Archive for October 30, 2012

Shocks and Struts For Auburn Bumps and Bounces

If you’re like most of us in Auburn, you want your car to handle well. That’s the job of your suspension system.

There are different types of suspension systems, but they all work on the same basic principles. First, there are the springs, which bear the weight of the car. The most common springs are coil or leaf – although we see air springs and torsion bars more often. The springs do most of the work.

Visit our Auburn location for an inspection of your suspension.
Euro Motors
10068 Streeter Rd. #14
Auburn, California 95602
530-776-5343

But if all you had were springs, your vehicle would be bouncing around like a bobble head. That’s where the shocks come in. They control the rebound of the springs and smooth out the up and down motions. They also keep the tires on the road, and you in control. Some Sedans use struts. Struts are a combination of shocks and springs, together in a more compact system.

Shocks wear out slowly over time, so it’s hard to notice when they get badly worn. One way to tell is to look for an uneven, cupping wear on your tires. If the shock or strut is leaking fluid, it needs to be replaced. If your car feels floaty in turns or if the front end dips a lot when you stop, it is time to get your shocks checked. Your owners’ manual will tell you when your shocks should be changed – it’s usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or 24,000 and 50,000 kilometers .

When you replace a shock, be sure to replace all four. Then your car will have an even suspension and will handle much better. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive. No, not your traffic violations, but how often you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive in rough terrain. If you do a bunch of that, you’ll need a heavy duty shock.

Regular shocks use hydraulic fluid and air as their dampening system. Premium quality shocks and struts use compressed nitrogen gas instead of air. Gas shocks don’t get air bubbles that affect the performance of regular shocks. If you do a lot of high performance driving, off-roading or just want added comfort and control, think about getting premium gas shocks or struts.

Replacing your struts may take your car out of alignment, so be sure to get an alignment at the same time. So, to smooth out the bumps on the road of life, change your shocks and struts when they need it.

Auburn California Winter Prep Service For Your Auto

When winter approaches in Auburn California, we break out the sweaters, coats, boots and mittens. We want to be ready for winter conditions. Your vehicle needs to be ready for winter as well. The last thing you want is to get stranded out in the cold. You need your vehicle to be safe and reliable. It’s a good idea to get caught up on any neglected maintenance items anytime – but the stakes are higher in the winter.

There are some specific things that we need to do in Auburn California to have our vehicle ready for winter. The most obvious is having the antifreeze checked. If the antifreeze level is too low, it can’t properly protect your engine, radiator and hoses from freezing. If your car does not seem to be making enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze level may be low or you could have a thermostat problem. Get it checked out. If you are due for a cooling system service, now is a perfect time to have it done.

In the cold months around Auburn we always worry about being able to stop in time when it’s slick out. The first thing to remember is to slow down and allow yourself plenty of room to stop. Of course, you want your brakes to be working properly. A thorough brake inspection will reveal if the pads or any other parts need replacing. Check with your service consultant to see if it is time to replace your brake fluid. It accumulates water over time which really messes with your stopping power.

It is a really good idea to have your battery tested. A battery’s cranking power really drops with the temperature. If your battery is weak in the fall, it may not be up to winter. There is nothing like a dead battery in a snow storm.

Which leads us to an emergency kit. You should always have a blanket or something to keep you and your passengers warm if you get stranded. If you will be venturing away from civilization, pack more items such as food and water to help you survive. Keeping at least half a tank of gas is a good precaution if you get stuck and need to run the car to keep warm and it will help keep your gas lines from freezing up.

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

Winter in Auburn California always makes us think of our windshield wiper blades – usually during that first storm when they aren’t working right. That’s why it’s a really good idea to replace your blades in the fall before the winter storms. If you live where there’s a lot of snow and ice, you might want a special winter blade that resists freezing up. And be sure to have enough windshield washer fluid.

The final thing to consider is your tires. Any tire can lose pressure over time – up to one pound every six or eight weeks. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops you lose another pound of pressure. So if it was 80 degrees outside when you checked your tire pressure two months ago and now it’s 40 degrees out, you could be down 5 pounds of pressure. That’s enough to be a real safety issue and it wastes gas too. You may need special winter tires as well. Your tire professional can help you find the right tire design for your expected road conditions.

If you’re getting winter tires, it is always best to put them on all four wheels. If you are only getting two, have them put on the rear – even if you have a front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle.

This is a very important safety measure recommended by tire manufacturers. Sliding or fish-tailing on ice and snow is a matter of not having enough traction at the rear end. That is why your newest tires should always be on the rear.

Serpentine Belt Service At Euro Motors In Auburn

If you’ve ever heard a squealing sound under your hood, chances are it was your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems in your Sedan. Let’s go over them.

First, the serpentine belt drives your air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Auburn.

Serpentine Belt Service At Euro Motors In AuburnNext, the belt powers the alternator
. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your Sedan’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. Without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.

The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering (some are electric) and power brakes (some use vacuum boost).

And, on most Sedans, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures. On some Auburn cars, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.

When they understand what it does, Auburn drivers realize that if it breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why manufacturers have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.

At Euro Motors, we can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon. If the belt has more than three or four cracks every inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.

If it has lost a significant thickness, it also needs to be replaced. There’s a special spring-loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Euro Motors, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

As mentioned, a squealing sound could be a sign that the serpentine belt needs to be replaced. It may be loose if you hear a slow, slapping sound when idling your Sedan.

All in all, the serpentine belt’s an important part for the function of your Sedan. And it’s not that expensive to replace at Euro Motors – so it’s good to do so before it fails.

Tire Replacement

You know you need new tires, but you’re not sure what type. You look at a tire to get the size: 225, 50, R, 16, 92, H. All the way to the service center you keep repeating it over and over. You even say it over in your mind while waiting in line. Then you get to the counter and the manager asks what size you need. Then your mind goes blank.

Tire size can be confusing. There’s so much on the side of the tire, and it’s hard to keep straight.

Even though there’s a lot on a tire – if you know what it all means, it’s actually more helpful than confusing. Let’s start with the size number.

For example, let’s say a tire reads: 225 50 R 16 92 H. The 225 part is the width of the tire in millimeters – the width between the sidewalls of an inflated tire with no load. The 50 is the aspect ratio – the ratio of the sidewall height to the tread width. Off-road tires will have a higher number and high performance tires will have a lower number.

The R signifies it’s a radial tire. And 16 is the rim or wheel size in inches.

The 92 is the load rating index – it’s the load carrying capacity of a tire. The higher the number, the more it can safely carry. Your empty vehicle can be safe with a lower number, but you’ll need a higher rating if you routinely haul heavy loads. The next letter is the speed rating. Not all tires are speed rated. The ratings generally follow the alphabet: the further up the alphabet, the higher the speed rating – with the exception of H – it comes between U and V (don’t ask why).

There’s a lot of fine print that you probably need a magnifying glass to read. But there are a couple of other large print items of interest. One is the tread type: highway, mud and snow, all season, severe snow, etc.

And then there’re the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System markings. The first is a tread wear index. 100 is the base line – a lower number is poorer and a higher number is better. All things being equal, a tire rated 200 would wear twice as long, on a government test track, than one rated at 100. These wear grades are only valid within a manufacturer’s product line – you can’t compare with other manufacturers. And it’s important to note that a lower rating might be just what you want – a high performance, sticky tire has a softer rubber compound and won’t wear as long, but boy, will it take those corners.

The next is a traction grade. This measures the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement in government tests. A – the best, B – intermediate, C – acceptable.

Temperature grade measures a tire’s resistance to heat build up in government tests. A, B and C – from best to acceptable.

It’s safe to go with the original equipment recommendations that came on your car. But if you want to make adjustments, you’ll now be better equipped to communicate with your tire professional.

Transmission Service

Let’s talk about transmission service. It can be easy to forget about getting your transmission serviced because it doesn’t need it very often. It’s easy to remember to change the engine oil – you know, every 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But proper transmission servicing keeps your car running smoothly and helps you avoid costly repairs down the road.

The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit you see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatures. Usually it’s 100 to 150 degrees higher than engine temperatures. Those high temperatures eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and loose efficiency.

As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn’t lubricate and cool the transmission as well – leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of fluid passages inside the transmission. At best, your transmission won’t operate smoothly. At worse, it could lead to costly damage.

When your transmission is running properly, it transfers more power from your engine to the drive wheels, and improves fuel economy. That’s why manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid at regular intervals. Your owner’s manual has a schedule for transmission service and, of course, your service center can tell you what the manufacturer recommends.

Hot and dusty conditions; towing, hauling, stop and go conditions and jack rabbit starts all increase the load on the transmission and its internal temperature. That means you need to change the fluid more often. A good rule of thumb is every 35,000 miles, 55,000 kilometers or two years. If your manufacturer suggests more frequent intervals or if you’re driving under severe service conditions, you will need to change it more often.

Most service centers have the ability to perform a transmission service while you wait and the cost is quite reasonable. It’s downright cheap when you think about how much a major transmission repair can cost! Your service technician will know the right type of transmission fluid to use. If it’s getting to be time to have your transmission serviced, do your car a favor and have it done. If not this time, then on your next service stop.