The Head Gasket – Is Your Vehicle Ready to Blow a Gasket?

The Head Gasket – Is Your Vehicle Ready to Blow a Gasket?

If you have ever done any type of plumbing home repairs, you are probably familiar with gaskets. While a gasket may be a small part to your overall plumbing fixtures, it plays an important role in creating a seal and preventing catastrophic leaks between critical parts. Similarly, your vehicle’s engine is a complex set of critical parts that also require the use of gaskets. There are a variety of gaskets in your engine but one of your more critical gaskets is called the head gasket.
(more…)

Sparking Your Knowledge: A Vehicle’s Electrical System

Sparking Your Knowledge: A Vehicle’s Electrical System

Most of us take for granted what happens when we turn our vehicle’s ignition key or push the starter button – we may not consider the intricate system of wires and coils that send electricity through the vehicle to make it operate. Understanding the basics of your vehicle’s electrical system is essential to maintaining safe and effective operation of your car.

(more…)

Problems with your car heater? This may be the reason

Problems with your car heater? This may be the reason

There’s nothing worse than getting into your car on a cold winter’s morning and turning on the car heater, only to have nothing happen.  Or even worse, the air blowing through the vent is coming out cold! This is especially true in Ft. Collins, Colorado, where the morning temperatures can be downright frigid! Car heater problems can arise when you least expect it, and if not addressed, can result in further damage of your vehicle engine.

(more…)

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
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.
Wheel
Alignment
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 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.

You can avoid the 7 most expensive car repairs by doing these things

You can avoid the 7 most expensive car repairs by doing these things

Expensive vehicle repair bills can be such a drag, especially when they come unexpectedly. While you can’t completely eliminate expenses associated with fixing your car, you can reduce the probability of having to deal with the more expensive auto repair bills. How? By regularly maintaining your vehicle and replacing parts before they break. Proper vehicle maintenance will also extend the life of your vehicle. That’s a very good thing if you are trying to avoid expensive car payments. In this blog post, you will learn about the 7 most expensive vehicle repairs and what you can do to avoid having to deal with them.

  1. Turbocharger (also referred to as a Turbo) – Replacing a turbocharger is really quite expensive – possibly costing thousands of dollars! Ouch! It’s a lot of fun to drive a vehicle that is equipped with a turbo, but they also require a certain amount of proper care. Problems with the turbocharger will show signs of poor acceleration, exhaust emissions problems, or the engine makes a loud, shrieking noise. You may even have a Check Engine Light on your dashboard. You can take care of the turbo by changing the oil and filter when it should be changed (use high-quality synthetics), letting the engine warm up before driving at high speeds, and using the high-quality fuel with the octane level recommended by the manufacturer.
  2. Fuel Injectors: The fuel injectors are responsible for spraying a fine mist of gasoline into the combustion chamber. That means each cylinder has a corresponding fuel injector (e.g. a 6-cylinder engine will have 6 fuel injectors). The timing and amount of fuel to air mixture must be precise for your engine to operate at its best. A clogged or bad fuel injector is unable to deliver the precise amount of fuel. As such, you will end up having problems with engine performance. The engine may misfire, you will definitely notice bad gas mileage, and you may even smell gasoline. As they age, the fuel injectors will need to be replaced. You can prevent this from happening prematurely by having the fuel injectors cleaned according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  3. Head Gasket: Issues with the head gasket can be a nightmare. The head gasket is responsible for preventing coolant from mixing with engine oil. When the head gasket cracks, the coolant mixes with the oil and damage will occur to the engine. Often times, a blown head gasket will happen when the engine is allowed to overheat. Head gasket leaks can also occur in older vehicles. A head gasket problem will demonstrate itself with some of the following: white smoke coming from the tailpipe, an engine that overheats, bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank, oil that looks milky white, and/or serious loss of coolant (without visible signs of a leak). How can you prevent a head gasket problem? By maintaining the cooling system – change the coolant before it’s unable to protect your engine parts, keep watch for leaks and have them fixed, and replace belts and hoses before they break.
  4. Timing Belt: This is one part that you definitely want to have changed before it breaks. Whatever the manufacturer of your vehicle recommends, follow it. The timing belt controls the camshafts in the engine so the valves open and close at the right time. It goes through a lot of wear and tear. If you don’t replace the belt and it breaks, the valves and pistons will crash into each other causing major engine damage. The timing belt is not readily visible in your engine. In fact, we have to remove several plastic covers to be able to inspect the timing belt. We can’t stress it enough – replace the timing belt before it breaks. Yes, timing belt replacement is an expensive job, but it’s a lot less expensive than having to replace the engine… or having to buy a new vehicle.
  5. Fuel Pump: As you can imagine by its name, the fuel pump sends fuel to the engine. On some vehicles, it’s located in the gas tank and in others, it’s not. If you begin to hear an odd sound coming from the gas tank or you have difficulty starting the engine, there may be a problem with the fuel pump. How can you minimize problems with the fuel pump? Fill your tank with high-quality tier-1 fuel and change the fuel filter at least once a year. It’s also prudent to not let the gas tank get below ¼ full before refilling.
  6. A Seized Engine: Not good. When an engine seizes, the crankshaft is unable to turn. It can occur if the engine overheats or you are driving it with low or no oil. If this happens, you will need a new engine or a new vehicle. A word of caution, if the oil warning light comes on while you are driving, safely pull off to the side and call for a tow to our shop in Fort Collins, CO. You can prevent this from happening by checking the oil level and condition once a month and by having the oil and oil filter changed regularly. It’s also important to maintain the cooling system to avoid engine overheating.
  7. Automatic Transmission: The transmission is quite complicated and must be maintained regularly to work properly. If you have an older vehicle, check the transmission fluid at least once a month. If it smells like it is burnt or looks black/darn brown in color, there’s a problem with the transmission. You will also want to be watchful for transmission fluid leaks. If you notice any of these signs, have the transmission looked at and repaired right away. The best way to avoid transmission problems is to change the fluid and filter on time. We can let you know the best replacement schedule for your vehicle and driving habits. Important to note: If you’ve never changed the fluid or filter and your vehicle is approaching 100,000 miles or more, don’t have this service done. Doing so can cause transmission problems. Instead, check with us.

Avoid major auto repair expenses by having your vehicle maintained at Campus Repair in Ft. Collins, CO

You can keep your vehicle operating its best when you commit to regular maintenance. It’s also the best way to prevent some of these more expensive vehicle repairs. The technicians at Campus Repair in Ft. Collins, Colorado, can assist you. We maintain detailed records of your vehicle’s service history and will let you know when a part needs to be replaced so you can do so before it breaks. Schedule your vehicle service at our auto repair shop today.