Signs your Timing Belt Needs to be replaced

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

When it comes to your vehicle’s timing belt, the best thing you can do is follow the manufacturer’s recommend maintenance schedule. Waiting too long puts you at increased risk for the timing belt breaking, which can lead to thousands of dollars in engine damage!
Age is the most common reason your timing belt needs to be replaced. Warning signs leading up to belt failure include:

  • Wear and tear.
    Just like your tires, the belts in your vehicle can wear down with use. Material loss means the belt cannot grip as it should. If too worn, the rubber teeth may slip or lose grip completely.
  • Abrasion.
    The belt is kept at the appropriate tension with a tensioner or pulley. If this is misaligned, tension and heat can lead to failure.
  • Cracking.
    Rubber breaks down in the heat of the engine. Cracking in the material is a sign of deteriorating rubber. This leaves the material at increased risk for breaking and the timing belt should be replaced right away.
  • Shiny appearance.
    When the belt appears shiny and glossy, called glazing, it is an indication that the belt is too stiff, not flexible as it should be.
  • Hydroplaning.
    Again, as with tires, water that cannot be dispersed away from the belt and pulleys causes the belt to float above the layer of water. This can create a loss of power.
  • Buildup.
    If material collects in the cross sections of the timing belt, it can prevent the belt from gripping as needed. You may notice noise and vibration.
  • Stretching.
    With normal wear and tear, missing material can also change the length of the belt. This can be adjusted by the tensioner or replaced if the belt is too far gone.

These warning signs apply to all of the belts in your vehicle. The timing belt can be tricky to spot due to its location in the engine. Have a certified technician inspect your vehicle regularly and follow the recommended maintenance schedule for timing belt replacement.

To schedule your next inspection, request an appointment at our Colorado Springs auto repair shop.

The Importance of Proper Tire Inflation

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

What supports the weight of your vehicle? If you answered your tires, you are wrong. It’s not the tire itself, but the air pressure inside the tires that supports the weight.

The correct tire pressure can help you save money on fuel because over- or underinflated tires can cause your engine to work harder. It’s hard to say which is worse, as both can cause serious problems.

Underinflated tires.
Underinflated tires will have you driving on the sidewalls. The sidewall part of the tire is normally thinner than the part of the tire you drive on – that being the tread. If you are driving on an underinflated tire, a puncture could easily rupture the sidewall and result in a tire blowout. Underinflated tires increase the area of the tire you are driving on and can result in the sidewalls wearing out. Also, fuel mileage can be reduced by one MPG or more.

Overinflated tires.
Overinflated tires will cause uneven wear on the tread as all the wear is concentrated in the center. An overinflated tire is stiff and unyielding and the size of its footprint on the road is reduced. If weather conditions are less than optimal, you are reducing the amount of control you can exercise over your car. Overinflated tires cannot isolate road irregularities (potholes or debris) as well and will result in a harsher ride.

Best Practices.
You cannot set tire pressure and forget about it. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month and before starting on any long trip. You need to make sure the ravages of time, changes in ambient temperature, or a small tread puncture have not caused the tire pressure to change.

The recommended tire pressure is the vehicle’s cold tire pressure. Tire pressure should be checked when the vehicle is cold, so the heat and friction doesn’t impair the reading. Check tire pressure in the morning before you drive more than a few miles or before rising ambient temperatures. Checking your tire pressure is a very simple process and takes only one instrument. You can buy a tire gauge at any auto parts store, big-box store, or online. A good gauge will cost anywhere from $5 to $15.

Use the tire pressure recommended by your car’s manufacturer, not the “max pressure” numerals found on the tire sidewall. By using the recommended pressure, you will get the best combination of performance, ride comfort, tire life, and fuel economy.

If you suspect any issues with your tires, please come into Courtesy Automotive and have our trained ASE-Certified technicians check it out. Request an appointment online or simply stop by our independent auto repair shop in Colorado Springs.

Winter Isn’t Over – Prepare for Unpredictable Weather

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Winter isn’t over in Colorado yet… Though this February has been unseasonably warm, we know that spring hasn’t arrived yet. We often see more snow in March and April, with snow storms through Mother’s Day! As you’re enjoying the beautiful weather, don’t forget to plan for the snow that is still coming.

First, check your emergency kit. It’s too early to put away that ice scraper. Keep it within reach so you can brush away afternoon snow and scrape morning ice. Carry cat litter in the trunk for extra traction on winter roads (pour a little in front of your tire when you get stuck in the snow). An emergency kit packed with water, hat, gloves, and other safety tools is critical in unpredictable weather.

Next, inspect your tires.
Is one side wearing down faster than another? You may need an alignment or tire rotation. Can you see the warning bars in the tread? Does it pass the quarter test? Tires need more tread during the winter in order to handle slick roads, snow, and ice. Stop by Courtesy Automotive Service Center and our technicians will be happy to test your tires for you.

Finally, check your windshield wipers.
If the wiper blades leave behind streaks on your windshield, it’s time to replace them. Visibility can be compromised during snow storms, but windshield washer fluid can help you clear away the ice and dirt left behind during winter storms. Our auto repair shop in Colorado Springs can fill up your windshield washer fluid on your next visit.

Are you ready for Spring or looking forward to the late snow storms? Be prepared for both conditions with a full safety inspection from the auto repair technicians at Courtesy Automotive Service Center. We will review the maintenance schedule with you and inspect the key systems so you can understand the condition of your vehicle.

Have peace of mind, even in unpredictable weather, by bringing your vehicle into our independent auto shop in Colorado Springs. Request an appointment online or call 719.632.2167.

Why Vehicle Maintenance Should be Your New Year’s Resolution

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Each new year is an opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and plan for the year ahead. As you are making resolutions for 2017, consider your vehicle! Here are four reasons why vehicle maintenance should be your New Year’s resolution:

You rely on your car daily. Between commuting to work, running errands, and dropping off the kids at school, your car lets you get where you need to be, when you need to be there. While maintenance may not be the most exciting New Year’s Resolution, it is important for protecting the vehicle that enables your life.

Your car keeps you safe. Air bags and seat belts protect you in the event of a crash. New technologies are designed to help you stay in control, even in unpredictable road conditions. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, and dashboard warning lights can keep you safe – but don’t take them for granted! Regular inspections can make sure these systems will be there for you when you need them most.

Maintenance saves you money. Keeping up with preventative maintenance, like oil changes, fluid flushes, or tire rotations, helps you maximize the life of your vehicle. By ensuring everything is in proper condition and following the recommended maintenance schedule, you can even avoid expensive repairs and breakdowns.

Protect the value of your vehicle. A car is the second largest investment most people make, next to their home. Take care of your vehicle by keeping the interior and exterior clean, having it inspected, and following maintenance recommendations. This can help you retain the value of your vehicle for resale and help your vehicle last for years to come.

If you have any questions about maintaining your vehicle this year, call our experienced technicians at 719.632.2167. We are always available to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions for your vehicle!

To schedule your next maintenance service with our Colorado Springs auto shop, request an appointment online.

Simple Winter Tip: Fill up your Gas Tank!

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

This winter in Colorado Springs, drivers are preparing for changing conditions and slick roads. Especially for those who are headed up the mountains to ski or snowboard this season, being prepared and staying safe is key!

One simple tip: Fill up your Gas Tank!

Waiting until your vehicle is running on fumes is always dangerous. But in icy winter road conditions, the risk of running out of gas and getting stranded is even more dangerous.

Running your fuel tank too low could leave you in a difficult position. If roads are too slick to safely travel to a gas station when you’re tank is running out, you are more likely to empty your tank. Getting stranded during the winter means you also have to battle cold conditions waiting for a tow or friend to arrive with fuel.

Driving involves higher risk during cold months. Not only do low temperatures affect your tires, battery, and antifreeze, they can also impact your gas tank.

Cold or swinging temperatures can affect what happens inside your gas tank. As condensation forms inside your gas tank, water can start to drip down into the gas. When there is too much condensation and too little gas, the water may get into fuel lines and freeze when the temperatures drop again.

Don’t leave your family at greater risk in the winter. Stop by the gas station more frequently to keep your tank full. When unexpected storms hit, you will be prepared!

Before the worst weather arrives, stop by Courtesy Automotive Service Center for a vehicle inspection. Our experienced technicians will make sure your vehicle is equipped for the cold weather conditions in Colorado.

The best way to prepare for the unexpected is with preventative maintenance! Following the manufacturer’s recommendations and schedule for oil changes, fluid flushes, and routine maintenance services can keep your vehicle operating at its best and reduce your risk of a breakdown. Keep your gas tank full and call our experienced auto technicians to review your maintenance schedule: 719.632.2167.

Prep Your Vehicle for a Winter Emergency

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Weather forecasts may help you determine road conditions, but you’ll never be able to predict a flat tire, sliding or hydroplaning off the road in a rain or snow storm, or even getting stuck when nobody else is around. So before you hit the road this late fall/early winter, make sure your car is fully stocked for whatever could happen when you’re on the road.

Here are a few things that could come in handy no matter the situation:

  • Fluids: Having your coolant and transmission fluid checked before the changing season is a necessity. If you don’t have the means to check them yourself, have our reliable ASE-Certified technicians do it for you.
  • Tire Gauge: An over-inflated or under-inflated tire could mean the difference between sliding off the road or staying on course. It’s also a good idea to invest in a small air compressor to fill up your tires while on the go. In any situation, having properly inflated tires is an easy way to make sure your vehicle runs its best. Plus, properly inflated tires keep gas costs down!
  • Hand-Warming Packs: Should you get stuck on the side of the road (i.e. a flat tire), having these little hand-warmers can be a life-saver. Even in a warmer climate, it can still get cold in the middle of the night. Just stick a few in your pockets while you’re looking at the engine or changing a flat to keep your fingers warm and cozy.
  • First Aid Kit: A small First Aid Kit can fit in your glove box and has a multitude of uses. You never know when you’ll need relief from a cut, bruise, or even bug bite.
  • Hazard Lights: If you should get stuck in a blizzard, dust storm, or rainstorm, these flashing lights can help you flag someone down or warn them of your whereabouts on the road.
  • Drinking Water and Food: Should the worst happen and you are in a survival situation, you’ll be thankful that you had some emergency rations in your vehicle.

Stay safe on the winter roads in Colorado Springs by preparing for emergencies. To prepare your vehicle for winter conditions, stop by Courtesy Automotive Service Center for a pre-winter inspection and the maintenance services your vehicle needs. To request an appointment, call our team at 719.632.2167.

Coolant – Your Vehicle’s Hardest Working Fluid

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Coolant is arguably one of the hardest working fluids in your vehicle. Not only does it flow through the engine, it must withstand extreme conditions in the engine.

In simple terms, coolant is responsible for keeping your engine operating at the correct temperature. The cooling system prevents your vehicle from overheating under normal operating circumstances.

But even “normal” operating circumstances involve extreme conditions. Coolant must be able to cool much below zero without freezing, which is why it is also called “antifreeze.” But the coolant also needs to handle temperatures above 250 degrees without boiling. The fluid also must flow through the system, so it must have lubricating properties.

Because the coolant is put to such extreme tests, it needs to withstand these demanding conditions without breaking down. However, under normal driving conditions, coolant is still subject to normal wear and tear.

Over time, coolant can become thick and viscous. If it reaches a critical point, old coolant loses the ability to properly lubricate the engine, leading to increased friction and risk of damage.

Another common problem is leaking coolant. If the coolant level is too low, it won’t be able to properly cool the engine. When the coolant runs too low or the cooling system malfunctions, your engine can overheat very quickly.

Our experienced technicians recommend routine cooling system flushes to keep the coolant in your vehicle up to the demands of the engine. If you’re not sure when your last cooling system flush was for your vehicle, call our auto repair technicians at 719.632.2167.

During your next vehicle inspection, the certified technicians at Courtesy Automotive Service Center will inspect the coolant in your vehicle. If it does not pass our test, we will recommend having the cooling system flushed to remove the old fluid and any contaminants. The technician will then replace the old coolant with new fluid to keep your engine operating at top performance!

To schedule your next coolant flush, request an appointment online or call 719.632.2167.

Driving on a Flat Tire is Dangerous!

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Check your tire pressure. This tip appears on or near the top of every at-home car care tip list we’ve seen. And there’s a good reason for that.

If you don’t check your tire pressure, you may be driving in a dangerous condition.

Underinflated tires may not seem like that big of a deal. So your car tires are shy a few psi, what’s the big deal?

Low tire pressure can cause unnecessary stress on your tires. Tires are designed to operate at a specific pressure. Too low, and the shape of the tire will shift. Instead of riding on the protected tread of the tire, the weight of your car will shift to the thin sidewall of your tire.

This part of the tire is not designed to withstand that much pressure. You may start to notice thin and bald spots along the edge of your tire.

Even more dangerous is the wear and tear you cannot see that happens inside the tire. If you were to take the tire off of the wheel, you may start to see thinning edges and cracks within the tire. When the tire loses this structure, it is no longer safe to drive on.

The entire sidewall of the tire can blow out.

Instead of a simple fix of inflating the tires, you’re now facing a new set of tires… not to mention the pain and expense of roadside assistance or towing.

This fall, follow that advice and check your tire pressure. A 10 degree drop in temperature can affect tire pressure by one psi. If your tire is already low, the temperature swings of fall can make your tires dangerously low.

Stop by Courtesy Automotive Service Center in Colorado Springs for a tire inspection this fall. Our experienced auto repair technicians will check your tire pressure, tread level, and condition of your tires. With routine checks we’ll help you maximize the life of your tires to save money without putting your family or your vehicle in danger.

Call us at 719.632.2167 or request an appointment online.

Pre-College Vehicle Checklist

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Across Colorado and the country, schools are starting again. If you are sending your child off to college or trade school, make sure they have a safe and reliable vehicle!

As freshmen pack up their cars to travel across the state or the country for their first semester of college, parents have enough to worry about – don’t add their vehicle to the list!

Long-distance maintenance can be a hassle, especially when your child and the car are hundreds of miles away. You’re stuck dealing with somebody you don’t know over the phone… Instead, take care of vehicle maintenance now, at home, with a shop you can trust.

First, check your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. If the vehicle will be due for routine maintenance while the student is away from home, take care of it before they leave. Oil changes, tire rotations, fluid flushes, and other preventative maintenance can be performed by the technicians you trust to give you peace of mind.

Second, make sure the vehicle is prepared for the journey with a pre-trip inspection. Old fluids, worn tires, and skipped maintenance can leave your child at increased risk of a breakdown on the road trip.

Third, educate your child on the importance of car care. Watching for warning signs, regular inspections, and keeping up with preventative maintenance are key. These steps will help your student take care of their vehicle, avoid breakdowns, and save money.

Before you send your child off to college, bring their vehicle to Courtesy Automotive Service Center. Our ASE-Certified technicians are happy to inspect the vehicle and review our recommendations with you and your child, so they are aware of basic maintenance items to watch and tasks to perform while they are away from home to keep their vehicle safe.

Request an appointment online or call our team of experienced auto repair technicians at 719.632.2167. And give your child our phone number – we’re always happy to answer questions and provide advice, even while they are away at college.

Keeping Your Cool in the Hot Summer Days

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

keeping cool in the hot summer days

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We’re in the midst of another hot Colorado summer and while that means enjoying weekends at the pool and evening barbecues basking in the outdoors until past sunset, for those without functioning a/c in their vehicle, it means miserable commutes sweating through your clothes in what feels like a portable oven and praying for an early autumn. In today’s post we will give tips on how to keep your vehicle’s air conditioning functioning at its highest level and other tips to keep your car cool during the hot summer days.

The A/C System

Just like every other part of your vehicle, the air conditioning system needs servicing from time to time. There’s no suggested interval of when to service the a/c but when you first notice a problem with your air conditioning, take action. If your cooling system is low on coolant and unable to cool you down, it can be more than just an inconvenience. It could indicate a leak, which means that dirt is coming in and damaging internal parts, leading to refrigerant leaking out into the environment. At Courtesy Automotive Service our ASE-Certified technicians can perform a leak and pressure check to make sure you’re not losing valuable refrigerant.

If you find that your a/c vents are cool but not cold, the culprit could be your cabin air filter. If the air filter is clogged or dirty, your air conditioning might be working overtime, wasting fuel and still failing to cool down the vehicle.

Aside from the refrigerant and cabin air filter, there are a number of other components that could stop your a/c from functioning as it should. Fans, a compressor, fuses, switches, and other internal components can fail and leave you feeling miserable in the heat. That’s why we caution against purchasing a refrigerant recharge kit from the parts store before determining the cause of the a/c malfunction. To avoid costly repairs, have your air conditioning system inspected by an ASE-Certified technician who can diagnose the problem and help you avoid snowballing problems.

If your A/C is in good shape, maximize your car’s cooling ability by turning the air on full blast as soon as you start the engine and crack open all of your windows until the air inside is cool. This pushes the hot air out as the cool air comes out of the vents. Once the vehicle has cooled down, use the car’s air recirculating feature along with the air conditioning to maintain the best temp.


Car windows act like a greenhouse, trapping in heat and sunlight. Even in only 60 degrees, direct sunlight can cause the interior temperature to increase to more than 110 degrees. Reduce the amount of sunlight entering through your windows and you can keep the car cooler, thereby reducing the risk of burns from hot seats and the amount of time it takes for your a/c to cool down the interior. This is especially important for people with young children or infants as they are more susceptible to the risks of returning to a vehicle which has been sitting in the sun.

Sun shades and tinted windows help to block direct rays coming into your vehicle and this keeps the temperature slightly lower. Make sure you know your state’s laws on tinted windows before you have the service done as some states have restrictions on how much or which windows you can tint. If you don’t have tinted windows or a sun shade, park in the shade whenever possible. If you have no back seat passengers, even parking your car so the sun is hitting the rear window instead of the windshield is helpful as it keeps the steering wheel and front seats slightly cooler. Leaving the windows cracked while parked allows some warm air to escape the vehicle. Crack the sunroof as well if you have one.

If we have missed off any tips, please share them here. If you are experiencing any problems with your car’s air conditioning, stop by our shop for an inspection or call us at (719) 632-2167.