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Engine Air Filter

You may have found yourself in the following situation: You go to get your oil changed and the service adviser recommends you get a new engine air filter. You say yes, but because you didn't know what an air filter is or what it does, you were too embarrassed to ask. First of all, you did the right thing by getting a new one. And, you should never be too embarrassed to ask for more information. It's your money and you have a right to understand what you're paying for. Let's review what an air filter does. Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside right now? Can you see the smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone with hay fever can tell you that there's plenty in the air that you can't see. Well, it's the engine air filter's job to clean that air before it goes into your engine, to mix wit ... read more

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Service Center Standard and Procedures

All pilots have checklists for every aspect of flying. They always use their checklists even if they only have two steps on them. They do this simply because a checklist is a great way to not forget important steps. It is also how you can assure a predictable outcome. That is why Sherman Oaks and Encino automotive service centers have procedural standards for each service they perform. Technicians are trained step by step. And they perform the procedures step by step, the same way each time. By training to procedural standards, centers can assure a quality outcome. The job is done right every time and you are happy with how your car performs. Each company trains its technicians to standards. The industry as a whole is very committed to standards of excellence and encourages individual service center operators to apply them to every vehicle they service. An example is how service technicians grade problems and communicate their recommendations. If a technician tells you that a repair ... read more

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Service to Improve Fuel Economy

The price of gas has got everyone talking. It seems that people who need a bigger vehicle to carry family and gear, or provide four wheel drive, are especially hit hard. That is why we thought it would be good to review some things that anyone can do to improve fuel economy. First let's start with how we drive. People may not realize that they can really save on gas by just changing a few driving habits. One of the biggest is jackrabbit starts - you know, flooring the gas as soon as the light turns green. That really wastes a lot of fuel. Building up your speed at a slower pace uses less fuel and is easier on your engine and drive train. And don't drive with one foot on the brake. That's also a drag on fuel economy, and it wears out your brakes faster too. Another thing is to drive slower - but only when it's safe. Sometimes on the highway we drive an extra five ... ten . . . twenty ... over the speed limit. We do it to save time ... read more

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Severe Service Requirements

A lot of our viewers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their car owners' manual. It can be confusing. Let's clear the air on this subject. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufactruer of automotive products and fluids. She's been in the automotive business for 20 years and is a speaker, a trainer, and a writer. Cricket says there's so much confusion on this topic because, "Most owners' manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called 'regular service' and 'severe service'. Sometimes they're simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement, and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time. Manufactruers create these specific schedules for each vehicle they make. So there isn't on ... read more

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Shocks and Struts

If you're like most of us, you want your car to handle well. That's the job of your suspension system. There are different types of suspension systems, but they all work on the same basic principles. First, there are the springs, which bear the weight of the car. The most common springs are coil or leaf - although we see air springs and torsion bars more often. The springs do most of the work. But if all you had were springs, your vehicle would be bouncing around like a bobble head. That's where the shocks come in. They control the rebound of the springs and smooth out the up and down motions. They also keep the tires on the road, and you in control. Some cars use struts. Struts are a combination of shocks and springs, together in a more compact system. Shocks wear out slowly over time, so it's hard to notice when they get badly worn. One way to tell is to look for an uneven, cupping wear on your tires. If the shock or strut is leaking fluid, i ... read more

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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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