Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for January 2011
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.
Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley MN helps people and their vehicles throughout Apple Valley and along Cedar Ave, County Rd. 42, Galaxy Ave, and 160th St. We work on all vehicles including the following manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Mazda, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, GMC, Cadillac, Mercury, Lincoln, Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Plymouth with most auto service needs including: Tires, Wheels, Brakes, Transmission, Tune-Up, Computer Diagnostics, Engine Codes, Suspension, Shocks, Struts, Alignment, AC, Clutch & more.