Auto Service Resources.

Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.

Fuel Injection: It Keeps Getting Better for Apple Valley Drivers

Date: April 15, 2014 9:23 AM - Category: Fuel System

Apple Valley auto owners know that engines need to burn fuel to operate. Fuel is pumped from your fuel tank to your car engine where it is squirted—or injected—into your engine’s cylinders. This is the function of the fuel injectors.

There are two ways to inject fuel into an engine. Fuel needs air to burn, so in the first method, fuel is injected into a port and allowed to mix with air and before it is drawn into the cylinders. In the second method, fuel is injected directly into the cylinders and mixes with air after it enters the car engine.

Direct injection engines burn fuel more efficiently than conventional car engines. Some models can deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.

For example, in one family of engines, the conventional version (a V6) delivers about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version delivers over 300 horsepower and gets about the same gas mileage. The turbocharged version delivers 350 horsepower.

Fuel Injection: It Keeps Getting Better for Apple Valley DriversWhy the big difference in power? Direct injection systems allow fuel to be squirted into the car engine at hundreds of times the pressure of a conventional engine. This atomizes the fuel better (breaks it down into tinier droplets), which means more of it gets burned, which translates to more power for your engine. It also results in cleaner emissions.

Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver the right amount of fuel at exactly the time the car engine needs it. They are also engineered to inject fuel with a specific spray pattern. This spray pattern allows for maximum fuel efficiency and proper atomization. Direct injection engines require a much higher degree of precision than conventional engines. For this reason, they are equipped with more sophisticated computers.

When fuel injectors get dirty, their precision drops off. The spray pattern won’t be precise, and the timing of fuel delivery may be off. This decreases fuel efficiency and gas mileage as well as delivering less power to the engine.

Apple Valley drivers should understand that fuel injectors are not cheap to replace. Direct injection fuel injectors are even more expensive. And we’re talking a mortgage payment to buy a set of new fuel injectors for a diesel engine.

So keeping your fuel injectors clean is just good auto advice. The best way to do this is to change your air and fuel filters regularly and practice other habits of good car care and preventive maintenance. Cleaning additives in your fuel can also help.

If you do end up with gum or varnish in your fuel system, you’ll need a professional fuel system cleaning. This will clean out your whole system, including the injectors. The good news is that with proper maintenance, Apple Valley auto owners will enjoy better fuel efficiency and their fuel injectors will last for a long time.

Give Your Engine Clean Fuel With A New Fuel Filter From Valley Auto Care

Date: April 1, 2014 5:53 PM - Category: Fuel System

Your car requires plenty of clean fuel to run. If your fuel contains contaminants, your fuel injectors will eventually become clogged up. When this happens, your car engine may not get the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure to run at peak performance. This hurts gas mileage and performance as you drive around Apple Valley. It can also lead to the buildup of harmful deposits on valves and in the combustion chamber.

That’s why all vehicles, including cars, come equipped with a fuel filter somewhere between the engine and the fuel tank. Give Your Engine Clean Fuel With A New Fuel Filter From Valley Auto CareThe job of the filter is to clean out little pieces of dirt and contamination. The filter captures the contaminants and keeps them out of the fuel stream. Of course, like all filters, it will eventually get clogged up and need to be replaced at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley .

If your fuel filter is clogged, the car engine can’t get all the fuel it needs, and it may sputter at high speeds or quick acceleration. Many fuel filters have a bypass valve that will allow unfiltered fuel through when they are clogged. This keeps your car engine running, but doesn’t protect it from harmful contaminated fuel.

Apple Valley motorists may find that they need to change their fuel filter at Valley Auto Care more frequently as their car ages. Over the years, additional sediment and dangerous rust accumulates in the fuel tank and can be drawn into the fuel system. Your fuel filter stands guard at the gates to your engine to protect costly parts and to maintain performance and fuel economy.

Emergency Items For Apple Valley car owners

Date: March 27, 2014 12:21 PM - Category: Safety

Safe Minnesota travel starts with preventive maintenance and good car care at Valley Auto Care. But there are other things Apple Valley drivers can do to prepare for emergencies on the road. Here’s some auto advice that can help you plan for emergencies, and just may save your life — or someone else’s.

First, Apple Valley drivers should consider keeping an auto emergency kit in their car. The kit should contain items that will allow you to deal with common emergencies on the road.

Some important items you should carry in your car include jumper cables (or a booster box), flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools. Other useful items include gloves, two quarts of oil, some antifreeze, water and everything you need to change a tire. You might also consider a can of tire inflator, which is a great temporary fix for minor flats.

But taking care of your car is only part of emergency preparedness. It is critical to take care of the people in the car, too. For this reason, you should carry a first aid kit, drinkable water and blankets. Other items to consider include high-calorie food items (like energy bars), toilet paper, a towel, a hat and boots. And, of course, when you travel in Minnesota and out-of-state you should always have your cell phone, some emergency cash and a credit card.

Depending on where you live, you may need to add other important items to this list. For example, sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra water would be good to have on hand in a hot climate. For the cold and snowy Minnesota season, some salt, a hand shovel, emergency blankets and matches might be in order. Also, if your Minnesota area is prone to severe weather or earthquakes, you should check with your local Red Cross or disaster preparedness office for their recommendations on what to keep on hand in your car for emergencies.

When you travel away from your Apple Valley home, you should check the weather forecasts before you leave, and pack appropriate emergency supplies. Also, do some research about the areas you will be traveling through so you can be prepared for the climate and terrain. Remember the basics: heat, water, shelter, light, and food.

When you travel, it is vital to leave your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Check in periodically at prearranged checkpoints. That way, if something does happen, someone else will quickly know you are in trouble and will be able to send help. These checkpoints will also help rescuers find you quickly, as they will have a better idea as to where you are.

The automotive professionals at Valley Auto Care want Apple Valley drivers to be safe
. Preventive maintenance, proper planning, smart communication: these are the basics of safe travel.

Getting the Right Tires And Wheels In Apple Valley

Date: March 20, 2014 7:44 AM - Category: Tires and Wheels

A lot of people get custom wheels in Apple Valley. When you do this yourself (over the internet . . .) you could run into trouble if you’re not careful. Sometimes, once they’re mounted, they just don't fit right. The tires rub in turns or on bumps. You don’t want that.

Consulting your Valley Auto Care tire professional can ensure you get the right fit. First he’ll ask you a series of questions about your Apple Valley driving needs and what you want in your new wheels. Now, not every wheel can go on every car. Care must be taken so that tires and wheels are not too large or that the wheel is centered too far towards the outside or the inside so the tires rub.

If you don’t want to make any modifications to your car, you would need to focus on the wheels that would fit. With trucks, some Apple Valley people like much bigger tires so they need a suspension lift.

Also, most Apple Valley drivers don’t realize that you need to keep the rolling diameter of your new tires – that’s, like the overall height of the tire – very close to what came from the factory in order for your car anti-lock brakes and stability control systems to work properly.

The computers that control these systems are calibrated to a certain size tire. When you go bigger or smaller, the computer doesn’t know what changes you made so it can’t tell how fast you’re going. This, of course, means it sends commands to the brakes and traction control that are based on the wrong speed. If you go with a different rolling diameter, your car engine control computer can be reprogrammed for the new tire size.

Either way, there are hundreds of wheel and tire choices to choose from in Minnesota. You can pick the style of wheel you want and then talk with your experienced Valley Auto Care tire professional about how big the wheel should be – and how to select the right tire for your car. Your Valley Auto Care service advisor will help you find the best tire to meet your style, performance, ride and handling needs in Apple Valley.

The Right Fluids for Your Vehicle

Date: March 14, 2014 3:08 PM - Category: Fluids

Apple Valley car owners' current vehicles have over a century of engineering behind them. They have evolved into complex and powerful machines. Developments in their engines, however, have coincided with advances in many other vehicle components, including the fluids.

It’s key for Apple Valley motorists to always use the right type of fluid for their car. Your service advisor and your owner’s manual are resources for auto advice on exactly what types of fluid your vehicle needs. Improper fluids can damage your vehicle and void your warranty.

Some of the fluids that have changed significantly in recent years are cooling system fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and motor oil. Each of these comes in many varieties now, and it’s key to know exactly which one your car needs.

Cooling systems were once made of iron, steel and rubber. One coolant could be used to protect all of these materials. But new cooling systems have components made from a variety of metal alloys and several kinds of plastic, and coolants now contain additives that protect these various materials from corrosion. Since the materials vary among vehicle manufacturers, they require different additives, which means there are now a number of coolants on the market. The type of coolant your car needs depends on the materials used in its cooling system.

Most vehicles used to require Dot 3 brake fluid. But now many vehicles need Dot 4 or Dot 5. Some Apple Valley auto owners mistakenly think the higher numbers reflect an increase in grade—that Dot 4 is somehow better than Dot 3. But the truth is, the numbers represent variations in formulation. The different formulas have evolved to meet the demands of newer and better brake systems. For a long time, transmission fluid came in two varieties: regular and friction-modified. But transmissions have come a long way recently, and so have the fluids that protect and lubricate them. There are several new types of fluid on the market, but your car is designed for just one of them.

Of all the automotive fluids, motor oils have experienced perhaps the greatest advances in engineering and technology. A number of new weights and formulations have recently been developed to meet the needs of modern engines, which have more parts and tighter tolerances than ever before. Engines have become more sophisticated and complicated, but they have also increased in power and fuel efficiency. Despite these changes, Apple Valley auto owners still need them to be highly durable.

That’s the job of motor oil. Motor oil still has to perform its original, vital function—lubricating and protecting the engine. It is formulated to help clean the engine as well. Modern motor oil also has to be thin enough to penetrate small engine passages yet still be resistant to vaporization.

Specialized motor oils have also been developed for high-mileage vehicles. If your car has 75,000 miles or more on it, you might consider switching to one of these motor oils. They contain extra detergents that help clean older engines and important additives that condition seals and gaskets that can become brittle with age. High-mileage motor oils come in weights and types just like regular motor oils, and Apple Valley motorists should match the proper weight and type of high-mileage oil to their vehicle in the same way you would regular motor oil.

Over time, vehicles have developed in complexity and variety, and their fluids have developed as well. Each vehicle is matched to a set of fluids that meet its specific requirements. Minnesota vehicle owners should take care to learn their car’s fluid requirements before topping off at home. A large part of preventive maintenance for Apple Valley car owners is making sure your vehicle’s fluids are clean and adequate, but they must be the proper type as well. As our cars become more sophisticated, car care becomes more sophisticated as well.

Learning about proper fluids for your vehicle will help you maintain its performance and prolong its life. Talk to us at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley.

Apple Valley Drivers Severe Service Maintenance Schedules

Date: March 5, 2014 1:52 PM - Category: Maintenance



Since driving requirements and lifestyles differ among Apple Valley car owners, car auto manufacturers publish two auto maintenance schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. Which schedule should Apple Valley auto owners follow?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are most of your trips less than four miles around Apple Valley?
Are most of your trips less than 10 miles in below-zero Minnesota temps?
Are most of your trips off-highway in Minnesota?
Do you drive often in dusty Apple Valley areas?
Do you regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads around Apple Valley?
Do you drive in very hot or very cold Minnesota weather?


Think about your typical week. Do you live by your nearest Apple Valley highway on-ramp and enjoy a non-stop commute to Apple Valley or Apple Valley? Or, do you drive the neighborhood car pool in stop-and-go traffic on Apple Valley surface streets?

Let’s suppose your owner’s manual says the severe service oil change recommendation is 3,000 miles and the standard recommendation is 5,000 miles. You know that you need to change the oil somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. Analyze your driving patterns and Apple Valley weather and road conditions to determine which end of the spectrum you’re closer to.

Why should Apple Valley car owners care about this? Normal condensation causes moisture accumulation in the engine oil. Short trips around Apple Valley or winter driving means that the engine doesn’t heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate. The water in the oil turns to dangerous oil sludge that clogs up your engine and doesn’t let the oil protect it adequately. That’s why Minnesota motorists need to change their oil more often – to clean the sludge out before it causes problems.

Carrying heavy loads (with or without a trailer) in pleasant Minnesota summer weather causes your engine and transmission to run at higher temperatures and with more stress. The fluids will break down more quickly. Additives that clean and prevent harmful corrosion will be depleted sooner. Air pollution and dust cause fluids to get dirty faster. Ditto for filters. All of these things can lead to premature wear and eventual repairs, not to mention your gas mileage. If you want some expert advice, talk with your experienced Valley Auto Care advisor. We can help you restore your car to good working order and help you know the best schedule to follow.

To learn more, watch our informative AutoNetTV auto video tips at the top of this post.

Valley Auto Care
952-431-2700
7125 151st St. West, Suite 105
Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124

The Valley Auto Care Guide To Caring For Your Transmission

Date: February 28, 2014 10:20 AM - Category: Transmission

Most cars and trucks have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Apple Valley car owners only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Apple Valley. You started out in a lower gear and shifted to higher gears as you went faster. Down shift for hills, stuff like that. Think of your legs as the engine – there’s an ideal speed you can pedal and you change gears to leverage the work you’re doing.

Lower gears for power on hills or for starting out. Higher gears for more speed. That’s what the automatic transmission does – it automatically starts in lower gears and shifts up to higher gears to go faster on Minnesota interstates. And automatically shifts back down to climb Apple Valley hills, pass or start up again.

car automatic transmissions have certainly gotten more sophisticated in recent years. They have more speeds than before: the base is four speeds, five is very common.

At Valley Auto Care, we routinely service transmissions with six speeds and several have seven or even eight speeds. As you can imagine, this means more parts. Any they all have to fit into roughly the same space.

Transmissions are computer controlled these days, with some high end transmissions having two or three computers. Transmissions are engineered to last. But they are also engineered to tighter tolerances. If a portion of the transmission is starved for lubrication, it can lead to failure.

Not enough fluid can starve the transmission or dirty transmission fluid can clog small passages in the transmission, then the lubricant is blocked and can’t get to all the parts to protect them, so they wear out prematurely. The technicians at Valley Auto Care see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.

And, as you can imagine, repairing one of these new transmissions at any Apple Valley service center can be quite costly. That’s why auto manufacturers have a schedule for how often you should change the fluid and what type of fluid to use.

It’s really important for Apple Valley car owners to carefully follow the manufacturer’s transmission service schedule.

At Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, we hope you never become shiftless in Apple Valley because you didn’t take care of your transmission.

Automotive Detective Work In Apple Valley

Date: February 21, 2014 11:21 AM - Category: Diagnostics

There’s a reason we use the word “diagnose” when we talk about fixing cars in Apple Valley. Figuring out what’s wrong with your car has a lot of similarities to figuring out what’s wrong with someone who is ill. Vehicles are a mass of complex systems that can produce a variety of symptoms when something goes wrong. As with human diagnoses, a specific symptom may be indicative of a number of problems, and figuring out the specific cause takes training and experience.

Sometimes the diagnosis of your car’s trouble comes down to a matter of trial-and-error. This can be frustrating for Apple Valley car owners because time and money are on the line. You may feel you should only be paying for repair work. Of course, you only want to pay for the right repair – and a proper diagnosis is part of getting it right. Like at the Apple Valley doctor’s office — some of what you pay for is the doctor’s time and effort to figure out what’s wrong with you, not for the actual cure.

The good news is that Apple Valley drivers can do a lot to help out their experienced Valley Auto Care service professional in figuring out what’s wrong with their car. Again, the medical office is a good analogy. The more information you can give your doctor about where it hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts, the more quickly he will be able to help you. In the same way, the more you can tell your Apple Valley service technician about when the problem occurs, what is sounds like, how often it occurs, where it occurs, etc., the more efficiently he will be able to get you back on the road.

Good auto advice: learn how to talk to your Apple Valley service professional.

If fluid is leaking from your car, you should note the color of the fluid, where under the car the puddles form, and when they form (e.g. only when it’s parked for a while, only if the engine’s hot, when the weather turns cold, etc.). For example, if your car is making an unusual sound, you should indicate where the sound is coming from, what kind of sound it is, and when you hear it (again, be very specific). The more details you can give, the more helpful you will be. “I hear the sound when I turn left” is more helpful than “I hear the sound when I turn.” After a few conversations with your Valley Auto Care service advisor, you should get a feel for the kind of information he needs.

If you drop your car off, leave a detailed note describing information about your car’s problem. A quickly scrawled “Making a funny noise” will only lead to frustration for both your technician and for you. Good communication leads to better car care for Apple Valley car owners.

If your car is occasionally stalling or sputtering, you may need a little more patience than with other types of car trouble because these types of problems are intermittent. In order to fix the trouble, your technician often finds it helpful to reproduce the symptoms. And if the problem is intermittent, it may take a while to do so.

In these cases, specific information can be invaluable, as it can significantly reduce the time it takes for your experienced technician to get your car to misbehave. For example, if you can tell your technician that the vehicle only acts up after it’s been driven for 20 minutes and over 50 mph, it will allow him to quickly reproduce your problem, greatly reducing the time it will take for a car diagnosis in Apple Valley and then get it repaired.

Good preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping your car out of the Apple Valley repair shop, but if you need to get it fixed, good communication will get you back on the road quickly.

Valley Auto Care Helps You Decipher The Menu Board: Part 2

Date: February 13, 2014 1:31 PM - Category: Maintenance

Apple Valley service centers have a menu board that lists the services they provide. Some Apple Valley drivers may not be familiar with all of the items on the board so here is a quick description of some of the typical services that might be listed.

Valley Auto Care fuel system cleaning: Over time, the car fuel system gets gum and varnish built up. A fuel system cleaning gets rid of that and cleans out the fuel injectors. Saves gas, by the way.

Valley Auto Care headlamp replacement: Halogen and standard headlamps gradually fade. It’s usually good to change them every year or so.

Valley Auto Care inspections: Apple Valley drivers get inspections for many reasons. Maybe they’re going on a trip or just want to make sure their vehicle’s ready for Minnesota summer or winter. Maybe they just bought a used car and want to give it the once over. An inspection may reveal some things that are broken or are getting close to having a problem.

Valley Auto Care oil change: – there are several options: Some Apple Valley centers offer just an oil change and new filter as an option. Most will also check and top off all of your other fluids and do a quick visual inspection with a full service oil change. In my way of thinking, the full service option is best because it makes sure you have adequate fluids and may uncover an emerging problem. There may also be options for higher mileage fluids or an upgrade to synthetic oil.

Valley Auto Care PCV valve replacement in Apple Valley:
PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve. It’s a little part that releases pressure from the engine. It can get gummed up and that can lead to engine damage. Just needs to be changed now and then.

Valley Auto Care power steering service: Often overlooked. Your experienced Valley Auto Care technician will evacuate the old fluid, clean out the system and replace it with clean fluid. Keeps the car system running well for a long time.

Valley Auto Care serpentine belt service:
That’s the belt that powers the car engine’s accessories like the alternator, air conditioner, power steering and brakes. You’ll want to replace the serpentine belt before it breaks, because that’ll shut you down.

Valley Auto Care shocks and struts: This starts with an inspection of the suspension components. Shocks last a long time and wear out slowly, so many Apple Valley people don’t notice when it’s time to change them. If they’re worn or leaking, they need to be replaced.

Valley Auto Care transmission service:
This involves removing the transmission fluid and replacing it with clean fluid. It’s like an oil change for your transmission.

Valley Auto Care tire rotation and wheel balancing: The tires are rotated from front to back using the recommended rotation pattern. This helps tires wear more evenly. Wheels need to be balanced from time to time to keep them turning without any wobble or bounce. Helps the ride and saves tire wear.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

Date: February 7, 2014 10:13 AM - Category: Monitoring System

 

The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Apple Valley auto owners and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most of us Apple Valley car owners.


Let’s get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your check engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause important engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive at Minnesota freeway speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Apple Valley service center.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two. If the light doesn’t go off, schedule an appointment with your experienced Valley Auto Care tech to get it checked out.

Some more Apple Valley information on how the Check Engine Light works may be informative for Apple Valley motorists. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.

In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range the computer runs some tests and may turn on the car's Check Engine Light.

A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn’t know if it’s a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine Light.

Now when you tighten up the gas cap the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn’t come up again, it turns off the Check Engine Light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it’ll then turn off the Check Engine Light.

If the problem can’t be resolved then the light will remain on and you should get your car looked at. Your experienced Valley Auto Care service advisor will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.

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Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley MN helps people and their vehicles throughout Apple Valley and along Cedar Ave, County Rd. 42, Galaxy Ave, and 160th St. We work on all vehicles including the following manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Mazda, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, GMC, Cadillac, Mercury, Lincoln, Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Plymouth with most auto service needs including: Tires, Wheels, Brakes, Transmission, Tune-Up, Computer Diagnostics, Engine Codes, Suspension, Shocks, Struts, Alignment, AC, Clutch & more.

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