Service Your Car Sooner Than Later To Save Money

Posted on 08/14/2015

You think you’re having an issue with your car. It might not seem like much, but it feels like it is driving differently that it usually does. Maybe the steering seems a little less responsive, or it doesn’t seem like its changing gears when it should. These may be small problems, or maybe nothing at all. But when it comes down to it, having your car inspected and repaired early on can save you money and hassle down the road, and it might even save a life.

Even if you work on your car, it can be difficult to pin point exactly what the issues is. A trip to the repair shop to will at least give you peace of mind. If no issue are found, chances are you will pay a small fee or maybe nothing at all depending on the shop. If it turns out that there is an issue with your car, then you are catching it preemptively, which will general save you money versus waiting until the problem become a major one. Plus, tackling an issue early on can keep your car in humming along so that other issues don’t crop up as a result.

When looking for a local auto repair shop, take the time to ask if the mechanics attend regular training and are certified to work on your car may it be foreign or domestic. Mechanics who are certified and attend regular training typically have the experience and knowledge to pinpoint problems quickly. Saving you both money and time as you want your car repaired correctly the first time so it doesn’t leave you stranded on the side of the road.  

Hybrid Car Maintenance: What You Need to Know

Posted on 08/07/2015

The automobile powertrain has begun a fundamental shift to cleaner and greener technology with an end goal of replacing antiquated fossil fuels as the primary power source. Bridging the gap between old and new is the hybrid: a car that runs on both electric motors and a gasoline engine to maximize fuel efficiency. Considering that the Toyota Prius is the number one selling car in California clearly shows that consumers are ready to make the change.
With the shift to cleaner fuels, maintenance and service needs are changing to. For years, vehicles were strictly “analog”, so to speak. Mechanical parts fit together and worked to create a cohesive, albeit complex, machine. When something broke or needed service, just about any shade tree mechanic could fix the problem. Today, cars are equipped with multiple computer systems that continually check the vehicles status and performance, notifying you when there’s a problem. This can make trouble shooting easier, as you no longer have to manually trouble shoot problems. Just plug into the cars computer for an error code. 
Before the heavy reliance on computers, anyone who wanted to fix their own car could purchase a service manual and perform most repair tasks on their vehicle. While on hybrids, you can still check fluids and change spark plugs, the union of the gas powered engine with electric motors means that any maintenance that falls outside of these basic repairs should be done by a trained mechanic. 
The drivetrain and wiring system is far more complicated than a traditional combustion engine, and as such it’s critical that you take it into your local auto repair center for service. For those who like to get under the hood and wrench, driving a hybrid means those days are more or less behind you. 
However, this is not meant to put a bleak picture on servicing a hybrid. In fact, due to the way the power train works, less wear and tear is put on the engine and brakes. While you’ll need to consult a certified auto repair shop for service, those incidents will be few and far between. People have claimed to drive over 150,000 miles before servicing the brakes on their hybrid. As car technology continues to advance, the ability to diagnose and repairs will become something that only a trained technician can do.

Better Understanding Your Engine

Posted on 07/28/2015


Cars and trucks are complicated these days. There are so many different moving parts that have to work together to make the car run, it’s no small feat that you’re able to hop inside of one and drive it on a daily basis without it turning into a pile of scrap metal after a few miles. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the mechanics, cars need regular maintenance and repairs to keep things running smoothly. Luckily though, there are ways to keep an eye on different systems so that you can be sure to fix a problem before it becomes a problem.

When it comes to the engine, a lot of people have no idea what they’re looking at. Pipes, boxes and metal pieces all fit together like organs inside of a body. If you don’t know what part is what, then trying to identify a problem, much less fix it, can be a daunting task. For this reason, we’re going to go over the major parts of your engine, and how you can detect an issue before it becomes a costly headache.

Before we get started, there is one steadfast rule that you should always follow: if you’re going to be poking around under the hood of your car, make sure that it hasn’t been driven yet. Engines can get scalding, so trying to fix something when the block is steaming is a bad idea. Check everything before you go driving, not during or after (unless you have to).

The engine is composed of a few main components: fluids, belts and tubes, the battery, and the engine block. When looking at this system, you want to start from the fluids and work your way down in that order. All of your liquid components come with some type of measuring device to know when they need refilling. Your oil tank has a dip stick, and most of the others, including brake fluid, coolant, and window cleaner, have markings on the side, known as “fill levels”. The five top liquids in your car are engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant, and power steering. Checking these regularly can ensure the well-being of your vehicle.

After the fluids, there are several belts and tubes that you need to inspect. If any of them are cracked or visibly damaged, they need to be replaced. Sometimes you can tell if a belt is out of shape by a distinct burning rubber smell when you’re driving. If you smell this, then you definitely need to get it replaced ASAP before it snaps.

The remaining parts of your car that you can check yourself are the air filter and the battery. You can inspect the engine block if you want, but unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to leave the maintenance of that to the professionals. Your air filter controls the cleanliness of the air that comes into your car; so the dirtier it is, the more dust and debris you will be breathing in. They are pretty easily replaceable, but it’s up to you what constitutes a filter that’s “too dirty”.

Finally, the battery. Check for corrosion at the contact points. Excessive corrosion can mean that the battery will stop working soon, but don’t worry if you see some when inspecting it. White dust and corrosion are normal, and part of the wear and tear. Just make sure to keep an eye on it when it starts happening. Replacing the battery is something that can be done relatively easily. You can remove the old battery and give it to any auto body shop or auto parts store, as they will recycle it for you. Since the battery has toxic chemicals in it, it’s unwise to toss it in the trash with the rest of your refuse.

If you’re the type of person who is lost just by looking at an engine, hopefully this has helped you to understand that the machinations that make it run are not really that complicated, once you break it down. Checking under the hood regularly can help you to better understand your vehicle, and what to do should something happen. While you may not be able to fix everything by yourself, being able to manage some aspects of your car’s health will not only help you appreciate everything it does for you, but save you money as well. 

Which Motor Oil Is Right For Your Car?

Posted on 07/20/2015

Oil change Rohnert Park, CAWhen it comes to cars, most of us just turn the ignition and go. Many of us don’t think about the complex components that make up our vehicles and how to keep everything working in pristine order. While your engine is a complicated machine, there is one part of it that takes precedence over the rest: your oil. You probably get your oil changed every few thousand miles, by taking it to a mechanic or lube shop such as Jiffy Lube. But what makes your motor oil so valuable? What kind of engine oil is best for your car? Many locations will offer you certain brands or types, but they aren’t necessarily the best. They may be trying to upsell certain products because they cost more, or because they need to sell inventory. However, since you’re the one who has to drive the car every day, it makes sense that you should be the one who knows which oil is best.

There are four main types of motor oil: Synthetic, Synthetic-blend, High Mileage, and Conventional. Each of them has its benefits and uses, which we’ll outline below.

Synthetic: This oil is man-made, and composed of additives and chemicals that can optimize performance, as well as prevent overheating. These also include lubricants to make sure the oil keeps everything running smoothly. For high-performance vehicles, this would be a smart choice. However, because of the advanced materials included, full synthetic oil can cost a lot more than conventional.

Synthetic-Blend: As the name suggests, this is oil that is a mixture of conventional and synthetic components. This makes it suitable for extreme temperature variations and “cold starts”, where your engine has been in chilly conditions for a long time. This type of oil is ideal for vehicles that carry heavy loads or tow loads frequently. It’s also good for people in dramatic climates (such as the East Coast).

High-Mileage: This type of oil is pretty much self-explanatory. The oil itself is blended with various synthetic components to keep a high-mileage engine working optimally. If your car is over 75,000 miles and/or is driven a lot, then this type of oil can be best.

Conventional: Unfortunately, the only real benefits of basic, conventional oil is the price. Because it doesn’t have any additives or synthetic lubricants, it’s the cheapest stuff out there. While it may be tempting to go for the lowest price, it could cost you in the long run by creating more problems than it solves. Really this is only recommended if your car requires such oil. Checking your user manual will tell you if this is the case.

If you’re choosing your oil, keep in mind how you use your car, how old your car is, and what kind of wear and tear it endures on a regular basis (such as cold weather). If you’re unsure, you can compare oils not only on their mixture but their labels. Many of you may notice that oil comes with numbers on it, such as 10W-30. These are grades for the oil, and tell you the ideal temperature range for it. Below are the ratings. All temperatures are in Fahrenheit.

5W-30: this oil is best for cold temperatures, with an average low of zero degrees or less.

10W-30/40: Both of these oils are designed for temperatures at or above zero. 

20W-50: Temps at or above 20 degrees.

SAE-30: Temps at or above 40 degrees.

SAE-40: Temps at or above 60 degrees.

Now that you know the different types of oil, you can start to search for the best kind of oil that will benefit your car. You can also look at manufacturer’s recommendations, or ask your mechanic for any particular types that could be better than others. Also, make sure to see how frequently the oil needs to be changed, as many synthetics can be used up to six thousand miles between changes. Above all else, however, make sure to keep your car happy and healthy, for both of your sakes. 

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