Thursday, November 16, 2017

THE IMPORTANCE OF COOLING SYSTEM SERVICE

We are always asked if it's really necessary to perform a coolant flush.  So I want to educate you on exactly what the cooling system does.  Engine coolant, some may know it a antifreeze, runs through your engine's cooling system.  The water pump moves the fluid from the radiator to the engine and back again.  The primary job of the coolant is to transfer excess heat from the engine to the radiator.  The radiator's job is to allow cooler air to bring down the temperature of the coolant.  Pure water is the best fluid for transferring heat, however at 190 degrees Fahrenheit, water is extremely corrosive to the inside of your engine.  For this reason it's mixed 50/50 with antifreeze, or coolant which contains anti-corrosion additives.  If coolant is not mixed with water, your engine can run hotter than normal.  Coolant also has anti-cavitation additives to prevent cavitation around the water pump impeller.

The interesting thing about these chemical additives is that they wear out over time, much the way prescription drugs lose their potency and effectiveness over time, hence the discard date on pill containers.  We want to flush coolant before the anti-corrosion additives lose their effectiveness.

Another consideration is that the current the engine starter uses returns to the battery negative terminal by running from the starter through the block to where the big black cable is attached, and then back to the battery negative terminal.  This process can build up a slight charge in the engine coolant over a long period of time, resulting in a condition called electrolysis.  Electrolysis will cause metal to come off the inside of your engine and be deposited in the radiator and heater core, which explains why we sometimes find that a failed radiator we take out is significantly heavier than the new one we install.  The same holds true for heater cores, which can be very difficult to access and replace.

So the answer to the coolant flush questions is a definite YES.  We want to flush out the coolant and replace it with new before it is visibly bad, due to additive depletion and the possibility of electrolysis.  The usual time frame is two years or 30,000 miles for standard coolant, however some cars have extended life coolant that can go longer.  The bottom line is that flushing and keeping the coolant fresh is always less expensive than repairing a heater core or radiator, head gasket or engine rebuild/replacement.

Don't wait until it's too late, flush your vehicle's cooling system today.  Give The Auto Analyst, your one stop auto repair shop, a call today at (530) 621-4591 or visit our website at www.theautoanalyst.com to schedule an appointment.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

RAIN IS A GOOD THING...EXCEPT FOR DRIVING

Driving in the first rain of the season can be downright dangerous.  Why you ask?  Rain mixes with oil from motor vehicles and oil from new asphalt.  The result is a slipper roadway.  And only if it rains hard enough and long enough, does the rain wash off the oil and the slippery conditions are reduced.  the rain also makes it difficult to see.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination when it is rainy outside.  Never rush when it's raining heavily: accidents are even more likely when weather conditions are poor.

Be more cautious with braking.  When you're driving in a downpour, you simply cannot brake late the way you can in ideal weather conditions.  The roads are slippery, which means you could slide more if you brake too quickly.  There's also a chance that you could get water in your brakes, which will cause them to lose their stopping power.  You want to avoid slamming on your brakes - when it's raining, you should brake with less force.  So be sure to keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you to avoid any of these situations.

Remember it is a law that you must have your headlights on when using your windshield wipers.  However, contrary to what you may think, using your high-beam headlights will actually make things worse: the light from the beams will reflect back at you off the water in the air, actually making it harder for you to see.

Do not use cruise control.  While you may think having your car travel at a set speed when it's raining is a good idea, cruise control can actually become problematic when it's raining.  If your car hydroplanes while you have your cruise control set, your car can actually accelerate - which is not something you want to happen when you are hydroplaning.  Having your foot away from the pedals can also be hazardous when you are driving in torrential rain.

Make sure your wipers and all lights are in good working condition before the rain starts.  Also, now is a good time to make sure your tires do not need replacing.  If you have any questions regarding your vehicle's readiness for the rainy season please call The Auto Analyst, your one stop auto repair shop at (530) 621-4591 or visit our website at www.theautoanalyst.com.  Your safety is our #1 concern!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

EMISSIONS READINESS MONITORS

A drive cycle is a special test drive that duplicates the scenario of a person starting their car and making a short freeway trip, as if the person was driving to work.  While the drive cycle test is going, the engine computer runs little tests to see if the emissions system is working properly.  If during the test the computer senses a problem it almost always triggers a Check Engine or Service Engine Soon Light.  This signals that an emission system problem and fault code has been recorded in the powertrain control module (PCM). The problem indicated by the faulty code must now be accurately diagnosed and repaired.

Once the problem has been corrected and the fault code cleared out of the system the computer will run a series of self tests to determine whether or not the repair actually corrected the problem and if the various emissions systems are running correctly.  Once the computer sees that there are no problems then each monitor will be cleared.

This process was designed to prevent a vehicle from slipping through an emissions test with a known problem.  Until 1996, a common tactic was to turn off the Check Engine Light by clearing the code just before an emissions test, without performing the proper repair.  The drive cycle and emissions readiness monitors have, for the most part, stopped this unethical tactic.

Still have questions about emissions readiness monitors?  Contact The Auto Analyst, your one stop auto repair facility, at (530) 621-4591 or visit our website at www.theautoanalyst.com.

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.