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

September 2019

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Change is Good (Oil Change)

Posted: Sep 29, 2019

You've heard that expression, change is good.  When it comes to your vehicle's oil, change is not only good, it's vital for the health of the engine.  But there's one question that puzzles many drivers: how frequently should my vehicle's oil be changed? There is not one simple answer, but here are some guidelines that will help.

It used to be pretty much a rule of thumb that vehicles got their oil changed once every 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 kilometers.  But times have changed.  Oil formulations have gotten better and engine designs have made longer oil change intervals possible. 

Most experts advise you to read the recommendations that come from the manufacturer that designed and built your vehicle.  Their designers and engineers know more about your vehicle than anyone else.  They spell out their recommended oil change interval and type of oil in your owner's manual.  Many automakers say you can go at least 5,000 miles/8,000 kilometers between oil changes and many recommend even longer intervals now.  If you use synthetic oil, it doesn't have to be changed as often. 

Ever wonder why you have to change your oil?  Your vehicle lives in a dirty environment.  Contaminants build up in your engine oil and, after time, they inhibit the lubricating properties of the oil.  Without optimal lubrication, increased friction inside the engine starts wearing down the metal parts, shortening the engine's life.

Not only do vehicle manufacturers recommend oil change intervals in the manual, many also now alert drivers by a light or other electronic indicator on your dash.  It doesn't exactly say, "Hey, time get your oil changed. This oil's starting to wear on me." But it does give you a pretty good hint.  Some of these warning systems simply measure the distance you've traveled.  More sophisticated vehicles have sensors that measure temperature, driving time and engine revolutions to determine when the oil is getting past its useful life.  Here's one situation where it's easy to see the light.  Do yourself a favor and don't wait too long before coming in for an appointment at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson. 

Oh, and driving habits matter, too.  Short trips with a lot of stop-and-go driving will stress your engine and oil more than longer trips at highway speeds. 

And here's one more plus side to getting your oil changed regularly at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson.  Our technician will also keep an eye on the rest of your vehicle to spot anything that might need attention.

The bottom line is this: Oil changes are good for your vehicle in so many ways and probably the most important maintenance service you can get.

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


PCV Valve Replacement

Posted: Sep 22, 2019



Hello Tucson, let's talk about your often-unnoticed but extremely important PCV valve. The energy from exploding fuel is what powers your engine. But some of the vapors from the explosions escape into the lower part of the engine, called the crankcase. The crankcase is where your engine oil hangs out. These gases are about 70% unburned fuel. If the gases were allowed to stay in the crankcase, they would quickly contaminate the oil and turn it to sludge. Tucson folks know that sludge is one of the biggest enemies of your engine, clogging it up and eventually leading to expensive failures. Also, the pressure buildup would cause seals and gaskets to blow out. Therefore, these gases need to be vented out.

Pre-1963, gasoline engines had a hose that let the  fumes vent out into the air. In 1963, the federal government required gas engines to have a special one-way valve installed to help reduce dangerous emissions. (Can you imagine how polluted our AZ air would be if every car had been releasing those poisonous fumes for the last 50 years?) Diesel engines are not required to have these valves.

The positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve routes crankcase gases through a hose and back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh, clean air is brought into the crankcase through a breather tube. It's really a pretty simple system, but it does the job. The re-circulating air removes moisture and combustion waste from the crankcase, preventing sludge. This extends not only the life of your oil but the engine as well. The PCV relieves pressure in the crankcase, preventing  oil leaks.


Eventually, the PCV valve can get gummed up. Then it can't move enough air through the engine to keep it working properly for Tucson vehicles. If the PCV valve is sticking enough, you could have oil leaks, excess oil consumption and a fouled intake system. If you experience hesitation,  surging or an oil leak, it may be a sign of PCV valve problems. Your vehicle's owner's manual may give a recommendation for when the PCV valve should be replaced - usually between 20,000 mi/32,000 km and 50,000 mi/80,000 km. Unfortunately, some don't list a recommendation in the manual, so it can be easy to overlook.


Many PCV system problems can be diagnosed by our technicians at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson . Fortunately, PCV valve replacement is both quick and inexpensive at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson. Proper oil changes will greatly extend the life of the PCV valve. Skipping a few recommended oil changes can allow varnish and gum to build up in the valve, reducing its efficiency. So now when your Tucson service technician tells you its time to replace your PCV valve, you will know what he's talking about. If you have had your car for a while and this is the first you've ever heard of a PCV valve, ask your technician to check yours out or call Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson at 520.807.5555.

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


"Current" Affairs (Blown Fuses)

Posted: Sep 15, 2019

You may be driving along and find that suddenly your radio stops working.  There are no numbers on the display.  Then when you get home, you notice the garage door opener doesn't do a thing when you press the button. Hmm, this was working just fine this morning.  Are the two problems somehow related?

 

No, your vehicle doesn't need an exorcism. This has all the signs of an electrical issue, and when you experience symptoms like those, you've probably blown a fuse.  Most vehicles have fuses just like most houses have circuit breakers (some houses still have fuses). They cut the power when it reaches a pre-determined threshold that could cause major damage if it was allowed to continue.  You might say fuses take one for the team.

Most modern automotive fuses are plastic with a thin strip of metal in them designed to melt when a calibrated amount of power passes through.  The philosophy is it's better for an inexpensive fuse to be destroyed than your sound system or your engine's main computer.

It can be tricky to figure out what fuse has blown and why.  Modern vehicles have many computerized electronic components; they can easily be damaged if too much electricity gets to the wrong spot.  At Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson, we have technicians trained to trace which fuse has blown and why.

While sometimes a simple fuse replacement will fix the problem, other times there may be some other electrical component that has failed, causing the circuit overload.  Our technicians have special equipment to track down where the power problems are, get to the root of the problem and fix it at the source.

Keep in mind, fuses are there to protect your vehicle. And when they shut down your radio, garage door opener, vanity mirror or anything else, just be thankful they're doing their job. They may have saved you from a much more expensive repair. They've sent an important signal to you about your electrical system.  That's why it's good to keep up with "current" affairs.

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


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Wheel Bearings

Posted: Sep 08, 2019



Why are wheel bearings for Tucson vehicles important? It's simple: your wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle. In today's Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson post, we'll discuss more about wheel bearings and how you can make sure they can do their very job while you drive around Tucson, AZ.

Wheel bearings are pretty simple parts. They're made of high quality steel and are engineered to last 100,000 miles (160,000)  or more if properly cared for. The bearings do two jobs: First, they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 3,600 pounds (1600 kilogram), each wheel has to support approximately 900 pounds (400 kilograms). That's a lot of heavy lifting over those long distances.

Even though wheel bearings are pretty straightforward, they need to be in near perfect condition to do their job for Tucson vehicles. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect them. A seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It's when the seal starts to leak that problems begin. The grease can become contaminated, causing the wheel bearings to overheat and ultimately fail.

The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise could get louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Your technician at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.

Now some wheel bearing assemblies are factory sealed. That means that they cannot be serviced – they can only be replaced. Those that aren't sealed can be serviced on schedule at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they're re-installed – if not, they're replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new seal is installed.

If your vehicle has a factory sealed wheel bearing assembly, the entire assembly needs to be replaced when trouble arises. Unfortunately, the parts are pretty costly – but they usually last about 150,000 miles (240,000 kilometers) as long as the seals hold up.

Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that's exerting pressure on the seal. So if you've driven through hub-deep water, your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they're serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you just need to watch for signs of premature failure. If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your manufacturer's owner's manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers).

If you have any sort of trailer, don't forget its wheel bearings. They probably need to be serviced even more frequently. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch the boat by backing it into the water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don't have the opportunity to rust all winter.

So what happens to Tucson vehicles if wheel bearings fail? Well, the wheel can literally fall off the vehicle. I don't need to tell you how that could be. So check with your service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson and see if your vehicle's wheel bearings can be serviced and when it's recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you've been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms, be especially vigilant.

Visit the automotive professionals at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson for a wheel bearing inspection. 

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


STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT STEERING (Loose Steering)

Posted: Sep 01, 2019

Perhaps you've heard someone use the term "loose steering." And it's pretty much what it sounds like.  You turn the steering wheel and the vehicle's wheels don't seem to go exactly where you thought you were pointing them.  You have to constantly make steering adjustments. 

Loose steering is sloppy steering, and it can be a safety hazard.  You need to be able to control your vehicle with pretty much the same precision as the way it was when it came off the assembly line.  

If the steering in your vehicle is starting to feel loose and sloppy, there may be some significant suspension issues that need examining by a trained technician.

How do you know if your vehicle needs to be looked at? Try turning the steering wheel and see how much play is in it.  One rule of thumb: if you can turn it the distance of a quarter and a dime placed side by side without seeing the outside wheels move, it's time to have it inspected by one of our technicians.

Our Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson technician will examine those components that are supposed to work together to make sure your steering is tight and precise.  They are linked together by things called (of course) linkages.

When these linkage components were new, they all fit together tightly and moved together to make sure your wheels responded quickly and precisely to your movements of the steering wheel.   

But hit a few potholes, travel over a couple of rough railroad tracks and those metal components can be damaged or bent.  Given enough time, they will simply wear out. Our trained Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson technician can inspect all of those parts and determine what needs to be repaired and/or replaced.  

Keep your steering tight.  Loose or sloppy steering can be dangerous.  Thank goodness it usually warns you in plenty of time before it fails completely. Just straight talk… about steering.

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


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