Los Altos Auto Repair

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Allied Auto Works(650) 968-7227
Duke and Cayenne | Allied Auto Works Grant Road

Duke and Cayenne’s Automotive Corner

"Welcome to Duke and Cayenne’s Automotive Education Blog. Each week, Duke and Cayenne open their book of knowledge to bark with you. Check back often to see how they can teach an old dog new tricks. Never stop learning!"

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Articles:

Cayenne's Recommended Los Altos Service Intervals

cay

Cayenne here, and everyone in Los Altos, CA, knows we are advised to visit our dentist twice a year.  Oral-conscious Los Altos residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get X-rays to look for problems that can't be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – "Everything's fine, see you in six months." Or "You've got a small cavity starting; let's schedule an appointment to take care of it." By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going to the dentist. Minor problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If Los Altos folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our vehicle maintenance?

Following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing ...you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval, and it's hard for Los Altos drivers to keep it all straight – even if you're part of the 1% of CA drivers that read their owners' manual.

And if you have more than one vehicle, the complexity is multiplied. You'd need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that's how your service center does it. For example, Allied Auto Works subscribes to automotive databases with your vehicle's recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it's all in the database.

Well, it's not all in the computer. Other variables can't be accounted for in the schedule: Los Altos weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in CA. Talk about these things with your service advisor at Allied Auto Works, and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner's manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that's not driving in moderate weather is considered severe, and most of us do at least some of that around Los Altos, CA, it should be taken into account.

Let's take your basic oil change as an example. What issues are involved? The oil you put in your vehicle blends base oil and special additives. There are detergents and corrosion inhibitors to clean the inside of your vehicle engine. A good quality motor oil will lubricate your engine and help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That's why most vehicle manufacturers' maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 km, whichever comes first.

It's easy for Los Altos drivers to think, "Gee, I've only driven 2,000 miles/3,200 km in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change." But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is an environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products, degrading its effectiveness even when sitting there.

Many people in Los Altos don't realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate engine areas where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it's clogged up because you haven't changed it, it can't trap anymore.

Oil sludge is another problem for Los Altos vehicles. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think 'Vaseline.' Obviously, sludge doesn't lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that the oil doesn't properly protect all the parts. That'll lead to premature wear.

If you've missed some oil changes, don't despair. Just talk with the pros at Allied Auto Works. Fess up – you'll feel better. And they can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding repairs.

I leave you with this thought for the week,

There is one advantage to having nothing, it never needs repair. ~ Frank Howard Clark

Happy Thanksgiving

Cayenne

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

 

 

Duke Breathes Deep With Your Cabin Air Filter

duke

Hi, Duke here and nothing like taking a deep breath and taking in the crisp fall air.  But what if the air quality is not good? Now that air doesn't appeal so much, imagine what it is doing to your car's air system.  Well, today we will bark about your vehicle's cabin air filter.  So sit back, take a breath, and let's get started.

Bad air quality while driving around Los Altos is nothing to sneeze at. But seriously, more vehicles these days are equipped with cabin air filters. Many folks don't know about them since they're relatively new on the scene.

These filters clean the air in your car or truck's passenger compartment or cabin. They do the same job as the furnace filter you have at home. They can filter out particles as small as three microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.

So, your cabin air filter can clean out dust, pollution, pollen, and spores to keep the air in your car nice and clean. And just like your furnace filter, they must be replaced when they get dirty. Check your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at Allied Auto Works, but they typically need to be replaced at around 12,000 to 15,000 miles (19,000-24,000 kilometers).

The filter is usually either under the hood or under the dashboard. Some are a little tricky to get to, so you'll want to have Allied Auto Works take care of replacing them.

As we said, many people don't realize they have a cabin air filter and go to their shop complaining about a funky smell in the ventilation system. It turned out to be a cabin air filter that was long overdue for replacement – really dirty and starting to smell. A quick replacement, and they were on their way and smelling fine.

Los Altos allergy-sensitive residents can benefit from a cabin air filter, as it keeps allergens to a minimum. If you're one of them, you'll want to stay on top of your filter replacement schedule.

Of course, if you do a lot of driving around the Los Altos area in dusty or polluted conditions, you'll need to change your cabin air filter more often.

I leave you with this quote,

For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. ~Sanskrit proverb

Duke

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

Categories:

Cabin Air Filter

Cayenne Goes Right or Left. Allied Auto Works Power Steering Service

cay

Hello, Cayenne here. You know, when I go on my hound dog adventures sniffing at the ground, I wonder, "Should I go right or left?"  Well, my nose always steers me in the right direction, but what do you do if your powering steering in your vehicle can't go right or left?  Well, today we are going to bark about that subject.

Have you ever driven a vehicle without power steering? If you have, you probably appreciate how much easier it is to navigate 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. Some Los Altos folks had difficulty driving because they 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 system. In this system, a serpentine belt from the engine powers a pump that pressurizes the power steering fluid. The pressure activates hydraulics that provide steering power.

Other vehicles use an electric pump to pressurize the power steering fluid rather than the belt-driven pump. Some newer vehicles have electric motors that provide steering power and don't use steering fluid, 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 eliminate dirt and other deposits in the system. Clean fluid will then be added. Fresh fluid provides lubricants that help protect the steering system and 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.

My motivation quote for the week.

“We cannot solve problems with the kind of thinking we employed when we came up with them.” — Albert Einstein

Cayenne

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

Categories:

Steering

Duke Keeps Your Tires Well Rounded in Los Altos: Tire Rotation and Wheel Balancing at Allied Auto Works

duke

Good day, Duke here and taking care of our tires is part of vehicle care for Los Altos drivers. We know they have to be replaced when they wear out, but tires also require some preventive maintenance. This maintenance will improve and extend the life of the tires, so it's well worth the effort and expense for Los Altos drivers to get it done. Tire maintenance includes keeping tires properly inflated, rotating tires and balancing wheels. 

The recommended tire pressure for a vehicle's tires is printed on a sticker on the inside of the driver's side doorjamb. A lot of engineering goes into calculating the correct pressure, so it's an important number for Los Altos vehicle owners to know. Not following this recommendation can throw off the suspension system and can lead to tire damage. Underinflated tires wear out more quickly than properly inflated tires. Vehicles also get better traction and handling on properly inflated tires. Check your tire pressure at least once a week and add air if necessary.

Don't be tempted to add a bit of extra air to your tires when you fill them. Overinflated tires will cause the center tread to wear unevenly because of improper contact with the road. It will also affect the handling performance of your vehicle.

Rotating tires allows all four tires on a vehicle to wear evenly. Front tires get more wear than rear tires because they do most of the work on turns. Tire rotation allows all of the tires to spend time on the front of the car so they all experience extra wear.

For most vehicles, tire rotation is simply a matter of moving the front tires to the rear and vice versa. Some vehicles, however, recommend a cross-rotational pattern. Other vehicles use asymmetrical tires, which means the right tires have to stay on the right side of the vehicle and the left tires on the left. Some vehicles use differently sized wheels on the front and back of the car and should not have their tires rotated.

What kind of rotation do you need? Check your owner's manual or talk to your service advisor at Allied Auto Works. Your owner's manual will have information about how to rotate your vehicle's tires as well as letting you know how often you should get it done. For most vehicles, that's usually every 5,000 miles or 8,000 kilometers. Your friendly and knowledgeable Allied Auto Works professionals can also offer auto advice about tire rotation. A quick tire inspection can also indicate whether or not your tires are due to be rotated.

When it comes to tire maintenance for Los Altos drivers, wheel balancing is usually what we know least about. Balancing a wheel is necessary to keep it in constant contact with the road. If a tire is not balanced properly, it actually hops along the roadway. You can feel this hopping as a vibration in your steering wheel if the unbalanced tire is a front tire. You'll feel the vibration through your seat if a rear tire is unbalanced. Properly balancing your tires is important and will extend their life span, improve handling and improve the safety of your vehicle. When you replace your tires, the new tires need to be balanced.

Never use different-sized tires on the same axle of a vehicle. In other words, your front tires need to be the same size and your rear tires need to be the same size. Mixing sizes can lead to some serious handling problems for Los Altos drivers.

If you have an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle, all four tires need to be the same size. If your tires are wearing out, you can sometimes make a new tire purchase fit within your budget by only buying two tires at a time. When you do this, the new tires should be installed on the rear of the vehicle. Rear tires are more in need of traction than your front tires to avoid spinning out on slippery surfaces. If you drive a vehicle around Los Altos, you need tires, so you need to know how to care for them. The safety of your vehicle can depend on the condition of your tires.

I leave you with a motivational quote for the week,

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty." — Winston Churchill

Duke

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

Categories:

Tires and Wheels

Cayenne Asks "Are You Clueless On Getting the Most Out of a Service Visit?"

cay

Hey Cayenne here, and are you sometimes "clueless" when it comes to your auto service visit?  When you head to the doctor or vet, you probably have it in your mind what you're going to say about why you don't feel good or why your favorite canine is feeling well.  That way, your doctor or vet can use that information to diagnose your problem. You might want to think of that same approach when you take your vehicle in for a repair. 

Experts say what will help the service advisor most is for you to bring in some well-organized descriptions about your vehicle's issues.  You might even want to write them down so you don't forget.  Is there an unusual smell?  What does it smell like?  Does the problem happen first thing after starting out? If there's an odd sound you hear, is it dependent on speed?  Does it change when you turn a corner?  

Keep your expectations realistic.  Some conditions may take a long time to diagnose and repair.  If you go thinking you'll be in and out in no time, you might be disappointed when you're told there are other customers ahead of you and you may have to come back tomorrow.  If you can make alternate plans to have someone pick you up and take you back when the vehicle is finished, that way, you won't feel like you've wasted your time. 

Most importantly, be available for any communication from the service advisor.  If they have your cell phone and they have a question or need approval for a repair, the sooner they reach you, the sooner things can move forward. 

The service facility wants your experience with them to be good, just as you do.  With a little help from you, they'll get your vehicle back on the road and you'll have a smile on your face.

I leave you with a joke about being clueless.

My wife didn't speak to me for 3 days last week and I haven't got a clue what I did to cause it.

Which is a shame because I'd like to do it again next week.
 
Cayenne

 

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

Duke's Having a Ball! Know your Ball Joints

duke

Did someone say ball?  Where's the ball?  There's the ball......ball joints, that is.  Hi Duke here, and I love chasing after balls and have a ball doing it, but loose ball joints on your car are not so much fun.   So today, we are going to roll into ball joints and the importance of maintaining them.  So let's get barkin'!

We all have joints in our own skeletal system, but did you know your vehicle has some joints of its own? One of the most important is called a ball joint.

One of the interesting things is that it's somewhat similar to the ball and socket joints we have in our hips and shoulders.  A ball joint allows two parts to join together to move in more than one direction at the same time.

Think about your wheels.  They have to move up and down when there are bumps in the road but in sideways directions when you are making a turn. As you can see, the ball joints are important for your steering and handling to work correctly.

Since ball joints do so much, they can wear out and become loose.  When the ball wears down, or the socket gets worn, there can be too much play in them.  It can get so bad that the ball can come out of the socket, and your wheel can fall off, a dangerous situation.  Ball joints can also seize up.  Some of them are sealed and never require maintenance; others require periodic lubrication.

Here are some signs that your ball joints are going bad:

  • Your vehicle pulls to one side
  • You can hear a clunking noise coming from a wheel area
  • Your tires are wearing unevenly, especially on the inside

The earlier a failing ball joint is discovered, the better. The best way is to have regular inspections by a technician.  Your service facility will periodically check ball joints at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. The cost to replace them can vary widely depending on whether you have a vehicle with a 2-ball or 4-ball configuration.  Also, sometimes just the joints can be replaced, but other times, they are part of a larger control arm assembly that has to have all the parts replaced at the same time. 

Your vehicle's proper steering, handling, and tire wear all contribute to a better, safer driving experience.  Make sure your ball joints are up to the job so you can go have a ball wherever your destination is.

Duke

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

Categories:

Steering

Duke's Transmission Service at Allied Auto Works

duke

It's Duke! Let's bark about transmission service today. 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.  Let's dig into this a little deeper.


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.

My thought for today.

A year from now you may wish you had started today. --Karen Lamb

Duke

 

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

 

Categories:

Transmission

Cayenne's Synthetic Oil for Los Altos Autos

cay

Hey, it's Cayenne, and you do really know what synthetic oil is and how it can benefit you and your vehicle?  If you are a driver in Los Altos and aren't currently using synthetic motor oil in your vehicle, maybe now's the time to consider it. Need more information? Well, synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum-based oil.

Synthetic oil doesn't gel or gum up like petroleum-based oil, and it doesn't vaporize as easily. It protects better in severe driving conditions like stop-and-go driving around Los Altos, as well as in very hot or very cold conditions. More and more new vehicles are being delivered with full synthetic motor oil, with the recommendation to use synthetic for the life of the vehicle.

Why is this? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why, we'd need a microscope, so we'll have to settle for using our imaginations.

The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is more slippery, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?

Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there's less friction. That means better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power, and better fuel economy. Synthetic oil doesn't sludge up like conventional oil, so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up.

Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil. Also, ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.

Most of us here in Los Altos have a busy life and might occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead, admit it. Since we're not perfect, doesn't it make sense to use a motor oil that's got your back?

Now, synthetic oil costs more. But it lasts longer, protects better, and increases fuel economy. You'll likely save money in the long run. If you're serious about making your car last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.

Give us a call to schedule an oil change, or visit us at our Allied Auto Works website.

A year from now, you may wish you had started today. --Karen Lamb

Cayenne

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

Categories:

Maintenance

Duke's Advice "Change is Good!" (Oil Change)

duke

Duke here, and you've heard that expression: change is good.  When it comes to your vehicle's oil, change is not only good, it's vital for the health of the engine.  But there's one question that puzzles many drivers: how frequently should my vehicle's oil be changed? There is not one simple answer, but I'm here to bark to you about some guidelines that will help. So let's change it up and roll into this topic!

It used to be pretty much a rule of thumb that vehicles got their oil changed once every 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 kilometers.  But times have changed.  Oil formulations have gotten better and engine designs have made longer oil change intervals possible. 

Most experts advise you to read the recommendations from the manufacturer that designed and built your vehicle.  Their designers and engineers know more about your vehicle than anyone else.  They spell out their recommended oil change interval and type of oil in your owner's manual.  Many automakers say you can go at least 5,000 miles/8,000 kilometers between oil changes and recommend even longer intervals.  If you use synthetic oil, it doesn't have to be changed as often. 

Ever wonder why you have to change your oil?  Your vehicle lives in a dirty environment.  Contaminants build up in your engine oil and, after time, inhibit the oil's lubricating properties.  Without optimal lubrication, increased friction inside the engine starts wearing down the metal parts, shortening the engine's life.

Not only do vehicle manufacturers recommend oil change intervals in the manual, but many also now alert drivers by a light or other electronic indicator on your dash.  It doesn't exactly say, "Hey, time to get your oil changed. This oil's starting to wear on me." But it does give you a pretty good hint.  Some of these warning systems simply measure the distance you've traveled.  More sophisticated vehicles have sensors that measure temperature, driving time, and engine revolutions to determine when the oil is getting past its useful life.  Here's one situation where it's easy to see the light.  Do yourself a favor, and don't wait too long before coming in for an appointment at Allied Auto Works. 

Oh, and driving habits matter, too.  Short trips with a lot of stop-and-go driving will stress your engine and oil more than longer trips at highway speeds. 

And here's another plus side to regularly changing your oil at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos.  Our technician will also keep an eye on the rest of your vehicle to spot anything that might need attention.

The bottom line is this: Oil changes are good for your vehicle in so many ways and are probably the most important maintenance service you can get.

I leave you with this famous "change" quote for the week,

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." — John F. Kennedy

Duke

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

Categories:

Oil Change

Cayenne Is Exhausted! (Exhaust Service)

cay

YAWN!  Cayenne here, and I am exhausted from my busy week getting ready to do my weekly blog. You know it was exhausting because it is about Exhaust Service.  So before I go back and take another snooze, we better bark about Exhaust Service now. 

Most of us know a bad muffler when we hear it.  That loud, rumbling sound is unmistakable. Did you also know you can get a ticket for driving with a loud exhaust system?

If your exhaust system has a leak, it may be allowing poisonous gases inside your vehicle and could make you seriously ill (or even kill you!) if you breathe too much in.

Unfortunately, your exhaust system faces a lot of destructive forces out on the road.  Rust is the worst, not just in colder climates where salt and brine are used as de-icers.  Exhaust systems can rust from the inside out when moisture condenses inside the pipes.  Vibrations and jolts from rough roads (and the occasional run-in with a rock or a curb) can wreak havoc with exhaust systems.  Even a bad oxygen sensor can send too much fuel into the catalytic converter, and the resulting heat can wind up destroying this very expensive component.

Your exhaust system is made up of several parts, and all need to be in good shape in order for you to be sure that the gases created by your engine's combustion get properly moved out and away from the vehicle. The good news is that many newer exhaust systems are made of durable materials like stainless steel.  But all exhaust systems are subjected to some of the roughest elements streets can dish out. So having your exhaust system periodically inspected and serviced is a good idea.

There are a lot of parts to keep track of in an exhaust system, including the muffler, manifold, catalytic converter, oxygen sensors, and the muffler (or maybe your vehicle has more than one).  We strongly recommend having your exhaust system periodically checked so we can catch a problem before it turns into something major… and may be dangerous.  We can recommend repair or replacement that suits your driving habits and budget. 

Oh, and remember one final benefit to a tip-top-shaped exhaust system.  Your vehicle will dump far less pollution into the atmosphere if it's working the way engineers designed it.  We'll all breathe a little easier when our exhaust systems are doing their job right.

I leave you with my exhausted joke for this week,

What's the difference between tired and exhausted?

When you run in front of a car, you get tired

When you run behind a car, you get exhausted.
 
Cayenne

 

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

Categories:

Exhaust
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