Auto Repair & Tires Blog
So, you're going to welcome the new year at your favorite club. Or maybe you'll celebrate at a restaurant or a friend's party.
But since you know you'll be driving, you'll only have a few drinks.
Cool, right? Maybe not.
When it comes to blood alcohol content, the legal limit in California is .08%. But you can be charged with D.U.I. even if your B.A.C. is lower than that. The arresting officer can decide if you were showing signs of impairment behind the wheel, such as reckless operation, or driving too fast or too slowly.
Having a D.U.I. on your record is costly enough, but here's the real eye-opener: of the 10,497 U.S. traffic deaths that involved alcohol last year, more than 2,000 of them were caused by drivers with a B.A.C. of .01 to .07%.
That means that just one drink might be enough to turn your car into a killing machine.
One drink and you could take a life.
One drink and your life will be forever changed.
Please, whenever you know alcohol will be a part of your celebration, make arrangements to get home safely: call a cab or a ride service or sleep at a friend's house.
It's your responsibility.
It’s true: synthetic oil changes cost more than conventional oil changes.
But, it’s important to consider what you and your vehicle get in return for that extra upfront cost.
Synthetic oils have a service life of up to 20,000 miles. That’s up to five times longer than conventional oils. In other words, you'd only need one synthetic oil change for every four or five conventional oil changes.
Synthetic oils are specially formulated to provide better protection against friction and oil-related problems, such as oxidation. They also contain detergents and other additives that help your engine run better.
Full synthetic oils are also more effective at preventing engine deposits, including sludge that can form when driving in colder temperatures.
So, yes, the initial price of a synthetic oil change is higher, but you'll typically recoup that extra cost and maybe even more value through your vehicle’s improved performance, a cleaner engine, and longer intervals between oil changes.
Today's vehicles are sophisticated, computer-controlled machines. But even if you're not an ASE-certified technician, there are still a few auto service and maintenance tasks you can tackle yourself - if you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty.
1) Checking tire pressure. This is as easy as it gets. All you need is a reliable pressure gauge and knowledge of your vehicle manufacturer's recommended tire pressure. You'll find that info in your owner's manual or possibly on the driver's door jamb. Check the pressure in all four tires and your spare at least once each month. And don't overfill a tire to compensate for a slow leak. Instead, have the tire repaired as quickly as possible.
2) Checking fluid levels. This is simple, too. Check your car's engine oil, brake fluid and power steering fluid with the engine off, and your transmission fluid with the engine on. One warning: any time you're working under the hood with the engine running, take care not to get your tie, scarf, or any other clothing or long jewelry caught in the fan or any belts.
3) Cleaning the battery. Do you see a white or light blue powdery or crusty substance around your battery terminals? That's corrosion, and if enough of it builds up, it can prevent your car from starting. The good news is that it's easily removed. Just scrub it away with a wire brush, or pour a mixture of warm water and baking soda over the terminals and the corrosion should disappear. Remember, batteries contain dangerous chemicals, so it's always wise to wear gloves and safety glasses when working with or around them.
4) Replacing the air filter. A dirty air filter can lower your gas mileage and affect acceleration, but in most vehicles the filter is pretty easy to change. Read your owner's manual to find its location. Then, check the air filter every three months for obvious dirt or discoloration, or if the engine misfires or makes unusual sounds, if you notice black exhaust, if you smell gasoline when starting the car, or if the “check engine” light comes on.
5) Changing windshield wipers. Depending on how often you use them, wipers typically last six to twelve months. You'll know they need to be replaced when the wiper no longer makes contact with all of the glass, if they start leaving streaks on your windshield, or when they make an unpleasant noise while in use. To replace the wiper blade, follow the instructions on the package.
Sure, it's likely you can handle all of that basic automotive maintenance, but if you're too busy or you just forget, pull into any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location. We're here to provide complete automotive service seven days a week.
Stuck with too much trick-or-treat loot? Searching desperately for an excuse not to eat it? Try stashing that bag o' sweets in your vehicle. Just look how it might come in handy...
1) If you break down on the side of the road, set several pieces of candy corn behind your car to serve as tiny traffic cones. In order for oncoming drivers to see them though, you’ll need to rig up some sort of elaborate magnification device.
2) Changing a flat? Wedge a Chunky under one of the other tires to serve as a wheel chock. It’ll keep your car from lurching forward. Added bonus: the melting milk chocolate will act as a luxurious tire dressing.
3) Need to improvise a new set of brake lines? A bag of red licorice should do the trick.
4) Radiator leak? Plug it with a mouth-load of pre-chewed Dubble Bubble bubble gum.
5) Has your car smelled better? Make a fragrant sachet by tying up a handful of Jolly Ranchers in an In-N-Out Burger napkin. Hang it from your rearview mirror, and let the hot sun take care of the rest.
On second thought, using Halloween candy in those situations may not be the best option. Instead, make an online appointment or pull into any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location for sweet automotive service that won’t rot your teeth.
If your vehicle was built after 2007, it includes TPMS - a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. It tells you when your tires need more air or nitrogen.
But when it comes to checking the condition of your tires, you're on your own.
Tire manufacturers started making one aspect of that process a bit easier though a few years ago.
Wear bars - also known as Tread Wear Indicators - are basically thin strips of rubber that run perpendicular to the tread. Look for them in the grooves in the image above.
When the tread on your tire is only as tall as those wear bars - 2/32nds of an inch - the tire needs to be replaced.
Legally, you can't drive on tires once the tread has worn down to 2/32nds. Because they can't funnel water effectively and they're susceptible to blowouts, tires that bald are dangerous to you, your passengers, and other nearby drivers.
By the way, after you find your tread wear bars, check the pressure in all your tires and the spare. Inspect them for sidewall cracks, gashes and bulges. Then, look for nails and screws in the tread. If you find any, don't pull them out or the tire may go flat quickly. Just come to your nearest Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location and we'll take care of any problems as quickly as possible.
There are several possible reasons your vehicle is shaking. This list may help you narrow down the cause.
Check under the hood. The problem could be your spark plugs or spark plug wires. You might also have a dirty air filter or clogged fuel filter. In those cases, the lack of sufficient oxygen or gasoline would lead to the shaking.
Tighten up. It’s possible that your engine is loose. Yeah, really! If one of your three or four engine mounts fails, life is bound to get a little shaky in your driver’s seat. Engine mounts act as mini shock absorbers to reduce the effects of engine vibration.
Tighten those tires, too. If you changed a flat or rotated your own tires recently, put the wrench on each lug nut again to make sure they're all secure.
And speaking of tires. If they need to be balanced, if there’s enough water in one or more of them, or if the steel belts within a tire are separating, you may soon find yourself driving through Shakytown.
Broken brakes. When your brake rotors are warped or one of your brake calipers is stuck open, you'll feel a shake in the steering wheel, and possibly in the brake pedal as well.
Accidents happen. If your car's been in one lately, it may have suffered a bent axle or driveshaft. Either problem will start your vehicle a-shakin'.
October is Fall Car Care Month, and April is Spring Car Care Month.
Both events are observed when the weather is changing in much of the country. But because those of us in Southern California don’t experience temperature fluctuations and other seasonal changes as dramatically as other areas of the U.S., you may think we don’t need to bother with Car Care Months.
No matter how technologically advanced it is, your vehicle is still a machine that needs regular maintenance to run its best. And while we don’t have the cold and snow, our cars do contend with high heat, salty ocean air, and busy roads that lead to frequent stopping and starting.
In fact, look at how the Car Care Council defines “severe” driving conditions:
Your vehicle could easily experience three or four of those conditions on a daily basis.
So, it's important to follow the Car Care Council's guidelines for proactive vehicle maintenance. Check out the graphic below.
The unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Harvey has left financial and emotional wounds that will linger throughout southeast Texas for years. In addition to the heartbreaking loss of life, homes and businesses, countless vehicles were damaged by the flood waters.
How might that affect you 1,500 miles away in southern California?
Car dealers and individual owners can still sell water-damaged cars that have been totaled in other states.
According to a Popular Mechanics article, the titles of totaled vehicles in most states include a “salvage tag.” But car sellers can wholesale those vehicles to states that issue new titles without acknowledging the car as salvage. From there, the damaged car can move from state to state as a clean vehicle.
So, whenever you’re shopping for a used car, look for signs that it’s been in a flood: dried mud in the trunk; a moldy smell; warped door panels; water marks inside the instruments, etc.
Flood water - especially salt water - can corrode a car’s sensitive electronics and destroy the cylinders. It can ruin the oil and other fluids, too. And if the car was driven while wet, the engine could be damaged.
Just as your body uses food to create energy, your car converts gasoline into the power it needs.
If you eat low-quality meals, your body will respond negatively. And if you use lower-quality gasoline, your vehicle’s performance will suffer.
In fact, testing conducted by AAA has shown that using higher-quality Top Tier gas can make a “significant difference” to your engine.
According to a AAA article, Top Tier gasolines meet specific standards for “robust engine cleanliness and performance specification.”
Gasoline brands that did not meet Top Tier standards left 19 times the amount of deposits in test engines after only 4,000 miles of simulated driving. That type of gunk can affect fuel injectors, intake valves and combustion chambers, and harm a vehicle’s performance and responsiveness.
AAA suggests using Top Tier fuel. “Consumers can reverse some engine deposits simply by switching gasoline brands,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “After a few thousand miles with Top Tier gasoline, performance issues like rough idling or hesitation during acceleration can often be resolved.”
When I drove into work on Monday, my brake pedal felt soft. Too soft.
In fact, it made for a stressful ride.
I started thinking about how I’d react if my brakes couldn’t stop my car quickly enough or - worse yet - if they failed completely.
I allowed a lot more room between my car and the vehicle in front of me.
As I approached stopping situations, I stayed ready to downshift into a lower gear.
I kept an eye on the side of the road in case I had to steer off into the grass.
It wasn’t a good feeling.
So, I had my brakes looked at right away. Turns out, one of my brake lines needed to be replaced.
Fast forward to 5:30pm Monday.
My trip home was a completely different experience from the drive in that morning.
My stress was gone.
I drove with confidence, knowing that I could stop on a dime if I needed to.
And I enjoyed my hour-long commute and the beautiful weather, thankful for automotive experts whose work keeps us all safer on the road.
Is there a car repair that you’ve been putting off? Or maybe you know it's time for new tires. Is it making you a little anxious or even fearful of driving?
Please don’t put it off. Stay safe out there.
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