretty well. They just get out of balance gradually with normal wear and tear. If you suddenly feel a vibration, it is probably because you lost a wheel balancing weight along the way. Definitely get a balance if you feel a vibration, change your rims or have a flat repaired. Putting off a needed balance job leads to excessive tire wear, wear to your shocks, struts, steering and suspension parts. wheel balancing not only improves your ride and handling, but also can save you some big repair bills and possibly an accident. Additionally, you will get better gas mileage.
Some people have their tires balanced at every rotation. Others do it every other time. Check your owners' manual for your requirements, or ask your technician. Doing thus will put you on the path to mechanical wheel balance
Coolant Antifreeze Service
Date: February 8, 2011 9:30 AM - Category: Cooling System
You may know that most automotive failures are tire related, but do you know the second most common cause for vehicle failure? Nope, it's not teenagers. It is the coolant system. But, if you take good care of your coolant system, it will take good care of you.
A car's engine creates a lot of heat - so much heat, that if it is not properly cooled, the engine can lock up, resulting in massive damage and repair bills. But when everything is working right, your engine operates at the proper temperature and all is well. Without antifreeze in your cooling system, the water could freeze and cause engine damage. This could be very expensive, not to mention inconvenient.
The right mix of water and antifreeze protects the engine against damage from freezing and overheating. Antifreeze also protects the coolant system against corrosion that could cause the system to fail. The thing to remember is this: coolant system failure is very common, but it is also very easy to prevent. Service technicians at Valley Auto Care can check the manufacturers' recommendations, and tell you when the coolant needs to be changed. See http://www.valleyautocare.com/contact.php. They can also perform a coolant system service.
Even the best antifreeze cannot completely protect the coolant system from harmful deposits forever. The anti-corrosion additives are used up over time, so the coolant must be replaced. A coolant service cleans out the system and replaces the old fluid with fresh coolant. A coolant system service is a low-cost way to protect against major engine repairs down the road. Prevention is the key. Be sure to watch out for the two main warning signs: if your temperature gauge is in the "hot" zone or if you get a message warning you to check your coolant. If you take a look under the hood, you will see the coolant overflow bottle. You can see there are lines that indicate the proper level of coolant ... if your engine is cold - or if it is hot.
You can add water or antifreeze to that bottle yourself, but be careful. First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. The steam could severely burn you. Second, try to get to your Burnsville or Rosemount auto service center immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your owner's manual. Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze, or you will damage your engine. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with your service center where they can make necessary corrections. Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze. You will need to check your owner's manual to make sure you use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturers warranty on your cooling system. If you're not sure, ask your Apple Valley area service technician for guidance.
Deciphering the Valley Auto Care Menu Board
Date: February 3, 2011 10:36 AM - Category: Service Intervals
Let's talk about deciphering the auto service menu board. Apple Valley, Minnesota service centers like Valley Auto Care have a board that lists the routine services they provide. But some people don't know what these services really are unless they ask. Let's go down a typical list, in alphabetical order, starting with air conditioning service.
Feel free at any time to give Valley Auto Care a call at 952-431-2700 to learn of the many services we offer, or stop by our Apple Valley, Minnesota auto center at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 55124.
First remember that all of these services are recommended by vehicle manufacturers. They set how often or at how many miles the service should be done.
Air conditioning service involves purging the old refrigerant and capturing it for proper disposal. Then fresh refrigerant is installed. The fresh refrigerant will lubricate the system and will also help it cool better.
Alignment. Service centers like Valley Auto Care make sure all four wheels are lined up and track with each other. This reduces tire and suspension wear and improves safety and handling.
Battery service. Service centers like Valley Auto Care inspect the battery for corrosion, leaks or damage. Test the battery's ability to hold a charge. If the battery's still strong, clean it up. If not, replace it.
Brake service. This could be two things. A brake inspection to see if the brakes are working well mechanically and to see if the pads are still safe. If not, replace the pads and make any repairs that might be in order.
The other thing is to evacuate the brake fluid, clean out the system and replace it with fresh fluid. This is important, but often over looked.
Cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is the filter that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment. It works like the filter on your furnace at home. It gets dirty and needs to be changed often.
Cooling system. This is the cooling system for your engine. Replace the old coolant with fresh to protect your radiator and other cooling system components from corrosion.
Differential service. Every vehicle has at least one differential. They don't require service very often, so people don't think of them much. The differential transfers power from the drive train to your wheels. Drain the old fluid and add fresh lubricant.
Engine air filter. This filters the air that's burned in the engine. It also gets dirty and needs to be replaced often.
Fuel filter. This filter cleans the fuel before it gets to the engine. Like the other filters, it too gets clogged and needs to be replaced in order to maintain good flow.
Contact Valley Auto Care, your Apple Valley, Minnesota auto repair center, by calling us at 952-431-2700.
Why People In Apple Valley Hesitate to Get their Vehicle Serviced
Date: January 26, 2011 1:54 PM - Category: Service Standards
A recent report stated that over 80 percent of the vehicles on our Apple Valley Minnesota roads have one or more service or repair that's needed, but hasn't been taken care of. Now that's a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.
There are several reasons why we hesitate to take care of recommended services; especially services that our Apple Valley Minnesota automotive advisor recommends when we're in for something else, like an oil change.
The first issue boils down to comfort with car care. We don't always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that vehicles are so reliable these days. They almost become an appliance. Of course you love your car, but if you don't have to worry about it breaking down all the time, you're not forced to think as much about preventive maintenance.
Perhaps your dad knew a lot about cars and always made sure they were taken care of. He was very comfortable dealing with his local Apple Valley Minnesota service advisor. People who don't know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don't want to look ignorant.
It's human nature. But, there's so much to know in this world, we can't all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It's very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it's your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician in Apple Valley, Minnesota.
Your auto technician at Valley Auto Care wants your questions. We want you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done.
That brings us to the next issue; people say that they don't always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.
At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your Apple Valley service center and your service advisor? Trust has to be earned and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based on manufacturer's maintenance schedules.
In other words, "you don't have to trust me, you can trust your owner's manual".
Your Apple Valley service center has computer databases that contain the manufacturer's recommendations for almost all vehicles, so they don't need to rummage through your glove box to look for your owner's manual to know what to do.
Basically, the engineers who designed the car say "here's when you need to have it serviced". That's who makes the recommendation, not the technician. He's just reminding you.
Now you do need to trust your Apple Valley technician's experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concern and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.
That brings us to the third issue; money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And we have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn't usually on either of those lists.
Look, everyone who works at Valley Auto Care has a family budget, too. They can relate. Maybe a little look behind the scenes would be helpful.
Service centers like Valley Auto Care invest heavily in training, diagnostic equipment and tools so that they can make repairs and perform services as efficiently as possible. And like any other business, they have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, shop and office supplies, taxes and so on.
We work hard to make sure that we diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's the only way we can maintain our reputation and remain in business. If we're not satisfying our customers and providing a good value, you won't come back and the service center won't be around for long.
When there is a real budget concern, your Apple Valley service center can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.
Let's say you have a serious problem with your brakes. That's a safety concern so a technician can't ethically say, well, let's put that off for a couple of months. What they can do is take care of the brakes now and address the cabin air filter or transmission service next month.
Are There Blind Spots In Apple Valley Minnesota?
Date: January 20, 2011 10:19 AM - Category: Automotive News
Everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota has blind spots – and no, I'm not talking about the fact that you really don't sing like Jessica Simpson. I mean the areas of the road that you can't see when you're driving around Apple Valley.
First let's talk about our own blinds spots, and then we can talk about others...
To begin, we can greatly reduce our blind spots by properly adjusting our mirrors to give the widest coverage possible. Make the adjustments in your car before you start to drive.
First, adjust your rear view mirror to give the best possible view directly to the rear of your car. You don't need it to get a better view of either side of the car, the kids in the back seat or your dazzling smile. The rear view mirror should look to the rear.
Next, lean your head until it almost touches the driver's side window. Adjust your side mirror so that you can just barely see the side of your car.
Valley Auto Care
We're on 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley, Minnesota (55124)
Call us to make an appointment at 952-431-2700.
Now, lean your head to the middle of the car and adjust the outside mirror so that you can barely see the right side of the car.
With your mirrors adjusted this way, you'll have maximum coverage. Of course driving is a dynamic process – things change every second. So it's wise to take a quick look to the side when passing to make sure that another vehicle hasn't moved into an area you couldn't see in your mirrors.
Depending on the kind of vehicle you drive (car?), you may still have some blind spots. All vehicles have an area behind them that's blind when backing up. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. A pick up or SUV can hide a small child – an RV, bus or tractor-trailer can hide an entire vehicle. So be careful around our Apple Valley streets!
As you drive around the Apple Valley area, avoid staying in other diver's blind spots. You can't count on them to be watching their mirrors and looking out for you.
Let's talk about safely sharing the road with heavy trucks and buses. In crashes involving a truck and car, the car causes about 40 percent of the accidents. But 78 percent of the fatalities are with the car. The laws of physics are against the smaller vehicle, so it pays to take extra precautions around trucks and buses.
Heavy vehicles have huge blind spots: to the rear, on both sides and up front. They also can't maneuver like a car. They take twice as long to stop and need twice as much space as you do in your car or other type of car. You need to keep wide margins when driving around one of these big rigs.
Here are some tips for passing a heavy vehicle in the Apple Valley area:
- Avoid the blind spots. If you can't see the driver's face in one of his mirrors or in a window, he cannot see you!
- Don't follow too close. If you can't see one of the truck's mirrors, you're too close.
- Make sure there is plenty of room to pass. Trucks are long and take time to get around. If you're on one of our local Apple Valley Minnesota two way highways, wait for a passing zone.
- Don't linger when passing. Because the blind spots are so big on the sides, you want to get through them quickly. If you can't pass quickly, drop back.
- Pass on the left whenever possible. A trucks' blind spot is much larger on the right.
- Be attentive and wear your seat belts while driving anywhere around Apple Valley, even short drives.
- Don't be aggressive when driving around trucks. Because of their size, they appear to be going slower than they really are. Cutting it short around a truck could be disastrous.
- Use your turn signals when starting to pass. Once you can see the full truck in your rear view mirror, it's safe to signal and move over. Don't cut it short or slow quickly when you pull in front of a truck.
- Be careful passing a truck at an intersection. Trucks need to turn wide to maneuver through city streets. Squeezing between a truck and the curb could put your car in the Apple Valley body shop. Look for the truck's turn signals.
We at Valley Auto Care want you to watch those blind spots – but feel free to sing in the shower all you want.
Serpentine Belt Replacement
Date: January 11, 2011 2:59 PM - Category: Parts
Don't you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator-which charges the battery, the water pump-which cools the engine, the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.
Serpentine belts are especially tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. But, with time they wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You have to stop the car or it will overheat, potentially causing major engine damage. And it probably won't be at a convenient time or place. You might even need to get your car towed to a Apple Valley automotive service center. That is why manufacturers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. You really should get it done on schedule because a belt failure will definitely take you off the road.
If you hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, you should have your serpentine belt looked at. Your service technician will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an 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.
Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled vehicle to a service center for repairs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To schedule a belt inspection, call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700. We are located in Apple Valley at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105.
Timing Belt Replacement in Apple Valley
Date: January 5, 2011 1:28 PM - Category: Parts
Today we want to talk about timing belts. They’re something that many Apple Valley drivers don’t know much about and yet your vehicle won’t run if it’s broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner’s manual, it’s not the kind of thing that most Apple Valley car owners remember because it’s not well understood.
Let’s review what a timing belt does. As you know, the engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It’s called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.
Now, not all Burnsville and Burnsville vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. Manufacturers started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now we're left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous depending on where you are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.
Interference engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it’ll cost thousands to repair the engine.
So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren’t any. There aren’t tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Valley Auto Care may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that’s in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the damage it’ll cause. There’s no middle ground.
So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner’s manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles, ask your Valley Auto Care service advisor right away if your manufacturer requires a timing belt replacement.
Contact Valley Auto Care to learn more about your car's Timing Belt
You can find us at:
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Or call us at 952-431-2700
Sometimes you can go quite a while without a failure, but we’ve seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It’s not worth the risk.
What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Burnsville or Rosemount? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it’s usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn’t a cheap procedure, but it’s a fraction of what it could cost to repair the damage caused by a failure.
At Valley Auto Care we’re all about trying to prevent costly repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment. Thanks to AutoNetTV for their great auto video tips.
Clean Fuel Makes a Happy Engine In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: December 28, 2010 11:59 AM - Category: Fuel System
If the fuel system in your car is dirty, you will be wasting gas and losing performance as you drive around Apple Valley Minnesota.
Unless you drive a vintage car, you have fuel injectors. They need to be properly maintained. That is why your owner’s manual has a schedule for cleaning your fuel injectors and other parts of your fuel system.
Your service technician at Valley Auto Care has the tools and chemicals to do the job right. Valley Auto Care uses a process that gives your car a deep, professional fuel system cleaning. The particles, gum and varnish that build up in your fuel system are removed so that it can run cleanly and efficiently.
After a professional fuel system cleaning, you’ll notice more power, better gas mileage and reduced exhaust emissions. AutoNetTV strongly recommends you follow your manufacturer’s fuel system cleaning service recommendations to keep your vehicle running strong.
It’s expensive to replace a fuel injector that’s been damaged by neglect. Check with your service technician at Valley Auto Care and see when your car is scheduled for a fuel system cleaning.
Apple Valley Tire Repair
Date: December 23, 2010 10:56 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Most folks around Apple Valley have had a flat tire. You know it’s inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn’t just a big safety issue – it also has a financial impact. With high gas prices, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to save on gas. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer.
There’s another danger to under-inflated tires. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don’t just keep airing them up every few days. You want to avoid serious tire damage.
Tires can also be damaged by road hazards in and around Apple Valley. Punctures, cuts and impacts on curbs or potholes can also cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Sometimes, it’s something that a visual inspection would reveal. Take the opportunity to check your tires when you’re gassing up. Look for slashes, missing chunks, nails or screws in the tread or just uneven wear. Of course check the air pressure too.
Now tire damage can be on the inside where you can’t see it until it’s removed from the wheel. Such damage could come from a severe impact, driving on a flat or even just low pressure. Some punctures can cause internal damage that are too severe to be repaired. You may see our Valley Auto Care professionals take the time to remove your flat from the rim and inspect the inside before repairing it, which means we're just following good procedure.
Now some tires just can’t be repaired. A puncture may be too large to plug. Also, the puncture could be in a location that’s not safe to repair like in the sidewall or outer portion of the tread. So called run-flat tires should not be repaired because their design is such that internal damage can’t be detected by a visual inspection.
It is also important that repairs should only be done by a qualified tire specialist like the ones we have at Valley Auto Care. You can buy self repair kits – save those for emergencies, like when you’re off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it’s a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.
Here are some other considerations: Repairing a flat may void your tire manufacturer’s warranty – just something to keep in mind. Also, if you repair a speed rated tire, you should not use it in any motorsports or operate it above legal speed limits. Your tire professional will repair your tire whenever it’s safe to do so and he’ll advise you when it’s better to replace it. So watch those curbs and keep the air – on the inside.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
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
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.
Check Engine Light
Date: December 7, 2010 3:05 PM - Category: Dashboard
Did you know that today's cars carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969? New cars have as many as 12 networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, computers have been controlling about 85% of your vehicle's functions.
Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do you know when there is a problem?
It's simple - the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code in the computer.
It can be pretty disturbing when the Check Engine light comes on. We wonder just how urgent it is. Generally speaking, it is not critical like a temperature or oil pressure light. When you get one of those it means STOP NOW! When the Check Engine light shows up, you should get to your Apple Valley automotive service center to find out what the matter is as soon as possible.
Since 1996, there has been a strong emissions control component to the Check Engine diagnostic. But if your Check Engine light flashes on and off, you know that it is more urgent and you need to get it checked immediately to prevent damage. You should slow down and avoid towing or heavy loads until you can get it checked out.
The automotive technicians at Valley Auto Care have special diagnostic equipment that will retrieve the trouble code from the computer and help determine what is wrong. From there, they can fix it and get you back on the road.
Stop It! You Need Good Brakes
Date: December 3, 2010 3:05 PM - Category: Brakes
Good brakes are obviously very important. If you've ever had your brakes go out while you're driving around the Apple Valley area, you'll know how terrifying it can be. Today we'll focus on how to tell when you have a brake problem, and how to make good repair choices.
Often, the first indication that something's wrong with the brakes is an unusual sound. It could be a squeal, chatter or grinding sound.
Some brake pads have a little piece of metal embedded in them that will make a squeal or chirping sound when the brake pads have been worn down to the point that they need to be replaced. It's an early warning indicator.
When you hear that sound, schedule an appointment at Valley Auto Care soon.
Now a chattering sound is more urgent. That usually indicates that something is loose. It could be a brake pad or even the brake calipers. If one of those parts falls off, you could have some serious trouble stopping the vehicle. It would be a good idea to park it until you can get into the shop.
A grinding noise usually means that the brake pad is completely worn away and the metal parts of the brake are rubbing directly on the metal brake rotor. That means the rotor is being damaged and will need some work. More on that later.
Another warning sign is that your brake pedal may feel soft and spongy – or it may even feel very hard to push in. Both could mean trouble. And of course, you may get a dashboard brake warning light.
Now when it comes time to replace your brake pads, you have a choice to make. You can get the same pads that came standard on your vehicle. You can expect the same performance and durability as with the pads that came on the car from the factory.
Now you can also get a budget brake pad. Sometimes drivers insist on lower cost pads. That's OK if the budget demands it, but you need to be aware of the trade offs. Lower grade pads are usually noisier, so you'll have to live with more noise when you apply the brakes. They also tend to generate a lot more brake dust, you know, that black dust that accumulates on your wheels. And they probably won't last as long either. In our opinion, that's a lot of compromise for just a few dollars in savings.
You can also choose to buy premium brakes pads. These perform at higher specifications than the factory pads. You can expect quieter operation, less brake dust and better stopping power.
Now, getting back to the rotors. The rotors are the discs that the brake pads clamp down on to stop the vehicle. If you've been driving with completely worn brake pads, you've scratched grooves into the rotors. If the grooves aren't too deep, the rotor can be resurfaced. A thin layer of metal is cut off the surface of the rotor to make it smooth again.
Now, if the grooves are too deep or if the rotor has already be resurfaced before, there may not be enough material to resurface and still have a rotor that's thick enough to safely stop the vehicle. In that case, the rotor will have to be replaced.
Something that's often overlooked is the brake fluid. Your manufacturer has a recommended schedule for evacuating the old brake fluid, cleaning the system and refilling it with fresh brake fluid. This is really important to brake performance.
So here's the bottom line: if you suspect, inspect. If you notice any of these warning signs, have your brakes inspected. Your advisor can help you make the repair decision that's right for you.
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.
Give us a call at 952-431-2700 to schedule an oil change, or visit us at our Valley Auto Care website
How Do You Save Gas?
Date: November 23, 2010 11:35 AM - Category: Fuel System
No one near Apple Valley, Minnesota likes high fuel prices. But if one good thing has come about, it’s that people are really focused on how to reduce their fuel consumption. North Americans literally drive billions of miles less each month during times of high fuel prices. But we still need to drive, so it makes sense to try and increase our fuel economy however we can.
Let’s look at a real life example of one of our AutoNetTV producers. He has one of those really big SUVs. Lots of kids and horses to haul around, you know. His family was planning a four day camping trip. Here’s what he did to cut his fuel costs:
First, he installed a new, high flow engine air filter. Then he had his service center change his oil, flush his cooling system and service his front and rear differentials along with the transfer case. He also had a fuel system cleaning, replaced his PCV value and breather element. He also made sure his tires were up to the recommended pressure.
Now this cost several hundred dollars. But keep in mind, it all needed to be done anyway; it was all scheduled, and some of the work was overdue.
So he headed out, loaded with nine people and pulling a ton of trailer with everything needed for four days of camping. When the trip was over, he had turned in the best fuel economy he had ever gotten on that vehicle. It had improved 25 percent. He saved $48.00 on that trip alone. And the savings keep coming every day.
Here’s a quick summary of what you can do to save fuel with your Apple Valley, Minnesota vehicle. First get caught up on your routine maintenance. Nearly every scheduled service item can save you some fuel. If its time for a tune-up, git ‘er done. That’s a big item.
If your check engine light is on, have Valley Auto Care figure out why and fix it. Check engine problems can be real gas wasters.
Proper tire pressure and wheel alignment can really help as well. Try not to carry around a bunch of stuff. An extra hundred pounds can cost a mile per gallon.
Now you may not want to hear this, but the single biggest fuel waster for most Minnesota people is their right foot. Zooming away from stop lights and hot rod lane changes really waste fuel. Take it easy, don’t speed and plan ahead.
Finally, you may have noticed that we haven’t mentioned any magic pills or devices that will 'double your mileage'. That’s because there aren’t any. Some may help a bit, but there are a lot of scams. Do some research and check with Valley Auto Care before spending your hard earned cash.
TPMS: Tire Pressure Monitoring For Your Apple Valley Auto
Date: November 16, 2010 2:11 PM - Category: Monitoring System
You may know that all 2008 model year and newer cars, mini-vans and light trucks in Apple Valley come with a tire pressure monitoring system. Many slightly older vehicles around Apple Valley have these systems as well. A tire pressure monitoring system – called TPMS – consists of sensors on each wheel that measure tire pressure.
If tire pressure drops 25 percent below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, the sensor sends a signal to a monitoring unit that causes a warning to light up on the dashboard. When you see the warning light, you know it’s time to put some air in your tires.
There are many benefits to driving with properly inflated tires around Apple Valley. First is cost savings. Running at the correct air pressure improves fuel economy. Driving on under-inflated tires is like driving through sand – it drags down your fuel economy. You’ll also see longer, more even tread wear so your tires’ll last longer.
Another important benefit of properly inflated tires is increased safety. Under-inflated tires become hotter and that heat can actually lead to tire failure – possibly resulting in an accident. Your car and the tires themselves will just perform better and more safely around Apple Valley with properly inflated tires.
Local Apple Valley consumer groups, law-makers and vehicle manufacturers advocate TPMS systems hoping that they will save lives, property damage and inconvenience. While you can’t put a value on saving a life, we keep in mind that TPMS systems will carry a cost.
The systems themselves are added into the price of the car. The batteries in the sensors will have to be replaced from time to time. Parts will break and need to be replaced. In colder climates around Minnesota, ice and salt are frequent causes of failure.
In addition, there are other behind-the-scenes costs to be aware of. Every time a tire is replaced, repaired, rotated or balanced, the tire technician has to deal with the TPMS system.
Your service center (Valley Auto Care) must purchase equipment used to scan and reactivate the TPMS system after every tire service. Because older tire change equipment can damage TPMS sensors, your service center may need to buy expensive, new tire changers.
Since there is no uniformity among manufacturers, technicians need to be trained on several TPMS systems. These behind-the-scenes costs are very real to your service center.
That’s why they are anxious for you to understand the financial impact of TPMS systems. In the past, they’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide tire services, and then pass the low cost on to you as an expression of their good will. But now even these simple jobs will take much longer.
Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. Even a tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed.
So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it’s because of this new safety equipment. Valley Auto Care just wants to keep you safely on the road – and we're committed to do so at a fair price.
It’s important to remember that the TPMS warning only comes on when a tire is severely under-inflated. You’ll still want to check your tire pressure on a regular basis. At every fill-up is best, but you should check pressure at least once a month. Here’s wishing you safe travels.
Contact Valley Auto Care for more information about Tire Pressure Management Systems.
On Board Diagnostics For Your car
Date: November 10, 2010 3:22 PM - Category: Monitoring System
Make an appointment with Valley Auto Care to have your on board diagnostics analyzed.
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Today we're going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from folks around Apple Valley Minnesota who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what's involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of diagnostic scans by a trained technician in Apple Valley Minnesota.
These are valid concerns. If you don't understand something it's really hard to know its value. Let's start with some history.
Since 1996, all cars and light trucks in Apple Valley Minnesota have been required to use a standardized diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what's wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle's Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.
The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can't adjust for, the computer will turn on the check engine light.
It is also called the 'service engine soon' light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your Apple Valley Minnesota service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.
If you've searched for check engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner or go to an auto parts store to have the trouble code read to tell you exactly what's wrong.
That's a common myth. The code itself doesn't tell you what's broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won't tell you what's wrong or how to fix it.
Let's say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads one 102 degrees. You've confirmed a fever, but you don't know what's causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician's examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.
An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads 'Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response'. This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that's all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.
You can imagine a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that's stored in the engine control computer. That history's very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers like Valley Auto Care invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don't need replacing.
So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your check engine light comes on, get it checked at Valley Auto Care. If the light burns steady – don't panic. Get in to Valley Auto Care soon to have the engine scanned. A flashing check engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.
And try to not drive at high speed or tow or haul heavy loads with a flashing check engine light.
Date: October 28, 2010 11:51 AM - Category: Alignment
Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel's off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn't feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
Driving for an extended time when you're out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. This can be dangerous and expensive. You'll have to replace your tires sooner, but even worse - you may cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive.
The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars. The adjustment can go three different ways. The first adjustment is called toe. The next adjustment is called camber. And finally, there is castor. The engineers who designed your vehicle determined the alignment settings that will give you the best handling and safety.
There are several things involved in an alignment check. First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension - it should be checked to see if anything's bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's center line. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, the technician determines the direction they push and then aligns the front wheels to match.
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It's better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear - by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety. For more information about alignment, call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700.
Date: October 20, 2010 9:56 PM - Category:
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
Which Item is Most Stolen from Vehicles in Apple Valley?
Date: October 7, 2010 1:13 PM - Category: Automotive News
Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Apple Valley?
- Air Bag
- DVD System
Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in Apple Valley – approximately 50,000 a year are stolen across the country. New airbags cost about $1,000, but go for $50 to $200 on the black market in Apple Valley.
Stolen airbags are making their way back into cars that have been in an accident. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.
Contact Valley Auto Care for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced.
Find us at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
You can reach us by phone at: 952-431-2700
There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.
That is definitely one car part you don't want to take a chance with, so Valley Auto Care recommends following these guidelines:
- Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at Valley Auto Care).
- Inspect the invoice to ensure that the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer, or recycler. If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.
- You will see the SRS light (Supplemental Restraint System) when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is likely a problem with the airbag system.
For more information, contact Scott at Valley Auto Care by calling 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.
Replacing belts and hoses is much cheaper than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure.
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
Valley Auto Care Often Asked About Premium vs. Regular Gas
Date: September 23, 2010 3:29 PM - Category: Fuel System
People in Apple Valley Minnesota often ask the question: "Will using premium gas make my car run better?" The answer is simple. But first, let's talk about what exactly premium gasoline is.
Different grades of gasoline have different octane ratings. Regular gasoline has the lowest octane rating and premium the highest. Most gas stations around Apple Valley Minnesota also carry a mid-grade that falls in between the two. The octane range for the different grades of gas varies by region due to altitude differences.
Engines require different octane ratings because of design differences. For example, turbocharged engines usually require premium gas.
There's a sticker on your gas tank filler lid that tells you the minimum octane rating your manufacturer recommends.
For help identifying the type of gasoline your engine needs, come by our Apple Valley Minnesota service center:
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Read your owner's manual carefully to see if it's acceptable to use lower grades. With some cars in Apple Valley Minnesota it is; the engine control computer can adapt. You’ll lose some performance, but won't do damage. With other engines, using a lower grade of fuel could result in serious damage; so you don't want to save a couple of bucks at the pump only to pay it out a hundred fold at the repair shop.
Your car will run best on the grade of gasoline recommended by the manufacturer.
Today's computer controlled vehicles are optimized to run well on the recommended grade of fuel. Using a higher grade than is recommended will not give you any additional performance or better fuel economy.
Regulations require detergents for all grades of gasoline, so your engine will have the same protection, regardless of the grade of fuel you use. If you do hear some knocking or pinging from your engine, take it seriously and get your car into Valley Auto Care. It may be a sign that you need a tune-up or some other repair.
In times of high gas prices, we're all conscious of making our fuel dollar go further as we drive around Apple Valley Minnesota. Be sure to use the right gas for your car. Keep your tires properly inflated and your vehicle well maintained and you will get the best fuel economy possible.
The Harm In Skipping An Oil Change For Apple Valley Drivers
Date: September 22, 2010 10:31 AM - Category: Service Intervals
People in Apple Valley have been hearing a lot about higher oil change intervals these days. Maybe you're wondering: What are the key issues?
Some new vehicle manufacturers in Apple Valley are now recommending much higher oil change intervals than they have in the past. As much as 5,000 to 8,000 miles or more. This practice came under scrutiny when four of the largest new car manufacturers announced that owners like those in Apple Valley were experiencing engine damage resulting from these higher oil change intervals.
The manufacturers' standard oil drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles. People following these recommendations were experiencing engine damage. It turns out that oil sludge was building up. This caused small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail.
What causes oil sludge? It's a factor of time and mileage. There are hot spots in every engine that cause oil burn off that leads to sludge. Also, water from normal condensation can build up in the oil. This water also creates sludge. Severe driving conditions lead to more rapid sludge formation.
Visit Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Severe driving around Apple Valley includes short trips under four miles or trips under ten miles in freezing conditions. The engine just doesn't get warm enough for the water in the oil to evaporate.
Severe conditions are at the heart of the problem. Stop-and-go driving, towing, dusty conditions, heavy loads, very hot or very cold temperatures, a car top carrier – these are all conditions that would suggest that the severe service schedule should be considered.
The severe service schedule has much shorter oil change intervals. People in Apple Valley just need to honestly evaluate how they drive to determine if they should change their oil closer to the severe service schedule, or to the standard schedule.
Some types of car will give oil change reminders. But it's important to know how that reminder is determined. For some, the reminder simply comes when the standard mileage interval has rolled around. Others use a computer algorithm that takes into consideration the number of cold starts, trip length, engine temperature and so on. It's programmed to approximate where on the standard/severe service spectrum you fall. Some more expensive vehicles actually have sensors that test the cleanliness and effectiveness of the oil.
For the rest of us, better safe than sorry should be the guiding principle. Talk with your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care and work it out together. Find out what kind of oil the factory sends out in your vehicle. Sometimes it's a premium grade that costs more than standard oil – but it may be what's needed to meet a higher factory recommended interval.
If you're realistically conservative, standard grades of oil will take care of you year after year. If you want to push the limits, ask for a premium grade oil to give you extra protection.
So, what happened with those manufacturers with the problems from higher oil change intervals? They ended up extending the engine warranty for parts that were affected by oil sludge. But they had a stipulation – they lowered the oil change interval and the vehicle owner had to provide proof of oil changes at the new lower interval to keep the extended warranty.
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.
What To Do In Case Of An Accident in Apple Valley
Date: September 2, 2010 11:11 AM - Category: Automotive News
Screeching tires, crunching metal – it’s an accident! If you’ve ever been in a car accident in Apple Valley, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It’s hard to think straight and know what to do.
Let’s review what you should do in case of an accident:
When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident in Apple Valley is considered a crime - even if it’s not your fault. And hit and run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your Minnesota driver’s license or even jail time.
Your jurisdiction may require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able. Warn other Burnsville and Rosemount motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers or lifting your hood. Call Apple Valley emergency services as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.
Always file a Apple Valley police report. It’s tempting to skip this if everything seems to be ok. But without a police report, the other guy can say whatever he wants about the accident later, and you’ll not have an objective report to help defend yourself. Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong after an accident and we naturally want to talk about it – don’t. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone including the police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of the law, the other guy is responsible.
Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as "I was going thirty miles an hour" not "I wasn’t speeding". Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you.
Also get the officer’s name and ID number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number and expiration
- Insurance information
Also take down a description of the other Apple Valley vehicle, license plate and vehicle identification number. Most Minnesota auto insurance companies don’t record license plate numbers, so the VIN number is the best way to track the vehicle.
Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can’t wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can track them down later if necessary. Always call your insurance agent or your insurance company. Call or see a physician if you think you may have been injured. For vehicle repairs, call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700
Contact Valley Auto Care to learn more about what do do in case of an auto accident.
You can find us at:
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Or call us at 952-431-2700
Valley Auto Care and AutoNetTV hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy Apple Valley travels.
Protecting Your car From Theft In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: September 1, 2010 10:28 AM - Category: Automotive News
Every car in Apple Valley Minnesota is at risk for theft. So it's up to us to make our cars a less appealing target and more of a challenge – hopefully sending potential thieves to look elsewhere.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends a layered approach to protecting vehicles:
- Common sense
- Visible and audible devices
- Immobilizing devices
- Tracking devices
Let's review each of these. First, common sense: you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen from Apple Valley Minnesota where the keys were left in the ignition with the doors unlocked. Always take your keys, and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it's against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.
And don't leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside – because a thief will find them. Try to park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If possible, park near the end of a row and near a light. Back your car into a parking space or your driveway to make your car more visible to passersby and harder for a thief to work under the hood without being seen.
Remember to roll up your windows completely and avoid leaving your car in public lots for a long time. If you park in a lot that has an attendant, only give them the ignition key.
Keep valuables out of sight: purses, wallets, cell phones, clothes and even change are attractive "smash-and-grab" targets. And pay to have your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, etched into your windows – it makes your car less attractive to a thief who wants to send your car to a chop shop.
There are lots of visible and audible devices available. A steering wheel lock is highly visible and will deter some thieves. Loud alarms can alert you and others that your vehicle is being tampered with. But if your alarm does go off, be careful. Observe what's going on; get descriptions of suspicious people and vehicles, including license plate numbers.
Now, if you catch a thief in the act, call 911 but don't approach the person. Your safety is more important than the car.
And here's a great one - immobilizing devices. They actually shut off your car's electrical or fuel supply. So without a key, or knowing where the hidden switch is located, a thief can't drive your car away.
Finally, you can also get a tracking device that allows police to track your car down and recover it quickly.
Remember, where you live, work and drive around Apple Valley Minnesota has a great impact on your decisions. If you're in an area with high theft rates, you may want to spend more money on security systems. And check with your Apple Valley Minnesota auto insurance company to see if they offer discounts for adding any of these items.
Of course, the common sense suggestions from Valley Auto Care don't cost anything and go a long way toward keeping your car safe from thieves. Take a look at the attached video auto tip from AutoNetTV.
Come see us for practical advice on keeping your car safe.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Call us at 952-431-2700
Minnesota Balance: Wheel Balancing and Tire Rotation
Date: August 24, 2010 11:47 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels
Everyone in the Apple Valley area wants our tires to last as long as possible. Two ways to maximize tire life are wheel balancing and tire rotation.
When wheels are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear in a cupping pattern. And they vibrate. To fix this, your service technician at Valley Auto Care puts weights on your wheels to balance them out. If a front wheel is out of balance you’ll feel it in the steering wheel. If it’s a rear wheel you’ll feel it through your seat.
That brings us to tire rotation. The front tires on a car wear out more quickly than the rear tires. As they push through turns from Apple Valley to Rosemount, the shoulders of the front tires wear down. So rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate over the life of the tire.
Proper tire inflation will also help your tires last longer. Under-inflated tires wear excessively on the shoulder and may even overheat. This could cause tire damage or a blow out. Over-inflated tires wear to fast in the middle.
Four wheel drive trucks and SUV’s tend to wear their tires more unevenly so rotation is even more important with them. Give us a call to get our recommendation on your car.
See your owner’s manual or ask your service technician at Valley Auto Care for your recommended tire rotation schedule. It’s usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
Tires cost a lot and they are one of the most critical safety components on your vehicle. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
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.
Tire Maintenance In Rosemount
Date: August 5, 2010 2:44 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
With the recent focus in Rosemount on improving fuel economy, we've been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.
Everyone in Rosemount knows that tires wear out, but we all want to make them last as long as possible because they're fairly expensive to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Under-inflated tires will wear out more quickly.
Some people in Rosemount wonder if there is benefit to adding a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. But actually, there isn't. In fact, there are very good reasons not to over-inflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.
Come in and see us about tire maintenance for your Apple Valley, Minnesota vehicle.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Every vehicle in the Rosemount area has a sticker on the driver's side door jamb that tells you the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle's suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it's important to follow it.
What else do we need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let's start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. We rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front and they'll all wear evenly over their life.
For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it'll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can't be rotated at all. Your owner's manual will have details for your car.
How often should you rotate your tires? Your owner's manual will have a recommendation. Your service advisor at Valley Auto Care can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles.
You know, some people don't think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren't taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there's enough variation to require balancing.
When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely in order. When a tire's out of balance, it's actually hopping down the road. You'll feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire's out of balance and through your seat if it's a rear tire.
Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted.
Also, always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that's where you need the most traction to avoid spinning-out.
Winter Prep Service
Date: July 30, 2010 3:22 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
When winter approaches, we break out the sweaters, coats, boots and mittens. We want to be ready for winter conditions. Your vehicle needs to be ready for winter as well. The last thing you want is to get stranded out in the cold. You need your vehicle to be safe and reliable. It's a good idea to get caught up on any neglected maintenance items anytime - but the stakes are higher in the winter.
There are some specific things that we need to do to have our vehicle ready for winter. The most obvious is having the antifreeze checked. If the antifreeze level is too low, it can't properly protect your engine, radiator and hoses from freezing. If your car does not seem to be making enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze level may be low or you could have a thermostat problem. Get it checked out. If you are due for a cooling system service, now is a perfect time to have it done.
In the cold months we always worry about being able to stop in time when it's slick out. The first thing to remember is to slow down and allow yourself plenty of room to stop. Of course, you want your brakes to be working properly. A thorough brake inspection will reveal if the pads or any other parts need replacing. Check with your service consultant to see if it is time to replace your brake fluid. It accumulates water over time which really messes with your stopping power.
It is a really good idea to have your battery tested. A battery's cranking power really drops with the temperature. If your battery is weak in the fall, it may not be up to winter. There is nothing like a dead battery in a snow storm.
Which leads us to an emergency kit. You should always have a blanket or something to keep you and your passengers warm if you get stranded. If you will be venturing away from civilization, pack more items such as food and water to help you survive. Keeping at least half a tank of gas is a good precaution if you get stuck and need to run the car to keep warm and it will help keep your gas lines from freezing up.
Winter always makes us think of our windshield wiper blades - usually during that first storm when they aren't working right. That's why it's a really good idea to replace your blades in the fall before the winter storms. If you live where there's a lot of snow and ice, you might want a special winter blade that resists freezing up. And be sure to have enough windshield washer fluid.
The final thing to consider is your tires. Any tire can lose pressure over time - up to one pound every six or eight weeks. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops you lose another pound of pressure. So if it was 80 degrees outside when you checked your tire pressure two months ago and now it's 40 degrees out, you could be down 5 pounds of pressure. That's enough to be a real safety issue and it wastes gas too. You may need special winter tires as well. Your tire professional can help you find the right tire design for your expected road conditions.
If you're getting winter tires, it is always best to put them on all four wheels. If you are only getting two, have them put on the rear - even if you have a front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle.
This is a very important safety measure recommended by tire manufacturers. Sliding or fish-tailing on ice and snow is a matter of not having enough traction at the rear end. That is why your newest tires should always be on the rear.
What To Do After You Buy a Used Vehicle in Apple Valley
Date: July 26, 2010 1:44 PM - Category: Older Vehicles
So you’ve bought a used car in the Apple Valley area. How do you know what you’re getting? It is hard to know what you’re getting because people in the Apple Valley area sell cars for different reasons. Think about why you’ve sold cars. Did you just want something new or were there problems that you wanted to run away from. Maybe it was a little of both.
Used cars with 25,000 to 35,000 miles on them are often lease returns, corporate program cars or vehicles that have done duty in rental fleets. We feel pretty confident because they’re newer and may still be under warranty. But how well have they been maintained?
If you plan on owning a car for a long time, you’ll keep up on the maintenance so that you can avoid expensive repairs down the road. But, if you know you’re only going to have the car for two or three years, you may not be so committed to maintenance. It would be easy to think that skipping an oil change here and there wouldn’t ruin a brand new engine. Then it’ll be someone else’s problem when it comes time to pay for the damage.
It would be very tempting to skip the 30,000 mile service if you knew you’d be turning in your leased vehicle in a couple of months.
If the vehicle didn’t come with maintenance records, you need to assume the worst. Most likely the coolant system and transmission have never been serviced. The cabin air filter has probably not been changed and a fuel system cleaning may be in order.
You’ll want Valley Auto Care to check the air conditioning, battery, engine air filter, serpentine belt and hoses. An inspection at Valley Auto Care is well worth the cost.
And if your “new” used vehicle has more miles on it, an inspection is even more important. Check your owner’s manual or talk with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care (call 952-431-2700) about what should have been done. Please don’t forget the timing belt; that can be very expensive if it fails.
Valley Auto Care will help you with a plan to take care of critical services and get the rest caught up. If your budget won’t allow you to take care of everything right away, we can help you prioritize your needs and get it taken care of over the next several months. And remember to keep your maintenance records. They’ll help you get top dollar when it’s time for you to sell.
Valley Auto Care
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
PCV Valve Replacement
Date: July 26, 2010 1:39 PM - Category: Parts
The energy from exploding fuel is what powers your engine. But some of the vapors from the explosions escape into the lower part of the engine, called the crankcase. The crankcase is where your engine oil hangs out. These gases are about 70% unburned fuel. If the gases were allowed to stay in the crankcase, they would quickly contaminate the oil and turn it to sludge. Sludge is one of the biggest enemies of your engine, clogging it up, eventually leading to expensive failures. Also, the pressure build up would cause seals and gaskets to blow out. Therefore, these gases need to be vented out.
Gasoline engines used to simply have a hose that let the poisonous fumes vent out into the air. In 1963, the federal government required gas engines to have a special one-way valve installed to help reduce dangerous emissions. Diesel engines are not required to have these valves.
The positive crankcase ventilation, or PCV, valve routes crankcase gases through a hose and back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh, clean air is brought into the crankcase through a breather tube. It's really a pretty simple system, but does an important job. The re-circulating air removes moisture and combustion waste from the crankcase, preventing sludge. This extends not only the life of your oil, but the engine as well. The PCV relieves pressure in the crankcase, preventing oil leaks.
Eventually, the PCV valve can get gummed up. Then it can not move enough air through the engine to keep it working efficiently. If the PCV valve is sticking enough, you could have oil leaks, excess oil consumption and a fouled intake system. If you experience hesitation or surging or an oil leak, it may be a sign of PCV value problems. Your owners' manual may give a recommendation for when the PCV valve should be replaced - usually between 20,000 mi/32,000 km and 50,000 mi/80,000 km. Unfortunately, some manufacturers don't list a recommendation in the manual, so it can be easy to overlook.
Many PCV system problems can be diagnosed with a visual inspection. Fortunately, PCV valve replacement is both quick and inexpensive. Proper oil changes will greatly extend the life of the PCV valve. Skipping a few recommended oil changes can allow varnish and gum to build up in the valve, reducing its efficiency. So now when your Apple Valley service technician tells you its time to replace your PCV valve, you will know what he's talking about. If you have had your car for a while and this is the first you've ever heard of a PCV value, ask your tech to check yours out or call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:38 PM - Category: Drive Train
Here at AutoNetTV, we have viewers, like you, from all across the country who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we're asked is: What is a differential and what does it do? You may have been told your differential needs service, or seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service covers a lot of things, so let's first talk about what a differential does.
As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track - the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don't hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow. Differentials have gears in them that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels - which is why they're often referred to as gear boxes. The gears need to be very strong to do this work, and they need to be properly protected so that they'll last.
All vehicles have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is often called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you will have a differential in the front and the back - and in the middle as well. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.
Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the gears grinding off. The additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. So your vehicle manufacturer has scheduled intervals for you to have your differential fluid changed.
Differentials are hard working mechanisms, and, along with the gears in a manual transmission, need to be serviced regularly with high-quality, replacement fluid. Your Apple Valley automotive service advisor can give you more information as to when your next differential service is recommended. You can also ask if they have a record of when the service was last completed.
As with most service intervals, if you are driving under more severe conditions, you will want to service your differential more frequently. "Severe service" conditions are defined in most owners' manuals, and include: frequent starts and stops, short trips, cold weather, hot weather and towing. All these conditions add to the stress of the vehicle and its parts. Also, off-roading in Minnesota can be especially hard on differentials, especially if you cross streams. Proper service will extend the life of your gears and keep them running more smoothly. If you have never had your differential checked, visit http://www.valleyautocare.com/contact.php for more information.
Proper Fluids for Your Vehicle
Date: July 26, 2010 1:36 PM - Category: Fluids
We would like to give you an update on some of the things happening in automotive fluids. You know, cars are becoming more sophisticated everyday - and fluids such as, oil, coolant and transmission fluid are becoming more specialized at about the same pace.
The do-it-yourselfer has to be pretty careful so that they do not actually harm their vehicle with the wrong type of fluid. That is why so many Minnesota car owners rely on the advice of their service consultant to not only get the correct family of fluids, but to suggest the formulation that is best for their car and the way they drive.
Let's start with engine oil. If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed a number of new oil weights on the scene in the last several years. Modern engines are built to much tighter tolerances and have very complicated valve trains. The oil must be thin enough to lubricate complicated parts when the engine is cold. The weight of an oil is expressed in terms like 20-W-50 or 5-W-30. Manufacturers recommend the weight of oil for each vehicle they make. The recommendation is based on engine design. Your Apple Valley service center will know what weight your manufacturer recommends - and it's important to follow those recommendations. A service adviser at Valley Auto Care can also offer suggestions for special formulations and can explain conventional and synthetic oils.
Antifreeze, or engine coolant, is another area that has become more complicated. For a long time, manufacturers only called for a couple of different types of coolant. Now there are several different formulations that are needed because of the different materials that manufacturers are using to build the cooling system. Using the wrong type of coolant can actually void your warranty, so you want to get that right.
Transmission fluid is beginning to be specialized as well. New transmission designs have particular requirements that mandate the use of specific formulations. Recently, new, somewhat confusing, standards for brake fluid have also been released.
Not too long ago, there was a good chance that all of the vehicles at your house would use many of the same fluids. However, as automotive technology advances, the array of basic automotive fluids you need will grow. And, some of the formulations will cost a little more. Fortunately, your Apple Valley service center will continue to update their training to keep pace with technology so that you'll get the right fluids your car needs. It's all part of the commitment your service center makes to your driving peace of mind.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:31 PM - Category: Fuel System
The last new car sold with a carburetor in North America rolled out of the dealership in 1990. Since then, all new vehicles have had fuel injectors. In very simple terms, a fuel injector is a valve that squirts fuel into your engine. Your engine control computer tells the fuel injector how much gas to deliver as well as the precise time it should be delivered. Of course this happens thousands of times a minute. Fuel injection is a much more precise way of delivering fuel than carburetors. That translates into better fuel economy and power. Virtually all fuel injectors for gas engines are known as port fuel injectors because they deliver the fuel to a port just outside the cylinder. Port fuel injectors operate at about 40 to 80 pounds per square inch of pressure.
A few auto makers have introduced gas direct injection systems on some engines recently. These systems inject the gas directly into the cylinders under very high pressure - hundreds of times the pressure of port injection systems. Although more complicated, direct injection technology promises greater power with improved fuel economy, so we can expect to see more of it in the future.
As you can see, the level of precision required of your fuel injectors is very high. They need to be operating properly in order for your car to run right.
High temperatures under your hood and variations in gas quality cause fuel injectors to become fouled with wax, dirt, and carbon. Injectors can become partially clogged, preventing them from delivering the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure. The design of each engine requires a specific spray pattern from the fuel injector that might be altered when the injector is dirty. When injectors are dirty, the fuel doesn't burn as efficiently resulting in poor fuel economy and loss of power. So it is important to keep your fuel injectors clean.
Skilled service technicians at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley can perform a fuel system service for you. (Visit http://www.valleyautocare.com/contact.php.) That is a fuel system service - not just fuel injector cleaning. That is because the fuel has a lot of ways to become dirty or contaminated between the gas tank and the fuel injector. A fuel system service starts with a fuel filter replacement. This filter cleans the gas as it leaves the tank. The various parts of the fuel intake system need to be cleaned from time to time to remove harmful gum, deposits and varnish. Finally, the fuel injectors are cleaned so that they operate properly and deliver the right amount of fuel at the right time.
Your Rosemount area service center uses a process for cleaning your fuel system that includes state-of-the-art cleaning chemicals as well as some old fashioned scrubbing. Proper maintenance of your fuel system means that you will spend less on gas, enjoy strong performance and prevent costly repairs down the road.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:25 PM - Category: Tires and Wheels
What type of technology do you use? Do you prefer an 8-track tape or an iPod? When it comes to winter tires, much of the public's perception dates back to when 8-track was the best way to listen to the Bee Gees.
Twenty years ago, winter tires differed from highway tires only in their tread design. We called them snow tires back then and they had big, knobby lugs that were designed to give good traction in deep snow. They had the same rubber compound as regular tires and they weren't very good on ice, packed snow or wet roads. They were not even very good on dry roads. They really helped in deep or loose snow, but they did a poor job the rest of the time. They were loud and rode hard. You couldn't wait to get them off in the spring.
Then all-season tires started to come along. All-season tires are really a compromise between summer and winter performance. They have acceptable hot weather ride and tread life, and you can get through mild winter road conditions OK. But there are some really good reasons to consider winter tires.
Modern winter tires do a terrific job in a wide range of winter conditions. First of all, below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, regular tires become hard and inflexible. That means they don't provide the road grip you need. Even if you don't live somewhere with a lot of snow, but it still gets below 45 degrees in the winter, you will be safer with winter tires.
In addition, they are specifically designed to more effectively move snow and water. That's the key to traction on ice, packed snow and wet roads. They use a micro-pore compound that allows the tire to bite into ice and snow. They also use wider grooves that run around the circumference of the tread to expel snow from the tire better. The lugs and grooves on winter tires have a special shape that throws the packed snow out of the tread as the tire turns. The tread is then open when it comes back in contact with the road and can provide good traction.
Winter tires also have a lot of sipes. Sipes are thin slits in the tread. The edge of the sipes grab ice and packed snow to provide tons of traction and to expel water and slush out of the tread. winter tires have a rounder casing to cut into the snow's surface. The treads on regular summer tires can actually get packed with snow instead and become very slick. winter tires offer 25% to 50% more traction than all-season tires. And when it comes to stopping power, all-season tires take 42% longer to stop than winter tires. Sometimes that's the difference between getting home safely and spending the night in a snow bank.
Now back when the 8-track was king, you just put snow tires on the drive wheels. That worked out OK because the rubber compound was essentially the same. Now, winter tires provide so much more traction than all-season or summer tires, that there's a huge difference between the traction at the front and rear ends of the car if you only put winter tires on the drive wheels.
For example: if you take a corner on an icy road and the rear end starts to slide out, essentially the rear is trying to pass the front because it's going faster. If you have high traction winter tires only on the front, they are going to be much more effective at transferring cornering grip and stopping power to the front wheels. This will actually cause the rear end to whip out even more.
That's why tire manufactures instruct their dealers that they must install winter tires on the rear wheels as well whenever they put winter tires on the front end of any vehicle. It's a major safety concern. It's strongly recommended that winter tires be installed on all four wheels on rear wheel drive vehicles as well. The front tires do most of the steering and braking work - it only makes sense that you provide the front end with the best traction you can.
People often assume that if they have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive they don't need winter tires on all four wheels. Would you intentionally disconnect the four-wheel drive in poor road conditions? Of course you wouldn't, but that's essentially what you do if you only put winter tires on one end. It only makes sense to have the same level of traction and control at all four corners.
The province of Quebec in Canada has issued a law requiring all passenger vehicles, taxis and rental cars with Quebec license plates to install a full set of four winter tires between November 15th and April 1. It's that important.
Many modern cars have traction control and anti-lock brakes so people may think that they don't need winter tires. But you need traction to accelerate, steer and stop. The tires provide the traction so that the traction control and anti-lock brakes have something to work with.
Look for tires with the symbol of a mountain with a snowflake in it. This means the tire complies with the severe snow standard. All-season tires will have an M&S, for mud and snow, on the sidewall.
So when the temperatures drop below 45 degrees, be sure you have a set of four winter tires for maximum performance in snow, packed snow, ice, wet and dry roads. Your tire professional can help you find the right winter tire for your vehicle and driving needs.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:23 PM - Category: Alignment
North Americans love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than the road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it’s great! But there’s nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.
Now you can’t always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle’s perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding byways or super-highways? Mountains or plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How many miles will you travel? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Lugging a trailer or roof top carrier? Will it be dusty?
Armed with the answers to these questions, you can start a trip inspection to help you prepare your Apple Valley vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Apple Valley customers prefer to go through this exercise with an automotive service advisor at Valley Auto Care to get their input and make sure they haven’t left anything out.
A great place to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job – you wouldn’t want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure.
Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you’ll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that’s pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous.
And don’t forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection before you leave.
Moving under the hood, have your belts and hoses inspected. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Your engine air filter will be important. For every gallon of gas you burn, your car will filter and use 12,000 gallons of air. If the filter needs to be changed, you’ll notice the fuel savings on your trip.
How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it’s due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don’t need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.
Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it’s an exhaust leak it could be fatal on a long trip. Of course you’ll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren’t getting the cold air you used to.
Are you wiper blades still working well? If not, that is quick and inexpensive to fix. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven’t changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip.
They will always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss the world’s largest ball of string, would you?
Braking News: Keep Your Stopping Power
Date: July 26, 2010 1:21 PM - Category: Brakes
Richard Petty once told AutoNetTV, “You’ve gotta have good brakes. If you’ve got good brakes you can keep yourself out of a lotta trouble.”
That’s why a regular brake inspection is on every Apple Valley car’s maintenance schedule. An inspection at Valley Auto Care will check your brake system and let you know if there are any problems.
Of course, if you’re having trouble with your brakes, get your car into Valley Auto Care right away. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Low or spongy brake pedal
- Hard brake pedal
- A brake warning light that stays on
- Constantly squealing or grinding brakes
- Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply your brakes
If you are experiencing any of these, it’s time to get your brakes checked.
There are two types of brakes: disk and drum. Disk brakes have a rotor that’s attached to the axle. Calipers straddle the rotor, kind of like the brakes on a bicycle.
Drum brakes are more common on back wheels. Both types have pads or shoes that press against the brakes and slow the vehicle. Brake pads and shoes are made out of very tough material to withstand the heat and force generated when stopping your car. Eventually, they wear out with use, and become too thin and need to be replaced.
If the brake pads wear away completely, you can damage the rotors. The calipers can grind grooves in the rotor. Then the rotor must either be resurfaced or replaced. That’s not only expensive, but also dangerous because your vehicle won’t stop as quickly. Sometimes rotors warp or crack and must be replaced.
Brake service will also include a check of your brake fluid. When the brakes are applied, the pressure in the fluid actives the brake pads or shoes. Not enough fluid means not enough pressure to brake properly. Also, water builds up in the brake fluid over time, which leads to corrosion, leaks and brake damage, and with hard use, the brakes could severely fade or even fail. You should change the brake fluid when your manufacturer recommends to avoid these problems.
There are different grades of brake pads; good, better and best. Higher grades cost more, but give better braking performance and smoother operation. It’s OK to upgrade your brake pads. But, never use a grade that’s lower than what the manufacturer recommends.
So, be sure to properly maintain your brakes, because it’s a lot cheaper than paying the body shop after an accident.
Come in to Valley Auto Care for an brake inspection before damage occurs. You can call ahead for an appointment by calling 952-431-2700.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:19 PM - Category: Warranty
If you own a Minnesota vehicle with a warranty, beware! Many dealers and manufacturers suggest that you need to get your maintenance services at a dealership in order to keep your warranty. That simply isn't true! You can have your vehicle serviced at your trusted, local service center without affecting your warranty. A federal law, called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, prohibits a manufacturer from voiding your warranty just because you got parts or services from a non-dealer. In fact, a manufacturer can't require you to use their brand of oil filters, lubricant, or any other part in order to maintain your warranty protection. This protection is true for aftermarket extended warranties purchased on new or used vehicles. This protection also applies to leased vehicles. There are similar laws in Canada as well.
If a manufacturer can prove that the replacement parts or service lead to a vehicle failure, they can void a portion of the warranty. Of course, Valley Auto Care uses quality parts and fluids that meet or exceed manufacturers' specifications. (See http://www.valleyautocare.com/contact.php.) A lot of people do not know that service centers subscribe to data services that tell them exactly which parts and fluids meet manufacturers' specifications. These services are updated constantly so that your Apple Valley automotive service center always knows what you need for your car. You can be assured that your vehicle will receive high quality replacement parts that'll keep you safely on the road.
Proper maintenance is so important to safety. It can also prevent costly repairs and save you money over the long haul. Just because you don't have to go to a dealer to get your maintenance service performed doesn't mean that you don't need to have it done at all. In fact, some protections from your warranty require that scheduled maintenance be performed. If you miss having important work done, you may lose some warranty coverage. Refer to your owners' manual and vehicle warranty for more details. And keep good records of the work you've had done.
The protection you receive under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act can save you hundreds of dollars each year. The average hourly labor rate for service is nearly twenty percent lower at independent service centers such as Valley Auto Care. We are conveniently located at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley. So why go anywhere else?
Cabin Air Filter
Date: July 26, 2010 1:18 PM - Category: Cabin Air Filter
What is a cabin air filter?
- A filter for a house in the middle of the woods?
- A fresh, piney scent?
- A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?
Clever you, it's 3.
A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment. It filters out dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, sparrows, exhaust gas and odors.
These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
Now not all vehicles have cabin filters. They are fairly new on the scene. About forty percent of new vehicles in Minnesota come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.
Cabin air filters can make for a very nice driving environment. Your car can be a haven during allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. However, the filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.
Check your owner's manual for recommended replacement intervals. Often, the owner's manual forgets about the cabin air filter, so ask your Valley Auto Care service technician for a recommendation. We are located at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 in Apple Valley. It's usually every year or 12,000 miles/ 19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions or if you start to notice an odor from your ventilation system.
So keep your cabin air filter clean. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience more enjoyable.
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.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:02 PM - Category: Cooling System
The coolant system is a vital part of your vehicle. It is also the second most common cause for vehicle failures. Even though coolant system failure is fairly common, it is easy to prevent.
The most recognizable part of the coolant system is the radiator. It is connected to the engine with hoses and is filled with coolant. The coolant draws heat off the engine and then goes into the radiator. Air passes through cooling fins to reduce the temperature of the coolant and then it's back to the engine again.
There are several ways for the cooling system to fail. Most common is with the coolant itself. Coolant is a mixture of water and antifreeze. The proper mixture keeps the coolant from either boiling away or freezing. Both of which can result in massive engine damage.
Another very important coolant issue that is often overlooked is the age of the coolant itself. antifreeze has additives that protect the coolant system from corrosion. As these additives are depleted over time, they can't protect the radiator and other parts from rust, scaling and corrosion. Old coolant may still keep your engine cool, but it won't protect it from corrosion.
If you see a warning message to check the coolant or if the temperature gauge is in the hot zone your cooling system needs to be checked. It's OK to add water or antifreeze yourself. But you need to be cautious. Remember four things.
- First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. You could be severely burned.
- Second, try to get to a Apple Valley service center such as Valley Auto Care immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your owners manual - it will direct you to only make additions to the coolant overflow bottle.
- Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with your service center where they can make necessary corrections.
- Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze. You need to check your owners manual to make sure you use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturers warranty on your cooling system. Again, another reason to rely on your Apple Valley service center to do things right.
Remember, Valley Auto Care has the equipment to change your coolant quickly and inexpensively. 952-431-2700
Power Steering Service
Date: July 26, 2010 1:01 PM - Category: Steering
For most of us, it is hard to remember life without power steering - cranking those great big steering wheels? It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine - a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.
These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea to inspect them at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owners' manual for the right type - or just ask your service technician.
The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so it needs to be replaced from time to time. Many manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the maintenance schedule. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Your Burnsville or Burnsville service center will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.
Here are some warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It's harder to turn the wheel, there's erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your pump real fast.
Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks. Ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear, and off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley will reveal bent or damaged steering components.
Most SUV's, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.
The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. It's also recommend the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners' manual maintenance schedule. It's usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km. If you drive through water, the bearings will need service more often.
Date: July 26, 2010 1:00 PM - Category: Shocks & Struts
When you hear the word 'suspension', you may think back to those energetic days of grade school. Well, your car’s suspension is actually a good thing because it keeps your car up off the road and helps provide a comfy ride. It needs to keep your wheels firmly planted over bumps and through curves. Your suspension system has many parts. If you look under your car, it’s basically everything that connects your wheels to the car’s frame. These are heavy duty parts that do a lot of work. They need to be inspected for damage and excessive wear at least once a year. A good time for this is when you get your annual alignment service.
Here are some warning signs that your suspension may have problems:
- the car pulls to one side;
- it wanders;
- the steering is erratic;
- you see uneven tire wear;
- you experience a poor ride or handling;
- you see oil leaking from shocks
. . . you get the picture. You just don’t feel in control when you’re driving.
Some suspension parts just wear out with use. Shocks and struts eventually lose their ability to control your ride. Wheel bearings need to be repacked every couple of years. And some suspension pieces need to be lubricated when you get your oil changed. Your service advisor can oversee an inspection and tell you what problems you may have.
If you’re in an accident, your suspension can be damaged or knocked out of alignment. Even a minor accident, like hitting a curb around Apple Valley or even a large rock can mess things up. With a minor accident it’s tempting to just get an alignment or wheel balance to correct the problem. But if there’s some damage, a simple alignment won’t actually fix the problem, and you’ll just have to align it again after the repairs are made. So if you have an accident, get your suspension system inspected right away. Suspension problems should be fixed immediately because they can lead to unsafe handling.
One big cause of suspension damage is potholes – those nasty magnets that seem to draw our tires right into them. Here are some tips for avoiding damage from potholes: First, keep your tires at their full air pressure. That gives tires their maximum resiliency and will hopefully keep your wheels or other suspension parts from crunching on a big hole. Next, just pay attention. When you see a hole you can’t miss, slow down before you hit it. Driving at a slower speed will limit the damage, and may keep your drink from spilling. But don’t brake directly over the pothole. That will cause the car’s weight to shift forward and add to the potential damage.
So don’t put off an inspection of your suspension. We promise the principal won’t be involved.
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
Date: July 26, 2010 12:57 PM - Category: Exhaust
Whenever we talk about exhaust service, most people normally think about exhaust pipes and mufflers. Well, actually, exhaust service is a lot more comprehensive these days. For example, catalytic converters were mandated in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. Governmental emissions requirements have forced manufacturers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental regulations.
Exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer controlled emissions devices are now a big part of exhaust service. Because it is so sophisticated, your vehicle manufacturer recommends you have your emission system checked out by a qualified Apple Valley exhaust technician regularly to make sure everything is working right - usually every 6 months or 10,000 miles/16,000 kilometers.
If your Check Engine light comes on, especially if it's flashing, get your car looked at right away. Technicians at Valley Auto Care handle emission problems everyday. You might have exhaust or emissions trouble if your car is difficult to start, runs rough, is noisy or smoking. Call Valley Auto Care at 952-431-2700 to schedule an appointment if you experience these problems.
Let's review the exhaust system. We will start from the top and start with the exhaust manifold. That is the part that attaches to the engine and collects the exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe. Exhaust gaskets help seal the connection with the manifold and various other joints along the way. If the manifold is cracked or loose, or a gasket is leaking, dangerous gases could escape into the passenger compartment, where you ride. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it is important that your exhaust system doesn't leak. The exhaust pipes connect the various components. They can rust or be damaged by a rock, so they need to be inspected periodically.
Next is the catalytic converter. This part looks like a muffler. It changes chemicals that are dangerous to your health and the environment into harmless carbon dioxide and water. It doesn't require any maintenance itself. But eventually they wear out. You will find this out when your car fails an emissions inspection.
Now the muffler. Its main job is to quiet engine noises. Mufflers work by either absorbing or baffling sound. And you can actually customize your car's sound with different mufflers - anything from whisper quiet to bad-boy rumbley. Rusted or road-damaged mufflers can leak and need to be replaced right away.
The exhaust system is attached to the car by a series of hangers and clamps. These fasteners hold the system in place. When hangers come loose or break, hot exhaust components can touch and melt wires, hoses and lines.
Finally, we end at the tailpipe. This is the final outlet for the exhaust. These can be plain-Jane or pretty flashy. Also, the oxygen sensors monitor the oxygen content of the exhaust so the engine control computer can adjust the fuel-to-air mix to keep the car running right.
Exhaust and emissions service covers plain old pipes and high-tech computers. It impacts everything from life and death safety due to exhaust leaks, to fine-tuning the sound of your ride.
Air Conditioning Service
Date: July 26, 2010 12:57 PM - Category: Air Conditioning
Do you hear loud noises under the hood when you turn on your air conditioner? Do you only get cool air sporadically? If so, it is time to get your air conditioner checked. It's real easy to take your car's air conditioner for granted. Just push the right buttons and out comes cool, dry, clean air. But your air conditioning system needs attention from time to time to help it keep its cool.
When most people hear the words "air conditioning problems", it sends a shiver up their spine. That is because the air conditioning system is fairly complex. It has a lot of parts and when it's broken, it's expensive to repair.
What things can we do to prevent air conditioning breakdowns?
A common cause of air conditioning failure is leaks. Water and air can leak into the system. The system doesn't work as well with air in it. And water can cause rust that leads to damage of the A/C components. Also, refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system, making it work harder to cool the air. Periodically evacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system so it cools better and lasts longer.
You should also run the air conditioner regularly, even during Minnesota winters, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out, which leads to leaks. Your owner's manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Of course, if it's not working right, now is the time to get it checked. Many Apple Valley service centers can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. We recommend Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley. See http://www.valleyautocare.com/contact.php for address and phone number. A quick inspection can help you avoid having to bring your air conditioner in for major repairs.
New environmental laws have stopped the manufacture of Freon, a refrigerant that was common in cars made before 1993. There is a very limited supply of Freon so the price is very steep. It may not be worth its weight in gold, but it probably is worth its weight in silver. If you have an older vehicle that uses Freon, you may want to consider having it retrofitted to use the new R134-A refrigerant. It will pay for itself in the long run. So, if your AC is just a lot of hot air, take it to a Rosemount automotive service center for an inspection.