Articles:

Drive Safely When Things Get Wet, Part 1

As the weather gets colder and wetter, there are a few things to consider to make sure your car or truck is safe and comfortable for winter driving. Tires The grooves, channels and slits in your tire’s tread are carefully engineered to keep a small section of rubber in close contact with the road and channel water away from that “contact patch.” In most passenger vehicles, the tread pattern is designed to give you predictable grip during cornering, braking and accelerating, reduce noise, and provide biting edges when traveling on icy or snowy roads.  These “all-season” tires make some compromises at the limit, but offer a comfortable, safe and long-wearing tire. Some performance cars, though, come equipped with summer tires, designed for maximum grip on dry roads and in temperate climates, but they aren’t as good in bad weather, and certainly not intended for a winter trip to Tahoe.  Take a look at the sidewall and you&rs ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance

Drive Safely When Things Get Wet, Part 2

As the weather gets colder and wetter, there are a few things to consider to make sure your car or truck is safe and comfortable for winter driving. Brakes Wet and slick roads increase stopping distances significantly, so you need to brake sooner, react more quickly, maintain longer following distances, and avoid abrupt steering and braking that might induce a skid. Make sure your brake pads and shoes are in good shape, with even wear and adequate thickness, and that your rotors are smooth and sound. Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air, which accumulates and reduces braking performance at the limit (when it really matters), and increases corrosion of brake lines and other parts of your braking system. Be sure to change your brake fluid every two years, regardless of mileage, and keep the system in good working order. Air Conditioning Now that you’re using the heater again, you may not be thinking much about your A/C ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance

Drive Safely When Things Get Wet, Part 3

As the weather gets colder and wetter, there are a few things to consider to make sure your car or truck is safe and comfortable for winter driving. Windshield Chips and Cracks If you have a rock chip or small crack in your windshield, you may be able to repair the damage before it grows into a long crack.  Many auto insurance companies waive your deductible and pay for most or all of the repair if you fix rather than replace the windshield, so act quickly when the damage occurs.  When the weather dips near freezing, then warms later in the day, chips and cracks are more likely to worsen. And if you toss a bucket of hot water on your ice-cold windshield to clear the ice or snow, you might see a crack form immediately, just as you are heading off to work or the slopes. Like many things in auto repair, fix things before they fail or at the first sign of failure and you’ll often save money over the life of your car. ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 1

School’s out and the days are warm and sunny - we’re in the summer driving season. This is the time for road trips, camping, visiting friends and relatives, and getting out of the suburbs. In this time of heightened vigilance, some of us are driving less, while others remain “road warriors” making deliveries, working in the skilled trades, giving rides-for-hire, and traveling to perform at- home services. Your car may throw you curveballs you weren’t anticipating these days, and we’re seeing some interesting cases in our shop. Batteries Modern cars have a few things going on even while they sit unused in the driveway. Your alarm system uses a bit of power to monitor door and hood/hatch sensors, listen for glass breakage and detect movement, and other voltage changes that might indicate criminal activity. The entertainment system retains your radio presets, time and other bits of information so it wakes up ready to go. If you have keyless entry, prox ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 2

    Air conditioning   Your air conditioning system relies on a closed system that circulates refrigerant through a compressor, an evaporator, a drier and one or more heat exchangers to pull heat out of your car and dump it outside, leaving you 20 degrees or so cooler inside than out. O-rings and gaskets seal the joints in this system and keep the refrigerant inside.  Your compressor moves refrigerant through the system, where it expands to a gas then returns to liquid to “condition” the air without being used up.  Refrigerant gases are environmental hazards if released into the air, so we use special machines to evacuate them from your A/C system and return them after repairs.  When your car sits unused, the tiny seals inside your climate-control system can shrink slightly and let refrigerant escape. Over time, you may lose just enough refrigerant that your vents blow coolish but not cold because you’re low on refrigerant. We’ve ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 3

  Hybrid powertrains Hybrid powertrains rely on liquid coolant to remove heat from the electric motors, batteries and inverters, which are often hidden behind the rear seats, under the floor or in the trunk area, and rely on carefully managed airflow combined with special coolant and radiators.  I remember a Honda Insight that lost this coolant due to a rock striking the grille area, setting a check engine light on the dash.  The owner ignored the warning and kept driving the car, until forced to stop on the side of the road.  That tiny pebble caused the hybrid power system to overheat and take out some other components - several thousand dollars in repairs.  Hybrid batteries use the car’s engine to turn an alternator or an electric motor to charge them, maintaining a complex balance of power to provide brisk acceleration or electric-only driving, then burning fuel to recharge the battery bank and extend driving range.  These cars and trucks are des ... read more

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 4

  Rodent damage While you’ve been sheltering in place, rodents may have sheltered under your hood.  In the last couple of months, we’ve seen five or six cars with wiring damage along with remnants of nesting, eating and “visiting the powder room.” Some cars have very complex wiring harnesses that must be replaced as entire assemblies - expensive parts and extensive labor.  Sometimes, the first evidence is a rough idle, a check-engine light, bits of plant material under the hood, or a telltale smell.  These cars usually require a thorough cleaning of the engine compartment, some diagnostic work, replacement or repair of wiring, and some preventive measures. We recommend wrapping wiring harnesses with capsaicin-impregnated tape (it’s spicy hot) to deter rodents from chewing.  Rodent repellents, containing odors rats don’t like such as mint, and fox-urine pheromones, can help a bit, and you can install under-hood strobe lights ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 5

  Catalytic-converter theft The catalytic converter is a component in your exhaust system that converts oxides of nitrogen (NOx) into less-polluting emissions, and they contain several valuable metals.  Toyota Prius cats have larger quantities of these metals, and pay higher prices at the metal recycler.  Thieves target these cars, in particular, for a quick “jack and hack” that’ll cost you a few thousand to repair, but nets them a couple hundred dollars or less. Every car is a potential target, and those parked unused for several days can attract the attention of the bad guys.  Your first clue is usually a car that sounds like the muffler fell off - the entire middle section of your exhaust system gets cut out with a power saw in a minute or two, often stealing or damaging the oxygen sensors, pre-cat and post-cat exhaust pipes, and sometimes even denting things with careless jack placement.  We can install catalytic-converter shields using ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance

The People Behind the Garage Doors - Toole’s Garage

(As seen in San Carlos Living Magazine) What makes Toole’s Garage different is our people – Francisco, Luis, Rob, Dave, and Cameron. Dave Toole, the owner, takes great care in selecting and developing his master technicians, mechanics at the top of their game in training and experience. We rely on their skills to perform the tricky diagnoses and the complex repairs sometimes necessary to get a car running well. There are two paths in becoming a master technician. First, many talented automotive technicians entered the profession at the side of another tech, learning and watching and asking questions while picking up information and confidence along the way. In time, you can get pretty good at working on cars if you learn the right techniques from a patient mentor. Alternatively, other students enter our profession in a more academic way, enrolling in an automotive technology program at a college or trade school, and studying engines, transmissions, electrical systems, gear ... read more

Categories:

Garage Blogging!

Do struts need to be replaced?

Do struts need to be replaced?

Hey fans!   I get many phone calls from potential clients that ask me if their shocks or struts really need to be replaced. They usually say, "my car does not seem bouncy" or " my car seems to handle very well". Those are both true statements. The downside to cars today is that they are built so well...........Did I just say that???? Yes, they are built very well, components last longer and the car feels fine with higher mileage. The concern with that is that the suspension components are moving a lot more than they would when things like the struts are worn, but you don't feel that as a driver. The manufacturer of struts says they should be replaced every 50,000 miles. The valving inside those struts move 75,000,000 times in 50k. 75 Million times, that is a lot. Not many things last that long.  When the valving wears down, it allows the strut (or shock abso ... read more

Categories:

Maintenance
Toole's Garage is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call San Carlos (650) 594-1128, Valley Springs (209) 772-5020 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.