Tips to Keep Your Battery Running in the Summer Heat

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Most people associate the winter months as being more problematic for their vehicle’s battery but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Higher temperatures may help out with your battery’s capacity, making turning the engine over easier, the extra heat can also expediate the deterioration process for your battery as its current conduction grids will erode at a quicker rate which reduces the unit’s lifespan.

The rate of “sulfation” – the build-up of lead sulfate crystals – is also increased with higher temperatures. When your battery becomes sulfated, its charging power is affected and its cranking power is reduced.

Here are a few tips to avoid problems this summer:

Go Premium. Using a high-quality batter such as an Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) will cut down on the risk of sulfation or other issues such as parasitic drain.

Keep it Cool. By simply parking or storing your vehicle in a temperate location such as a garage, the life of your battery can be extended significantly.

Stay Active. An inactive battery will be more susceptible to parasitic drains so be sure to start your engine regularly and keep the juices flowing.

Power Electronics Down. Electronics are the main cause of battery drainage so make sure that your electronics are properly shut down when you exit your vehicle.

Charge! Batteries need to be charged properly in order to ensure they’ll sustain themselves for the length of their expected lifespan so be cognizant of your unit’s charge level and add some juice if need-be.

Your vehicle’s battery is critical to its health so be sure to follow the above suggestions this summer to keep your car running optimally. Give our ASE-certified technicians a call at 719.632.2167 if you have any further questions or if you’d like to schedule an appointment!

Car Care Tips: Air Filter Maintenance

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

With National Car Care Month taking place in April, it’s as good a time as any to learn more about certain vehicle components, including your air filter! Here are some facts about air filters to consider this month:

• Much controversy surrounds how often an air filter should actually be replaced

• Some repair facilities will try and get you to buy one with every oil change,

• While some have believe that it rarely needs changing

• NEITHER of these are correct!

• Changing the filter too frequently adds NO extra benefit, while not changing it at all can CAUSE problems.

• You can see in your owner’s manual EXACTLY how often they recommend that you change it,

• OR you can have a repair facility that you TRUST examine it and give you their EXPERT opinion.

• A good rule of thumb is to replace it every 10,000 miles or every 3rd or 4th oil change,

• But if you drive in dusty or smoggy conditions then it will require replacement more frequently

• Based upon past numbers, on average 16% of vehicles have had a dirty air filter in need of replacement

• It is a good idea to have your vehicle fully inspected TWICE a year, once for summer and once for winter, by a reputable shop.

If you have any questions about your air filter or any other component in your vehicle, give us a call at 719-632-2167 – we’re always available to help keep Colorado Springs drivers safely on the road!

Spring Tire Check

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Spring weather can often create unpredictable road conditions on the roads in El Paso County. Before you hit the roads this month, take five minutes to perform a quick tire check and make sure your vehicle’s tires are ready for any challenge they might be forced to contend with:

Check your tire pressure. Temperature swings can affect the tire pressure by 1 PSI for every 10 degree change. Be sure to check the manufacturer owner’s guide for the correct inflation – it isn’t always the same as the pressure listed on the tire.

Check tire grooves. Rocks, nails, and other objects can become stuck in the tread as you drive, so remove these objects and look for damage. In rainy conditions, your tires need at least 1/8” of tread to prevent hydroplaning. To check your tread, simply insert a quarter in the groove upside down – if you can see George Washington’s head, your tread is too low and it may be time to replace your tires.

Check the sidewalls. A quick visual inspection may help you spot potential problems for your tires. Look for thinning patches, especially uneven wear, that may put you at increased risk for a blow out on the roads. Cuts, bulges and other such irregularities can indicate a serious problem.

Check the spare. Even though it’s hidden in the trunk of your vehicle, don’t forget about your spare tire! The last thing we want to happen is to be stranded on the side of the road after a blow out because the spare is flat too!

Check the alignment, balance & rotation. Irregular wear of the tires can be a sign for a probably with the alignment or might been your wheels’ balance is out-of-whack. It also means your tires will need to be replaced prematurely. Checking your tires regularly will help you spot issues early, but make sure to include alignment inspections as part of your routine car care.

If you have any questions/concerns about your tires’ health this spring, call our team at 719.632.2167 or stop by the shop at 210 South 8th St. in Colorado Springs – we’re dedicated to keeping you safely on the road year-round!

Check Your Oil

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Every responsible car owner knows it’s important to change your vehicle’s oil. But between oil changes, it’s a great idea to periodically check your motor oil.

This is an easy thing to do yourself – at home or on the road. Chances are you already have everything you need in your car! Just follow the steps below for peace of mind on the road.

1 – Locate the dip stick.
Most vehicles have a clearly labeled oil dipstick located near the engine. Check your owner’s manual if you can’t find it by looking under the hood, or stop by our shop and one of our certified technicians will help you through this process.

2 – Wipe it clean.
Use a clean rag or paper towel to wipe the dipstick clean. Be sure to use a lint-free material, as lint left behind on the dipstick could contaminate your oil. Now you have a clean tool to measure your oil.
3 – Insert into the pipe.

The dipstick should slide in easily, but may get stuck if the pipe curves. Don’t force the stick through. The metal often will naturally bend in one direction, so try the other angle. Once you’ve reached the bottom, pull the stick back out.

4 – Look at the level.
The oil will leave a film behind on the dipstick. Take a close look at how much oil is in the engine. Most dipsticks have lines or marks indicating full and low levels of oil. If the oil level is low, bring it into the shop as soon as possible. Low levels of oil indicate a leak, and should be addressed right away.

5 – Check for dirty oil.
The color of the oil doesn’t always tell the full story, so rub a small amount of the oil between your fingers. If it leaves behind a dark smudge or dirt, it’s time for an oil change. Call to set an appointment or drop by our shop anytime.

Clean and working engine oil is critical for keeping your car running safely on the roads. If you’re finding low levels of oil and dirty oil frequently between oil changes, this could indicate a problem. Bring your vehicle into our shop for an inspection – our technicians will check for leaks and other issues that could be affecting your engine oil.

Call us today and our technicians will teach you what you need to know, things to look for, and how to check the oil in your vehicle! 719.632.2167.

Braking in Cold Weather

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Winter is definitely in full swing here in El Paso County with chilly temperatures on the horizon for the foreseeable future. While the frigid weather and various forms of precipitation that tend to proliferate along the Front Range at this time of year present rather obvious challenges to your vehicle, some of the more dangerous threats to road safety are of the unseen variety.

Consider your emergency brake. As you’re parking in cold weather, the emergency brake may be at risk of freezing.

The emergency brake is controlled by a cable from the interior lever to the brake itself. This cable is enclosed in a protective sleeve, but the system isn’t impervious to threats.

As you park for an extended period of time, this cable may freeze in place. When you disengage the lever inside the car, the frozen cable may not be able to release the brake.
If this happens to your vehicle DO NOT drive! Driving while the emergency brake is engaged can cause serious damage to your vehicle’s wheels, tires, brakes and more.

Instead, wait for the temperature to warm up or call our team at 719-632-2167. We’ll help you know what to do next and avoid damage that could come from a frozen emergency brake.

On freezing days and nights, it may be best to avoid using the emergency brake if possible. For automatic vehicles you may choose to not use it at all. If you drive a manual car, park on level ground and leave the vehicle in gear. Park in a warmer, protected area like a garage or covered parking if possible.

On cold mornings, watch for warning signs of a problem with your vehicle. If there’s a change in the way your vehicle drives, loss of control, or difficulty steering the vehicle, pull over right away. Anytime you notice a strange noise, smell, or change, have your vehicle brought in for an inspection.

Our ASE-certified technicians will thoroughly inspect your vehicle to make sure it will keep you safe on the winter roads in Colorado Springs. The scariest winter issues are the ones you may not notice until it is too late. We’ll help you catch these issues and warning signs before they cause damage to your vehicle. To schedule your next appointment, call us at 719-632-2167!

Windshield Maintenance Tips

Posted & filed under Auto Repair Tips & Helpful Strategies.

Given that visibility is essential to safe driving, especially during the winters months, keeping your vehicle’s windshield in good shape is extremely important.

By simply taking the time to maintain your windshield’s health, you’re reducing the odds of encountering an accident or driving off the road. Some tips on how to keep your windshield in good shape can be found below:

Keep the Glass Clean. Make sure you top your washer fluid off whenever you take your car in for maintenance and always have a trusty ice-scraper on hand during the winter. You should also keep a cloth in your car in case you need it and make use of the squeegees available at service stations when you gas up.

Keep your Wipers Fresh. As soon as your wiper blades start to show signs of wear and tear, they should be replaced ASAP to prevent harmful scratches from appearing on your windshield.

Repel the Rain. By utilizing a rain repellent spray on your windshield, you can greatly improve your visibility during rainy days. These treatments are typically less than $10/bottle so this is an easy, inexpensive way to make your car safer.

In addition to keeping your windshield clean, you should also make a concerted effort to keep your headlights clean as you rely on these heavily to keep your visibility good during the winter months as well. The days are short at this time of year so you need as much help seeing the road as possible!

If you have any concerns regarding your vehicle’s health or how you can improve your visibility this winter, give us a call at 719-632-2167 – our ASE-certified technicians are here to answer any and all questions you might have!

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