Best Auto of Longmont loves to share auto repair and service tips and other news worthy information, as we are truly passionate about what we do best! Thanks again for visiting our website, and we hope to see you down at the shop sometime soon!
Drivers tend to forget about their wipers until they are no longer working well. This is a mistake, since clear visibility is essential to safe driving and poorly performing wipers are a true hazard on the road. Wipers have to endure a lot of challenging conditions including abrasive dirt, extreme temperatures and degradation from sunlight. It is important to not wait too long to get new wiper blades and Best Auto Repair of Longmont has a wide selection of high-quality choices that are on sale now.
Factors to Consider for New Wiper Blades
- Type: The most common design has a rubber blade that attaches onto a spring-tension frame. These types of blades are conventional wipers. The other type, called beam or bracketless blades, differ in that they have no separate frame. Instead, the spring steel is inside the rubber to provide more uniform pressure.
- Installation: A hook mount is the most common mounting method; where the adapter is lined up with a hook and pressed into place. Finding stand-alone insert replacements is rare and a complicated replacement process. For proper performance, replacing blades should be done in a well-lit, dry environment- not on a dark, rainy night when fed up with bad visibility.
- Timing: It’s best to schedule blade replacement as part of your routine auto maintenance. The most effective timing twice annually- at the beginning of winter and summer, as these two seasons bring on the harshest weather conditions. Severe temperatures, sunlight and road debris breaks down rubber quickly.
Consumer Reports found that “[i]n general, the more expensive beam blade wipers tended to perform as well or better than conventional blades, but the inexpensive beam blade models tended to perform worse than conventional blades.” Best Auto Repair of Longmont is offering a 2-for-1 special on new wiper blades now through the end of the year- hurry in to make sure you can see clearly on the road to all of your holiday events!
Modern vehicles use engine vacuum to control a large number of processes and components. According to Popular Mechanics, “Even a tiny leak, as small as 0.020 of an inch, can degrade engine performance, compromise driveability and turn on your Check Engine light.” The ASE-certified technicians at Best Auto Repair in Longmont have the experience and equipment to detect even the smallest car vacuum leak that can be causing a big issue with your vehicle’s performance.
The air needed for internal combustion enters the engine through a butterfly valve, creating a vacuum in the intake manifold. This vacuum is utilized in a wide variety of operations from reducing the force needed to brake to reducing emissions. A system of vacuum lines carries the fuel vapor collected in a charcoal canister when the car is off back to the engine when turned on. The number of hoses has increased since the EPA requires essentially all gas fumes to be prevented from entering the environment.
Potential Problems Caused by a Car Vacuum Leak
- Erratic Idle
- Misfires from Unbalanced Air-Fuel Ratio
- Decrease in Fuel Economy
- Check Engine Light Turns On
- Power Brake Booster Reduced
- Emissions-Control System Compromised
There are dozens of places where vacuum leaks can occur, and without a vacuum-hose diagram or a professional-grade smoke generator, they can be very elusive to locate. Age will cause rubber hoses and plastic fittings to wear down, and a cracked header or loose manifold gasket are also potential problem areas in the vacuum system. A smoke generator also makes it easy to check for any exhaust leaks, which can imitate a vacuum leak. With the right equipment, the experienced technicians of Best Auto Repair in Longmont can pinpoint a car vacuum leak anywhere in the engine and get it repaired quickly to return your car to its optimal performance level.
Although it might not feel like it with this week’s unseasonably warm temperatures, winter is coming and you’ll want to make sure your car is ready for those frosty mornings. If your car’s heater is struggling to produce hot air, bring it in to Best Auto Repair in Longmont for a quick diagnosis and repair.
Many systems are interconnected in modern vehicles, and the heating system is no exception. A car’s engine is cooled and cabin is heated through the same circuit. The coolant that absorbs heat from the engine is used to heat the inside of your car through the heater core, which is essentially a smaller version of the radiator that cycles the same coolant.
If your car heater is not producing hot air, the thermostat or coolant flow is probably restricted. The thermostat’s job is to open a valve to allow more coolant in when the engine is hot or close it off when it’s cold. If the valve is stuck shut, the coolant reaching the heater core is probably not sufficiently hot enough to warm the cabin. If the thermostat is in good operating condition, then the problem is probably due to build-up. When too much sediment and grime accumulate in the heater core, then the flow of coolant will be restricted.
Even though these two car heater repairs may seem simple, Popular Mechanics cautions that, “Replacing the thermostat can be a 20-minute job or a real hassle [and] the heater-core flush is messy, so you might want to take your car to a shop for service.” Don’t take the chance of freezing on your morning commute this winter- if your car heater is not working reliably, let the certified technicians at Best Auto Repair in Longmont quickly fix any problem for toasty winter travel!
Several components of modern cars are designed to draw some current when the car is off, such as radio presets, the clock and the engine computer’s internal memory. All combined these elements should not draw more than 50 milliamps and cause no issue with the vehicle’s battery. However, if you keep encountering a dead battery but the engine runs fine after it’s charged, a charging-system voltage test shows no problem with the alternator and no electrical issue can be found, then the vehicle has parasitic battery drain. The ASE-certified mechanics at Best Auto Repair in Longmont can quickly diagnosis what is causing your parasitic car battery drain so you won’t have to deal with the hassle of a recurring dead battery!
Most Common Sources of Parasitic Car Battery Drain
- Lights- in the glovebox or trunk
- Alarms– According to Popular Mechanics, “Aftermarket alarms are notorious for sucking healthy, fully charged batteries dry within a few days. If you have any non-factory alarms, it’s the first thing you should check.”
- Stereos– Although designed to go into a standby mode that draws only a couple milliamps, several hundred milliamps can be drawn if the DIP switches are improperly set.
- Proximity Keys– The convenience of not having to dig out your key to unlock or start your car can become a major inconvenience if it drains your battery. The job of your proximity key’s radio receiver is to check for a match everytime it gets a signal at it’s frequency- this can result in a dead battery if parked for an extended time in an area where many other keys pass by.
- Electronics plugged into the lighter– Cellphone chargers, GPS units and other cords that plug into your car’s power should not draw more than a few milliamps when the device is not connected.
If you’re not sure why your car’s battery keeps dying, bring your it in to Best Auto Repair of Longmont for a quick check for parasitic battery drain and get your vehicle starting reliably again!
Shocks used to be installed solely on full-frame cars and trucks, while struts were exclusively used on unibody vehicles. This is not the case anymore, with the wide variety of suspension designs available today. If you’ve noticed your ride has become more jarring lately, bring your vehicle into Best Auto Repair of Longmont for a quick diagnosis and repair of your shocks or struts.
Shocks or Struts- What’s the difference?
- The main difference between shocks and struts is their external construction. Shocks are not an integral part of a vehicle’s suspension system, meaning that it could still be driven (although it would be an uncomfortable ride) if the shock-absorbers were removed. On the other hand, struts are a critical part of suspension and without them, the car would be immovable on the ground.
- The way both shocks and struts absorb energy is through a series of internal valves and oil: the valves restrict how fast the oil flows, thereby making the jarring bumps in the road feel much smoother.
- Struts also have a coil spring, with an upper strut mount above and bump-stop below. All of these individual parts, including some cartridges housing the internal “shock” section, are replaceable but usually replacing the entire strut is easiest.
- Once oil starts leaking from shocks or struts, their dampening function deteriorates quickly and the vehicle will start bouncing off the street surface, creating a dangerously unstable condition.
- Another way struts can deteriorate is if their coil springs get rusty and lose their shape, which could potentially cause them to pierce the tire.
You may also be wondering about aftermarket air suspension parts. Usually, the only time air shocks are recommended to replace non-air types is on the rear axles of trucks to assist with heavy loads. It’s more common for owners of a vehicle equipped with an air ride system to replace it with a conversion kit once the air suspension has failed. This is because it is difficult to diagnose whether there is just a bad seal, damaged hose or a totally burned out compressor, and a traditional design eliminates future hassles of complicated air ride suspension.
New shocks or struts make an older car feel new again, and right now Best Auto Repair is running a special on new shocks or struts– so make an appointment today for a smoother ride tomorrow!
“One of the easiest- and, perhaps, most important- ways to maintain your car is by regularly checking fluid levels” says Tom Moor of Angie’s List. Whether your vehicle is due for an oil change or you are planning a road trip, trust the experienced mechanics at Best Auto Repair in Longmont to conduct a thorough fluid check to keep your car in optimal driving condition.
Car Fluid Check
- Oil– After wiping the dipstick and removing it again, the level should not be below marking and the oil should not appear dirty- if it is, then it’s time to schedule an oil change.
- Transmission fluid– Unlike engine oil, newer cars often do not have a transmission dipstick for owners to check the level themselves. Mechanics can assess the level and state of transmission fluid as part of an oil change- if it is dark brown or smells burnt, it needs replaced. Typically transmission fluid lasts for 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
- Power steering fluid– Some tanks have a dipstick while others are designed to be assessed by just removing the cap. Consult your vehicle’s manual to know when to change the power steering fluid- the recommendation can range from every two years to every 100,000 miles.
- Coolant– The coolant reservoir is transparent so you can easily assess the amount remaining. If more is needed, make sure the coolant is premixed and does not need to be diluted by half with water.
- Windshield wiper fluid– Especially important to maintain during the winter, windshield washing fluid is also stored in a transparent tank for instant visible assessment. And just like when checking the oil or coolant, it is important to wait until the engine is cool before checking wiper fluid level.
- Brake fluid– Also housed in a translucent reservoir, the master cylinder for brake fluid is located near the back of the engine. Brake fluid should be changed every 45,000 miles on average.
If you suspect any of the above fluid’s are running low in your vehicle, bring it in for a thorough car fluid check by the ASE-certified technicians at Best Auto Repair in Longmont.
The fuel pump is a simple but essential component of internal combustion engines: its job is to deliver gas from the tank to the engine at a specific pressure for performance needs. Usually fuel pumps can be relied on to last for many, many miles- unless, you regularly put in less than a quarter tank of gas in your car. So if you start to notice performance issues, strange whining or difficulty starting bring your vehicle into Best Auto Repair of Longmont to check if it might be time for a new fuel pump.
Signs Your Car Needs a New Fuel Pump
- Loud Whine- A smoothly operating fuel pump emits a quiet hum so if you start hearing a loud whining noise coming from the tank, something is wrong.
- Slow Start- If the fuel pump is wearing out, the pressure it creates will be weaker so the engine may take a few more cranks to get started.
- Poor Engine Performance- When the pump is not sending enough gas into the engine to maintain the proper air-fuel ratio for combustion, then all sorts of problems can occur. Possible performance issues from a failing fuel pump are misfires, stalling, and decreased acceleration, power or fuel efficiency.
- Failure to Start- If the pump is totally defunct and not able to provide enough fuel to get the engine running, it will still crank but not start.
Hopefully you won’t have to think about replacing your car’s fuel pump until it reaches high mileage but, unfortunately, all mechanical parts are susceptible to breaking unexpectedly or wearing out prematurely. If you suspect your fuel pump may be failing, have the ASE-certified mechanics at Best Auto Repair in Longmont run a quick diagnostic test to pinpoint your vehicle’s trouble. No matter if just a new part or more extensive repair is needed, we’ll have your car up and running again fast for a very reasonable rate!
Usually a vehicle’s alternator lasts for 7 years or 100-150,00 miles so it’s not a part that car owners have to think about much, but when it starts to fail you will notice! That’s because the alternator is essential in powering all the electrical systems of a car from the headlights to battery. The experienced mechanics at Best Auto Repair in Longmont can quickly diagnose any alternator, starter or battery problem and if a replacement is needed, you can save on a new part during our current special!
Signs You Need a New Alternator
- Warning Light: Most dashboards display a light in the shape of a battery to indicate a problem, but some will say “ALT” or “GEN”, for alternator or generator issues. If the alternator’s output goes outside the normal operating range, usually between 13-14.5 volts, then the car’s computer will illuminate the warning light.
- Dim Lights: When the alternator is on its way out, electrical systems in the car may start to act up- for example, dim headlights, slowed power windows or weak heated seats. Many vehicles are programmed to switch off electricity to non-essential components first so the radio will quit before the headlights go.
- Burning Smell or Growling Noise: If the alternator’s pulley is out of alignment or getting stuck, then you will smell burnt rubber. If the alternator is overheating, then you’ll smell hot wires. And you might also hear a growling or whining noise if the pulley is not in correct alignment with the belt or the bearings are worn out.
- Dead Battery: When an alternator starts to go bad, the battery will act as a capacitor by by taking in constant electrical power. However, batteries are not designed to provide power for very long so if they try to make up for a failing alternator, they will eventually give out.
- Bad Connection: If the alternator is still producing electricity but there is a loose connection or faulty wire, then you will sometimes notice abnormally bright cabin or headlights when the alternator tries to overcome the resistance by surging more energy through the lines.
If your car is showing any of the above symptoms or you suspect something is wrong with its electrical system, bring your vehicle to Best Auto Repair in Longmont for a quick test to pinpoint if the problem is due to a bad alternator, starter or battery. And now through August, receive a $15-25 Visa card with the purchase of a NAPA new alternator, starter or battery!
A car’s battery can be compared to the heart of the vehicle, responsible for all its electric systems. The experienced mechanics at Best Auto Repair in Longmont understand the vital role of the car battery and can expertly diagnose and solve any problems with it. Alex Leanse of Popular Mechanics examined some myths about the car battery and clarified the hugely important part it plays in our vehicles.
Facts vs. Fiction About Your Car Battery
- The average life of a car battery is 6 years.
- Using electronic components when the engine is off will shorten the life of the battery so take care to turn off the headlights and interior lights when you turn off the car. Also be sure to unplug devices like cell phones & GPS units that are plugged into the charger!
- The liquid electrolyte solution used in most batteries is affected by extreme outdoor temperatures. Parking your vehicle in a garage will extend the life of its battery.
- Cold weather will limit the amount of power that the solution is able to transfer. A battery heater can reduce this problem but beware that buying a battery with a high CCA (cold cranking amp) will NOT help because the car’s computer sets the amperage for ignition.
- Hot weather causes the solution to evaporate faster, which means its ability to hold a charge is lowered. Replacing lost solution with deionized water is an acceptable short term fix but do NOT use tap water because the cells could be damaged by impurities.
- Even a dead battery is full of environmentally-harmful chemicals so always take old ones to a mechanic or auto supply store to be recycled properly instead of just being thrown away.
Most drivers assume the battery is dead when their car won’t start but there are a number of other possible reasons. Some potential problems are a faulty starter motor, clogged fuel injectors, worn spark plugs, a failed alternator or corroded battery terminals. So if your vehicle starts showing signs of a low battery, such as a sluggish startup, failing interior lights or a battery warning on the dashboard, then bring it in to Best Auto Repair of Longmont for a quick diagnosis before you hear that dreaded click of a dead car battery.
Do you know what your engine’s temperature should be? A normal operating range is between 195 to 220 degrees F. When the temperature rises above this limit, the engine overheats and problems ensue. If your engine has overheated due to a coolant leak or other reason, the experienced mechanics at Best Auto Repair in Longmont will quickly diagnose the problem and resolve it.
Causes of an Overheated Engine
- Coolant leaking from the water pump, radiator, hoses, freeze plugs, heater core, thermostat housing, head gasket, automatic transmission oil cooler, cylinder heads and block.
- Failing thermostat that does not open when needed, thereby blocking release of coolant.
- Clogged radiator, either externally with debris or internally with sediment, that restricts airflow.
- Broken cooling fan or malfunctioning fan clutch that also causes inadequate airflow through the radiator.
- Worn or loose water pump impeller that interrupts circulation of coolant.
- Blocked catalytic converter or exhaust pipe preventing heat from exiting the system and causing a build up in the engine.
- Defective radiator cap- without being properly kept under pressure, coolant will boil at 225 degrees while a functional 15 PSI cap will allow the coolant to reach 265 before boiling.
Overheating can cause serious damage to most engines. Possible problems caused by overheating include: overhead cam breaking, hoses bursting, damage to exhaust valves, blown head gasket, abrasion to pistons and cylinders and damage to rings, pistons and/or rod bearings. All car owners want to avoid these costly repairs caused by overheating and the best chance of doing that is by turning the engine off, letting it cool down, then having it assessed as soon as possible.
A coolant leak is the most common cause of an overheated engine, and having Best Auto Repair conduct a pressure test of the cooling system and radiator cap will quickly pinpoint the problem and have you back on the road in no time. Call us today so you can plan a summer road trip without worrying about your car staying cool under pressure!