Three Top Auto Care Myths

Top 3 auto care myths

There are many ideas floating around about taking care of your car and many are just auto care myths.   Servicing your car and keeping it well maintained is always a good idea.  If ever in doubt on what to do just consult your owner’s manual.  We’ll address our top three myths about your car below.

Oil changes

Myth You need to change your oil every 3,000 miles.

Reality: Although oil companies and quick-lube shops like to promote this idea, it’s usually not necessary. Most vehicles driven under normal conditions can go 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Also, synthetic can go even further.

Try this instead: Go by the recommended oil-change schedule in your owner’s manual. “Years ago, it was a good idea to change your engine oil and oil filter frequently, says Cars.com. However, with advances in engine materials, as well as the oil that goes into engines, most manufacturers recommend intervals of 7,500 miles or more.

 

Preparing your car for the seasons

Myth: Special service is required to “summarize” or “winterize” your car.

Reality: There is not anything special that your car or truck needs to prepare it for winter or summer. The seasons’ change and your auto needs the same things all year long.

Try this instead: Always keep up with the scheduled maintenance. There is no seasonal maintenance. Besides, vehicles today come with a “long life” coolant that can last up to 100,000 miles. Of course, you always want to check your owner’s manual to see when the manufacturer recommends replacing the cooling fluid. Also of note, air conditioning systems don’t require to be recharged every year. Unless, of course, there is a leak or a problem with the system. If there is an issue with the cold air in your car’s AC system, it’s will usually take more than a Freon recharge to fix it.

 

Dealership vs private repair shop

Myth: You must have all your car’s regular maintenance done at the dealership to keep the manufacturer’s warranty valid.

Reality: The work can be done at any trusted auto repair shop. As long as the maintenance items are performed according to the recommended schedule specified in the vehicle owner’s manual/

Try this instead: If you don’t have a trusted mechanic, ask co-workers or friends to recommend one. You can even do the work yourself if you have the tools and the knowledge. Keep accurate records and receipts to back you up in case of a warranty dispute. The only time you must take your car to a dealer is to have recall work performed.

Hydroplane and what to do if it happens

hydroplane and how to avoid it

When it rains in Lake Havasu City, AZ there is a significant chance to hydroplane in your car.  Hydroplaning is a loss of traction to the tires.  The lack of traction lifts your car and you’re literally moving forward on top of the water.   It only takes a small fraction of rain to create the conditions for hydroplaning, and during the monsoon season, there is dramatically more.

Plus the roads have been very hot, and this allows oil from the blacktop to come to the surface and create a slick coating.

The torrential downpours can also create limited visibility. Both of these conditions contribute to hazardous driving conditions. We encourage our customers to drive smarter and here are a few ways to help you when the driving conditions are wet and slick.

Drive smarter

Smart people adjust their strategy around changing conditions. Weather is one of those things. When driving in the rain or any inclement weather be careful and slow down.  Here are some other tips:

  • Keep your distance. You never know when the person ahead of you will spin out.
  • Do not tailgate—especially in limited visibility.
  • Slow down. Take corners slower.
  • Be patient. Expect extra traffic.

Use your headlights

Keep your lights on while driving in the rain, during the day and the night. In many states, laws require headlights during rain or whenever visibility is less than 1000 feet. That is about a quarter of a mile or three and one-third football fields.

Newer tires, excellent breaks, and wipers

  • Threadbare tires are always dangerous. Keep your traction at top performance. Maintain relatively new tires with deep tread. Or, get some all-weather tires. This should help if you hydroplane.
  • Get regular brake checks. (we suggest this even if you never get rain!)
  • Keep your windshield wiper blades ready for rainy days—before the rain comes.  A blurry windshield will only add to the danger already present if it’s raining hard.

Don’t use cruise control

Rainy weather demands full attention. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your feet ready for action.
If you hydroplane, cruise control can cause you to lose control. Also, the lack of traction may cause the cruise control to accelerate if you go into a hydroplane.

What to do if you hydroplane?

  • First, do not panic.
  • Ease off the accelerator and continue driving steadily forward.
  • Do not slam on the breaks.

Here’s a great video from Consumer Reports

According to Consumer Reports, hydroplaning is one of the scariest experiences a driver will face.

In the video below, Consumer Reports’ experts shows how a car hydroplanes and, more importantly, how to regain control of your wheels.

 

How Does a Diesel Engine Differ from a Gas Engine

diesel vs gas engines

If you have ever wondered how different diesel engine and gas engines are, we have put together some information on how the two differ and how they are the same.  First of all, diesel gets great mileage. Diesel cars usually deliver 25 to 30 percent better fuel economy than similarly performing gasoline engines. Diesel also can provide as much or more fuel economy than traditional gasoline-electric hybrids, depending on the models involved.

Cost for diesel vs. gasoline

Although diesel fuel used to be less expensive than gas, it now often costs the same amount or more. However, even if there is an increase in price, diesel fuel would have to be at least 25 percent more expensive than gas to erase the cost-advantage of a diesel engine’s fuel efficiency.

One of the most efficient fuels available today is diesel fuel. Because it contains more usable power than gasoline, it delivers better fuel economy. Although diesel fuel is more efficient because it converts heat into energy rather than sending the weather out the tailpipe as gas-powered vehicles do, it does not result in high-speed performance.

How do diesel and gas engines work

Modern car engines work on the standard principle of four simple strokes: intake, compression, power, and exhaust. Whether powered by gasoline or diesel, the engine strokes are the same. However, there are critical variances as to how the strokes perform.

For gasoline engines, the intake will pull fuel and air into the combustion chamber. A diesel engine, on the other hand, will only be drawing in air. The next stage is compression, and both engine types will squeeze down the air. Gasoline engines will use a spark plug to time and start the power stroke. A diesel engine, on the other hand, only has a pocket full of hot air before the power stroke.

Maintenance and tune-ups

Diesel has no spark plugs or distributors. Therefore, they never need ignition tune-ups. However, you still need to change the oil and the air, oil, and fuel filters.

Diesel engines are more rugged to withstand the harshness of higher compression. Therefore, they usually go much longer than gas-powered vehicles before they require major repairs. In fact, some diesel cars can go hundreds of thousands of miles before needing major repairs.

However, you still need to proper maintenance on a diesel. For instance, if the fuel injection system breaks down, you may have to pay a diesel mechanic more money than you would repair a gasoline system because diesel engines are more technologically advanced.

The mechanics at Britton’s know that diesel engines are different from gasoline-powered engines and know how to repair and maintain your diesel truck. Call us to schedule an appointment. (928) 505-3535

 

Importance of Checking Your Headlights and Wipers

Importance of Checking Your Headlights and Wipers

During your holiday travels make sure you always check at least two items before you go:  headlights and wipers.  Super easy to check but can be a nightmare if they aren’t working.  You don’t want to be driving at night and not be seen by other drivers.  Or not be able to see!!

Headlights

If you have an older car, the headlights could be giving you far less visibility then you think.  Over time the plastic on the headlights can get clouded and scratched.  Even more so in Lake Havasu City, AZ where the sun is brutal to plastic.  The plastic can become so yellowed that they might emit only 20% from when you first bought the car.

“Driving at night with headlights that produce only 20 percent of the light they did when new, which is already subpar, is a risk drivers shouldn’t take,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, “especially when there are convenient and inexpensive solutions that can dramatically improve lighting performance.”

 

AAAs findings reinforce the idea that car owners should routinely check the coating on their headlights and, if necessary, get them restored. Make sure that your lights are properly maintained and aimed.  A mis-aimed headlight can blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

Headlights are items that require inspection and replacement when they are worn out.  Your car or truck’s lighting system provides visibility for night driving.  As well as, signals and alerts other drivers and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing nonfunctioning lights, you’ll also want to check out lights that are dimming or rapidly blinking.   Maintaining your car is about safety.  Making sure everything is in proper working order before you need it.

Wipers

In order to maintain clear visibility while driving, the wiper system keeps excessive water, snow, and dirt from building up on the windshield. There are a lot of reasons why your wiper blades need to be replaced.  Contributing factors can be the frequency of use, the material of the blades, and the typical weather.  Sunshine is again an enemy of the wiper blade, deteriorated them more quickly.  Here in the desert, although they may not get used very much, the wiper blades should still get replaced annually because the sun eats away at the rubber. Also, don’t forget to check the rear window wiper blade too!

Keeping your vehicle’s lights cared for and periodically replace the wiper blades will ensure a safer ride. In fact, some state laws require the headlights to be on with the wipers.  By keeping both properly maintained you’ll never have to worry about your vision or others seeing you.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Repair is here to help.  Call to make an appointment so we can get your headlights and wipers ready for that winter trip! (928) 505-3535

Be an expert with your car maintenance this winter!

Car wheel in the snow in winter

Car Tips for Winter Car Maintenance

 

Winter car maintenance is what is needed if you are headed out to Flagstaff or California to do some skiing or just to let the family play in the snow?  Britton’s would like to share some expert car care tips from Consumer Reports that will help dramatically and keep you and your family safe.

One of the first things to consider when preparing your car for winter road conditions is your tires.  Tire pressure, tire rotation, and of course tire condition are all pertinent to a safe trip.  Cold winter temperatures can under-inflate tires, putting you at risk for a blowout.  Always check your owner’s manual or the driver’s side door well for the recommended PSI.  You will want to check your tire pressure when your car is cold because the heat and friction from driving might cause an inaccurate reading.

Another car maintenance tip for the winter is to always clear the snow and ice off your vehicle’s hood, roof, and windows before you drive.  “Your visibility will improve dramatically, and other drivers won’t have to dodge clumps of snow or ice that can become airborne as you speed down the highway,” says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.

The safest car trips require patience and preparation. Drive carefully and set out early.  This will help your trip and your driving goes more smoothly.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Repair is here to help.  Call to make an appointment so we can get your off-road vehicle ready for that desert trip! (928) 505-3535

Buying a Used Trailer For Your ATV

Looking to buy a used trailer

Looking to buy a new or used trailer for your off-road vehicle?  Its winter in Lake Havasu City, which means it’s time to hit the desert hard with your off road toys and perhaps your trailer from last year just isn’t going to get you through another year. You’re going to want to save some money so let’s put the new trailer on the back burner for another year.  If you’re going towards the used trailer then you’ll have to put in some time with research and inspection to make your buy the best deal for you.

What it takes to get the best deal

By not taking some time and making the best, most informed decision you may end up spending as much as a new trailer. A well-researched purchase on a used trailer can get you much less, even half, of the sticker price of a new one.  So provided you diligent with the research you can end up with a smoking deal that you are very satisfied with.

You’ll want to start by allocating a budget and a firm top price that you’ll pay.  Then make a list of all the qualities you want your used trailer to have.  What needs should be met?  Do you want electricity?  What should the wheel size be?

Here’s a good checklist

Check the title: A trailer’s title must be “clean.”  This means there are no liens against it.  It also means that the trailer has never been salvaged or damage claims against it.   Even if the seller has the papers for it, it may have been stolen.   If the seller is hesitant to show you the original title this should be a big red flag.

You can run the VIN of the trailer thru the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).   The NMVTIS is a national consumer protection database that provides title information from states across the country.  You can access this information online from several sources.  You can even check on your phone while you’re out looking at the trailers. Knowledge is power!

“The NMVTIS database gives you the vehicle’s title history, which includes whether the vehicle was ever in the possession of a junk or salvage yard or declared a “total loss” by an insurance company.”  Texas DMV

Trailer floor: Your inspection of the vehicle must start from below. Check out the trailer floor for to ensure that it is not rusting and is solid and stable and not rusting.  Looking underneath is important because this is where the problems with the chassis can begin.  Don’t be afraid to get in the dirt and look things over.

Tires: You don’t want to see any cracks or plugged holes.  Nor should there be any bulges in the tire or dry rot.

Bearings: Make sure that the wheel bearings are seated properly and that they are well lubricated..  There should be no up and down or side to side movement with the bearings.

Hitch:  The latch on the hitch open and close properly with no missing parts!

Brakes: Are the axles’ brakes working well?  Inspect the brake pads, shoes, drums, rotors, and magnets. Do not hesistate to question your seller on any of these items if you see something you don’t like or question.

Suspension: Check the springs and spring hangers for cracks, breaks, and repairs.

Also examine the frames and electricals before you purchase.  If you have any questions you can bring your trailer to Britton before you buy and we will help inspect it for you.  Call us with any questions at (928) 768-9825

Boat Trailer Maintenance

Trailer Maintenance: What to know

A to-do list for boat trailer maintenance can be quite lengthy. Britton’s has put together a few items to get you started. We want to be sure you are safe in your travels.

Check before you leave

In Lake Havasu gets visitors from all over the country. We get boats towed from California and even Alaska to get on the lake and enjoy our winter sunshine. Whether you are hauling on the highway or taking the scenic route with country roads, your trailer can take a beating. Be sure to always inspect and maintain your boat trailer maintenance before a big road trip. You should even check if you are making a small journey into a secluded area because you don’t want to get stranded out of cell phone range.

Keep Your Tires Inflated

If you ignore your tires, your next adventure could be ruined.   As with any vehicle, the correct tire inflation (PSI) is essential. Also, the PSI is usually on the side of the tire. Also, most trailers have a sticker plate that lists the proper size tire that your trailer needs. Both size and PSI are crucial for good tire life.

If a tire’s PSI is too low, you will get an uneven amount of wear on the edges. If it’s over-inflated, the exact opposite will happen. The tire will wear in the center of the tread. To avoid either of these issues follow the manufacturer’s recommended PSI.

More tips for your tires.

In the desert, the sun can be brutal. For this reason, you will want to cover your tires if your trailer will be sitting for long periods of times.
Also, examine the tire stems periodically.

Check for tread depth, always. The trusted method of taking a penny and placing it in the tread is a good determiner. To do this, take a penny and place in the tread. If you can see the head of the figure on the coin, tire tread is worn. Here’s a video to show you what to do.

Inspect your wheel bearings

Another step for proper trailer maintenance is taking a look at the wheel bearings.  Wheel bearings should be resealed/repacked once a year. Trailer bearings allow the wheel to spin with minimum friction and a constant supply of grease is necessary. As a result, the bearings will overheat without grease.  Additionally, this heat can destroy the bearings and wheels.

Hearing squeaks or grinding noises?  These kinds of noises could mean you need to replace your wheel bearings. Check if your wheels are spinning freely, this could also be of concern. If in question see a professional mechanic.

Check the lights

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), boat trailers are required to have stop lights, tail lights, turn signals, and reflectors. Trailers that are 80 inches wide or over 30 feet long need additional lights and reflectors.
When checking your trailer lights, you will want to look out for burnt-out bulbs that need replacement. Also look for damaged wires and make sure that all electrical is appropriately connected.

Britton’s Auto, Truck and RV Center want to make sure you are safe on your journeys.  Call us if you need any repairs or yearly maintenance for your boat trailer.  In addition, we also work on all kinds of trailers.  (928) 505-3535

What Your Diesel Mechanic Must Know!

skills for a diesel mechanic

Does your diesel mechanic have the mad skills to get the job done?

Diesel mechanic jobs require specific skills, not just an idea that anyone can do it.  If you want to check with the person working on your diesel truck here are some ideas of what to look for and what to ask.

Communication Skills

When your mechanic finds a problem can they tell you what the problem is and how to repair it in such a way that you can understand? Are they using complicated jargon with crazy prices? If your mechanic can’t explain things to you in layman’s terms, then you may need to find someone else who can.  There is nothing wrong with expecting to have your diesel mechanic tell you what is wrong and how to fix it in everyday language.

Comfort with Technology

Diesel mechanics are having to deal with changing technology all the time.  They must stay comfortable with using new ideas and keep up with the changes.  Talk to your mechanic to see if there’s anything new in the industry and how they best utilize these changes and innovations to best do their jobs. Also, you can ask if they are taking courses and training programs in diesel mechanics.

Electronic Skills

As technology continues to change, the amount of electronic equipment in the modern diesel engine is astounding. The contemporary diesel mechanic must be able to work with electrical components and even computer programs that monitor and run the engines on the machines they repair.

To excel as a diesel technician, they will need to know how to use diagnostic equipment for electronic systems. In addition, You will also need to know how to diagnose electrical problems and how to interpret the data for electronic diagnostic equipment.

Analytical and Math Skills

Strong analytic skills are needed to diagnose the problem with the diesel systems. Some mechanics think that the electrical diagnostics tools eliminate this need, but this is not true. Analytics is still vital because the diagnostic equipment sometimes gives a starting point.

Also, heavy equipment technicians do use math every single day. Mental math is helping your technician work more quickly as you calculate mileage and measurements. Being comfortable working with fractions, decimals, and necessary number calculations are crucial

Troubleshooting

All of the above skills go a long way with troubleshooting skills and helping mechanics repair engines and diagnose problems. Mechanics need to be able to look at the evidence, find the problem, and prepare and execute a solution.  Of course, adjusting the changes when the first line of thinking does not work.

The diesel mechanics at Britton’s in Lake Havasu City know how to repair and maintain your diesel car or truck.  Call to make an appointment. (928) 505-3535

Diesel Fuel and the Diesel Engine

History of Diesel Fuel

The history of diesel fuel

Developed in the 1890s by inventor Rudolph Diesel, the diesel engine has become the leading choice worldwide for power, reliability, and high fuel economy. Besides that, early experimenters on vegetable oil fuels included the French government and Dr. Diesel himself.

Dr. Diesel envisioned that pure vegetable oils could power diesel engines. Modern biodiesel fuel, which is made by converting vegetable oils into compounds called fatty acid methyl esters.  This would help with agriculture in remote areas of the world, where petroleum was not available at the time. This research has its roots in 1930s Belgium but was not established in Europe until the late 1980s.

In the late 1800s, there was a desire to improve upon inefficient and dangerous steam engines.  Above all, this desire led to the development of the diesel engine. The diesel engine works on the principle of compression ignition. The fuel injectors force the fuel into the engine’s cylinder after compressing the air out. As the fuel enters the cylinder, it self-ignites and burns rapidly.  As a result, this forcing the piston back down and converting the chemical energy in the fuel into mechanical energy. Most noteworthy, Dr. Diesel holds the first patent for the compression ignition engine, issued in 1893. Diesel became known worldwide for his innovative engine which could use a variety of fuels.

Early Work

The early diesel engines had complex injection systems. Therefore, the design intent was to have the engine run on many different fuels, from kerosene to coal dust. In addition, someone recognized that, because of their high energy content, vegetable oils would make excellent fuel. The first public demonstration of vegetable oil-based diesel fuel was at the 1900 World’s Fair when the French government commissioned the Otto company to build a diesel engine to run on peanut oil. The French government was interested in vegetable oils as a domestic fuel for their African colonies.

Rudolph Diesel later did extensive work on vegetable oil fuels and became a leading proponent of such a concept, believing that farmers could benefit from providing their fuel. However, it would take almost a century before such an idea became a popular reality. Shortly after Dr. Diesel’s death in 1913 petroleum became widely available in a variety of forms, including the class of fuel we know today as “diesel fuel.”

The mechanics at Britton’s in Lake Havasu City know how to repair and maintain your diesel car or truck.  Call to make an appointment. (928) 505-3535

Diesel Truck Oil Changes & Maintenance

The importance of changing your oil on a diesel engine

Maintaining your diesel

So, you just purchased a new diesel truck! What maintenance is required to keep your diesel running reliably? Luckily, the best plan of action is written down in one place. The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule found in your glove box. Here we give you some of the highlights.

Today’s types of diesel are more complex than ever. The demands of modern emissions standards, increased horsepower, torque, and the technology required to keep them running optimally, the maintenance required has increased and is very important. Filters and critical fluids must be in good condition and at adequate levels.

Schedule your diesel truck oil changes!

Regular maintenance of the fluids and filters may seem expensive, but in the end, abiding by the schedule from the manufacturer and keeping up with this routine diesel truck maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs. You should schedule your oil every 7500 miles or every 700 hours of operation. This is an industry standard since many types of diesel (think work trucks or ambulances) often sit and idle while someone is working. Just because these bigger vehicles hold, more oil does not mean they can go longer between oil changes.  (This is just a suggestion.  You may need to change your oil sooner!  Make sure to periodically check your oil to see the quality and if it needs to be changed sooner.)

In addition, changing the engine oil more frequently is good for all the seals inside the engine, as they are costly to replace once they begin to leak. Fresh oil changes help to keep seals soft and pliable and doing what they are intended to do. Oil that hasn’t been changed on time and becomes abrasive and can damage moving parts inside the engine.

Fuel filters and injectors

Changing the fuel filters on a diesel is one major service that is overlooked. It is critical that the fuel going to the injectors is clean and has no water or contaminants in it. One injector can cost anywhere from $200-800 since each diesel can have from four to eight injectors. Injectors are very difficult to access to the labor involved can be expensive.

Frequently changing your oil can have a significant impact on the life of the injectors. Old, broken down oil can destroy the injector or cause them to stick and not run optimally. There are also fuel/water separators on diesel engines and some of them can be drained, but it just depends on the make and model.

Since there are many considerations when doing routine maintenance on diesel, it is essential to have an experienced diesel technician you can talk to and that you trust. The mechanics at Britton’s will help you stay up to date on your diesel truck maintenance!