Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Fuel Saving Tip: Slow Down Around Apple Valley
Date: June 14, 2013 2:52 PM - Category: Fuel System
There's not much we can do about the price of gas in Apple Valley Minnesota, but we do quite a bit about how much we use as we're driving on our Apple Valley streets.
Our driving habits can dramatically affect our fuel economy.
The first thing we can do is watch the 'go-pedal'. Hard acceleration just sucks the gas. Gently leave stop lights and plan lane changes so you don't need to floor it. That can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Go a little slower on the freeway to Apple Valley. Once you're going more than sixty-five miles an hour your fuel economy starts to drop dramatically. Leave early so you don't need to rush to be on time. And cruise control is your friend – steady speed uses less gas.
Plan errands ahead. Make fewer trips by combining errands.
Hey at current gas prices, a lead-foot might as well be a gold foot.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Fuel Saving Tip: Check Engine Light
Date: June 5, 2013 1:17 PM - Category: Fuel System
Here's a question for Apple Valley, Minnesota car owners: How long have you been enjoying the romantic glow of your check engine light?
Hey, it's not there to create ambiance; it's a warning that something's wrong. (And, by the way, Homer Simpson's fix of covering it with tape is not a good idea.)
If your check engine light comes on, check your gas cap. A loose gas cap can cause a false sensor reading that'll make the check engine light turn on.
Many conditions that trigger the check engine light can hurt your gas mileage. A lot.
If your date's eyes are smoldering in the soft glow of the check engine light, try to think of all the gas money you'll save by getting it fixed. Give Valley Auto Care a call when you are ready: 952-431-2700
Smooth Shifting in Apple Valley Minnesota: Transmission Service
Date: May 31, 2013 11:25 AM - Category: Transmission
So you have some exciting plans for the Minnesota weekend. You’re going to take some of your Apple Valley, Minnesota friends out on the boat for some water skiing. Of course, you’ve gotten the boat all ready. And you haven’t forgotten about your tow vehicle. You’ve gassed it up and even vacuumed it out. But you want to make sure that your car maintenance is up to date.
Think about it – heavy traffic on the way out of Apple Valley. There’s hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and its going to be pretty hot in Apple Valley this weekend. And all the time you’ll be towing around several thousand extra pounds. That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission.
Let’s just consider the transmission. It’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 local Minnesota lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.
It’s important to have enough transmission fluid. If it runs low, the transmission will run hotter and won’t have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, you need to have it serviced at Valley Auto Care on schedule to make sure it runs efficiently.
An automatic transmission contains a maze of passages through which the fluid has to pass to keep it shifting smoothly. If you neglect transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems.
This reminds us of how much of our driving around Apple Valley, Minnesota is 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, driving in very hot or very cold weather. Dusty roads and city driving around Apple Valley, Minnesota add to the strain. Basically, any driving that’s not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions.
While you have your vehicle in, ask for a trip inspection. Your Apple Valley, Minnesota service technician at Valley Auto Care will check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.
Now, don’t forget the sunscreen.
Recommended Apple Valley Service Intervals
Date: May 23, 2013 2:16 PM - Category: Service Intervals
Everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota knows we’re supposed to go to the dentist twice a year. We get our teeth cleaned and have a thorough dental inspection. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye. When the dentist is done, he tells us what he’s found – "Everything’s fine, see you in six months." Or "You’ve got a small cavity starting, let's schedule an appointment to take care of it." By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary repairs.
This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.
If we buy into this way of handling our dental care, why do we resist so much when facing the same system for our car care?
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Following the manufacturer's recommended intervals can be confusing. First there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing ...you get the point.
Every item has a recommended interval and it's hard to keep it all straight – even if you’re part of the 1% of the population that reads your owners’ manual in Apple Valley Minnesota.
And if you have more than one car or car, the complexity is multiplied. You'd need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that's how your Apple Valley service center does it. They subscribe to automotive databases that have your vehicle's recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it's all in the computer.
Well, it's not all in the computer. There are other variables that can’t be accounted for in the schedule. Things like the weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive when you are out in our Apple Valley Minnesota area need to be taken into account. Talk about these things with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner's manual is more appropriate.
Since anything that's not highway driving in moderate weather is considered severe, most of us do at least some of that around Apple Valley Minnesota and it should be taken into consideration.
Let's take your basic oil change as an example – what issues are involved? The oil you put in your car is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.
Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That's why most maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
It's easy to think, "Gee, I've only driven 2,000 miles in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change." But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a harsh environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that starts degrading its effectiveness even when it's just sitting there.
A lot of people in Apple Valley Minnesota don't realize the harm that can be done by just skipping a single oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it's clogged up because you haven't changed it, it can't trap any more.
Oil sludge is another problem. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think 'Vaseline'. Obviously, sludge doesn't lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don't get properly protected by the oil. That'll lead to premature wear.
If you've missed some oil changes, don't despair. Just talk with your service advisor at Valley Auto Care. Fess up – you'll feel better. And he can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your car on the road and avoiding major repairs in Apple Valley Minnesota.
Keep Your Apple Valley Car Breathing Free: Engine Air Filter
Date: May 17, 2013 12:40 PM - Category: Maintenance
This is something really amazing: For every gallon of gas your Apple Valley car burns, it uses 12,000 gallons of air. All of that air has to be filtered to keep your engine clean.
That’s like a hundred gallons of air every block! The engine air filter is just another example of a very inexpensive part that has to do a tremendous amount of work. And when it works, everything goes well. But, when it doesn’t, well, it can lead to costly problems. Of course, your manufacturer recommends intervals for changing your air filter. But like most service intervals, where and how you drive your car affects when your filter needs to be changed.
Dusty conditions in and around Apple Valley or polluted city driving means you’ll need to change your filter more often. Your Valley Auto Care technician can check your filter for you. In fact, it’s often a routine part of an oil change.
When you think about it, a clogged air filter won’t allow as much air through as a clean filter. Your car needs this air to efficiently burn its fuel, giving you better fuel economy and performance.
Dirtier filters don’t work as well as clean ones. A filter can only hold so much, after that, it allows dirt to pass right into your engine. Air filters come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in different grades. There are high performance air filters available for most cars. These high performance filters cost a little more, but they increase horsepower and may improve fuel economy to boot.
So have your air filter checked. If it needs replacing, it doesn’t cost very much and it should easily pay for itself in better fuel economy before your next oil change.
Stop by Valley Auto Care at 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124, and we'll take a look at your air filter for you. Feel free to give us a call at 952-431-2700 to make an appointment.
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 952-431-2700 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.
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.