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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

October 2016

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Serpentine Belt Service at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson

Posted: Oct 24, 2016

Most Tucson folks occasionally have days when they've got a bunch of errands to run. Yesterday was my day off and I needed to fill the gas tank, pick up some groceries at my Tucson market, swing by the ATM and get the kids from school. I could have made four trips . . . but that would have been totally inefficient. Instead I got unusually organized and planned my stops. I hit the ATM first and got gas next. Then I went to the supermarket and picked up the kids on the way home. I was proud of my wise use of time and money.

What does this have to do with your car? Well, back in the day, each of your engine's accessories, like the alternator and air conditioner, were powered by separate belts. A vehicle might have five or six belts. These days, vehicles have a single belt to run all the accessories. It's called the serpentine belt. A pulley attached to the vehicle engine's crank provides the power to turn the serpentine belt. On the engine in the video, the first accessory in line is the power steering pump, which makes it easier to steer your vehicle.

Next comes the alternator which powers the vehicle's electrical system and charges the battery. Then the air conditioning compressor. This helps make cold air to keep you comfortable all summer long in Tucson. Finally, we come to the belt tensioner. Its job is to apply pressure on the belt to keep it tight. Then, back home to the crank.

This is a pretty typical setup, but it can vary somewhat. In some vehicles the water pump or radiator fan or the power brakes are also run by the serpentine belt. Some even have two serpentine belts. No matter how your engine is laid out, you're not going far without a serpentine belt. Your vehicle manufacturer has a recommended interval for replacing your belt and your Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson service technician can inspect it for damage or wear.

Several years ago, manufacturers started making serpentine belts out of a new material. It's much more durable, but it's harder to tell when the belt needs to be replaced. The old style belts would crack and chunks would fall off so you could easily see when you needed a new one.

On the new style belts, if the ribs wear too deep, it's time to replace. Your Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson technician uses a simple gauge to tell when the belt is worn.

A worn belt stresses your vehicle engine's expensive accessories and causes them to wear prematurely. So, change your serpentine belt and belt tensioner according to your manufacturer's recommendations to extend the life of your accessories and to prevent future breakdowns.

Give us a call.

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


Maintaining Your Diesel in Tucson

Posted: Oct 16, 2016

Diesel engines have been used extensively in Europe and Asia for many years. They haven't been as common in the Tucson area because of the high sulfur content in our diesel fuel. But the government is now mandating lower sulfur content and, as a result, we are going to see more Tucson diesel-fueled vehicles on the road, especially in passenger cars and SUV's.

Diesels are popular in AZ because they get better fuel economy than gas-powered engines. They also last longer. Modern diesel engines are quiet and powerful. And if you associate diesel engines with black smoke, then you're not up with the times. That smoke is a thing of the past.

Diesels don't produce any more pollutants than gasoline engines. The pollution standards for diesel-powered vehicles are as strict in AZ as for other vehicles.

Also, diesel engines can run on bio-diesel fuels as well as fossil fuels. Diesel fuel can be produced from vegetable oil or from cellulosic waste like wood chips and sawdust. In AZ, we may soon see bio-diesel produced from algae. These fuel sources will lessen Tucson drivers dependence on fossil fuels and may even become truly renewable and sustainable.

Diesel-powered vehicles also perform as well as other passenger vehicles. Most people don't notice a difference in driving one or the other. If you haul heavy loads or tow a trailer around AZ, however, the diesel is a definite improvement.

So, you may be asking, if diesels are so great, why don't all Tucson people drive them? Surely there are disadvantages you haven't told me about. That's true. Diesel engines are heavier than gas engines, and they cost more in AZ. The better fuel economy of the diesel engine is partially offset by the higher purchase price.

Because of higher fuel prices, diesel engines used to be more expensive to drive in Tucson. But now, with higher volatility in the prices of both gasoline and diesel fuel in AZ, that cost difference is less definitive. Whether a diesel or gas engine is more expensive for AZ drivers depends now on the current price of fuel and how far you drive.

Consider also that diesel-powered vehicles have a high resale value in the Tucson area, and the costs of owning and operating a diesel vs. a gas-powered vehicle in AZ becomes a real toss-up.

Preventive auto maintenance for diesel vehicles has also become similar to that of gas-fueled vehicles in recent years. The major difference is that diesels require cleaner fuel, air and oil, so their filters are more expensive than those for gasoline engines. The engine air filter must be changed more frequently as well.

The costs for car care and repairs in Tucson are similar. You may be thinking, wait:  You just told me that filters are more and have to be changed more regularly. True, but that is offset by the fact that diesel engines have a much longer lifetime than gasoline engines. So if you are the type of owner who prefers to hang on to a vehicle for a long time, you will be more than rewarded with a diesel engine.

So if you have been looking for Tucson auto advice on whether to switch to a diesel vehicle or stay with a gas-powered one, then we hope this helps. The answer as to which type of vehicle is better is that it depends on the driver and their driving habits. Now that you know the facts, you can make an informed choice based on your own priorities and needs.

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


The Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson Guide to Saving Fuel: Get Rid of Dirty Oil

Posted: Oct 11, 2016

A lot of us drivers are asking ourselves the same question lately: how can we save on fuel? Tucson area residents are all cutting back, if not in fuel consumption, then in other areas of our lives.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is an important way people in Tucson can conserve fuel by improving fuel economy. And one of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is to keep the oil in our vehicle adequate and clean.

Oil lubricates your vehicle engine and keeps it running smoothly. If you're running low, there is increased friction in your engine. Friction creates drag, which means it takes more fuel to keep the vehicle motor running. This all translates to lower fuel economy.

Check your oil to make sure the engine is getting all it needs. Your owner's manual and service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson will tell you the proper weight and type of oil for your vehicle.

Responsible Car Care

Dirty oil grits up your engine, which also increases friction. So even if there's enough oil, you're still getting that extra drag that reduces your fuel economy. That's why your owner's manual recommends getting your oil changed regularly. It's good auto advice.

While you're checking your oil, you should take a quick look at your transmission fluid as well. Your transmission also needs clean, adequate fluid to work efficiently. An inefficient transmission also translates into lower fuel economy.

Your service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson will be able to check your oil and other fluids, top you off or change your oil if necessary.
Your owner's manual will have recommendations on how often you should check your oil and transmission fluid. But you can also consult with the pros at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson. The types of roads you drive on in AZ, the climate where you live and the air quality in your area can all affect how often you should change your oil.

And don't forget that this will improve our environment here in Tucson as well. Improved efficiency translates to fewer emissions. Changing your oil as scheduled doesn't just help your vehicle (and your pocketbook), it helps keep the air clean as well.

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


Timing Belt Replacement in Tucson

Posted: Oct 03, 2016

Today we want to talk to Tucson drivers about timing belts. They're something that many drivers don't know much about and yet your vehicle won't run if it's broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner's manual, it's not the kind of thing that most Tucson area auto owners remember because it's not well understood.

Let's review what a timing belt does. As most know, the engine's power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel, pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It's called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.

Now, not all vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. The leading vehicle manufactures started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now Tucson drivers and their advisors at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson are left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous for drivers depending on where they are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.

Interference vehicle engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it'll cost a chunk of change to repair the vehicle engine.

So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren't any. There aren't tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that's in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the damage it'll cause. There's no middle ground.

So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner's manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles/97,000 km; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles/145,000 or 160,000 km. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles (97,000 or more km), ask your Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson service advisor right away if your vehicle requires a timing belt replacement.

Contact Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson to learn more about your car's timing belt
You can find us at:

3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705
520.807.5555
http://www.advantage-autorepair.com

Sometimes Tucson drivers can go quite a while without a failure, but we've seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It's not worth the risk.

What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Tucson? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it's usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn't a cheap procedure, but it's a fraction of what it could cost to repair the damage caused by a failure.

At Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson, we're all about trying to prevent repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment. 


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