Christensen Automotive | Gardnerville 775.782.2605 , Carson City 775.882.8888, Reno 775.322.8100, South Lake Tahoe 530.544.9940, Fallon 775-423-5455

KEEP THOSE WHEELS SPINNING

First a Happy 4th of July to everyone, and I hope you are all keeping cool out there and enjoying the holiday and maybe even a 4 day weekend. It is the perfect opportunity for those with boats, RV’s, travel trailers etc. to get and enjoy the “warm” weather. A quick question though. When was the last time you had your trailer inspected and wheel bearings checked/serviced? If you do not remember now is a good time. In general, wheel bearings in your car should be checked about every 24,000 miles or 24 months, but you should be inspecting and lubricating your trailer tires at least once a year, especially if it is a boat trailer. Every wheel on every vehicle or trailer spins thanks to smaller wheel bearings. They allow the wheels to spin with minimal friction and they support the vehicles weight. While, all wheels have them, not all of them are serviceable: some are sealed while others are pressed onto the axle-shaft or integrated into the hub assembly. However, many front axles and most trailer axles have removable bearings that must be kept lubricated as part of normal maintenance. Boat trailers are especially susceptible to premature bearing death because the axles are normally submerged while unloading and loading the boat. Most bearings are engineered to last over 100,000 miles, however constant load can take a toll and if a seal is damaged all bets are off.  If a wheel bearing fails prematurely, it is usually a result of maladjustment, contamination or loss of grease. The weak link in the system so to speak is the seal. Once...

Spring Car Care

With a taste of warmer temperatures to come and blossoms appearing around the valley, spring is starting to make an appearance and marks the perfect time to take care of preventative maintenance services for your vehicle. April is also Car Care Month promoted by the Car Council and is the perfect time to take care of the wear and tear issues of winter driving and prevent breakdowns in the heat of summer. The National Association of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the Car Care Council suggest the following tips for Spring Maintenance:   Read your owner’s manual and following the recommended service schedule. To prevent engine overheating, summer’s number-one vehicle problem, make sure your engine’s cooling system is in top shape. Consider having your cooling system flushed and check the level, condition, and concentration of the coolant. If you are doing your own work, make sure the engine has cooled down before removing the radiator cap. Check the condition of belts, hoses and clamps for tightness, wear and tear. Have engine performance problems like hard starts, rough idling, and stalling corrected. You’ll get better gasoline mileage and you can catch minor problems before they grow into more expensive repairs later on. Have a marginally operating air conditioner system serviced, checked for leaks and if needed recharged by a qualified technician. Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Let the tires “cool down” before checking their pressure. Uneven wear, ‘cupping,’ vibrations, or ‘pulling’ to one side indicates problems with your tires or suspension system. If you have been driving on winter tires, it may be time to have them...

Taking Care of those Joints

There are joints all over your vehicle and they provide the same service in your car as they do in your body, allowing parts to pivot and rotate for a greater and smoother range of motion. Joints are commonly found in the under-carriage of the car in suspension and steering systems. While in many new cars these joints are ‘sealed’, meaning that they do not need periodic greasing or maintenance, they should be checked regularly as part of your maintenance program to make sure that there is no excessive wear or movement and that the protective rubber is not torn, cracked or missing altogether. Signs of impending joint failures are a clicking or metallic crackling noise while turning and accelerating or a clunking upon deceleration or after hitting a bump. The Ball Joint can also bind and cause a tight spot in the steering travel. Grinding and any sort of vibration are also clues that there could have an issue. You should have any unusual noises or vibrations checked by a qualified automotive repair technician as soon as possible. Universal Joints (U-Joints)  U-Joint ends are both shaped like “U’s” hence the name and they swivel and bend around each other allowing the driveshaft to follow the motions of the differential and axle as the suspension moves. Most U-joints on newer vehicles are “sealed”, but many replacement U-joints as well as the U-joints on older vehicles do have grease fittings which allows the joint to be lubed periodically. Constant Velocity Joints (CV Joints)  All CV joints are enclosed by a rubber or hard plastic boot. The boot keeps grease in...

Caring for your Automatic Transmission

The transmission is one of the hardest working systems and one of the most expensive to replace if it fails. Symptoms of an issue with your transmission include: slipping, hesitation, bucking, grinding gears and difficulty shifting. According to the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association, 90% of ALL transmission failures are caused by overheating. And most of these can be blamed on worn out fluid which should have been replaced. At elevated operating temperatures, Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) oxidizes, turns brown and smells like burnt toast. As heat destroys the fluid’s lubricating qualities and friction characteristics, varnish begins to form on internal parts which interfere with the operation of the transmission. At higher temperatures the transmission begins to slip and rubber seals begin to harden, which lead to leaks and pressure losses. Any number of things can push ATF temperatures beyond the system’s ability to maintain safe limits: towing a trailer, mountain driving, driving at sustained high speeds during hot weather, stop-and-go driving in city traffic, “rocking” an automatic transmission from drive to reverse to free a tire from mud or snow, etc. Problems in the cooling system itself such as a low coolant level, thermostat or water pump, an obstructed radiator, etc., will also diminish ATF cooling efficiency. Most vehicle owner’s manuals do not specify a change interval for ATF, unless the vehicle is used for towing. The vehicle manufacturers say their fluids can go upwards of 100,000 miles under normal driving conditions. Yet most transmission experts say regular transmission fluid flushes and filter changes every 25,000 to 30,000 miles or every 2 years can significantly prolong the life of the transmission....

Servicing a manual transmission

The manual transmission system is pretty simple in comparison to its automatic cousin. Their gears are located along parallel shafts inside the transmission housing. Power flows when gears are meshed. During gear changes, or when the car is stationary and the engine is idling, a clutch is used to interrupt the flow of power from the engine to the transmission. However, if you are experiencing issues the symptoms are similar to the automatic, and include: slipping, hesitation, bucking, grinding gears and difficulty shifting. Unlike the automatic however, where you actually have to flush the fluids with a machine for preventative maintenance. The manual requires a simple, in comparison, drain and fill of the transmission fluid. Most manufacturers recommend that manual transmission fluid be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Under heavy-duty use, such as towing or stop-and-go traffic, some manufacturers suggest changing transmission fluid every 15,000 miles. This is because the transmission fluid provides lubrication to gears, bearings, shafts, and other internal components. Heat, pressure and friction can slowly breakdown the additives in the manual transmission fluid and contamination occurs over time as the synchronizers, bearings and gears in the transmission wear out. The resulting metal particles then float around in the lubricant. And we all know that oil with microscopic particles of metal in it does not lubricate as well as clean oil. So if these contaminants are not drained out, they will shorten the life of your transmission. Checking the transmission fluid in a manual transmission can be difficult. A few thoughtful manufacturers have included a dipstick, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. If you...