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

HIGH MILEAGE CAR CARE

According to Edmunds.com, owners are keeping their cars longer than they did a few years ago, a trend that is expected to continue until the economy rebounds. The U.S. Department of Transportation says an average car should last about 13 years and 145,000 miles before its scrapped. As a vehicle’s ages, its performance decreases and oil starts to break down at a faster rate. Over time, seals begin to deteriorate; gaskets become brittle, leaks become more prevalent and oil consumption increases — all leading to a reduction in engine performance. As more of the nation’s cars exceed 75,000 miles and approach the 100,000-mile mark, regular maintenance becomes an increasingly important way to prevent costly car repairs.  As a vehicle ages it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. Don’t rely solely on more general recommendations, and certainly not the “dealer’s recommended schedule,” which will cost you more than necessary. Following the manufacturer’s schedule carefully not only means fewer problems as a car ages; it also prevents the manufacturer from ever voiding your warranty based on “neglect.” Also make sure you keep records of all maintenance and repairs for your vehicle. These maintenance schedules work for vehicles getting normal use, but many people put extra stress on their vehicles. Manufacturers will also provide a severe use maintenance schedule. Any of the following qualifies as “severe” use, which may require shortening the normal maintenance cycle: Towing.  Off-road driving.  Driving through dust storms or in dusty conditions.  Frequent, short (less than 5 miles) trips or frequent stops and starts.  Cold climate operation. Some other tips to help make your vehicle...

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...

SUPER-HUMAN? NO, THAT’S THE WONDER OF POWER-STEERING

Pint-for-pint, the one or two quarts of power steering fluid required by your car is probably some of the least appreciated fluids under the hood. Considering what it does, and how much a motorist depends on it, we’re talking about the lifeblood of your steering system. Yet keeping it clean and doing its job doesn’t require all that much effort. Servicing it involves draining or flushing out your car’s old power-steering fluid and then adding fresh power steering fluid. Mike Bumbeck of Automedia.com explains that the power steering system brings together the strength and power of hydraulic pressure with the mechanical miracle of steering linkages. The power steering pump pressurizes the power steering hydraulic system. The power steering fluid runs through hoses and by way of valves, and plungers or pistons move the mechanics of the steering back and forth as you turn the wheel. Regardless of the vehicles set-up, the power steering system will fail if the pump cannot generate the pressure required to push the steering parts of the suspension back and forth. The fluid is the cheapest component of your power-steering system. Changing it can help to prolong the life of other, more expensive power-steering components such as the power-steering pump and the stratospherically expensive power-steering rack. The function of power-steering fluid is basic: it transmits hydraulic pressure to make steering easy while protecting and lubricating parts at the same time. These demands take their toll on the fluid and break it down, which can lead to inconsistent performance and expensive component failure. You should change the fluid as outlined in your owner’s manual but otherwise...

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...

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...