Los Altos Auto Repair

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Duke's Takes A Byte (Your Vehicle's Computers)

duke

Duke here and I love to take a good bite out of juicy steak, whoops that's the wrong byte.  Bytes we're talking dog trackers, Alexa, smartphones, kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, and televisions.  You name it—it has a computer in it.  And your vehicle is no exception.  Nobody has to tell you that computers are a part of so many things in our lives.  So you guessed it, we will take a bite out of bytes and look at our vehicle's computers.  

The earliest cars relied on the technology of their time, and there was no such thing as a computer.  But now, it's not unusual for a vehicle to have as many as 150 computers in it. They perform a variety of functions. An important one is diagnosing your vehicle's problems.  There are various sensors throughout modern vehicles that measure thousands of data points.  When something is not working correctly, they send a signal to another computer that stores that information. The data can be read by someone who has a special computer that plugs into a port in your car.  It displays certain codes that help technicians track down the culprit. 

But it's not just the diagnostics that are computerized.  Everything from your vehicle's fuel injection to anti-lock brakes is.  Convenience features such as power windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a wi-fi-hot spot, streaming video and navigation are all sophisticated computers.  Then there are the safety features; airbags, traction control, automatic emergency braking and a host of others are all dependent on computers.

It is important that those computers work correctly because they interface with many of the other computers on board.  To properly diagnose problems with those computers requires training and special equipment. Your service facility has invested considerable resources into both, and they are equipped to properly evaluate and repair and/or replace malfunctioning components. 

Some lament the days when backyard mechanics could pull out their tools and do their own repairs.  Those days are fast disappearing with the computerization of vehicles.  But look at the bright side.  Your vehicle does so much more, has so many more features and travels far more safely than those past generations drove.  And they're bound to get better and more sophisticated down the road.

"The first computer dates back to Adam and Eve. It was an Apple with limited memory, just one byte. And then everything crashed."  

Duke

 

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Cayenne's Transmission Service at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos

cay

Cayenne here and let's talk about transmission service. It can be easy for Los Altos drivers to forget about getting their transmission serviced because it doesn't need it very often. It's easier for people in CA to remember to change the engine oil - you know, every 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But proper transmission servicing keeps your vehicle running smoothly and helps you avoid repairs down the road.  So today, I will transition you into transmission service, and guess what?  Allied Auto Works is here to help you.  Let's get barkin'


The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit you can see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatures. Usually, it's much higher than engine temperatures. Those high temperatures eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and lose efficiency.

As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn't lubricate and cool the vehicle transmission as well - leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of fluid passages inside the transmission. At best, your transmission won't operate smoothly. At worst, it could lead to damage.

When your transmission is running properly, it transfers more power from your engine to the drive wheels and improves fuel economy. That's why it is recommended to change your transmission fluid at regular intervals. Your owner's manual has a schedule for transmission service and, of course, your service advisor at Allied Auto Works can tell you what is recommended.

Hot and dusty Los Altos area conditions, towing, hauling, stop-and-go driving, and jackrabbit starts all begin to increase the load on the transmission and its internal temperature. That means Los Altos vehicles with these types of transmission requirements need to change the fluid more often. A good rule of thumb is every 35,000 miles, 55,000 kilometers, or two years. If your owner’s manual suggests more frequent intervals or if you're driving under severe service conditions around the Los Altos area, you will need to change it more often.

Most Los Altos auto service centers (including Allied Auto Works) have the ability to perform a transmission service while you wait and the cost is quite reasonable. It's downright cheap when you think about how much a major transmission repair can cost! Our pros at Allied Auto Works will know the right type of transmission fluid to use. If it's getting to be time to have your transmission serviced, do your vehicle a favor and have it done.

To hear does not mean to understand. ~Haitian proverb

Cayenne

 

cay

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

 

Categories:

Transmission

Duke Has The Need for Speed (Wheel Speed Sensor Maintenance)

duke

Hi, Duke here on this beautiful California day.  When I see a squirrel I track and then bam......the need for speed.  Well, today we will speed into the need for speed on our vehicles and bark about the wheel speed sensor and maintenance.

 

Today's vehicles have some pretty amazing technology in them, including a computerized braking system we all pretty much take for granted these days.  Antilock brake systems (ABS) have been around for years but they help drivers stop in much shorter distances reliably than ever before.  When you see your ABS warning light come on, it's important to find out what's causing the problem. It's a safety issue.

Often the problem when the ABS light comes on is a faulty wheel speed sensor.  (In some cases the traction control light will also come on, perhaps because of a non-working wheel speed sensor.) Your vehicle uses speed sensors to measure the rotational speed at each wheel. That sensor sends the speed data to a computer that can then adjust braking power and prevent your wheels from locking up. 

If any of the wheel speed sensors aren't working right, the ABS warning light will go on and the vehicle's computer will turn off the antilock brake system.  You'll still have working brakes, but you will lose the functionality of that computerized system.

When your vehicle warns you the ABS has a non-working sensor, you can have a technician check to see what's going on. It could be one of the sensors is dirty and cleaning will solve the problem.  But it also could be that one or more sensors need to be replaced. 

A technician will use computerized diagnostic equipment to determine what and where the problem is, replace any bad parts and then check to make sure the system is fully operational. 

Antilock brakes and traction control are significant technologies that help prevent your vehicle from slipping on less-than-perfect road surfaces, especially useful during wintery weather.  Make sure they're helping you drive the way they designed to.

"One time the police stopped me for speeding, and they said "oh, you know the speed limit is 55 miles per hour." I said, "yeah, I know, but I wasn't going to be out that long."~Jason Love

Duke

duke

 

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Brakes

Cayenne's Puzzling Puddle (Leaks Under Vehicle)

cay

Cayenne here and do you love puzzles?  Trying to find the right piece to finish a puzzle or solve a mystery but sometimes your car can leave you a puzzle like a puddle under the car.  Where did that come from?  Puzzling and frustrating.  So today we will bark about how to figure out where that mystery leak is coming from and solve the puzzling puddle (leaks under my vehicle).

Ever notice a little spot of liquid under your vehicle after you've parked in your driveway or garage? It may have been something as simple as water left from air conditioning condensation.  But then again, it could be a sign that there's trouble brewing in one of your vehicle's systems.

You can help your service facility diagnose the problem by getting a little sample of the drip.  At the same time, you may save yourself a tougher clean-up task by preventing the leaky fluid from really messing up the driveway or garage floor.  The first thing is to put something under the vehicle. A flattened-out cardboard box will do fine.  You may also want to slip a little disposable aluminum tray or pan under it to catch a bit of the fluid.  Chroma and consistency can help a technician quickly figure out what kind of fluid you're dealing with.  You can take your sample with you when you go to your service facility.

Also note how much of the substance is there over what period of time, when you started to notice it and its location relative to the vehicle.  Is it on the passenger's or driver's side? Front, middle or back? Vehicles have different designs, so where their equipment is located will depend on the make and model. 

The leaky fluid will have a certain look to it and consistency.  If it's blue, it may be windshield washer fluid and a sign that your washer fluid tank has a leak.  If it's green, it could be antifreeze.  Orange may mean rusty water or transmission fluid.  Brown? Might be oil.

There should be no leaks in your powertrain if things are maintained properly.  A small leak may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes it can get much bigger quickly.  A coolant leak, for example, may suddenly go from pinhole to flood, draining your cooling system and putting your engine in danger of overheating. 

It is a really good idea to have a professional check out your leaks as soon as you notice them.  And the more clues you can provide, the happier the technician will be as the search for the problem gets underway.

 

"For me, the most enjoyable part is the puzzle, the process of solving, not the solution itself."  ~ Erno Rubik.

Cayenne

cay

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Duke's Odometer Rollback on Your Los Altos, CA Vehicle

duke

How do Los Altos drivers know if an odometer is telling the truth?  Duke here and today I going to get to the bottom of the odometer mystery, is that mileage correct?



Well, back in '86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect CA consumers against mileage fraud. It says a CA seller must certify the mileage reported is the actual mileage.

To have your odometer checked in Los Altos, CA, stop by Allied Auto Works:

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024

 

If it isn't, the seller must say why; for example, maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.

If the seller tells you the mileage isn't accurate, there's not much chance of putting a good number to it. And there's the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it isn't. What can Los Altos vehicle owners do?

You can go to www.CarFax.com, where, for a small fee, they'll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your vehicle, showing local Los Altos, CA, ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.

You can get a mileage history by checking with the local CA DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car was bought and sold. If there are signs of odometer rollback, now you'll know.


If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There's always another vehicle. 

"If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?"  ~Steven Wright

Duke

duke

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Older Vehicles

Cayenne Often Asked About Premium vs. Regular Gas

cay

Cayenne here and Los Altos residents often ask the question: "Will using premium gas make my car run better?" The answer is simple. But first, let's talk about what exactly premium gasoline is.

Different grades of gasoline have different octane ratings. Regular gasoline has the lowest octane rating and premium the highest. Most gas stations around Los Altos, CA, also carry a mid-grade that falls in between the two. The octane range for the different grades of gas varies by region due to altitude differences.

Engines require different octane ratings because of design differences. For example, turbocharged engines usually require premium gas.

There's a sticker on your gas tank filler lid that tells you the minimum octane rating your vehicle manufacturer recommends.

For help identifying the type of gasoline your engine needs, come by Allied Auto Works in Los Altos.

My gas tank goes from 0 to $30 in under a minute

Cayenne

 

cay

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Fuel System

Duke Says Should I Go Right or Left? Allied Auto Works Power Steering Service

duke

Right, left, left, right, which way do I want to go??? Hey, Duke here and well sometimes I want to go to the right and sometimes to the left.  Same for your car but how is power steering able to provide the important decision when your turn your car?  Well today, I am going to bark about Power Steering Service.  So let's get barkin!

Have you ever driven a vehicle without power steering? If you have, then you probably appreciate how much easier it is to drive today's modern vehicles. Before power steering, all of the force to turn a vehicle had to come from the driver's arms. That's why old cars had such large steering wheels: they needed plenty of leverage to steer. There were some Los Altos folks who had difficulty driving because they just weren't strong enough.

Power steering is now standard on all vehicles, but there are several ways that power can be delivered. Most vehicles use a hydraulic power steering system. In this system, a serpentine belt from the engine powers a pump that pressurizes the power steering fluid. The pressure activates hydraulics that provides steering power.

Other vehicles use an electric pump to pressurize the power steering fluid rather than the belt-driven pump. Some newer vehicles actually have electric motors that provide steering power and don't use steering fluid at all, especially in the increasingly popular hybrid and electric vehicles.

Los Altos drivers who own a vehicle that uses power steering fluid need to have it changed regularly. Over time, moisture accumulates in the power steering fluid, which affects steering performance and can corrode steering components. Dirt and other contaminants can also accumulate in the power steering fluid, which will also negatively affect steering performance. A good power steering service at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos will flush out the old fluid and get rid of dirt and other deposits in the system. Clean fluid will then be added. Fresh fluid provides lubricants that help protect the steering system as well as prevent corrosion.

For recommendations on how often your power steering fluid should be replaced, consult your owner's manual. It varies by vehicle model and manufacturer. For more auto advice on steering fluid changes—and other preventive maintenance—you can talk with your service advisor at Allied Auto Works. You may need to change your fluid more often depending on the driving and weather conditions in your area.

Los Altos drivers who believe in good vehicle care will add power steering service to their preventive maintenance schedule. This will prevent damage to your steering system and extend its working life. The old days of double-handed cranking on a huge steering wheel may be over, but our new comfort and convenience are not maintenance-free. Do yourself and your vehicle a favor. Keep the power steering fluid clean.

When nothing is going right, go left,

Duke

duke

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Steering

Cayenne's Cooling System Components Advice

cay

Hello, Cayenne here and today I am going to bark to you about cooling system components and how important they are to your vehicle.  So let's start barkin' about this cool subject!

 

Today we want to talk about a system in our vehicles – the cooling system. It's one of those things that Los Altos auto owners don't give much thought to until it fails and then they're stranded by the side of a road in CA.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don't you hate it when something breaks and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Los Altos drivers take care of their cooling systems, they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Los Altos residents don't have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Allied Auto Works. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car's cooling system.

Most Los Altos folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees F/2,500 degrees C of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can't be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the vehicle engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There's another little-known but important part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It's called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

The team at Allied Auto Works can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call.

My quote for the day, "If you've gotta think about being cool, you ain't cool." ~ Keith Richards

Cayenne

cay

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Cooling System

Duke says"Whoa, Put on the Brakes": Brake Service at Allied Auto Works

duke

Whoa, Brake, Stop and Listen......It's all about the Brakes!  Hi, Duke here and today we are going to a halt and bark about brake service.

 

When it comes to preventive maintenance and vehicle care, most Los Altos drivers know how important it is to check their brakes. But brakes are more than just brake pads and shoes. There are a lot of components in the brake system, and they all need to be in good working order.

The pads and shoes are known as the friction materials in the brake system. They push together, providing friction that stops the vehicle. It's no wonder they have to be checked regularly for wear, and brake pads and shoes need to be replaced periodically.

Brake pads/shoes gradually wear out, but that doesn't mean your braking gradually becomes less effective. The pads are engineered so that they maintain good braking until they wear too thin to provide adequate friction. At this point, they need to be replaced.

But your braking system also has mechanical parts. These pistons and springs can also gradually wear out or get gummed up by oil, dirt and other road spatter. A brake inspection at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos includes a check of these parts as well as the pads and shoes. Your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Allied Auto Works can then advise you of any parts that need cleaning or replacement.

The fluid component to the brake system needs a regular check-up at Allied Auto Works as well. The brake fluid cools and protects your brake system. Protective additives are gradually depleted by the operation of the brake system, and moisture buildup inside the fluid can diminish its effectiveness. When you have your brakes serviced at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos, the fluid should be checked and, if needed, replaced, which will clean out water, debris and dirt.

It is important to remember that your brake system also includes your tires. No matter how well your brake system is performing, if your vehicle tires are worn, you won't get good stopping power. Traction is the power of your tires gripping to the roadway. Traction is always better on tires with a good tread. Good traction translates to good braking.

This is particularly important on wet Los Altos roads. A good tire will give you good braking on either wet or dry CA roads. But stopping distance increases dramatically when worn tires meet wet roads. Tread on a tire acts to channel away water as the vehicle passes over the wet road, improving contact between the tire's surface and the road; that maintains traction. But the thinner the tread, the less effective the water channels become, and water can get between the tire and the roadway, reducing friction. A loss of friction means a longer stopping distance and possibly a loss of control.

Braking depends on two things: the weight of your vehicle and the speed of the vehicle. The heavier the vehicle or the faster the vehicle, the more braking power it requires. Thus, brake systems vary from vehicle to vehicle. For example, a pickup that is designed for heavy loads has a more powerful braking system than a compact car. Sports cars also have higher-grade braking systems than minivans.

Regardless of what kind of car you drive in Los Altos, it is always good auto advice to keep your brake system in good repair, and that means ALL of your brake system. Just one more way to keep your travels accident- and worry-free.

My quote today about stopping,  "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~ Albert Einstein

Duke
duke

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Brakes

Cayenne's Battery Maintenance Tips From Allied Auto Works

cay

Hello, Cayenne here and today I am going to a charge out of you on Battery Maintenance Tips.  Let's get barkin' on this electrifying subject!

When it comes to your vehicle, it all starts with the battery. Proper battery maintenance is important for two reasons:

First, your vehicle won't start or run without it. Second, it is the key to the long life of your auto electrical system. If your battery isn't working efficiently, your alternator has to work overtime to make up for it, and other electrical components can suffer as well.

A number of years ago sealed batteries were introduced to the local Los Altos, CA, market. They were hailed as being 'maintenance-free batteries.' While it is true that you can't get in and adjust the electrolyte levels of a sealed battery, it is by no means maintenance-free.

Batteries are very sensitive to changes in the weather around CA. Temperature really affects auto battery performance. A battery inspection is an important part of your spring and fall checkups. Next time you're under your hood, take a look at your battery.

  • Is it clean and free of residue? A dirty battery will drain.
  • Is there corrosion at the terminals where the battery cables attach to the battery? If there is, the corrosion can interfere with how efficiently electricity passes back and forth from the battery.
  • Are the cables loose? Make sure they are tight.
  • Are the cables themselves corroded? Corrosion can actually eat through the battery cables.

Allied Auto Works service advisors can inspect and test your battery. If the inspection warrants a cleaning, have it done. If the battery test indicates that replacement of the battery or cables is in order, you will be lucky to have caught the problem before it becomes a major inconvenience.

Your battery will also last longer if you keep your fuel system and ignition system clean. It's all part of your commitment to regular maintenance, to keep your vehicle running on Los Altos streets at its best for a long, long time.

My quote for the day. "Batteries are the most dramatic object.  Other things stop working or they break, But Batteires....They Die." ~Demetri Martin

Cayenne

 

cay

Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
650.968.7227
https://www.alliedautoworks.com/

Categories:

Battery
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