Category Archives: Maintenance

Check Engine! Light

You’re driving along and notice that an amber light in the dash is illuminated. The light indicates that you need to check your engine. You pull into the first convenient tire and service center to have your engine checked, although it seems to running fine.

The staff at the service center is more than willing to check your engine on the spot. A few minutes go by and the manager comes back with a flyer telling about their tune up special. He goes on to tell you that the special is probably all you need and they could get it done for you right away.

This is a common scenario that you might experience. Many high profile service facilities and franchises will offer coupon tune ups and cut rate under the hood services on an ongoing basis. It seems attractive to many automotive consumers because it is quick and convenient.

The question is do you really need a tune up or any other service being offered? And what parts and labor operations are they offering for your vehicles tune up?

The only way to properly maintain your vehicle is to use the manufacturer´s maintenance schedule as a guide line. A certified technician, prior to servicing the vehicle, should review these schedules. The schedules include the parts and fluids to be replaced as well as service points to be inspected and maintenance procedures to be performed. A professional shop will also review the manufacturer´s service bulletins to assure that you are aware of updated parts and procedures for your specific vehicle. Many service bulletins pertain to safety issues that should not be overlooked.

An illuminated Check Engine Light is no cause for a tune up. The Check Engine Light is programmed to illuminate any time that one of the engine or fuel injection sensors works outside of its normal parameter. Any time the Check Engine Light is on the engine´s computer control system is most likely in backup mode due to a failing or misadjusted component. Backup mode is intended to allow the vehicle to get to a destination where it can be properly serviced. If you continue to drive your vehicle in backup mode for extended periods it can cause complications, which will add to the cost of repairs.

Diagnosing and replacing a failed component is most likely all that is required to allow your vehicle´s engine to run and perform properly. Tune up items should be performed as a preventative maintenance item and serviced according to mileage. We understand that most drivers are not technicians so you can always expect that anytime we inspect your vehicle, necessary preventative maintenance recommendations will be made at that time. This way you can budget keeping your vehicle in top condition.

The final step before performing a tune up is checking vehicle maintenance records to see if any items have already been replaced. Many tune up related items and services can not be identified as being worn out by inspection. Maintenance records save money by allowing all components to serve their full wearable life expectancy before replacing them. This is a good reason to establish a relationship with a professional repair shop that employs certified technicians.

From Check Engine Light to preventative maintenance tune-ups, our A Street ASE Certified technicians will analyze your vehicle and make it sing to a very fine tune. We back it with one of the best guarantees in the industry. So beware of cut-rate services and coupon clipping tune-ups. You wouldn’t buy a cut-rate parachute would you?

Extended Warranty Notes

Over the past years extended warranty contracts for new and used vehicles have become popular. The purpose of these contracts is to cover needed vehicle repairs that are not covered by factory warranty.

These contracts also continue warranty coverage on the vehicle after the factory warranty has expired. Customers buy extended warranty contracts to eliminate unexpected, out of pocket automobile repair bills. Like an insurance policy, extended warranty contracts can vary greatly according to cost vs. coverage.

At A Street Automotive we have dealt with many extended warranty contract repairs over the years. We have found extended warranty contract coverage can range from excellent to very poor at the time of need. We find that most of our customers purchased their extended warranty contracts under the assumption that the contract will cover all unexpected repairs to their vehicle wherever they choose to have it serviced. Many times this is not the case and the customer ends up paying an unexpected repair bill.

Making an informed consumer decision up front is the best way to be sure the contract will cover your auto repair needs and protect your money investment. Contract sales persons make a commission and they will want to sell you an extended warranty contact at the time of a vehicle purchase.

Before purchasing any contract you should be completely aware of Cost vs. Coverage, also the conditions under which the repairs can be performed. We have found that warranty contracts are very complicated with coverages and exclusions intertwined within. Many contracts only cover certain components under certain conditions. We have also found that some contracts are only valid for repairs at the dealership, this can be extremely inconvenient and untimely. Many contracts also require a deductible payment that customers may not be aware of.

Although there are many extended warranty contracts that are cost effective and user friendly it may be next to impossible to tell if the contract is worthy of your investment unless you are a master auto technician with a degree in law.

At A Street Automotive we gladly deal with all extended warranty contracts to answer your contract questions. We have found that calling in mock repairs to specific warranty companies is a productive way to verify contract coverages and circumstances. We invite you to bring in any extended warranty contracts before purchase so we can help you evaluate contract coverages at no cost to you. A small amount of investigation up front can save you the disappointment of a bad investment when you need repair coverage.

Cool it!

Did you know? Your vehicle’s cooling system system is equally important in hot and cool weather.

Providing protection for your engine on both ends of the thermometer is a job for both science and physics. A close relationship between the coolant´s physical make up and pressure on the system are the keys to successfully meeting the needs of your engine.

Without pressure coolant cannot adequately control engine temperatures. Most cooling systems operate with 13 – 16 pounds of pressure on the system. Each pound of pressure applied to the cooling system drops the coolant´s boiling point approximately three degrees. For example: A cooling system with a fifteen-pound radiator cap will have a reduced boiling point of about 45 degrees. This is why we closely monitor radiator caps, hoses, hose clamps, radiator condition and any coolant leakage from gaskets. Any loss of pressure or coolant can be devastating to the cooling system. There are currently four types of coolant available: ethylene glycol(standard coolant), propylene glycol(Sierra coolant – less toxic), 100,000 mile formulas (new technology formulation), and recycled coolant.

If your coolant system has standard or Sierra coolant the recommended coolant system intervals are once every two years or 30,000 miles. If your system has 100,000 mile coolant then the intervals may be extended to once every five years or 100,000 miles. Recycled antifreeze may need servicing on a yearly basis depending on the recycling process. Most vehicle manufacturers do not endorse the use of recycled coolant.

If you desire to switch your older vehicle over to one of the 100,000 mile coolants you need to read the manufacturer´s recommendations. Mixing coolant types can cause problems with some brands. Using 100,000 mile coolants with any system that does not have an aluminum radiator can also cause problems with some brands.

Whether your vehicle is new or older, its cooling system is a high technology blend of science and physics. Regular inspections and servicing are important for vehicle reliability.

Bumper Stickers

Bumper stickers were invented back when all automobiles had big chrome bumpers. Today, most vehicles have plastic color-matched bumpers. The problem with putting a sticker on a painted bumper is that you (or your vehicle’s next owner) will probably want to remove it someday!

Taking stickers off chrome is no problem, but removing a sticker from a painted bumper can be a real challenge. If a sticker is left on a painted bumper cover for any length of time it will typically require a costly repaint to remove it.

We have many methods for removing stickers, but they are expensive. Save yourself a lot of money and apply the sticker to the lower back window (where it doesn’t obstruct your view) and it can be easily removed at anytime without damage to your vehicle. This way you can easily change bumper stickers.

An Apple A Day

Like an apple a day for your vehicle: Preventative maintenance keeps the tow truck away!

As your vehicle gets older and racks up the miles, it requires more frequent inspections and maintenance to continue operating reliably and efficiently. This is very much like us making more frequent visits to our doctor as we get older. Preventative maintenance is easily put off, but early detection is what is best for you and your vehicle. Although breaking out of your comfort zone and daily routine for your automobile is hard, it does have some great advantages:

  • Optimum vehicle reliability
  • Better overall performance and fuel economy
  • Your vehicle runs better over a much longer period
  • Budgeting for repairs can be spread out, not lump sums for surprise breakdowns
  • Repairs are less expensive if mechanical problems are corrected before they escalate.

Air it Out.

Keeping your car fresh inside during Oregon’s rainy season can be a challenge.

Oregon’s cold, wet winters use your vehicle to prove that the laws of physics are constantly at work. Condensation is taking place and you may not even be aware of it. Not only are water and debris tracked in and out of the vehicle’s interior, but interior moisture is attracted naturally. This moisture hides behind your vehicle’s interior panels, and in the trunk area. Condensation is always taking place: that equates to mold and mildew.

Combat the moisture during sunny spring days by opening all of the windows, the doors and trunk so the outside air and sun can evaporate those moist areas.

Be sure to pull your floor mats, trunk floor mat and spare tire cover (If the cover is floor mounted). Let the vehicle air out as long as possible. Do be aware of stray cats or dogs looking for a temporary home in your vehicle. Airing out your vehicle will dry our any condensation, minimize molding and increase the life of your interior. Nature adds the bonus of a fresh Spring scent throughout your car.

Oregon´s cold, wet winters use your vehicle to prove that the laws of physics are constantly at work. Condensation is taking place and you may not even be aware of it. Not only are water and debris tracked in and out of the vehicle’s interior, but interior moisture is attracted naturally. This moisture hides behind your vehicle’s interior panels, and in the trunk area. Condensation is always taking place: that equates to mold and mildew.
Combat the moisture during sunny spring days by opening all of the windows, the doors and trunk so the outside air and sun can evaporate those moist areas.
Be sure to pull your floor mats, trunk floor mat and spare tire cover (If the cover is floor mounted). Let the vehicle air out as long as possible. Do be aware of stray cats or dogs looking for a temporary home in your vehicle. Airing out your vehicle will dry our any condensation, minimize molding and increase the life of your interior. Nature adds the bonus of a fresh Spring scent throughout your car.

Aim to Please.

Our headlight aiming system allows us to aim all makes and models of headlights with precision accuracy.

Headlight technology has been upgraded immensely since the days of the round sealed beam headlamps. Composite plastic lenses, halogen gas illumination and aerodyne styling have altered the function, looks and efficiency of headlights for the better.
But proper headlight aiming is still the factor that determines performance and that technology has also changed. Many new aerodyne style headlight lenses do not have provisions on them for conventional headlight aiming systems. It is a fact that over one hundred new models of vehicles are equipped with aerodyne headlamps, although some models are equipped with built in head lamp aimers, most cannot be aimed with conventional equipment.
For this reason A Street purchased a new SNIPER remote headlight aiming system. This system allows us to aim all models of headlights with perfect accuracy. Driving lights and fog lights can also be accurately aimed. If you can spotlight a possum in the ditch while driving straight ahead or oncoming drivers keep suspiciously blinking their headlights at you, we suggest making an appointment for a headlight aiming soon.

Headlight technology has been upgraded immensely since the days of the round sealed beam headlamps. Composite plastic lenses, halogen gas illumination and aerodyne styling have altered the function, looks and efficiency of headlights for the better.

But proper headlight aiming is still the factor that determines performance and that technology has also changed. Many new aerodyne style headlight lenses do not have provisions on them for conventional headlight aiming systems. It is a fact that over one hundred new models of vehicles are equipped with aerodyne headlamps, although some models are equipped with built in head lamp aimers, most cannot be aimed with conventional equipment.

For this reason A Street utilizes a SNIPER remote headlight aiming system. This system allows us to aim all models of headlights with precision accuracy. Driving lights and fog lights can also be accurately aimed. If you can spotlight a possum in the ditch while driving straight ahead or oncoming drivers keep suspiciously blinking their headlights at you, we suggest making an appointment for a headlight aiming soon.

Timing Belt

The timing belt is one of the most critical and maintenance-sensitive components of your engine.

Not all engines use a timing belt. If you don’t know whether your engine has a timing belt, you need to find out soon. On free-running engines, timing belt failure will not cause engine problems other than a sudden stop and an immediate safety issue.

On interference engines, major damage will occur if the belt breaks while driving. Timing belt breakage on interference engines will allow the valves to hit the pistons because the timing that normally keeps them apart is inactive.

When this happens it means one of two things: either a large repair bill or a whole new engine.

Most manufacturers recommend timing belt replacement between 60,000 and 80,000 miles.

Yet Maintenance Sensitive Components Ever Used On Engines

Fluid Flushing

Fluid flushing is an important part of preventative maintenance.

Impurities and moisture buildup in any fluid will cause corrosion and component damage in any system on your vehicle. In Oregon moisture buildup in fluids occurs at a much more rapid rate than most other regions. This is why flushing more frequently is important.

Late model vehicles with antilock brake systems and computer aided power steering use close tolerance valves and sensors. This makes them more vulnerable than ever to corrosion damage and contamination. If you can’t remember when your power steering or brake fluid was flushed last it’s probably overdue and should be serviced.

Fluids loose their ability to lubricate properly as they are subjected to the heat created through normal driving wear cycles.

Fluids also pick up moisture through condensation of normal operation. Brake systems, automatic transmission, power steering, cooling system and driving axles all have critical fluids of very different make up. The one thing that they all have in common is that they all perform duties that are critical to your vehicle´s mechanical reliability.

Due to the addition of fine electronic sensors and precision valves it is much more critical to keep your vehicle´s fluids in good condition. Deteriorated fluid can cause fine particles to lodge in tiny electronic sensors and scuff precise valves and components. This will surely lead to a big repair bill in any of the systems. We have equipped our shop with the latest in professional flushing and fluid exchange equipment for all automotive fluid systems.

We would much rather see you flush your vehicle´s systems than deal with a costly repair that could have been avoided. As professionals we are on your side and it is our job to make sure that you are aware of all preventative maintenance services. Ask about our free literature.