Monday, November 22, 2010

Save money winterize your car

This is a picture of one of our good friends and long time customers beautifully  restored Chevy truck. Donna has spent a lot of money and time restoring this fine vehicle and takes good care of it.
 Whether your car is a classic or every day driver when the leaves begin to turn colors and a chill is in the air it's time to winterize your ride. This can save you money in the long run and keep you from being stuck out in the cold.

A short list of things to consider checking:
  • Wipers
  • Tires and tire pressure
  • Tire chains if needed
  • Battery
  • Right oil for cold climates
  • Engine heater (for colder country)
  • All of your lights working
  • Engine coolant (most important)
Out of all the things on the list I believe coolant is right at the top. Have your cooling system checked once a year and drain and fill as needed. The new style coolants on the market claim to have the ability to last 100K. Well, don't belive it.  Check and change your green coolant once a year and back flush it every other year or 30K.  Extended life coolant should be changed every 30-40K and back flushed every 50K at least.
Your coolant is the life blood of your engine - proper maintenance will save you money and headaches in the long run.
 Most people don't replace radiator caps.
I have a video on youtube that explains the different types of coolant, how to identify them. Check it out at
Also it doesn't hurt to change your radiator cap when you change your coolant.  Remember don't mix the different types of engine coolant - this can be bad!  If you do mix them you will need to get your cooling system flushed and the proper coolant installed.  There is one kind of coolant that you can mix with everything and get away with it.  It reads "mixes with all coolants" on the label.
Keep and eye on your cars fluids and you will have a happy car and spend less on fixing it and more time out having fun driving her.
Until next time.  Remember, life is a journey not a destination; how will you ride?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Top Ten Ways to keep your car out of the repair shop

With the economy in a bunch and people scrambling to keep hold of their jobs, house, personal property ect. Keeping more money in your pocket is a good thing.   As of 1998:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, out of every dollar American households spend annually, almost 18 cents go to getting around in their communities. Only shelter eats up a larger chunk of expenditures (19¢), with food a distant third place (13.7¢).
This takes in to account a lot of factors that include your automotive repair bill, so saving every penny you can will really make a difference in your total income. We spent a lot on our cars to keep them in good repair.

Here are my "Top Ten Ways" to keep your car out of the repair shop.
  1. Do your required maintenance:  Be diligent and take care of your car and it will be better for your pocketbook in the long run.  Maintenance can be expensive, but it will save you money.
  2. Lube, Oil and Filter: Get your oil changed on or before you should. Good oil is better than cheap oil. I buy economy oil from my distributor but I know who manufactures it.  Just because it is a name brand doesn't make it good; do your research.
  3. Change your coolant:  Regular cooling system maintenance is key to a healthy motor. Don't be fooled by claims of coolant lasting 100K.  Change it every 20-30K and save money.  (Don't mix coolants!) Overheat your engine and you could find yourself with a hefty repair bill of $3,000 or more.
  4. Transmission Service:  Change your transmission fluid and  filter according to the service manual (or sooner) whether it is a automatic or standard transmission.
  5. Don't let your car run out of gas:   Newer cars have electric fuel pumps in the gas tank. These pumps are cooled and lubricated via the fuel running through them. If you run the car out of gas this pump can be damaged and you may have to prime the injector rail to get it to run again.
  6. Brakes:  It's recommended that you change your brake lining and pads every 20-30K miles.  It can be more expensive if you don't have them inspected and serviced as recommended.  If the brakes start to make noise before they are serviced, chances are damage has already occurred that will add to the repair expense.  Also, have your service man do a brake flush on the brake system.  I can't tell you how many cars come through the shop that have dirty brake fluid in the brake system. Changing it will save on parts replaced and save you money.
  7. Service Lights: Service lights aren't just there to look pretty.  They warn of danger or possible failure of important parts of your car.  If a light comes on you should know why and what it means; check your owners manual.  Get to your mechanic and have them look at it ASAP.
  8. Timing Belts : Timing belts are another part that is better to replace sooner than later. No timing belt should go past 100K without being replaced; some sooner than that.  Refer to your service manual or repair shop for the exact replacement mileage requirement.
  9. 30-60-90K Service:  Most 30-60-90-K service is preventative service and maintenance that should be performed when it is required, however this kind of service is a big money maker in a lot of repair shops. So having a mechanic you trust is key.
  10. Rattles and Grinds: If your car is making a funny noise have it checked out! It may be nothing or it could be a disaster ready to happen.
Does it sound like I'm repeating myself a lot? maintenance,  maintenance, maintenance. Yeah pretty much I am. If you keep your car maintained and do the service that is recommended you will save in the long run. I know it's hard for me to do it also,  but in the 31+ years I have been in the auto repair biz the customers that spent more now spend less later! I've seen it over and over!
Remember life is a journey not a destination. How will you ride?
Happy motoring!
David Avery

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No it's not a doughnut maker!

No it's not a doughnut maker!

This is a tow behind paver unit that is being redesigned with a newer power plant for better fuel economy and cleaner exhaust. This is a 3rd generation engine that meets the newer EPA guidelines for clean burning diesel motors. Our friends at RDO equipment the local John Deer dealer here in Poway are doing the refit.

We are their vender for radiator and cooling system work. I got a call from Bill our contact at RDO and he asked me to come and look at the refit he was doing and give him ideas on what to do about the radiator and how it fit in the unit. The old motor inlet and outlet water fittings are placed different so we need to do some creative engineering to make the radiator he has fit the new motor.

It looks like we can move the lower radiator hose connection from facing out to straight down, next we plan to modify the water inlet fitting so a felx hose can be used to connect the radiator to the motor. There may be some size changing on the connections to do and aluminum welding on the water housing but this will be cost affective for his client and will do a good job cooling down the new motor. Looks like the upper fitting will be an easyer fix as we have to change the size of the connection on the radiator and find a hose that will link to the water outlet fitting on the engine.

RDO equipment has done many of these refit jobs and we help them out when ever they call. These guys are pro's at heavy equipment repair.
For questions or answers please feel free to give us a call.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Heater core

This is a heater core from a older Ferrari sports car.The customer complaint is that its not heating the car up like it should so the first thing I did was to "flow check " the core by running water through it and seeing if there is a noticeable restriction. Sure enought it looked to me like it was plugged up so we moved to the next faze of the operation pulling it apart to clean it.
We have removed the bottom tank of the heater by melting all of the solder out of the tank seam and gently tapping off the tank leaving the tubes that Carrie the coolant through the heater exposed so we can manually clean the heater out.

You can see how much this heater is plugged up I would guess it to be 80% restricted.
 The next phase of the process is to clean it out by running a steel rod through the tubes, scrubbing it down with wire brush, and using heat and acid to finish the job.

Here is a picture of the core and tank together.
This is an exotic style of heater core with a baffle down the middle and the tank soldered to it. Most heaters aren't manufactured this way. Your heater in your car is most likly aluminum and not cleanable if you own anything newer than 1995 model (there are some exceptions).
 A bit of advice if you need a heater replaced in your car,  lots of mechanics don't like to do heater cores as it can be labor intensive and it is considered a specialized repair.  Call a radiator repair shop the cost will be much less than that of a dealership as we do hundred's of heaters every year. We also sell new heaters at a lower cost than you will find in most places.
Remember we are here to help an will always answer any questions you might have. Give us a call. Here is a link to our web site. Happy motoring!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

He's back

Monday is here and my radiator man is back to work, still sore but he's here. You sure can tell when someones missing from your business or isn't doing their part especially when you are a small shop. I for one am glad to see  him back.
The red car above is a 03 Honda CRV, it came in with the complaint that he was overheating so an initial inspection showed the vehicle was low on coolant and the fan wouldn't come on as the result so he slowly overheated. I found that the leak was coming from a vacuum sensor tee on the water outlet housing it was loose. Seemed cut and dried all we needed to do was to remove the fitting, clean it and reinstall with a little sealant and he would be all fixed. So I sat down in front of my computer and called up Alldata (an internet based source that provides vehicle manufacturers' diagnostic and repair information) found out how much time this would take as we needed to remove the valve cover and fuel rail to gain access to the leaking vacuum tee. Next I called the customer and gave them a price they agreed and we started the process. About half way in the tech decided it was neccessary to completly remove the water housing to better clean and inspect it and we found the reason the fitting was leaking the housing its self was cracked.

This housing is only available from the dealer and so that means it's expensive. I found all the new parts we need re-calculated the invoice and preceded to call the customer with the bad news (the price almost doubled).
This is one of the toughest parts of my job and it's not good for my business, no one like to have there bill raised and if the amount isn't real large we will just eat it to keep our customers happy. unfortunately this wasn't the case. I call the gentleman and he was upset that his car was going to cost more to fix (as I knew he would be).
Morel of the story is I don't up sell unless I have to. And I know thats not the norm we get customers in on a regular basis that complain about up sales. "We took in our car for a tune up and it cost us $800.00"  Do you think they will be back there? We try and get all the information and call the customer once and only call them back if you have to, this strategy has worked well for us and I don't know why more in our business don't follow suite.