Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HOW LONG WILL MY ALTERNATOR LAST?

The question of how long will my alternator last has come up recently and I wanted to take a little time to explain what exactly the alternator does and what affects the longevity.

The alternator is an important car part that recharges the battery using power from the engine.  The alternator keeps the battery from losing its charge and eventually dying, because when the battery dies, all the electrical features included on your vehicle go along with it.

We ask a lot from our auto parts, especially our vehicle's electrical system.  It wasn't that long ago when an alternator only had to power headlights, the radio and a few other accessories.  But now, our cars come complete with GPS navigation system, electric seat heaters and even DVD players.  It's easy to see how alternators and batteries have to handle a much heavier load these days.

Factors Affecting Alternator Longevity

As mentioned earlier, alternators have a tough job.  Every year, cars are built with more and more complex electrical system and devices.  The alternator is the car part responsible for supplying the power to the battery that keeps them all running.  Starting the car and using the radio, the on-board navigation system, the heated seats, power mirrors and windows and any other electrical equipment will decrease the alternator's longevity.

The action that generates electricity as a rotor spinning past coils inside the alternator.  That rotor is spun on a needle bearing, an auto part which can break due to excessive wear or dirt and grime that can build up inside.  In addition, the diodes inside the voltage regulator can fail after time.  Heat from the engine also puts an extra strain on the part, decreasing its car part longevity.

In other words, an alternator is an auto part that cannot last forever.  Since there are so many factors that can affect its life, it's hard to say exactly how long an alternator can actually last.  It depends on the car, the engine, the conditions in which it's used, how much electrical equipment it's regularly operating and so on.

If you have any questions regarding this article please give The Auto Analyst, your one stop auto repair shop, a call today at (530) 621-4591 or visit our "Service Assistant" page on our website www.theautoanalyst.com.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is Your Vehicle Ready For Fall?

Be Car Care Aware...

Preventative maintenance is by far the cheapest and best way to prevent even larger problems down the line. Here are a few Fall car care tips:


  • BATTERY:  Have your battery checked especially after the extremely hot weather where it was overworked.
  • TIRE PRESSURE:  Make sure your tires have the correct pressure.  Air pressure in a tire decreases 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change.  For an accurate reading make sure to check tire pressure when the tires are cold.  Driving even a mile can affect the psi reading.
  • TIRE TREAD:  Check your tire tread to make sure that you have the recommended safe about of tread left.  Also check for cracks, bubbles, and any other irregularities.
  • BRAKE CHECK:  Driving on worn brake pads and/or shoes not only decreases stopping power but can damage brake rotors and/or drums as well.
  • WASHER FLUID:  May not seem like a safety feature but water will freeze on your windshield in the winter.  choose a cold weather washer fluid that won't freeze in colder temperatures.
  • CHECK FLUID LEVELS:  Keeping an eye on fluid levels can alert you to a needed service or potential problem like a leak.
  • HEATING AND COOLING:  Check the HVAC system.  Proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
  • PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE:  Keeping up with basic car care helps save from a breakdown or unexpected repair.
  • WINDSHIELD WIPERS:  Now is the perfect time to check to make sure that your wipers work properly without smearing.  Don't wait until you are in a down pour to find out that your wiper blades only smear causing vision obstruction.
  • LIGHTS:  Winter days mean longer nights.  Make sure all of your vehicles lights are functioning properly.
Next time you are in for maintenance or repair make sure you ask for your Fall Courtesy Vehicle Inspection free of charge at your one stop automotive repair shop, The Auto Analyst.  Schedule an appointment today by calling (530) 621-4591 or online at www.theautoanalyst.com.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

POTHOLES AND THE DAMAGE THEY DO TO YOUR VEHICLE

According to AAA, potholes have cost U.S. drivers $15 billion during the past five years, which adds up to about $3 billion annually.

When your vehicle goes into a pothole the strut fully extends, pushing your tire into the pothole.  This is not a normal driving condition for a strut.  Then the whole brunt and wight of the impact comes down and the strut is not designed for that.  After this happens repeatedly the strut becomes damaged.  A damaged strut does not absorb impact as it should and the impact is absorbed by the tire or rim.

Most of today's tires are low profile so there is less absorption in the sidewall therefore the rim will take the brunt of the impact most likely causing it to crack or bend.

With the condition of the roads here in the county after the extremely wet winter it is advised to have your struts, tires, wheel, front end components & alignment checked.

Give us a call at (530) 621-4591 or visit our website at www.theautoanalyst.com to schedule an appointment for an inspection.

The Auto Analyst is your local one stop auto repair shop.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

HOT WEATHER TAKES A TOLL ON YOUR CAR BATTERY

When you think of a dead car battery, you probably think about it being the dead of winter.  You try to start your car one frigid morning and nothing happens.  This week alone we have had 4 battery failures with 1 of the failures actually exploding when the car was being started.

Battery failures can occur in the cold weather but that's not usually what has caused the problem.  The drain on the battery's resources most likely occurred during the summer's hot weather.

There is no battery that last forever!  When you buy a battery the label usually tells you how long you can expect it to last.  Five to seven years is not unusual as long as the battery is operated under normal conditions.  Extremely hot weather and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life, according to the Car Council.  The battery contains liquid and heat causes it to evaporate.  Low fluid levels will damage the internal structure of the battery.

Your car's voltage regulator can be another source of trouble.  If it malfunctions, allowing too high a charging rate, your battery suffers a slow death.  There may not be any warning signs until one morning, when you are already late for an appointment, your car won't start.

Your driving habits can also contribute to shorter battery life.  Frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on the starter than a simple back and forth to work.

Other factors include driving and weather conditions, mileage, vehicle age and excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems.  A tel-tale sign your battery could be on its last legs is when you notice headlights and interior lights dim, accessories fail to operate, or the "check engine" and/or battery light comes on.

By having your battery routinely checked will allow you go get more life out of it.  Keep the top of the battery clean.  Dirt and engine grease can build up and, when they do, they serve as a conductor, which drains battery power.  Look for corrosion accumulating on battery terminals.  The corrosion, often blue in color, services as an insulator, reducing current flow.

Call The Auto Analyst, your local one stop auto repair shop, (530) 621-4591 to have your battery checked today.  Visit our website www.theautoanalyst.com

A picture of what your battery should NOT look like.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Get Your Car Ready to Go Back to School

One item not usually on the top of to-do list when getting ready to go back to school is car care maintenance.  Consider some of the items below to help get your car ready for a great school year.

Under the Hood
To help prevent maintenance issues or potentially costly repairs, open the hood of your vehicle and check the following:

  • Fluid levels of engine oil, coolant and transmission, and brake and power steering fluid - your owner's manual will illustrate where everything is located and the proper levels to maintain.
  • If your car is leaking fluid, its color may help you determine what it is and locate the source.
  • Battery - Consider testing the battery with a voltmeter and replace it if it shows signs of reduced performance.
Check the Tires
Check the tires for uneven tread wear, nails or other potential hazards.  One easy way to check tread depth is inserting a penny into a groove - if any part of Abe Lincoln's head is obscured, you have enough tread. Check the pressure on each tire with a gauge when they're cold (not driven).  Follow the vehicle manufacturer's suggested pressure, which is located on most vehicles on a sticker inside the driver's door, center console, glove compartment lid or in the owner's manual.  Also, make sure the spare tire is inflated and a jack, lug wrench, lug nut key (if equipped with locking lug nuts) and jumper cables are in the trunk.

Check the Lights
Check all lights including the headlights, turn signals, emergency flashing lights, and brake lights.  Vehicles can have many different types of bulbs and they have varying life spans.  Inspect you vehicle regularly to ensure your lights are working properly.

We are Here to Help
Maintenance issues still can occur despite your preventive maintenance efforts.  if you have any concerns after your own inspection, give The Auto Analyst, your local one stop auto repair facility, a call and we will have one of our certified auto repair technicians perform a safety check which can help minimize maintenance issues and get you on the road to a fantastic school year.

The Auto Analyst can be reached at (530) 621-4591 or visit our website at www.theautoanalyst.com.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

YOUR CAR IS TOTALED - SHOULD YOU BUY IT BACK FROM YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY?

Over the years we have seen many vehicles that have been totaled by the insurance company and then bought back by their owners.  Many don't realize that when you buy back your vehicle you must register it with DMV to get a "salvaged" title.  Besides completing the necessary required paperwork you must also have State Brake and Lamp Inspections and sometimes a State Smog Inspection.  The State Brake and Lamp Inspections are extremely detailed inspections. You may think that your vehicle is in tip top shape but many find out otherwise.  Some even find out that to pass these inspections it is going to cost a lot of money. So my advice to you, if you are ever in the situation and must decide what to do, please have your vehicle inspected for the State Brake and Lamp certificates to see if there are any unseen problems and what the cost would be to have repaired.  Some will be surprised that you may be money ahead to just let the insurance keep the vehicle.

The Auto Analyst, your local one stop auto repair facility, is a licensed State Brake and Lamp facility along with a State Smog Inspection Station.  We can be reached at (530) 621-4591 or visit our website at www.theautoanalyst.com


Thursday, June 29, 2017

SAFE DRIVING FROM FOURTH OF JULY FESTIVITIES

Did you know that the Fourth of July is one of the top deadliest holidays for driving?

Here are a few tips:


  • Stay where you are - if possible don't drive at all.  
  • Don't ride your motorcycle - with so many more vehicles on the road this would be a good day to leave your motorcycle at home.
  • Drive home early - the later your leave for home, the likelier you will encounter impaired drivers.
  • Always wear your seat belt - not only is that a no-brainer but it is also the law.
  • Never test or use your cell phone while driving - again it is the law.
  • Maintain safe following distances - stay several car lengths behind the vehicle in front of you this will give you a much better chance of seeing erratic driving and avoiding its consequences.
  • Be extra careful when approaching intersections - don't assume they're going to stop.  Most impaired drivers don't obey traffic signals and signs.
  • Be the designated driver - be the hero and make sure everyone gets home safe.  Remember even a couple of beers can impair your driving ability.
  • Don't drive and drive - if you don't have a designated driver, call Uber or Lyft.
Happy and Safe 4th of July to all!!!


Remember The Auto Analyst, your one stop auto repair shop, is always here for all your automotive repairs.  Visit our website www.theautoanalyst.com to schedule your appointment or give us a call at (530) 621-4591.