Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for June 2011
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 952-431-2700
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 952-431-2700
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.
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.