Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
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.
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.
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.
What Apple Valley Automotive Service Consumers Should Know
Date: January 29, 2014 9:43 AM - Category: Service Standards
There are some things Apple Valley consumers should know about Apple Valley automotive service and repair. First and foremost, Valley Auto Care cares about you and your family’s safety. And we really appreciate your business. Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley wants to build a trusting relationship that becomes the foundation for a mutually beneficial experience for years to come.
Building on that foundation, there are some things that would help you understand the auto service and repair business better. First, it can be really hard to fix cars. The days of shade tree mechanics are long gone. The majority of automotive systems are computerized. It takes a lot of training and very expensive equipment to diagnose and repair modern vehicles. The technicians that work for Valley Auto Care need extensive computer training – not just how to run the diagnostic systems, but also searching for the right parts, networking with other technicians to help them with a difficult problem and pulling together a job order that makes sure that each step of the process is addressed.
The threshold for getting started as a technician gets higher all the time and there is a huge commitment to on-going training every year. This training takes time and money. It contributes to business overhead. The average Apple Valley or Burnsville driver may not realize the business and environmental regulations Valley Auto Care must comply with. Of course that costs money too. Like any business, overhead is a big factor.
When you go into a Apple Valley restaurant you don’t value the meal by what the food would cost at the grocery store. The restaurant has rent, wages, insurance, taxes, utilities, professional fees, equipment, supplies – you get the picture. The restaurant has to charge enough to not only pay for the ingredients, but for all these other things as well while making enough profit to remain in business. If you value the meal and are satisfied with your dining experience, you’ll come back and tell your friends.
It’s the same for Valley Auto Care. The value of its service is not the cost of the parts they replace, but in your satisfaction with the results. If they deliver a good product at a fair price, Apple Valley customers are happy to see them succeed as a Minnesota automotive business.
Contact Valley Auto Care to learn more about our extensive auto service training. You can find us at: 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 Or call us at 952-431-2700
Your Apple Valley service center loves to see its customers whenever they come in, but they would much rather see them three or four times a year for routine maintenance than once a year on a tow truck. They want to work together with you to avoid breakdowns. Tell your Apple Valley area friends and family to go in for their scheduled maintenance too. That lowers the service center’s marketing costs and helps keep its labor rates down. That’s good for everyone.
Valley Auto Care appreciates this great review of automotive service from AutoNetTV.
The Valley Auto Care Guide To Vehicle Diagnosis
Date: January 21, 2014 4:43 PM - Category: Diagnostics
Modern Apple Valley vehicles have several computers on board that control all kinds of things like engine functions, transmission shifts, traction control, anti-lock brakes, stability control, emissions – and on some vehicles, even steering, braking and the throttle.
Think about that for a minute – things that used to be controlled by simple mechanical connections now have electronic controls that rely on computers, software and sensors. It’s no wonder that when something goes wrong with their car it can be pretty complicated for Apple Valley motorists to track down the source of the problem.
To help your Valley Auto Care technician figure out what’s wrong, your car is equipped with on-board diagnostics. The Check Engine Light comes on to tell you there’s a problem and the engine management computer stores a trouble code. Your experienced Valley Auto Care service specialist connects a scan tool to your vehicle’s diagnostic port and retrieves the trouble codes as well as other important data.
Trouble codes are like clues for the Apple Valley technician to follow as he diagnoses what’s wrong with your car. In a way, it’s like going to your Apple Valley doctor with a problem. She’ll run some additional tests and gather the information she needs to make a diagnosis and form a treatment plan. How much a vehicle diagnosis costs at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley depends on how much time it takes to sort out the symptoms and find the underlying problem.
Give us a call
Valley Auto Care 952-431-2700 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124
Commitment to Make Your car Last At Valley Auto Care
Date: January 14, 2014 12:43 PM - Category: Maintenance
For advice on how to make your car last longer, visit us at Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
These days many people in the Apple Valley area are really committed to making their cars last a long time. First thing: you've got to start with what you've got. It'd be ideal if people started with a brand new car, never missed a scheduled service item, paid attention to the severe service maintenance schedule and had regular inspections. But if you've had the vehicle for a while, or bought it used, its maintenance history is what it is; and that's where you start.
Go through the maintenance schedule for your car and see what's been done and when. Have your Apple Valley service advisor at Valley Auto Care do an inspection and come up with a list of stuff that needs to be done. Review the list and prioritize the work, talk about budget and make a plan to get caught up.
Making a plan is so important. Suppose you go in for an oil change and learn you need your cooling system serviced, a transmission service and are coming up on a timing belt replacement in the next 5,000 miles. You might be pretty overwhelmed.
To make it even more stressful, these are all very important systems that are expensive to repair if there's a failure. In consultation with your Apple Valley service advisor, you might decide to take care of the transmission on this visit, set an appointment for the cooling system service next month and get an estimate for the timing belt replacement so you'll be prepared for it in a few months.
Having a plan for taking care of these important services will set your mind at ease.
Save Fuel By Watching Your Weight
Date: January 14, 2014 9:15 AM - Category: Fuel Economy
Most Apple Valley auto owners are all talking fuel economy right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. Minnesota folks want to save the environment and our pocketbooks.
And we Apple Valley drivers all know — or should know — that preventive maintenance will help maintain maximum fuel economy. But is there something more we can do? After all, some of us Apple Valley motorists can’t cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.
Weight is one major enemy of fuel efficiency. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get from Apple Valley to Apple Valley to Burnsville. And that means buying more gas and producing more emissions.
Of course, your vehicle’s weight isn’t negotiable. And you can’t do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn’t an article about diet and exercise.
But look around your car. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight around Apple Valley? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your Apple Valley neighborhood? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don’t. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.
The same goes for anything else in your car: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing; whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it; store it when you don’t.
Clean out your vehicle. You’d be surprised how much weight you’re lugging around in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food, and regular old dirt. Even if it’s not a lot of weight, you’ll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.
Now, don’t toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire — the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in the car when you go on a longer trip, but you don’t have to lug it around Apple Valley all the time.
After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur? Lose the junk and save some money.
Fuel System Cleaning at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley for Better Performance
Date: January 2, 2014 2:49 PM - Category: Fuel System
A fuel injector is a valve that delivers fuel to a vehicle’s engine. It has to deliver the precise amount of fuel, to precisely the right place, precisely when the engine needs it. The fuel also has to be mixed with air before it can burn in the engine.
Fuel injectors are engineered to spray fuel in a specific pattern into the engine. (The pattern varies by engine type and design.) In order to achieve these spray patterns, the fuel must be pressurized.
The pressure in a fuel injection system varies depending on its type. Many gasoline engines use port injection systems, which operate with a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. Newer direct injection systems operate at 10 to 30 times that pressure. Some diesel passenger vehicles have fuel injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch.
Vehicles have one fuel injector for each cylinder in the engine. Your vehicle’s control computer constantly monitors the engine and various sensors in the vehicle and adjusts the fuel injectors accordingly so that they can deliver the proper amount of fuel to the engine. As you can see, fuel injectors are a sophisticated and vital part of your vehicle’s engine.
Because fuel injectors are such precision instruments, dirt and contaminants are a serious detriment to their performance. When an injector gets gummed up, it affects the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel delivery. The result is a decrease in fuel economy and loss of engine performance.
So it’s key to keep your fuel injectors clean. That starts with keeping the fuel in your tank clean. High-quality fuel contains detergents and additives that help clean your engine. Brand-name Minnesota fuel companies also deliver a more consistent quality of fuel than do bargain stations in the Apple Valley area.
The second way to keep your injectors clean is to keep your fuel filter clean. This filter screens dirt and rust out of the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine. If the filter clogs up, fuel will bypass it and carry its load of dirt into the engine.
Check your owner’s manual or Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley to find out how often you should change your fuel filter. This should be part of your regular preventive maintenance. Also, remember that if you use bargain-brand or low-grade fuels, or if you drive an older vehicle, your filter will need to be changed more often.
You can also purchase cleaners that will protect your fuel injectors. These cleaners are added to the fuel tank. They work best at preventing build-up in your fuel injectors and can clean up small amounts of carbon, gum and varnish. But they won’t be able to clean a fully gummed-up injector. Read the labels before using any of these products for full directions on their use.
If your fuel injectors are gummed up, you can get a professional deep cleaning service at Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley that will result in better fuel efficiency and improved vehicle performance.
Good car care will prevent serious damage to your fuel injector system. And this is one system that you want to keep in perfect condition.
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.