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

What’s In Your Emergency Roadside Tool Kit?

Break-downs are never convenient but having some basic tools at your disposal can help you get to a safer location or failing that allow you make the scene safer for yourself until help arrives. So if you are driving these holidays, even if it is no great distance I hope that you have checked on or prepared your emergency roadside toolkit. The list below provides a few items that should be included. Flashlight- There are all sorts of flashlights available in today’s marketplace, but it’s tough to beat some of the machined aluminum jobs out there. Always be certain the batteries are fresh  and keep a spare bulb in place, you never know when a bulb will expire. Tool Kit- You can buy pre-packaged emergency tool kits. Or you can make your own. Essentially, you don’t need to pack tools to overhaul the car on the side of the road. Instead, think about items like a pair of pliers, flat blade screwdrivers in two different sizes, a Phillips-blade screwdriver, a good quality adjustable wrench, a pair of vise-grips, a set of wire cutters (preferably with a wire stripping option), a pocketknife and perhaps a small ball peen hammer. Add a roll of mechanic’s wire; a small roll of electrical wire, several spare fuses, a roll of electrical tape and you can fix a number of roadside maladies. Wrap everything in a small sports bag and you’re done (and likely at a cost that’s less than half of a commercial kit). First-Aid Kit- A small 8-10-person first-aid kit can cost less than $20 and will include the majority of what you’ll need in...

Where’s The Heat?

It is cold outside and hopefully your heater is working as it should. Heaters work off the warm air absorbed by the radiator from the warmed-up engine. If your cold-day car ritual is to turn up the heat and blower right after you turn the ignition switch, all you’ll get is cold air. Only once the engine warms up will the passenger compartment warm up as well. So what is the cause if that warm air never arrives? Below is a laundry list of possible causes as to why you may be left sitting in the cold. Coolant is low. If you’ve just recently changed the  antifreeze, check the coolant level in the radiator to see if the radiator is full. An air pocket in the heater core or hose may be interfering with the flow of coolant through the heater core. You should also check for obvious leaks and have them repaired as necessary. An open thermostat or one that’s too cold for the application. A defective heater control valve. This valve allows coolant to circulate through the heater core even when the heater isn’t being used. A plugged heater core. Accumulated crud in the cooling system may plug the core and block the flow of coolant. The only cure here is to replace the heater core. To prevent the problem from reoccurring, the cooling system should be flushed and refilled with a fresh 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. Distilled water is best since it contains no minerals. An inoperative airflow control or inlet door in the heater ducting or plenum. If the defrosters aren’t working either,...

Getting A Grip On Winter Driving

With the end of daylight savings and a definite chill in the air, you may be thinking about your winter tire options. As a brief overview there are 2 main winter tire choices, studs, studless, and then there are “all season” tires. Each has their benefits and constraints and your choice should be based on what conditions you mainly drive in. An easy way to make sure the tire you purchase is rated as a winter tire is to look for the “snowflake-in-a-mountain” symbol on the sidewall of the tire. A good set of winter tires on all four wheels regardless of whether your vehicle is front, rear or all wheel drive will improve handling and traction on snow and ice. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and in fact most owner’s manuals recommend installing four winter tires so you maintain the most balanced and controlled handling possible in all winter driving conditions. It is imperative to keep the same level of traction at all four corners of the car; otherwise, the full benefits of ABS or traction control systems will be lost. Below is a quick list of pros and cons of each type of winter tire. All Season Tires Pros: Can be used all year round Cons: Does not provide enough traction in snow or icy conditions Studs Pros: Good traction on ice and hard packed snow Cons: Loud, do not handle well on wet or dry pavement, damages roads. Additionally, studded snow tires are only permitted on Nevada roads between October 1st and April 30th Studless Pros: Good traction in all winter conditions, quiet, remain flexible in...

Winterizing Your Vehicle

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. As I’m writing this the forecast was for only a slight chance of precipitation, but winter driving conditions are here and can be harsh and there is no worse time for your vehicle to break down. A few simple checks and simple preparedness can help to keep your vehicle running smoothly this winter. These suggestions are taken from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the AAA. Cooling System – The primary function of the cooling system is to keep the engine from overheating. The system should be flushed and refilled as recommended by your owner’s manual. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. The AAA recommended protection level is -36 degrees. Heater/Defroster – must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Windshield Wipers – Replace old blades. Rubber-clad (winter) blades will help to fight ice build up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you’ll be surprised how much you use. Remember to carry an ice-scraper. Battery – Have checked for corrosion, cracks and dirt and to make sure it still operates as designed and then have it cleaned or replaced if necessary. Lights – Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses with a moistened cloth or towel. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag. Brakes – Nothing is more important than your car’s ability to stop itself and if your brake pads are worn you will not be able to stop your vehicle when you need to. You can check for brake pad wear by...