Auto Repair & Tires Blog
A few weeks ago, I was driving into work. The usual commute. But a dense fog was making the trip difficult. In fact, I almost drove through a four-way stop because my visibility was so limited.
Fog is a low-lying cloud, so it’s no wonder that, when it rolls in, it can make our roads even more dangerous for you and your fellow drivers.
A few suggestions…
1) Slow down. When your visibility is reduced because of thick fog, you have much less time to react to obstacles in the road.
2) Allow more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you can’t see more than a few car lengths ahead, again, compensate by giving yourself more time to react.
3) Turn on your hazard lights. Those “emergency flashers” make you more visible to other drivers, helping them to see you sooner.
4) Roll down both of your front windows as you pull up to a stop sign. When fog hampers your vision, you need to rely more on your other senses to stay safe. With your windows down and the radio off, you’ll hear oncoming vehicles. If a car sounds like it’s not slowing down, the driver may not realize he’s approaching an intersection.
5) Use your GPS. Even if you’re on familiar roads, thick fog can disorient you and play games with your perception of space by blocking the visual cues you rely on when driving (street signs, landmarks, etc.). Your GPS will keep you notified about your upcoming turn.
6) Eliminate distractions. Don’t text or email, or fiddle with your coffee. Keeping your focus on the road is always important, but especially when you're driving in fog.
During one long weekend each year, we lower the price of every tire in every one of our stores. It's our three-day Presidents' Day Tire Sale, and this year it runs from Saturday, February 17 through Monday, February 19, 2018.
If your tire tread is low, if you want improved handling or a quieter ride, or if you're ready for better-looking tires, stop into any Mountain View store in Southern California. (We'd suggest making an appointment online or by phone first, though.)
Along with saving money on your new tires, you'll pay less for installation, wheel balancing and alignments during our three-day sale. Ask about nitrogen tire inflation, too, to keep your tires properly inflated longer.
And you'll have lots of options. Choose from 17 tire brands, including Goodyear, Cooper, Dunlop, Kelly, Continental, Pirelli, Hankook and many others. Even if we have to special order your tires, you'll still enjoy the sale price.
Not sure if you need new tires yet? Pull in. We'll measure your tread depth for you, visually inspect your sidewalls for cuts and other damage, and check your tire pressure - all free of charge.
If you could give just one gift to express your love for someone this Valentine’s Day, what would it be?
Flowers? Candy? A fancy dinner?
We’d like to suggest an alternative: new tires. Or a brake job. Or maybe a set of headlights or wiper blades.
Those may not seem like romantic gifts at first, but think about this: by making sure your special someone’s car is safe, you’re letting her know how important her safety is to you, and that you want her around for a long time to come.
Does the love of your life put off car maintenance or repair because it’s inconvenient or takes too long? By handling the task for him, you’ll save him time, so he can spend it the way he wants.
We understand that automotive service isn’t sexy, but it is necessary now and then. And when you give it as a gift, you express your feelings in a real and practical way.
Then, when the vehicle is running its best, you can take off together on a romantic weekend getaway.
It's easy to put off a task or necessary purchase when there's no immediate consequence.
But consequences may be coming soon if your tire tread is too low.
Since we don't get much rain in Southern California, your tires don't have to funnel large amounts of water very often. But February is typically our rainiest month of the year with an average of 3.68 inches.
So, if your tire tread is too low, you could easily hydroplane on a rain-soaked highway and lose control of your vehicle. That can be a scary and expensive experience. And for some people, it will be fatal.
Please don't wait for the rains to come to have your tires checked. Pull up to any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location as soon as possible so we can measure your tread depth. While we're at it, we'll check your tire pressure and inspect the condition of your tires. All free of charge.
Invest the few minutes it takes to keep your passengers, your fellow drivers and yourself safer on the road. It's time well spent.
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'.
© 2018 Mountain View Tire & Auto Service