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.


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 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.

How’s the Exhaust System Running?

How’s the Exhaust System Running?

When most people think of the exhaust system, they imagine the tailpipe and muffler. In fact, it’s much more than those two parts and has a very important job to do – protect you and your passengers from being exposed to harmful gases. The system also minimizes pollution in the environment. In this blog post, you will learn about the exhaust system along with some of the signs there’s a problem that requires exhaust system repair. You’ll also learn how you can maintain the exhaust system.

If your vehicle is equipped with a combustion engine, the proper amount of fuel and air is mixed together and ignited at the right time to run the engine. When the fuel/air is ignited, it creates noxious gases that are passed out of the engine and into the environment through the exhaust system. Any number of things can affect the performance of the exhaust system – bad spark plugs, a faulty oxygen sensor, etc. Equally, if any part of the exhaust system is faulty, you are at risk of being exposed to dangerous gases (e.g. carbon monoxide). If you delay any repairs to a faulty exhaust system, you may even begin to feel sick, fatigued, light-headed and more.

The main parts of the exhaust system

There are five main parts that make up the exhaust system. A problem with any one of these parts will affect engine performance and your safety. They are:

  1. Exhaust Manifold – The exhaust manifold is connected at the cylinder head and collects the gases generated during combustion and delivers them to the exhaust pipe.
  2. Oxygen Sensor – The oxygen sensor is continually measuring the amount of oxygen that is in the exhaust. The data it collects is then sent to the onboard computer which adjusts the ratio of fuel to air.
  3. Exhaust Pipes – They begin at the exhaust manifold and send gases through the system where they exit at the tailpipe.
  4. Catalytic Converter – Just like the name implies, the catalytic converter is responsible for changing the harmful into water vapor and less harmful gases.
  5. Muffler – This part “muffles” or quiets the explosions that are going on in the engine from the combustion of air and gas.

Signs that exhaust repair is needed

Any of these signs indicate that exhaust repair is needed:

  • You notice the smell of exhaust fumes while driving – This is not something to ignore as it is quite dangerous to you and your passengers. The reason you are smelling the exhaust is because there is a leak in the system that is entering the cabin.
  • You hear hissing, popping or loud rumbling noises – If your vehicle starts to sound louder and louder with hissing, popping or loud noises coming from underneath, most likely you will need to replace the muffler.
  • You are getting less gas mileage – This could mean the oxygen sensor needs to be replaced.
  • The exhaust system is plugged – Plugged exhaust is caused by the catalytic converter element breaking down and becoming lodged in the exhaust system. symptoms include poor acceleration, feeling like it is stuck in lower gear and a Check Engine Light. The engine has to have a clear path in and out for air so if the exhaust is plugged it’s like running with your hand over your mouth.

The “Check Engine Light” and the Exhaust System

The Check Engine or the Service Engine Soon light alerts you when there is a problem with your vehicle’s emissions system.  The emissions are what is going through the exhaust system so it all plays a role together. If the light comes on and stays on, you should have your vehicle checked and fixed as soon as possible. By delaying Check Engine light repairs, you could end up having to replace more expensive parts, like the catalytic converter.

Maintaining the Exhaust System

Since it’s located underneath your vehicle, there’s not really much you can do to maintain the exhaust system. You can, however, make sure you wash the underside of your vehicle at least once a month, especially in the winter. That’s because the Mag Chloride on the roads will end up causing rust and corrosion. Also, have the exhaust system inspected and fix minor problems before they become costly repairs.

Let Campus Repair assist you with the maintenance and repairs on your exhaust system. When you bring your car, van or truck in for periodic service, we complete a courtesy inspection.  If we see a problem with the exhaust system, we’ll let you know so you can take care of it. If you’re having a problem with the exhaust system, give us a call or stop by the shop.