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.

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

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.

 

What is That Car Warning Light Telling You?

photo of auto warning lights on dashboard all lit up

Your car is telling you something.

What is that warning light that just popped up on the dashboard?  And where did you put your car manual last time you cleaned out the glove compartment?  We’re going to list a few of the top dashboard lights that should be taken care of as soon as possible at an auto repair shop.

First, let’s explore how these lights go on.  Most cars these days have a monitoring system that will tell you of a problem.  The auto communicates these issues by lighting up one of the little symbols on the dash.  This warning helps to give a heads up your car becomes unsafe for the road and before any significant damage can happen.  The light is telling you to take a look at something like the oil level or to get your car repair sooner than later.

The not-so-bad, the bad, and the oh, no!

Brake system warning light in car dashboard. illustration. Close up

 

 

 

Parking brake light.  Check to be sure you didn’t leave your parking brake on.  If you didn’t, then this might mean something a bit more serious is going on.  If the light continues to stay on, then go to your auto repair mechanic to rule out that it’s not something wrong.  You always want to have a healthy and happy brake system.

 

A 3D render of an extreme closeup of an illuminated high temperature dashboard light on a car dashboard panel background

 

 

Coolant temperature light.  Coolant is an absolute must for your engine to function.  Without it, your engine will run hot, and that is not where you want things to be.  Nasty things can happen from a hot engine, like a blown head gasket.  However, it could also be-be a malfunctioning thermometer or a small leak.  Whichever the case, you will want to get your auto repaired and checked out by a certified mechanic right away.  If you don’t know how to check your coolant fluid, talk to your mechanic, and he/she can help.

 

closeup of a Check Engine Light In Car Dashboard lit up

 

Oil pressure light.  Your engine needs oil to keep it running correctly.  Without the oil, your car will overheat, and, again, horrible things will happen.  (remember what we said about lack of coolant.  It’s the same thing with oil.  Oil needs enough pressure to moved around keep the engine lubricated. Without enough lubrication, your engine will overheat, parts will wear and break, and you’ll need a new motor.  Call your mechanic get this checked out right away.

So there we have some of the top lights you’ll want to take care of right away.

From car repair to everyday maintenance, our complete automotive specialists will help you keep your vehicle in tiptop shape. We offer reliable auto care at good rates. Call or make an appointment online today to inquire about our maintenance service plans.