An Ounce of Prevention = A Pound of Cure Pt.1

Avoiding performing recommended maintenance service can come with a hefty price tag. Here are four important steps you can take to protect your vehicle.

Change the Oil Regularly
First up is the simple oil change. Bottom line – if you change your oil on schedule, your engine will be properly protected. Go past the recommended mileage interval, typically every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on driving conditions, and sludge begins to build up in your engine. This sludge can clog small oil passages that keep important parts of the engine from being cooled and lubricated. That is never good for your engine. If your engine has variable valve timing, as most do nowadays, or a turbocharger, then these expensive components are at high risk for failure and expensive replacement. If you’re not sure how often you should change your vehicle’s oil, ask your Service Advisor.

Change Timing Belts and Chains Timely
Many vehicles come equipped with a timing belt. These belts wear out over time and must be replaced, along with the belt tensioner and other system components. If this belt breaks, you could end up with extensive engine damage that can cost thousands in repairs. Most manufacturers recommend changing the belt or chain every 60,000 to 100,00 miles, depending on the make, model and age of the vehicle. If you don’t know if your engine has a timing belt, as opposed to a timing chain, or when it should be replaced, ask your Service Advisor.

Clean Fuel Systems Regularly
More than half of all new vehicles sold have Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines, which can be susceptible to extensive hard carbon buildup on the intake valves. Regular fuel system cleaning can keep the deposits in check, and improve fuel economy, performance, and emissions at the same time. Neglecting this important service for too long may require an engine teardown to media blast, or “sandblast,” the carbon deposits from the valves and cylinder head. And yep, that costs a lot.

Trust Your Check Engine Light
This last item may seem harmless, but it could have serious consequences: your vehicle’s Check Engine Light. Many of the troubles that can trigger a Check Engine Light are related to emissions. The light warns you when the engine is not running efficiently, due to unburned fuel and oil vapors accumulating in the exhaust system’s catalytic converter. When these accumulations get hot enough, they can burn up and damage the catalytic converter. The initial problem may be something as simple as a failed oxygen sensor or even an extremely dirty engine air filter. Ignoring that Check Engine Light could lead to some very expensive repairs.

Set Up a Service Plan with Your NAPA Service Advisor
Performing recommended maintenance (an ounce of prevention) can prevent costly repairs (a pound of cure). Ask your Service Advisor about your recommended maintenance schedule and set up a plan to get caught up on any services you may have missed.

An Ounce of Prevention = A Pound of Cure Pt.2

Few things are more annoying than something happening that could have been easily prevented. Sound familiar? Here are three things that can happen to your vehicle that you can, and should, avoid.

Check Your Tires Regularly
First, let’s talk about your tires. Tire problems, like a flat tire, usually come with a lot of hassle or expense and rarely occur in convenient locations like your service center. There is usually a hassle or cost involved with taking care of a flat tire and failing a safety inspection because of worn tires is a bother. Get in the habit of checking your tires every month. Make sure they have the proper air pressure and look for excess or unusual wear. Rotating your tires on schedule and a routine alignment check will extend tire life. Of course, you always want to replace your tires before they become worn to that point that they are unsafe.

Check the Battery Every Three Years
Next up is your battery. Simply knowing how old it is can help you avoid being inconvenienced by a dead battery. Most batteries last about four years – after that, your battery is living on borrowed time. Many experts recommend that you replace your battery every five years as a routine maintenance item rather than waiting for it to fail. If you think your battery is older than three years, ask us to check it and gauge its health.

Deal with That Chipped Windshield
Finally, let’s talk about those little rock chips in your windshield. When the chip is small, it can be repaired and stabilized. If left unattended, the little chip can start to crack. When the crack is in the driver’s line of sight, it could impair vision. Some cracks can lead to a ticket or a failed safety inspection. That inexpensive rock chip repair looks pretty good compared to the cost and hassle of replacing a windshield.

NAPA Is Your Trusted Partner
We are your partner in keeping your overall cost of vehicle ownership as low as possible. We specialize in that ounce of prevention that eliminates a corresponding pound of cure. Ask your Service Advisor about a vehicle inspection

Safe Driving – Best Practices

Safer Driving
Driving is such a common part of our everyday lives that it’s easy to forget how inherently dangerous it can be. Every vehicle on the road – including yours – weighs several tons. That is a massive amount of energy to be transferred in an accident. Here are a few simple ways to enhance driving safety.

Back Away from the Phone
Let’s start with mobile phones. Before your eyes glaze over, think about this: 25% of all road accidents are caused by mobile phone use. If someone waved a magic wand and mobile phones had never been invented, one in four of all accidents would never happen. That is a lot of property damage, injuries, and death that would be avoided.

When you are driving, don’t make calls, don’t take calls, don’t text, and don’t do social media. Texting alone is worse than driving drunk. Even hands-free calls are distracting. While you’re at it, be extremely cautious when using onboard electronics like trip computers, entertainment systems, and navigation systems.

Secure Children and Pets
Other accident-causing distractions include children and pets. Secure them before driving off using approved car seats, seatbelts, and pet restraints. This keeps your hands free from restraining the kids and “Mr. Fuzzy Face”. Just ignore those fights, spills, and vomit until you get a chance to pull over.

Don’t Drive When Drowsy
Another time to pull over is when you are drowsy. Driving drowsy is a lot like driving drunk. When you can safely pull over, do so and get rested so that you will be alert and can drive mindfully. If you are too tired to get in the car for an errand, just put it off and take a rest before you turn the key.

NAPA Can Get You There and Back
At NAPA AutoCare we work hard to make sure that your vehicle is as safe as possible to operate. Your job is to operate the vehicle as safely as possible. Working together, we can get you there and back.

Causes of Air Conditioning Failure

Air Conditioning KNOW HOW
Summertime rolls around, you push the air conditioning button on your dashboard, and . . . no cold air comes out. No one wants that. There could be several reasons for air conditioning (A/C) failure. Before we talk about them, let’s get a quick overview of how the A/C system works.

How Your Vehicle’s A/C System Works
The A/C system’s compressor acts as a pump that pushes the refrigerant to the condenser, which looks like a little radiator. As the refrigerant flows through the condenser, the refrigerant is cooled and makes its way back to the evaporator, which is in the A/C ducts that bring air into the passenger compartment. From the evaporator, the refrigerant flows back to the compressor to start the cycle all over again.

When you have the A/C on, the blower draws air over the cool refrigerant in the evaporator and brings the cooled air into the vehicle. Any moisture in the outside air is caught on the evaporator and just drips off, which is why you will occasionally see water on the ground when you have been using the A/C.

Helpful Hint: if the inside of your windows fog up on a wet day, run the A/C for a while to clear the moisture.

Common A/C Problems
So, what happens when there is no cool air when you run the A/C? The most common problem is a refrigerant leak. No refrigerant, no cool air. If that is the case, your service technician will locate the cause of the leak and get it fixed. Other common reasons for A/C failure include a failed compressor and deteriorated refrigerant hoses, which can lead to clogs downstream.

Set Up a Routine A/C Inspection with NAPA AutoCare
A/C repairs can be expensive, depending on what must be done. A routine air conditioning system inspection can uncover small problems before they become worse and affect other components. Ask your local NAPA AutoCare Service Advisor what he recommends for your vehicle’s A/C system.

Fresh Wipers for a New Season

Let’s talk about your windshield wiper blades. Why that topic may not be as interesting as others, think about how important your vision is. We work so hard to protect our eyes. If we need contacts or glasses, we typically purchase the products that allow us to see. Well, wiper blades are critical to our vision when we drive.

Wiper Blades are a safety item. We need to maintain that safety and not just respond when our wiper blades fail. How many times have you been caught off-guard by the first storm of the season with a streaky windshield you can barely see out of? Or with no washer fluid.

Wiper blades live outside the vehicle, exposed to ice and cold in the winter and sun and heat in the summer. It’s no wonder why they get dry, brittle and torn. And did you know that torn wipers can scratch a windshield!

We recommend changing wiper blades twice a year – before they’re so damaged that they don’t work. Maybe consider replacing them during one of your spring and fall oil changes. That way you should always have wiper blades that can get the job done and your local NAPA AutoCare Center can help with that.

When it comes to wiper blades, it’s important to think of it as maintaining this safety component by replacing your blades before they fail. That’ll keep you seeing clearly in all conditions.

And Hey! Don’t forget your rear wiper.

What to Do in Case of a Breakdown

Having your vehicle break down is always inconvenient. Sometimes it’s downright scary. Knowing what to do in advance will help you make better decisions should it happen to you.

The most important thing is to get to safety carefully. Take your foot off the accelerator and do NOT brake suddenly or hard. Calmly work your way to the breakdown lane, shoulder, or side of the road. Of course, use your turn signal to indicate what you are trying to do. If you are on a freeway and can safely get to an exit, carefully change lanes if necessary to exit the roadway.

Once you have pulled over, put on your emergency flashers. You’ll want your vehicle to be as visible as possible, so pop the hood, put out safety triangles, or light flares if available. Even something as simple as hanging a plastic bag out of your window will draw attention to your vehicle and help avoid an accident.

Your safety is the most important thing. If you can safely do something like change a tire, go ahead. If not, call for professional help. Be sure that you are safely out of incoming traffic either by remaining in your locked vehicle or stand away from the vehicle and wait for help. Unfortunately, many people are injured when they or their vehicle is hit by another vehicle. Also, not every person who stops to “help” has good intentions, so be very cautious when someone offers to help.

If you can safely walk to help, stay on the right side of the road and as far away from traffic as possible. Because of the speeds involved, it is never advisable to walk on an interstate.

Not every breakdown is avoidable. At NAPA AutoCare, we want to do as much as possible to avoid breakdowns with proper maintenance and regular inspections. Ask your Service Advisor if your vehicle has any pending recommendations.

Full-Service Oil Change at NAPA AutoCare – Now that’s maintenance!

Most of us take preventive action with important elements of our everyday life. Whether it’s brushing our teeth or mowing our lawn, we know that leaving these areas unattended will cost us time and money in the future. However US Auto owners don’t apply the same thinking in many cases to their car.

Several sources estimate that there is over 60 billion dollars of unperformed or under performed maintenance involving US vehicles. That’s a lot of “looking the other way” when it comes to such an important part of our lives.

This unperformed maintenance will come back to us in higher repair bills and even more importantly, lost time…something that we can never get back. There’s also a safety aspect to ignoring maintenance with our vehicles that is always most evident when problems arise. A little routine maintenance provided by your local NAPA AutoCare Center will prevent higher repair bills and will keep us and our loved ones safe from sudden breakdowns.

So how do US vehicle owners get into the habit of preventive maintenance? It’s so easy to forget, not like cutting the grass which you see it every time you pull in the driveway.

Here’s something that will help: The key to proper vehicle maintenance starts with the oil change. Think about it – when you go in for a full-service oil change, your knowledgeable NAPA AutoCare technician will check all your fluids. If one of them is low, he can look to see if there’s a reason why. If your serpentine belt is worn, he’ll see it and let you know. Corroded battery cable – they’ve got you covered. And they’ll check to see if your manufacturer has recommended any vital services at your current mileage.

The oil change becomes kind of a focal point, a way to check in to see what needs to be done.

Your local NAPA AutoCare will perform an inspection on your vehicle and only recommend services that are needed. The fact is that vehicle inspection surveys consistently reveal that over 80% of vehicles have one or more unperformed repair or maintenance service. The inspection process can identify these needed services.

Your NAPA AutoCare Center also has access to the maintenance recommendations from the original manufacturer of your vehicle. These recommendations are specific to your exact vehicle year, make, and model. So make sure you ask your NAPA AutoCare what’s coming due according to the current mileage of your vehicle. In some cases, certain mileage, milestones can carry substantial costs (like timing belt and gasket replacement). You will want to budget for these known expenses.

In addition to full-service oil changes, vehicle inspection, and maintenance service, your local NAPA AutoCare Center has the diagnostic tooling to find those problems that are not related to routine maintenance….but that’s for another article.

Wheel Bearings

Wheel bearings play an important role in your vehicle’s performance on the road. They help your vehicle’s tires spin freely with as little friction as possible, bear the weight of your vehicle, and handle steering forces when it corners.

Wheel bearings are lubricated with some pretty heavy duty grease. In many modern vehicles, the bearings are contained within sealed hub assemblies. These sealed assemblies do not require any routine maintenance, but when the assembly goes bad, it must be replaced.

Keep Wheel Bearings in Top Condition

It’s important to keep wheel bearings in top condition because total wheel bearing failure can be serious. When a bearing gives out, the wheel may seize up. Just imagine what it would be like to have one of your vehicle’s wheels suddenly stop turning at high speed. In extreme cases, the wheel can even separate from the vehicle.

When to Have Wheel Bearings Checked

One sign of a wheel bearing going bad is hearing chirping, whining, rumbling or other similar noises coming from a wheel. Theses sounds may stay constant or vary at different speeds.

Wheel bearing checks often take place when the tires are rotated, during brake repairs, or when the suspension is worked on. NAPA Auto Care technicians look for too much movement in the bearings, a sign they are wearing out. We also look for grease streaks radiating out from the hub, indicating that the seal is leaking and it’s time to replace the assembly.

If you notice of these of these warning signs of bearings going bad, don’t wait to repair it. Bring it in as soon as possible and we’ll perform a thorough inspection. We put your safety first, and are honored when you trust us with your precious vehicle’s care.

The Belt You Want to Keep Tight

If you’ve been putting off getting your timing belt replaced or haven’t had it checked in a while, you might want to schedule an appointment with your service advisor right away! If you’re not sure when to change your timing belt, be sure to check your owner’s manual for recommendations. Some of today’s vehicles have timing chains, which don’t typically need to be changed, but it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with your automobile’s manual for recommended maintenance.

The timing belt is separate from the serpentine belt present in many cars. The timing belt keeps the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft so the engine’s valves open and close at the right time. This makes sure the cylinders intake and exhaust strokes are timed just right to keep your combustion engine combusting. In some engines the belt may also control important parts such as the water pump and oil pump.

The belt itself is made of flexible rubber-like materials like polyurethane or neoprene and has notches like “teeth” that fit into a gear. Over time the heat of the engine, oil, dust and dirt cause the belt to start to break down. It may lose notch integrity which will affect the performance of the engine because the drive cog will slip. The belt may also begin to fray, which will also cause performance issues and it may ultimately fail. The belt is made using high-tensile fibers inside so breaking is rare, but it can become too loose to work correctly.

Timing configurations of engines are typically one of two types: interference and non-interference. If your engine is an interference type and the belt breaks, chances are there’s going to be trouble. In an interference engine the valve and piston stroke take up the same space in the cylinder. Basically the timing belt keeps these two from crashing into each other, but if it snaps they’ll meet rather quickly and violently. Bent valves, cylinder head damage, camshaft damage and piston and cylinder wall damage are all possible if the belt snaps in an interference engine. If the engine is a non-interference engine you will be left stranded, but damage may be minimal.

Either way, it makes sense to change your timing belt when it’s time and keep tabs on belt age. Also it’s not uncommon for tensioners to go bad, so they may need to be replaced and if the belt runs the water pump a mechanic may recommend replacing it at the same time to avoid high labor costs down the road for you.

Shake Rattle and Roll

What’s up when you hear a rattle coming from under your vehicle? It may be when you hit a bump, accelerate, or are just idling. If the issue is a loose muffler or other exhaust system component, it can easily be fixed. And like most things, addressing the problem as soon as possible can prevent it from getting worse.

The first concern is isolating the cause of the rattle. Perhaps an exhaust hanger or bracket could be loose or broken. Heat shields under the vehicle can also loosen and start to rattle. These items can be tightened or replaced as needed.

Occasionally, there can be an internal problem. A baffle inside the muffler can come loose and cause a rattle. Catalytic converters can be damaged by hitting an obstacle or from overheating. Internal damage is often a result of unburned fuel and oil vapors becoming trapped in the catalytic converter and then burning off. Regular fuel system cleaning can help prevent this condition.

Mufflers, catalytic converters, and exhaust pipes are very resistant to corrosion, but over time road salt, moisture, and heat combine to cause rust. In addition to rattles, you may also hear louder exhaust sound resulting from leaks. Of course, exhaust leaks should be repaired immediately to keep dangerous exhaust gasses out of the passenger compartment. An exhaust leak can also affect your fuel economy as well as the amount of pollutants coming from your vehicle.

If you are hearing a rattle or other unusual noise coming from under your vehicle, let us know. Your local NAPA AutoCare technician will inspect it for problems and recommend a solution.

Your safety and comfort are important to us and we’d be happy to help!