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AUTO REPAIR BLOG

AUTO REPAIR BLOG, Temecula, CA

How Long Will My Brakes Last? (Brake Maintenance)

November 22nd, 2020

If you feel a slight shudder or vibration coming through your brake pedal when you stop, it could be a sign you need some brake work done. That gets you thinking, how long should my brakes last anyway?

It depends on a lot of factors. But for discussion's sake, let's talk about the components that wear out most often, the pads and rotors.

One factor is how you drive. If you drive on highways a lot, you won't use your brakes as much as, say, someone who lives in the city and is in the middle of a lot of stop-and-go traffic.

Do you drive a lot in the mountains? Do you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads? Those driving habits will all wear down your pads and rotors more quickly than someone who doesn't put that extra friction on their brake components.

Do you love jackrabbit starts and squealing stops? That will wear out your brakes more quickly than smoother driving habits.

Do you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle? In that case, you may have regenerative brakes that help your vehicle stop and may reduce wear and tear on the pads and rotors.

How long will your brakes will last depend on all these different things, and there's no hard and fast rule. In addition to that pulsating feel we mentioned at the beginning of this, here are a few other signs you might need some brake work:

  • You must push harder on the brake pedal than you used to.
  • Your brakes squeak, grind, or rattle when you apply them.
  • Your vehicle pulls to one side when you put on the brakes.

Your NAPA AutoCare Center can inspect your brakes and tell you when it's time to or replace your brake pads or rotors. A technician will also check the other wear components in your brake system that may require repair. When it comes to brake issues, it's a lot better to know: and it's better (and can save money) to know earlier rather than later.

MAF Sensor and Engine Air Filter

November 4th, 2020

Today's Old Town Tire & Service post focuses on the importance of protecting your mass air flow sensor or MAF. Air and fuel are mixed together to be burned in your engine. The amount is controlled by how hard you press on the accelerator or by external factors like climbing hills or hauling loads. Based on how much air you need - and how much is available - your engine management computer tells your fuel injection system how much fuel to send to your engine. But what if the computer is getting the wrong information about how much air is coming into your engine? Well, it would send the wrong amount of fuel and your engine performance would suffer.

The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor measures the volume, temperature and density of the air flowing into your engine. With that information, the computer calculates how much oxygen is available to burn and adjusts the amount of fuel it sends. A dirty or damaged MAF sensor can give the wrong readings, hurt your fuel economy, damage the catalytic converter, reduce engine performance, trigger the Check Engine light and, worst case, stop your engine.

Remember that you can drive your car if the Check Engine light is on - unless it's flashing. If your Check Engine light indicates an MAF problem, Old Town Tire & Service recommends that you take action before you damage your catalytic converter.

How does an MAF sensor get damaged? Well, let's look at this process again. As air comes into your engine, it first passes through the engine air filter. Dust, road grime, pollen and other contaminants are, hopefully, trapped in the filter. If the engine air filter becomes clogged, some of the pollutants can pass through and hit the MAF sensor. Thus, a clean engine air filter protects your MAF sensor. Reason number 47 to replace your engine air filter as recommended.

Now if your MAF sensor is contaminated, you may be able to clean it with an air induction cleaning service at Old Town Tire & Service in Temecula. This service also cleans your throttle body and other fuel system components. In those circumstances where the MAF sensor is not only contaminated but actually damaged, it will need to be replaced. (And it costs a whole lot more than an engine air filter.)

Your Old Town Tire & Service can quickly inspect your engine air filter to see if you need a new one. A caution: low-line air filters may actually contribute to MAF sensor failure as filter material can come loose and contaminate the sensitive sensor elements - filter material is just as harmful as outside gunk.

When your friendly and knowledgeable Old Town Tire & Service recommends you replace your engine air filter, now you know how much is riding on that inexpensive but simple part.

Give us a call.

Maintain Your Power Steering System

September 23rd, 2020

Although several newer vehicles are coming equipped with electric power steering, the vast majority of cars and trucks on the road 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 fluid provides power assistance and protects components from rust and corrosion. Manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. The old fluid is drained, and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.

Unfortunately, many 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 system include the need to constantly to 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.

In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The tie rods, arms, joints and knuckles that turn the wheels can become worn or damaged, becoming a serious safety issue. 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 service 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.

Differential Service

July 18th, 2020

When Temecula drivers take a corner in their vehicle, the outside wheels have a slightly longer distance to go than the inside wheels. That means that the outside wheels have to turn a bit faster than the inside. The piece of mechanical wizardry that makes this possible for is called the differential.

The differential allows the drive wheels to rotate at different speeds in turns without the wheel binding or hopping. If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is on the rear axle. You've seen that bulge in the middle of the axle when you're behind a truck; that's the differential.

If you have a front-wheel drive vehicle, the differential function is handled by your transaxle. Of course, all-wheel drive vehicles have differentials on both axles. They also have a center differential or a transfer case between the front and rear axles to compensate for speed differences between the front and rear.

Because all the power of the engine is transferred through the various differentials, you can imagine that they are very strong and are built last a long time. That's why it's important for Temecula drivers to keep their differential properly lubricated. Differential fluid cools and protects the gears.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Old Town Tire & Service technician will check differential fluid level and top it off if necessary. With low fluid, the differential will run too hot and wear prematurely. Ask your service advisor at Old Town Tire & Service (951.699.8040) when it's recommended to change your differential fluid. Fresh fluid will extend the life of your differential. Your technician will also inspect the u-joints which connect your drive shaft to the differential and may recommend service. Some u-joints can be lubricated as part of a routine Old Town Tire & Service lube, oil and filter change as well.

Temecula drivers need to know that differentials eventually wear out and need to be replaced. You might notice a strange noise from your axle area as one of the first warning signs. When the differential shows signs of failing, it's time to repair it. CA residents who leave it too long run the risk of it freezing up when they're driving and could lose control of the vehicle. Plus, other parts like the axle, driveshaft and transmission could be damaged.

What's Shakin' with my Brakin'? (Brake Rotor Service)

Jun 15th, 2020

If you feel your vehicle vibrating when you're braking, or if you don't stop in as short a distance as you used to, it may be time to have your brakes checked. All newer vehicles have disc brakes in the front, and more manufacturers are using disc brakes all around (instead of an older technology called drum brakes), so there's a pretty good chance at some point you'll find yourself facing a disc brake repair when yours begin to wear out.

Before we go any farther, here's how disc brakes work. If you've ever had a bicycle with hand brakes, you know there is a caliper that pushes pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you squeeze the brake handle. Disc brakes are similar, but there's a metal disc (called a brake rotor) there instead of the bike wheel's rim. In disc brakes, the vibration you feel when you are stopping is often because the surface of the rotor is not flat, or the rotors have an uneven thickness.

Sometimes, the rotors can be re-surfaced or "turned" (basically shaving them off until they are straight and even). But newer vehicles are using thinner, lighter rotors with a slightly different construction. So, when the rotors are not true, shaving the metal off may make them thinner than the manufacturer deems safe. The only option for them is replacing the rotors.

In most cases, it's wise to replace the brake pads when replacing the rotors because the rotor damage was either caused by worn pads or the damaged rotor has caused uneven pad wear.

Some drivers will decide to replace rotors with the same type that was on the vehicle originally. Others may decide to upgrade with premium rotors that provide better performance than the original equipment. Depending on your vehicle and driving habits, your NAPA AutoCare Service Advisor can suggest the high-quality brake parts that are the best choice for you and your vehicle.

Water Pump

May 3, 2020

The cooling system in an engine has five components: the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat and the water pump. The water pump is literally the heart of the system. Just as your own heart keeps your blood circulating through your body, the water pump keeps coolant circulating through your engine.

The water pump is driven by a belt, chain or gear and only operates while the engine is running. It has a limited life span and sooner or later will have to be replaced. You can check your owner's manual to find out how long your water pump should last. Some can fail at only 40,000 miles, or 65,000 kilometers, but almost all of them fail by 100,000 miles, or 160,000 kilometers.

Water pumps don't gradually wear out; they fail. In other words, they're either working or they're not. A failed water pump has to be replaced.

Water pumps can fail in two ways: they can spring a leak or their bearings fail. Leaks can come from a cracked pump but usually develop at the gasket where the pump attaches to the engine.

If you hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it's time for a new one. If you see coolant leaking in the area near the pump, it needs to be replaced. Also, coolant on the driveway could indicate water pump failure. Many water pumps aren't visible because they're under a plastic cover, so you may have to take your vehicle to Old Town Tire & Service to know if the water pump has failed.

If your water pump is run by the timing belt, then it should be replaced when you replace the belt. Most timing belts need to be replaced at around 60,000 to 90,000 miles, or 100,000 to 145,000 kilometers. The labor for replacing a timing belt is about 90% the same for replacing a water pump, so it's cost-effective to take care of them both at the same time.

Also, if your water pump develops a leak (if it's powered by the timing belt), you have to replace the timing belt as well since contamination by coolant fluid damages the belt. It just makes sense for Temecula residents to replace both of these parts whenever either one needs it.

Replacing a water pump at Old Town Tire & Service is a vehicle care issue that almost all of us Temecula residents face eventually. They don't last forever. On the other hand, we can extend the life of most of the components of our vehicle through preventive maintenance. Just as exercise and diet keep our heart healthy, regular check-ups and fluid changes will keep our vehicles healthy. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Old Town Tire & Service service advisor.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Mar 10th, 2020

All new cars and light trucks in Temecula, CA, since 2008 have come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, or 'TPMS'. The TPMS system detects when a tire becomes under-inflated and lights up a warning light on the dash.

So what's the big deal for Temecula drivers? Well, underinflated tires can be a real safety concern for in CA. First of all, they don't handle properly and that can lead to an accident. Second, underinflated tires can overheat and cause the tire to come apart, which can also lead to an accident.

Government regulations requiring TPMS systems aim to reduce accidents in CA and save lives, a very worthy goal. There are also positive environmental effects because underinflated tires are fuel wasters - lose 1 percent of their fuel economy for every 3 pounds of pressure below ideal. So proper tire inflation can save you a tank of gas a year. And your tires last longer so you won't have to replace them as often.

There are two kinds of TPMS systems. So-called direct systems have a battery powered sensor in each wheel that measures tire pressure. The sensor sends a signal to a receiver that illuminates the warning light if pressure is low on a tire.

Indirect systems use a computer program to detect underinflation by measuring wheel rotation speeds and other data.

Temecula drivers will have to replace TPMS parts as they wear out. Obviously, the batteries in the sensors will run out someday. Road salt and grime can damage sensors too. The system needs to be reset when you rotate or change your tires.

Because the TPMS system is so important to your safety, you should make the repairs when needed. And remember, TPMS is no substitute for regularly checking your tire pressure - at least once a month.

Ask us for more details.

Contact Old Town Tire & Service at 951-699-8040 or or send us an email to schedule your next service.

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