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Van Nuys Auto Repair & Body

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Timing Belt

Ever heard the sad tale of a staggering repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let's take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our timing belt. First, let's review what a timing belt does. The top part of the engine, over the cylinders is called the cylinder head. The head contains the valves. There's at least one valve that lets the fresh air into the cylinder. This air, mixed with fuel, burns to create power. Then another valve or two open to allow the exhaust out of the engine. Each cylinder has 2 to 4 valves - that's 12 to 24 valves for a V-6, up to 32 values on a V-8. The opening and closing of the valves is done by a camshaft. The timing belt uses the rotation of the engine to drive the camshaft which opens and close the valves. It's called a timing belt because it has to be adjusted to rotate the camshaft to keep proper time with the engine so that everything's in sync. The timing belt is a toothed rubber belt . But some cars use a timing chain ... read more

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Tire Pressure Monitoring System

We all know that under inflated tires wear out more quickly. Under-inflation is also a major cause of tire failure. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of under-inflated tires. It's hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufactruer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds. Uncle Sam to the rescue! A new federal law requires manufactruers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System - or TPMS system - in all vehicles by the 2008 model year. Some 2006 and 2007 models already have TPMS. The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25 % below the manufactruer's pressure recommendations. The law covers all passenger cars, SUVs, mini vans and pick up trucks. The system must also indicate if it has a malfunction. This te ... read more

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Tire Replacement

You know you need new tires, but you're not sure what type. You look at a tire to get the size: 225, 50, R, 16, 92, H. All the way to the service center you keep repeating it over and over. You even say it over in your mind while waiting in line. Then you get to the counter and the manager asks what size you need. Then your mind goes blank. Tire size can be confusing. There's so much on the side of the tire, and it's hard to keep straight. Even though there's a lot on a tire - if you know what it all means, it's actually more helpful than confusing. Let's start with the size number. For example, let's say a tire reads: 225 50 R 16 92 H. The 225 part is the width of the tire in millimeters - the width between the sidewalls of an inflated tire with no load. The 50 is the aspect ratio - the ratio of the sidewall height to the tread width. Off-road tires will have a higher number and high performance tires will have a lower number. The R signifi ... read more

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Upsizing Wheels and Tires

At AutoNetTV we love doughnuts. So let's pretend you have three doughnuts right in front of your for our discussion of upsizing wheels and tires. Hey, don't eat them now - your going to need them later. Many people want to accessorize their car - you know, make it theirs. One of the easiest ways to get a custom look is to get some new wheels. There are thousands of wheel designs out there to get you the look you want. And for many, that look includes bigger wheels. It used to be that cars came from the factory with 15 or 16 inch wheels. Now 16, 17 and even 18 inchers are standard. And the factories are offering optional wheel packages up to 20 inches or more. So let's talk about what to consider when you want to upsize your wheels. It's not exactly a do it yourself project, so you need to know a thing or two before you get started. The most important term to know is rolling diameter. Th ... read more

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Wheel Balancing

So you love our job, and your family life is great: You have achieved balance. But can you the same for your wheels? You can tell if your tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it's a back tire, you'll feel the vibration in your seat. Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the tire technician will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it's too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 MPH, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's where you get your vibration. Most people are surprised at how smoothly their car rides ... read more

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Winter Prep Service

When winter approaches, we break out the sweaters, coats, boots and mittens. We want to be ready for winter conditions. Your vehicle needs to be ready for winter as well. The last thing you want is to get stranded out in the cold. You need your vehicle to be safe and reliable. It's a good idea to get caught up on any neglected maintenance items anytime - but the stakes are higher in the winter. There are some specific things that we need to do to have our vehicle ready for winter. The most obvious is having the antifreeze checked. If the antifreeze level is too low, it can't properly protect your engine, radiator and hoses from freezing. If your car does not seem to be making enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze level may be low or you could have a thermostat problem. Get it checked out. If you are due for a cooling system service, now is a perfect time to have it done. In the cold months we always worry about being able to st ... read more

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Winter Tires

What type of technology do you use? Do you prefer an 8-track tape or an iPod? When it comes to winter tires, much of the public's perception dates back to when 8-track was the best way to listen to the Bee Gees. Twenty years ago, winter tires differed from highway tires only in their tread design. We called them snow tires back then and they had big, knobby lugs that were designed to give good traction in deep snow. They had the same rubber compound as regular tires and they weren't very good on ice, packed snow or wet roads. They were not even very good on dry roads. They really helped in deep or loose snow, but they did a poor job the rest of the time. They were loud and rode hard. You couldn't wait to get them off in the spring. Then all-season tires started to come along. All-season tires are really a compromise between summer and winter performance. They have acceptable hot weather ride and ... read more

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Transmission Service

Let's talk about transmission service. It can be easy to forget about getting your transmission serviced because it doesn't need it very often. It's easy to remember to change the engine oil - you know, every 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But proper transmission servicing keeps your car running smoothly and helps you avoid costly repairs down the road. The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit you see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatrues. Usually it's 100 to 150 degrees higher than engine temperatrues. Those high temperatrues eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and loose efficiency. As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn't lubricate and cool the transmission as well - leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of flu ... read more

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