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I'm Cool With That (AC Exchange)

On a hot day, you want your vehicle's air conditioning to work.  When the air blowing out of your vents isn't cold, it's easy to think, "I'll just take it by the shop and have them top off my refrigerant." But while some people think air conditioning is that simple, it's actually not. If your refrigerant is low, something has to have happened for it to be depleted.  Perhaps there's a leak in the system.  Or some hoses or clamps have failed.  If the system isn't evaluated by someone who knows air conditioning, it's possible that adding refrigerant will just be a band-aid solution. It's also possible that contaminants have gotten into the refrigerant, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon, or air.  Some of those gases do not condense like refrigerant does which can increase the pressure inside the system and strain the lines and other components. At that point, the best course of action may be to have the old refrigerant (with its contaminants) bled from the sy ... read more

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Air Conditioning

Steering You Right (Tie Rod End Replacement)

For drivers, S stands for safety.  And there are three other words that start with S that are all equally important: starting, stopping and steering. For your vehicle to be at its safest, all three functions must be in top shape.  Steering is one of those things we take for granted.  After all, you turn the wheel and your vehicle changes direction. But sometimes you might notice your steering is a little off.  Maybe you've noticed you turn your wheel slightly and your vehicle doesn't turn. You may feel a little vibration in the wheel that increases when you go faster.  You may hear a little squeak from the wheels when you steer and you may notice your tires aren't wearing evenly. These are signs that your tie rod ends may be failing. Tie rod ends help connect your vehicle's steering mechanism to the wheels.  They can wear out after you've hit one too many potholes or just from constant use.  They can cause sloppy steering and loose handling, and they ... read more

Alleviate the Creaks and Squeaks (Chassis Lubrication)

If your vehicle creaks and squeaks when you drive down the road, it may mean that some of the metal parts are rubbing against each other and need to be lubricated.  Those could be parts of the suspension, steering system and the drivetrain.  Years ago, most vehicles had to have their chassis (what you think of as the frame) regularly lubricated.  Newer vehicles are made with what some call "lifetime lubrication," but there are still parts of the chassis that need to be maintained with lubricants.  Your service advisor can help you know when that needs to be done. In your owner's manual, the vehicle's manufacturer lists components that need regular maintenance. Things like u-joints, steering joints, sway bars, bushings and joints in the suspension. Some of them may have that "lifetime lubrication," while others may not. When you bring your vehicle in for service, a technician will look for any parts that have grease fittings.  They will inspect these components ... read more

Oh, Stop! (Disc Brake Service)

Every time you drive your vehicle, you wear down your brakes just a little bit.  And after a while, that adds up.  Gradually, your stopping power isn't like it used to be.  Since brakes are one of your vehicle's most important safety features, it just makes sense to keep them performing well. Most vehicles have disc brakes.  One key component, as the name suggests, is the disc.  Most vehicles have discs on their front and rear wheels.  The discs (also called rotors) are made of metal, and each rotates with the wheel hub.  Your brakes also have pads that make contact with the rotors when you press down on the brake pedal, and the friction stops your vehicle. After many, many stops, that friction wears down both the pads and the discs and reduces their ability to stop the way you need them to.  The discs may also become uneven from all the heat they generate, and your brakes won't stop as well as they used to when they were newer.  Some signs ... read more

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Brake Service

Full of Hot Air (Air Conditioning)

In warm weather, you want to be in a cool vehicle. When we're talking cool, we don't mean stylish or trendy, but cool as in not sweltering inside.  And if your vehicle's air conditioner stops working correctly, it seems to always break at the worst time—during a heat wave.  Automotive air conditioning problems fail for a number of reasons: Blower motor not working.  No air comes through the vents, even though the rest of the system could be working fine. Refrigerant leak. When the gas that cools the air off escapes from the air conditioning system, your air conditioner can no longer cool off the outside air Condenser and compressor. These are parts of your AC system that compress and expand a refrigerant gas to cool off the outside air. They are fairly complex. When you bring your vehicle into our service center, we'll run a series of diagnostic tests to figure out what isn't working correctly.  The air conditioning system has a lot of parts. There are elect ... read more

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Air Conditioning

The Light Many Drivers Fear (Check Engine Light)

Ask just about any driver about one thing they fear seeing inside their vehicle and they'll say it's the Check Engine light coming on. You know, that little light on your instrument panel that is in the shape of a vehicle engine, often accompanied by the words Check, Check Engine, Check Engine Service, or Service Engine Soon. There are so many different reasons that light shows up, from something as simple as a loose gas cap to a more serious problem that requires immediate attention.  The Check Engine light comes on because a component of your vehicle's onboard diagnostics system is telling you something isn't operating normally. Your vehicle has a lot of sensors built in, all tied together by computers.  When the sensors are showing that things somewhere aren't functioning the way they should be, they alert the vehicle's diagnostic computers and tell you something's amiss. The simple rule is if the Check Engine light is on steadily, it's so ... read more

Read a Good Tire Lately? (Tire Wear)

There's lots of good information to read in books and online.  You might not know that you can also "read" your tires and learn a lot about what shape they're in and if they are in need of attention. It's important to know how your tires are doing because a tire failure can be very dangerous to you, your passengers and others on the road near you. You read your tire by looking at the surface that rides on the road, where the tread is.  Check out the outer and inner edges.  If you notice there's more wear on the inner or outer edge than on the rest of the tread, your vehicle could be out of alignment.  Wear on an inner or outer edge could mean your wheels are leaning too much to one side.  When you see this, visit our service center soon to have the alignment checked. What about if both edges are worn? That could be a sign that you don't have enough air in that tire.  In an underinflated tire, the middle is not contacting the road surface as much as the edg ... read more

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Tires

Beware Dangers of Spring Driving (Seasonal Driving Tips)

Sure, winter is quickly fading in the rearview mirror, but the peril of icy roads is replaced with a whole new set of driving challenges in spring. Deer and other wildlife. You are not the only one who gets spring fever.  Animals do, too, and spring is the time they start looking for mates and food.  Be extra careful at dawn and dusk when deer are especially active.  Hitting a deer (or having them jump into your path suddenly) is a frightening experience, and even a deer/vehicle collision at slow speeds can cause injury and/or loss of life for both animal and humans, let alone expensive damage to the vehicle.  Be extra vigilant during spring. The angle of the light.  As the seasons progress, you'll notice sun angles change.  The sun is rising earlier every morning and setting later at light.  When the sun is low in the sky, that glare can render you almost completely blind.  Make sure your windows and windshield are clean; don't forget the inside ... read more

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Inspection

The Little Valve that Could (PCV Valve Replacement)

It's easy to get letters like PVC and PCV mixed up.  PVC is a plastic that's used in a lot of things, especially plumbing pipes.  And PCV is a valve that helps your engine burn off excess fumes rather than having them pollute our atmosphere.  PCV stands for positive crankcase ventilation.  When your engine ignites gasoline in the cylinders, some of the gases produced make their way into the crankcase, where oil is held to lubricate the engine.  In earlier days, those gases would be vented out through a hose and go directly into the air.  It was a waste of gasoline (since about three-fourths of the gases were unburned fuel) and a nasty source of pollution. So engineers devised a one-way valve that directed those gases back into the engine's air intake system to be burned again.  After a while, the PCV valve can get clogged up with gummy oil.  Not only does that reduce the recirculation of the gases, but it can also cause pressure in the crankcase ... read more

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PCV Valve

Shifty Letters PRNDL (Transmission)

You probably figured out those shifty letters.  They're what you see on your automatic transmission shifter and stand for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Low.  Your automatic transmission is one of the great automotive inventions; here are some ways you can keep yours working well. Maintain your transmission regularly.  A technician will check your transmission fluid's level and even its appearance and smell.  If it's dark or has an unusual odor, that could be a sign of trouble. Change from one transmission direction gear into another only when your vehicle is stopped.  So many drivers want to switch from Reverse to Drive quickly or the other way around.  If you do that when the vehicle is moving, you can damage your automatic transmission. Keep your vehicle's cooling system in top shape.  What does the cooling system have to do with the transmission? It helps keep the transmission fluid from overheating.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendati ... read more

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Transmission
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