Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for November 2010
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.
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 952-431-2700
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.
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.