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!
A dependable battery is essential not only to prevent needing an inconvenient jump start but also to prevent the alternator from overworking. When a new battery is needed, car owners want to find an affordable option that will be reliable and long-lasting- the experts of Best Auto in Longmont have provided some helpful tips for deciding on a new car battery.
Guide to Choosing a New Car Battery
- Cranking Amps (CA): amperage measured at 32F
- Cold Cranking Amps (CCA): This is the most significant measurement, and should carry the most weight when comparing factors for choosing the best battery. It rates how much amperage is sustained for 30 seconds at 0F, without going below 7.2 volts.
- Reserve Capacity (RC): duration 25 amps is held at or above 10.5 volts
- Amp Hour (AH): The amperage capacity, usually just provided for deep-cycle batteries. (Deep-cycle batteries are used in boats, golf carts and show cars.)
- Flooded: Within this most common type of lead acid design, most are sealed and require no maintenance but some, especially in classic cars, are conventional and need to be refilled occasionally.
- Gel: Instead of using water for the electrolyte base like in flooded types, gel batteries use a thickened gel which helps keep the plates covered and stop a leak should the exterior break.
- AGM: Absorbed Glass Mat batteries are the most efficient, separating the electrolyte with fiberglass to keep it in constant contact with the lead plates- even upside down!
NAPA’s Legend series employs the superior AGM design to resist freezing longer and provide a longer lifespan than conventional flooded or gel batteries.
Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh): Used in hybrid vehicles, these batteries charge fast but also discharge fast when the car is idle. Composed of a hydrogen-absorbing alloy and nickel oxyhydride for the negative and positive sides.
Lithium Ion (Li): More efficient than NiMh batteries and capable of holding longer static charges, lithium batteries are used in high performance vehicles but are not suitable where the temperatures drop below freezing.
Best Auto of Longmont is running a special on qualifying NAPA batteries now through February- buy a high-performing new car battery and get a $20 Visa Prepaid Card! Don’t get stranded in freezing temperatures this winter- come in to get your battery tested and save on a new one if needed.
Few driving situations are more stressful than trying to navigate at night with weak headlights. Proper lighting is so important for visibility- both for the driver to see and be seen by other drivers! Faulty headlights will start showing signs that indicate they need checked- see the top three symptoms listed below. And since headlights are so important for safety on the road, don’t hesitate to bring your vehicle into the trusted mechanics at Best Auto in Longmont for a quick diagnosis and repair.
Top 3 Signs Your Car Needs New Headlights
- Dimness– The most surefire sign that a bulb is nearing the end of its life is that it shines noticeably dimmer. Low illumination is not a condition you want to drive with for very long since properly functioning headlights are critical for safety.
- Flickering– When the filaments start to wear out or become damaged, you will most likely notice the lights flickering on and off. This is a sign that the bulb will burn out very soon or it could also be a symptom of a bad connection so bringing your vehicle in as soon as possible for an inspection is a good idea.
- Burn Out– Obviously if one headlight has completely failed, it makes sense to get both replaced at the same time since the opposite light will be approaching the end of its serviceable life as well. Headlight bulbs usually last for a significant amount of time but they will eventually wear out, which is yet another reason to schedule routine maintenance service and prevent impending burn outs.
There are as many types of headlights as there are car models- they come in numerous shapes, sizes and designs. Finding an auto repair shop with a large selection of bulbs in stock, or the ability to order some quickly will prevent a long wait at the shop. Headlights are one of the most important safety features on a vehicle, so if your car is showing any of the above symptoms of failing bulbs, don’t delay in having it diagnosed. The ASE-certified technicians at Best Auto in Longmont can quickly determine if your vehicle simply needs new headlights or if the lighting problem is due to a bigger electrical issue- call for an appointment today!
Looks like the official 1st day of winter will bring with it a long-lasting cold front for the end of 2017. To prevent the headache of car problems on your daily commute and holiday travels, be sure your vehicle is ready for winter weather! The ASE-certified mechanics at Best Auto in Longmont will conduct a thorough winter auto tune up service at an affordable rate.
5 Cold Car Problems Avoided with an Auto Tune Up
- Dead Battery– Keeping cars out of the cold overnight is ideal, however if you don’t have access to a garage, having the battery tested is even more important. Batteries are most reliable between 30 and 90F, so checking the level before winter weather hits will ensure dependable starts every morning.
- Thick Fluids– When the temperature drops below 35F, the transmission performance will slow down. For your vehicle to run properly, fluids need to flow quickly so check the levels of oil, antifreeze, power steering, brake in addition to the transmission fluid to make sure there are adequate amounts to move through the systems.
- Tire Pressure Drops– For every 10 degrees that the temperature drops, 1 psi of pressure is lost. Under-inflated tires are more prone to being damaged and a safety concern, particularly when the roads are covered in snow and ice. Of course, the best option, if feasible, are winter tires but keeping the pressure up in your all-season tires is a close second.
- Wipers Fail– Unfortunately, wipers are not capable of clearing accumulated snow and ice from the windshield- that’s still a job for the car owner. Wiper transmissions can also break due to frozen washer solvent. And since the blades are just made of rubber, they will breakdown sooner in harsh conditions and need to be replaced.
- Spark Plugs Weaken– You can count on some hard starts when the weather is freezing, and if a spark plug is already damaged or older then your engine may not turn over reliably.
Many of the problems listed above can be prevented by catching them during regular maintenance. Don’t get caught in the cold- call Best Auto of Longmont today to schedule an extensive yet inexpensive auto tune up service this winter!
Although we’ve enjoyed an unseasonably warm fall, winter weather will eventually arrive in northern Colorado. Best Auto Repair in Longmont wants to give our clients the peace of mind that their vehicle is in prime operating condition this winter by providing thorough yet affordable routine maintenance. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is an independent nonprofit that has been testing and certifying auto technicians in a variety of areas for over 45 years. Below are recommendations from ASE to ensure your vehicle is prepared for winter driving conditions.
Low-Cost Routine Maintenance Tips for Safe Winter Driving in Longmont
- Check the Battery– Professional equipment is the only accurate way to measure a battery’s strength, and in some new models, removing battery cables can cause data loss or damage.
- Inspect Lights– Bright, clear headlights are just as important to proper visibility as good wiper blades and windshield washing fluid. Have dim bulbs replaced and clouded lenses refinished.
- Check Brakes & Transmission– Having these critical parts assessed at the manufacturer’s suggested intervals will catch small problems and prevent costly future repairs.
- Inspect Exhaust System– Checking the undercarriage, trunk and floorboards along with the exhaust line when the vehicle is lifted will ensure no deadly fumes are entering the cabin through leaks.
- Address Engine Problems– If your car is showing signs of poor performance, such as hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power, get the engine evaluated now before cold weather makes the problem worse. Our mechanics will also inspect and tighten the drive belt, clamps and hoses during their extensive review.
- Replace Fluids– Following the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule for replacing fluids, such as the cooling system, will keep your vehicle in optimal condition. This includes changing the oil at regular intervals, which is the most neglected service yet essential for protecting the engine!
In addition to the above services, the ASE-certified technicians at Best Auto Repair in Longmont will also inspect the tires, heater and defroster as part of our thorough routine maintenance to ensure your car is ready for winter!
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.