Advantage Auto Repair

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Advantage Auto Repair
3155 N. Stone Ave.
(Intersection of Ft. Lowell and Stone Ave.)
Tucson, AZ 85705

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Automotive Repair Blog

January 2013

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Budgeting for Maintenance In Tucson AZ

Posted: Jan 30, 2013



Life's full of surprises in Tucson AZ, some of which cost money. A leaky roof, a broken tooth, or an unexpected car repair. Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson of Tucson AZ and AutoNetTV have done some research on how we can budget for proper vehicle care.

Everyone in Tucson AZ does our best to budget for scheduled vehicle maintenance. What's hard is unexpected repairs. The truth is that our vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before with proper maintenance. That's because of improved vehicle design and manufacturing quality. But some of those same improvements also lead to higher repairs costs.

Let's take the fuel pump. Previous generations were often stranded by the side of the road by vapor lock. This occurred when the gas vaporized between the gas tank and the fuel pump. Fuel just stopped flowing.

You had to sit and wait until the car would start again. To alleviate the problem, fuel pumps are now located inside the gas tank. This is a great solution, but when the fuel pump fails, it's a much more expensive proposition to replace it.

Sealed wheel bearing assemblies are another example. These wheel bearings can't be serviced – you just have to replace the entire assembly when it starts to fail. That costs several times as much as service on non-sealed bearings.

So we all benefit in Tucson AZ from design improvements, but we need to plan for repairs down the road.

There's a tool that can be found on Edmunds.com that you can use to prepare your service and repair budget.

Let's suppose you have a 2003 Toyota Camry – a very popular car in Tucson AZ. It's now paid for and you'd like to keep it running for the next three years. You can go to Edmunds' True Cost to Own calculator and enter your vehicle's data. The calculator will provide estimates of what it'll cost to service and repair your vehicle over the next five years. The estimate is based on where you live in or near Tucson AZ, manufacturers' recommendations and repair experience for your particular model.

Of course these are just estimates – there's no way to predict what'll actually happen to the car in your driveway, but it's a good starting point.

The calculator also has estimates for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel costs.

Let's focus on maintenance and repair. This table shows that the average monthly cost of maintenance and repairs is eighty-three dollars. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to a new car payment.

Budgeting for Maintenance

So if you set aside eighty-three dollars a month, you'd go a long ways towards taking care of routine maintenance and being prepared for the unexpected repairs that arise.

Of course, you can't predict when something will go wrong or what it'll cost, but at least you have a reasonable target to shoot for.

Some people around Tucson AZ are afraid of what can go wrong with their older car so they buy a new one. That's fine if you really want a new car, but if you properly maintain your older vehicle, you'll save a lot of money on new car payments and insurance. It just makes good economic sense.

Get with your Tucson AZ service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson and work out a plan for keeping your vehicle on the road.

You can visit Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson at 3155 N. Stone Ave. in Tucson, AZ 85705 or just give us a call at 520.807.5555.


PCV Valve Service at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson

Posted: Jan 23, 2013

Today, we are talking about your PCV valve. Unburnt fuel is forced into the crankcase as your engine runs.  The PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve vents this unburnt fuel and oil vapors from the crankcase and sends it back into the air intake system to be burned in the engine.  A clogged PCV will not allow these vapors to escape. This can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause vehicle engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson. At high speeds on AZ freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.

Back in the old days, vehicles were simply installed with a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, environmental protection laws required that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the vehicle's engine.

This is much better for air quality and improves fuel economy also. (Budget-conscious Tucson drivers take note!) The little valve that performs this important function is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets  gases out of the engine, but won't let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won't work well. That can lead to all of the problems I've already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and decreased fuel economy.

Fortunately, it's very easy to test the PCV Valve at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it's often overlooked because many Tucson vehicle owners don't know about it. Check your vehicle owner's manual or ask your Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson service advisor. If this is the first time you've heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.

There's another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That'll need to be replaced at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson when it gets dirty.

Please ask your Tucson service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Tucson, you can avoid some very engine repairs.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705
520.807.5555
http://www.advantage-autorepair.com


Keeping Your Tucson Air Fresh When Driving With a Clean Cabin Air Filter

Posted: Jan 15, 2013

Pop quiz: What is a cabin air filter?

A. A filter for your Tucson house?
B. A fresh, piney scent?
C. A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?

Clever you, it's C.

A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment of your vehicle. It filters out common AZ air particles like dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, exhaust gas, odors and even sparrows.

These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.

Not all Tucson vehicles have cabin air filters. They are fairly new on the scene in AZ. Last check, about 40 percent of new vehicles sold in Tucson come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.

Cabin air filters make driving a lot more pleasant for people in Tucson. Your vehicle can be a haven during our AZ allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. Of course, like all filters, the cabin air filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.

Check your owner's manual for replacement guidelines. If your vehicle owner's manual doesn't mention your cabin air filter, ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson for a recommendation. It's usually every year or 12,000 miles /19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions around the Tucson area, or if you start to notice a funky smell coming from your vents.

The team at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson urges Tucson drivers to keep their cabin air filter cleans. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience around Tucson more enjoyable.

Come by and we'll take a look at your cabin air filter for you.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705
520.807.5555
http://www.advantage-autorepair.com

 


Stop It! You Need Good Brakes

Posted: Jan 10, 2013

Good brakes are obviously very important. If you've ever had your brakes go out while you're driving around the Tucson area, you'll know how terrifying it can be. Today we'll focus on how to tell when you have a brake problem and how to make good repair choices.

Often, the first indication that something's wrong with the brakes is an unusual sound. It could be a squeal, chatter or grinding sound.

Some brake pads have a little piece of metal embedded in them that will make a squeal or chirping sound when the brake pads have been worn down to the point that they need to be replaced. It's an early warning indicator.

When you hear that sound, schedule an appointment at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson soon.

Now a chattering sound is more urgent. That usually indicates that something is loose. It could be a brake pad or even the brake calipers. If one of those parts falls off, you could have some serious trouble stopping the vehicle. It would be a good idea to park it until you can get into the shop.

A grinding noise usually means that the brake pad is completely worn away and the metal parts of the brake are rubbing directly on the metal brake rotor. That means the rotor is being damaged and will need some work. More on that later.

Another warning sign is that your brake pedal may feel soft and spongy – or it may even feel very hard to push in. Both could mean trouble. And of course, you may get a dashboard brake warning light.

Now when it comes time to replace your brake pads, you have a choice to make. You can get the same pads that came standard on your vehicle. You can expect the same performance and durability as with the pads that came on the car from the factory.

Now you can also get a budget brake pad. Sometimes Tucson drivers insist on lower cost pads. That's OK if the budget demands it, but you need to be aware of the tradeoffs. Lower grade pads are usually noisier, so you'll have to live with more noise when you apply the brakes. They also tend to generate a lot more brake dust, you know, that black dust that accumulates on your wheels. And they probably won't last as long either. In our opinion, that's a lot of compromise for just a few dollars in savings.

You can also choose to buy premium brakes pads at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson. These perform at higher specifications than the factory pads. You can expect quieter operation, less brake dust and better stopping power.

Now, getting back to the rotors. The rotors are the discs that the brake pads clamp down on to stop the vehicle. If you've been driving with completely worn brake pads, you've scratched grooves into the rotors. If the grooves aren't too deep, the rotor can be resurfaced. A thin layer of metal is cut off the surface of the rotor to make it smooth again.

Now, if the grooves are too deep or if the rotor has already be resurfaced before, there may not be enough material to resurface and still have a rotor that's thick enough to safely stop the vehicle. In that case, the rotor will have to be replaced.

Something that's often overlooked is the brake fluid. Your manufacturer has a recommended schedule for evacuating the old brake fluid, cleaning the system and refilling it with fresh brake fluid. This is really important to brake performance.

So here's the bottom line: if you suspect, inspect. If you notice any of these warning signs, have your brakes inspected at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson. Your service advisor can help you make the repair decision that's right for you.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705
520.807.5555
http://www.advantage-autorepair.com


Protecting Your SUV From Theft In Tucson AZ

Posted: Jan 01, 2013



Every car in Tucson AZ is at risk for theft. So it's up to us to make our cars a less appealing target and more of a challenge – hopefully sending potential thieves to look elsewhere.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends a layered approach to protecting vehicles:

  1. Common sense
  2. Visible and audible devices
  3. Immobilizing devices
  4. Tracking devices

Let's review each of these. First, common sense: you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen from Tucson AZ where the keys were left in the ignition with the doors unlocked. Always take your keys, and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it's against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.

And don't leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside – because a thief will find them. Try to park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If possible, park near the end of a row and near a light. Back your car into a parking space or your driveway to make your car more visible to passersby and harder for a thief to work under the hood without being seen.

Remember to roll up your windows completely and avoid leaving your car in public lots for a long time. If you park in a lot that has an attendant, only give them the ignition key.

Keep valuables out of sight: purses, wallets, cell phones, clothes and even change are attractive "smash-and-grab" targets. And pay to have your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, etched into your windows – it makes your car less attractive to a thief who wants to send your car to a chop shop.

There are lots of visible and audible devices available. A steering wheel lock is highly visible and will deter some thieves. Loud alarms can alert you and others that your vehicle is being tampered with. But if your alarm does go off, be careful. Observe what's going on; get descriptions of suspicious people and vehicles, including license plate numbers.

Now, if you catch a thief in the act, call 911 but don't approach the person. Your safety is more important than the car.

And here's a great one - immobilizing devices. They actually shut off your car's electrical or fuel supply. So without a key, or knowing where the hidden switch is located, a thief can't drive your car away.

Finally, you can also get a tracking device that allows police to track your car down and recover it quickly.

Remember, where you live, work and drive around Tucson AZ has a great impact on your decisions. If you're in an area with high theft rates, you may want to spend more money on security systems. And check with your Tucson AZ auto insurance company to see if they offer discounts for adding any of these items.

Of course, the common sense suggestions from Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson don't cost anything and go a long way toward keeping your car safe from thieves. Take a look at the attached video auto tip from AutoNetTV.

Come see us for practical advice on keeping your SUV safe.
Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, AZ 85705
Call us at 520.807.5555

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