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

A Breath of Fresh Air- Your Cabin Air Filter

If your vehicle is model year 2000 or newer, there’s a good chance it is equipped with a cabin air filter. You may not have known that such a part existed in your vehicle, much less if it ever needed to be changed. But still, a cabin air filter is an essential part of your car’s ventilation system that removes pollutants from the air before they get inside the passenger compartment. Cabin air filters clean the incoming air and remove allergens – especially beneficial to pregnant women, seniors, children or people who suffer from allergies. Cabin air filters also prevent leaves, dirt, bugs and other debris from entering the HVAC system and negatively impacting the operation of the heater, air conditioner and defroster. During every day use of your vehicle, contaminants, such as pollen, dust, mold spores and smog, can easily enter a vehicle’s passenger compartment through the air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems, making the air in the car six times dirtier than the air outside, according to the Car Care Council. A dirty or clogged cabin air filter can cause containments to become so concentrated in the cabin that passengers actually breathe in more fumes and particles when riding in the car compared to walking down the street. If the cabin air filter is not replaced, it can also cause musty odors in the vehicle, and over time, the heater and air conditioner may become damaged by corrosion. Motorists can protect themselves and their passengers from these containments by replacing the vehicle’s cabin air filter at least every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or at least once a...

Celebrate Earth Day with some Car Care

With April being National Car Care Month and Earth Day on April 22nd, motorists now have the ideal occasion to make sure their vehicles are environmentally friendly and running efficiently to save money at the gas pumps, according to the Car Care Council. “Poor vehicle maintenance directly impacts the environment, with 10 percent of the nation’s automobiles causing 50 percent of the automotive pollution,” says Rich White, Executive Director of the Car Care Council. “With skyrocketing gas prices, people are wasting more money and polluting the environment if their vehicles are not running properly.” The Car Care Council and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) provide these suggestions for practicing earth friendly car habits. • Drive Green – If you have to drive your car on Earth Day, recognize that how your drive has a lot to do with fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Jerky and aggressive driving decreases your miles per gallon (MPG) and increases wear and tear on your vehicle. Minimize unnecessary miles by combining errands in one trip. • Regular Maintenance – Regular maintenance and changing filters (oil, fuel and air filters) will help your car pollute less and burn less gas. Simply changing the car’s air filter can improve efficiency by 10 percent. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. • Lighten the Load – Get the junk out of the trunk and the stuff out of your car, with the exception of emergency items such as a spare tire, flares and a first-aid kit. Extra items weigh the vehicle down and cause an...

Air Filters

The purpose of the engine air filter is to clean the air used by the engine. Since it draws this essential air in from outside the engine, small particles of dust, dirt, oil and even small obstructions like gravel have a way to get inside the engine. We often find pet food in air filters in the winter months as mice take it back to nests made in the air filter housing. Regardless, once inside, these particles can contaminate engine oil and act as an abrasive, causing premature engine wear. To prevent this, air filters are installed on all modern engines. The filter is designed to catch all of these particles and deposits. A dirty air filter can also cause other systems to run ineffectively, such as your emissions control system, which regulates the car’s air-fuel mixture. A dirty air filter can also cause your spark plugs, which ignite the fuel in the combustion chambers, to foul, as there will be too much fuel without enough air; if your spark plugs foul, you may have problems keeping your car running. You may also find that with a dirty air filter you will have decreased engine performance and possibly increased fuel consumption. However, a study done by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2009 commissioned by the US Department of Energy, found that a clogged air filter on newer fuel injected vehicles had no affect on fuel efficiency, but it did decrease performance. Tests did find that by changing a dirty air filter on an older carbureted engine could improve fuel efficiency by 2-6 percent. Because these contaminates accumulate over...

Belt And Hoses

Belts and hoses are vital in keeping your vehicle running. If a belt snaps or hose blows it can result in an overheated engine and cause additional damage to the engine or other components. Belts Whether serpentine, V-belt or fan belt (the belts on the outside of the engine), they all transmit power from the front of the engine to accessories that need to be driven, such as the air conditioning, the charging system and fans. Belts can break down with heat, mileage and age and many belts that look as new on the outside have become dangerously weak on the inside and may be on the verge of failure due to weakened inside cords. Replacement belts must have the same width and length as the original. This is especially important with serpentine belts that rely on an automatic belt tensioner to maintain belt tension. Belt tension is critical with both V-belts and serpentine belts. It must be adjusted properly and maintained for good belt performance, quiet operation and long life. If a serpentine belt on an engine with an automatic tensioner has failed prematurely or appears to be slipping, the automatic tensioner should be inspected and replaced if it is sticking, frozen or has a broken spring. On applications that do not use an automatic tensioner, belt tension must be adjusted to specifications, and then readjusted after a short break-in period. Hoses Hoses transport the various fluids such as fuel, brake fluid, coolant to and from their destinations. Typical wear and tear is due to vehicle age, mileage, belt tension, electrolytic corrosion, oil contamination, or failed hose clamps....

Care of your Diesel- Filters and Injectors

Diesel is one of the least refined products that is created from a barrel of crude oil and therefore does not have a very long shelf-life. The sludge that forms coats the walls of the fuel tank, plug your fuel filters, adversely impact combustion efficiency, produce dark smoke from the exhaust, and impact performance. Maintaining clean fuel injectors and replacing fuel filters at the recommended intervals will help keep the engine running at peak power and performance, improves fuel mileage, and cuts down on harmful exhaust emissions.     Fuel contaminants such as dirt and water are often more problematic in diesel engines than in gasoline engines. Water can cause serious damage possibly leading to the corrosion of the fuel injectors and fuel pump; and dirt, even very fine particulate matter, can damage the injection pumps due to the close tolerances that the pumps and injectors are machined to. All diesel engines will have a fuel filter; new vehicles often will have two, and a water trap. The water trap often has a float connected to a warning light, which warns when there is too much water in the trap, and must be drained before damage to the engine can result. The fuel filter must be replaced much more often on a diesel engine than on a gasoline engine, changing the fuel filter every 2-4 oil changes is not an uncommon recommendation. Problems can occur in diesel fuel injection systems even with a slight buildup of deposits. Diesel fuel injection services will break down these heavy deposits found in the fuel lines, injector pump, fuel injectors and combustion chambers. This...

Not All Gas Is Created Equal

Everybody is looking for a way to save money, and looking for the best deals when buying gas is a given, however, with cheaper gas there are trade-offs. There is a large range of choice at the pump these days, from discount brands to the more expensive name brands with additives touting gas, emissions and engine saving benefits. Regardless of the brand it must have a certain amount of detergents in the fuel that are approved by the EPA and deemed necessary to keep engines free of deposits. There is some debate as to whether these amounts are enough and because this is a performance based requirement fuel companies have found ways to meet these while using less ‘expensive’ additives leading to different levels of engine protection. Consistent use of cheap gas, choosing a gas station that is not busy allowing gas to sit for long periods, poor adherence to a maintenance schedule and some driving styles can lead to an increase in the accumulation of carbon deposits and other contaminates in the fuel system. For reliable engine performance a clean fuel supply is essential. A clogged fuel filter and/ or dirty fuel injectors caused by contaminates, debris and carbon deposits can lead to poor fuel efficiency, decreased horsepower, rough idle, hesitation, misfire, engine knock, stalling, hard starting or the engine might not start at all. The fuel filter is your vehicles primary line of defense against dirt and debris in the fuel system and replacement is generally considered a preventative maintenance measure as it could potentially save you thousands by extending the life of your fuel pump and...

Feeling Every Bump? Could Be Your Suspension

A vehicle’s suspension is a series of shock absorbing parts and springs that keep your car driving straight, and from bouncing too hard when riding over bumps. It also helps out with the braking process and keeps the body of your vehicle attached to the wheels.   There are two basic types of vehicle suspensions: independent and solid axel. The main difference between these two is that both right and left wheels attached to the same beam i.e. solid axle, while independent suspensions make provision for one wheel to go up or down without affecting the other wheel. Some of the most important parts of a car’s suspension system include tires, shock absorbers or struts, arms and bushings, ball joints, coil springs, and stabilizer bar link. Like most parts on the car, the shock absorbers and/or struts need to be checked regularly as part of the service schedule of the car.   The shocks and/or struts in your car perform two functions. They dampen spring oscillation, and secondly, they aid in ride control. The springs in your car actually absorb road shocks (not the shock absorbers). Struts are usually found on most modern passenger cars as the shock absorber is placed inside the coil spring therefore saving space as it also acts as the wheels control arm and support. This set-up can make it expensive to replace when necessary. Though the usual life of these components is several years, but this is dramatically reduced by regular driving on uneven roads. A quick check you can do to see whether your shocks are in good order is to push down on the front of...

Keeping on the Straight and Narrow

Does your vehicle feel like it has a mind of its own, wandering all over the road or constantly pulls to one side? This is a symptom that indicates something is wrong and should be dealt with as soon as possible to make driving safer and more enjoyable instead of feeling like you have just wrestled a ton of metal on your daily commute. There can be a number of causes for why your vehicle seems incapable of going in a straight line ranging from the simple to the more complex or expensive. 1. Incorrect Tire Pressure. The vehicle will tend to lean towards the tire that has the lower pressure. Correct by making sure all tires are at the correct pressure. You can find this on the sticker on the inside jam of the driver’s door or in your owner’s manual. 2. Roads are designed to be raised or crowned in the middle so rain water will run off to the outside for proper drainage. But the slight slope to the pavement can often make a vehicle drift to the outside. This can be countered by adjusting the alignment of the left front wheel slightly. 3. There are three measurements for your vehicles alignment to be within the manufacturer’s specifications – camber, caster and toe. Something may be out of whack with one or all of these measurements. You should have your vehicles alignment checked at least once a year and/or when you purchase new tires. 4. Tires of differing sizes, tread wear and tread patterns can affect handling. When purchasing tires be aware that there are even differences...

Basics of Alignment- Camber, Caster, and Toe

Alignment Normal wear and road conditions can take their toll on your car’s steering and suspension system, possibly throwing alignment settings out of specifications. Therefore the alignment should be checked periodically on an alignment machine that takes readings to make sure everything is within specifications. Your alignment should be checked if you are experiencing uneven wear on your tires, experiencing any kind of steering or handling problem, and it may be required when certain steering and suspension components are replaced. An alignment can help to maximize tread life on a new set of tires and ensure optimum handling and traction for driving safety. Typical service recommendation for an alignment check is annually or when you purchase new tires. Be sure to ask for a four-wheel alignment. This is because all four wheels influence directional stability, steering and handling and should be considered a must for all AWD, 4wd, front wheel drive and minivans as well as rear-wheel drive cars with independent rear suspensions. There are 3 specifications that are checked in an alignment service: Toe Toe is probably the easiest measurement to understand. If you look down at your feet and turn your toes inward this is toe-in, turn your toes out, this is toe-out. Most vehicles are intentionally slightly pigeon-toed. The best tip-off to a toe problem is a saw-tooth wear pattern that’s equal on both front tires. If the tread blocks point toward the frame, then toe-in is excessive; pointing outward indicates too much toe-out. You may also find that incorrect toe angle is causing the car to pull left or right. Camber Camber is the measurement...

Water Pump- The Heart of the Cooling System

Think of the water pump as the heart of your vehicle cooling system. Its job is to continuously circulate engine coolant through the cooling system – from the radiator to the engine and then back again. If the water pump fails the cooling system itself will fail to function. Your vehicle will run hot and possibly suffer serious damage from engine overheating. Fortunately, a water pump that is about to give up the ghost will “bleed” – leak coolant. It may also make noise as its bearing loses its way. Telltale signs of a failing water pump are coolant leaks originating from the water pump itself or the surrounding engine area. A wet engine or a coolant weep through the vent under a water pump are also sure signs of impending water pump failure. Another red flag is if the water pump is making more noise than usual. This may be from a defective impeller or an impeller that’s no longer properly attached to its drive shaft. Finally, if you see your temperature gauge on the dash jump into the red, this is another good sign there is a failure in your cooling system. Pull off to a safe location and turn the engine off, driving any further with an over-heated engine will cause expensive damage fast! When it comes to water pump longevity, they actually tend to last a long time. Since a water is either working or not, replacement is a matter of necessity rather than preventive maintenance. On the other hand, since often times much of the cooling system or even the engine may need to...