Archive for September 27, 2012

Euro Motors On Your Serpentine Belt

Today we’re going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Auburn California customers. Let’s start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That’s the device that makes electricity to power the vehicle and recharge the battery. Then there’s the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you’re driving around Auburn California in the summer.

The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most vehicles. Those pumps make the pressure that assists your steering and braking.

In many vehicles, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. The water pump is what circulates the coolant that protects your engine. In some cars around Auburn California, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.

The radiator cooling fans on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That’s really a lot of work for one belt.

But modern engine design has a single belt that snakes around the front of the engine and drives most if not all of these accessories. Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles.

Just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car in the Auburn California area. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection can reveal a belt that’s getting close to failing.

Euro Motors can look at the belt: if it has more than three or four cracks per inch it needs to be replaced. A deep crack that’s more than half the depth of the belt – replace. Frayed, missing pieces, a shiny glazed look? It’s out of there.

What’s involved in replacing the belt? First the old belt is removed. Then a new one is fitted around all the pulleys for the accessories and the drive. There’s a special pulley called a tensioner.

This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm. Its job is to apply the correct amount of tension to the belt to keep it from getting loose and maybe slipping off. Because the spring in the tensioner pulley wears out, AutoNetTV recommends replacing them at the same time as the belt. It just makes sense.

What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating around our Auburn California streets. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.

What do you do if your belt breaks? If you’ve actually had that happen on our local Auburn California freeway, it can be a little scary. Often the first thing you notice is that you have no power steering or power brakes. Don’t panic – you can still steer and brake, but you’ll have to do the work. It’ll be harder to steer and you’ll need more time and effort to stop, so plan accordingly.

Your dashboard will light up will all kinds of warnings. You’ll see a warning about your cooling system if you have a water pump that’s driven by the serpentine belt. This is very critical because without your cooling system working, your engine will overheat. If you don’t stop you’ll have massive engine damage, maybe to the point that you need a new engine. Pull over as quickly as you safely can. Open your windows and turn the heater on full blast to provide a little engine cooling and pulled over as soon as possible.

The battery light will come on because the alternator isn’t working. If your car’s water pump isn’t driven by the serpentine belt, you’re not in danger of overheating so you can drive a little further if necessary. But the battery will run down to the point where the car won’t run and will just shut off. You don’t want that to happen while you’re driving in our local Auburn California traffic.

Remember, this does not have to happen if you replace your serpentine belt on schedule. Ask your technician at Euro Motors to check your belts and hoses from time to time so you can take care of them if they need to be replaced prematurely.

Euro Motors
10068 Streeter Rd. #14
Auburn, California 95602
530-776-5343

Power Steering Service At Euro Motors In Auburn

Many Auburn drivers have been hearing about new advances in power steering technology, specifically, electric power steering. Some very high-end cars have been featuring electric power steering for a few years. An electric motor directly provides the power assist to make steering easier. Undoubtedly we’ll see much more of this in Auburn as full electric cars and electric hybrids become more common.

The vast majority of cars and trucks serviced at Euro Motors in Auburn use a hydraulic power boost system. With hydraulics, fluid is pressurized by a pump which actuates a hydraulic cylinder to reduce steering effort. Some of these pumps are powered by an electric motor. Most pumps are powered by the serpentine belt driven by the engine.

Power Steering Service At Euro Motors In AuburnPower steering fluid has the necessary hydraulic properties and the ability to lubricate the internal parts. The power steering fluid also protects Sedan components from rust and corrosion.

Auburn car owners should be aware that manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule.
At Euro Motors, the old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.

Unfortunately, many Auburn people don’t realize how important it is to service their power steering, or even that it should be done at all. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks and the pump won’t last as long.

Signs that you may be having problems with your power steering include the need to constantly add power steering fluid, a loud whining from the pump, erratic power assist or high steering effort. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, have your power steering checked out at Euro Motors in Auburn.

In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The rods, arms, joints and knuckles that actually turn the wheels can become worn or damaged. A standard alignment service includes an inspection of steering components.

If you notice any play in the steering wheel, that the steering wheel is off center, or a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning, have your Euro Motors advisor do an inspection so the problem can be corrected. Waiting too long could cause uneven tire wear and may even lead to steering failure. Call Euro Motors today at 530-776-5343.

Using Proper Fluids In Your Sedan Or Other Vehicle

Today Euro Motors is talking about the proper fluids for your vehicle. It’s become more complicated with changes in automotive design and manufacturing. It’s not that people in California are confused as much as they don’t realize how much things have changed in recent years.

If you have questions about the fluids in your vehicle, please don’t hesitate to stop by Euro Motors. You can find us on 10068 Streeter Rd. #14 in Auburn, California 95602.
Just give us a call at 530-776-5343

Let’s take engine oil. Twenty or thirty years ago, there were just a handful of different weights of oil. The weight of an oil is a scientific measure of its properties, particularly its viscosity or thickness.

It was common in those days to use a lighter weight oil in the winter when it’s cold outside. That way the oil would be able to splash around inside the engine and protect the parts before it was fully warmed up. And a heavier weight oil would be used in the summer. The thicker oil wouldn’t thin out too much in the summer heat and vaporize in the engine.

Modern valve trains have become very complicated with more moving parts and small passages than ever before. The valve train is in the top of the engine, so when the car has been turned off for a while, the oil tends to run down to lower areas and the valve train parts are vulnerable at start-up, before the oil starts circulating.

So new weights of oil have been introduced to meet the engineering specifications of these newer engines.

Manufacturers are recommending specific weights of oil. The recommendation is often printed on the oil fill cap. It’s certainly in the owner’s manual. Of course, your Auburn California auto service center can look it up for you.

It’s more important than ever to have the correct weight of oil. The wrong weight could actually harm the engine.

Other fluids are also becoming more sophisticated. In the last few years new types of transmission, power brake fluid and coolant have all been introduced for some of the same reasons as for engine oil.

In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now using a wider variety of materials in these systems. Looking at the cooling system as an example, it used to be that the parts were all made out of steel or iron and the hoses were rubber. Now, some parts are plastic, aluminum or other materials.

So the anti-corrosion additives contained in the coolant, or anti-freeze, need to be different in order to protect the different materials used to make the cooling system. If you use the wrong coolant that wasn’t formulated to protect your plastic cooling system parts, they could become corroded and fail. And if you’re using the wrong coolant, your cooling system won’t be covered under warrantee. So it’s important to use the right coolant and to not mix different types.

Your owner’s manual or your Auburn California service advisor at Euro Motors can make sure you’re using the right type. You may have heard of universal coolant. Universal, or global, coolant can be added to other types without harmful reactions. That’s OK for an emergency top off, but following your manufacturer’s recommendation for your Sedan or other auto type is always a safe bet.

In the area of brake fluid, there are a couple of new formulations. It’s important to remember that the new ones aren’t better than the old ones. They’re just different formulations for different vehicles. So if your vehicle calls for DOT 3, using DOT 4 or DOT 5 is not an upgrade. Use the recommended formula.

There are fluid formulations for vehicles with higher mileage. These are special engine oil, transmission fluid, and so on that contain additives to condition and restore seals and gaskets in older engines.

They’re fine to use as long as they’re a variant of the proper fluid. In other words you can use a high mileage engine oil as long as it’s also the correct weight recommended by the manufacturer. Same goes for transmission fluid; as long as it’s the right type for your transmission.

Make Your Battery Last

Today’s report from Euro Motors is on car batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn’t. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Auburn vehicle batteries last for 48 months.

Now that’s an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around Auburn. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.

For more information on your battery, please visit us:
Euro Motors
10068 Streeter Rd. #14
Auburn, California 95602
530-776-5343

Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they’re hot than when they’re cold.

A car battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates actually, for the lack of a better word, ‘die’. Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.

One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Auburn area, is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the car. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you’re driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.

Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it’s no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.

Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may’ve heard these chargers referred to as ‘trickle chargers’. They’re attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.

Now there’s some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you’ll have to tend it. Frankly a learning curve on how to do it right and requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it’s fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.

The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.

Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery. Something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That’ll take months off the battery life every time you do it.

Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Euro Motors to clean it for you. Euro Motors can even test your battery and tell you if it’s time to replace it.

Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Euro Motors about appropriate upgrades.

If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.