Los Altos Auto Repair

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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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Category Archives: What Customers Should Know

Duke's "Current" Affairs (Blown Fuses)

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Hello South Bay residents!  What a beautiful day here in California.  Take a nice car ride with the windows down and the wind in my face.  But wait, you may be driving along and find that suddenly your radio stops working.  There are no numbers on the display.  Then, when you get home, you notice the garage door opener doesn't do a thing when you press the button. Hmm, this was working just fine this morning.  Are the two problems somehow related?  Let's start barkin' and find out!

No, your vehicle doesn't need an exorcism. This has all the signs of an electrical issue, and when you experience symptoms like those, you've probably blown a fuse.  Most vehicles have fuses, just like most houses have circuit breakers (some houses still have fuses). They cut the power when it reaches a pre-determined threshold that could cause major damage if it was allowed to continue.  You might say fuses take one for the team.

Most modern automotive fuses are plastic with a thin strip of metal in them designed to melt when a calibrated amount of power passes through.  The philosophy is it's better for an inexpensive fuse to be destroyed than your sound system or your engine's main computer.

It can be tricky to figure out what fuse has blown and why.  Modern vehicles have many computerized electronic components; they can easily be damaged if too much electricity gets to the wrong spot.  At Allied Auto Works in Los Altos, we have technicians trained to trace which fuse has blown and why.

While sometimes a simple fuse replacement will fix the problem, other times, some other electrical components may have failed, causing the circuit to overload. Our technicians have special equipment to track down where the power problems are, get to the root of the problem, and fix it at the source.

Keep in mind that fuses are there to protect your vehicle. When they shut down your radio, garage door opener, vanity mirror, or anything else, just be thankful they're doing their job. They may have saved you from a much more expensive repair. They've sent an important signal to you about your electrical system. That's why it's good to keep up with "current" affairs.

I leave you with this thought today,

“The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.” - Albert Einstein

Duke

duke

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

Duke's Getting from E to F (Fuel Gauge Problems)

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Duke here. Who thinks about their fuel gauge? You probably don't… until it doesn't work anymore. Then you have to guess how much fuel is in your tank, and that's no way to live life on the road. Imagine how upset the hounds will be if they don't get their car ride. So today, we will be barkin' about fuel gauge problems and what to do. Let's get barkin'!

Fuel gauges, like every other part in your vehicle, can fail.  When yours stops working, you will probably want to head over to your service facility soon because no one relishes running out of fuel.

The fuel gauge system is much more than just the gauge on your instrument panel. Most systems have a float inside the fuel tank that goes up and down depending on the fuel level. It's called the fuel-sending unit, and it sends an electrical signal to the gauge (on the dash), telling it to display how much fuel is left in the tank. 

So, what could go wrong? Well, a few things. For one thing, corrosion from bad fuel can cause it to stick, and it won't move up and down anymore. So you could fill up your tank, and the gauge would still read Empty. If a sending unit needs to be replaced, the parts can be costly. The good news is that fuel-sending units rarely fail, and most drivers will never have one go bad.

Other things that can go wrong? An electrical problem could cause a fuse to blow and you won't get a reading at all.  A technician can figure out where that electrical problem is and how to repair it.  Finally, it's possible for the gauge itself (on the instrument panel) to fail.

One thing to keep in mind is if your fuel gauge isn't working, you might be tempted to carry around an extra container of fuel.  That's ok if it's outside the cabin, such as in the bed of a pickup.  But if you carry it inside the cabin or trunk, fuel fumes can be very dangerous for your health, even fatal.

A working fuel gauge gives you peace of mind… so you'll never have that "empty" feeling.

I leave you with this thought,

"Did you ever notice when you blow in a dog's face he gets mad at you? But when you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window!" ~Steve Bluestone

DUKE

 

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

Cayenne Is Going Nuts (Lug Nut Replacement)

cay

Hey it's your crazy hound dog, Cayenne.  Today, we are going nuts......lug nuts, that is.  We will bark about lug nut replacement, so let's get nutty and roll into it.

Here's a part of your vehicle you probably don't think about much: lug nuts.  They're what fasten your wheels onto your axles.  Pretty important, right? In order to take the wheels off your vehicle to service the brakes, rotate the tires, etc., the lug nuts have to be in good shape so a wrench will grip them tightly. 

Because lug nuts are on your wheels, they are exposed to all the elements of the road (salt, water, grime) and really take a beating. Unfortunately, some manufacturers have made them out of two different metals.  Underneath is the working part of the lug nut, made of steel.  On top is the decorative (the "good looking") part, made out of chrome, stainless steel or aluminum.  After a while, the steel part begins to corrode and expands.  That changes the shape of the outer cap, sometimes rounding off the hexagonal edges and making it hard (if not impossible) to either loosen or tighten the lug nuts since the wrench won't fit anymore. 

The reason that's so important is those lug nuts must be functional, especially if you find you have a flat tire somewhere on the road.  If the wheel can't come off to be swapped with a spare, it leaves few options, one of which is your vehicle may have to be towed.  All that for corroded lug nuts!

When you take your vehicle in for service, the technician who works on it keeps an eye on many things, especially if he or she is removing wheels.  It's not unusual for your service advisor to recommend you replace several lug nuts at once since some corrode at a different rate than others. Your repair facility is trying to help you avoid driving a vehicle that has wheels that can't easily be taken off when they need to be.

The good news is that there are one-piece lug nuts that don't have the problem the two-piece lug nuts have, so replacing them could prevent that from happening again soon. And that's not "nuts" at all.

I leave you with a nut joke,

What do you call a pair of nuts on the wall? Walnuts!

Cayenne

cay

 

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

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 Daily Grind (Grinding Noise)

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Hey Duke here, and you know I love the grinding sound when I enjoy one of the Wagu Rib Eye steak bones I get once in a while, what a beautiful sound and tastes good too.  But what if your vehicle makes a grinding sound when you turn the steering wheel, it's speaking to you and that is not a good sound.   So listen to what it's saying and you could avoid a much more costly repair down the road.  So let's grind our way into this important noisy subject and get barkin'!

If your vehicle makes a grinding sound when you turn the steering wheel, it's speaking to you.  No, really, it is.  So listen to what it's saying and you could avoid a much more costly repair down the road.  A grinding sound coming from the front of your vehicle when you are turning can offer some very informative clues as to what's going on.  One cause could be that there's a problem with the mechanical linkage that enables you to turn the wheels.  Another is that the hydraulic system that makes turning the steering wheel easier may have its own problems. 

Think of it.  Hydraulic power steering has many components that need to work in tandem.  The power steering fluid may be too old and contaminated.  Or its level may be low. That may be caused by a leak somewhere in the system. A technician can check things over to find out exactly what's happening.

Other causes of grinding while turning can be problems with the suspension in the front.  You may have a failing CV (constant velocity) joint.  It could be your brakes are partially engaging while you are turning.  That metal-on-metal sound is never a sign that things are working just the way they're supposed to.

To a technician looking to pinpoint the problem with your vehicle, it's not a daily grind at all.  Experience and training will help her or him zero in on what's causing the noise and get you back on the road. Maybe you can enjoy your sound system more after that distracting background noise has disappeared!

My noise quote of the week,

"The loudiest noise in the world is silence"  ~ Thelonious Monk

Duke

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

Cayenne's Weather Station on Wheels (Vehicle Sensor Maintenance)

cay

Cayenne here and you probably never thought about it, but your vehicle is like a rolling weather station.  It can check the outside temperature, let you know when the roads are slippery and help you deal with rain. And how it does all those things is pretty cool.  So today, we will bark about your vehicle sensors and how they adjust to those weather road conditions.......let's get barkin'

First, just like any weather station, a vehicle has sensors that measure the driving and weather conditions you find yourself in.  Some of those sensors can control computerized systems in your vehicle to react to the weather.  It depends on whether you have a 2-wheel, 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle and how those sensors will respond.

Let's start with temperature.  Most vehicles now have a thermometer that measures the temperature outside.  It's usually in the front, and likely will tell you on the instrument panel what the outside temperature measures.  But a temperature sensor will also tell your vehicle's computers to turn on or off certain systems like the heating or air conditioning.  If your ambient temperature sensor isn't working right, some symptoms are a malfunctioning automatic A/C or a temperature display that is way different than the app on your phone says it should be.

Your vehicle will also have sensors that measure your speed at each wheel.  They work with an onboard computer to measure slippage in any of the wheels so traction control and antilock brakes work correctly in case of slick roads.

Your vehicle can measure something called longitudinal and latitudinal acceleration, and it uses a yaw sensor to do it.  That helps it determine if you might be in an oversteering or understeering situation.  It's important because it works with your vehicle's brakes to apply stopping power to keep you in control.

A steering wheel sensor tells the vehicle's computers what the driver is doing with the wheel.  It also can work with those wheel sensors to measure how slippery the roads are, whether it be due to a wet (rain) or granular (gravel or sand) surface.  By sending different torque or braking to each wheel, it helps the driver maintain control.

More and more vehicles now have a rain sensor that can turn on the wipers automatically when they measure precipitation on the windshield.

So, you're driving your own weather station and making sure all this data is coming in properly depends on how each component is working.  Regular service and maintenance on these systems are important to ensure they can do their job. Your rolling weather station can't predict the weather, but it can sure help you deal with it, so help it do its job right.

Here is my quote for the week in regards to the weather.

Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while. ~Frank M. Hubbard

Cayenne


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

Duke Says It's No Yolk! Rotten Egg Smell (Sulfur Smell Causes)

duke

Hey, it's the Duke and I just got back from nice run, breathing in the fresh, clean air.  But have you ever gotten in your vehicle and said what is that awful smell?  Don't blame it on the dog.  It is probably your vehicle with that rotten egg smell.  So today we will crack the mystery out of that foul smell (no yolk intended).

The pungent smell of rotten eggs can send people running for the hills.  So when that odor is inside your vehicle, yikes!  Yolks!  The good news is that a trained service technician can search the source of that smell and stanch the stench… that comes from another word that begins with S. - Sulfur.

Fuel contains small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, but they're enough to stink up a vehicle when it's not properly burned.  You may know that the smell of rotten eggs can often be a sign of a catalytic converter that isn't working the way it should.  That could be due to age, damage or an abundance of oil that's clogging it up. 

If a sensor in charge of managing the fuel has failed, the engine can run with too rich of a fuel mixture.  That can overload the catalytic converter and allow some of the byproducts to escape without interruption from the chemical reaction that is supposed to prevent them from going out the tailpipe.

There's another possibility, but it's usually only in stick-shift vehicles.  That's leaking old transmission fluid.

Catalytic converter repairs are best left to a professional. Technicians at your vehicle service facility have equipment and training that can help them pinpoint the cause of this funky fragrance.  Once the cause is found, repairs made and/or parts replaced, the smell should go away fairly rapidly.

I leave you with my rotten egg joke of the week,

Why can't a rotten egg become a comedian?

He only has bad yolks

Duke

 

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

Cayenne and H20 No! (Driving Through Standing Water)

cay

Good day to all, this is Cayenne here and in a year marked by unusually heavy flooding in North America, drivers are very aware of the possibility they may find themselves driving where water has come over the road.  It can be a daunting and frightening situation.  Flooding waters can move quickly and unpredictably, so you have to keep your wits about you when you encounter that situation.  So today we will flow into what to do driving through standing water.  Let's get barkin'!

Here is a sample of one vehicle manufacturer's guidelines on what to do.  First, the vehicle is designed to go through some water, but you must be careful.  Never attempt to drive through water deeper than the bottom of your tires.

You can get out of your vehicle to check the depth of the water, but you can never be sure that you aren't going to drive into a spot where the road has washed away.  You can't see below the surface of the water, and suddenly you could find yourself in a place where the road drops off unexpectedly.  In swift-moving storm runoff, your vehicle could literally be floating away with the current, putting your life and those of your passengers in mortal danger. 

Never go more than 5mph/8 km/hr when you drive through standing water.  That minimizes the waves you create.  If you DO find yourself in water that is touching your drivetrain components, that water can damage them.  And if you get water in your engine, it can lock up in seconds and stall.  The potential damage can be catastrophic.

You may have found yourself driving in water deep enough to reach your drivetrain components, and it's essential that you have a technician check the fluids to make sure they haven't been contaminated.  That includes engine oil, transmission and axle.  Driving with fluids contaminated with water can severely damage those components. 

The bottom line is to avoid driving through water at all if you possibly can.  Check your vehicle's owner's manual to see if there are specific guidelines for driving YOUR vehicle in standing water.  It's information that could save your life.

I leave you with my water joke of the week.  

"There are two reasons why you should never drink toilet water.

Number one. And number two."

Cayenne

 

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

Duke's Don't Do It Yourself (Perils of DIY Vehicle Repair)

duke

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Duke here and with all the traveling you will be doing over the holidays, sometimes we want to be the DIY for our vehicles.  This can be tricky especially with all the computers and technology.  So today we will bark about the perils of trying to DIY on vehicle repair.  

Your vehicle is a complicated machine, and yes, it would be nice if you could take care of all of its problems yourself.  There was a time when vehicles were simpler and it wasn't too hard for a weekend mechanic to replace brakes, adjust a carburetor, or perform a tune-up.  But vehicles are far more complicated these days, with traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, airbags and fuel injection just a small sample of the new technologies. 

Like a lot of things these days, technology changes in leaps and bounds.  Anyone who repairs vehicles has to stay up on the latest computers, sensors, suspensions, steering, electronics, hydraulics and more.  Many power steering, braking and heating and air conditioning systems that used to be mechanical are now being replaced by electronic systems.  Computers are an integral part of much of the latest automotive technology, something you didn't see a lot of until as recently as the 1990s.

Today's most highly-trained technicians are able to keep up with how to perform the latest repairs and services by continuing education about their craft.  When once an auto repairman could do fine with a lift and a good set of tools, now specialized electronic analysis equipment and tools are must-haves when it comes to vehicle repair.

Because of how fast technology changes, access to the latest repair databases and manuals is also important.  Manufacturers require certain service procedures to be performed precisely, and any other way can leave a vehicle compromised when it comes to performance and safety. 

Your vehicle is capable of traveling at high speeds on challenging surfaces with ever-increasing traffic issues and unpredictable obstacles.  You need your vehicle to be working up to its engineered potential.  That's why you should leave repairs and services to professionals.  They work on vehicles every day, and years of experience with hundreds of repairs equip them to deal with the unexpected as well as the routine. 

When you develop a trusting relationship with a reputable service facility, you can have confidence that the maintenance, service and repairs are being done by people who know what they're doing.  Your safety and your vehicle's performance and reliability are well worth it.

Safe travels and Merry Christmas

Duke  

 

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

 

Duke's Alert "When Your Air Bag Light Comes On (Illuminated Air Bag Light)"

duke

Hey Duke here and there are some dashboard lights you should pay more attention to than others.  One is the airbag light.  If it's on and your vehicle is in an accident, your airbags probably won't do their job.  So today we will bark about the importance of the AIRBAG Light, it will save your life.  So let's get barkin" on this important subject!

Automakers began installing airbags in the late 1990s since they were mandatory in the United States, and manufacturers have included them in Canadian vehicles as well.  Safety experts say using a seat belt with an airbag gives passengers the best chance of surviving a crash and minimizing serious injury.

The airbag warning light takes a few different forms.  Some look like a picture of a belted passenger with an inflated airbag from a side view.  Or there may be a warning light that says something like "Air Bag," "SRS" (for supplemental restraint system), "Airbag Deactivated" or "Air Bag Off."

Different things cause the airbag light to come on.  Your vehicle may have been in an accident during which, while the airbags didn't inflate, crash sensors were activated.  Some of them may be connected to your vehicle's seat belts.  A technician can reset the airbag if this has happened.

Fuses can also blow, which will cause the airbag light to come on.  Another possible cause? A sensor that tells the vehicle's computer whether or not there is someone riding in the passenger front seat may be malfunctioning. 

Airbags are not for the do-it-yourselfer.  They are sophisticated systems that require specialized training and equipment to diagnose and repair.  If an airbag light is on, take it to a qualified service repair facility.  One more thing: remember that safety experts have designed airbags to work in conjunction with seat belts for maximum protection in accidents.  So always wear your seat belt.  

.....and remember, Safety never takes a day off

Duke

 

 

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

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