Posted on 9/24/2013
Cayenne wants to know if you have found yourself in the following situation: You go to get your oil changed and the service adviser at Allied Auto Works recommends you get a new engine air filter. You say yes, but because you didn't know what an air filter is or what it does, but you were too embarrassed to ask.
First of all Cayenne wants you to know, you did the right thing by getting a new one. And, you should never be too embarrassed to ask for more information from any of our Allied Auto Works staff. It's your money and you have a right to understand what you're paying for.
"Let's review what an air filter does" barks Cayenne:
Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside in Los Altos right now? Can you see any smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone in CA with hay fever can tell you that there's plenty in the air that you can't see. Well, it's the engine air filter's job to clean that air before it goes into your engine, to mix with the fuel and be burned. Without an engine air filter, the inside of your engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.
Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
In fact, for every gallon of gas you burn, your engine needs 12,000 gallons of air. That little filter does a very big job. It's no wonder that the air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced. Think about a vacuum cleaner. When the bag gets full of dust and dirt, the vacuum doesn't clean as well. It can't move enough air to create good suction. A clogged engine air filter is the same way - the engine can't get enough air to burn the fuel efficiently. That means less power and wasted gas.
That's why your manufacturer has recommended that you change your filter at regular intervals. Of course the conditions you drive in will affect how quickly the filter gets dirty. If you drive where it's very dusty or where there's lots of pollen or pollution, you may need to change the filter sooner. The filter is easy to check visually, so your service technician can quickly make the call. He might recommend immediate replacement, or simply let you know that it is getting close and that you'll need to replace it soon - like at your next oil change.
Because a severely dirty air filter hurts your fuel economy, many people find that a new air filter pays for itself in gas savings before the next oil change. They also make premium air filters that have been proven to increase your horsepower and torque. If more power is important to you, a high performance air filter is some of the cheapest horsepower you can buy.
The better your car breathes, the better it runs - kind of like dogs and people. And don't worry - if you have a question or don't understand a recommendation just Cayenne or better yet stop by Allied Auto Works and talk to Matt or Travis.
Posted on 9/18/2013
Welcome to Cayenne's Weekly Blog. Before the recession hit, the median age for cars in the Los Altos CA area (zip code: 94024) was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. Cayenne and Allied Auto Works hear reports that those numbers continue to rise.
Cayenne recommends if you have a high-mileage vehicle in the Los Altos area, bring it in for high-mileage maintenance:
Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
Many people in Los Altos are keeping their vehicles longer. The economy has influenced that, but the fact that modern sedans are more durable and reliable means that owning a high mileage vehicle doesn't have to be a painful experience.
Local car owners in Los Altos with over 100,000 miles on their vehicles often ask Cayenne which service intervals they should follow. Cayenne's advice starts with the special needs of the older vehicle...
The reality is that time and mileage will take its toll. The engine and transmission will have more sludge. The fuel, steering and brake systems will have gum and varnish built up. There'll be more dirt and contaminants in the fuel tank. Corrosion and deposits in the cooling system. And seals and gaskets will start to dry out.
All of this, plus normal wear and tear, means that the engine might not be as strong as new, so it just has to work harder to get the job done.
So we need to compensate. Consider high-mileage formulations for oil changes, transmission service, etc. These special formulations contain additives that condition the seals and gaskets to prevent leaks. They also have more detergents to clean sludge and other deposits. They cost a bit more, but they're worth it.
In general, if an auto service was recommended every 15,000 miles when the car was new, you should continue to get the service done every 15,000 miles.
Cayenne recommends talking with your Los Altos service advisor at Allied Auto Works about the condition of your engine. See if he thinks you should adjust your auto service intervals for oil changes or other auto maintenance to account for the older engine working harder.
Expect the oil filter to get dirty faster. Same goes for the fuel filter. And some leaks are to be expected so you need to keep a closer eye on fluid levels.
If anything, following recommended service intervals for your sedan is more important in a higher mileage vehicle. Skipping oil changes or other services can lead to problems much more quickly than with a newer vehicle.
So, have your Los Altos auto service advisor at Allied Auto Works help you with an assessment of your older car or truck. If you haven't gotten around to a fuel system cleaning, or replacing power steering or brake fluid, a differential service or transmission service – it's time to start taking care of those things. It'll help keep you on the road for many more happy miles and happy dogs hanging out of the window Cayenne's says. "We love our car rides!"
Posted on 9/12/2013
From Cayenne's point of view in very simple terms, a fuel injector is a valve that squirts fuel into your sedan engine. Your engine control computer tells the fuel injector how much fuel to deliver as well as the precise time it should be delivered. Of course, Cayenne wants you to know this happens thousands of times a minute in every single fuel-injected car driving down Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Mt. View interstates. Cayenne's knows as she loves car rides.
Cayenne says fuel injectors for gas engines are known in the Los Altos automotive community as port fuel injectors because they deliver the fuel to a port just outside the cylinder. The fuel pump provides pressure needed to squirt the right amount of fuel into the engine.
Cayenne has noticed a few auto makers have recently introduced gas direct injection systems on some engines. They are now available at some Los Altos dealerships. These systems inject the gas directly into the cylinders under very high pressure – many times the pressure of port injection systems.
Although more complicated, direct injection technology promises greater power with improved gas mileage for gas-poor Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Mt. View car owners. CA motorists can expect to see more of it in the future.
High temperatures under your sedan hood and variations in Los Altos gas quality cause fuel injectors to be fouled with wax, dirt, water, additives and carbon. Injectors can become partially clogged, preventing them from delivering the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure. You do not want this says Cayenne.
When injectors are dirty, the fuel doesn’t burn as efficiently resulting in poor fuel economy and loss of power. So it’s important for Los Altos car owners keep their fuel injectors clean.
Cayenne recommends Allied Auto Works service center where they can perform a fuel system service for you in which the fuel injectors are cleaned so that they operate properly and deliver the right amount of fuel at the right time.
Proper maintenance of your sedan fuel system means that you will spend less on gas, enjoy strong performance and prevent costly Los Altos repair bills down the road and Cayenne says that extra money you will save on gas can go towards a nice bone for your dog.
Posted on 9/4/2013
Cayenne wants you to make an appointment with Allied Auto Works to have your on board diagnostics analyzed.
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
Today Cayenne's going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions she hears from folks around Los Altos CA who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what's involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of diagnostic scans by a trained technician in Los Altos CA.
Cayenne's knows these are valid concerns. If you don't understand something it's really hard to know its value. Let's start with some history.
Cayenne did some research and since 1996, all cars and light trucks in Los Altos CA have been required to use a standardized diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what's wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle's Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.
The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can't adjust for, the computer will turn on the check engine light.
It is also called the 'service engine soon' light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your Los Altos CA service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.
If you've searched for check engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner or go to an auto parts store to have the trouble code read to tell you exactly what's wrong.
That's a common myth. The code itself doesn't tell you what's broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won't tell you what's wrong or how to fix it.
Let's say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads one 102 degrees. You've confirmed a fever, but you don't know what's causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician's examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.
An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads 'Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response'. This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that's all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.
Cayenne imagines a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that's stored in the engine control computer. That history's very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers like Allied Auto Works invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don't need replacing.
So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your check engine light comes on, get it checked at Allied Auto Works. If the light burns steady – don't panic. Get in to Allied Auto Works soon to have the engine scanned. A flashing check engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.
And try to not drive at high speed or tow or haul heavy loads with a flashing check engine light. Cayenne strongly recommends this needs to be attended to as soon as possible.
Posted on 8/30/2013
If you've walked through the automotive fluids of an auto parts store in Los Altos, you'll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How do you know what's right for your vehicle?
As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run as you drive around the Los Altos area. Your vehicle manufacturer has specified a particular type of fluid for every system from the motor, to the cooling system, brake fluid and so on. When you realize that not every variation is applicable to your vehicle, the task becomes more manageable.
First let's talk about why there are so many varieties. Starting with motor oil, we see that manufacturers match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the design needs of the engine. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil.
Some vehicles around Los Altos come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet is to always use what the factory recommends. The recommendation is what's been proven to work in function and durability tests. The recommended oil is also a factor in determining oil change interval schedules.
A good quality oil has more additives that are engineered to clean and protect the engine. They cost a bit more, but are worth the extra protection. If you buy budget oil, you might want to consider shortening your oil change interval.
Sometimes fluids are developed specifically to meet the needs of a particular family of engines. An example would be coolant. Because of the different materials used to build the cooling system, the coolant has to be formulated to protect those parts, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from corrosion. We've seen special coolant in Los Altos for General Motors, Volkswagen, Chrysler and others.
The same is true of transmission fluid and brake fluid in recent years.
The really good news is that your Los Altos service center has databases that tell them the recommended fluids for your vehicle. This takes all the guess work out. If you have some special needs, like a higher mileage engine or want enhanced performance, ask your service advisor for upgrades or additives that'll meet your needs while being consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations.
Of course, your full-service oil change will top off your fluids. But it's a good idea to have some of everything at home in case you need to top something off yourself or to take on a trip. Ask your Los Altos service advisor at Allied Auto Works or check your owner's manual for fluid specifications.
It's important to know that there are national warranty laws that say that a manufacturer cannot require you to use their brand of fluid to maintain your warranty. That said, there are two things that may affect your warranty.
Using the wrong type of fluid may void the warranty. Going back to radiator coolant, the correct type protects against corrosion and the wrong type will not. So it's important to be right.
Also some warranty protections are conditioned on taking care of scheduled preventive maintenance. Please review your warranty if you have questions.
Posted on 8/21/2013
Have you ever had an experience like this in Los Altos CA? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!
You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off.
You wonder; "What was going on?" Well, it's actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.
Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn't be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something's wrong. Whatever's wrong could cause some serious engine damage.
Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.
It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I'm still concerned, I'll keep this light on for now.
Then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.
The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it's gone now. The danger is past, I'll turn that light off.
Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into our Los Altos CA shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?
Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.
The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.
The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can't compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.
The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what's wrong?
Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can't really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.
Let's say you're feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.
You know your symptom – a fever – but you don't know what's causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?
You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.
There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.
There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer's computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.
A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn't have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Los Altos CA service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.
The second problem is that once you've got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.
So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.
How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at Allied Auto Works. Give us a call at 650.968.7227 and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.
Posted on 8/13/2013
Los Altos drivers' cars have to operate in a wide range of CA temperatures which requires our engine coolant to be able to perform 'no matter what'. Think for a moment about the environment where the coolant does its thing. Very hot, high pressure, corrosive...
And all the while, it has to protect the components of the cooling system from corrosion. These components are made from steel and aluminum, plastics and rubber. The coolant has to be formulated to protect against corrosion for all of these different materials. That’s why manufacturers recommend different types of anti-freeze for our Los Altos, CA vehicles.
There are several different 'families' of anti-freeze available to us here in Los Altos, CA. Your owners’ manual will tell you what kind you should use. Of course, the automotive professionals at Allied Auto Works will know the right kind for your car.
It’s critical to stay on top of this because coolant system failure is the most common mechanical problem people have here in Los Altos, CA. Regular service at Allied Auto Works needs to be done to avoid failures and also to keep your warranty in place.
While the specifics of the service required may vary from vehicle to vehicle, your personal Allied Auto Works tech will know what to do. You’ll be advised to replace the coolant at specified intervals.
Some manufacturers recommend periodic coolant system flushes. A flush adds a cleaning step to the fluid replacement process. Again, check to see what your Los Altos tech recommends.
Someday, you may have to deal with an overheating problem, so you need to know what to do if your coolant temperature warning light comes on or your temperature gauge is in the hot zone.
Now, overheating can be very pricey. Los Altos drivers can literally melt down their engine and have to replace the whole thing. So don't ignore warning signs.
First turn off the air conditioner. This will lower engine temperature right away. Next, crank up your heater to maximum heat and run the fan at high speed. You might need to roll down the windows, but this will take a lot of heat off the engine.
Pull over as soon as you can safely do so, especially if you are stuck in slow-moving traffic, and shut the car off. It may take as much as 45 minutes for the engine to cool to the point that it’s safe to operate the car again.
If you need to add water or antifreeze, be sure to wait until the car cools down. Opening the radiator cap or even the overflow bottle when the coolant is hot and under pressure may result in serious burns.
After the engine has cooled for 45 minutes or so, look to see if the coolant is low in the overflow tank. If so, you can cover the overflow tank cap with a large cloth and open the lid. Then start the engine and pour in some water or antifreeze. Pouring it in when the car is running will circulate the new, cool fluid with the warmer fluid in the engine and avoid engine damage.
Of course, overheating is a serious problem and you need to get it fixed right away. Allied Auto Works can make sure the coolant is right before you drive home.
Those spring and winter inspections really come in handy when they head off a cooling system problem. And don’t forget that severe service driving conditions, like towing or hot, dusty driving around Los Altos, CA, mean that you’ll need to service your coolant more frequently.
At AutoNetTV, we suggest that you have Allied Auto Works inspect your coolant system to find small problems before they become big, and to change belts and hoses before they fail. After all, we don’t want you to lose your cool out there in Los Altos, CA.
Posted on 8/8/2013
Los Altos drivers rely on their car's coolant system to keep their engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your sedan engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it’s cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the coolant/water mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.
There’s a reason we mix coolant and water. Water alone actually does a good job transferring heat from the engine. The problem is that water boils at a temperature that’s easily reached inside your sedan's engine, so it can turn to steam which does not conduct heat as well and is harder to contain.
Also, if it’s freezing outside in Los Altos, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the cold.
So, if you remember your Los Altos high school chemistry, you’ll know that a mixture has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than either component alone.
Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures in and around Los Altos.
Whenever the sedan is running, the coolant in the cooling system is working to keep your engine from overheating. When it’s cold outside, the coolant acts as antifreeze to keep the fluid from freezing in your engine.
All that exploding fuel in your engine creates a lot of heat. Without coolant, the metal sedan engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. Expensive parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole sedan's engine is ruined and has to be junked.
This is why it is critical that Los Altos drivers check coolant levels frequently and have their sedan cooling system inspected for leaks. Also your sedan manufacturer has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner’s manual or ask us at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos.
The reason you need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system’s a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other sedan cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted and the coolant just has to be replaced.
Many Los Altos auto owners ask Allied Auto Works why there are different colors of antifreeze. It is very important that you use the correct type of antifreeze. The different types of antifreeze – or coolant – are different colors so you don’t mix them up.
Auto manufacturers use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.
So check with us at Allied Auto Works or your owner’s manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your sedan cooling system.
Posted on 7/31/2013
Power steering is standard on nearly every car and truck in Los Altos, CA these days. Now there are some exotic, new types of power steering systems, but for the most part, the general setup is a pump that’s driven by a belt powered by the engine.
Contact the automotive professionals at Allied Auto Works in Los Altos for questions about your power steering.
The pump generates power that assists you as you steer your sedan around Los Altos, CA. Power steering systems use hoses to move pressurized fluid back and forth. These hoses can develop leaks so it’s a good idea to have your Los Altos service specialist inspect them at every oil change.
A check of the power steering fluid level is on the list for every full service oil change at Allied Auto Works because low fluid can damage the power steering pump. And the fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so you need to use the correct type –just ask your service specialist at Allied Auto Works.
In addition to providing boost, the fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. Over time, the lubricants and detergents diminish so Los Altos car owners need to replace their old fluid with clean, fresh fluid periodically.
Excess moisture can collect in the power steering fluid as well. That can lead to rust and corrosion as well as reduce the effectiveness of the fluid. Many auto manufacturers outline power steering service intervals in the owner’s manual. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the maintenance schedule. If you're not sure, every two years is a good rule of thumb.
At Allied Auto Works, we use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with new fluid.
Now, if you are experiencing high steering effort, erratic power assist, loud whining coming from the pump you may have a power steering problem. Another sign is that you have to frequently top off the fluid.
Holding the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time can wear your pump out real fast. AutoNetTV wants you to be sure to service your power steering system regularly to keep you headed in the right direction.
Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
Posted on 7/23/2013
So you have some exciting plans for the CA weekend. You’re going to take some of your Los Altos, CA friends out on the boat for some water skiing. Of course, you’ve gotten the boat all ready. And you haven’t forgotten about your tow vehicle. You’ve gassed it up and even vacuumed it out. However, there is something even more important than the cleanliness of the interior: you want to make sure that your sedan maintenance is up to date.
Think about it – heavy freeway traffic on the way out of Los Altos. There’s hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it's going to be pretty hot in Los Altos this weekend. And all the time you’ll be towing around several thousand extra pounds. That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission.
Let’s just consider the transmission. It’s going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. A fun little blast to the local CA lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.
It’s critical to have enough transmission fluid. If it runs low, the transmission will run hotter and won’t have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, it's critical for Los Altos auto owners to have it serviced by automotive professionals like the team at Allied Auto Works to make sure it runs efficiently.
An automatic transmission contains a maze of passages through which the fluid must pass to keep it shifting smoothly. If you neglect regularly scheduled transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems.
Los Altos auto owners who neglect their transmission for too long will eventually experience transmission failure. You really don’t want to pay for a major transmission repair.
This reminds us of how much of our driving around Los Altos, CA is under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions. Things like short trips, driving in very hot or very cold weather. Dusty roads and city driving around Los Altos, CA add to the strain. Basically, any driving that’s not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions.
While you have your vehicle in, ask for a trip inspection. Your service advisor at Allied Auto Works will check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.
Now, don’t forget the sunscreen.