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

 

 

 

 

Tips for Buying a Used ATV

Tips for Buying a used ATV

Buying a Used ATV

An All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) gets a lot of use in and around Lake Havasu City, AZ.  We see them everywhere, running snowbirds around town and out on the off-road paths winding around the desert.  When looking for one to purchase you can save thousands if you buy a used one.  Nevertheless, how do you know if you are getting a good deal?  How do you know if it is in good shape and had good maintenance?  Here are some areas to pay attention to.

Parts & Pieces

  • Tires: Check your tires for cracks, missing chunks of rubber, and tread wear.  Make sure you get down close and shine a flashlight down there to get the full picture.
  • Ball joints and bearings: Jack up one side of the ATV and grab the tire at the noon and five positions.  See if you can shake or jiggle the tire.  If you can feel movement in the tire, there may be a bad ball joint or wheel bearing
  • Shocks: Check the top of the shock for any wetness.  If you do, touch it with your finger and see if it is oil.  The oil is a good sign the shock is on its way to needing replacement.
  • Constant velocity (CV) boots: You will need to check for grease, sand, and dirt.  These will only appear if there is too much wear on the boots because when the boot tears it will fling out grease and allows in water, sand, and other particles that can destroy the joint.  Therefore, the CV boots need to be replaced ASAP.  Make sure to check out all eight joints.

Fluids & Dirt

  • Check for engine leaks: Wiping the area with a clean rag is an easy way to check for oil leaks in a used ATV. Just wipe it around the head and gaskets and this will easily identify any new oil leaks.
  • Air Cleaner: This one is easy.  If you remove the cover and see a lot of dirt takes that to mean the ATV has not been properly maintained.  Also, check for nibbles from rodents that have taken up home there.  It is cheap and easy to replace and the fact that it has not, even though it is dirty, means lack of adequate care.
  • Fluids: Also easy.  Pull up those dipsticks and check the oil.  Is it black or do you see metallic particles?  If you do not, then that is a great sign someone has been taking care of this engine.  As a result, this will really help you to know the good from bad.

Making sure you have the best vehicles is what Britton Auto Repair does.  If you need to have a car, truck, RV, or used ATV checked out we are here for you.  Just give us a call and make an appointment.  We pride ourselves on the quality of our work.  (928) 505-3535 or you can go online to make your appointment by clicking here.

 

 

Alternator or Battery?

Is it the alternator or the battery?

Alternator or Battery?

The electrical system of your car has a critical component, the alternator,  The role is to run the ignition, starter, and all of the other electronics in your car.

Many parts of your car depend on the battery. In fact, the demand for energy is so great that without your alternator, the reserve in your battery would not last. The electrical system in your truck or car is wholly dependent on a well-running alternator. It is critical to keep up the maintenance so that nothing malfunctions.

Four Signs to Look For

Warning Light: There is light right on your dashboard that lets you know if your alternator is on the fritz. This light makes keeping on top of your vehicles health super simple. The light looks like a battery or has the letters ALT or GEN. (Check your owner’s manual to see which applies to you) This light going off is contingent on how much energy your vehicle alternator has left. Also, it will depend on how much electricity is being used.

Dead or weak battery: A car battery will not last forever. Therefore, an alternator is only as good as the life of the battery. It cannot pull energy out of a battery with no juice left. No alternator can bring a weak or dead battery back to life. With a weak battery, your car will continue to run the lights, but they may dim after a short period. If your battery has been recharged, and it still is difficult to start then, you should look at the alternator. This could point to a bad alternator.

Weak or dim lights: You will have a sure sign that your alternator may be dying if the lights on the dashboard or the headlights begin to dim. An alternator malfunction may also cause other electrical components to misbehave such as power seats or windows. You will notice them going much slower than usual.

Odd sounds and smells: The alternator runs with many belts in the system. If any of these are not running smoothly, the friction will create the smell of burning rubber. The remedy for this can be to adjust the belt. If the smell continues, you should take it to an auto mechanic and have them evaluate the situations. In addition, you may hear a humming or grinding noise if any of the components are worn or broken. You may need a new assembly in this case and should most assuredly see an auto technician.

You can trust Britton Auto, Truck, and RV Center when your battery or alternator starts to malfunction. Our auto mechanics have the expertise you are looking for to get your vehicle back on the road.

 

Some Safety Tips While You’re Riding Your ATV

ATV Safety Tips

ATV Safety

Nearly all outdoor activities have specialized equipment and riding an ATV safety is no exception. Football players have their helmets and padding, soccer players have shin guards, and ATV riders have items to protect them from the top of their head to the tips of their toes.

Riding and enjoying your ATV requires equipment that protects you from flying debris and from any time of fall you may have. You can never be 100% free from injury but putting on the right equipment will undoubtedly give you the best chance should any safety problems occur. One should never go out on their ATV without eye protection, a helmet, gloves, boots, and their legs and arms covered.

Pre-Ride Inspection

Before each ride, an inspection is crucial because once you’re off-road the terrain can be brutal to your vehicle. Checking your ATV out will lower the chances of getting stranded or being injured. Thus ensuring your ATV will last you a long time. Remember proper maintenance is the key to longevity and keeping the value of your vehicle up.

Ultimately your owner’s manual will give you the best advice on what to do. We would like to share a quick review you can do when you are getting ready for outdoor ATV adventure. (Make sure you talk to a mechanic that knows ATV maintenance for the most detailed inspection)

Quick Checklist

  • Air pressure – this is an easy one and is very important. Your manual will be the best resource, but as a guideline, you should stay within 2 to 10 psi. You’ll need a low-pressure gauge because the one you use on your car will not register this low of a number.
  • Appearance: do you see any oil leaks, rust, or loose nuts and bolts.
  • Brakes: This is a crucial area! Make sure these operate smooth and make any adjustments suggested in the manual.
  • Cables & Throttle: check all your controls to make sure they work properly. Also, look for any wear and tear that might affect the ability for them to function correctly.
  • Engine Stop Switch: Is it doing its job of stopping? Sounds simple but you want to be sure the engine shuts off when necessary.
  • State Laws: It’s important to note that every state has laws governing who can ride and where you can ride. Here’s an excellent resource from the ATV Safety Institute to help you learn what requirements you need to know for your state.

 

 

Keeping the Value of Your Vehicle

title graphic: How to maintain the value of your vehicle

Keeping the value of your vehicle comes down to one word: Maintenance!

Scheduling your regular maintenance is easy to keep the value of your vehicle.  Just find that book you threw into the glove compartments when you bought the car. Seriously! Did you lose your manual?  Then you can go online.  Haynes.com is a great resource for cars, trucks, even ATV manuals.

This manual will help you know when to change your oil, rotate your tires, even tells you what kind of oil to put in. By going to a certified mechanic and getting items on your car checked out, you can replace the wear-and-tear parts before they break and cause you even more money!. Your vehicle can be a long-lasting, reliable piece of machinery and with regular pampering will last you for years and years.

The difference maintenance will make

Many people think that if you just buy a crazy expensive car or RV then put it in the garage that it will last forever. However, hiding it away will only keep it sad and lonely. It’s the car that is tended to and loved that will keep chugging along. The one stuck in the garage, especially in a hot Lake Havasu garage, will inevitably dry up.

The big secret is maintenance. Fluid checks and keeping up on all the scheduled maintenance is the secret to keeping that new car age well and reach 100,000 miles and more. The best and most expensive supplies in the world don’t matter if you never check and change them!

In addition to going to your mechanic regularly for scheduled maintenance, you’ll want to keep the outside polished and waxed, and the inside clean and looking good. All of the materials inside your car will need help from the constant attack of the sun, dust, and weather.

Here’s a list of some ideas of how you can maintain your car’s value:

  • Keep the car in a garage
  • Get regular tune-ups
  • Don’t smoke in your car
  • Clean up stains on carpet and upholstery as soon as possible
  • Get the oil changed regularly
  • Investigate and repair any unusual engine noises
  • Keep wax on your car to help keep the color.

At Britton’s Auto Repair we want to help you keep your car, truck, RV, or ATV well maintained and last you a lifetime.  If you have any questions at all please call us at (928) 505-3535

Booster Seats: What’s Required in Arizona

Young girl in booster seat in car

Booster Seats

Let’s go over the fundamentals of Arizona’s booster seat requirements for this week’s Britton’s blog. If you have little ones, you know that you need a car seat as soon as they’re born. Then once your sweet baby reaches approximately eight years, they need to transition into a child booster seat.

The next step for children that have outgrown harness equipped safety restraints is the booster seat.  This seat was introduced because the larger built-in seat belts are not adequate to keep little ones properly restrained. Children ages 4-8 are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes if they are in boosters.

According to Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the law requires children between ages 5 and 7 to ride in a booster seat unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Once a child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller, they are no longer required to ride in a booster seat, regardless of age.

The above quote is the legal requirement or the minimum necessary. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that children should ride in boosters until a vehicle safety belt fits correctly by itself. For some kids, that doesn’t happen until age 12 or so.

 

How do I Select the Right One?

So, how do you know what is the best booster seat for you? The Insurance Institute for High Safety has created a rating system for most new booster seats. The ratings range from Best Bet to Good Bet to Not Recommended.  Thirteen out of the 16 booster seats tested were given the Best Bet rating from the 2017 market.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a quality booster seat. Unlike more complicated harness-equipped restraints, a booster is a simple device that doesn’t require any special features to do its job,” says IIHS Senior Research Engineer Jessica Jermakian. “Boosters need to elevate the child and guide the lap belt so that it lies flat on the upper thighs and not up against the tummy and position the shoulder belt so that it fits snugly across the middle of the shoulder.”

Because installation is not required for boosters you may have questions. Lake Havasu City has an excellent web page with information on Safety Seat Checkup.

Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Center are here to help you!  Please call us or stop by with any questions. We look forward to helping you.

Rock Crawling With Your ATV

Want to know more about rock crawling?

Rock Crawling

What is it you need to know before taking that ATV 4×4 out and crawling up some rocks?

Warm Up

If it’s your first time out, you’ll want to remember NOT to try to keep up those that have been doing rock crawling for years! Pick a trail that is wide and allows for mistakes. There are ratings for most trails in the United States, so be sure to pick a mild one your first few times out. Get a feel for your vehicle and the terrain. Test the edge of what you’re comfortable with and what you’re able to do. Only with practice will you get to know what you and your vehicle can do.

Know Your Equipment

Many folks like to build their own rockcrawling rigs. This is especially true with the locals of Lake Havasu City with the awesome trails available. When you make it yourself, you are more familiar with the equipment and perhaps better at any troubleshooting while out on the trails. Even if you didn’t build your own, you should have a general understanding of how each component of your vehicle is assembled.

“As slow as possible, as fast as necessary,” Land Rover motto.

Slow Down

It’s called crawling, and for a good reason If you throttle too quickly, and haven’t driven on rocks before, misfortune will not be far behind! Take someone with you and ask them to “spot” for you or even get out yourself and take a look at what’s in the way. Most rockcrawling obstacles can be completed at the lower end of the rpm meter, about 2000 will do it. You’ll get both appropriate traction and good placement with your vehicle. Finally, do not show off or take a course while you’re on your cell phone! This is just good common sense and will help everyone. Measure twice, climb once can help avoid any costly accidents and trail repairs.

Avoid Wheelspin

If at all possible, try to keep your tires from tearing up the ground. Not only will this help keep our public lands happy and healthy, but it will preserve your equipment for longer service life.

Air Down

What on earth does this mean you may be asking? If you’re going to be doing any rockcrawling at all, it’s a practice you’ll need to get well acquainted with. While you’re climbing up and down those rocks, your tires will need a lot less air than they do when it’s traveling on the streets. There’s no double you’ll want to lower that psi, but go too much, and your grip will loosen up. So “airing down” will give your vehicle a wide grip on what it’s going over. Wider is bigger, and with some of those crazy inclines, bigger is better! FourWheeler Magazine has some great tip on how much or how little on the tires.

So, you see there’s a lot to know before you go out.

Hiring a new mechanic can seem like a daunting problem, but once you’ve found the right person who is willing to answer all your questions and give you a written estimate you will be delighted and confident to leave your car with them.

At Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Center we would like to be your new auto mechanic. Please call us or stop by with any questions. We look forward to helping you.

What To Ask When Hiring a New Mechanic

Title graphic "what to ask when hiring a new auto mechanic graphic with little illustrated mechanic

Where to Start?

How much experience do you have with hiring a new auto mechanic? How much experience do you have working on your car? If the answer to either of these questions is “not much” then we would like to help you out with the first one. We’d love to help with the latter, but there’s just way too much for this blog. 😀

One of the first questions you should ask this new person who is going to do mechanical work on your car is whether they’ve worked on your type of car in particular. If it’s a BMW, you’ll want to know how much experience they have and where they get their parts. Asking lots of question up front with save you time and money and misunderstandings.

On your side, you’ll want to be sure you have all the documentation ready for any service you’ve had previously done. The paperwork will help you and the mechanic avoid any duplicate work. It will also help in case you’re trying to troubleshoot a more complicated repair.

Rates & Auto Parts

Be sure to discuss rates and prices for parts. Will the new auto mechanic call you if there is more work to be done other than what you talked about? Do you have the job in writing and an estimate on how long it will take and how much? You should understand what you are being billed for and why.

Parts are something you will want to be sure you get quality replacements. Be sure to ask where the shop gets their parts from and always ask if they ever use refurbished items. Sometimes this will help with the cost, but you should not hesitate to spend more on good quality new parts that come with a guarantee. You’ll be happy because there’s no way of knowing how long used parts will last. And they don’t come with a warranty.

Last But Not Least

Be sure to take out any valuables from your car before you drop it off. Cleaning out your car protects both of you just in case your vehicle needs to stay overnight. Take a look at your trunk too and make it’s cleared out too.

Hiring a new mechanic can seem like a daunting problem, but once you’ve found the right person who is willing to answer all your questions and give you a written estimate you will be delighted and confident to leave your car with them.

At Britton’s Auto, Truck, and RV Center we would like to be your new auto mechanic. Please call us or stop by with any questions. We look forward to helping you.

The Difference Between Regular & Synthetic Oil

title graphic stating Synthetic or Regular Oil?

Regular Motor Oil

Regular oil is made from crude oil. For over 100 years this is what has been used to lubricate engines. It works well and doesn’t break down too quickly.

picture of synthetic motor oil container with clear glass of oil in it

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil starts out as regular oil then it gets modified.  The chemical composition of synthetic oil is smoother and more uniform.  This creates lubrication that is better.  Synthetic oil handles hotter temperatures better and doesn’t turn into a gel or get watery.  There is some oil that is designed with high mileage vehicles in mind or engines belonging to a high-performance car. Synthetic oils can also help the fuel mileage by increasing it.

One must remember that if you switch to a synthetic blend of oil that you should stay with the scheduled oil changes recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Around six months to a year. However, synthetic generally holds up better and can go for more miles.  You also want to change it on schedule so that you can get rid of the grit and dirt and can get into the tighter areas of your engine and scratch it up.

What is Synthetic Oil Good For?

As for the price, synthetic oil can cost much more than regular oil. If your owner’s manual specifies regular oil then you can certainly stick with that. You don’t need to be upsold if your car doesn’t need synthetic. But if you live in a region like Bullhead, AZ where there is extreme heat in the summer then synthetic may hold up better, depending on the type of driving you are doing. Short trips in combination with extreme heat than synthetic oil will not break down as fast and help your engine in the long run.

Consumer Reports’ says “There are some situations where synthetic oil’s resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of an engine.”

Another use for synthetic oil is as a preventative salve for older engines. These engines can be prone to sludge buildup which can block oil passages and lead to a quick demise of an engine. Some makes and models are prone to that goopy buildup when the regular oil would break down. With synthetic, the accumulation is less likely, thus creating a longer lasting engine.

If you need help deciding which oil is right for your situation, then Britton’s is here to help! Call to make an appointment today.

 

ATV Repair Before You Hit the Desert!

ATVs single file on a desert trail

ATV Season in Lake Havasu City

It’s the season to get outside and have an ATV desert adventure. The desert around Lake Havasu is home to miles of open desert trails, canyons, and the dunes of Glamis. The terrain varies, and desert enthusiasts have loads of options to choose from. We get folks from California, Phoenix, and Flagstaff coming out for a Lake Havasu outdoor adventure.

Maybe you’ll be following a trail for a couple of days with overnight camping or perhaps just a day trip to the Desert Bar near Parker, AZ. 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 80s.

Prepare your supplies

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

  • Be sure everyone has at least 1 gallon of water
  • Hat, sunglasses or goggles and sunscreen
  • A cell phone (do some research and ask around which carrier works best out in the area where you’ll be going.
  • A first aid kit and flashlight because it’s rugged terrain and it’s just a good bet to have one.
  • Always notify someone who will not be on the trip where you’ll be and what trails you plan on taking.
  • Lastly, pack more water, just in case!

If you’ll be going overnight, there are loads more to consider mainly because the night temperatures can dip 40 or 60 degrees below the daytime highs. Trip Advisor has an excellent calculation of how much water you should have.

Prepare your vehicle

ATVs are a favorite to take out, and you want to be sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. There a few things you can do at home. But, always check with your ATV repair shop if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Check and change the oil, the belts, and your air filter.
  • Wash your ATV after each trip. You want to keep the dirt out of your engine, and all that mud will trap moisture on the metal of your ATV which creates rust.
  • Keep an eye on your tire pressure. When off-roading you’ll want a lower pressure but not too low. While you’re down there checking the tires, you can look over the bolts and nuts too. Do you see any rust or loose bolts?

Be smart, wear a helmet and protective clothing and make sure you’re not riding above your skill level. Game and Fish

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