Yearly Archives: 2020

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 1 As appeared in San Carlos Living Magazine, August 2020

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

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 2 As Appeared in San Carlos Living Magazine, August 2020

    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

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 3 As appeared in San Carlos Living Magazine, August 2020

  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 As appeared in San Carlos Living Magazine, August 2020

  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

Car Care Tips for the Road Not Taken Part 5 As appeared in San Carlos Living Magazine, August 2020

  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

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

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