Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel is off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn't feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes around Oshkosh and smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then, one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
There are several things involved in an alignment check at Auto Authority LLC. First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension systems - their components should be checked to see if anything's bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's center line. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, a technician at Auto Authority LLC can determine the direction they push and then align the front wheels to match.
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It's better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear - by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked at Auto Authority LLC in Oshkosh when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tires meet the road properly for maximum performance and safety.
Today we want to talk to Oshkosh drivers about timing belts. They're something that many drivers don't know much about and yet your vehicle won't run if it's broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner's manual, it's not the kind of thing that most Oshkosh area auto owners remember because it's not well understood.
Let's review what a timing belt does. As most know, the engine's power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel, pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It's called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.
Now, not all vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. The leading vehicle manufactures started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now Oshkosh drivers and their advisors at Auto Authority LLC are left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous for drivers depending on where they are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.
Interference vehicle engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it'll cost a chunk of change to repair the vehicle engine.
So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren't any. There aren't tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Auto Authority LLC may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that's in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the damage it'll cause. There's no middle ground.
So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner's manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles/97,000 km; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles/145,000 or 160,000 km. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles (97,000 or more km), ask your Auto Authority LLC service advisor right away if your vehicle requires a timing belt replacement.
Contact Auto Authority LLC to learn more about your car's timing belt You can find us at:
Sometimes Oshkosh drivers can go quite a while without a failure, but we've seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It's not worth the risk.
What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Oshkosh? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it's usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn't a cheap procedure, but it's a fraction of what it could cost to repair the damage caused by a failure.
At Auto Authority LLC in Oshkosh, we're all about trying to prevent repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment.
Tire Maintenance in Oshkosh
Posted June 13, 2012 12:00 PM
With the recent focus in the Oshkosh area on improving fuel economy, we've been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.
Oshkosh drivers know that tires wear out, but we want to make them last as long as possible because they're not cheap to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Underinflated tires will wear out more quickly.
Some people in Oshkosh wonder if they should add a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. Bad idea. In fact, there are very good reasons not to overinflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.
Stop by Auto Authority LLC to see about tire maintenance for your vehicle.
Every vehicle in the Oshkosh area has a sticker on the driver's side door jamb that tells you the vehicle manufacture's recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle's suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it's important for drivers to follow it.
What else do Oshkosh drivers need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let's start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. At Auto Authority LLC in Oshkosh, we rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front, and they'll all wear evenly over their live.
For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it'll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can't be rotated at all. Your owner's manual will have details for your vehicle or ask your service advisor at Auto Authority LLC.
How often should people near Oshkosh rotate their tires? Your owner's manual will have a recommendation. Your technician at Auto Authority LLC in Oshkosh can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles/8,000 km.
You know, some people don't think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren't taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there's enough variation to require balancing.
When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely important. When a tire's out of balance, it's actually hopping down the road. Oshkosh vehicles with tires out of balance will feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire's out of balance and through the seat if it's a rear tire.
Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety for Oshkosh drivers and their passengers. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted.
The team at Auto Authority LLC also wants to remind you that it is important to always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that's where you need the most traction to avoid spinning out.
On Board Diagnostics For Your sedan
Posted June 6, 2012 12:00 PM
Make an appointment with The Auto Authority LLC to have your on board diagnostics analyzed. 804 Witzel Ave Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54902 920-231-1016
Today we're going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from folks around Oshkosh Wisconsin 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 Oshkosh Wisconsin.
These are valid concerns. If you don't understand something it's really hard to know its value. Let's start with some history.
Since 1996, all cars and light trucks in Oshkosh Wisconsin 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 Oshkosh Wisconsin 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.
You can imagine 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 The Auto Authority LLC 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 The Auto Authority LLC. If the light burns steady – don't panic. Get in to The Auto Authority LLC 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.
Is Your Oshkosh Driving Severe?
Posted June 1, 2012 12:00 PM
People near Oshkosh, Wisconsin, often ask Auto Authority LLC how often they should have a particular service done. It's a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner's manual or have your Oshkosh, Wisconsin, service advisor at Auto Authority LLC look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.
One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Oshkosh will say that their driving is normal and that the 'regular' schedule probably applies to them. 'Severe service' sounds pretty extreme – 'I don't drive like that.'
Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.
Most of your trips are less than four miles (six and a half kilometers).
Most of your trips are less than ten miles (16 km) and outside temperatures are below freezing.
The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
You drive with a car-top carrier.
You do a lot of stop-and-go driving.
You drive in very hot or very cold weather.
If that's severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I'm thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles (six and a half km) from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour (100 kph) when I'm on the freeway.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Oshkosh. Occasionally we load up for family trips.
For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here's what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.
Picture a line with 'regular' on one end and 'severe' on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles (8,000 km) and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 miles (5,000 km), when should you change your oil? For me, it's closer to 3,000 miles (5,000 km). For my wife, it's closer to 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Your Oshkosh, Wisconsin, auto service advisor at Auto Authority LLC will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.
Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather, engine and transmission heat from stop-and-go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly, and then they aren't as effective.
Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don't drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won't evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.
If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.
So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You've made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.