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Following Recommended Intervals

If you're reading this article, then you are probably a CA driver that cares about your car and how it runs. Even though you care, there is still that moment of dread when your service technician tells you the manufactruer recommends some additional service. Your heart beats a little faster, your blood pressure rises. You worry about spending more money than you expected. And you worry that if you say "no" you might be harming your car or compromising safety. At the risk of sounding like your dad, you really should have done your homework. All of this stuff is in your owner's manual. But it is not like you want to keep your maintenance schedule on your nightstand for bedtime reading. Cars are complicated machines and it takes care to keep them running well. That is why manufactruers have maintenance schedules that explain how to keep your vehicle performing efficiently and prevent costly break downs. In ... read more

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Brake Service

Brakes really aren't optional equipment. And taking care of them isn't optional either. A regular brake inspection is on every car's maintenance schedule. An inspection will check your brake system and let you know if there are any problems. Of course, if you're having trouble with your brakes, get your car into a Van Nuys or Sherman Oaks service center right away. And watch out for these problems: Low or spongy brake pedal Hard brake pedal A brake warning light that stays on Constantly squealing or grinding brakes Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply your brakes There are two types of brakes: disk and drum. Disk brakes have a rotor that's attached to the axle. Calipers straddle the rotor, kind of like the brakes on a bicycle. Drum brakes are more common on back wheels. Pads, called shoes, push against the inside of the drum to slow the vehicle. There are several things that need to be serviced on the brake system. First, the brake pads and shoes wear out with use, and becom ... read more

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Custom Wheels and Tires

It seems like everywhere you go around Los Angeles you see custom wheels. Big trucks, little cars, mini-vans - it doesn't matter, people are expressing themselves with custom wheels. Some people want smaller tires and wheels - some want larger - and some want them enormous. So where do you start if you want new wheels? We suggest you start with your budget. We know, that sounds so practical. But if the look you're after goes beyond just new tires and wheels and enters into the world of suspension modifications, you need to be prepared for the additional cost. Let's start with something easy - you want to give your ride a unique look and the stock wheel size is just right for you. One of the concerns you will have is that the new wheels have the same offset as your factory wheels. First, what is offset? The wheel bolts onto the hub on the car's axel. The distance from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on, is the offset ... read more

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Fuel System Cleaning

Is your car sometimes hard to start? When you turn the key, does it hesitate or stutter? If so, the problem could be the result of a dirty fuel system. Your car's fuel system starts with the air filter and ends in the top of your engine. Over time, different parts of the system get dirty, which robs you of performance and hurts your fuel economy. Most of today's cars have fuel injectors, rather than a carburetor. Fuel injection systems have fewer problems and require less adjustment. But they still need to be properly maintained. This is why your owner's manual has a schedule for cleaning your fuel injectors and other parts of your fuel system. Some CA drivers are interested in buying fuel system cleaners that you can pour into your gas tank. You can do that - and there are lots of great products available that can help maintain an already clean fuel system - but these product ... read more

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Headlamp Replacement

Like everything automotive, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. We can all drive more safely at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility down the road, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as the country's population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome. Most new cars come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on the road, they're very bright and have a bluish tint. From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many people complain about HID ... read more

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Keys to a Long Lasting Vehicle

We're living in a disposable society. Everything from elaborate packaging to our clothing. Even cell phones are disposable. When replacement is cheaper than repair, the term "built to last" goes by the wayside. An exception is our vehicles. They're still a very big investment and we want to make them last as long as possible - and we want to make keeping them as cheap as possible. When talking cars, it's all about preventive maintenance. There is an old saying that says, "a stitch in time saves nine" and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your car. A great example is coolant service. Your coolant not only protects your engine from overheating and freezing - it must also protect cooling system components from corrosion. Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That's why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule. The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air condition ... read more

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Vehicle Warranties

If you own a CA vehicle with a warranty, beware! Many dealers and manufactruers suggest that you need to get your maintenance services at a dealership in order to keep your warranty. That simply isn't true! You can have your vehicle serviced at your trusted, local service center without affecting your warranty. A federal law, called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, prohibits a manufactruer from voiding your warranty just because you got parts or services from a non-dealer. In fact, a manufactruer can't require you to use their brand of oil filters, lubricant, or any other part in order to maintain your warranty protection. This protection is true for aftermarket extended warranties purchased on new or used vehicles. This protection also applies to leased vehicles. There are similar laws in Canada as well. If a manufactruer can prove that the replacement parts or service lead to a vehicle failure, they can void a portion of the warranty. Of cours ... read more

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Make Your Vehicle Last

We live in such a disposable society. It's amazing all the stuff we throw away. New stuff comes out so fast, we just toss the old and move on. In the old days people were real sticklers about taking care of their things. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough - they had to do without. Most people couldn't afford new cars very often, so they had to make them last as long as they could. It's a good thing that cars are more reliable these days. They just don't break down as often. And the good news for us CA penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles/320,000 km with proper care. The engineering and the manufacturing quality is tremendous. The missing ingredient is us Van Nuys car owners making sure we follow the manufactruer's recommended maintenance schedules. Every time you go a couple thousand extra miles between an oil change, you have created an opportunity for sludge to be formed and clog passages. Then some p ... read more

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PCV Valve Replacement

The energy from exploding fuel is what powers your engine. But some of the vapors from the explosions escape into the lower part of the engine, called the crankcase. The crankcase is where your engine oil hangs out. These gases are about 70% unburned fuel. If the gases were allowed to stay in the crankcase, they would quickly contaminate the oil and turn it to sludge. Sludge is one of the biggest enemies of your engine, clogging it up, eventually leading to expensive failures. Also, the pressure build up would cause seals and gaskets to blow out. Therefore, these gases need to be vented out. Gasoline engines used to simply have a hose that let the poisonous fumes vent out into the air. In 1963, the federal government required gas engines to have a special one-way valve installed to help reduce dangerous emissions. Diesel engines are not required to have these valves. The positive crankcase ventilation, or PCV, valve routes crankcase gases through a hose and back into the air intake sy ... read more

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Serpentine Belt Replacement

Don't you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator-which charges the battery, the water pump-which cools the engine, the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components. Serpentine belts are especially tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. But, with time they wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You have to stop the car or it will overheat, potentially causing major engine damage. And it probably won't be at a convenient time or place. You might even need to get your car towed to a Los Angeles automotive service center. That is why manufactruers recommend a belt replacement on ... read more

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