Driving to Flagstaff for Some R&R

Weekend Getaway: Flagstaff

Ready to get in your car or truck and take off for a mini-vacation?  There are so many places all within a few hours of Lake Havasu that have fun activities and, best of all, have lower temperatures, especially Flagstaff, Arizona.

Arts & Music

The Flagstaff Art’s Council lists some significant events.  Labor Day weekend festivities on Thursday night with the power duo of Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle out at the Pepsi Amphitheatre at Fort Tuthill. They are a perfect blend to team up for a tour of shows. Given their separate backgrounds as singer-songwriters in folk music and more. For another folksy kick of live music, be sure to check out the Honey Dewdrops at the Arboretum at Flagstaff on Saturday.

Of course, it’s also ArtWalk week. First Friday, September 7, downtown Flagstaff will be bustling with new shows by local artists.  There’s lots of live music, vendors and open shops on the streets. It’s the final summer ArtWalk, so don’t miss out! And if you want even more art, check out the Labor Day Weekend Art in the Park fair at Wheeler Park. Also, TheatriKIDS continues its second and final weekend of West Side Story.

County Fair

The most significant event of the weekend is the Coconino County Fair. For four days, August 31 – September 3, Fort Tuthill will be transformed into a celebration of community, exotic fried foods, and carnival rides for both the young and thrill-seeking.

The Fair continues to promote community involvement and interest in horticulture, livestock, household arts, and diverse traditions, as well as many other areas.

Astronomy

Then there’s the Lowell Observatory with daytime and nighttime events!  The Solar Program is held three times a day.  You can view the Sun or other stars through a specially equipped solar telescope. Objects vary seasonally. On cloudy days when we can’t offer solar viewing, attend an indoor program highlighting the features of the Sun, including ‘live’ images.

Other daytime guided tours include The Story of Pluto.  Explore the discovery of Pluto in a 45-minute guided walking tour and learn about the Pluto Discovery Telescope.  There’s also The Lowell Tour where you can explore Lowell Observatory’s past and present research efforts. This tour includes a stop at the renowned 24” Clark Refracting Telescope, built in 1896 and still in use today.

Whatever you do, Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Center will help you get your car repaired and well maintained.  We want you to travel safely and make it back to Lake Havasu happy and healthy.  Please set up an appointment today to get your tires, and fluid level checked before hitting the road.  (928) 505-3535

 

 

 

What To Do If You Drive Into A Wildfire

surviving a wildfire in your car

The first thing to do is try to avoid the wildfire and do not enter a zone that is blocked off or where you see flames.

Most importantly, If you have time to leave before the wildfire gets close (from your home, place of work, etc.), do it! You do not want to be caught by it while driving.

If you can shelter in your home or a building, prefer doing so over staying in your car. – Kevin Tolhurst, fire behavior specialist from the University of Melbourne.

First off, when traveling, there are a few safety items to always keep in your car.  Water and a wool blanket are necessary to help protect you in a wildfire.  We’ll tell you why in a moment.

August is a big month for traveling and going on vacation. We hope you never get into the situation of being in a wildfire but If there is no other option but to get into your car.  Remember, this should always be the last option.

Tips that will hopefully keep you safe and get you thru the danger.

Roll up all your car windows and close your vents. Put your air conditioner on but keep it on the recirculate option.
If you can move, do so slowly and keep an eye out for items falling from above, livestock, and people. Use your horn to alert others of your movement.

  • Keep your headlights on and your hazard lights.
  • If you are forced to stop driving then seek out a solid wall and park near that. The massive barrier can help shield you from the radiant heat. If none is available, try to find an open area away from trees and other objects that can fall on top of you.
  • Get down below the windows and use a wool blanket to cover yourself.  Synthetic materials can melt and burn you so wool is the preferred textile to keep yourself covered.
  • If you have water, drink it! Also, you can use a bit of water on a small cloth to breath through.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes. Once it has passed, call for help if your cell phone is working. If your car is still working, you should use it to drive away from the fire and avoid driving under trees.

For further information, you can check out this page by Cal Fire.

 

Does your 4×4 need more attention than a regular car?

Maintenance on your 4x4

Is this your first 4×4 / four-wheel-drive? You’re probably wondering if this type of vehicle needs a different schedule of maintenance than your regular car.

There’s a good chance it does have a maintenance schedule that requires different times. The additional maintenance usually involves inspecting and/or replacing fluids, and the service intervals vary widely by car.

With all- or four-wheel drive (which for the purposes of maintenance are the same), more things can go wrong and need repairs, such as transfer cases and differentials, but the routine maintenance schedules (listed in the owner’s manual) aren’t that different.

Maintenance requirements also vary on four-wheel-drive pickup trucks. On Ford F-150s, the transfer case and front differential oil should be changed every 150,000 miles. On the other hand, a Toyota Tacoma 4×4 truck, the same fluid should be replaced every 60,000 miles in regular use.  And every 15,000 miles with frequent towing and/or driving on unpaved roads.

Dealer service departments and other repair shops may advise performing fluid changes more frequently.  The intervals recommended by the manufacturers are all that’s necessary to ensure that the warranty remains in effect.

Cost

RepairPal provides expert full-service repair information for most vehicles. From small to large repairs, know costs in advance with the fair price estimator.

In addition, having a couple more items on the maintenance schedule, all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive vehicles carry additional costs, both in a higher purchase price (compared with two-wheel-drive versions of the same vehicle) and lower gas mileage, primarily from the extra weight of the four-wheel system.

Moreover, many front-drive vehicles, send power to the rear wheels only when one of the drive wheels slips (loses traction). If one tire gets damaged beyond repair, a tire dealer may recommend that you replace all four tires. Mixing worn tires with one new tire may send the wrong signals to the all-wheel-drive system.  This miscommunication will activate the all-wheel-drive when extra traction isn’t needed.

So, 4x4s can sometimes cost more and will definitely cost more if not properly maintained.  The mechanics at Britton’s know 4x4s and will help you keep yours running great.  Call for more information.  (928) 505-3535

Caring For Your Car’s Battery

Who wants the hassle of replacing a car battery? In order to not have to do that it’s important to know how to take care of your battery and keep it in excellent condition. Here are some suggestions to keep your car and it’s battery in tip-top shape.

What you need to do!

You need to keep an eye on the terminals that connect the car battery to the cables. The battery terminals should be tight and free of rust and corrosion. If there is corrosion, you should have the terminals cleaned by your mechanic unless you are confident in your knowledge to handle the battery yourself. When the connection is clean you can dab some petroleum jelly on it to keep the cables clean for a longer period.

Here’s a good “How To” video that shows what is required to clean the connections.

Another area to check for is if the battery is secured in its mounting bracket. If there’s wiggle room your unsecured battery can get damaged and even short circuit.

A maintenance-free battery won’t need to be checked, but all the other types will need to have the water level looked at. Low fluid levels will create problems with the battery working. So, just add some distilled water if it’s low. If it’s empty the battery will need to be replaced.

Extreme heat and car batteries

Any extreme temperature, cold or hot, can be really detrimental to a car’s charging system, particularly the battery. When the heat is over 100, like in Lake Havasu City, AZ, You will want to keep an eye and ear out. Listen to how your car starts. If its slow or sluggish sounding you may want to take it in and get the battery checked. The battery contains liquid and heat causes it to evaporate. Low fluid levels will damage the internal structure of the battery

Next, back to the structure that your battery sits in. You’ll want to keep this case clean because dirt can conduct electricity which in turn will discharge the battery. A solution of baking soda in water and a bristle brush will do the trick to clean out the case.

At Britton’s Auto Repair, we specialize in complete auto repair care with our ASE certified mechanics. We work on most automotive vehicles domestic and import, all the while providing competitive pricing. (928) 505-3535

 

How to Know When to Take Your RV to a Mechanic

when to take your RV to a mechanic

RV Repair and Maintenance

There are several items on your RV repair that you can take a look at and do maintenance on yourself.  Keeping an eye on your RV and trouble-shooting can keep you rolling down the highway and not in the repair shop.

You could get your self a manual that is packed with valuable information, checklists, and photos.  This can include the water system, sanitation system, AC generator, ovens and ranges, exterior and interior care, and accessories.  However, do you know when your problem is beyond your knowledge base and when to seek out a professional?

Here are some crucial signs in areas of your RV that can help you determine if it’s time to bring it to your trusted auto mechanic shop.

Roofing and Flooring Damage

If your RV is used, you must check for damage that can put yourself and your passengers at risk. RVs are meant to be driven for long stretches of time and to run for great distances. Keeping your RV well maintained will keep it running for years and keep your passengers on board comfortable and safe.

The damage on the floor of the RV can further tear and then become significant damage, or create a tripping hazard. You wouldn’t want to get an injury while out in the middle of nowhere.  The small tear can also become a more massive hole that stuff can spill out of or even a person can fall through.

Roof issues can affect the insulation of the vehicle which will make your heater or AC run harder.

In either case, water damage will spread quickly, and mold and mildew will also cover.  If the water damage is left alone, it can compromise the stability of either roof or floor, so it’s best that you get it repaired promptly.

Weak Frame

Another area to get a professional to look at is if you notice any rust or breaks on the RV.  This is absolute to get checked at an RV repair shop! Body damage not only affects your RVs aesthetics, but it can also create conditions that make you and your RV more vulnerable to injury. Rust spots, cracks, and holes, can allow water to get in and cause damage to your RV’s insulation.

These same cracks and holes can also let the elements get inside the vehicle and affect the electrical wiring. So, you’re exposing these systems and creating a fire hazard as well as further damage. Much better to get the hole or crack repaired now before the problem escalates to other areas of your RV.

Tire Quality

The road performance of your RV is crucial.  Good tires and the maintenance of them is just as important as the performance of your RV’s engine. Worn out tires are safety hazards. If you’ve purchased a pre-owned unit, it’s best that you take it to a professional, such as Britton’s Auto, Truck and RV Center so you can get the tires tested. Brand new tires are a must in the event that it is determined the need for replacement.

Always include the care and maintenance of your RV on the checklist before you leave on a trip.  Also, give your RV a checkup a week or two before you leave so that you have plenty of time to fix anything that warrants it.  Taking care of any damage promptly will always cost less.  You want to keep your RV safe for your family.

Brakes

Road trips in the extreme heat: what to know

Traveling during extreme heat

It’s the time of year when extreme heat changes the way we deal with our lives.  Summer vacation, when you pack up the family to take a road trip is no different!  But going on vacation for those living in the Mohave Desert can be a bit trickier.  You must travel thru some of the hottest parts of the world, and before going, you must make sure you have the appropriate supplies.  Pack for the worst case scenario and have one less worry about your trip.

Whether you’re going up north to Canada for the summer, or just out to Flagstaff for a weekend.  Either way, there are several things you will need to do to prepare yourself for desert conditions. Especially with the weather getting up into the 120s during much of August.

Prepare your supplies

Before you strike out into the desert you’ll want to:

Be sure everyone has extra water
Roadside assistance card and phone number
Have fun activities for the kids
A cell phone (do some research and ask around which carrier works best, especially if you’ll be traveling in outlying areas.)
A first aid kit and flashlight

Always notify someone if you’ll be taking any side excursions and what roads you plan on making.
If you are going to be camping, there are loads more to consider.
Lastly, pack more water, just in case!

Prepare your vehicle

You want to be sure your car is in tip-top shape. There a few things you can do at home, but, always check with your mechanic if you have any questions or concerns.

Check and change the oil, the belts, and your air filter.

Keep an eye on your tire pressure and be prepared. Tires are more prone to blowouts in the hot months because the roads are sizzling hot and are bearing a more massive load for more extended periods of time. Underinflated tires are most at risk since the lack of air pressure puts the tires’ components under increased strain, but overinflated ones are more likely to hydroplane in a summer rainstorm. Periodically check your tread by sticking a penny into the groove of the tire with Lincoln’s head facing towards you. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, it’s time for a new set of tires.

At Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Service, we specialize in complete auto repair and maintenance. We work on most automotive vehicles domestic and import, all the while providing competitive pricing and answers to your questions. (928) 505-3535

What you need to know when buying new tires.

Bryan Britton, owner, standing in his shop

Buying new tires can be very expensive and having good information will make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Always do your research before showing up at the tire store or your mechanics. It will be less intimidating if you fist research then budget. The internet makes it easy to surf the sites of tire manufacturers to see which tire fits your need.

A poor choice will haunt you every driving day for the next three to six years. The wrong tires will pound your neck and can cause your beloved sporty car to handle worse than a pickup, or scare you witless when it rains. Plus, buying new rubber is intimidating for the unprepared: Tires appear identical. Each manufacturer claims all its tires are best in every area. Some will cost more than you’d budgeted, and newer vehicles require replacement elements for their tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

If You Were Happy With Your Old Tires

Do you like the way your car performs?  Then buy the same model you had. If you’re satisfied with your vehicle, go with tires that exactly match the original tires. If you think that your vehicle lacks traction in the rain try to remember how your car handled rain when it was new. If it handled well then you probably just have low tread depth and the same tires will work very well.

Not sure if you must replace your tires? There’s really no exact answer. You’ll want to keep an eye on the tire, check the tread, and check for any damage to the tire. There’s a manufactured date on the side of the tire that starts with “DOT.” The last four digits are the week, and year the tire was made. For example “0608” means the tire was built in the 6th week of 2008.)

You’ll also need to take the life of your tire into account. If you drive a sporty car, 20,000 miles is about all you will get out of your tires. Today, even conservative vehicles, crossovers, and sport utility vehicles boast horsepower once unmatched by ultrahigh-performance 4vehicles.

Also, safety, comfort, and entertainment features have added hundreds of pounds to the average car. Unleashing those extra horses—and stopping and turning all that weight—takes its toll on tires.

If your original equipment tires are not available, Britton will find you the most reasonable facsimiles. They will not duplicate your driving experience exactly, but merely having new tires can overcome the variations.

If You Want Something New

If you’re unhappy with the way your car handles there is hope! There’s hope for those who are unhappy with the way their car rides or handles. The trend of large-diameter wheels and low-profile tires has many accidental performance buyers complaining about ride comfort. A switch from ultrahigh-performance tires to those labeled “grand touring” or “touring” might soften the ride a bit. Check the consumer reviews at online tire sellers. Know that the change unavoidably will make handling less precise and reduce grip.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Service specialize in complete auto repair care with our ASE certified mechanics. We know your car and we know the best options for tires. We have competitive pricing and answers for you. (928) 505-3535

Is your automatic transmission slipping?

Automatic Transmission Problem?

A sure sign that your automatic transmission needs service is if it’s slipping. However, what does it mean to say your transmission is slipping? Moreover, does a slipping transmission always mean you need to replace it?

How does a slipping transmission feel?

Have you ever driven over a patch of ice? At first, your car will rev up, but it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. This slippage is what it’s like when your transmission starts to peter out. (Now this can happen when you’re trying to go up a hill or if you’ve got a lot of heavy stuff in your car.) You may also hear a clunking: or feel it from the engine trying to push you forward. If this is happening to your car, then you must get yourself to a mechanic!

Another effect of a failing transmission is that you may feel the engine rev up to 3000-4000 RPMs and then the car jerks into gear as it goes forward. There also could be a delay in the acceleration, difficulty shifting the car into other gears, and/or super weird noises when you shift. Even a burning smell might result. If you hear or a clunking, this can also be related to the slipping and tells you should get your transmission inspected by an ASE certified mechanic.

What are the causes of a slipping transmission?

Poor maintenance is the most common causes are poor maintenance to the automatic transmission. Often a transmission service which includes flushing out the old fluid and any metal shavings in the transmission resolve this issue. Your car’s automatic transmission fluid is to keep the griding of metal-on-metal gears and damage from friction. Acting as an anti-corrosion agent is also an essential function of the liquid.

With a lot of mileage and over time, transmission fluids will stop protecting the transmission. The protective properties will dissipate over time and will create trouble in your transmission. Friction builds up and starts shaving metal away from the gears inside. Once this starts to happen, things will only get worse and there will be more grinding leading to too much heat. This extra heat will break down the liquid even faster. Catching this in time, you can prevent a major catastrophe.

Checking your transmission fluid

First thing is to see what color your transmission fluid is in order to get all the protection you need. Clean and fresh transmission fluid is usually a red color, while the old, needs to be replaced, the liquid is brown or black. You can check this yourself by finding the transmission dipstick. Some newer vehicles have sealed transmission so you can’t check. Just like you do when checking your oil you want to pull out the dipstick, wipe it off, then reinsert it. When you pull it out this time you’ll be able to tell what color it is and go from there.

If your fluid is dark, you may have metal shavings inside the transmission that are causing damage too. This can usually be checked by removing the transmission filter which is an involved job and is most often done by trained ASE mechanics like the ones at Britton Auto.

 

Protect Your Car From Rodents

protecting your car from rodents

OH RATS!

In order to protect your car in Lake Havasu, you need to do more than just keep it clean on the outside.  In the winter and summer, we must also contend with rodents deciding to build their homes under the hoods of your car.  This could be squirrels, mice, even rats.  While they are in there trying to keep warm, they also might decide to eat at the buffet that is you wires, rubber, or even filters.

The rodents might not even be hungry, but merely trying to keep control of the growth of their teeth.  Whatever it is that they do while in there, one thing is for sure.  They must go!  The damage done will wreaks havoc on your electrical system and make for costly replacements and repairs.

Seal up the holes

If you park in the garage you need to be sure they have no way in.  Even a hole as small as two inches will be like an open door to these rascals.  Walk around the outside of the building where you store your car and look for any holes.  You can try sealing the holes with stainless steel mesh, aluminum flashing, or sheet metal.  Anything that the unwanted guests cannot chew thru is a good way to protect your car.

Taste deterrent

Another option is to spray the wires and tubing with a taste/smell that will not be appetizing to the critters.  A good option is bitter apple spray (vets and pet stores carry this) another is hot pepper spray.  Of course, you will want to check with your mechanic before you douse your engine with anything.

If you have already found evidence of critter damage, make sure you gently sweep away any nesting materials.  You do not want to start the car and have a fire start driving down the highway.  You can see if the animals will leave on their own.  By opening up, the hood for a couple of days will take away their private cozy nest.

Prevention

The best option for controlling rodent damage is prevention.  Do not park your car near firewood, piles of brush, or leave it sitting for long periods.  Take your car for all its scheduled maintenance visits.  For more tips, Consumer Reports has some more ideas.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Repair is here to help!  Call to make an appointment so we can keep your vehicle maintained and free of little furry critters.  (928) 505-3535

 

 

The Role of a Automobile Computer

What control's your car

Evolution of automobile computer

Most of us are driving cars, trucks, and RVs with more auto electronics than we know what to do with. The automobile computer inside your car has slowly begun to grow so much that all automobiles manufactured now have electronics in them. From heated seats to electronic windows to knowing the best gas mileage and how long to keep the fuel injectors open.

There are many ways electronics affect our cars

There are thousands of microprocessors in a car all hooked up to sensors. By the mid-80s engineers developed a Controller Area Network or CAN. Before this, all of these items had to have tons of wires snaking around the car like a thick ivy. The CAN system helped to eliminate this jumble of connections and streamline all the wires and software between the vehicles computers and sensors. This centralized system allows our cars to be smarter, cheaper and will enable the vehicle to do things that would not be possible without it.

 

Improving the performance of your car

Now, although the computerization of cars has eliminated the ability to tinker with a problem there now is the ability to find the problem more quickly. From these sensors, the computer can then use the information to control things like the fuel injectors, spark plugs and the idle speed. Centralizing this ability will help to get the best performance from the engine. All while keeping emissions low.

The technological and business model for autos is slowly but surely moving toward a software-and-services-focused approach. Bob O’Donnell, Chief Analyst, Technalysis Research

The computer can also sense when something has gone wrong and can inform the driver with the “Check Engine” light. A mechanic can read a diagnostic code from the computer and fix the problem. You may be tempted to reprogram or hack the computer in your car, do not! To begin with, you will void your warranty. Secondly, if you crash the computer, you will end up with a car shaped paperweight on your garage. Let the professionals take care of your investment. You will be happy you did.

All of our technicians are certified ASE mechanics to ensure premium vehicle service and maintenance.  Call Britton’s to schedule the diagnostic checkup of your car to help avoid major problems in the future.  (928) 505-3535