Our Current Blog Articles
September 21, 2017
Common Repairs We See at South Denver Automotive
The idea of this list of the most common repairs we see at South Denver Automotive is to help our customers know what to be on the lookout for with their own vehicles. Car problems often get worse and more expensive to fix when they are ignored or not caught early on. Hopefully, with this information, you can avoid costly repairs and potentially dangerous situations.
Your brakes constantly sustain a lot of wear and tear and if not maintained properly, will reach a point where it is dangerous to continue using them. Be sure to have your brakes checked regularly and the necessary maintenance completed as needed.
- Oil Changes
Oil changes are an important part of routine maintenance on your vehicle. It helps the engine to last longer and can even increase the resale value of your car (keep your service records).
- Cooling System
While sometimes radiator problems can be expensive to fix,they should never be ignored. If your engine overheats, the repair will be far more costly in the long run. Your car radiator should also be flushed regularly.
Tires also receive a lot of wear and tear and will need repairs and replacement. Keep an eye on the air levels because a small hole is much less expensive to patch than having to replace the entire tire if driven it too much time on low air pressure, splitting the sidewall.
- Ignition System
This system consists of the ignition, battery, and starter. Batteries need replacement every so often. Starter repairs can get expensive, but it’s best to get it fixed as soon as you start to notice something’s off. Otherwise, you could end up stuck somewhere with a car that won’t start!
- Electrical System
Small things like blown fuses or light bulbs most car owners can handle on their own. More severe electrical issues, however, should be attended to by a professional.
- Fuel System
Frequently driving with your gas tank at less than ¼ can cause the fuel pump to get clogged. Also, fuel filters need to be replaced as part of your regular maintenance.
Car owners who need their transmissions worked on are usually not very happy campers as it can get expensive. However, remember that it can get more expensive if you ignore small issues.
- Exhaust System
Like transmission repairs, exhaust system repairs can get expensive and are complicated. They should be attended to quickly.
- Air Conditioning System
The heating and cooling system is not essential for your car’s function, but it’s certainly no fun driving to work in either a sweltering car interior, or during the winter, a freezing cold vehicle.
So now that you know the most common repairs we see at South Denver Automotive you can be watching for issues with these systems in your vehicle. The sooner you bring your car to us when it is having problems, generally the less expensive and more successful the repair. Let our experts take care of your vehicle, bumper to bumper.
September 14, 2017
End of Summer Car Care
Looking for great end of summer car care tips? Here’s a handy list from the experts at South Denver Automotive in Denver, Colorado. Use this list to get your vehicle ready for the cold and keep it running smoothly all winter long. The last thing you want is a breakdown on a winter day!
Before you begin, be sure to check out the owner’s manual. There is a lot of great information in the manual plus you can find service schedules for your particular model.
Normally there will be two sets of manuals, one normal and one for severe driving conditions. They may also be labeled Schedule 1 and 2. While it might seem counterintuitive, “severe” can mean you take short trips, less than four miles or less than 10 in freezing temps, plus slower speeds or excessive stop and go driving, think Denver traffic! If you regularly tow a trailer or big loads, that also falls into the severe category.
Once you know what driving category you fall into, you can get going on basic end of summer car care with things like oil changes and other factory scheduled maintenance. Here are a few more service items to consider before the chill finally arrives.
If your vehicle is having any engine issues (rough idling, hard starts, less power, stalling among others), it will only get worse with cold weather so get your engine check and repairs now. You should also replace the fuel and air filters and any other filters that may be dirty.
Protect the Fuel Line
To keep excess moisture from freezing up the fuel line, add a bottle of fuel de-icer to your gas tank. Do so once a month for winter.
Ensure that your cooling system has been flushed and refilled according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s also a good idea to have all the drive belts, clamps, and hoses inspected by a certified technician.
Windshield wipers are extremely important for visibility on day of inclement weather. Be sure that yours are strong enough to withstand ice.
Nobody wants the heat to go out on a snowy day, and the defroster is invaluable for keeping the windows clear so have your entire AC system and heater checked as well.
End of summer car care should include making sure that your battery connections are free of corrosion. Also clean and tighten all of the connections that may have been jogged loose while driving.
To properly inspect your exhaust system your vehicle needs to go up on a lift. While it’s up there, you should also have the trunk and floorboards inspected. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be more of a problem in the winter because people typically don’t have the windows down allowing for free air flow.
Check your tires to see how much tread remains. Old, worn tires are a big hazard on slick wintry roads. Change out and or rotate your tires as necessary.
Last but not least, prepare for the unexpected. Put together an emergency kit with things like extra warm clothes, boots, gloves, blankets, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter (use it to give your tires traction if you’re stuck in the mud), flashlight, tire chains, as well as food and water.
Doing these end of summer car care tasks will help to ensure that you don’t end up on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck this winter. For the professional stuff, be sure to give us a call here at South Denver Automotive. Our certified technicians will get your vehicle winter-ready.
August 14, 2017
Handy Guide to Motor Oil
South Denver Automotive in Denver, Colorado has put together this handy guide to motor oil. We know that our customers are not expert car mechanics, nor do they want to be. That’s why we make it easy to figure out what is the best motor oil for your vehicle. And, of course, if you have any further questions we are always happy to help!
There are lots of different kinds of motor oil out there so it may seem like choosing the correct one for your vehicle is a bit overwhelming. We promise it isn’t as complicated as it seems, especially if you come to us for oil changes, you just need to know what to look for. Here’s your handy guide to motor oil.
The first thing you should note is if the oil you are considering has these two labels. The first, a starburst symbol indicating that the oil has met the American Petroleum Institute standards. The second indicates whether the oil meets the current SL service rating put out by the API, has passed the energy conserving test and gives you the viscosity number. Meeting the standards is straightforward, but what do you do with that viscosity number? Let’s look at that now in this handy guide to motor oil.
You may remember from a high school vocabulary quiz that viscosity refers to a fluid’s resistance to flow. If that sounds confusing, just think of it as the thickness of the liquid. Viscosity changes according to temperature (hotter equals less viscous) and motor oils are rated at two temperatures. The first is 0 degrees Fahrenheit (denoted by a number followed by W for winter) and the second is at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (the second number in the rating). Examples would be 10W-30 or 20W-50.
In general, thicker oil is better. The oil is better capable of sealing where it needs to seal and keep the moving parts well lubricated. However, as always there can be too much of a good thing. If the oil is too thick, the engine will have to work harder to move its moving parts, and it can even be difficult to get the car started--reducing the vehicle’s fuel economy.
So how do you decide on the correct oil viscosity for your engine? The easiest way is to check the owner's manual. There you will find the right viscosity rating for your engine and the season, as even the same motor can use a different viscosity depending on the outside temperature.
Synthetic vs. Conventional Motor Oil
Now that you have the right viscosity, the next decision you will make is whether to choose synthetic or conventional motor oil. There is no one right answer as oils are manufactured specifically for different purposes. For example, there are oils for use in high mileage vehicles, high-tech engines, new cars vs. old cars, or heavy-duty/off-roading vehicles. So, which should you choose? Let’s explain the differences next in our handy guide to motor oil.
Conventional Motor Oil
This is your standard motor oil that comes in new cars. There is a range of viscosities available but with just three ratings, 5W-20, 5W-30 and 10W-30, most every light-duty vehicle is covered. Don’t forget to change your oil frequently. No matter how good your oil is, you can’t skip this step. The absolute minimum amount that you should change your oil is twice a year, but a better rule of thumb is every 4,000 miles or roughly every four months. Some vehicles have an indicator on the dash; never ignore it!
Full Synthetic Motor Oil
This type of oil is used in high-tech engines. The oil is better than others, flowing better at lower temps without losing too much viscosity at higher temperatures. It performs better and longer and even offers better protection against deposits. If it’s so great, you may be wondering, why it isn’t more commonly used. The answer is it’s more expensive than conventional motor oil and unnecessary in many vehicles. In fact, it may not meet the needs of your car’s engine so always check your owner’s manual first.
Synthetic Motor Oil Blend
These oil types offer a middle ground between conventional and full synthetic. They tend not to be too much more expensive than conventional while still offering many of the great benefits of synthetic oils. They are popularly used in pickups and SUVs for their heavy load and high-temperature protections.
Today’s vehicles offer a lot in the mileage department. Many can easily run well past 100,000 miles, and many people are taking advantage of that. Oil manufacturers have taken note and have put extra effort into creating some impressive oils that can help your engine run smoothly even when parts start wearing out.
For example, over time and use, crankshaft seals harden and begin to lose their flexibility, causing leaks and maybe even breaking. This contributes to having to replace the oil more often as is often the case in older cars. However, a good high-mileage oil has seal conditioners in the mix that are designed to help restore the seal’s flexibility and shape, virtually eliminating leaks of this type. Of course, these ingredients have been chosen carefully, because some can cause over-swelling.
High-mileage oils also generally have higher viscosities designed to help reduce the effects of engine wear. High-mileage engines naturally have a lot more wear than new vehicles, and this characteristic comes in very handy. These oils also have other anti-wear additives added to their formulation to reduce the effects of wear further and cause your engine to run more smoothly. The great thing is, all these benefits aren’t too expensive. High-mileage oils still are more affordable than the average full-synthetic oil.
We hope that this handy guide to motor oil has been helpful to you. Of course, this is not an in-depth explanation, and there are still other factors that affect deciding the proper motor oil for your engine, but it is a good basic overview and can help you understand a little about the ins and outs of motor oil. For more expert advice, talk to one of our highly knowledgeable mechanics here at South Denver Automotive. We can help you pick the perfect motor oil for your engine’s needs.
July 18, 2017
Get to Know Your Car's Exhaust System
One of the ways to better understand how your car works is to get to know your car’s exhaust system. South Denver Automotive offers this guide to understanding how it works. Of course, you don’t have to become an expert, we’re here to help you out when your car is in trouble, but understanding a few things can save you time and money because you have a better idea when it is time to visit us.
The exhaust system performs an important function in your vehicle. Gases like carbon monoxide that are harmful to humans are produced within the engine as fuel combustion occurs. The exhaust system (when working correctly) safely vents gases so that they do not enter the passenger compartment. Of course, these gases aren’t so great for the environment either, but it is far better than breathing the gases in the small enclosed space of your vehicle.
Parts of the Exhaust System
The first step to get to know your car’s exhaust system is to learn about each of the parts and what they do. Let’s take a look at them and talk about their functions.
There is more than one area inside your engine where gases are produced, so it is necessary to condense them together into one pipe. The exhaust manifold performs this function by attaching to the cylinder head and combining the gases from each cylinder. The manifold itself is usually made from cast iron but can also be steel, stainless steel or even aluminum.
Modern fuel-injected cars utilize an oxygen sensor to monitor the level of oxygen in the exhaust. The right amount is essential to get the best fuel economy possible. The computer uses the information from the oxygen sensor to automatically make adjustments as necessary. The sensor is usually placed in the manifold or close to the exhaust pipe.
The catalytic converter performs the important function of reducing the number of harmful gases released into the atmosphere. It is located between the manifold and the muffler and converts harmful carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to innocent water vapor and carbon dioxide. Some are also capable of reducing harmful nitrogen oxides.
A muffler does just what it sounds like it might do, it muffles noise. The combustion process is a series of explosions so you can imagine that left alone it’s a pretty noisy process. Mufflers typically use bafflers to bounce the exhaust around until the energy dissipates a bit and the noise lessens. There is also a type that utilizes fiberglass packing to absorb sound energy as the gases pass through and help quiet things even more.
The exhaust pipe ties everything all together. It goes from the manifold to the tail pipe and carries the gases safely out of your vehicle. Typically exhaust pipes are made of steel, but sometimes stainless steel or even aluminized steel tubing is used. Stainless steel has the best corrosion resistance, but it is more expensive. Aluminized steel is next and is often a nice middle point on both corrosion resistance and price.
So now you have an idea about how your car’s exhaust system works. It’s not that complicated, really, and is pretty easy to understand. Now let’s talk about some common issues that can arise with your exhaust system. Knowing about these problems and the preventative measures that you can take can end up saving you time and money--which is always a good thing!
Corrosion, or rust, is your exhaust system’s number one enemy. Water reacts with the iron in steel (remember that the exhaust pipe is usually made of steel?) to create iron oxide, more commonly known as rust.
One of the byproducts of combustion is water vapor. Remember, too, that the catalytic converter is turning harmful gases into water vapor. Well, water vapor may be harmless to you and the environment, but it is not harmless to your exhaust pipe. Water can also get into your pipe from the outside when it rains.
The point is that it is difficult to get away from having moisture in your exhaust pipe. This problem is compounded if you usually use your vehicle for short trips under 15 miles. The reason for this is that when you turn off your vehicle, whatever water vapor is in the system at the time condenses into water inside the pipe. If you constantly use your car for short trips, the pipe never heats up enough to evaporate that water and move it through the system. If this is your situation, it is a good idea to choose a stainless-steel pipe when your regular steel one inevitably rusts.
Another thing to keep in mind, if you live in an area where salt is used on the roads, the corrosion process moves faster. The best way to slow this down is to wash the salt off every few weeks. Make sure to run your engine for a while after getting it wet so that the excess water can evaporate and not cause more problems.
Gas Mileage Worsening
If you start noticing a decrease in your gas mileage, it could very well be that your oxygen sensor is going bad. It is a good idea to change it every 60,000 miles as inaccuracies can cause your car engine to burn more fuel than necessary to power your vehicle. It’s a fairly inexpensive repair, and your savings at the pump make it worth it.
Corrosion can also be a problem with the muffler. Usually, that’s the only thing that will go wrong with the muffler, but if the rust gets bad enough, you should definitely have the muffler replaced.
Catalytic Converter Issues
This is uncommon, but the catalytic converter can get clogged and need replacement. If your vehicle is having this problem, you may notice a loss of power, the floor of your car heating up, a sulfur smell, or a literally red-hot converter. Don’t just take it off without replacing it as that is illegal in most states.
We hope this article has helped you to get to know your car’s exhaust system a bit. Of course, nothing replaces the expertise of the friendly staff at South Denver Automotive, and we are happy to help whenever you are having problems with your exhaust system.
June 16, 2017
How Do I Know When to Replace Shock Absorbers?
How do I know when to replace shock absorbers? Here are a few tips from South Denver Automotive in Denver, Colorado to help you determine the answer to this question.
Shock absorbers don’t just make the ride in your vehicle more comfortable, they also serve an important function in your vehicle’s road holding and handling. When they start wearing down, your car becomes exposed to potentially dangerous swaying, deteriorated performance and even hydroplaning. Here are a few things to watch out for that will help determine when to replace shock absorbers.
Greater Stopping Distance
Using shock absorbers for more than 50,000 miles can lead to increased stopping distances of up to 10 feet. That’s a significant amount and can make a huge difference in avoiding a potential collision. Pay attention to how your vehicle is stopping, and if it seems sluggish, you might want to have the shock absorbers checked.
Swerves and Nose Dives When Braking
Also, when stopping, take note if your car wants to swerve a little or even take a sharp nose dive. These are both signs that your shock absorbers are not performing their road holding and handling functions well and can be especially dangerous in bad weather when the road is slick.
Take note of if you can feel vibrations in the steering wheel as you drive. Properly functioning shock absorbers will keep your tires firmly in contact with the road, and you shouldn’t feel excess vibrations.
Bad Handling in Windy Conditions
If your vehicle’s shock absorbers are worn, your car can slide around or swerve a bit in windy conditions. This is quite dangerous as your car could swerve unexpectedly into another lane at a very inopportune moment.
Excessive Rocking and Rattling
If it seems like you feel every bump, pothole, and rock that you drive over, it could be that your shock absorbers are in dire need of replacement. Not only is this uncomfortable for you and your passengers, but that much bumping and bouncing is putting extra stress on other components in your vehicle. You should definitely replace your shock absorbers soon!
Tires Wearing Unevenly
Shock absorbers help to keep your vehicle tires gripping the road correctly and evenly. If you notice bald patches or unevenly worn spots on your tires, it’s possible that your shock absorbers are too worn to perform this function correctly. This is dangerous as it negatively affects handling control and could even contribute to issues like hydroplaning. Better safe than sorry with a new set of shock absorbers.
We hope these tips from the friendly professionals at South Denver Automotive have been helpful in answering the question, how do I know when to replace shock absorbers? If you’re still not too sure about how your shock absorbers are performing, or if you suspect an issue, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are happy to inspect your shock absorbers and give you an honest opinion about whether they should be replaced. Remember these types of maintenance are essential in keeping you and your passengers safe in your vehicle.