In 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier created the first operational air conditioning system. It effectively removed heat and humidity for one very happy customer -- a Brooklyn printing plant owner.
How your air conditioning system works:
First, a belt powers the system by compressing, pressurizing and pumping the refrigerant through the A/C system. Then, refrigerant is pushed through a valve where pressure and temperature are reduced. Next, the cooled refrigerant travels through the evaporator and is blown into your vehicle. Finally, the refrigerant returns to the compressor -- and the cycle begins all over again.
When your air conditioning system does not work:
Our aim is to get you back to your comfort zone, so we look at a number of things in the A/C system.
* We check the A/C compressor drive belt for cracks or damage
* We check any accessible A/C components for leaks or damage
* We check how components are operating, such as the A/C compressor
* We evacuate refrigerant from your A/C system
* We vacuum test your system
* We recharge the A/C system with refrigerant (according to the vehicle manufacturer's specifications)
Sometimes an A/C problem can stem from the serpentine belt. This belt sends power from the engine to operate various engine components, such as the alternator and water pump. One other component that it operates is the air conditioner compressor. If needed, we will visually inspect your serpentine belt, remove the old belt and install a new one.
Belts and hoses are the kind of parts that are constantly exposed to heat, vibration, and harmful chemicals. So it's no wonder that they crack, peel, wear out and leak. You may be able to postpone an oil change here and there (though we don't recommend it), but overlook the condition of belts and hoses and you're bound to pay the price. These parts must be checked regularly. Just keeping an occasional "eye" on them isn't enough.
The power steering pump, alternator, air conditioning compressor, radiator cooling fan, water pump are just some of the belts we inspect. Please note: most older vehicles have a single serpentine belt powering these accessories (as opposed to several individual belts). And here's how we inspect them:
* We look for cracking, glazing, softening, peeling, etc.
* We test tension and alignment
* We make note of any suspicious but not-yet-dangerous condition that we should check on your next visit with us
Hoses are made up of two rubber layers with a layer of fabric in between. Hoses are the conduits that keep car fluids getting to their correct destination. The kinds of hoses a vehicle has vary by make and model, but basically you'll find these hoses in every car:
* The fuel hose moves fuel from the gas tank to the engine
* The radiator hose delivers coolant to the engine
* The power steering hose connects the power steering pump to the steering equipment
* The heater hose delivers coolant to the heater core.
Hoses are critical to the health of your car. For this reason, we inspect hoses thoroughly:
* We look for cracking, leaking, hardening or softening, etc.
* We test the cooling system for leaks using state-of-the-art pressure technology
* We make note of any suspicious hose condition for your next visit
If your vehicle's alignment is correctly positioned you'll not only get the best performance from it. You'll also be ensured a smooth and safe ride. When alignment is not proportioned correctly, driving grows more expensive and dangerous.
The dangers of bad alignment:
* Poor alignment can cause your car to pull or drift away from a straight road and cause an accident that you cannot avoid by steering out of it
* Bad car alignment can cause excessive tire wear, which can cause a blow-out and poor traction
The costs of bad alignment:
* Improper alignment decreases gas mileage
* Decreases tire life
* Adds stress to steering equipment, overall structural damage and other parts
With proper alignment your wheels are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. When out of alignment, you'll notice steering problems or uneven wear patterns on your tires. If so, your vehicle may need immediate attention. Let our expert technicians take a look. We may recommend that the angles of your wheels need our computerized alignment services.
What causes poor alignment?
You might have poor alignment after a major or minor collision that results in physical damage to your vehicle's frame. Driving over a pothole, or bumping into or over a curb can also cause poor alignment.
The benefits of proper alignment:
* Tires last longer
* Easier steering
* Improved gas mileage
* Smoother ride
* Safer driving experience
Caster: The angle of a steering pivot, as seen from the side of the vehicle and measured in degrees. Three to five degrees of positive caster is typical for most vehicles.
Camber: The angle of the wheel in relation to a vertical direction (as seen from the front or rear of the car).
Toe: "Toe-ins" occur when the front edges of a pair of wheels points toward each other. When the pair has the front edges point away from each other, the pair is referred to as "toe-outs."
Make sure you look for the ASE patch on your mechanic's uniform.
The most important part of caring for the car brakes is being certain that an ASE certified technicians is doing the work. Braking technology has come a long way since the early days of the automobile, and continues to evolve. More reason to picky when it comes to who works on your brakes.
To ensure a safe braking system and driving experience for you, our ASE certified technicians use the Motorist Assurance Program Uniform Inspection Guidelines to check the following:
* Disc brake rotors and pads, calipers and hardware
* Brake drums and shoes, wheel cylinders, and return springs
* Parking brake cables
* Hydraulic system including the master cylinder, brake fluid and hoses, and the power booster
While brake systems vary by make and model, basically you'll find disc brakes in front, and either disk or drum brakes in the rear. A network of tubes and hoses connects your brakes to each wheel and the master cylinder, while supplying everything with hydraulic (brake) fluid.
To complicate matters, your braking equipment consists of two things: 1) hydraulics and 2) friction materials. When you press down on your brake pedal, so much happens -- more than we have space here to mention. But basically, hydraulics and friction materials work together in a kind of brake ballet to help your 2,000-pound car come to a halt, even at a high speed. Here's a simple breakdown of how your brake parts interact with each other:
1. Hydraulics -- includes the master cylinder, brake lines and hoses, and wheel cylinders and calipers.
The master cylinder converts the physical pressure exerted by your foot into hydraulic pressure. Meanwhile, brake fluid is sent to your wheel brakes via a system of brake lines and hoses. Then wheel cylinders go to work, forcing pistons out, which push the brake shoes into the brake drum. Things called "calipers" squeeze brake pads onto the "rotor" to stop your car. Both of these components apply pressure to friction materials....
2. Friction Materials -- includes the disc brake pads and drum brake shoes.
A disc brake uses brake fluid to force pressure into a caliper, where it presses against a piston. The piston then squeezes two brake pads against the rotor, forcing it to stop. Brake shoes consist of a steel shoe with a steel shoe with friction material bonded to it.
Bad braking can occur when air gets into the hydraulic fluid. The solution? Bleeder screws located at each wheel cylinder are removed to bleed the brake system. This gets rid of any unwanted air found in your braking system.
Our ASE certified technicians can tell you more about your braking system. Just ask.
Some States require Vehicle Inspections, Safety Inspections and Emissions Testing
When it comes to passing state and local testing, we pride ourselves in our track record for helping our customers to meet safety and emissions regulations. These tests may be necessary and important, and therefore demand the skills of an expert technician.
Your Emission & Exhaust System:
The emission and exhaust system is extensive. It starts at the engine of your vehicle and ends at the tailpipe. This system involves and connects various vehicle parts:
* Exhaust pipes
* Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves and sensors
* Engine cylinders
* Oxygen sensors
* Catalytic converter
Exhaust system dangers:
A simple pothole or other rough road condition can damage your emission and exhaust system. Another problem is exhaust gas. It contains carbon monoxide and other substances that can be dangerous if they are flowing into the passenger compartment.
Exhaust system problem can show up as noises like a steady roar, rattling, hissing, or metallic vibrations, or colored smoke from the tailpipe. If this occurs, have your vehicle inspected as soon as possible.
To be safe, have your emission and exhaust system checked about once a year.
Even tire wear is a good thing; it helps maintain a consistent performance from you car. Tire rotation helps protect your tires against uneven wear.
How tires wear unevenly:
Most tires will show signs of wear based on a variety of reasons: total miles driven, driving styles and habits, wheel alignment, and tire location on the vehicle. Some wear and tear is due to simple every day reasons, such as how tires handle right turns versus left turns. Left turns are gentler. Right turns are harder. And no, we're not about to suggest that you avoid right turns.
Front tires versus rear tires:
Some of the wear and tear is due simply to the way cars are designed. For example, the weight of your front and rear axles differs. Most cars are front-engine cars. So the front axle typically bears more weight than the rear axle. Though this weight difference in cars is natural, without tire rotation, it causes uneven wear.
With tire rotation, wheels are moved from one position on the car, to another. This ensures even tire wear. By moving (rotating) the tires as recommended by the vehicle manufacturers, tires may wear more evenly and help extend the life of your tires. Car manufacturers actually recommend a specific tire rotation frequency and pattern. Check your manual for more guidance, or ask one of our technicians for advice.
Our tire rotation service includes:
* We check your tire pressure
* We inspect tires to identify visible damage or abnormal wear patterns
* We follow the recommendations by the vehicle's manufacturer when deciding the pattern of tire rotation
* We install lug nuts/bolts to the proper torque specifications
Wheel Balancing vs. Wheel Alignment
When it comes to tires, customers often confuse balancing with aligning. We understand. There's so much about your car that demands expert attention. Having properly balanced wheels is one of them.
A balanced wheel is a perfectly tuned wheel. Our technicians achieve this perfection by placing measured lead weights on the opposite side of what we call the "heavy spot." This spot reveals the noticeable tread wear on your unbalanced tire. You need a trained eye to see these spots.
Does your wheel vibrate at certain speeds?
Unbalanced wheels vibrate at certain speeds. Let's say your wheels vibrate between 50 and 70 mph. That vibration is one sign that you may need wheel balancing. The vibration is caused when one section of your tire is heavier than the other. This "heavy spot" is there because that part of the tire has received more exposure to road friction and heat.
Do you really need a wheel balancing?
It's not something we can diagnose over the phone. If you notice vibrations in the steering wheel, seat, or floorboard at certain speeds, then please come in and we'll thoroughly check for wheel balancing red flags, such as a scalloped or erratic wear pattern on your tires.
To work properly, engines must maintain the correct operating temperature. Your Engine Cooling System is designed to carry heat away from the engine. Good operation is achieved by circulating antifreeze/coolant around the components where heat is generated and carrying the heat to the radiator where it is cooled.
To help avoid overheating and freezing, your engine cooling system needs just the right amount and mixture of antifreeze/coolant and water. Antifreeze/coolant also inhibits rust and corrosion in the cooling system.
Our cooling system services include:
* We look at the radiator and radiator hoses for leaks
* We evacuate the old antifreeze/coolant
* We refill your cooling system with the right type and amount of antifreeze/coolant
A Radiator Cap, also known as a "pressure cap", controls pressure in the cooling system. The cap may be mounted on the radiator filler neck or on top of the coolant reservoir.
Our radiator/pressure cap replacement services include:
* Inspecting for antifreeze/coolant leaks and/or damage at the radiator/pressure cap to filler neck or reservoir seals
* We visually inspect the cap for cracks, seal or thread damage, tab retention damage
* We pressure test the cap to make sure it holds the proper pressure as designed
* We replace the radiator/pressure cap with a new one that meets OEM specifications
The old days: simple tune-ups.
Long ago, just starting a car demanded a lot more. It demanded elbow grease. Thanks to computer technology, today's cars are light years ahead in sophistication. Many start at the push of a button. But with sophistication comes the complication of computer technology -- and federal regulation to protect air quality.
The Federal Exhaust Emission and Fuel Economy regulations require that your car be equipped with electronic engine control systems, to curb carbon emissions and increase fuel efficiency.
The new days: a computerized analysis of your engine.
Simple engine components are being replaced with advanced control systems. Spark plug and filter replacements are still required. But what you also need is a computerized analysis of your car's computerized control center. Today, your car has a tougher inspection to pass. More than ever you need a factory-trained expert technician.
How your vehicle's computerized control center works:
A network of sensors and switches transfer and track your engine's operating conditions into electrical signals. The computer in your car receives this data. Based on collected information that's computer coded, computerized commands are sent to three systems: 1) ignition, 2) fuel, and 3) emission control.
Does your car have a problem, or is it just a faulty sensor?
Maybe you've already seen your "check engine" light go on. That means the computer in your car senses a problem. That same light is a cue to our expert technicians to check which commands have been triggered -- and they check the status of your engine control computer and sensors. This is how our technicians know if your car's performance is caused by a real problem, or just a faulty sensor or computer glitch.
Seven key sensory components:
* Mass airflow sensor
* Throttle position sensor
* Manifold absolute pressure sensor
* Coolant temperature sensor
* Exhaust oxygen sensor
* Crankshaft position sensor
* Camshaft position sensor
If you're enjoying a comfortable ride, it's because your shocks/struts and suspension system are functioning properly -- keep your wheels in contact with the road.
When shocks/struts or springs go bad, your ride may get bouncy or uncomfortable. The front end of the vehicle may "dive" or loss of control while making a sudden stop. Your car may swerve more than normal while changing lanes, or your vehicle may sag in the front or the rear. If something isn't right in this part of your car -- if components are worn or loose -- you'll probably notice that handling and stability deteriorate. And you may notice accelerated tire wear.
Your suspension system consists of:
* Control arms
* Ball joints
* Springs (coil or leaf)
* Shock absorbers
Shocks can wear out in as little as 25,000 to 30,000 miles. This is due to the constant motion your vehicle. For safety and comfort, check your shocks about once a year.
Most front-wheel drive cars have a McPherson strut suspension system, which combines the coil springs and shocks into one unit. Struts cost more, but typically have a longer life than conventional shock absorbers. However, struts wear out and should be checked about once a year or so to be safe.
Coil springs help shocks and struts keep vehicle bounce to a minimum. With time, the spring weakens. All springs sag with age. For your comfort and safety, have your coil springs checked about once a year or so.
Preventive medicine for your car.
You've heard of preventive medicine. How about preventive maintenance?
You know the mechanic's rule of thumb: "Get a regular oil change every 3,000 to 4,000 miles." Getting a regular oil change is really the easiest and best thing you can do for your car. It adds to the reliability and longevity of your vehicle.
Included in our oil change service:
Antifreeze/coolant reservoir levels, engine air filtration system, brake fluid level in transparent reservoirs, serpentine belts, wiper blades, exterior light operation
Transmission/transaxle fluids, power steering fluid, differential fluid, windshield washer fluid, battery water (this does not apply to sealed batteries)
If time permits, we'll gladly respond to any additional and reasonable requests to check something out on your car, while we are changing your oil. Just ask.
First of all, you either have an automatic or manual transmission.
Automatic transmission services:
When it comes to keeping your automatic transmission in good working order, our expert technicians may need to perform one of four services:
* Drain and fill
* Filter replacement
* Fluid exchange
* Fluid exchange and filter replacement
Drain and fill: The internal parts of your transmission are lubricated, cooled and cleaned by transmission fluid. This fluid also aids functionality by maintaining hydraulic pressure. Additives in the fluid can get depleted with time. To service this:
* We will remove the old automatic transmission fluid and refill the transmission with new automatic transmission fluid to the level you need
Filter replacement: Like other filters, your automatic transmission filter helps remove dirt and contaminants from fluid. To service this:
* We will remove the transmission pan and the old filter and replace it with a new one
* We will remove the old gasket material and replace the pan gasket with a new one
* We will refill your transmission with new fluid to the proper level
Fluid exchange: The internal parts of your transmission are lubricated, cooled and cleaned by transmission fluid. This fluid also helps maintain the right hydraulic pressure to keep your transmission functioning properly. The additives in the transmission fluid can be depleted over time. Our Automatic Transmission Fluid Exchange service includes:
* Changing the fluid in the transmission system, including the torque converter and transmission cooler
Fluid exchange and filter replacement: The internal parts of a transmission are lubricated, cooled and cleaned by transmission fluid. This fluid also helps maintain the right hydraulic pressure to keep your transmission functioning properly. The additives in the fluid can be depleted over time. If your transmission needs a fluid exchange:
* We will change the fluid in the transmission system, including the torque converter and transmission cooler
* We will remove the transmission pan to get to the old transmission filter
* We will replace the old filter with a new one
* We will also remove the old gasket material and replace it with a new pan gasket and reinstall the pan
* We will refill the transmission with new fluid to the proper level
Manual transmission service:
You'll find your transmission between the engine and the driving wheels. It's there acting as a speed and power-changing part of your car. It actually changes the ratio between the engine RPM (revolutions per minute) and driving wheel RPM.
In a manual transmission the transmission fluid lubricates gears, bearings, shafts, and other internal components. Heat, pressure and friction can gradually weaken the additives in your fluid. As gears wear down, small particles of metal may come off and mix with the fluid. Transmission fluids can also get contaminated with water. To service these issues:
* We will evacuate the old manual transmission fluid and fill your transmission with new fluid according to the recommended manufacturer's specifications
Any leak or puncture or other injury to a tire obviously affects its performance and your safety. Proper repair is critical. For your safety alone, the general condition of your tires should be inspected frequently for signs of damage.
You may know that all 2008 model year and newer cars, mini-vans and light trucks come with a tire pressure monitoring system. Many slightly older vehicles have these systems as well. A tire pressure monitoring system - called TPMS - consists of sensors on each wheel that measure tire pressure.
Information on how your tire pressure monitoring system works. Check out this link, TPMS
If you have any questions about the condition of your tires, simply ask us and we'll be glad to inflate them properly or do an inspection if needed. If you have a leaky or punctured tire, and the damage is safely fixable, we can help you.
Proper tire care can help reduce unnecessary tire repair:
Some simple maintenance will help you make the most of your tire investment. In fact, if you practice some common sense tire maintenance, you can make your tires last longer (sometimes thousands of miles longer).
The more you practice the following guidelines, the less you'll depend on us for tire repair, and the longer you'll drive without the need for a tire replacement.
Are your tires going bald?
Some tire repair and replacement is unavoidable. But vehicle owners who inspect their own tires monthly can more easily see signs of problems and correct them. Frankly, we believe every car owner should know how to recognize tires that are going bald. Why? Because badly worn tires are more susceptible to penetration by nails and other objects. Worse yet, bald or nearly-bald tires can easily skid in wet weather conditions and cause accidents.
We recommend that you learn to "read" the early warning signs of tire wear.
New tires have treadwear indicators (usually marked with a bold color like blue). These indicators are there to help you gauge tire wear with just one look. Look at these indicator areas to check the remaining tread depth on your tire. If there are only two thirty-seconds of an inch (2/32") remaining in tread depth, then it's time to replace your tires.
What punctures can be fixed?
First, we follow manufacture guidelines for every tire. Why? Because that's the safest way to deal with tire repair or replacement. But here's a general rule of thumb. Only punctures to the tread area of the tire are possible, and only if the puncture is no greater than a quarter-inch wide.
To be absolutely certain that your tire is repairable, we will perform an internal inspection of your tire. Specifically, we will remove the tire from the rim and inspect the tire's inner lining -- and the sidewall of your tire. If we can repair your tire safely, we will do so. If we cannot, we may recommend that you buy a new tire.
Sometimes we recommend that customers buy two new tires at a time so that the car rides more evenly.