The Five Most Commonly Neglected Vehicle Maintenance Items

The Five Most Commonly Neglected Vehicle Maintenance Items

When most of us think of ongoing vehicle maintenance, we tend to only focus on oil changes, wipers or wiper fluid, or tire air pressure. While these are important to check regularly, there are some other important maintenance items that are often overlooked and neglected by vehicle owners.

The five most commonly overlooked items are below with some explanation on the risk of not addressing them, signs that you may have a problem, and what can be done to ensure proper maintenance is completed.

What’s the Risk? Early Warning Signs What Should You Do?
Power steering fluid is the hydraulic fluid that transmits power in your vehicle’s power steering. Over time, power steering fluid may get dirty and could easily clog the components of your steering system.
  • If you hear a squealing noise when you turn the wheels, it might be an indication that power steering fluid is low.
If you think your power steering fluid might be low, have it checked by a professional who can determine if fluid needs to be added, or there’s a possible leak in your power steering rack.
Alignment refers to your vehicle’s suspension and its connection to your wheels. Pot holes or bumpy roads can throw your wheel alignment off, resulting in quicker wearing of your tires.
  • If the steering wheel pulls to the left or right during driving, that may be a sign that your alignment needs adjusting.
  • Also, uneven or rapid tire wear may be a sign that your alignment needs correction.
Check your tires for any uneven or excessive wear. You should have your wheels aligned at least once a year.
Transmission Fluid and Filter While newer vehicles have reliable transmissions, it is still possible to have issues with your fluid or filter. Transmission fluid can become dirty with particles over time and clog your transmission filter. Or, your transmission fluid could have a leak, leading to further complications with your vehicle’s transmission.
  • When dirty fluid clogs a transmission filter, you may notice a burning smell when the engine is running.
  • Or, you may even see smoke coming from your engine.
Stick to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule for changing transmission filters or fluid. If you have a burning smell or smoke, get it into a repair shop as soon as possible.
Timing Belt The timing belt is an important part of your crankshaft system that helps open and close the vehicle valves during operation. Typically, a timing belt will break and cause major damage to your engine. Belts break as a result of wear and/or cracking.
  • If you have a bad or failing timing belt, you may hear a ticking sound coming from the engine.
  • Or, your engine will not turn over or it may misfire.
Stick to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule for replacing a timing belt. If you notice any of the signs, get it into a repair shop as soon as possible, otherwise, you may risk engine failure.
Cooling System Your engine’s cooling system is what keeps the vehicle from overheating during use. Sometimes coolant can become clogged, which then affects your radiator and the ability to cool the engine. Coolant may also leak, which could lead to engine corrosion and further complications with your engine’s health.
  • If you find a pool of coolant under your vehicle, this may be an early warning sign that you have a coolant leak.
  • Also, if your car often overheats, the radiator may be clogged and continuous overheating can lead to serious engine damage.
Replacing coolant may only be a temporary fix to prevent the vehicle from overhearing. If you have any issues with leaking coolant or overheating, get your vehicle into a repair shop as soon as possible.

Remember, having a safe and efficiently working vehicle takes ongoing maintenance. Stay alert to the signs that your vehicle’s engine might be telling you to take action. Get in touch with a service technician today at Campus Repair, Fort Collins, Colorado, if you would like us to review your vehicle for any of these five maintenance issues.


How to Tell if the Wheel Bearings are Worn Out

How to Tell if the Wheel Bearings are Worn Out

Have you been hearing a grinding sound coming from the area of your wheels? Does the sound get louder as you driver faster? Most likely, it’s a bad wheel bearing. If that’s the case, you will want to have it replaced. While a wheel bearing doesn’t typically fail immediately, you don’t want to put off replacing one for too long. Otherwise, you are at risk of having an accident – one that could be serious. This blog post will provide you with more information on how wheel bearings work and how to tell if they are worn out.

A wheel bearing assembly is made up of a set of steel ball bearings that are packed with grease and enclosed in a metal ring that’s called a race. Located at the end of each axle shaft inside a part known as a hub, wheel bearings help reduce friction as your wheels spin. Over time, the wheel bearings begin to accumulate contaminants from the outside and will wear out. When they do, you will start to notice some of the following symptoms:

  1. You will hear a grinding or grating noise that seems to be coming from one of the wheels. This is definitely the most common symptom that a wheel bearing is bad. It’s not always easy to tell which wheel is making the noise. One thing to remember is that the grinding noise will get louder as you drive faster. The noise is occurring because metal is now grinding on metal.
  2. The tires may show signs of uneven wear. Yes, there are a lot of things that can cause your tires to wear unevenly. A bad wheel bearing is one of them. Why does this happen? A faulty wheel bearing allows for more “play” in the wheel which causes it to vibrate more. With a bad wheel bearing the uneven wear will show more on one tire.
  3. You feel more vibration in the steering wheel or your vehicle will pull to one side. Typically, the steering wheel vibration from a bad bearing will be noticed at slower speeds and will get worse as you accelerate.
  4. The steering may feel “loose.” This is one sign you may not notice on your own. You can check this out by putting your car up on a jack and after grabbing the wheel on opposite sides, attempting to rock it back and forth. If the wheel bearing is okay, the wheel won’t wobble. If the wheel bearing is worn out, you will notice that the tire and wheel assembly will move back and forth.

Can you drive with a bad wheel bearing?

As mentioned, a wheel bearing that is just starting to show signs of a problem isn’t likely to fail right away. That doesn’t mean you should put off having it replaced. Because of the vibrations and extra wheel play, a bad wheel bearing will begin to put pressure on other steering and suspension components. It may end up causing damage to the hub, CV joint, and axle to name a few. Even worse, if left unfixed, a worn wheel bearing could fail completely and cause the wheel to seize while you are driving. That would most likely result in a serious accident.

Think you have a problem with a wheel bearing? Don’t leave it to chance. Bring your vehicle into our auto repair shop located in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Our technicians will be able to inspect your vehicle and let you know if you need to replace a wheel bearing. Give us a call or stop by our shop today.

When it comes to vehicle warranties, know your rights

When it comes to vehicle warranties, know your rights

Did you recently purchase a new vehicle? Are you leasing one? It’s not uncommon for car dealerships to tell their customers they must have their vehicle serviced and repaired there or the manufacturer’s warranty will become void. This is simply not true. In actuality, there is something called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, that protects you. The key is to know your rights under this act.

According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, it is illegal for manufacturers or dealers to claim your warranty becomes void when someone other than the dealer does the work. What does that mean? Hopefully we will be able to answer that by providing the answers to some frequently-asked questions about vehicle warranties.

Q. Must I take my vehicle to the dealership where I purchased it for routine maintenance like oil and filter changes?

A. No. The act says you can take your vehicle anywhere you would like, whether it is for oil changes, cooling system service, and any other routine maintenance and repairs. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you may also do the work yourself. Selecting any of these choices for auto maintenance or repair will not void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Q. What types of auto repair or maintenance services are covered under vehicle warranties?

A. As you can imagine, every car manufacturer has its own warranty coverage. The ones that are most common are bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties. As the name implies, a bumper-to-bumper warranty typically covers most items from the front to the back bumper of your vehicle. These warranties last for a specific amount of time, like 3 years or 36,000 miles. To apply that to real-life, if you have an engine failure or the oil begins leaking because of material or workmanship defects, the dealer will make the repairs at no cost to you. Normal wear and tear items like tires, oil/filter changes, brakes, cooling system service are not covered under the vehicle warranty.

Q. What types of things would void the manufacturer’s warranty?

A. While you can bring your vehicle to be serviced anywhere, you must follow the minimum maintenance schedule outlined in the owner’s manual. You are also required to use the proper brand(s) of fluids and parts for your vehicle. If you fail to do any of these things, you void the warranty. That means if the engine has a problem needing repair, you will have to pay for it.

The easiest way to make sure the manufacturer’s warranty will cover your vehicle is to have it maintained and repaired at one place, like Campus Repair in Ft. Collins, Colorado. We keep detailed records of all the services we perform on your vehicle, and if there are parts that need to be replaced, we will let you know. We will also tell you when a needed repair is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty so you can have it done at your dealer at no cost to you. Call or stop by the shop for your next vehicle service.

7 Tips to Get Your Vehicle Ready for Summer

7 Tips to Get Your Vehicle Ready for Summer

Spring is always a welcome sight, especially after a harsh winter. Our landscape certainly lends itself to scenic drives. Of course, there’s always spring and summer baseball season for the kids and all sorts of weekend activities that require a lot of back and forth driving. There’s certainly no time in anyone’s schedule for unexpected car repairs. That’s why we put together these 7 tips on how to get your vehicle ready for summer.

The simplest way to avoid engine problems, is to make sure you take care of regular vehicle maintenance. Following these 7 tips will make sure your vehicle is running its best for summer driving:

  1. Oil and Filter Change – Changing the engine oil and filter when required will extend engine life by making sure vital parts are well-lubricated. Use a high-quality oil and filter – it’s worth the extra cost. If the oil and filter has been changed recently, at the very least, check the level and condition of the oil once a month. This is especially important if your vehicle is older. If you find you have to frequently add more oil, there is most likely a problem that needs to be addressed.
  2. Other Vital Engine Fluids – When did you last check the transmission fluid? Is the coolant able to protect your engine from overheating this summer? Most people don’t think of checking the other fluids in their vehicles. This can lead to problems down the road as fluids begin to get old and break down. For example, coolant that is old won’t be able to prevent overheating and parts in the cooling system will start to corrode leading to premature failure of cooling system parts. When checking the level and condition of fluids, follow the instructions in the owner’s manual. If you’re not sure how to check the fluids, no need to worry. We will check them for you when you bring your vehicle in for an oil service.
  3. Tires – Change out your snow tires. If you are using all-season tires, have them rotated. Replace tires that show signs of excessive wear.
  4. Wiper Blades – Rough winters can wreak havoc on wiper blades. Changing the wiper blades will maximize your ability to see in inclement weather.
  5. Brakes – Most vehicles allow for easy viewing of the brake pads. If the brake pads are thinning, you will want to have them replaced. If you have any concern about the brakes or you don’t feel comfortable checking the pads yourself, stop by the shop and we can check them for you.
  6. Vehicle Exterior – Give your vehicle a good wash and wax. When washing, make sure to include the underbody and wheel wells.
  7. Vehicle Interior – Show the inside of your vehicle some love, too, by vacuuming floor mats and seats, and applying a protectant to leather and vinyl.The best way to avoid unexpected car repair costs is to make sure your vehicle is maintained regularly. The car repair professionals at Campus Repair in Ft. Collins, Colorado are equipped to assist you in this area. Give us a call or stop by the shop to schedule your spring vehicle maintenance.
How Important is Your Vehicle’s Serpentine Belt?

How Important is Your Vehicle’s Serpentine Belt?

Many vehicle owners are unaware of just how important the belts and hoses are to the longevity of the engine. Because they are constantly in use while your vehicle is running, they undergo a lot of wear and tear. Belts are responsible for powering parts like the water pump, power steering pump, air conditioning and more. In this blog post, we are going to talk about the serpentine belt – one long, winding belt that works to keep your alternator, power steering pump, air conditioner and water pump running. Lately, we have been fixing vehicles with broken belts or belts that have thrown off because of worn out idlers, tensioners, and seized water pumps. Here’s how it happens and what you can do about it.

The serpentine belts in today’s vehicles are built to last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 miles. That doesn’t mean you can ignore them and wait until something happens, like a broken belt, before you replace it. A serpentine belt should always be replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, or earlier, if it is showing signs of excessive wear, like deep cracking in the ribs or a noisy belt. It can also fail if there is a problem with one of the parts the belt powers (e.g. water pump).

Wondering what happens if the belt breaks or slips? Everything from the alternator, power steering pump to the air conditioner and water pump stop working. That alone is very dangerous as you will lose power. Even worse, the cooling system won’t be able to circulate coolant to the engine to keep it from overheating. An overheated engine is at risk of some serious damage. That translates into a pretty expensive repair. All this can be avoided with proper maintenance.

With Proper Maintenance, You Can Minimize the Potential for a Broken Serpentine Belt

Proactive vehicle maintenance is beneficial in so many ways. You will have peace of mind knowing your vehicle is safe and reliable. You will also save money in the long run because you will not have to pay expensive repair bills. In the case of a serpentine belt that breaks and damages the engine, that could mean having to rebuild or replace the engine or worse – buying a new vehicle.

Here’s how to maintain the serpentine belt:

  1. Have the belts checked periodically. A serpentine belt that is aging may become shiny in appearance or look glazed. It may also show signs of cracks, hardening and loss of flexibility. Some belts may show excessive wear in the ribs and valleys. All of these things can lead to a belt slipping. Also, some belts are manually tensioned and need to be adjusted periodically. If we notice any of these signs while your vehicle is in for routine maintenance, we will let you know so you can replace it.
  2. Maintain the cooling system. Change the coolant before it can no longer protect the engine parts from overheating or corroding. Change belts and hoses when they show signs of wear. If your vehicle is running hot, or you find you have to add coolant on a regular basis, there is a leak in the system. Have it fixed.

Campus Auto Repair in Ft. Collins, Colorado, can assist you when it comes to the care of your vehicle. With each visit to our shop, we complete a courtesy inspection of your vehicle, including the serpentine belt and cooling system. If we find the coolant needs to be changed or any parts need to be replaced, we will let you know so you can have the work done before something breaks. If you are concerned about the condition of your vehicle’s serpentine belt or you need to have your cooling system serviced, give us a call or stop by the shop.