Category Archives: Maintenance

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Maintenance

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

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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

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Maintenance

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

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Maintenance

Hybrid Cars, what makes them different?

Hybrid Cars, what makes them different?

Hi peeps!     The word Hybrid has been a very active word since year 2000. What does Hybrid mean? Well, when you say the word today, A car comes into mind, most likely, a Toyota Prius.   Hybrid essentially is the blending of different things. For example, have ever eaten a Pluot? It is a Hybrid of a plum and an apricot. Hybrid in a vehicle means that there are more than one mode of propulsion. There is an "Internal Combustion Engine" or ICE and a form of high voltage electric motor blended to work together. The high voltage motor requires electric current. This comes from stored energy or the HV Battery. Typically, the HV battery is made up of many small batteries together in series to create a large high voltage battery. The purpose of this technology is to allow high MPG. The HV system will produce torque to allow the ICE to not work as hard, this conserves fuel. One t ... read more

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Maintenance

Wheel Alignment San Carlos, CA

Wheel Alignment San Carlos, CA

Hey Fellow Car Fans!   Today, I’m talking about wheel alignments. We have all heard the term. Some clients even come in because the car drifts or pulls and they think they might need one. The question is, how can you really tell? Here is the skinny on wheel alignments. Most of the time, pulls and drifts are not caused by an incorrect wheel alignment. The cause is usually tire related. A wheel alignment usually just aids in the proper wear of your tires. I will give you some terms or measurements associated with your suspension. The primary culprit for tire wear is a measurement called TOE. There is POSITIVE TOE, OR TOE IN. We describe this condition as Pigeon Toed, where the front of the tires are closer together than the rear. The next is NEGATIVE TOE, OR TOE OUT. We call this “Charlie Chaplin” where the front of the tires are further from each other than the rear of the tire. The ... read more

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Maintenance
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