Winter Safety Kit Creation Guide

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Negotiating winter roads in Colorado can be challenging to say the least. With fast-changing weather and rocky terrain, just keeping your car on the road can be an accomplishment in itself some days.

In the event that your vehicle does end up in a ditch at the behest of black ice or breaks down unexpectedly, you’ll definitely be glad to have a Winter Safety Kit on board. Here are seven things you should include in such a kit:

Blanket(s). The most obvious item to have in case of an emergency is also the most important. Hypothermia and frostbite are legitimate concerns when you’re stranded without a heat source along the Front Range so you’ll definitely want to have a blanket or two on hand as you’re trying to figure out how to get out of the predicament you’re in.

Shovel or Mini-Shovel. If you’re stuck in a snow bank, you’ll very much appreciate having this tool at your disposal to dig yourself out.

Kitty Litter. If you need traction, this is a great item to have on hand. Spread the litter around your tires if you’re stuck somewhere and you’ll have a much better chance of escaping the ice/snow trap you’ve encountered.

Windshield Scraper. You should have one of these on board regardless of your situation but in a winter emergency they are extra valuable. Visibility is key for your vehicles drivability at any time of year but this is especially true during hazardous conditions in the winter months.

Gloves. In the event you do need to jumpstart your car, or do anything else outside your vehicle in an emergency, you’ll definitely want to have warm hands.

Extra Cell Phone Battery. We sometimes take our mobile phones for granted but in the event of an emergency, you’ll definitely want to have a way to communicate with potential rescuers. Cell phone batteries have a tendency to die more quickly in cold weather so having a spare power source on hand is a good idea.

Jumper Cables. Your battery has a higher likelihood of dying out in cold weather so you’ll want to have the means to jumpstart your vehicle readily available throughout the winter months.

While it’s good to be prepared for whatever emergency you may or may not encounter this winter, the best course of action for dealing with winter driving is to avoid bad situations altogether. By keeping up with your preventative maintenance schedule, you’ll be in good shape to make it through the winter without having to use the emergency kit you’ve assembled.

Give us a call at 719-632-2167 or click HERE to set up an appointment for your vehicle so you can proactively avoid any winter emergencies for your car this year!

The Importance of Timing Belts

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

While often overlooked, your vehicle’s timing belt (AKA a ‘timing chain’ or ‘cambelt’) is actually incredibly important to the functionality of your engine. Timing belts are responsible for synchronizing your engine’s valves during the cylinders’ and exhaust ports’ conduction. Everything must be in sync for combustion to occur and make forward propulsion possible.

In terms of lifespan, timing belts typically last anywhere from 30,000-50,000 miles depending on the make and model of your vehicle. There aren’t any warning signs for a problematic timing belt unfortunately so be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended change-out interval or give us a call at 719-632-2167 and we can look it up for you.

A broken timing belt will lead to a nasty breakdown for your car as your motor will be out of sync and pistons will crank at improper intervals and cause serious damage to the engine. In the event that pistons and valves collide, your entire engine might need to be replaced.

Timing belts are made out of rubber and is exposed to a lot of stress in a hot environment so wearing out is inevitable. When they’re replaced, the procedure needs to be done by an ASE-certified technician to ensure that valve and piston movements are totally in sync.

If you have any questions about your timing belt, swing by our shop at 210 South 8th St. or click HERE to schedule an appointment if you think it’s time for a new one!

Auto Repair Myths And Misconceptions

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

During every exchange with a business – be it a clothing retailer, a grocery store or a bakery – a customer trusts that they are paying for something of value. We are constantly considering what it means to be the customer, because we too are customers. We understand the desire to know that you’re paying a fair price for a quality product or service.

Our customers in Colorado Springs should know that we are here to be a resource, and to provide value at a fair price. Our business is here because of you, and for you.

Below are a few myths and misconceptions that can cause drivers to spend money unnecessarily, or are just bad information. We’ll debunk them and give you honest answers, as transparency with our customers is a cornerstone of our business model:

1. Paying more for premium gas is best for car performance.

We always recommend that drivers consult their owner’s manual for information on the octane level required for your specific vehicle. That said, shelling out more cash for a high-octane gas will typically make no discernable difference in your car’s performance.

2. Additives improve gas mileage.

If you’ve heard that fuel additives can bolster your car’s gas mileage, you’ve heard wrong. The claims that fuel additives improve anything at all are usually completely unfounded, or the improvement they provide is so minimal that it doesn’t even account for the price of the bottle. Save that money and spend it on something that *is* essential for a car to operate efficiently: motor oil.

3. If your check engine light comes on, it’s most likely an issue with your gas cap.

It’s true that a gas cap can cause problems, but the gas cap does *not* account for most issues that would trigger your check engine light to come on. It’s unsafe to assume that the reason is something minor. It could be alerting you to any number of issues such as a problem with the O2 sensor, a spark plug malfunction, or something more serious. Ignoring the check engine light can cause a small problem to turn into a costly problem. It’s always best to stop by a trusted auto repair shop such as Courtesy Automotive and have an ASE-Certified technician run a diagnostic.

Common Auto Repair Myths And Misconceptions

4. A few minutes is all it takes to charge a dead battery.

For some older vehicles, this is true. Modern vehicles drain much more power from their car batteries than their predecessors however. Features such as navigation systems, blind-spot/rear-view cameras, built-in screens, DVD players, seat/beverage warmers, etc. are a drain on your battery. If the battery is dead, don’t rush a charge. Give it a comfortable amount of time – 10 minutes if you can – to let it collect all the power necessary to restart.

5. Auto repair shops are likely to rip off their customers.

It’s human nature to remember the worst stories we hear. Unfortunately for those of us in the auto-repair world, a few disreputable businesses can affect our entire industry. Our shop, like most others, is in this business to take care of our neighbors and be a resource for all auto-related issues. We take care of our customers because they are a part of our community – the people we live alongside every day. The responsibility to keep their cars performing well is one we take seriously and a service that we’re glad to provide.

If you are looking for any auto-related information, find yourself in need of an auto-repair shop in the Colorado Springs area or have had a breakdown and need help, please call us at (719) 632-2167. Our ASE-Certified technicians are glad to help in any way we can.

Brake Failure Indicators

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

One of the worst scenarios that can happen to a vehicle driver is that while you are driving on a winding road, either a side street or on an interstate highway, and you suddenly need your brakes and they all of a sudden fail. There are certain signs that your brakes are showing signs of wear and tear and ultimately lead to failure.

Vibrations

If when you go to put your foot on the brake pedal and that pedal vibrates or you feel a shaking of it, that is a clear indicator that your rotors on your car may be warped.

Squealing of Brakes

This may be a bit harder to monitor, as you will likely need to have your windows down, and both your air conditioning and your radio off in order to hear this. The squealing noise coming from your brakes when you use them usually is a sign that you need to have them checked out by an ASE qualified professional. However, it’s not uncommon to hear brakes squealing after a rain storm or car wash.

Grinding Brakes

When you push on your brake pedal and you hear a deep grinding, this is a clear indicator that your brake pads are damaged or worn beyond safety limits and need to be replaced quickly.

ABS Light On

There are several reasons that your ABS light may come on at odd times, including: metal particles in the brake system, or complete brake system failing.

Brake Pedal Touching Floor

One potential problem with your brake system is that it may start to lose fluid and fluid pressure, allowing you to push the brake pedal all the way to the floor. This is a possible indicator of a leak in your brake system.

Brakes Grabbing

While you are driving and if you ever feel your vehicle pull to one side or another when you apply your brakes, this may be an indicator of your car’s brake lining wearing unevenly or in need of a complete flush of the brake fluids.

When you do get your brakes inspected, make sure to have the following items looked at:

  1. Brake warning lights
  2. Inspection of brake lines
  3. Check brake fluid level & condition
  4. Brake lining wear and tear
  5. Thickness of rotors

If you would like to have your brakes checked out by an ASE certified professional, contact our shop online or call at 719.632.2167

Car Insurance In Colorado – What You Need To Know

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

In Colorado, drivers must have liability coverage at the following minimums: $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, $15,000 per accident for property damage.

Car Insurance Basics

When car insurance is mentioned, we think about the basic liability insurance States require us to purchase for our vehicles. We know we can add comprehensive coverage that will help cover expenses for damage in an accident. Typically this is applied to newer vehicles. There are several other types of insurance that can be purchased for your car, both of which have upsides and downfalls.

Extended Warranty Car Insurance

Extended Warranties that can be purchased along with your car equivalent to health insurance for your car. The challenge with many warranties out there is that they cover too little and cost way too much. You would never pay full price for health insurance if it only covered a few body parts, but might consider that same insurance if it was relatively inexpensive. The same applies to extended warranties: it depends both on what is being covered and for what price whether purchasing it is a good idea.

Auto Gap Insurance

Gap Insurance is a good idea only if you are financing 85% or more of the purchase of a new car. This insurance was created because new cars depreciate so much quicker than the loan is paid down for a period after the car is bought. If the car is damaged beyond repair during this period, insurance will only cover what the car is worth, meaning that the owner would still owe the amount left on the loan. With Gap Insurance, the “gap” between what the car was worth and the remaining amount on the loan would be wiped out or credited towards the purchase of another vehicle.

Credit Insurance

Credit Insurance is similar to expensive life insurance that pays off some or the entire remaining loan in the case of death or disability. Credit insurance is rarely a worthwhile purchase; it is almost always less expensive to purchase life insurance or disability insurance instead.

Umbrella Insurance Policy

Umbrella policies are almost always a good idea to purchase. This style policy works with both your existing car insurance and your home owners or renters insurance to provide additional liability coverage. These policies are usually inexpensive and are a great protection against unexpected problems, like slips and falls on your property, a tree from your yard falling on your neighbor’s, or other expenses that extend beyond your current liability insurance coverage.

If you’d like to know more about taking care of your car in all ways, contact us or call us at 719.632.2167 to talk to one of our trained automotive service advisers.

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.